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

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2014-04-17 A Bend in the Road is Not the End of the Road by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Turmoil in Ukraine, growth concerns in Japan, and weakness in U.S. equity markets are giving U.S. investors a short-term case of heartburn but none of this should undermine the overall case for optimism.

2014-04-17 Designing Balanced DC Menus: Considering Diversified Fixed Income Choices by Stacy Schaus, Ying Gao of PIMCO

Sponsors of defined contribution plans face a dual challenge: They must present investment options appropriate for plan members and design menus that encourage selection of well-structured portfolios. We believe that actively managed strategies designed to potentially reduce risks, invest globally and enhance yield relative to the index may improve diversification and lower concentration risk in fixed income offerings. Plan sponsors may consider a range of return and risk measures as they evaluate current and prospective fixed income offerings.

2014-04-17 Fixed Income Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Given that the Fed is likely to complete its asset purchases this year and may raise rates in early 2015, we still feel that Treasuries and investment grade bonds are unattractive. Although yields in the high yield universe are low by historical standards, they still give us a decent cushion against rising rates, especially at the shorter end of the maturity spectrum. Maintaining a shorter duration exposure in high yield and some convertible bonds, as well as a cash reserve, continues to make sense.

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

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

2014-04-15 Weekly Market Update by Team of Castleton Partners

US Treasury yields registered their largest weekly drop since early February, driven by dovish minutes from the March Federal Reserve Open Market Committee meeting and equity market weakness. With the technology stocks at the epicenter of the equity storm, major indices fell nearly 3% last week. As Q1 earning season begins in earnest this week, equity performance is very much expected to remain in the headlines. Reaching yields last seen in early March, five year notes were the best performer across the Treasury curve, falling 12 basis points on the week to yield 1.58%.

2014-04-12 Proper Perspective by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen & Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Getting caught up in the weeds is easy in this 24-hour news cycle where everyone is looking to make a splash, but successful investing requires staying above the fray. The U.S. economy is growing and equities appear fairly valued, Europe has issues to deal with but has come a long way from the depths, Japan may be working against itself but improvement has been seen, and the threat of a Chinese debacle at this point seems minimal.

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

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

2014-04-10 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

One quarter down; three to go. After a rough January, stocks rebounded to complete a solid quarter with the Dow Jones the lone main index still "in the red." The new week found decent numbers from manufacturing and labor and investors moved past the "bad weather" excuse, though still took profits from high-flying bio-techs and internet stocks. The late-week selling hindered the overall equity performance.

2014-04-09 Master Limited Partnerships by Greg Reid and the Salient MLP Team of Salient Partners

Master Limited Partnerships (“MLPs”) are a unique asset class in the investment landscape. Historically, MLPs have been primarily owned by high net worth and retail investors due in part to the tax complexities. However, MLPs have started gaining traction over the past few years among institutional investors as they seek alternative sources of yield in our present low-yield world.

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

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

2014-04-08 Asset Allocation Implications of a Flattening Treasury Yield Curve by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

The Treasury yield curve has started to flatten in recent weeks. Based on historical relationships, this process is likely to have important implications for investors because it signals that the business cycle has moved to a more self-reliant and less Fed dependent state.

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

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

2014-04-07 The Other Side of the Mountain by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Having witnessed the glorious advancing portion of the uncompleted market cycle since 2009, investors might, perhaps, want to consider how this cycle might end. After long diagonal advances to overvalued speculative peaks, the other side of the mountain is typically not a permanently high plateau.

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

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

2014-04-04 What\'s Abuzz About Gold? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If we continue to see these large movements of the physical metal, especially from the West to the East, it would appear to be only a matter of time until these supply-and-demand factors lift the gold price.

2014-04-03 And That\'s The Quarter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

After a nightmare than was January, the quarter actually turned out pretty well (except in the Ukraine).

2014-04-02 A Year of Reversals Amid a Search for Value by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Stocks have traded in a relatively narrow range for the past two weeks, but beneath the surface, some of last year’s winners are shaping up to be this year’s losers. Russ explains the shifts he’s seeing and what they mean for investors.

2014-03-28 Americas: Regional Economic Review 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The outlook for the developed economies in North America remains healthy while the emerging economies of Latin America continue to face headwinds. Though recent data from the U.S. and Canada have indicated moderation in economic activity, most of the slowdown was likely caused by adverse weather conditions in the region.

2014-03-28 Fed on Target to Raise Interest Rates in the Spring of 2015 by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

Last Wednesday, Janet Yellen presided over a press conference as the new Chairman of the Federal Reserve (Fed) following the conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC’s) two day meeting and their release of the official FOMC statement. Markets hung on every word and some confusion was created afterwards as Yellen offered a more transparent look at the Fed’s timeline for raising interest rates.

2014-03-28 Lacking Conviction by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Investors seem to lack conviction, what will potentially push them to one side or the other.

2014-03-28 Hotchkis & Wiley: Frequently Asked Questions by Team of Hotchkis & Wiley

In Hotchkis & Wiley's 2014 1Q Newsletter, Ray Kennedy, Mark Hudoff, and the rest of Hotchkis & Wiley's high yield team examines the high yield market and attempt to answer the questions it they get asked most frequently, or ones they believe to be particularly relevant in the current market environment.

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 Plant a Tree Today, Sit in the Shade Tomorrow by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve’s desire to be predictable should lead to an incremental path for the coming tightening cycle and that suggests increasing exposure to floating-rate instruments.

2014-03-26 Striking a Balance: Risks and Opportunities in Emerging Market Debt? by Francesc Balcells, Anton Dombrovsky of PIMCO

?We believe the risk of a full crisis in emerging markets is greatly diminished as the initial conditions of such economies nowadays are quite different. Although there are vulnerable credits out there, the mark-to-market volatility in the financially strong emerging market economies can present advantages as longer-term fundamentals reassert themselves. By monitoring key triggers and employing a differentiated investment approach, investors may be able to take advantage of attractive valuations in emerging market debt. ?

2014-03-25 Will Putin Stop with the Crimea? by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Now that the Crimean referendum has passed in favor of annexation, what will Putin do next? In other words, will he stop with the Crimea? In this report, we will look at the post-Cold War situation from Putin’s perspective. From this viewpoint, we will examine Putin’s likely next steps and how this will affect the U.S. and the rest of the developed world. As always, we will conclude with market ramifications.

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.

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

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

2014-03-24 Market Update by Team of Castleton Partners

Last week’s meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) produced a more hawkish tone than anticipated, driving interest rates higher and flattening the yield curve in the process. Between the Fed’s summary of economic projections and Chairwoman Janet Yellen’s remarks following the meeting, the FOMC suggested a shorter timeframe for rate hikes than the market had expected.

2014-03-18 Market Update by Team of Castleton Partners

With military tensions rising over the Ukraine saga and geopolitical posturing dominating the headlines, Treasury rates rallied across the yield curve last week, with 10 year yields falling 13 basis points to 2.66%. Though Cold War-era rhetoric remains high, there are indications that the threat of military action is becoming less likely. As such, we suspect markets will become more comfortable with the situation and expect it to become less of a focus. Nonetheless, we concede that headline risk remains and the primary influence on the Treasury market this week may well be external.

2014-03-18 Fishing for Gold? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

If interest rates are supposed to be on the rise, why has the price of gold gone up so much this year? Is it merely because it is bouncing back after a sharp decline in 2013? We have a closer look at the link between gold and interest rates to gauge how investors may want to approach the bait provided by the Fed.

2014-03-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks were buffeted last week on the outcome in Ukraine (well founded), growing concern that the world does not know what happened to that missing Malaysian airliner, and of course, the ever-present worries about the global economy - especially in light of renewed concern over China, both its economy and its banking system.

2014-03-17 Stocks Weighed Down by Ukraine, China and U.S. Economy by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities came under pressure last week as the S&P 500 declined almost 2.0%. Blame was primarily placed on the crisis in Ukraine and the growth slowdown and tight credit environment in China. Safe haven investments such as U.S. Treasuries and gold outperformed. Stocks may have already discounted the weather distortions on early 2014 data, and an overhang is expected to linger into first quarter earnings season. Cautiousness surfaced for investments that support the recovery, including banks and homebuilders.

2014-03-15 Follow the Money to Asia\'s Tech Hub by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China’s slower economic data points and a surplus in copper and iron ore drove many commodities lower this week, while gold rose. In the short term, until the copper and iron ore surplus is liquidated, or absorbed at a slower pace, the base metals market will likely be sloppy. As the second-largest economy in the world and a huge driver of commodities demand, it’s not surprising China provoked such a significant response from world markets. Interestingly, most of the media thought it was geopolitical fears from Ukraine that chopped up the market and lifted gold.

2014-03-15 Like Houdini, the Markets Escape Again and Again by Stephen C. Sexauer of Allianz Global Investors

Like the great escape artist Harry Houdini, the markets have repeatedly escaped a series of potential catastrophes. Central banks around the world have coordinated policy making these escapes possible, but the end result is another trap from which we need to escape - seemingly permanent low interest rates for savers ("financial repression"), slow growth, and high asset prices. Financial repression is better than an outright debt deflation, but it causes its own problems. The outlook is for low returns.

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

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

2014-03-10 Happy Birthday, Bull Market by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock

March 10, 2014, could be considered the fifth birthday of the current equity bull market. Investors looked beyond mixed economic data and turmoil in the Ukraine to push stocks to further gains last week. Stocks still remain a more attractive option relative to traditional bonds and cash.

2014-03-07 Tensions between Russia and Ukraine Worry Investors by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Over the weekend, tensions escalated between Russia and Ukraine as Russian forces invaded and took complete operational control of the Crimean peninsula.

2014-03-06 The Briefest Flight to Safety by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Tensions in Ukraine and tapering speculation seem unlikely to derail rising U.S. equity markets and the positive outlook for U.S. credit.

2014-03-06 The Dollar's Long Term Decline by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

The cleanest of the dirty shirts doesn’t necessarily preserve your purchasing power. Sure, the U.S. dollar has beaten the Russian Ruble and some others of late, but when it comes to real competition, the U.S. dollar has taken a back seat. The U.S. dollar’s long-term decline may be firmly in place and investors may want to buckle up to get ready for the ride.

2014-03-05 Asset Allocation: The Conundrum of 2014 by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

In 2013, both the S&P 500 Index and the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds finished the year at their highest levels of the calendar year. So ended a year when equity markets dominated the return landscape, while bonds and numerous other assets struggled. The environment apparently changed, though, with the turning of the calendar to 2014. In the New Year, bonds have performed quite well, with yields on 10-year Treasuries, as an example, falling from 3.03% to 2.67% so far this year. Stocks meanwhile, have been volatile, yet stand close to unchanged on a year to date basis.

2014-03-04 Market Update by of Castleton Partners

With the Ukrainian situation very much in focus, Treasury rates moved mostly lower last week. The yield curve exhibited a flattening bias, as longer dated maturities registered the biggest declines. For the week, 10 year treasury yields closed at 2.65%, a drop of eight basis points from the prior week, while two year yields were unchanged at 0.32%. As Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was revised lower to 2.5% from 3.2%, we also learned last week that the economy expanded at a slower pace in the fourth quarter of 2013 than previously estimated, giving the expansion less momentum heading into 2014.

2014-02-28 Is an Avalanche Waiting to Hit the U.S. Stock Market? (The Slippery Slope of Stupidity) by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

The U.S. economy as we know it is headed for a huge correction. The only questions remaining are when will it start and what will be the trigger that starts the cascade? Financial and economic implosion is always a slow and stealthy process that grows over time behind the scenes.

2014-02-27 Big Wheel Keep on Turning by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Economic uncertainty from this winter soft patch will linger for months, but strong housing fundamentals should underpin a strengthening U.S. economy while low inflation augers well for stock prices.

2014-02-27 Corporate Credit Charting its Own Course by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

At the start of the year, equity investors were fretting about possible emerging-market contagion, while bond investors were fretting about fallout from US Federal Reserve tapering. Meanwhile, the corporate credit market seemed to be charting its own course. Eric Takaha, director of the Corporate & High Yield Group and senior vice president, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group®, takes a look at the corporate credit/high-yield market and explains why he currently sees supportive fundamentals.

2014-02-25 Weekly Market Update by of Castleton Partners

Interest rates were relatively range-bound last week, despite a string of disappointing economic releases. With severe weather across the country having an outsized impact on the economy of late, market participants have been treating the weak data with a high degree of skepticism. We suspect there is further room for data to disappoint relative to expectations, believing a clear reading on the state of the economy cannot be determined until the spring.

2014-02-25 How to Profit from the Yellen Fed by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Janet Yellen might have the most powerful job in the world, as the Federal Reserve (Fed) she now chairs controls what may be the world’s most powerful printing press. We take a closer look at what her reign might mean for investors’ portfolios.

2014-02-24 Corporate Credit Charting its Own Course by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

At the start of the year, equity investors were fretting about possible emerging-market contagion, while bond investors were fretting about fallout from US Federal Reserve tapering. Meanwhile, the corporate credit market seemed to be charting its own course. Eric Takaha, director of the Corporate & High Yield Group and senior vice president, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group®, takes a look at the corporate credit/high-yield market and explains why he currently sees supportive fundamentals.

2014-02-19 US Savings Rate Falling Again - Here Comes \"MyRA\" by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we weave together several different topics that are all connected in one way or another. We begin with the US savings rate which is trending lower once again. From 1975 to 2007, the savings rate fell to an all-time low of 2.4%. While it jumped up briefly after the 2008 financial crisis, it is now moving lower yet again.

2014-02-12 Why Quantitative Easing Didn’t Work by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

IN THIS ISSUE: 1. Why Fed’s Quantitative Easing (QE) Didn’t Work 2. Velocity of Money Plunged During Financial Crisis 3. Should Bernanke & Company Have Done More? 4. QE Was a Huge, Dangerous Experiment That Failed 5. Fed Begins to “Taper” QE Purchases in January 6. Conclusions – What Happens Next?

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

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

2014-02-07 Over-Stimulated, Over-Priced by Neeraj Chaudhary of Euro Pacific Capital

At the end of 2013 Wall Street appeared to be convinced that the markets were enjoying the best of all possible worlds. In an interview with CNBC on Dec. 31 famed finance professor Jeremy Siegel stated that stocks would build on the great gains of 2013 with an additional 27% increase this year. So far 2014 hasn’t gone according to script. In contrast to the prevailing optimism I maintain a high degree of skepticism regarding the current rally in U.S. stocks. But opinions are cheap. To back up my gut feeling, here are six very diverse indicators that suggest U.S. stocks are overvalued.

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

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

2014-02-04 Weekly Market Update by James Welch of Castleton Partners

Taking direction from a sharp sell-off in risk assets across the globe-especially in emerging market economies, Treasury yields continued their month long decline last week.

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

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

2014-01-31 Thrift, Thrift, Burning Bright by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

Does the title sound familiar? Think feral instead of frugal, and William Blake’s "Tyger, Tyger, burning bright" may start to flicker between the synapses of memory and an English lit class you once soldiered through. But even if you haven’t read "The Tyger", its theme is aptly captured in the opening line and its image of a big flaming kitty cat. Essentially, Blake saw reality in duality: To appreciate the ferocious feline in all its glory is to come face to face with the same force that created "The Lamb", another entry in the poet’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience.

2014-01-31 Buy What You Know? Not So Fast by Russ Koesterich of iSharesBlog

Buy what you know. It’s an old admonition, and on the surface a sensible one. Focusing your investments on those companies that you’re most familiar with should help mitigate the risk of a bad investment choice. Unfortunately, like a lot of conventional wisdom, it’s wrong. Concentrating your portfolio to local investments, while comforting, is a mistake for two reasons.

2014-01-31 High Yield: The Perfect Storm That Wasn\'t by Gershon Distenfeld of Alliance Bernstein

Investors should not focus on how rising rates may affect high yield. Instead, they should take a more thoughtful approach. This means they should not expect double-digit returns, nor should they reach for yield by buying triple-C bonds. At this point in the credit cycle, when concerns begin to develop disproportionally in lower-rated credits, investors are not getting compensated for taking this type of risk. Instead, investors should accept that single-digit returns are a realistic expectation in 2014. And in a relatively low-rate environment, we don’t think that’s a bad thing.

2014-01-30 A Healthy Correction in Emerging Markets by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

It has been a hard start to the year, especially for emerging markets, but the latest dislocation is a healthy part of the cycle and the risk-on trade remains intact.

2014-01-30 High Yield in 2014: Where Can You Look for Upside in a \'Medium Yield\' Market? by Andrew Jessop, Hozef Arif of PIMCO

Default rates and credit losses in high yield markets remain below their long-term averages, and we believe default rates will remain low in 2014 and 2015 as well. Investors should consider positioning for better convexity via exposure to sectors with favorable industry dynamics and positive event risk from M&A or equity offerings, potential upside from price recovery in high quality bonds trading below par and exposure to select new supply from former investment grade companies.

2014-01-29 How the Pioneer of Hydraulic Fracturing changed the MLP Landscape by David Chiaro of Eagle Global Advisors

A banner year for MLPs and the future looks bright.

2014-01-28 Winter Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

John Kenneth Galbraith was a force in the fields of politics and economics. He wrote into his 90s, with many of his 48 books covering economic history, a subject we find to be the oft forgotten friend of investors. His work made it clear that economics is not a hard science which can be reduced to simple trustworthy mathematical equations. Galbraith constantly challenged the "conventional wisdom", and in fact pioneered the term. Galbraith came to dismiss the then, and still now, common notion that individuals and markets always act rationally...

2014-01-28 Demystifying Gold Prices by Nicholas Johnson of PIMCO

What is it about gold prices? Many people seem to believe they are impossible to predict, or even understand. At her Senate confirmation hearing in November, Janet Yellen said, "I don’t think anybody has a very good model of what makes gold prices go up or down." Ben Bernanke also said last year that "nobody really understands gold prices, and I don’t pretend to understand them either." While many factors influence the price of gold, PIMCO believes there is one that can explain the majority of changes in gold prices over the past several years: changes in real yields.

2014-01-25 A Grim Intermediate Outlook for High-Quality Bond Returns by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Rates have been steadily falling since the 1980s. A simple "reversion to the mean" in which rates rise toward their long-term average (the average 10 year U.S. Treasury rate since 1926 according to data sourced from the St. Louis Federal Reserve’s website) would mean that rates would rise to about 5%. That’s almost a 2% increase from where we are right now. We suspect that would be more than enough to spur a dramatic change in investors’ attitudes toward bond investing, and to increase interest in viable alternative strategies for retirement income.

2014-01-25 Forecast 2014: The CAPEs of Hope by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

As we will see in the pages ahead, buy-and-hold investors are clearly sailing in dangerous waters, where the strong, cold current of deleveraging converges with the warm, fast rush of quantitative easing. Not only does this clash of forces create the potential for epic storms and fateful accidents, it dramatically increases the chances for sudden loss as rogue waves crash unwary investment vehicles against the underwater demographic reef!

2014-01-24 How the Safe Havens Stack Up by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

For investors who are worried about a correction, Russ provides a look at which traditional safe-haven assets tend to perform best during times of uncertainty.

2014-01-17 Quarterly Letter by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

Some of the things we’ve been talking/warning you about in recent years came to fruition in 2013. Specifically, medium- and long-term interest rates rose and commodity prices declined.

2014-01-17 Bonds and Rates by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Right now the topic de jour in the fixed income space is interest rate risk. The traditional thought is that as interest rates rise, bond prices fall. But looking at history, the high yield market has defied this widely held notion. Let’s examine the four main reasons why high yield bonds have historically performed well during times of rising interest rates.

2014-01-16 Let the taper begin! Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

At the December meeting, the Federal Reserve (the Fed) decided to reduce its purchases of Treasury and mortgage securities (a.k.a. quantitative easing/QE) beginning in January 2014. This answered the question of when the taper would begin, and the markets reacted predictably. Two questions remain, however: How long until the Fed completely winds down QE; and when will short rates begin to reflect the improving economy? We feel it may be sooner on the former and could be quite some time on the latter.

2014-01-16 A Disappointing Jobs Report: 3 Investing Takeaways by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last Friday’s non-farm payroll report was a huge disappointment. Russ explains what this means for investors.

2014-01-10 2014 Economic and Investment Outlook by Team of Ivy Funds Investment Management

Although the December 2013 U.S. budget pact between House and Senate negotiators was a welcome development, partisan battles over government spending still are possible in 2014. The agreement ends a three-year budget fight and sets government spending through fall 2015, but it does not eliminate the need to raise the nation’s borrowing limit - the "debt ceiling."

2014-01-10 A Preview of the Sungarden Study by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Next week, my team and I will release Sungarden’s first major whitepaper. It assesses the retirement income problem, reviews existing solutions and presents a framework for how investors and financial advisors can pursue a solution with confidence.

2014-01-06 Market Valuation Overview: Yet More Expensive by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a summary of the four market valuation indicators I update during the first days of the month.

2013-12-31 A Look Ahead at 2014 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last week, Russ shared his annual look back at his 2013 economic and investment calls. Now, it’s time for his annual look forward.

2013-12-27 A Look Back at 2013 Calls by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It’s time again for Russ K’s annual look back at his economic and investment calls. Find out what he got right - and what he got wrong.

2013-12-24 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

vestors thanked Bernanke this week for what they perceived as an early holiday present. While no one knew how they would react once the Fed began to taper its bond purchases, many surprised analysts by lifting stocks to one of the best showings of the year (and a new record on the Dow). And now that that uncertainty is out of the way, let the vacations begin.

2013-12-24 A Spoonful of Sugar by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The press has framed Ben Bernanke’s valedictory press conference last week in heroic terms. It’s as if a veteran quarterback engineered a stunning come-from-behind drive in his final game, and graciously bowed out of the game with the ball sitting on the opponent’s one-yard line. In reality, Bernanke has merely completed a five-yard pass from his own end zone, and has left Janet Yellen to come off the bench down by three touchdowns, with no credible deep threats, and very little time left on the clock.

2013-12-24 Fed Taper Brings Us Back to the Future by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

A return to normal economic conditions is now more palpable following the Fed’s decision to start unwinding QE and early signs of a revival in consumer spending, growth and jobs, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-12-23 Risk Assets Take Fed Taper Announcement in Stride by Roger Bayston of Franklin Templeton

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) delivered an early holiday surprise to some market participants, announcing at its December 18 policy meeting it would start slowing its asset purchase program known as quantitative easing in January. For some thoughts on what this may mean for the markets in the new year, we turned just after the announcement to Roger Bayston. He believes the markets should be able to take the Fed’s tapering in 2014 in stride, although investors should prepare for the proposition of higher Treasury yields.

2013-12-21 Start Me Up: Fed Announces a Much-Anticipated Taper by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed decided to begin tapering its QE-related bond purchases with a reduction of $10 billion; split evenly between Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities. In a sign that tapering was already priced in, the stock market surged on the announcement; while bond yields remained quite tame. The Fed announced slightly sunnier economic forecasts, suggesting quantitative easing could wind down within a year.

2013-12-20 The Challenges of Year-End Forecasting by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

Many investors piled on the equity bandwagon this year, pushing prices up to dizzying heights. With current yields for U.S. equities at record lows, is it time to get off the bandwagon?

2013-12-20 A Surprising Way to Participate in Today\'s Tech Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China has become one of the best consumption stories out there, and looking over the next few years, local technology companies are almost certain to benefit. So while many U.S. investors are getting excited about the growing number of initial public offerings in the tech sector, they would be remiss if they didn’t look beyond Silicon Valley.

2013-12-19 Coal in the Fed\'s Stock-ing by Tony Crescenzi, Lupin Rahman, Ben Emons of PIMCO

Forward guidance has become an increasingly common practice among global central banks. Communicating a possible change in the policy rate could have a large effect on long-term interest rates. Capital has moved literally around the globe as a result of central bank activism in developed countries. Looking ahead, we expect 2014 to be a year of increased differentiation across emerging markets in terms of economic fundamentals, policy reactions and market outcomes.

2013-12-17 2013 A Pretty Good Year by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

This time last year we were bullish about equities and positive on the slow but steady strengthening of the economy. The market did not disappoint. The economy was almost heroic, you might say, with its performance enduring government sequestrations and higher taxes almost a 2% drag on GDP but comporting with our expectations of 2 - 2.5% growth. 2013 is ending with GDP and the markets coming fairly close to what we thought they’d achieve. Now the year is almost out, so let’s take stock of 2013 but look ahead to 2014.

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.

2013-12-17 Taper Time? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

There are many arguments for and against an initial reduction in the Fed’s monthly rate of asset purchases, but the balance has shifted toward a December taper. It appears to be a very close call, but even if the Fed decides to delay again, we all know (or should know) that QE3 is going to wind down in 2014.

2013-12-16 The Coming Retreat in Corporate Earnings by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The problem is not simply that earnings are likely to retreat deeply over the next few years. Rather, the problem is that investors have embedded the assumption of permanently elevated profit margins into stock prices, leaving the market about 80-100% above levels that would provide investors with historically adequate long-term returns. An equivalent way to say this is that stocks are currently at levels that we estimate will provide roughly zero nominal total returns over the next 7-10 years, with historically adequate long-term returns thereafter.

2013-12-13 Hedged Dividend Investing: The Best Strategy You\'ve Never Heard Of? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Our industry’s challenge: How to deal with that via creation of intelligent investment strategies that allow advisors and their clients to follow through on their desire to skirt both the bond and stock bubbles of the future, while still striving for a competitive yield for their retirement portfolios.

2013-12-12 All News is Good News by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Financial markets have been discounting the end of tapering for months, and whether it happens in December or March is less important than the reality that the U.S. economy is recovering amid a global synchronous expansion.

2013-12-12 Stay the Course or Take an Unconstrained Approach to Bonds by Matthew Pasts of BTS Asset Management

BTS Asset Management contends that today’s bond market environment calls for an unconstrained approach to bonds with the ability to move between bond asset classes based on economic indicators and market opportunities. The potential discrepancy in results among bond asset classes may be more pronounced than we have seen in the past 30 years which creates opportunity for a more tactical approach. Now may be the time for an unconstrained approach to the bond market.

2013-12-11 Municipal Bond Outlook - Institutional Fixed-Income Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Volatility induced by headline events has created attractive price dislocations in the municipal bond market, which may now present the best buying opportunity for investors since late 2010.

2013-12-10 A Framework for Understanding Bond Portfolio Performance by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investors are legitimately concerned that interest rates, after falling reliably for decades, are on their way up and that bond portfolio values are on their way down. Investors now seek interest-rate protection. I provide a framework for analyzing and, hopefully, predicting the returns on actively managed portfolios of bonds - a task different from analyzing the bond market itself.

2013-12-06 Gold: Currency or Commodity? by Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

Despite gold traditionally serving as a safe haven asset, investors should be wary of fear-inflated investments given the potential for improving global growth.

2013-12-04 The Eastern Lust for Gold by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Having replaced savings with debt on both the national and individual levels, I think it’s well past time for Westerners to take a few lessons from our creditors in the East. Many Americans consider gold a "barbarous relic," but in Asia, the yellow metal remains the bedrock of individual savings plans. This means that either greater than half of the world’s population are barbarians, or they’ve held onto an important tradition that our culture has forgotten.

2013-12-03 Fixed Income Markets Slog Forward by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The past five years have seen a dramatic influx of investor capital into corporate credit markets. As investors jumped into the market, there is growing concern that credit markets are nearing stretched valuations. Those concerns are likely premature, particularly with central bank intervention in place.

2013-12-03 Is the Fed Increasingly Monetizing Government Debt? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Fed Chair Bernanke vehemently denies Fed "monetizes the debt," but our research shows the Fed may be increasingly doing so. We explain why and what the implications may be for the dollar, gold and currencies.

2013-12-03 On the Wings of an Eagle by William Gross of PIMCO

I’ve always liked Jack Bogle, although I’ve never met him. He’s got heart, but as he’s probably joked a thousand times by now, it’s someone else’s; a 1996 transplant being the LOL explanation. He’s also got a lot of investment common sense, recognizing decades ago that investment managers in composite couldn’t outperform the market; in fact, their alpha would be negative after fees and transaction costs were factored in.

2013-11-29 ING Fixed Income Perspectives - November 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers and Matt Toms of ING Investement Management

Given rich valuations globally, we remain broadly neutral on interest rate risk with the exception of Japan.

2013-11-26 QE: Not That Big of a Deal by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The most frequent question we get lately is "what happens to long-term interest rates when quantitative easing ends?" Many analysts argue that the Federal Reserve is buying and holding a huge share of Treasury debt and once QE ends other buyers will suddenly have to absorb more. This will cause interest rates to soar, bust the housing market, undermine stocks, and possibly cause a recession.

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

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

2013-11-22 What is the Current Market Reality? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

At this year’s Global Investment Forum, the discussion among Pioneer investment professionals was generally positive. Of course, everyone was conscious of the current market reality: that the major force behind recent positive, though benign, market trends is the unprecedented creation of liquidity and extremely loose stance of monetary policies around the world. Monetary policy alone cannot be the only conduit to a new economic model of income growth and job creation.

2013-11-18 Under the Spotlight, Pensions and “Damn it Janet” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Recently, I spoke on a panel regarding the State of Illinois (our panel literally “Under the Spotlight”). Our panel touched on many topics affecting the State but, when all was said and done, it seemed that the panel uniformly recognized that Illinois needed to do something about their pension problem (we had an interesting discussion about one party rule and speculated as to why they can’t seem to get anything done on pension reform can you say re-election).

2013-11-18 Willing a Fiscal Win by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms of ING Investment Management

Why can’t we just will our desired political outcomes the way the most fervent seemingly can impact ballgames? After watching Fenway Park packed to the rafters with Red Sox faithful exercising their sovereign and ethereal right to psychically encourage baseballs out of the yard and knowing that millions of others in Red Sox nation were doing the same in front of their televisions we’re left wondering if the fans of Team U.S.A. can apply a little of that classic Carlton Fisk mojo a few hundred miles down I-95.

2013-11-15 Has Washington Drama Taken Its Toll On MLPs? by David Chiaro of Eagle Global Advisors

“They did it! They blew it up!” shouts Charlton Heston in the iconic ending scene of the film Planet of the Apes when he finds out he has been living on a post-nuclear war planet Earth. Americans are probably having some of the same feelings about our current world resulting from the ongoing political “nuclear war” raging in our nation’s capital.

2013-11-15 “Great Rotation?” How About “Selective Rotation?” by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton

A few months ago there was a lot of buzz about a so-called “Great Rotation,” used to describe an investor exodus from fixed income and into equities, conjuring up images of a massive herd of wildebeest on the African plain racing for greener pastures. Oftentimes, when investors react to the market with a herd mentality, they can wind up losing sight of where they are going, and why. Eric Takaha, senior vice president and portfolio manager for Franklin Strategic Income Fund, says what he’s seen is more of a “selective rotation.”

2013-11-15 Keep Your Eyes on Bonds by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Last month, Americans were transfixed by the amateur theatrics undertaken by the Washington political establishment in connection with the debt ceiling crisis. The bad faith, poor tactics and wholesale avoidance of reality were offered by all players in very large doses. When the Republican leadership finally capitulated (thereby bringing down the curtain on the tawdry production), it soon became apparent that sound and fury had signified nothing except another exercise in can kicking.

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

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

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

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

2013-11-12 Janet Yellen\'s Mission Impossible by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Most market watchers expect that Janet Yellen will grapple with two major tasks once she takes the helm at the Federal Reserve in 2014: deciding on the appropriate timing and intensity of the Fed’s quantitative easing taper strategy, and unwinding the Fed’s enormous $4 trillion balance sheet (without creating huge losses in the value of its portfolio). In reality both assignments are far more difficult than just about anyone understands or admits.

2013-11-08 Janet Yellen\'s Mission Impossible by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Most market watchers expect that Janet Yellen will grapple with two major tasks once she takes the helm at the Federal Reserve in 2014: deciding on the appropriate timing and intensity of the Fed’s quantitative easing taper strategy, and unwinding the Fed’s enormous $4 trillion balance sheet (without creating huge losses in the value of its portfolio). In reality both assignments are far more difficult than just about anyone understands or admits.

2013-11-07 Gold: Hold It or Fold It? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

It’s starting to feel like we are part of a giant poker game against the US government, whose hand is the true condition of the American economy. The government has become so good at bluffing that most people feel compelled to watch how the biggest players in the game react to determine their own investment strategy.

2013-11-07 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-07 Absolute Return Letter: Euthanasia of the economy? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

QE has had two noticeable and positive effects. It has saved the world from a financial meltdown not once, but twice, and it has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on asset prices, so in that respect QE has been a success. However, there are growing signs that QE may be beginning to impair economic growth and it may even cause dis-inflation, precisely the opposite of what was widely expected. For these reasons we believe it is time to call it quits and begin to tackle the root problem a banking industry still suffocating from bad loans.

2013-11-06 Thank The Fed For Big Stock Market Gains by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

My guess is that just about everyone reading my E-Letters would agree that the Fed’s massive “quantitative easing” (QE) program has had a bullish effect on the stock markets over the last few years. Several new reports conclude that the Fed’s unprecedented QE bond buying program is responsible for ALL of the stock market advance since the bottom in early 2009.

2013-11-06 Welcome to the Two-Speed Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. economy is starting to look like a two-speed economy and what this means for investors.

2013-11-06 The Top 10 Investor Worries Right Now by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In the first of a regular series in my Informed Investing blog, let’s count down the top 10 things that give investors the willies in today’s investment environment. These are situations known to even casual investors, but may or may not be communicated to them effectively by their financial advisors.

2013-11-02 Bubbles, Bubbles Everywhere by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

The froth and foam on markets of all shapes and sizes all over the world. It is an exhilarating feeling, and the pundits who populate the media outlets are bubbling over with it. There is nothing like a rising market to help lift our mood. Unless of course, as Prof. Kindleberger famously cautioned, we are not participating in that rising market. Then we feel like losers. But what if the rising market is a bubble? Are we smart enough to ride and then step aside before it bursts? Research says we all think that we are, yet we rarely demonstrate the actual ability.

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

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

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

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

2013-10-29 Only RED That You Have Seen in October... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

The markets felt a bit different this week. While equities finished with another weekly gain, it was lead to new highs by a new and interesting cast of characters: the Dow Industrials, Dividend Stocks (like Utilities & Industrials), Germany, the United Kingdom, Gold & Silver, and Long Maturity Treasuries. While everyone under invested in risk is hoping for a pullback, the rest who are equal or overweight seem to be looking to buy on any pullback.

2013-10-29 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Nice to have a week free of politico rhetoric and distractions for a change (don’t get used to it). With little in the way of budget battles, investors focused on earnings and generally liked what they saw. Add in some positive economic news from China and a labor picture that should prompt the Fed to stay put (for now) and you have another record for the S&P.

2013-10-26 Why U.S. Dollar Will Remain World\\\'s Reserve Currency, Despite Political Brinkmanship by Tatjana Michel of Charles Schwab

The U.S. dollar is not likely to lose its premier world reserve-currency status anytime soon. But continuing U.S. political brinkmanship could drive foreign countries into other currencies faster. With the market focus shifting to monetary policy and growth, we expect a Fed taper delay to give foreign currencies some time to recover.

2013-10-23 I Thought The Safety Was On by Liam Molloy, Bethany Carlson, Charlie Mas of Galway Investment Strategy

For the past thirty years investors could allocate a portion of their portfolio to investment grade bonds and regard that money as “safe”. Wealth preservation was easy buy a ladder of Treasuries or triple-A rated corporates and go back to bed. That perceived safety was a direct result of a continuing, if not steady, decline in interest rates.

2013-10-22 Washington Strikes a No-Surprise Deal - Now What? by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Congress called a time-out in the budget/debt fight last week, striking a deal to avoid default and fund the U.S. government through January 15, 2014 and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014. While the parties agreed to budget talks, they did not commit to reaching an agreement (technically, Paul Ryan and Patty Murray, the House and Senate budget committee chairs will begin a process of fiscal negotiations, due to wrap up by mid-December).

2013-10-22 China's Wake-Up Call from Washington by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

With 90 days left to bridge the ideological and partisan divide before another crisis erupts, the fuse on America’s debt bomb is getting shorter and shorter. As a dysfunctional US government peers into the abyss, China America’s largest foreign creditor has much at stake.

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

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

2013-10-22 After the Minimalist Debt Ceiling Deal: The Good & Bad News by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last week, investors cheered that Washington finally reached a last-minute debt ceiling deal. But despite their big sigh of relief, the debt ceiling deal wasn’t all good news. Russ provides a quick look at the good, the bad and the investing implications of the compromise.

2013-10-22 The Fiscal Follies, the Economy, and the Fed by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The deal reached last week does not remove uncertainty about the budget and debt ceiling. We could go through a similar crisis in three months. The hope is that lawmakers will learn from the recent experience and work together.

2013-10-22 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The gov is back in biz (so get back to work). Investors were pleased (for now).

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

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

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

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

2013-10-18 Consumer Confidence Plunging Recession Ahead? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The stalemate in Washington continues, the government remains in partial shutdown and the debt ceiling looms on Thursday. A bipartisan deal to fund the government until January 15 and raise the debt limit until early February is working its way through the Senate and could be voted on later today or tomorrow. It is unlikely that the Senate bill will pass in the House, which is reportedly working on yet another bill (see link below) that is unlikely to pass in the Senate.

2013-10-18 High Yield Bond Outlook: A Time for Unconstrained Management by Vilis Pasts, Matthew Pasts, Isaac Braley of BTS Asset Management

Using our unconstrained approach, BTS indicators signaled a move back into High Yield bonds near the end of September.BTS Asset Management views the High Yield bond sector as exhibiting solid fundamentals. Based on historical comparisons, High Yields have strong cash flow coverage for interest payments, due to conservative use of leverage. Post 2008, companies hired less people and have kept other fixed costs down.

2013-10-18 Debt Limit Extended, Fed Policy in the Wings - What to Expect from the Markets by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Last night Congress reached an agreement to raise the debt limit and end the 16-day shutdown. After all the acrimony and tense negotiations, the deal passed by a comfortable margin with 81-18 vote in the Senate and 285-144 in the House.

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.

2013-10-17 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Last quarter we wrote about the confusion that can be created by the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) two official mandates: keeping inflation in check and ensuring full employment. We also pointed out that given the rather fragile economic backdrop, talk of letting the economy stand on its own two feet by reducing their bond buying might be premature. During the third quarter, it appeared most economists felt comfortable that the Fed would indeed begin “tapering” its purchase of Treasuries and mortgage securities after the September Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetin

2013-10-16 Equity Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

As we write this outlook, our political leaders once again have succeeded in holding the U.S. government budget, and by extension the financial markets and the broader economy, hostage to their respective political agendas. We believe it is important to avoid getting caught up in the drama on Capitol Hill and remain focused on the slow but continued healing taking place in the U.S. economy.

2013-10-15 US Default: How Bad Would It Be? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has publicly declared October 17 this Thursday as the date when the US government would no longer be able to pay its bills, should Congress not reach a budget resolution.A once unthinkable outcome is becoming all too close to reality due to brinksmanship in Washington.For the second time in two years, investors have had to contemplate just how such a situation would shake out for financial markets.

2013-10-15 The Turmoil in Washington by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

At the time of this publication the budget situation has not been resolved, although it appears that both parties are backing away from the default abyss. However, given that these crises seem to come once or twice a year, it seemed appropriate to weigh in on the geopolitical impact of the intractable problems of American government.

2013-10-14 House Republicans Determined to Burn Country to the Ground (In Order to Save It!) by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Whenever our financial markets commentary strays into the realm of politics, we’re guaranteed to offend at least half of our clients and readers. So let us state up front that our job is NOT to choose sides but to evaluate how politics will affect the US economy and by extension corporate earnings, which are the bedrock of stock market performance. By that measure, the current tactics of House Republicans to shutdown the “non-essential” parts of the federal government and block raising the debt ceiling is an unmitigated disaster. Businesses crave predictability and reliabi

2013-10-14 Can Markets Remain Resilient in Light of Political Dysfunction? by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Equities were mixed again last week, and the markets remain focused on the budget impasse in Washington, D.C., after the second week of the partial government shutdown. The S&P 500 closed the week in positive territory, increasing 0.8%.1 It is hard to ignore headlines and market volatility, but the real issues for markets are the debt ceiling debate and third quarter corporate earnings announcements.

2013-10-12 These Could be the Most Lucrative Energy Plays by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Sometimes the most attractive energy assets aren’t found in the ground. Rather, at times like today, they are listed on the stock exchange.

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

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

2013-10-09 Little Visible Progress on the Budget Shutdown, but Some Inside Baseball In Play by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

President Obama canceled his planned visit to Asia and participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summitciting the inconvenience caused by the government shutdown (“the difficulty in moving forward with foreign travel in the face of a shutdown), sending John Kerry in his place, and reiterating his unwillingness to negotiate with Republicans.

2013-10-09 Equity ETF Flows Send Bullish Signals by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

U.S. Equity ETFs gave up $4.3 billion in the week ended October 1, reversing a $3.4 billion inflow in the previous week. This week’s outflows signal low demand for stocks, a bullish short-term indicator from a contrarian perspective.

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

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

2013-10-08 Detente with Iran? by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

On September 28th, President Obama reportedly called Iranian President Rouhani to confer over American and Iranian relations. In addition, Iran’s nuclear program was discussed. This was a historic eventthe first documented call between a U.S. president and his counterpart in Iran in 35 years. The last time such a conversation occurred was when the Shah was in power.

2013-10-08 Listen to the 10th Man by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

There’s no shortage of short-term risks in today’s market or conventional wisdom on how they will play out. But prepping for the unexpected could limit the number of surprises and better insulate investors’ portfolios, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-10-08 Q3 Brings Plot Twists; Volatility to Continue in Q4 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ reviews how the third quarter shaped up vs. his expectations, noting which calls he got right and which he got wrong, and he updates his outlook for this quarter.

2013-10-04 How Markets May Deal with D.C. Dysfunction by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A brief government shutdown would likely have only a modest impact on markets and the economy, and may even create buying opportunities in risk assets. A longer-term stalemate could be a far different story.

2013-10-04 Much Ado About Fed Tapering by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

In the past few months, the global markets seem to have been fixated on the US Federal Reserve’s words and actions (or lack thereof). Will the Fed wind down its longstanding quantitative easing (QE) program, and when? Will the money tap dry up, and, with it, global liquidity? In more recent days, US markets in particular have been focused on a looming government shutdown, adding a dose of uncertaintyand volatility.

2013-10-04 The Fed and Its Big Thumb by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

We’ve seen what happens when prices get ahead of the economy reality. The bubbles in the dot-com’s in 2000 and the housing market in 2007 were such effects. We fear that the apparent Fed desire to continue to manipulate interest rates may engender more bubbles.

2013-10-04 The Malfunctioning United States Government by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

Overall, we are entering a potentially volatile period for the financial markets. Increased uncertainty combined with below-trend economic growth will likely lead to sharp market fluctuations. To mitigate the risk of volatility, we remain committed to increased diversification. Within equities, we would begin reducing exposure to U.S. stocks and instead focus on better areas of opportunity international developed markets. Within fixed income, we would maintain a bias toward spread product, such as corporate bonds, which generally pay a higher yield compared to similar Treasuries.

2013-10-03 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs fell by almost $40.9 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $7.74 million and $10.156 respectively. In addition, the “Foreign Bond” category decreased by $36.33 million, while AUM in “Currency” active ETFs fell by almost $5.2 million.

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

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

2013-09-30 Long/Short Equity in Rising Rate Environments by Kurt Voldeng of AdvisorShares

The party in fixed income has been a good one. Spanning approximately 30 years and touching four different decades dating back to the Volker Era in the early 1980’s, it has been a fairly smooth ride with few, short lived, painful periods. It now appears that possibly, and the market pundits are still debating, that the party may be over. Most agree that if not over yet, the end is near.

2013-09-30 Fourth Quarter Outlook: A Turning Point? by Gene Goldman of Cetera Financial Group

It seems sometimes that the outlook for the global economy and the markets has been unchanged for years. Since the end of the recession, each year has commenced with forecasts that the United States economy would break out of its below-trend growth mode, only to see expectations dashed. Meanwhile, Europe has been mired in its own recession as it struggles with heavy post-crisis debt burdens. Growth has slowed in the emerging markets, ending the commodity boom of the first decade of this century.

2013-09-27 Party like it's 1999? Not with your investments by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

“Party over, oops out of time?” I wasn’t dreamin’ when I wrote this, but these financial markets in the U.S. are beginning to feel like 1999. Back in the 1980s musician Prince, in all his purple majesty, urged people to party like it was 1999. Strangely when that year came, people did just that, but a year later they got clobbered by a horrific hangover by way of their investment portfolios. Investors need to prepare yet again for those times because these parties weren’t meant to last.

2013-09-27 How to Profit from a Changing China by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe China’s rebalancing is positive for investors who selectively invest in its stocks. As Jim O’Neill puts it, “When a country is embarking on a significant compositional change to its economy, stock-pickers rather than index-trackers have the upper hand.”

2013-09-26 One Trick Pony: Whipping the GDP Donkey into a Stallion by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia

The difficulty since 2012 has been that if you are not significantly overweight US equities, then your returns are less than stellar. Employing a diversified, risk-averse investment strategy in 2013 has in hindsight been the wrong thing to do, given that every other asset class is negative year-to-date, while US stocks are up double digits. The combination of the Fed’s Zero Interest Rate Policy and the artificial bubble in Treasury bonds has forced conservative investors into riskier positions in order to find risk-adjusted returns.

2013-09-25 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by almost $80.2 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $20.65 million and $38.585 respectively. As the dollar weakened on the Federal Reserve’s decision to delay tapering, the “Foreign Bond” category increased by $65.725 million and “Currency” active ETFs added $7.43 in value. Just like the previous week, the second largest increase in AUM came in the “High Yield” ETF category, which this time rose by over $44.35 million, main

2013-09-25 Fiscal Policy: Once More, with Ceiling by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Will the upcoming congressional debate on interim financing and raising the debt limit lead to a government shutdownand market turmoil? Not likely.

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.

2013-09-24 ENERGY MLPs: A Suitable and Sustainable Asset Class by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Key Takeaways: MLPs have provided income with little correlation to other asset classes and little sensitivity to interest rates, commodity prices or economic cycles. The market for MLP stocks has expanded greatly and offers liquidity which appeals to long-term institutional investors. The renaissance in U.S. energy production is driving sustainable growth in the infrastructure that MLPs own and operate

2013-09-24 How the Roll-Down Effect Now Helps Bond Investors by David Schawel, CFA (Article)

Retail investors have been rapidly selling out of bond funds. That may be either wise or unwise with the benefit of hindsight, but one often-overlooked fact remains: New and existing bond investors now have the benefit of a much steeper yield curve. In fact, the “roll down” portion of a bond’s return is one of the most important and least understood aspects of a bond’s total return.

2013-09-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The Federal Reserve kept its word last week: until they see an improvement in jobs growth and wages they simply won’t budge on their mission to keep interest rates low to stimulate borrowing and economic expansion. What this means to the markets, however, is more ambiguous.

2013-09-21 How Did The Fed Catch Markets Off Guard? What Does it Mean for Investors? by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

We think this decision prolongs the positive market environment we have seen in both equities and fixed income. With the Fed seemingly a distance away from tapering and raising rates, this could bode well for the risk sectors, where we could see further tightening in credit spreads on both high yield and investment-grade corporate bonds.

2013-09-18 Stock Funds' 5-Year Track Records Set to Double by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Many investors focus on the previous five years annualized return when analyzing which mutual funds to buy. We also pay a good deal of attention to the 5-year performance number when analyzing mutual fund and ETF returns at Halbert Wealth Management. And currently the 5-year average returns for most equity mutual funds are not all that attractive.

2013-09-18 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by over $68.76 million. Assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased by nearly $140 million. The second largest increase in AUM came in the “High Yield” ETF category, which rose by about $20.366 million, largely due to creation units. “US Equity” active ETFs also saw a significant increase in AUM of over $8.68 million. The biggest decreases in AUM came in the “Global Bond” and “Foreign Bond” categories, which fell by $58.85 million and $44.3 million respectively.

2013-09-16 U.S. Equity ETF Flows Send Bullish Signals Despite Recent Inflows by Minyi Chen, TrimTabs of AdvisorShares

Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) shares recent fund flow trends.

2013-09-16 The Next Big Challenge to Investors: Rising Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

Many investors were conditioned to accept that the economy would be in the rehabilitation ward for the foreseeable future, rates would remain low, and monetary stimulus would continue unabated. It was an increasingly dangerous mindset. Now that’s changing with the slow but steady recovery of the economy and the Federal Reserve’s announcement in August that it may begin “tapering” its billions in monthly bond purchases designed to keep rates low and boost asset prices.

2013-09-13 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by around $38.2 million.As in previous weeks, assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased, this time by almost $61.7 million, while AUM in the “Global Bond” category fell by about $39 million.The “Global Bond” category had another bad week, ending over $18.3 million below where it began.The “Alternative Income” category increased again but by less than in previous weeks; AUM increased by nearly $4.26 million. The “Alternative” active ETF category’s AUM rose by approximately

2013-09-13 What's Happening to Bonds and Why? by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

To say that bonds are under pressure would be an understatement. Over the last few months, sentiment about fixed income has flipped dramatically: from a favored investment destination that is deemed to benefit from exceptional support from central banks, to an asset class experiencing large outflows, negative returns and reduced standing as an anchor of a well-diversified asset allocation.

2013-09-12 Rates Update: Rationale for the Continuing Sell-off and Distinctions between 1994 & 2003 by Brian Smith of TCW Asset Management

The bond market continues to struggle to find support, with 10-year Treasury yields touching 3%, a sell-off of roughly 140 bps in the last 4 months! While reduced dealer risk capacity and impaired investor loss tolerances are two underlying factors contributing to recent rates volatility, this violent move to higher yields has been primarily led by expectations that the Fed will begin to taper asset purchases in their upcoming meeting on September 18th.

2013-09-12 Approaching a Turning Point by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Higher interest rates continue to negatively affect the real economy, increasing the susceptibility of risk assets to downside risk.

2013-09-11 Absolute Return Letter: A Case of Broken BRICS? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

EM currencies, stocks and bonds have struggled since the Fed signalled its intent to change course in late May. This has seemingly triggered an exodus of speculative capital from emerging markets but, as is always the case, there is more to the story than that. EM countries (ex. China) no longer run a current account surplus with the rest of the world, and this hurts global liquidity. It is not yet a re-run of the 1997-98 Asian crisis, but it has the potential to become one with all sorts of consequences for bond yields in developed markets, currency wars, etc.

2013-09-10 Check or Checkmate... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

The White House’s goal is to persuade Congress to authorize a limited military strike against Syria to punish it for a deadly chemical weapons attack. But after a frenetic week of wall-to-wall intelligence briefings, dozens of phone calls, and hours of hearings with senior members of Mr. Obama’s war council, more and more lawmakers, Republican and Democrat, are lining up to vote against the president.

2013-09-06 Four Interest Rate Scenarios We Could Face by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

I’ve written a lot lately on the subject of “duration” and its potential impact on investor portfolios, now that the initial goals of the Federal Reserve’s “Great Monetary Experiment” appear largely accomplished and tapering of its monthly purchase of Treasuries to keep rates low is on the table. The era of lowering interest rates and rising bond prices looks finally at an end, with no place for rates to go but up. It’s vital, then, that investors think about the impact that rising bond yields could have on their portfolios. Here are a few scenarios w

2013-09-05 Seventh Inning Stretch by William Gross of PIMCO

They say that reality is whatever you wish it to be and I suppose that could be true. Just wish it, as Jiminy Cricket used to say, and it will come true. Reality’s relativity came to mind the other day as I was opening a box of Cracker Jacks for an afternoon snack. That’s right I said Cracker Jacks! I can’t count the number of people who have told me during the seventh inning stretch at a baseball game to make sure I sing Cracker Jack (without the S) because that’s what the song says. I care not. No one ever says buy me some “potato chip” or some “pea

2013-09-05 Dividends Matter by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Many people think of emerging market stocks as pure growth plays, and may not realize that there is a separate potential benefitdividendsthat can also be available to investors in these markets. A prolonged period of easy monetary policies in many developed nations (particularly the US) has left income-seeking investors searching for alternatives to traditional fixed income, including dividend-paying stocks. Many investors may not realize dividends aren’t just a developed-market phenomenon.

2013-09-04 Fixed Income - Where to Now? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Since the end of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), investors moved aggressively into fixed income asset classes. They were quickly rewarded in the years following the crisis with a combination of falling interest rates and tighter credit spreads, which led to positive absolute returns. The easy money in fixed income is gone, however, and now is the time for careful asset class selection.

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

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

2013-09-04 Off to the Races by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Summer is traditionally a slow season for precious metals, but this summer started with a rout. In the last week of June, gold and silver hit 2-year lows of $1,192 and $18.61 respectively. Fortunately, after staggering along the lows, the precious metals are off to the races once more - with gold rallying more than 18% and silver 31%. This remarkable performance continues even in the face of the Fed’s sustained tapering threats.

2013-09-03 So Step Right Up, Pick Your Favorites... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

So with the backing of The White House, the State Department, the Senate & The Economist, the United States is going to launch Tomahawks on Syrian targets. The President did say that he will let Congress vote on a strike, but both he, Secretary Kerry and Senator Reid let it be known that they will be lighting fuses soon. So as a refresher as to who is supporting whom in Syria, the chart below will both assist and thoroughly confuse you...

2013-09-03 As Uncertainty Abounds in September, Sideways Consolidation Continues by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Global equities struggled last week, with the S&P 500 declining -1.39%.1 Volatility rose from geopolitical uncertainty over the military strike in Syria.2 Oil prices spiked with concerns about escalation and tension but retreated due to dampened international support and expectations that a military campaign would be short-lived. The U.S. Treasury announced its borrowing capacity will be exhausted by mid-October, exposing contentious fiscal battles. Reports mentioned former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers may be leading the succession race for Fed Chairman.

2013-08-31 How Do I Hate Thee? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will list a number of reasons why I hate this market and then suggest a few reasons why that should get you excited. We will look at some charts, and I’ll briefly comment on them. No deep dives this week, just a survey of the general landscape.

2013-08-30 An American Energy Revolution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In Texas these days, there’s a feeling of absolute and unwavering confidence in the concept of an American energy revolution. From the depths of reserves to the richness of the energy, an incredible transformation is taking place.

2013-08-29 High Yield Bond Market Mid-Year Check In by Matthew Pasts of BTS Asset Management

After a prosperous 30-year bull market, the prospect for the future direction of High Yield bonds would seem to hinge on not whether, but when their decline starts.Dan Fuss has been managing bonds for 55 years. His multi-sector bond fund, Loomis Sayles Bond Fund, ranks in the top 10% of its peer group over the last 15- and 10- year periods as of December 31, 2012. Fuss believes that bonds are currently “the most overbought market I have ever seen in my life in the business.”

2013-08-29 Have Emerging Markets Gotten Oversold? by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

At Templeton, we’ve repeatedly championed our value-driven philosophy by frequently buying at times others are most pessimistic. This is not easy to do, even for seasoned market veterans. During the past few months, emerging markets have been subject to such pessimism. These periods of short-term volatility are certainly not new to us, and don’t change our long-term conviction of the potential emerging markets hold.

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

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

2013-08-27 Emerging Markets Feel the Ripples of Fed Tapering by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Many Emerging Market currencies (notably those of India, Brazil and Indonesia) have been weak since the beginning of May. The declines accelerated sharply in recent weeks, leading to something approaching panic in several markets last week.

2013-08-27 Choose Your Door Wisely.. by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

If I was being forced to choose a side for year end 2013 performance, I would have to agree with Mr. Plant. While September is historically a difficult month for the markets, we also know that the Q4 tends to reward the equity markets.

2013-08-26 The Case for More Mortgage QE by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Disappointing new home sales don’t mean that tapering is less likely to occur in September. Rather, it may only mean that when tapering begins, the Fed’s likely to start small and only trim Treasuries.

2013-08-23 Float Research: Fund Outflows Surge Amid Bond Market Anxieties by Minyi Chen of AdvisorShares

Stock and bond funds have given up a net $32.4 billion in August thanks to strong outflows from ETFs and mutual finds alike. Read this investor insight by Minyi Chen, CFA, Chief Operating Officer of TrimTabs Investment Research and Portfolio Manager of AdvisorShares TrimTabs Float Shrink ETF (NYSE Arca: TTFS) to learn about the recent fund flow trends.

2013-08-23 Embrace Bottom Up by Herbert and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

With all the conflicting macro news, some good, some not, and with the S&P 500 and the Dow at new highs while many sectors languish, it is preferable to focus on the little picture not the big one. The big one may currently be more unpredictable than the small one, being bottom up investment in undervalued securities. Those may currently be less popular, but we value investors are naturally driven to buy investments low, that are neglected and unpopular, with the view of selling them high when their popularity is enhanced. Buy low and sell high. Not buy high and sell higher as is now in vogue.

2013-08-23 The Next Big Challenge to Investors: Duration by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

Many investors have been conditioned to accept that the economy will be in the rehabilitation ward for the foreseeable future, rates will remain low, and monetary stimulus unending. We believe this is an increasingly dangerous mindset and the next great risk for bond investors is coming into view: the return of higher interest rates. We look at the “refuge” subsectors those areas of the fixed income market that investors may believe provide “safe haven” from the gathering storm.

2013-08-22 Determined to Taper by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The release of the July Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes today and the Jackson Hole Economic Policy Symposium starting tomorrow are likely to dominate near-term activity in financial markets. Despite mixed economic data, it appears increasingly likely that some form of tapering will be announced at the FOMC’s September meeting.

2013-08-21 The Danger of Duration: The Damage Potential of Rising Rates by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

The Federal Reserve’s initial goals from “The Great Monetary Experiment” are accomplished. Investors could now face the threat of rising bond yields.

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

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

2013-08-20 A Lot Of Action In What Was Expected To Be A Quiet Week by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Most of the U.S. economic data released last week was rather ho-hum, consistent with continuing slow growth, but markets weren’t boring. Maybe markets are thin because it’s August, but the U.S. Treasury market had one of its worst weeks in a long time, and the selling spilled over into the U.S. stock market.

2013-08-20 Epic Climb Up and to the Right... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Interest rates continue to make an epic climb up and to the right...

2013-08-16 Purgatory Is Heaven by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

Since June, the Fed has stressed three messages: Tapering is not tightening, the federal funds rate will not move in tandem with a slowdown in asset purchases, and any change in Fed policy will rely on data, rather than a date. If Ben Bernanke leaves the Fed when his term expires, whoever is chosen to replace him will be bound by rules and the strength of the institution. The outlook for interest rates depends more on the Fed’s overall approach to the policy rate, and PIMCO believes the Fed will not increase that rate until 2016.

2013-08-16 What Happens When You Tell Indians to Stop Buying Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

With the government in India raising its import tax for gold to 10 percent this week, I firmly believe Indians will continue indulging in gold, even if they have to smuggle it in.

2013-08-15 Correlation and Portfolio Construction by Dean Curnutt of Macro Risk Advisors

We review recent periods of financial market stress, which bring about elevated levels of asset volatility and during which investors are vulnerable to incurring substantial loss of capital. We illustrate that risk is determined both by the volatility of individual investments in a portfolio and the degree to which they are correlated. Often overlooked, correlation is a critical factor. Because assets become more correlated at the same time they become more volatile, we argue that the benefits of diversification often are difficult to achieve when they are most needed.

2013-08-13 Dog Days of Summer Are Upon Us by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Hopefully you are reading this from the beach, because there is so little news happening in the markets that those of us in the office are about to start making news up to justify stock price movements. But while news and volumes are at August lows, here are some thoughts that might ring a bell to help you to either make some money or to set down your smartphone and get back to the water.

2013-08-12 The Key Economic and Market Forces Guiding Equity Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

This week we want to address important themes that underline our continued cautious optimism for a slowly improving global economy and signs of revenue and earnings growth momentum.

2013-08-12 Lower Your Expectations for Future Return by Cory Fulton of Mesirow Financial Wealth Management

While equities are not priced particularly well and the current environment does not bode well for future long-term expected real returns, they are currently a better choice for investors relative to the alternative. Right now, any meaningful shifts in one direction or the other could be setting the investor up for additional disappointment. At this stage in the game, equities look to offer better prospects in the long-term. However, the time is not right to abandon your long-term investment plan in the face of the positive market headlines and lofty predictions emanating from Wall Street.

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

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

2013-08-08 Quarterly Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

To begin, let us state that we are tired of writing about macroeconomic issues. We suspect you are tired of reading about them. We would like nothing more than to send out a quarterly letter full of updates on the companies we own and the rationale for individual buy and sell decisions. Nevertheless, we must address the market action following Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke’s May 22nd testimony before Congress, where he merely floated the idea of “tapering” the Fed’s quantitative easing efforts.

2013-08-07 Adapt or Die... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Bond king Bill Grosss $261.7 billion Total Return Fund at Pacific Investment Management Co. suffered a $7.5 billion net outflow last month, according to data from fund tracker Morningstar Inc. on Friday. It is the third straight monthly outflow for the Fund, on the heels of nearly $10 billion in redemptions in June. Clients have yanked $15.6 billion from Gross’s Fund in 2013 through July. Jeffrey Gundlach’s $37.9 billion DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund suffered $580 million net outflow in July, according to Morningstar.

2013-08-07 Japan The Land of the Rising Stock Market by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We have been ardent bulls on the Japanese stock market since last Fall. Our thesis has been a simple one: For the first time in the history of our data, Japan began running consecutive monthly current account deficits.

2013-08-05 Can It Get Any Better Than This? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

What in the world is going on?! As I write this letter from the Maine woods, the S&P 500 has just cleared 1,700 for the first time. The German DAX continues to set all-time highs above 8,400. The United Kingdom’s FTSE 100 is quickly approaching its 1999 record high of 6,930, and its mid-cap cousin, the FTSE 250, just broke through to its all-time level above 15,000. And last but not least, Japan’s Nikkei 225 is extending its gains once more, toward 14,500.

2013-08-01 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week total AUM in all Active ETFs fell by almost $20 million. This was almost entirely due to redemptions in “Foreign Bond” Active ETFs. The “Short Term Bond” category continues to gain assets and increased by $38 million just last week. Total AUM in this category could possibly surpass the “Global Bond” category in the coming months in trends continue.

2013-08-01 The Fed's Balance Sheet by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The value of the Fed’s portfolio has fallen by about $192 billion as a result of the rise in interest rates over the past quarter. Further losses from rising interest rates could compromise the Fed’s ability to engage in monetary tightening should market conditions warrant such action.

2013-07-31 Calm Has Replaced Fear in the Bond Market by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

Calm largely returned to the bond market in July following a bout of turbulence in June. Volatility declined across the broad spectrum of fixed income assets, with interest rates and credit spreads falling from their highs, in some cases dramatically. Flows have also turned positive in many market segments, particularly for high yield and bank loan securities.

2013-07-31 Still High Time for High Yield? by Team of Rainier Funds

Given recent strong performance and yields hovering at historic lows, a current topic of debate has been whether the high yield bond market has become an asset bubble and how much of a risk is the potential end to the Federal Reserve’s accommodative monetary policy to high yield investors. While we at Rainier acknowledge there are current risks in the fixed income market, we believe these concerns are not unique to high yield bonds.

2013-07-30 ING Fixed Income Perspectives July 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

We are constructive on interest rate risks in many developed and emerging economies as global central banks reinforce accommodative monetary policy. We favor the U.S. dollar versus the Japanese yen, the Euro and other developed market currencies. Credit spreads should narrow from current levels as the markets gain confidence and the Treasury market stabilizes. preads offer more than adequate compensation for likely credit losses and a further rise in interest rates. Spreads have been pressured to pre-QE3 levels and mortgages look attractive at these higher levels as prepayment speeds slow.

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

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

2013-07-26 Attention 3-D Shoppers by John West of Research Affiliates

Why do retail shoppers love a sale while capital markets flee from falling prices? Investors should consider starting to fill their shopping carts while inflation hedges are cheap....

2013-07-26 Municipal Bonds: Equipped to Weather Rising Rates by Guy Davidson of AllianceBernstein

Muni bonds suffered a rout recently when anxiety over the Fed’s taper of bond buying roiled fixed-income markets, leaving many investors wondering where to turn. As it turns out, munis have historically been effective shock absorbers. We believe that, given the right positioning, munis can help weather rising rates.

2013-07-25 A One-Pillar Economy by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Despite blockbuster new home sales, higher interest rates have put downward pressure on housing activity. This is highly worrisome given the importance of housing to the health of the U.S. economy.

2013-07-25 The Damage Potential of Rising Rates by Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments

The initial goals of the Federal Reserve’s “Great Monetary Experiment” to keep rates low, create negative real yields, spur consumption and cushion the budgetary consequences of fiscal stimulus have largely been accomplished. Investors could now face the threat of rising bond yields. Various bull and bear scenarios might ensue. What are they and what could trigger them? What are the risks to portfolios?

2013-07-25 How Far is Gold Off Course? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold has been in extremely oversold territory lately despite drivers for the metal remaining in place.

2013-07-24 Average Gas Price Could Hit $4 by Labor Day... Or Not by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

With the recent jump in gasoline prices, several energy analysts are forecasting that prices at the pump will top $4 a gallon (national average) later this summer. On the other hand, some analysts feel that gas prices will only go up another 5-10 cents a gallon just ahead, and then move lower in the fall. Of course, no one knows for sure. Today, we’ll take a look at what’s driving gas prices higher.

2013-07-24 Stocks and Bonds Both Again Rally as Bernanke Soothes by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s congressional testimony got more headlines, but Detroit’s long-anticipated formal filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy was by far the more important development. Billions of dollars of losses will be imposed on general obligation bondholders and/or retired employees.

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

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

2013-07-23 You Thought It Was Hot Outside... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

You thought it was hot outside? Wait until you see the weekly cash inflows into U.S. Equities... Funds that hold only U.S. stocks gained $15.58 billion in new cash, the most since June 2008. ETFs that hold domestic equities attracted $12.45 billion of those gains.

2013-07-23 Risk Communicates Signals that Something Important is at Stake by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

The equity markets hit new all-time highs again this past quarter. However, we believe this rally is largely due to Ben Bernanke’s policy of Quantitative Easing (QE) which presently equates to the purchase of $85 billion in U.S. government debt every month. Through the Federal Reserve’s policies our government has effectively printed trillions of dollars since the financial crisis began, arguably inflating a host of asset prices including the stock market.

2013-07-22 The Purgatory of Low Returns by James Montier of GMO

This might just be the cruelest time to be an asset allocator. Normally we find ourselves in situations in which at least something is cheap; for instance when large swathes of risk assets have been expensive, safe haven assets have generally been cheap, or at least reasonable (and vice versa). This was typified by the opportunity set we witnessed in 2007.

2013-07-20 Any Bonds Today? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Given the acknowledged limitations of the CPI, we nevertheless use it in myriad ways. It governs cost-of-living adjustments for Social Security beneficiaries, government employees, and many labor union members. CPI is baked into the general cake, even though we know it is an imperfect fit in almost every situation.

2013-07-19 Fixed Income Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

The question we keep asking is “Will the real Fed mandate, please stand up?” The Federal Reserve (the Fed) traditionally is charged with keeping inflation in check, but it also has a second mandate to ensure full employment. This dual mandate can occasionally create general confusion as to what is the best policy at a given time and which policy goal the Fed is trying to achieve. Today, we are at a juncture where the Fed’s mandates may not clearly align with stated future monetary actions.

2013-07-19 7 Things Investors Should Know Now by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Can stocks move higher? What are the best opportunities now in stocks and fixed income? Russ answers these questions and others in an update to his mid-year outlook.

2013-07-19 Fixed Income Fed Insight: It's All About Employment by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton Investments

We can try to guess what the Fed is thinking, but ultimately the Fed is driven by inflation and the labor markets. With inflation seemingly under control, it’s really the labor markets that dominate. So if you want to know what the Fed’s going to be doing, look at the labor markets how many jobs we create each month and, most importantly, the unemployment rate.

2013-07-18 Second Quarter 2013 Financial Market Commentary by Andrew Zimmerman of DT Investment Partners

To taper, or not to taper, that is the question that investors are currently grappling with.

2013-07-18 The Death of Disasterism by Steven Vincent of BullBear Trading

From late 2012 I have been gradually layering and developing the thesis that a secular bull market started in November of 2012 (with a possible revised start date of June 2012), ending the sideways secular bear market that started in 2000. Here are the basic components of that thesis through the last report.

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

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

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

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

2013-07-16 AdvisorShares Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The market increased again last week and both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached record highs by the end of the week. The Nasdaq Composite Index also rose significantly, hitting a 12 year high.

2013-07-16 The Great Rotation Continues Forward... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke grabbed the mic on Wednesday and gave a performance that garnered a standing ovation from Stock, Bond, and Commodity investors. Only U.S. Dollar longs went home dragging their programs and spilling their popcorn. As a result, U.S. equity markets ended the week at all-time highs as stocks remained the darlings of the asset classes.

2013-07-16 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

After having had a tremendous first half of the year, what direction might the market take into the next few quarters? On the one hand, trend analysis has indeed turned “positive” and would suggest that the throttle is in full “go” mode. However, we know from historical and economic analysis that markets cannot sustain linear acceleration indefinitely, and that even the most robust trend is susceptible either to linear reversion or cyclical unraveling.

2013-07-15 Mid-Year Outlook: Waiting to Move Beyond a Muddle-Through Economy by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

By focusing on current economic conditions while giving due importance to the uncertainty created by Fed actions we offer thoughts for consideration in evaluating “risk-on” investments.

2013-07-12 Rising Rates: Time to Position, Not Panic by Douglas Peebles of AllianceBernstein

It finally happened. After endless discussion about the potential for rates to rise, they finally didin a big way. During May and June, the 10-year US Treasury yield soared by nearly one percent, and markets reeled. Instead of panicking, investors should make sure their portfolios are positioned effectively.

2013-07-12 Commodities 2013 Halftime Report: A Time to Mine for Opportunity? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

It was a challenging first half of the year for most commodities, with only two resources we track on our Periodic Table of Commodities Returns rising in value. Natural gas and oil rose 6.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively, while silver lost a third of its value and gold lost a quarter of its price from the beginning of the year.

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

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

2013-07-10 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

The Bulls returned to stocks this week and bonds got crushed again. Comments out of the ECB, strong data out of Japan, and a good jobs number contributed to the rally, but at the end of the day the market had gotten a bit oversold. Bernanke is scheduled to speak today so if past history repeats itself things could get interesting again. Next week we will get a bunch of Q2 corporate earnings to that could also have quite an impact on the market either way.

2013-07-10 Market Perspectives Q2 2013: Fed Fears by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

Investors have been hypersensitive to the inevitable reversal of the Federal Reserve’s bond purchasing economic stimulus program known as QE3. Signs of sustainable economic recovery have been closely monitored as a harbinger of a likely end of the program.

2013-07-10 3 Risks that Could Derail the Market Rally by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Stocks can withstand moderate rate increases, as we saw last Friday when they rallied despite a sell-off in bonds. But Russ K warns that they may not withstand these three other scenarios.

2013-07-09 The Five Best New Investment Ideas: New Age Paradigms for the Post-MPT World by Bob Veres (Article)

Over the past four years, I’ve been collecting the most tangible, concrete post-Modern Portfolio Theory insights offered by professional investors.

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

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

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

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

2013-07-08 Absolute Return Letter: Much Ado about Nothing by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

A 300 bps rise in bond yields across the term structure would, according to their calculations, do substantial damage to financial institutions’ balance sheets. Holders of U.S. Treasuries alone would lose in excess of $1 trillion on such a move in rates, equal to 8% of U.S. GDP. Other countries would fare even worse. Losses on JGBs would equal 35% of the Japanese GDP, effectively wiping out its banking industry in the process. Holders of U.K. bonds wouldn’t do much better, losing the equivalent of 25% of U.K. GDP.

2013-07-03 The Fed's Prisoner Dilemma: Interest Rates Too Low for Too Long by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

The Prisoner Dilemma is based on the example of two prisoners who are told that if one testifies against the other, the one who testified will go free, but if both testify against the other, both will be jailed a conundrum about courses of action that don’t result in the ideal outcome. We believe the Federal Reserve (Fed) will try to manage expectations so that the Treasury yield curve does not adjust too violently.

2013-07-03 A Roadmap for Rates by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Uncertainty over the Federal Reserve’s timeline for tapering quantitative easing has resulted in increased volatility in fixed income markets. While the coming months could see the 10-year Treasury yield climb as high as 3.5 percent, the resulting economic slowdown will keep rates subdued in the medium-term.

2013-07-03 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

Last month was the first down month for the market this year. The next few weeks ought to be interesting, we have the monthly jobs number on July 5th when most people are probably on vacation and then corporate earnings start in two weeks. No telling at this point about whether the market will want good news or more of the Goldilocks, not to hot, not too cold, news that could keep Quantitative Easing going. Going forward investors will continue to analyze anything the Fed says for clues.

2013-07-02 Preparing for the Second Half of 2013 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It’s halftime halfway through the year. That means Russ is looking back at what he got right and wrong in the first half of the year, and updating his expectations for the remainder of 2013.

2013-07-01 All of the Above by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Market internals remain broken here. That may change, and it might even change soon. Until it does, we would be inclined to tread carefully, because this may be the highest level investors will see on the S&P 500 for quite some time. Choosing between potential catalysts - credit strains in China, the risk of disappointing earnings, or economic weakness, the incoming data is consistent with one conclusion: all of the above.

2013-07-01 Consider Convertibles in a Rising Rate Environment by Walter Stabell III of Invesco Blog

The recent mass exodus out of bonds in which investors pulled more than $18 billion from funds that invest in bonds over a two-week period ending June 12 may have left you searching for the best opportunities in the bond market.

2013-06-28 Stay the Course As Mixed Signals Move Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We maintain that gold is in extremely oversold territory and mathematically due for a reversal toward the mean. Yet when gold prices plummet, fear takes over and some investors forget the fundamental reasons to own gold: Gold is a portfolio diversifier and a store of value. It is a finite resource with increasing global demand.

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

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

2013-06-27 ING Fixed Income Perspectives June 2013 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Fears of Fed tapering are overblown; we expect global funding conditions to remain easy. We continue to favor the U.S. dollar and are bearish on the euro and the yen; we are cautious on EM local currencies, as volatility is likely to persist.Spreads are appealing at current levels, with higher-quality industrials offering the most attractive risk/reward.

2013-06-26 When I Suggested it May Be Time To Go Fishing... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

When I suggested that it may be time to go fishing, I didn’t think that everyone would sell their bonds, notes, and bills to buy a new boat...

2013-06-26 The Fed\'s Dirty Little Secret: QE Does Not Work by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today I hope to dispel the myth that the Fed’s massive quantitative easing (QE) policy has driven long-term interest rates lower. I will argue that the opposite is true and demonstrate that the yield on the 10-year Treasury note has actually risen during QE-1, QE-2 and QE-3. This flies in the face of most market commentators.

2013-06-26 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

This has been a rough week for the markets. It started when Bernanke spoke (if this keeps up we will have to buy protection before he speaks the next time) and continued with bad economic news out of China. The selloff after Bernanke’s speech looked like a buy on the rumor, sell on the fact event. The selloff after weak China data came out was a good, old fashioned sell off.

2013-06-25 Is Fixed Income the New Equity? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

After several decades of positive returns, fixed income investors are being treated to a rude awakening in the last six weeks. Recent comments from Federal Reserve officials suggest a sooner than anticipated exit from quantitative easing, raising the prospect of higher interest rates. Throughout the universe of fixed income assets, investors are questioning the future return potential, leading many to wonder, what now?

2013-06-24 A Timetable for Ending QE by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

In a press conference following this week’s FOMC meeting, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke provided markets with a clearer understanding on how the Fed expects to phase out its current quantitative easing (QE) program. This timetable is justified both by economic progress and by the significant future costs which a too-large Fed balance sheet is likely to entail. Moreover, the timetable, while never previously explicitly outlined, should not have been a surprise to most market observers. Nevertheless, Mr. Bernanke’s words have been met by a sharp selloff across a wide range of financial a

2013-06-21 Fed Tapering Won't Cause a Bond Market Armageddon by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Even if the Fed scales back its pace of bond purchases later this year, Russ explains why investors shouldn’t expect rates to finish the year much higher than where they are today.

2013-06-19 Dialing Down by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The financial markets have gyrated in recent weeks on fears that Federal Reserve policymakers will taper the rate of asset purchases. The rise in long-term interest rates and increased market volatility are hard to justify based on the discussion of possible changes in the Fed asset purchase program alone. No change in monetary policy is expected at this week’s Federal Open Market Committee meeting.

2013-06-18 Unconstrained Bond Funds Fail to Deliver by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

There have been an incessant number of articles in the past year addressing a “Great Rotation” by investors the seismic shift in asset allocation predicted to result from a transition to a rising rate environment. Individual investors “spoiled” by a 30-year secular decline in interest rates, it is thought, will run to new alternatives in the face of this structural headwind for a significant chunk of their portfolios.

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.

2013-06-18 Fed Zombification by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

The enthusiasm of our culture for Zombies is estimated to contribute a tidy $5 billion dollar a year to GDP, and that doesn’t even include the too-big-to-die zombie banks. In my opinion, the acute interest in zombies and horror (and escapism in general) says something about our country’s mental health.

2013-06-17 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

With the markets trading at “all time highs” and investors scurrying to find alpha, much is being made about the demise of the bond market. Analysts and economists are in accord that the age of bond appreciation is over. The cause? Global austerity and national treasuries forcing (holding) interest rates down to their lowest levels in generations.

2013-06-17 Sloppy Markets Continue by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week the S&P 500 declined 0.97%,1 while many global equity averages fell for the fourth week in a row. Early in the week, discussion of tapering by the Federal Reserve was a big headwind, as discomfort over a slower pace of policy accommodation rippled through global markets. Thursday’s rally was driven by thoughts that tapering fears may be overdone. Markets were also helped by better employment and consumption data.

2013-06-14 The Evolution of Emerging Market Corporate Bonds for U.S. High-Grade Fixed-Income Investors by Todd Kurisu, Thomas Brennan of William Blair

Emerging market (EM) investment-grade corporate bonds are an important and growing segment of the core fixed-income universe. These bonds have evolved to be more like U.S. investment-grade corporate bonds than high-yield or traditional emerging market debt (EMD) securities. This sector has demonstrated favorable risk, return, and diversification benefits in the context of a broad market fixed-income portfolio. Today’s fixed-income investors must have a framework for evaluating new opportunities subject to prudent risk management

2013-06-14 Which Way for Bonds? Mapping a Path Forward by Bill Gross of PIMCO

In 1980, the Federal Reserve, led by Paul Volcker, tightened the quantitative noose to tame double-digit inflation, fueling an unprecedented tailwind for bond prices. Thirty years later we find ourselves at the other extreme, as central banks print money in the trillions of dollars to stimulate economic growth, and inflation is abnormally low. While we are not likely to see a repeat of that type of bull market any time soon, we also do not believe we are at the beginning of a bear market for bonds.

2013-06-14 A Taste of Rising Rates by Team of Neuberger Berman

The mantra "sell in May and go away" has taken on a new twist this year. Equity markets saw mixed returns last month but bonds took a beating, with losses materializing in nearly every fixed income segment. The reason? Interest rates rose significantlyand rather unexpectedlyover the course of the month. What implications would rising rates have for the market? We consider what’s ahead.

2013-06-14 Changing Picture by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We could be in the beginning stages of an adjustment toward a more "normal" monetary policy environment, with attendant volatility. This once again illustrates the importance of diversification and focusing on long-term goals when investing. We continue to believe the US equity markets are an attractive place for assets and recommend buying on pullbacks to the extent that you need to add to equity exposure. Additionally, continue to exercise caution around fixed income allocations and focus more on the developed markets vs. EM.

2013-06-13 The Instability of Stability by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Hyman Minsky’s scholarship holds valuable lessons for the current dynamic in the economy. The Fed, via QE, continues to induce speculative buying in the Treasury market, which is having the effect of destabilizing a number of asset classes.

2013-06-12 Silver Lining: Fed's “Tapering” Signals Stronger Economy by Eric Takaha of Franklin Templeton Investments

The Federal Reserve’s warning that it planned to scale back purchases of Treasuries sparked a storm on Wall Street, bringing instability to what had been a pleasant May in the US markets. Almost lost in the noise, however, is a silver lining: the Fed thinks the economy may be healthy enough to fly on its own.

2013-06-12 5 Reasons Not to Flee Non-US Dividend Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

“As bond yields rise, is it time to flee dividend stocks?” Russ explains why the answer is, no, at least when it comes to international dividend payers.

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 6 Investing Implications of Friday's Jobs Report by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While the jobs report on Friday merely confirmed that the recovery continues to chug along slowly, it does have six implications for investors.

2013-06-07 Why It Pays to Invest in Emerging Market Dividend-Payers by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

An unexpected change of heart happened in May that you might not have heard about. After years of resisting any path other than its rigorous course, Germany announced it is backing off from pure austerity and is now planning to spend billions of euros to stimulate the economies of Europe.

2013-06-06 But We Want Goldilocks-Like Growth by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

While the equity markets would enjoy a bit of the great rotation out of the 20+ year outperformance in bonds and into equities, the move in May has been too much, too quick for even equity investors to stomach. So while the Long Treasury ETF (TLT) fell -6.8% in May, the size of the move even scared investors in REITs (IYR), Junk Bonds (JNK/HYG), and Utilities (XLU).

2013-06-06 The REAL Great Rotation by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The phrase "Great Rotation" has come to mean a sizeable shift in asset allocation from bonds to stocks. We, too, believe that stocks are likely to secularly outperform bonds, but we don’t think that is the "great rotation" about which investors should be concerned.

2013-06-06 A Longer Time Horizon Can Be an Advantage for Value Investors by Mark Cooper of PIMCO

We believe that given challenging prospects for attractive investment returns, the value premium could become even more important in the years ahead. Even in an uncertain environment like we are currently experiencing, we believe the merit in owning equities for the long term is unchanged: We want to participate as an owner in a growing, profitable business.

2013-06-05 Certainty, Rates and the Year Ahead by Peritus Asset Management of AdvisorShares

The government tells us not to worry, as the Federal Reserve comes to rescue with QE-Forever. Certainty with fiscal policy doesn’t seem to change the demand equation and cheapened money doesn’t do anything if demand isn’t present. Treasury rates remain at 0% for the foreseeable future making yield hard to find. Read this position paper by Peritus Asset Management scrutinizing how all this has come to pass and what indicators are foretelling the near future effects on the high yield asset class.

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

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

2013-06-05 Fed Advisory Council Drops A Bombshell by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Last Friday afternoon, the Fed released the minutes from a May 17 meeting of the Federal Advisory Council (FAC). The Council is a group of 12 influential bankers from across the country who meet periodically and give the Fed Board of Governors input regarding the economy, moneyary policy, etc. The minutes from the latest FAC meeting clearly indicate that the bankers are becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the Fed’s unprecedented “quantitative easing” policy. To my knowledge, no one in the mainstream media has reported on what you will read here today.

2013-06-05 Weekly Market Commentary by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

Yesterday ended the streak of up Tuesdays in the market while last week saw an acceleration in the the "crush anything that pays any sort of yield" theme. Treasuries, high yield bonds, preferred shares, Utilities, REITs, etc. all got killed. At this point this just seems like the weird type of dislocation that happens sometimes in markets where money just doesn’t want to go anywhere except under a mattress.

2013-06-04 Woody Brock’s Challenge to Krugman and the Keynesians by Bob Veres (Article)

A polarizing choice confronts policymakers. Either they side with Paul Krugman and the Keynesians, and advocate for aggressive fiscal measures to stimulate America’s economic growth rate, or they align themselves with the so-called austerians, who argue that budget cutbacks are necessary to eliminate deficits. A third option is rarely discussed. Its most outspoken proponent, Horace “Woody” Brock, says that America should continue to borrow, but spend wisely – and develop new policy instruments that would eliminate asset bubbles and stimulate economic activity.

2013-06-04 Wounded Heart by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Joseph Schumpeter, the originator of the phrase “creative destruction,” authored a less well-known corollary at some point in the 1930s. “Profit,” he wrote, “is temporary by nature: It will vanish in the subsequent process of competition and adaptation.” And so it has, certainly at the micro level for which his remark was obviously intended. Once proud, seemingly indestructible capitalistic giants have seen their profits fall short of “everlasting” and exhibited a far more ephemeral character.

2013-06-04 Caught Between Slow Growth and the End of Easy Money by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Two contradictory investor concerns are to blame for a recent pickup in market volatility. Russ explains which of the concerns is premature and what that means for investors.

2013-06-03 Treasury Bonds Are No Longer the Conservative Investor's Friend by Jeff Middleswart of Ranger International

For more than three decades, conservative investors have been able to count on Treasury bonds to deliver a consistent income stream, while providing a safe repository for principal. Further, Treasuries have anchored portfolios over their long bull run by limiting the damage when stocks declined.

2013-06-03 Is Volatility Dead? Hardly. by Paresh Upadhyaya, Michael Temple of Pioneer Investments

Certain pundits suggest we have entered a new volatility regime that volatility has been tamed by the massive amount of liquidity injected into worldwide capital markets by very accommodative central banks. We take a different view. While volatility has been declining across many asset classes, it is creeping into several that may have escaped some investors’ attention.

2013-05-31 Into the Woods by Tony Crescenzi, Tadashi Kakuchi, Ben Emons of PIMCO

Excess liquidity, falling net issuance and higher correlations among assets complicate the eventual exit that the Federal Reserve and other central banks must make from their extraordinary policies. The Bank of Japan’s ideology has completely changed to “tackling deflation” from “tolerating deflation.” The key focus in the coming months will be how private sectors react. Investors who depend chiefly upon central bank activism may put themselves at risk. They may need to hedge volatility by ensuring their investments are built more on solid fundamentals and reasona

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.

2013-05-31 The Fixation on the Fed: 3 Investing Implications by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Hypersensitive investors are reacting to every utterance from central banks like the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Japan. Russ shares three investing implications of this fixation.

2013-05-31 What\'s the Answer to Unprecedented Policies and Ultralow Rates? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

So what’s the answer to unprecedented central bank policies that have been driving stocks higher and ultralow rates? I believe investors need to stick to a strategy that includes dividend-paying stocks that offer the opportunity for both income and growth.

2013-05-30 Where the Heck Are We? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The current investment market climate reminds me of a scene from the old TV sitcom F-Troop. U.S. soldiers ask their Native American friends, the Hekawi tribe, how they got their name. As Chief Wild Eagle, the Hekawi leader, said back then (paraphasing: ”many moons ago, Tribe travel west, then come big day tribe fall over cliff, that when Hekawi get name. Medicine man say “I think we lost. Where the heck are we?”

2013-05-24 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The two Asian giants have a challenging year ahead. The Fed will be challenged to keep the bond market under control.

2013-05-24 Ten High Yield Market Takeaways by Mark Hudoff of Hotchkis & WIley

Mark Hudoff, portfolio manager of the Hotchkis & Wiley High Yield strategy, shares his thoughts on the current opportunities and challenges in the high yield marketplace.

2013-05-24 Remarkable Resilience by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We saw how the prospect of a sooner pullback in purchases in bonds by the Fed rattled the market both in the US and globally, but the picture, to us, has not changed to any great degree. A very gradual pullback, not even going to zero, in quantitative easing due to an improved economic situation doesn’t spell disaster to us. We continue to urge investors to pay attention to both sides of the risk equation when making decisions and to keep the longer-term perspective in mind. Short-term swings are inevitable, but should not be the basis for sound decision making.

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 DC Plan Sponsors Should Look Further than Their Own Backyard by Alison Martier, Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

US defined contribution (DC) plan sponsors large and small are seeking ways to help plan participants achieve better outcomes. Over the last 30 years, compelling evidence has accumulated that suggests currency-hedged global bonds may be an important part of the solution.

2013-05-15 And That\\\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Fiscal Cliff. Sequester. Different names for similar budgetary issues that both basically resulted in games of Congressional “kick the can.” Now in a stroke of luck for non-compromising politicos, the budget deficit is shrinking as higher payroll taxes and paybacks from previously bailed out entities (thanks Fan) have enhanced government revenues since the beginning of the year.

2013-05-15 Dissecting the Rally: What Sectors Look Attractive? by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The current rally has been fueled by investors looking for relatively "safe" areas of the market. As such, the classic defensive sectors, such as utilities, consumer staples and healthcare, have been outperforming. This trend may be changing, indicating that sectors such as energy and technology are growing more attractive.

2013-05-15 Speaking of a Great Week... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

I left the office each day thinking that I just saw another walk off game winning home run by the S&P500. The bears were given their chance in April with the weak economic data and slightly less than exciting earnings, but they just couldn’t break it. In return, the employment data was a bit better, the global central banks came out swinging (ECB, Australia, and South Korea), then the markets broke the Yen, Bonds, and Gold, and the Bulls absolutely skinned the Bears.

2013-05-15 Yen Weakness: Buffett\'s \"Shot Heard Round the World\'\" by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We returned recently from the Berkshire Hathaway Annual Shareholder Conference. The most exciting and profound comment to us was what Warren Buffett said about the unprecedented actions the last three years by the Federal Reserve Board. Buffett was asked about the risks of the Federal Reserve’s current plan to buy Treasuries to keep interest rates very low.

2013-05-15 Weekly Market Commentary by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

We have been talking about some troubling divergences in the market for the past couple of weeks. These have worked themselves out--- Small and mid cap stocks are now outperforming the S&P 500 over the past week and month and Treasury Bond yields are coming back up.

2013-05-15 The Great Capitulation by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

If you were to browse the virtual bookshelves of Amazon, some of the latest titles do not seem overly optimistic about the future. In Niall Ferguson’s The Great Degeneration, he examines why civil society is in complete “free fall”. Another recent “pick me up” entitled The Great Deformation, by former Reagan budget director David Stockman, discusses the negative impacts of Washington’s political dysfunction to our democracy.

2013-05-14 Changing Face of High Yield by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

High yield has been on a tear. A series of fortunate events have made this one of the best asset classes in recent years. It has outperformed the S&P[1] nine out of the last thirteen years. In those that it lagged, underperformance averaged 1.9%. Outperformance averaged 9.7%. From 1985 to 2012, high yield had five down years averaging (-8.8%). The S&P had five down years averaging (-16.6%). Over the entire period, high yield underperformed the S&P by around 180bp but with about half the risk and a 0.58 correlation.

2013-05-08 Deflation Is OverPlease Come Out by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

A blooper reel of 20th century history would likely include a feature on Japanese soldier Hiro Onoda. Posted to a small island in the Philippines during the waning days of World War II, when Onoda’s mission proved unsuccessful he was ultimately forced to flee into the woods, where he survived on a steady diet of coconuts and bananasfor almost 30 years after the end of the war.

2013-05-07 Why Did Gold Prices Fall So Sharply? by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

April’s sharp decline in gold got people’s attention. Plunging from $1,561 to $1,347/oz on April 12 and 15, it was a staggering decline of 13.7% the biggest 2-day drop since 1983. Is anything significant going on behind the scenes? We believe this price action is not a new phenomenon for gold, but a continuation of a much bigger trend that has been in place since the third quarter of 2011.

2013-05-07 Navigating Opportunities in Senior Loan and High Yield Corporate Bond ETFs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

In this newsletter, we will consider how senior loan and high yield corporate bond ETFs may be utilized by investors to pursue a higher level of income while seeking to mitigate the impact of rising interest rates. We’ll discuss why we believe benchmark indices are flawed investment strategies for gaining exposure to these asset classes, and we’ll highlight how First Trust utilizes active management to seek better risk-adjusted returns than passive senior loan and high yield corporate bond index ETFs.

2013-05-07 Investing for Income and Capital Appreciation by Giorgio Caputo, Rob Hordon, Ed Meigs, Sean Slein of First Eagle Investment Management

A Q&A with First Eagle Investment Management’s senior members and their market views and strategic insights.

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.

2013-05-06 The Economy: Why Interest Rates Shouldn't Rise Anytime Soon by Ron Sloan of Invesco

Real is irrelevant. The US Federal Reserve (the Fed) is unconcerned about real GDP the inflation-adjusted measurement of US economic growth. Rather, without inflation in our economy, the Fed is focused on raising nominal GDP. And that priority means that interest rates should stay low for the foreseeable future.

2013-05-02 Disconnect: Why Stocks and Economy Often Move in Opposite Directions by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The stock market hit all-time highs during the first quarter, yet the economy again underperformed expectations. Is the disconnect an aberration or the norm?

2013-05-02 In Treasuries, the Risks Outweigh the Rewards by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The 1Q GDP report was mixed, but the lack of income growth remains troubling. Oil prices are likely to remain range-bound, but that should be good enough to help energy stocks. While yields could decline further in the near-term, Treasuries look quite unappealing.

2013-05-01 While the Bears Fight... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

While corporate earnings outlooks and released economic data remained soft, the world moved to declare Austerity a failure and quickly assumed that the ECB could ease further at this week’s meetings. The recent collapse in commodity prices and slowdown in China does put a high card in their hand. With these new thoughts, European equities and bonds both surged on the week...

2013-05-01 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

he mixed economic numbers we have been seeing lately----higher than expected consumer confidence and home prices vs. lower than expected Chicago PMI---might be confusing to some. One number shows the economy improving while another shows the economy contracting. However, for investors this is actually good news as the data continues to confirm that we are in a Goldilocks economy, not too hot, not too cold.

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

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

2013-04-30 Beware of the New Systemic Risk by Ashwin Alankar, Michael DePalma of AllianceBernstein

It felt like there was nowhere to hide from the market declines last Monday, April 15, when stocks, bonds and commodities fell in unison across the world, well before the Boston bombings that day. We believe that this failure of diversification was instigated by increasingly powerful multi-asset funds, many of which use leverage, which may have become a new source of systemic risk for investors.

2013-04-29 New Highs Bring New Worries by Richard Golod of Invesco

The sustainability of the rallies in US and Japanese equities this year so far is looking uncertain amid slowing year-over-year earnings growth and mixed global economic signals. European and emerging market shares have traded lower year to date and seem likely to continue lagging in the near term. However, on balance, I remain optimistic about global equities, seeking yield opportunities and investments with an actively managed, more selective approach.

2013-04-29 High Yield in a Rising Rate Environment by Team of AdvisorShares

We have all witnessed a major move in Treasury rates over the last couple months, causing concern for many that we may be in the early stages of a rising interest rate environment. The traditional thought is that as interest rates rise, bond prices fall. But looking at history, the high yield market has defied this widely held notion. This paper from Peritus Asset Management examines the main reasons why high yield bonds have historically performed well during times of rising interest rates.

2013-04-29 Cruel Top Line Growth by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The current earnings season is a very mixed bag. Start with the economic background where nominal growth decelerated in 2012 from around 4.4% to 3.6%. The first quarter may be marginally higher but some of that is from a low base effect. It’s very difficult for companies to raise prices, increase share or volumes when demand is simply deficient. Sure, balance sheets are in much better shape, as evidenced by robust bond issuance, but many companies are in excess savings mode. Here are undistributed corporate profits as a percent of GDP.

2013-04-26 An Update on the Global Business Cycle by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Understanding where we are in the an important aspect of investing, as the behavior of asset classes may vary throughout that cycle. Recent data indicate that the U.S. remains in its fourth year of expansion, but payroll and retail numbers have disappointed. Outside the U.S., Europe continues to be mired in recession while China’s growth rebound recently has appeared to sputter. In this edition of Strategic Spotlight, we review what these developments mean for the global business cycle and how to position portfolios accordingly.

2013-04-26 The Sustainability of U.S. Interest Rates Rising by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Investors are growing concerned, with good reason, we think, that yields have bottomed for the 10-year Treasury and will surge as the economy gains strength. Prices, which move inversely to yields, would fall, and the question is whether rising rates in 2013 could trigger a bond bear market along the lines of the Great Bond Bear Market of 1994. We don’t think so.

2013-04-26 No Escape by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Global economic growth has weakened, while the US economy hasn’t reached "escape velocity." US stocks have held up relatively well. With few other attractive alternatives, domestic equities appear to be the best house in a rough neighborhood. With the Fed committed to easing, housing improving, and valuations reasonable, the trend should continue. Risks remain and diversification and some hedging strategies are recommended.

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.

2013-04-26 Financial Repression: Why It Matters by Shane Sheperd of Research Affiliates

Financial repression refers to a set of governmental policies that keep real interest rates low or negative, with the unstated intention of generating cheap funding for government spending. The ramifications of these policies will be measured in decades, not years.

2013-04-24 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

Bulls and Bears continue to fight it out around the S&P 500 record high. There is a lot to worry about at this point----earnings and economic numbers have been somewhat disappointing, terrorism fears are back (Boston Marathon, Canada, fake Twitter posts, etc), and we continue to see a divergence between riskier areas of the market and less risky areas. On the plus side there is still nowhere else to go except for stocks. As we have said before, volatility around an all time high is normal and to be expected.

2013-04-22 Commodity Declines and Weak Data Startle Investors by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities declined last week as the S&P 500 fell by more than 2.0%, which came on the heels of a new all-time high the prior week. Led by gold, commodities experienced volatility and declined over the past two weeks. Other detractors included disappointing first quarter Chinese economic numbers and somewhat softer U.S. releases.

2013-04-19 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Based on the nearly 2,500-point rise in the Dow Jones Industrial Average since last June, it appears that Mr. Bernanke has been successful in increasing demand for risk assets and creating some exuberance in the stock market. Short-term volatility in the markets may be driven by questions about the Fed’s eventual exit strategy and how effectively the politicians will deal with U.S. fiscal issues. The good news is that that the U.S. economy is growing, albeit slowly, unemployment is falling, again slowly, and consumer confidence is improving.

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

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

2013-04-19 F.I.R.S.T.: Bond Market Outlook by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Amid heightened political uncertainty in Europe and subdued global growth expectations, global investors owe Hiroki Kuroda a big domo arigato for his pledge to inject about $1.4 trillion into the moribund Japanese economy by the end of 2014. The newly appointed BOJ governor’s unprecedented plan to buy Japanese government bonds,

2013-04-19 The Pharaoh's Dream by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

As yields on assets decline, central banks’ ultra-loose monetary policies are effectively forcing investors further out the concentric circles into lower quality, more illiquid sectors in search of positive yielding assets after deducting inflation. In order to achieve 6%-7% returns in the future, investors may be required to take on more risk. Allocating part of a portfolio away from “middle circle” asset classes into assets with higher return potential as well as assets offering liquidity is the right strategy in our opinion.

2013-04-18 Inflation and Interest Rates by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The Federal Reserve began its first asset purchase program in the fall of 2008, during the depth of the financial panic. Some observers feared that the Fed’s actions would fuel higher inflation. However, the Fed is now well along in its third asset purchase program and inflation (as measured by the PCE Price Index) has remained low. In fact, Fed officials expect that inflation will trend at or below the 2% target for the next couple of years. That hasn’t stopped the inflation worrywarts from predicting that inflation is still “just around the corner.”

2013-04-17 The Interest Rate Environment: Comparing High Yield Bonds and Bank Loans by Team of Hotchkis & Wiley

In its first quarter 2013 newsletter, "The Interest Rate Environment: Comparing High Yield Bonds and Bank Loans," Hotchkis & Wiley’s high yield team analyzes the behavior of the high yield market and the bank loan market in different interest rate environments to determine whether they can make sensible assumptions about the future.

2013-04-17 Signs of a Correction by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Although the long-term economic picture remains sanguine, a number of global risks and economic results point to a temporary period of consolidation in equity markets.

2013-04-16 Gold in the Crosshairs by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In the opening years of the last decade, most mainstream investors sat on the sidelines while "tin hat" goldbugs rode the bull market from below $300 to just over $1,000 per ounce. But following the 2008 financial crisis, when gold held up better than stocks during the decline and made new record highs long before the Dow Jones fully recovered, Wall Street finally sat up and took notice.

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

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

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

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

2013-04-11 Emerging-Market Debt: Pure High-Yield Strategies Come of Age by Marco Santamaria of AllianceBernstein

We believe investors should be thinking about emerging-market debt in terms of credit quality buckets (investment grade or high yield) rather than sectors (sovereign or corporate). For some types of investor, pure high-yield strategies can offer significant advantages.

2013-04-10 Don't Pay Too Much for That Bordeaux - Or That Bond by Jeff Helsing of PIMCO

The financial market’s reliance on ratings agencies and benchmarks, along with regulations, can cause distortions in the value of some securities. These price distortions can create potential opportunities for some investors. Investors should consider aligning capital allocation with outcome-oriented objectives that aren’t influenced by credit ratings or benchmarks.

2013-04-10 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

The market continues to experience volatility around the new record high. Again, this is to be expected as this is a very psychologically important level so we shouldn’t expect the market to blow through this and never look back. There is still a lot of background "noise" in the markets. Last week’s jobs numbers were disappointing, we have had some weaker economic numbers, Cyprus, etc. None of this looks like it can change the fact that money has nowhere else to go but stocks at this point, but the economic numbers bear watching.

2013-04-10 Investing for Income? “Safe” Bets Can be Surprisingly Risky. by Joe Kringdon of Pioneer Investments

The recent, seemingly terminal decline in interest rates has been difficult on many investors who have been planning their income needs for the future. Interestingly enough, a wise presenter at a meeting I attended in January* addressed this very point with a wow’ factor of quite a different nature.

2013-04-09 Morning in Japan by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

There were two very important central bank meetings last week, one from the Bank of Japan the other the ECB. Bank of Japan press conferences have been soporific affairs for years with a few QE programs not leading to much and no changes to inflation targets. Deflation, a declining workforce and falling aggregate demand have been pretty much the unbroken story for the best part of two decades.

2013-04-08 Cypriot Chaos Assists EU Centralization by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Remarks by members of the European Union’s elite suggesting that banking deposit seizures may become standard practice appear to have heightened the risk of a European bank run and perhaps even a catastrophic collapse of the euro. Any threat to the euro is a threat to the European public’s conception of the Union’s manifest destiny. As such, I believe members of the EU elite may be purposefully leveraging the crisis to push for a centralized European banking system to cement the political framework of an EU superstate.

2013-04-04 Short-Duration High-Yield Bonds: An Attractive Solution for a Low-Yield, Rising-Rate Environment by Eric Scholl, Tom Saake of Allianz Global Investors

With Treasury yields at historically low yields, investors need to look elsewhere for the income they need. Eric Scholl and Tom Saake, portfolio managers at Allianz Global Investors, discuss why high-quality short-duration high-yield bonds may be a good solution for today’s low yield environment and can provide protection against rising rates in the future.

2013-04-04 Absolute Return Letter: The Need for Wholesale Change by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

The seeds of the next crisis have probably already been sown as a consequence of the lax monetary policy currently being pursued. Frustrated with the lack of direction from political leaders, most recently witnessed in the handling of the crisis in Cyprus which was a complete farce, central bankers from around the world are likely to demand change, but politicians will have to be pushed into a corner before they will respond to any such pressure. Hence nothing decisive will happen before the next major crisis erupts.

2013-04-04 Teachings from Recovered Markets by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

Domestic indices’ all-time record highs indicate that U.S. domestic equity markets have largely recovered from the 2008 Great Recession. It may have taken four years but it still seems a remarkable achievement given the Dow’s low of 6620 in March 2009. It is worth noting that prior highs were attained in an era with a poor savings rate and wide use of levered strategies. The last four years were widely characterized by a “low return” market mantra and fear of equities stoked by many doomsayers, pundits, and strategists who greeted every upturn with pessimism.

2013-04-03 Hello 2nd Quarter and Hello Baseball by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Hello 2nd Quarter and Hello Baseball. It’s ’Go’ time for both players and stat geeks... It was a very good First Quarter for U.S. Equities. As you can see from the Year to Date charts below, risky sectors did well, but so did many lower risk sectors like Health Care, Consumer Staples, Utilities and MLPs. The Q1 goal as an asset allocator was to be fully invested, but not in Gold, Long Bonds, Emerging Markets and Apple.

2013-04-03 Minor Crisis...Not Too Many Hurt by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Cyprus proved, over the last two weeks, that markets often overlook the small stuff. Very few commentators we follow saw any of it coming and the theories that sprang up in the interim (Cyprus as vassal state to Russia, return to the Cypriot pound, imminent EU break up, twin euros in circulation, utter disaster for the economy, German intransigence and Schrecklichkeit) were absurd.

2013-04-03 Surprise! 2013 Rally Pales in Comparison to 2012 “Stealth” Rally by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Despite the hoopla over first quarter market performance, it paled in comparison to the first three months of 2012. Driven in part by an extremely accommodative Fed, the U.S. economy is gaining traction, but Europe continues to flounder. After their first negative print in three years during the third quarter, S&P 500 companies returned to positive earnings growth in the fourth. A broad, globally diversified portfolio is the best way to balance the desire for wealth accumulation with an appreciation of volatility.

2013-04-03 Why This Economic \"Recovery\" is So Weak by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We start today with an excellent editorial I read last week written by Mort Zuckerman, Editor-In-Chief of U.S. News & World Report. My goal every week is to do a lot of reading and summarize what I’ve learned in these pages week in and week out. But every now and then I run across something so good that it just makes sense to reprint it in its entirety, even if it’s not my own work. Not many of my contemporaries are willing to do that, as they think it makes them look less scholarly. I don’t have that problem.

2013-04-03 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

After hitting a record close last week the market is showing some warning signs, which is to be expected. You don’t typically break through an important resistance point without testing it and re-testing it so some volatility around a record high is normal. We are also slightly concerned that small and mid cap stocks have drastically underperformed the S&P 500 over the past two days.

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

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

2013-04-02 The Crisis in Cyprus by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the weekend of March 16, Cyprus announced it was taxing deposits in order to recapitalize its banking system. The proposal, which levied a tax of 9.9% for deposits under 100k and 12.5% for amounts over that level, caused a severe political backlash. The Cypriot legislature would not approve the measure. In the days following, a banking holiday was put in place to prevent banking runs. The Troika (the EU, the IMF and ECB), who approve bailouts for the Eurozone, negotiated into late Sunday, March 24, before reaching a deal.

2013-03-28 Emerging-Market Debt Offers More than One Kind of Diversification by Paul DeNoon of AllianceBernstein

The increases in the portfolio’s net asset value continue easily to beat the hardly exacting returns from the index. The fund has gained 10.4% gross for the year to date (to 22 March), vs. a 3.0% rise for the MSCI Emerging Index. This outperformance (replicated over rolling 1- and 3-year periods) has been achieved by choosing investments irrespective of index country or sector weightings or where they are listed, so long as they derive the majority of income and profits from developing countries.

2013-03-27 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Even after a global market surge that virtually “wiped away” the four year bear market, equities still seem to be the best game in town. Corporate and individual investors are flocking back to a haven they had abandoned in favor of bonds when, in an era long ago, yields and credit rating offered them a secure place to park money.

2013-03-27 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

The continuing mess in Cyprus and the S&P 500 nearing a record close dominated the news this week. As I said last week, Cyprus is insignificant, the only important aspects of what is going on is timing. If the crisis hit the news during a time when the market was oversold and due for a rally then it would have little, if any, impact. The fact that that market has rallied this year without much of a selloff gives traders an excuse to use something like this to take profits.

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

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

2013-03-25 Fed Outlook: Cautiously Optimistic or Just Hopeful? by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The Federal Open Market Committee’s latest policy meeting generated few surprises. The FOMC maintained its forward guidance on the federal funds rate target, which is still not expected to start rising until 2015, and did not alter its asset purchases plans ($40 billion per month in agency mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion in longer-term Treasuries). However, in his press briefing, Bernanke indicated that the pace of asset purchases could be varied as progress is made toward the Fed’s goals or if the assessment of the benefits and potential costs of the program were to cha

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

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

2013-03-20 Is The Government Lying To Us About Inflation? Yes! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

On Friday, the Labor Department reported that the Consumer Price Index (CPI) jumped an unexpected 0.7% in February. This was above pre-report estimates and was the highest monthly reading since 2009. We should be very concerned, right? Let’s take a closer look.

2013-03-20 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

The banking crisis in Cyprus dominated the news this week as the market sold off 3 days in a row after being up 10 days in a row. The selloff was blamed on what was going on in Cyprus but that was not the real story. Globally Cyprus is pretty insignificant, most people probably don’t even know where it is. The real story is that markets just don’t go up for 10 straight days without needing a breather from time to time, Cyprus was just an excuse to take some profits.

2013-03-20 Investors Need to Pivot by William Benz of PIMCO

Fixed income investors need to think differently in the current environment. Investors may want to consider pivoting to strategies that are less focused on traditional benchmarks and more oriented to generating income and providing greater flexibility to hedge against rising rates, widening credit spreads or higher inflation.

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

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

2013-03-19 A Tired Equity Market Crawls Higher by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities rose again last week as the S&P 500 increased 0.66%, with an overall gain for the year of 9.96%.1 The remarkable resilience of the U.S. economy against fiscal cliff headwinds has boosted equity investor sentiment. The U.S. macroeconomic outperformance has also helped U.S. equities outperform global counterparts. Investor preference toward the U.S. has largely been confirmed by rising flows into U.S. equities.

2013-03-15 High Yield Market Overview by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, posted a positive total return of 0.46% in February, as the high yield market finished on a positive note, after experiencing heightened volatility throughout the month.

2013-03-15 China\’s Next Stop by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Would it surprise you to discover that China is planning to add 800 miles to its subway system over the next two years? That’s the distance equivalent to building a network from Dallas to Chicago in less time than the U.S. Congress can resolve a budget!

2013-03-15 Finally!! Now What? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Surprise! We don’t know what’s going to happen in stocks over the next few weeks. But we are seeing an environment that we believe can foster further gains in the US as economic data remains generally positive, the Fed maintains its accommodative stance, and small progress is being made in the fiscal realm. Investors concerned about a pullback may want to hedge their portfolios, but maintain adequate exposure to equities.

2013-03-14 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

The Dow continues to make new highs but the rate of climb has slowed considerably this week. This is normal as markets have to take a breather after large moves.

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

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

2013-03-14 3 Reasons It's Not Too Late to Consider Emerging Market Bonds by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

After the recent rally in emerging market bonds, is it too late to allocate to this asset class? Not for long-term investors, says Russ and he offers 3 reasons why.

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

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

2013-03-13 Coping With Age by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Many things in life get better with age, but many others do not. Unfortunately for central banks, the effects of unconventional monetary policy probably fall in the latter category. Unlike traditional monetary policyin which the central bank only sets short-term interest ratesthe impact of unconventional policies likely decays over time. This means that it is not enough for the Federal Reserve to keep its current policies in placeit actually has to take additional action to maintain the same impact on interest rates and the economy.

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 We Made It. Now What? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

What looks like a fairly settled policy in Europe is fast becoming a very dangerous situation, according to Christian Thwaites in his latest "Thought of the Week" -- "We Made It. Now What?" -- adding that the outlook for the world's second largest economic bloc is pretty week.

2013-03-12 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.

2013-03-11 Spring is in the Air, Who's Buying Fixed Income and Exports by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we start with a look at some bizarre coincidences that have us wondering if it is Spring that is the cause. We next look at who is buying so much debt and to contemplate the implications for the muni market. We conclude with a look at Exports and a reminder that the world really is a small place.

2013-03-11 Forecasting Bond Returns in the New Normal by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO has a detailed framework for deriving a forecast for secular bond returns based on our most current expectations of policy rates and the inflation-adjusted (or real) bond risk premium. We start by defining the expected secular real policy rate as the expected average rate of the fed funds rate after adjusting for inflation over the next 10 years.

2013-03-07 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

Yesterday saw a new record close on the Dow Jones Industrial Average and a renewal of the panic buying we saw earlier in the year. While it is great to see that the Dow has retraced all of the losses from the 2008 decline I am concerned about what message will be directed towards individual investors. The asset allocation/buy and hold crowd will use this milestone to "prove" that markets always come back so that their approach is still valid. This is true, but it ignores the fact that it took the market almost 6 years to come back and the lost opportunity cost associated with that.

2013-03-07 Freewheeling? by Dimitri Balatsos of Tesseract Partners

Ignoring threatening clouds in the distant horizon, the financial markets are wrapped in a blanket of complacency. Consider the following. The Dow Jones Index has been flirting with the 2007 record peak. Implied stock market volatility, as measured by the VIX Index, is in the basement. Junk bond yields are at record lows, compressing spreads to within shouting distance of risk-free Treasuries. Securitization is back from the dead, while the drought in M&A activity is now getting plenty of rainfall.

2013-03-05 Understanding the Risk in Bonds by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Treasury bond prices rallied this past week, as sequestration promised to act as a drag on growth, while a very messy election result in Italy also pushed safe haven investors into Treasuries. Both factors are likely to be short lived insofar as they support bond prices. Interest rates are likely to head higher even with Fed policy likely to remain highly accommodative. Initially, longer maturity bond prices will decline and the yield curve will steepen.

2013-03-04 Out On A Limb - An Investor's Guide to X-treme Monetary and Fiscal Conditions by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Massive policy responses, directed toward ineffective ends, are scarcely better than no policy response at all. A look at the current monetary and fiscal policy environment, as well as more effective policy initiatives, and why they make sense.

2013-03-04 Forecasting Bond Returns in the New Normal by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO has a detailed framework for deriving a forecast for secular bond returns based on our most current expectations of policy rates and the inflation-adjusted (or real) bond risk premium. We start by defining the expected secular real policy rate as the expected average rate of the fed funds rate after adjusting for inflation over the next 10 years.

2013-03-01 Wait for Your Pitch in Today's Market by John West of Research Affiliates

Great hitting in baseball depends in part on waiting for the right pitch. In today's market, most asset classescoming off their impressive 2012 recordare "high and outside" the valuations necessary for future big league returns. Patience is the name of the game today.

2013-03-01 The Fed's Tightening Pipe Dream by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Testifying before the US Senate this past Tuesday, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke made an extraordinary claim about its bloated balance sheet: "We could exit without ever selling by letting it run off." What Bernanke means here is that the Fed could simply hold its Treasuries and agency bonds until they mature, at which point the government would then be forced to pay the Fed back the principal amount. Through this process, the Fed's unprecedented and inflationary position will be gradually and placidly unwound.

2013-03-01 Seeking a Fixed Income Fix by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

While governments worldwide continue to struggle with debt and budget issues, for the most part, corporations have turned lemons into lemonade and have become lean and mean. While not without risk, corporate credit actually looks to be in fairly good shape, according to Eric Takaha who, as senior vice president and portfolio manager of Franklin Strategic Income Fund spends a good deal of time analyzing the space.

2013-03-01 Greetings from Istanbul! by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As I travel around Turkey, I am reminded how vital good government policies are to the health of a nation. Following a decade of fiscally responsible actions, Turkey is the picture of a growing prosperity. Perhaps Americas elected officials could take a tip from this vibrant country overseas.

2013-02-28 Jeremy Siegel on Why Stocks Are -- and Will Remain -- the Best Bet by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Though stock market volatility continues to rattle investors' nerves, the future looks bright for equities in the U.S. and many emerging markets, according to Wharton finance professor Jeremy Siegel. That's not so for bonds, which could become money-losing investments as rising interest rates drive bond prices down. In an interview with Knowledge@Wharton, Siegel says that investors should think about reducing their bond holdings, buying more stocks and keeping just enough cash for a rainy day and other liquidity needs, since interest rates on cash are near zero.

2013-02-27 Potential Threats to Equity Rally by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Equity markets started a third consecutive year in rather impressive fashion, gaining more than 6% to date. With so much optimism in the investment community, it is always worth keeping an eye open for risks possibly overlooked. By now, it is apparent that investors are increasing their exposure towards equities with arms wide open. Data from the Investment Company Institute (ICI) estimates $39 billion flowed into equity mutual funds this year through February 13. Following outflows of $153 billion in 2012, the sudden reversal has been impressive.

2013-02-27 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

For a while it was obvious that the market had become overbought and was due for a selloff, all traders needed was an excuse, this past week they got two of them. First, the Fed hinted that QE might end and then Italian elections sparked uncertainty in Europe. Add those things in with the looming sequester and you have all the ingredients for a profit taking selloff. At this point this is all part of normal market machinations. The market doesn't go up in a straight line and it doesn't go down in a straight line.

2013-02-27 Ignore the Noise. Equities Offer Income Potential. by Joe Kringdon of Pioneer Investments

Common prospectus disclosure reads, "past performance is no guarantee of future results." Yet, this crowd of naysayers seems to be projecting the paranoia associated with the "lost decade(s)" onto the current environment and beyond. They are preparing for the future by fighting the last few wars all over again. Their sentiments and actions (or inactions) are emblematic of an American looking the wrong way for traffic on a London street. Given wrongfully configured context, these people are looking in the wrong direction for the wrong things. I continue to be positive on the equity markets.

2013-02-26 Global Investment Review First Quarter 2013 by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

At the beginning of last year the prospects for capital markets were grim yet the results surprisingly good: positive returns and modest economic growth. The cause was central banks in developed countries acting as a backstop for sovereign and other large debts, through direct purchasing funded by accelerated money printing. This also ensured low interest rates. Subsequently, mountainous debt problems are slowly being tackled, even as they appear to increase.

2013-02-22 Finding What's Real in Real Estate by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

The U.S. financial crisis in 2008-2009 left many investors with a reluctance to take investment risks, particularly those related to any of the world's wilted housing markets. However, as your local real estate agent would likely tell you, the market in one location can be vastly different than it is in another. Wilson Magee, co-manager of Franklin Global Real Estate Fund would agree that the adage "location, location, location" applies not only to individual home buyers and sellers, but to investors seeking opportunities in the commercial real estate sector, too.

2013-02-22 January 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

The municipal bond market continues to perform well in the face of significant political, financial and economic uncertainty, once again, demonstrating the importance of consistent, competitive tax-free cash flow. Municipal bonds proved to be one of the best performing asset classes during 2012.

2013-02-22 The 4 New Defensive Strategies by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Waiting for a market correction? Wondering how to potentially protect your gains? Forget merely opting for traditional defensive sectors. Instead, consider Russ' four suggestions.

2013-02-20 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

Markets continued to move up this week in spite of looming Fiscal Cliff budget cuts. Everyone still expects a selloff but money continues to flow into the market as it has nowhere else to go.

2013-02-15 High Yield Market Overview January 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, posted a positive total return of 1.38% in January, as the high yield market continued to rally into the new year.

2013-02-13 The Economy: Worst Five Years Since the Depression by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

While the many facts and figures below are disappointing, even depressing, Americans need to know the truth about the real state of our economy and our union. Consider what follows as a rebuttal to President Obama's speech tonight. Feel free to forward this to as many people as you wish.

2013-02-13 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

After a decent selloff earlier in the month the market has continued to move up, but in very small increments. Most people seem convinced that we are due for another selloff, which seems to be tempering upside enthusiasm. On the other hand, there also doesn't seem to be any enthusiasm to sell.

2013-02-13 January Retail Sales: Why Stocks May Be Vulnerable by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

When the Commerce Department releases the headline January retail sales number on Wednesday, economists expect to see a big drop from December. Russ explains why the number could come in even lower and the implications for investors.

2013-02-12 High Yield Opportunity in a Crowded Space? by Mike Temple of Pioneer Investments

We have seen something interesting unfold over the last month in the markets signs of what we believe are the beginning of a Treasury breakout. Yields are starting to push through levels that have been fairly stable and steady over the last year. Our observation would be that we are starting to see a more secular move out of U.S. Treasuries and other high quality fixed income assets.

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

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

2013-02-11 Stocks: Why "Risk On" Rules by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Investors appear to believe the equity market will muddle through its many challenges.

2013-02-08 High-Yield Bonds: Tackling the Tough Questions by Ivan Rudolph-Shabinsky of AllianceBernstein

With high-yield bonds at record high prices and interest rates so low they're barely visible in some parts, investors have a lot of anxious questions. Our opinion: we think high-yield bonds still offer more income and fare better in rising rate environments than other bond types.

2013-02-08 The Year in Review: 2012 by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Politicians crave the spotlight, but it is unfortunate that investors watch the show. 2012, like 2011, was another year in which Washington theatrics scared investors. As a result, investors largely missed out on above average equity returns. Corporate profits and valuations, and not Washington, continue to be the primary drivers of equity returns. We think there are several important points to consider when reviewing 2012 performance, and when structuring portfolios for 2013.

2013-02-08 Out With the Dragon In With the Snake by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Over 2013, we expect the Chinese government to continue its accommodative efforts, which should reinforce the equity rally. In addition, the new pyramid of power is focused on growth, as it seeks to improve and reform policies that will provide its residents with opportunities and social security, increase incomes and raise standards of living, which should encourage domestic consumption. Growth is set to be considerable over the next several years.

2013-02-07 Echoes of 2004 by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Rising equities and tightening credit spreads define the near-term investment outlook, but this is not the first time we have seen this cycle play out in recent memory.

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.

2013-02-06 Focus on Fixed Income by Steve Van Order of Calvert Investment Management

Last week Administration officials, including the President, clearly ruled out using extraordinary legal measures to avoid defaulting on Treasurys financial obligations in the absence of a debt ceiling hike by Congress. The two legal measures most discussed, going back to the summer 2011, were invoking the 14th Amendment and minting a trillion dollar platinum coin. The coin idea was dismissed as Fed officials commented that the central bank would not honor the coin as a deposit, and the amendment idea has been shelved a number of times.

2013-02-06 GDP Report Tanks - Is A Recession Looming? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We will cover a lot of ground today. We begin with a new report from Goldman Sachs which argues that the US economy will remain the strongest in the world for many more years. The report rebuts claims that America is a nation in decline. Quite the contrary, say Goldman analysts who claim that there is a growing"awarenessof the key economic, institutional, human capital and geopolitical advantages the U.S. enjoys over other economies."

2013-02-06 Market Commentary by Matthew Tuttle of Tuttle Tactical Management

The long awaited sell off finally came this week as the market suffered its worst day since November. The decline seems to have somewhat solved the overbought situation as the market rallied back the next day.

2013-02-06 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Earnings have come in pretty well, but the news on the economy remains dreary despite the cheerleaders in the financial media.

2013-02-05 Why Cash Kills by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Many investors remain in cash, earning nothing, out of fear that the rally in the stock market may be unsustainable or that such issues as the fiscal impasse or Europe's fiscal problems may yet start another meltdown. But while they remain focused on potential adverse developments, they suffer from the near zero interest rate they are earning on cash. Even in today's low inflation environment, such investors are experiencing a persistent erosion in the purchasing power of their capital, which will impair their ability to grow their portfolios in the future.

2013-02-04 A Gross Underestimate by Jonathan Coleman, Soonyong Park of Janus Capital Group

As we enter 2013, we felt it would be an appropriate time to revisit one of last years most controversial predictions of future equity performance. We acknowledge that equities in general may not continue to deliver the same real rate of return they have over the last century; however, we believe the glum outlook for the asset class forecasted by Bill Gross last year misses the mark. Our estimates of future equity returnsbased on three different approachesall point to a meaningfully higher forecast than Gross' pessimistic prediction.

2013-02-04 The Bernanke Shock by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

The financial world was shocked this month by a demand from Germany's Bundesbank to repatriate a large portion of its gold reserves held abroad. By 2020, Germany wants 50% of its total gold reserves back in Frankfurt - including 300 tons from the Federal Reserve. The Bundesbank's announcement comes just three months after the Fed refused to submit to an audit of its holdings on Germany's behalf. One cannot help but wonder if the refusal triggered the demand.

2013-02-04 A Reluctant Bear's Guide to the Universe by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In recent years, I've gained the reputation of a "perma-bear." The reality is that I'm quite a reluctant bear, in that I would greatly prefer market conditions and prospective returns to be different from what they are. There's no question that conditions and evidence will change, unless the stock market is to be bound for the next decade in what would ultimately be a low-single-digit horserace with near-zero interest rates. For my part, I think the likely shocks are larger, and the potential opportunities will be greater than investors seem to contemplate here.

2013-02-01 A Gross Underestimate by Jonathan Coleman and Soonyong Park of Janus Capital Group

The glum outlook for the asset class forecasted by Bill Gross last year misses the mark. Our estimates of future equity returnsbased on three different approachesall point to a meaningfully higher forecast than Gross pessimistic prediction.

2013-02-01 Look at the Bears! Look at the Bears! by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms and Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Yes, the grumbling of bond bears is reverberating in Treasury yields, but that sound isnt the death knell of a grizzly; at this point, the closest ursine analogue is Boo-Boo Bear.

2013-01-31 Closed-End Fund Review: Fourth Quarter 2012 by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

Following a year (2011) when the average closed-end fund was up a respectable 5.37% on a share price total return basis, closed-end funds posted even better performance in 2012, with the average fund up 14.00% (according to Morningstar) on a share price total return basis. The strong performance was broad and deep with many categories posting double-digit total returns. There were many factors which contributed to the strong results posted in 2012 and while I have written and spoken about them before, I want to reiterate them here.

2013-01-31 Credit Supernova! by Bill Gross of PIMCO

They say that time is money. What they don't say is that money may be running out of time. There may be a natural evolution to our fractionally reserved credit system which characterizes modern global finance. Much like the universe, which began with a big bang nearly 14 billion years ago, but is expanding so rapidly that scientists predict it will all end in a "big freeze" trillions of years from now, our current monetary system seems to require perpetual expansion to maintain its existence.

2013-01-31 Q4 2012 Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

During the second half of 2012, central banks turned their massive and coordinated monetary intervention "up to eleven." This is the overwhelmingly dominant economic and market force today. Despite the long-term consequences (which are very real), we believe the central bankers commitment is steadfast. It has and will likely continue to mute both real economic and financial market volatility (at the expense of long-term growth). A deeper analysis of what has changed, our assessment of the impact, and our portfolio response follows.

2013-01-31 Hasenstab: Little Value in U.S. Treasuries Right Now by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

The financial markets may have let out a collective sigh of relief on January 1 when U.S. politicians managed to avoid falling off the fiscal cliff, but the fact is the fundamental issue plaguing the U.S. still hasn't been addressed mounting debt. As a result, Dr. Michael Hasenstab, co-director of the International Bond Department and portfolio manager for the Templeton Global Bond Fund, says he doesn't see much value in U.S. Treasuries right now. He does see it elsewhere in the world, though, including Ireland and select emerging markets where fiscal houses appear in much better order.

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.

2013-01-30 U.S. Debt Crisis End-Game Looms in 3-5 Years by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Last week, one of the most respected research groups in the world predicted that the US likely has only 3-5 years before the wheels fall off and the world is thrust into a major financial crisis, possibly even a depression. We'll talk about all of these things as we go along today. But before we go there, let's take a brief look at the economy before tomorrow's advance (first) estimate of 4Q GDP.

2013-01-30 Weekly Market Commentary by Matthew Tuttle of Tuttle Tactical Management

The market continued to "melt up" this week. Everybody is expecting some sort of correction, but just like every time there is a consensus on something it never tends to happen. It is hard to envision the market having a massive continuation of this rally without some pullback, but we could easily continue to inch up for a while.

2013-01-29 Predicting Asset Class Returns: Recommendations for Financial Planners by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Developing reasonable estimates for stock and bond returns requires more than just historical data or the assumptions provided in financial software packages. Inappropriate assumptions can doom retirees to outliving their savings or forgoing a life style they could otherwise afford. There are better ways to forecast, and in this article I'll suggest a few of them.

2013-01-29 The Term Premium: Past and Present by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Of the many possible explanations for the historically low level of government bond yields, near-zero central bank policy rates should be at the top of the list. However, government bond yields also appear low for reasons beyond central bank policy rates. In particular, todays low rate environment also reflects a depressed "term premium," or the compensation investors receive for taking duration risk.

2013-01-29 What Budget Problems? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

"Vickers falls on fear of peace." There's an apocryphal story of how on the day after D-Day, the stock of Vickers, a large defense contractor, abruptly fell. I can't find the source but it was a good story going around the City some, ahem, 30 years ago. Last week there was not a lot of price action in bonds until Friday when economic upticks replaced budgets as the main driver. We saw a one point correction in treasuries. The market is right to push budget concerns into the background for now.

2013-01-25 Will Resolution of the Fiscal Cliff Squelch Consumption? by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

The U.S. averted the Fiscal Cliff with passage of the "American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012" on December 31. Economists think resolution of the Fiscal Cliff will lead to a fiscal drag of 1% on GDP and adversely affect the mainstay of the economy: the American Consumer. We're not convinced this will happen and believe tax increases overstate the related negative consumption impacts. While we expect some weakness in consumption, it is likely to be transitory and confined in the first half of 2013, before recovering above-trend in the second half.

2013-01-25 Resource Investors: Why You Can Expect Sunnier Days Ahead by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

During the current commodity supercycle, there have been occasionstoo many to countwhen investor psyche has been damaged by reports about slowing U.S. growth, a hard landing in China or a debt crisis in Europe. Yet just behind the gloom, significant and positive trends are taking hold, causing the storms to start dissipating.

2013-01-24 Quick Takes on the Investing Year Ahead by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

We covered a lot of market and investment topics at Pioneer's National Sales and Marketing Meeting last week. Here are some notes on a few that were popular: GDP Growth for the U.S.. Expectations for rates: Fed Funds Rate and the 10-year Treasury, EM equities favored over U.S. Equities?, Things that keep us up at night (outside of the debt ceiling, Europe, and Middle East tension.

2013-01-24 Get Your Funk Out by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

I manage investment professionals for a living. When an analyst gives me the positives on one hand and the negatives on the other hand, but offers no conclusion, I want to cut one of those hands off. The best analysts understand all the issues but come to well-founded views.

2013-01-23 Economic Backdrop Supports Stocks, Credit Sectors and Munis by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Thanks to solid earnings, some decent (if mixed) economic news and indications that the debt ceiling debate may be delayed slightly, stocks posted additional gains last week, continuing their strong start to 2013. For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average climbed 1.2% to 13,649, the S&P 500 index advanced 1.0% to 1,485 and the NASDAQ composite rose 0.3% to 3,134. Bonds have remained relatively steady, with the 10-year Us treasury closing the week at a yield of 1.84%, two one-hundredths lower than the previous Friday close.

2013-01-23 Avoid Disappointment, Aim Low by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

No, it's not a life aspiration. But it can work when it comes to investing. We had a rush of gains coming into the end of the year with the S&P up 22% over the year. But it's also one of the more relaxed markets and start we've had in years. The political agenda is still front and clear and we're in a lull until the debt ceiling arguments gain steam. The markets know this but seem comfortably complacent. They're probably right to be.

2013-01-22 Ten for '13 by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Last year, despite the noise surrounding the U.S. elections and the ongoing European debt crisis, the main drivers of asset prices arguably were the large-scale bond-buying programs put in place by global central banks to alleviate systemic pressures. In 2013, we anticipate fewer aggressive central bank actions as the pace of global growth gradually picks up. We believe the largest influential factors to our outlook are premature fiscal tightening in the U.S. and a potential resurgence of eurozone problems.

2013-01-18 Are Central Banks Easing Off Prematurely? by Team of Northern Trust

Are central banks easing off prematurely? Washington is girding for another budget imbroglio; Inflation is contained, for now.

2013-01-18 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

We continue to feel that the mismatch between yield and interest rate exposure means that investment grade bonds are less attractive compared with the non-investment grade universe, especially in shorter maturities. Treasury, investment grade corporate and high yield bonds have yields and effective durations that are virtually unchanged compared to levels three months ago. Yields on short-dated high yield paper have actually risen a bit and are still, in our opinion, the most attractive sector we look at in terms of interest rate risk.

2013-01-17 Signs of a Rotation by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

As yields continue to dwindle and risks in the fixed income market come into clearer focus, investors have begun to regard equities as a compelling alternative to bonds.

2013-01-17 The Year Past, The Year Ahead by Michael Gomez of PIMCO

The multiyear run of performance by emerging market (EM) sovereign external debt has been remarkable but residual valuations look either just fair (investment grade) or expensive (high yield) versus other comparable credits. We still see abundant opportunities in EM local markets, while EM equities are poised to benefit from a relatively low starting point for both earnings and earnings expectations.

2013-01-16 Haka Politics and the Slow Crawl by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

In the last few months we have seen the rise of Haka politics. Familiar to any All Blacks fan, this is the ritualistic Maori war dance, full of noise, bluster and theater. But it rarely intimidates and most opponents sit it out with some amusement. So it is with the political interventions last year. We saw countless announcements and intentions from EU leaders and solemn pledges with little follow-through. And in the US we had a soporific election and a squalid squabble over the fiscal cliff that caught the public but not the market's attention.

2013-01-15 Inflation, Still Not Taking Off Anytime Soon by Scott Brown of Raymond James

A few years ago, amid exceptionally large federal budget deficit and extraordinarily accommodative Fed policy, a number of pundits warned of impending hyperinflation. Instead, inflation has stayed low. That hasn't stopped the inflation worrywarts. It's just a matter of time, they say. Inflation "has to show up at some point." That's not an argument. There are a number of reasons to expect inflation to stay low.

2013-01-15 The Year Past, The Year Ahead by Michael Gomez of PIMCO

While not immune to global economic headwinds, emerging market investments remain well positioned to outperform their developed world counterparts over time. The multiyear run of performance by emerging market (EM) sovereign external debt has been remarkable but residual valuations look either just fair (investment grade) or expensive (high yield) versus other comparable credits. We still see abundant opportunities in EM local markets, while EM equities are poised to benefit from a relatively low starting point for both earnings and earnings expectations.

2013-01-15 What's Behind the Buyback Binge? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The pace of stock repurchases says much about equity valuationsand companies' expectations for economic growth.

2013-01-11 Invest In Equities: Your Future Self May Thank You by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Investors have had an illusion about the stock market since the financial crisis. With the barrage of negative headlines and abhorrence toward risk, investors seemed to feel that equities would not improve going forward. This turned out to be a mistaken belief.

2013-01-10 Inflation Propaganda Exposed by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Economists who hold the popular view that expanding the money supply will provide the best medicine for our ailing economy dismiss the inflationary concerns of monetary hawks, like me, by pointing to the supposedly low inflation that has occurred during the current period of rampant Fed activism.

2013-01-09 Ten Acts for Chairman Bernanke in January 2013 by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernankes term ends in January 2014, and it is unclear whether he will stay on for another. We expect Bernanke will muster every means he can over the next year to help the U.S. and indeed the world emerge from a gloomy time.Here, then, are 10 items we suggest for Ben Bernankes to-do list in 2013.

2013-01-08 Brave New Start to the Year by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Well that was fun. Negotiations went to the brink, we had politicians dropping the "F" bomb a few steps from the Oval Office, the Senate described as "sleep deprived octogenarians" by a congressman and an all around feeling that it was better than nothing. Welcome to the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which actually, er...raises taxes for everyone. That's right. No one in 2013 pays less than they paid in 2012. This is our best estimate of the fall out. It's definitely better than what was at risk back in November but it's still a net drag on the economy of around 1.0%.

2013-01-08 From Cliff to Ceiling: No Clear Signal for Investors by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

We expect the last minute deal in the lame duck session to result in about 1.3% of GDP contraction, slightly less than our earlier prediction of about 1.5%. The compromise eliminated (or at least delayed) the possibility of the most damaging equity market outcomes. The deal failed to set up a framework for structural deficit reform in 2013. Almost immediately, Congress must address the debt ceiling, the sequester and the continuing resolution to keep the government funded.

2013-01-07 Fixed Income Asset Allocation Post-Apocalypse by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

December 21, 2012 the day the Earth was prophesized to collide with a black hole of kaputness has come and gone in defiance of the Mayan calendar. The more upbeat interpretation of the 5,125-year Mayan cycle, however, is that the end date doesn't signify Armageddon but rather the beginning of a new time for positive change here on earth. So allow us to suggest an investment playbook to cash in on this silver lining. In short, the sweetness of the metaphorical fortune cookie in your hand will depend on how you allocate your fixed income assets in 2013.

2013-01-06 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Welcome to a new beginning, a new yeara new optimistic investor, a new bipartisan Congress, (well, maybe not). The more things change, the more they stay the same. While investors embraced the budget deal (that is less of a deal than a procrastination), the pragmatists realize that very little has changed other than the "fiscal can" has been kicked down the road for two months. Stocks skyrocketed; bonds plunged; politicos bickered. Welcome to 2013.

2013-01-03 Treasury's Last Pillar Crumbles by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

With the return of Shinzo Abe and his Liberal Democratic Party to power in Japan, the market for US Treasuries may be losing its last external pillar of support. Re-elected on September 26th, Abe has quickly set a course for limitless inflation, saying Japan must "free itself from deflation and the strong yen." This is significant to the global economy as Japan is the largest foreign power left with a strong appetite for US Treasuries. If this demand falters, the Fed may be the only remaining buyer of new Treasury issuance.

2013-01-03 Money for Nothin' Writing Checks for Free by Bill Gross of PIMCO

It was Milton Friedman, not Ben Bernanke, who first made reference to dropping money from helicopters in order to prevent deflation. Bernanke's now famous "helicopter speech" in 2002, however, was no less enthusiastically supportive of the concept. In it, he boldly previewed the almost unimaginable policy solutions that would follow the black swan financial meltdown in 2008.

2013-01-03 Outlook 2013: Fiscal Cliff Remains Unresolved, but Opportunities Still Exist by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

As we look ahead to 2013, it is impossible to make any sort of forecast without first turning our attention to the still-unresolved fiscal cliff debate. We have long said that unless we were to see significant movement on the issues of tax rates and entitlement spending, the most likely outcome would be some sort of bare-bones deal. At the time of this writing, congress and the President were still negotiating, but our analysis suggests that such a bare-bones resolution remains the most probable result, even if it does not come before the January 1 deadline.

2013-01-03 High Yield Market Overview December 1, 2012 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch U.S. High Yield Master II Constrained Index, posted a positive total return of 0.74% in November, as high yield investors focused on the fiscal cliff and the risk that the U.S. government fails to negotiate a resolution.

2013-01-03 The Deal is Done Observations on the Cliff, the Ceiling and Your Investments by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

I've been saying that December 31 was a media deadline, not a real deadline for a fiscal cliff resolution, since Congress could act retroactively.

2013-01-03 5 Investment Ideas for a Post-Fiscal Cliff Deal World by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

As discussed in previous posts, Congress kicked off the New Year with a bare bones deal to avert (or at least delay) the fiscal cliff. Though markets responded positively to the news Wednesday morning, the euphoria isn't likely to last.

2012-12-27 Saving for Retirement Stage 3: Making Retirement Funds Last as Long as You Do by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

So you're finally ready to retire. You've worked hard. You've planned. You've saved. You're ready to toss the business section and flip to the travel pages. You hope the investment decisions you've made have positioned you to meet your future needs. You may be retired, but your money has to keep working, and luck, as they say, tends to favor the prepared. In this third installment of our "Saving for Retirement" series, we take a look at some considerations and strategies for those fortunate folks beginning or living in retirement.

2012-12-26 Assessing ISG's "Ten for '12" by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Earlier this year, we offered a forward-looking view of 10 macro themes that we anticipated for 2012. These ideas were meant not to be "surprises" but rather guideposts within the context of a longer-term strategic allocation. At year-end, we are pleased to note that seven of our 10 themes fully materialized. We provide a brief look below.

2012-12-21 Year-End Capital Markets Forecast by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

What looks best for 2013? Given financial repression in developed marketspolicies that prolong negative real interest ratesemerging market local currency sovereign bonds are likely to outperform their developed market counterparts. For equities, both developed (ex-U.S.) and emerging markets offer more attractive valuations and better dividend yields than U.S. stocks.

2012-12-19 ING Fixed Income Perspectives December 2012 by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

While all the good little boys and Cindy Lou Whos dream of sugar plums and new iPhone 5s in blue, the adults in our modern-day Christmas story can't sleep but a wink, as visions of getting Scrooge'd by the fiscal cliff are making hearts sink. No matter if this political humbug cease or persist, down the chimneys of a recuperating housing market Ol' Saint Bernanke-olas will continue to gift $85 billion of Treasury and MBS purchases per month or more until the labor market can finally get over the hump and deliver 6.5% unemployment and inflation of 2.5% and no more.

2012-12-18 Pulling Back the Lens in Emerging Markets by Western Asset Management (Article)

Emerging markets remain resilient, according to Western Asset Portfolio Manager Rob Abad. But in the face of so much global uncertainty, investors would be wise to consider the latest trends and dynamics impacting this maturing asset class.

2012-12-18 Three Takeaways from the Fed by David Rosenberg (Article)

The equity market likes the prospect of more money printing and the Fed's more forceful efforts to reflate the economy, and stocks are a far better inflation hedge than bonds.

2012-12-18 What's Going Right? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Discussions of the fiscal cliff are capturing investor's attention, largely at the expense of trends pointing in the right direction. Year-end is synonymous with future prognostications, but current indicators suggest there is reason to be optimistic about the turn of the calendar this holiday season.

2012-12-18 The Fed's Giant Stride by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

FOMC: The news from this meeting was widely telegraphed (see Yellen, Evans, etc. last month) but produced some real and welcome developments. Here's the quick summary.

2012-12-17 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Time for some year-end window dressing (before investments fall off the fiscal cliff). With little to no progress to report on the budget, politicos continue trying to earn brownie points at home, while losing them in the press. Investors still seem to believe a deal will be reached, but with the holidays (and vacations) approaching, time is really of the essence. Retailers and manufacturers rebounded in November from superstorm Sandy, but the cliff still looms as a definite possibility.

2012-12-17 Roach Motel Monetary Policy by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Monetary policy has become a roach motel easy enough to get into, but impossible to exit.

2012-12-17 Fiscal Cliff Deadlines Draw Near by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

In addition to the seemingly never-ending focus on the fiscal cliff, markets turned their attention to last week's Federal reserve meeting and the corresponding announcement of the central bank's continuation of its bond-purchase program. Following a very brief rally after the announcement, however, stock prices fell and ended the week marginally lower. For the week, the Dow Jones industrial average declined 0.2% to 13,135, the S&P 500 index fell 0.3% to 1,413 and the NASDAQ composite dropped 0.2% to 2,971.

2012-12-17 The Fed: Targets, Thresholds, Guideposts, and Goals by Scott Brown of Raymond James

As expected, Federal Open Market Committee announced that purchases of Treasuries will be added to QE3 in 2013 (the Fed will continue to buy $40 billion per month in mortgage-backed securities and $45 billion per month in long-term Treasuries). Fed policymakers also announced threshold guidance on the overnight lending rate, which will make the Fed's policy intentions clearer, and that's a good thing.

2012-12-15 Fed Announces QE4 Starting Next Year by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

I continue to believe that President Obama is willing to let the economy go over the cliff and blame the Republicans. Obama is hell-bent on raising taxes on those in the top two brackets; he campaigned on it; and I dont think he will back off. It remains to be seen if the Republicans will cave.

2012-12-15 Saving for Retirement Stage 2: The Sandwich Generation by Team of Franklin Templeton

Youve probably heard of the term sandwich generation, a time at mid-life when many individuals find themselves caring simultaneously for their children and their aging parents. Its a time when investment dollars can get squeezed out by day-to-day and unexpected expenses, a mortgage and possibly even a college savings plan. In this second of our three-part Investing for Retirement series, we take a look at some retirement savings strategies for individuals coping with these mid-life challenges as they themselves begin to look toward transitioning into retirement.

2012-12-14 The Death of the Dollar? by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Rob Arnott, Chairman and CEO of Research Affiliates, has released an "Insights" paper in which he discusses the possible "Death of the Dollar" in the decade ahead. He points out that: "If we're spending $1 trillion a year more than we produce as a nation (the national deficit) and are financing it by printing $1 trillion a year of crisp newly printed bills (actually, bits in a computer), we're on a dangerous path. Printing our own money to buy our own debt works fine until it doesn't."

2012-12-14 FOMC Laying the Groundwork for an Exit Strategy? Investment Implications. by Paresh Upadhyaya of Pioneer Investments

Yesterday's FOMC meeting was a surprisingly eventful one that injected some volatility into financial markets. As expected, the Fed left its target rate of 0 - .25 percent unchanged and implemented more quantitative easing (QE). It announced additional monthly purchases of agency mortgage-backed securities of $40 billion per month and stated that "The Committee also will purchase longer-term Treasury securities after its program to extend the average maturity of its holdings of Treasury securities is completed at the end of the year at a pace of $45 billion per month."

2012-12-14 No Way Out by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

By upping the ante once again in its gamble to revive the lethargic economy through monetary action, the Federal Reserve's Open Market Committee is now compelling the rest of us to buy into a game that we may not be able to afford. At his press conference this week, Fed Chairman Bernanke explained how the easiest policy stance in Fed history has just gotten that much easier. First it gave us zero interest rates, then QEs I and II, Operation Twist, and finally "unlimited" QE3.

2012-12-13 Can The U.S. Afford Its National Credit Card? by Garritt Conover and Orhan Imer of Columbia Management

With U.S. national debt at all time highs and major Federal programs expiring within weeks, it is no surprise that the focus of investors following the election has quickly shifted back to the upcoming fiscal cliff. Fears of an insolvent government or a U.S. debt crisis have sparked heated debates regarding ways of tackling the budget deficit but just how imminent a threat does it pose?

2012-12-13 Conditional: Fed Drops 2015 in Favor of 6.5% and 2.5%185 by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed announced it's adding $45 billion in US Treasury purchases to QE3s $40 billion in MBS purchases and moving to economic versus calendar targets.

2012-12-13 The Fake Economy by Bill Mann of Motley Fool Funds

A random question for you (one that contemplates your breaking federal law, so be forewarned): Given enough time and ample resources, do you think you could create a reasonable facsimile of a $20 bill? I'd wager that given modern printing capabilities, a reasonably diligent and determined individual could create a fool-some-of-the-people copy of a $20 bill.

2012-12-13 3 Potential Scenarios for 2013 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite getting lucky in 2012, many of the major risks that economies and markets faced this year remain. With the current environment in mind, Russ K shares his 3 potential scenarios for 2013 along with potential investment strategies for each.

2012-12-13 2013: A Year in Emerging Market Debt (Relative Strategies) by James Barrineau of Schroders Investment Management

Perhaps the biggest positive for emerging market debt investors is the deteriorating fiscal and economic fundamentals in the developed world. As the asset class has evolved, the opportunity set for investors has grown rapidly. Local currency in emerging markets has attracted tremendous interest but we think returns will moderate in 2013, possibly significantly.

2012-12-12 Mish Shedlock Exposed by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In January 2009, just as the "Peter Schiff was Right" YouTube video that catalogued my previously derided predictions about a coming financial collapse was racking up views and attracting mainstream attention, a blogger and investment advisor named Mike Shedlock (aka "Mish") saw an opportunity to make an unethical grab at my current and prospective clients by breaking the nascent wave.

2012-12-11 Loomis Sayles' Matt Eagan on the Macro and Fixed Income Outlook by David Schawel, CFA (Article)

In this interview, Loomis Sayles' Matt Eagan discusses the fixed income universe, Fed policy and issues facing the global macro economy. Eagan is the co-manager, along with Dan Fuss, of the Loomis Sayles Bond Fund and he manages the Loomis Sayles Strategic Alpha Bond Fund.

2012-12-11 Fiscal Cliff-Hanger by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The recent economic data are consistent with a moderate pace of growth in the near term. The manufacturing sector is mixed, but generally weak, reflecting a global slowdown and an inventory correction. The consumer appears to be hanging in there. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said that Hurricane Sandy did not have a significant impact on the November employment data. However, other economic indicators did reflect weather-related disruptions, which appear to have been only temporary. Meanwhile, the economy heads toward the fiscal cliff.

2012-12-10 Is QE4 Really Coming? by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve meets this week. Analysts are supposing and predicting what the statement will say and if the Fed will change its economic projections.

2012-12-06 Ditching Before the Fiscal Clif by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Turn on the TV and this is what you'll hear: The US budget is heading for a fiscal cliff. If a deal isn't reaching in Congress by the end of this year, a combination of automatic tax hikes and budget cuts will sink America into economic depression. There is no escape. Of course, my readers know that the fiscal cliff is merely an example of the piper having to be paid. The problem isn't the bill, but that we ran it up so high in the first place.

2012-12-05 Resilient Markets Mask Greater Concerns in Real Economy by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Though equity markets have been calm, the real economy tells a different story. If our leaders in Washington arent able to arrive at a compromise, January 1 will mark the beginning of the countrys first scheduled recession, though third quarter corporate earnings suggest a global slowdown is evident. Dont be surprised to see a Christmas rally should Congress kick the fiscal can down the road and the Fed extend Operation Twist.

2012-12-04 Cliff Diving by Michael Lewitt (Article)

While there may be compromise to avoid the self-inflicted crisis of the fiscal cliff, the course of fiscal policy is unlikely to alter significantly. There is a great deal of bold talk about tax reform, but the odds of our current leaders replacing our profoundly flawed tax regime with one that would breed economic growth and productivity are low. Congress will be lucky to avoid the fiscal cliff; asking it to alter the economy's DNA is unrealistic.

2012-12-04 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Obama meets with the nations governors and speaks before the Business Roundtable to continue drumming up support for his budget deal. (Arent most governors counted among the countrys wealthy?) Expect the bickering and blame-placing to continue until finally a small deal is reached with the majority of the work tabled for later in 2013. (How will Moodys and S&P perceive that move?) The economic calendar heats up with critical news from labor and manufacturing and retailers share insight into the holiday shopping season thus far. And Europe is never far from the radar screen.

2012-12-04 Economics 101: Little Return without Risk by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

A tremendous amount of energy and effort has been expended in the US on behalf of wealthy investors to secure returns while reducing risk. Like any useful endeavor, it started out as a wise thing and reached its stride in the late 1990s as a way to deal with a massive asset misallocation. As Warren Buffett always says, What the wise man does at the beginning, the fool does at the end. It appears to us that the efforts to eliminate risk in the US capital markets have reached the foolish point.

2012-12-01 Are Corporate Bonds Expensive? by Team of Neuberger Berman

As in the case of Treasury bonds, yields for U.S. corporate credits have fallen to historic lows as prices have risen. The yield on the Barclays Aggregate U.S. Investment Grade Bond Index was recently at 2.8%far below levels achieved during the heady days of 2007. Obviously, this reflects overall interest rates, but is it also a sign that corporate issues may be overvalued? We explore the issues and consider how investors should position their portfolios for the current environment.

2012-11-29 Sizing Up the Fiscal Cliff by Team of Neuberger Berman

As year-end approaches, the U.S. is inching closer to a potentially defining moment in its post-debt crisis economic recovery. A series of expiring tax cuts, spending reductions and new taxes equating to over $600 billion (or 4% of GDP), popularly known as the "fiscal cliff," are slated to take effect in early 2013.

2012-11-28 How Low Can They Go? by Mark Newlin of Mesirow Financial

Mesirow Financial's Fixed Income team provides insight that can help bond investors put in perspective the current low interest rate environment.

2012-11-27 Fixed Income Perspectives by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

A wise American once said "Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid." A good example is when your pals in Washington are so busy pushing their partisan agendas that they lose sight of what could happen to the American economic Thunderbird if it goes all Thelma and Louise over the fiscal cliff. With the latest elections in the books, it remains to be seen if a Democratic president and acrimonious Republican House can put on their thinking caps to devise a way to delicately pump the brakes of fiscal restraint.

2012-11-26 The Calm Before the Storm? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Between the US Thanksgiving holiday and a recessed Congress, there was not much news to drive the markets last week. Russ K expects that to change this week, and he explains why, in the face of potentially higher market volatility, he favors municipal bonds.

2012-11-26 Monetary and Fiscal Policy in Early 2013 by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The fiscal cliff refers to a substantial tightening of fiscal policy in 2013. Monetary policy cannot offset the cliffs negative effect on the economy. However, it would be surprising if a deal were not reached, if not by the end of this year, then in early 2013. Due to concerns about the long-term budget picture, some of the cliff is almost certain to get through.

2012-11-26 Buying Treasuries and Avoiding Stocks Not the Way to Go by John Buckingham of AFAM

While we know better than to make too much out of a low-volume rally, especially during a holiday-shortened trading week, it was interesting to hear what The Wall Street Journal had to say one week ago at this time. As the publication helped ready investors for the week ahead, one story advised folks to head toward the safety of U.S. Treasury securities: "Expect safe-haven Treasurys to draw demand at the expense of stocks in the coming weeks, bucking a seasonal trend that has often favored riskier assets."

2012-11-20 Euro Crisis: Major Implications For Investors by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The euro crisis has begun to feel like an everlasting steeplechase with high hedges and water obstacles blocking the path to economic resurgence on the Continent. Each time a hurdle has been cleared another problem emerges to potentially block the track. The latest developments involve ugly anti-austerity riots across the southern tier and open rifts emerging among the creditors, most notably between the International Monetary Fund and northern nations.

2012-11-20 Companies Grapple With Pressure from All Sides by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As we move closer to closing the books on another earnings cycle, it is time to look back at the hits and misses for the quarter. Unfortunately, this quarter brought more misses than investors have seen in quite some time, despite a greatly reduced bar. The outlook also leaves something to be desired, with companies cutting forward guidance and analysts ratcheting down estimates for the next two quarters.

2012-11-20 Bumpy End To The Year by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Europe would like to have America's problems. Here we have declining public spending, increasing receipts, falling debt to GDP ratios and unemployment 3% below the European average. This puts the Fiscal Cliff (and I was so hoping to avoid that clich) debate somewhat in context. It's serious enough to draw the attention of corporate CEOs, put a heavy dampener on business confidence, which we saw in the recent NFIB report, and postpone hiring plans and capital investment, which showed up in last week's Empire and Philly Fed surveys.

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 Monetary and Fiscal Policy in Early 2013 by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The fiscal cliff refers to a substantial tightening of fiscal policy in 2013. Monetary policy cannot offset the cliff's negative effect on the economy. However, it would be surprising if a deal were not reached, if not by the end of this year, then in early 2013. Due to concerns about the long-term budget picture, some of the cliff is almost certain to get through.

2012-11-16 The REIT Stuff: How REIT Investors Have Benefited from the Real Estate Recovery by Steve Benyik of Lord Abbett

In an otherwise slow-growth economy, real estate investment trusts' (REITs) strong returns and yields have attracted considerable investment in recent years. Steve Benyik, Lord Abbett REIT analyst, provides perspective on the sector's key trends.

2012-11-13 Emerging Markets: Maintaining Perspective by Robert O. Abad (Article)

In this Q&A, Western Asset Portfolio Manager Robert Abad discusses the latest dynamics and trends within emerging markets (EM). Although EM continue to demonstrate resiliency, Mr. Abad believes that given the amount of global uncertainty today, it is important that investors evaluate opportunities alongside a manager equipped to guide them through the risks and rewards of this evolving asset class.

2012-11-13 China's Transition Occurring at a Critical Time by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

While the presidential election in the U.S. was on the forefront of most investors' minds, current events in China could be equally important to the global economy. China is going through a political transition at the same time as it seeks to re-balance its economy. Whether those efforts will be successful remains a great unknown.

2012-11-13 Argo and Ethel: America Has Never Been a "Rose Garden" by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We recently had the pleasure of seeing a movie, Argo, and a documentary on HBO, Ethel. Argo is the story of the rescue of the six Americans from the Canadian Ambassador's residence at the time of the Iranian takeover of the US Embassy in Teheran. Ethel is a documentary which tells the story of Ethel Kennedy, the wife of Senator Robert Kennedy. It was produced, directed and narrated by Ethel Kennedy's youngest daughter, Rory. I rate both of these films highly and believe they tell US investors something they need to be reminded of.

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.

2012-11-12 President Obama Wins Reelection; Equity Markets Trade Lower by Matthew Rubin of Neuberger Berman

Congress remains split following Tuesday's vote (Democrat Senate, Republican House. DJIA and S&P 500 decline 2.0% and 2.3%, respectively, last week. European Central Bank and Bank of England maintain current monetary policy stances.

2012-11-08 Magic 8 Ball Knows All by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

The efficacy of 1980s technology turned out to be a real bummer, huh? Flying DeLoreans and flux capacitors are the ultimate heartbreakers, but the clairvoyance promised by those iridescent black and white Magic 8 Balls is definitely a close second. Give one a few shakes today and see for yourself. "Magic 8 Ball, [SHAKE] will financial markets rally post the U.S. election?" "It is decidedly so." "Magic 8 Ball, [SHAKE] are you lying?" "Yes definitely." "Magic 8 Ball, [SHAKE] seriously?" "Reply hazy, try again."

2012-11-08 Overcoming the Brake Light Shockwave by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Big democratic breakthroughs, say Egypt, Tunisia are halting and fall far short of the hopes they embodied. Technology is a race over mobility and brevity but hardly elicits the same wonder from years past. Governments are polarized. The US had almost no voting overlap in recent years so big ideas are on the wane. In Europe, the supra-national organizations like the EU are swift to talk and slow to act. No we're not reactionaries. We think all this is explained by the deepest drop in output in the post-war period and the slowest recovery.

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

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

2012-11-06 Favorable Reports Post Sandy by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The devastation of Sandy blighted the week. We were lucky in that most of our employees escaped the worst effects. We had some evacuations and plenty of lost power. But the images of devastation were overwhelming and we hope our clients and friends of the firm are safe. Perhaps, as a non-native, my perspective is warped but in the US we have an uncanny ability for industry, problem-solving, drive, inventiveness and optimism. Sometimes the very best of us comes out in these times.

2012-11-05 Stream of Anecdotes by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Analysts who interpret economic data as a stream of unconnected anecdotes are likely to find recent data encouraging, and will easily dismiss any concern about a U.S. recession on that basis. For our part, the internals of the economic picture new orders, backlogs, real income growth, and even the employment components of prominent economic surveys continue to deteriorate. Based on dozens of economic variables and methods that account for leading/lagging relationships (e.g. unobserved components estimates) our view remains that the U.S. economy has already entered a recession.

2012-11-02 High Yield is Looking Expensive by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

High yield has enjoyed a rally over the last several months. Russ explains why it may be a good time to reexamine your exposure to the asset class.

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 The Yield Hunt by Michael Lewitt (Article)

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

2012-10-30 Nice Speech, Tough Crowd by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Sandy is pummeling everything we know on the eastern seaboard. I hope everyone stays safe and we can ride this out without too much damage. Thankfully markets are closed. Meanwhile, here's our views on capital markets on Monday.

2012-10-29 Waiting for Treasuries to Reverse Course by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In the years since the global financial crisis, investors have funneled money into fixed income securities. This year alone, more than $260 billion found its way into fixed income mutual funds. In an environment desperate for yield-oriented solutions, such demand is not surprising. What might be considered surprising, however, is investors' willingness to embrace such yield with extraordinary risk attached.

2012-10-26 TIPS: Still A Good Value? by Stephen Percoco of Lark Research, Inc.

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities extended their gains in the 2012 third quarter, outperforming straight Treasuries for the second time this year. In the 2012 first quarter, TIPS registered modest gains as straight Treasuries lost ground. During that quarter, yields on straight Treasuries rose in anticipation of continued improvement in the economy. In the 2012 second quarter, straight Treasuries came roaring back, when yields fell as economic growth faltered. TIPS turned in a very strong performance then too, but not as strong as straight Treasuries.

2012-10-26 No New News From the Fed by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Given that it's just two weeks before the presidential election and that the Federal Reserve made several key announcements after its last meeting in mid-September, we weren't expecting any fireworks from today's Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meeting.

2012-10-26 October 2012: Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Like last year, this summer's quarter was eventful. Investors entered the quarter with high expectations that the European Central Bank (ECB) and Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) would provide the markets with more monetary largesse. On July 26th, Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, vowed to "do whatever it takes" to preserve the euro. Risk assets then began an anticipatory rally heading into some key events in mid-September.

2012-10-26 Of Irish and Fiscal Cliffs by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

Dr. Michael Hasenstab, Templeton Global Bond Fund portfolio manager and co-director of Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group's International Bond Department, doesn't prescribe legislative answers, but he can relate the fiscal challenges the U.S. faces to the experiences of a country with its own dramatic cliffs: Ireland.

2012-10-25 The Arithmetic of Equities by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors

t is a first principle at Whitebox to be security agnostic: to penetrate the labels like bond and stock and hybrid and assess the real status of a security by the risks and rewards that flow from the combination of economic circumstances and the details of capital structure. For most of the last decade it was quite clear to us that equities bore all their traditional risk but bolstered only bond-like rewards (at best), while high yield bonds often offered equity-like returns that could be shielded from default risk by shorting the all too risky stock of the same or a similar firm.

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 Picking Up Nickels by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

Those who pursue puny returns in the face of enormous risks to their principal are said to be "picking up nickels in front of a steamroller". You would think such behavior is limited to drunkards and fools, but you will be shocked to hear that our very own Federal Reserve has undertaken just such a strategy in their well-intentioned, but, by their own admission, futile pursuit of improved U.S. employment numbers.

2012-10-24 Policy at a Crossroads by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

On September 13, the Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing, dubbed QE3, in the hope of providing an additional boost to the slow U.S. economic recovery. Although this latest policy action reinforces the notion that the U.S. is prepared to support its economy for as long as needed, some economists question whether the stimulus can really make a difference. In this issue of Strategic Spotlight, we consider the recent effects of loose monetary policy and whether the Fed has "reached its limit."

2012-10-24 Emerging Markets Local Currency Bonds: Reducing Risk and Improving Returns in a Global Fixed Income by Marcela Meirelles, Blaise Antin of TCW Asset Management

Emerging market (EM) local currency bonds broaden the scope for income generation and risk diversification in a global fixed income portfolio. The asset class offers a unique opportunity to access higher income and potential for capital appreciation through a basket comprised of mostly investment grade credits with an average yield spread of 475 basis points over US Treasuries.

2012-10-22 Eggs Are Not Enough: The Truth About Diversification by Feifei Li of Research Affiliates

We learn in finance theory that diversification simply means not putting all your eggs in one basket. Simple as the idea is, most investors do not hold portfolios that are even close to being truly diversified. Two reasons make this sensible objective difficult to achieve. First, most investors are not disciplined enough to implement diversification. To illustrate my point, pause and check whether you are willing to reduce equities when the trailing 12-month return on stocks is 20+ percentage points higher than bonds?

2012-10-22 More traction...Just Look Through the Earnings by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Last week saw an important debate on how the US has fared in the post recession recovery. The short answer is, "not well" if measured by a return to GDP growth trends or per capita income. But the counter, as explained by Reinhart and Rogoff, is "faster than you would expect." We're in the second camp.

2012-10-22 Lessons from Black Monday by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

25 years ago, on another Monday in late October, the financial world seemed to disintegrate in a heartbeat. Though the 205 point drop in the Dow last Friday (the technical anniversary of the '87 Crash) was somewhat reminiscent of its 108-point drop on Friday, October 16, 1987, the real action in '87 was on the Monday that followed. And while this Monday is not nearly as black, it is important that we use the opportunity to recall the circumstances that nearly sent the stock market into cardiac arrest.

2012-10-19 Fall Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

It was a busy quarter for central bankers. A surprise statement during July by European Central Bank President, Mario Draghi, moved markets: "Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the Euro... and believe me, it will be enough." These words sparked an immediate and sharp turnaround in European bond yields (down) and world equities. Not to be outdone, Fed Chairman Bernanke announced QE3 on September 13th, promising to continue purchasing bonds, thereby increasing the money supply, until employment conditions improve.

2012-10-19 Muddling Down the Middle by Josh Thimons of PIMCO

PIMCO expects that the debate over the fiscal cliff will end in fiscal consolidation, but not a fiscal catastrophe. Unfortunately, while the Fed's monetary policy actions have been, by and large, successful in achieving its intermediate-term goal of increasing asset valuations, they have not been effective in influencing real economic outcomes. Our forecast for the drag on GDP from the fiscal cliff in the coming year is roughly negative 1.5%. Improvement in the housing market will only fill a small part in that hole.

2012-10-18 Are High-Yield Stocks in Bubble Territory? by Joseph Paul of AllianceBernstein

Investors have been flocking to high-dividend-paying stocks, lured by their predictable, bondlike income and downside defenses. But investors may be getting more risk than they bargained for.

2012-10-18 Investment Outlook 2013: "ABCD" Investing: Anything Bernanke Cannot Destroy by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

The Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi concert gave the markets a double shot of their love in the month of September by promising to print as much money as needed to finance the debts of their respective countries. Ever since the financial fraternity party ended in 2008 and the world began deleveraging its massive credit hangover, the global markets have been hooked on the next shot of love from the central bankers.

2012-10-18 Triskaidekaphobia1 \tris-kī-dek-ə-fō-bē-ə\ n: Fear of the Number 13 by Gene Tannuzzo of Columbia Management

In May of this year, the Congressional Budget Office published a paper outlining the tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to be automatically implemented on January 1, 2013 under current law. The paper illustrates the real risk of recession if Congress fails to address this looming "fiscal cliff" before year end. The markets are telling us not to worry about the fiscal cliff. Are the markets right, or should investors be more concerned that 13, as in 2013, could be an unlucky number for the U.S. economy?

2012-10-17 Fuzzy Math from the Continent of Peace by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Whoops! The IMF made two announcements last week that caught our attention. But to set up the joke in all this, it's worth remembering that for decades the IMF preached austerity economics to any country that needed balance of payments assistance.

2012-10-16 Will Bonds Be ‘Burnt to a Crisp?’ by David Schawel, CFA (Article)

Bill Gross's recent monthly commentary painted a disturbing picture for investors - he foresees bonds being “burnt to a crisp.” This isn't just hot air. Such a conflagration is possible, and investors in bond funds, especially those that are constructed similar to the widely followed Barclays bond index, need to heed risks inherent in today''s market.

2012-10-15 Passed Pawns by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

I've long been fascinated by the parallels between Chess and finance. Years ago, I asked Tsagaan Battsetseg, a highly ranked world chess champion, what runs through her mind most frequently during matches. She answered with two questions "What is the opportunity?" and "What is threatened?" At present, I remain convinced that the key opportunity lies in closing down exposure to risk.

2012-10-15 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The leveraged credit market turned in an impressive Q3 with high yield bonds and bank loans returning 4.3 and 3.1 percent, respectively. Unprecedented accommodation from central bankers across the globe has alleviated much of the macroeconomic tail risk that we highlighted in last quarters publication. Presented with a seemingly insatiable demand for new issue bonds, issuers returned to the torrid pace of issuance that characterized the start of 2012 by raising a record $99 billion during the third quarter.

2012-10-11 The New TIPping Point by Jeremie Banet, Rahul Seksaria, Mihir Worah of PIMCO

The Federal Reserve's QE3 program combined with more aggressive communication are likely to have implications for Treasury Inflation Protected Securities (TIPS).

2012-10-11 When Averting Loss Can Lead to Averting Gains by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

Think about something you'd really hate to lose, something of value to you such as a treasured possession. Now imagine you're told that if you lay that object on the line in a bet, you have a good shot at doubling its value, but there's also a possibility you'll lose it. How low would the chance of loss have to be before you'd be willing to take the risk? Maybe 10 percent? Less than that? The answer may lie in a behavioral economic theory called "loss aversion."

2012-10-11 Alternative Investments Offer Strategies to Avoid Fed-Inflated Bond Bubble by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors

Over the past several years, investors have shifted hundreds of billions of dollars out of stocks and into investment grade corporate bonds and U.S. Treasuries. To date, this strategy has delivered solid results for many investors, as bond prices have generally continued to rally while bond yields have continued to fall.

2012-10-10 Return to Bretton Woods by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The gold-convertible U.S. dollar became the global reserve currency under the Bretton Woods monetary system, which lasted from 1944-1971. This arrangement ended because foreign central banks accumulated unsustainably large reserves of U.S. Treasuries, threatening price stability and the purchasing power of the dollar. Today, central banks are once again stockpiling massive Treasury reserves in an attempt to manage their currency values and gain advantages in export markets. We have, effectively, returned to Bretton Woods.

2012-10-10 Beyond the Fiscal Cliff: the Dollar At Risk? by Alex Merk of Merk Funds

Looking beyond the fiscal cliff, we are afraid the greenback may be at risk no matter who wins the election. We examine the risk to the U.S. dollar in the context of the likely policies pursued under either an Obama or Romney administration.

2012-10-10 Munis and Tax Reform: Tempest in a Teapot or Taxmageddon? by Team of Neuberger Berman

We've heard increased dialogue recently about the future of the tax exemption for municipal bond income. While it has long been commonly thought that taxing municipal bond income would result in higher borrowing costs to governments potentially impairing their ability to operate the current political landscape, upcoming election and looming "fiscal cliff" have opened for debate the prospect of changes to longstanding provisions of the U.S. tax code.

2012-10-10 Potential Picks for a Yield-Starved Portfolio by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Yield-hungry investors today are faced with a stark choice: accept lower yield or more risk. Russ K explains why given those options, investment grade bonds may be one of the better bargains.

2012-10-10 Gold Strategy Investor Letter, Q3 2012 by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), examines in his latest quarterly letter how "Gold and precious metals stocks rallied sharply in the third quarter." He believes the catalyst for this move was the "resumption of quantitative easing by the Fed and ECB in late August." Mr. Hathaway goes on to say that "The rally suggests that the lengthy correction which began in August of 2011 has been completed, setting the stage for a powerful new leg in the bull market for precious metals and related mining shares."

2012-10-09 Riding Into The Sunset or a Brick Wall? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

A month ago, I presented the case for why Fed Chairman Bernanke would have strong motivation to launch another round of quantitative easing (QE) before the election. In short, it would save him his job. Now, I didn't predict with certainty that he would do so - only the few men at the FOMC knew that for sure - but it seemed likely. Shortly thereafter, Bernanke not only announced more stimulus, but promised to keep it flowing to the tune of an additional $40 billion a month until conditions improve.

2012-10-09 This Fortress built by Nature for Herself by Dennis Gibb of Sweetwater Investments

It has been some time since I have taken keyboard in hand in any attempt to inform anyone of my thoughts on the world of investing. I am taking the time to write now because we are embarked on some events that are, in my humble opinion, truly historic. As these events play out the United States may not be a fortress built by nature for herself. So hang on this could get rough and as usual it will be opinionated with a different perspective.

2012-10-09 High Yield and Equities Mind the (Equity) Gap by Hozef Arif of PIMCO

High yield bonds returned 12% through September, even as corporate defaults continued to rise, albeit gradually. While the default rate is an important market metric, it has been a lagging indicator of high yield bond total return performance. Investors should closely monitor equity markets for signals on where high yield spreads may go.

2012-10-05 Election Preview by Investment Strategy Group of Neuberger Berman

Our Investment Strategy Group sizes up the approaching U.S. election and its potential impact on the "fiscal cliff."

2012-10-05 How Helicopter Ben Helps Jobs and, Inadvertently, Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The world's central bank leaders continue to spike the monetary punch bowl, with investors imbibing on gold once again. This flurry of gold buying prompts many curious investors and doubting media to ask me two questions: 1) How can demand for gold and gold stocks continue; and 2) How high can the precious metal go? To answer these questions, we need to look at the intentions behind the economic and political decision-making across several developed countries, analyze the causes, the effects, and the possible ramifications.

2012-10-04 Priming the Liquidity Pump by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

The global economy is often like a line of dominos. One piece tumbles, causing others to fall too. This year, weak economic growth and heavy debt burdens in many developed markets had a domino effect on emerging economies, and many investors lost confidence in both. In response, central banks have taken actions to boost economic growth and prime the liquidity pump.

2012-10-04 Overtime, Then (not so) Sudden Death by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

The FDIC's unlimited insurance coverage on demand deposits is set to expire on December 31. While the expiration by itself might not be a game changer, it adds to the uncertainty that looms over liquidity strategies as global interest rates continue to be squeezed. We believe that actively managed short-term strategies that dynamically adjust to market conditions are viable solutions, with more attractive risk and return characteristics than money markets.

2012-10-03 Stocks Are Taking a Breather from the Rally by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

To at least some extent, the pause in the rally we have seen over the past couple of weeks can be attributed to some profit-taking on the heels of a significant multi-month uptrend (US stocks rose close to 6% in the third quarter). It is also likely, however, that investors are coming to grips with the fact that the world continues to face some serious risks and are recognizing that not all of the world's problems can be solved by central bank action.

2012-10-03 A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Economic Armageddon by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

After the recent announcement by the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) that they would begin to engage in what has been deemed "QE3," there has been a lot of skepticism that such a plan could actually work. The Fed is attempting to carry out their dual mandate of price stability and full employment by engaging in a new round of asset purchasing targeted at the mortgage market.

2012-10-02 The Risk in Safety by Greg Nejmeh of HS Management Partners

The "risk on/risk off" sound bite is routinely applied by financial commentators when attempting to explain inexplicable market fluctuations. As the pendulum oscillates between greed (risk on) and fear (risk off), the fulcrum the pivot point where the scale rests in perfect balance can best be characterized as safety. It is from that state of equilibrium that the market begins each trading day...

2012-10-02 QE and the Equity Market: Is the Fed Driving or Along For the Ride? by Patrick Lawler of PIMCO

Federal Reserve officials have said several times that among other benefits, its quantitative easing (QE) programs have helped boost U.S. equity prices. Based on our analysis, QE has not been the driving force behind rising equity prices in recent years. How does the Federal Reserve measure the success of its asset purchase programs, or quantitative easing (QE), since the 2008 financial crisis QE1, QE2, Operation Twist (OT) and QE3?

2012-10-01 Leap of Faith by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Both the economy and the financial markets will do fine in the longer-term, but to imagine that there will not first be major challenges and disruptions is a leap of faith and a leap over a century of economic and financial history that screams otherwise.

2012-10-01 Moral Hazard. by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Overall, equity market risk is dissipating. There appears to be a stronger momentum ameliorating a global tapestry of "ills." What may have been a domino effect when the credit crisis began has stopped short of a cataclysm and turned closer to equilibrium. As a result, equities might be poised to perform. The question is when?

2012-10-01 Quantitative EasingBernanke Sizes Up the Risks by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Bernanke acknowledged four potential pitfalls in policywith a fifth lurking in the shadows.

2012-09-28 Falling Off the Fiscal Cliff? by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

When we look at how the fiscal debate is likely to play out, rather than how it should play out, our base case is the fiscal cliff will likely be resolved in a short-term deal before the end of the year, making what was a cliff more like fiscal black diamond still dangerous, but not likely to land the economy in a body cast.

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.

2012-09-27 Its the (REAL, not the financial) economy, stupid! by Kane Cotton of Bellatore Financial, Inc.

The Fed is relying on the wealth effect. It can't directly bring down unemployment (i.e., part of the "real" economy), so it is focusing on the areas that it can affect, the financial economy and asset prices. Since both PCE and Core CPI inflation measures have been fairly low and are unlikely to become uncomfortably high in the near term due to the slack labor market, low capacity utilization and stagnant incomes, the Fed is again taking aim at asset prices.

2012-09-25 Stocks Should Overcome Hurdles to Continue the Bull Market by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Although global economic data has been relatively weak in recent years, risk asset prices have nonetheless advanced. We would attribute this trend to the fact that weak economic growth does not, by itself, limit the potential for risk assets. In our view, the liquidity-driven reflationary policies of the world's central banks have been a more important factor for asset prices than economic growth levels have been.

2012-09-24 Do TIPS Pose a Hidden Risk to Seekers of Inflation Protection? by Douglas Peebles of AllianceBernstein

Treasury-inflation protected securities, or TIPS, have been a popular choice for investors concerned about future inflation. And TIPS' returns have been impressive in recent years. But the main contributor to TIPS' performance isn't inflation. It's an ingredient that could become as hurtful down the road as it's been helpful in the past.

2012-09-24 Clear Progress by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Two weeks into a new era of ECB and Fed policy and it is a tie between the gains in equities, with the US and European broad indexes up around 2.2%. But it's the lack of follow-through and opacity of the ECB moves which are perhaps the most disconcerting and so, probably, the more short-lived. While both central banks reported easing in the form of securities purchases they had very different origins and aims.

2012-09-21 Growth for the Long Run by Jonathan Coleman, Brian Demain, Nick Thompson of Janus Capital Group

"I skate to where the puck is going, not where its been." Wayne Gretzky. Many investors would love to be as successful as The Great One when it comes to their portfolios. Yet investors are often heavily influenced by the past, losing sight of where they need to be going. This seems to be especially true today: mistrust of equities is running high after a decade of disappointing returns and excessive volatility.

2012-09-21 The Volatility Risk Premium by Graham Rennison, Niels Pedersen of PIMCO

Amid elevated global macroeconomic uncertainty and market turbulence, investors are searching for ways to diversify portfolios with non-traditional asset classes. Volatility risk premium strategies aim to capture a return premium over time as compensation for the risk of losses during sudden increases in market volatility. We believe investors seeking to diversify their equity risk exposures should consider adding volatility risk premium strategies to their portfolios, albeit with appropriate diversification across major option markets, active risk management and prudent scaling.

2012-09-20 QE n+1 What The Fed Is Really Up To by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

As I survey the news stories and other analysis on the Feds recent announcement, most fall short of describing what the Fed is really up to. Here is a hint: it's not really about employment. It's not really about "price stability" or really about growth either.

2012-09-19 Fed to Debase Dollar? by Alex Merk of Merk Funds

Is the Fed's goal to debase the U.S. dollar? The Federal Reserve's announcement of a third round of quantitative easing (QE3) might have been the worst kept secret, yet the dollar plunged upon the announcement. Is Bernanke intentionally debasing the dollar?

2012-09-18 Fed Delivers another Big Dose of QE by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Yesterday, the Fed delivered the much anticipated dose of Quantitative Easing (QE) announcing that it would continue to buy U.S. Agency Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS) in an effort to further drive growth in the U.S. economy and decrease the ranks of the unemployed. The monthly purchase rate of $40 billion will be in addition to the already $10 billion that is being reinvested from QE 1&2 in mortgage-backed securities. This new money balance sheet expansion by the Fed accompanies additional guidance that the Fed would stay low on interest rates likely until mid-year 2015.

2012-09-17 Charlie Dreifus on the Global Economy and Its Impact on Stocks by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager Charlie Dreifus examines the data from Europe, China, and the U.S. and discusses how it may affect domestic stock prices.

2012-09-17 Was QE3 Necessary? It Depends on Who You Ask... by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

Last week Chairman Bernanke and the Fed launched another aggressive stimulus program, QE3, saying that they will buy $40 billion in mortgage debt per month and continue to purchase assets in order to boost growth and reduce unemployment. He also announced that the Fed is not likely to raise rates from the current rock bottom lows until at least mid 2015, vs. 2014 as previously stated.

2012-09-17 Main Street Policy...Seriously? by Jason Doiron of Sentinel Investments

In case you did not catch the press conference last week, Ben Bernanke believes that his latest round of quantitative easing will benefit Main Street. Seriously? The notion that Main Street will benefit from the Fed purchasing an additional $40 billion per month of agency-backed MBS is preposterous to us.

2012-09-14 Operation Screw by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The Fed will try to conjure a recovery on the backs of currency debasement. It will not stop or alter from this course. If the economy fails to respond to the drugs, Bernanke will simply up the dosage. In fact, he is so convinced we will remain dependent on quantitative easing that he explicitly said he won't turn off the spigots even if things noticeably improve. In other words, the dollar is screwed.

2012-09-13 How Would Municipals Fare Under Romney? by Douglas Peebles of AllianceBernstein

Last month, we wrote that changes to the tax code being discussed in Washington would affect the value of municipal bonds. While that analysis still holds true, that was before the election campaign engines really revved up. Now there's more chatter, if not more clarity. My colleague Michael Brooks weighs in.

2012-09-12 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: Building Rickety Bridges to Uncertain Outcomes by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

Without structural change aided by well-planned fiscal policy, we are afraid the nominal bridges of monetary policy will fail to reach their desired outcomes. The probability of a deflationary left-tail outcome emanating from the eurozone has declined substantially in the short run, yet outright economic growth in the eurozone will remain elusive in 2013.The much-publicized "fiscal cliff" is set to hit the U.S. economy on January 1, 2013, and could reduce U.S.

2012-09-12 Investing is Like Duck Hunting by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

The discussion of additional monetary easing by the Federal Reserve has been the topic du jour in recent weeks. As a result of potential additional monetary stimulus, the US dollar has experienced a decline. Also, after a weaker than expected jobs report last week, US treasuries initially rallied given an increased expectation of Fed action. However, as pointed out by the market commentators at Sober Look, the Treasury curve has begun to steepen with the "30-year bond and other longer dated treasuries steadily selling off."

2012-09-11 High Yield Spreads At Lows For the Year by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

Investors in equities will often look to the high yield credit markets for signs of confirmation or divergence from the prevailing trend in equities. Typically, spreads (yield on junk bonds relative to treasuries) move in the opposite direction as equities, so when the equity market is rallying, spreads decline (investors perceive less risk in holding lower quality debt). Conversely, when equities fall, spreads rise (investors perceive more risk in holding lower quality debt).

2012-09-07 Chinas Next Act by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

World markets may not have to wait much longer for Chinese policymakers to act, as the government recently announced new infrastructure projects. According to Bloomberg, China approved 25 new subway construction projects, with related investments estimated to be more than 840 billion yuan. Railway, subway and construction stocks in China increased on the news. China is in much better shape than the rest of the world. A powerful rebalancing strategy offers the structural and cyclical support that will allow it to avoid a hard landing.

2012-09-04 Risks in the Search for Yield by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Interest rates are so extraordinarily low that investors have pushed up prices (and pushed down yields) of all the traditional investments used for income, so they have even forced into more esoteric or risky investments. This search for yield has created significant risks that may not be well appreciated. This Commentary discusses these risks.

2012-08-31 Risks in the Search for Yield by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Interest rates are so extraordinarily low that investors have pushed up prices (and pushed down yields) of all the traditional investments used for income, so they have even forced into more esoteric or risky investments. This search for yield has created significant risks that may not be well appreciated. This Commentary discusses these risks.

2012-08-30 Opportunity Cost: Emotions by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

Emotions may be keeping your clients in cash, putting their long-term goals at risk. Taking a snapshot of headlines and it is not hard to discern where investors' predispositions lay.

2012-08-30 Fixed Income Investing - the Dangers of Complacency by Bill Woodruff of Bandon Capital Management

The paper points out the US has been in a declining interest rate environment for 30 years, producing a tailwind for fixed income investors but one with little room left for further decline. At these interest rate levels - the yield on the 10 year US Treasury recently hit an all-time month end low of 1.49% - fixed income investors face unique risks which are predominantly unfamiliar.

2012-08-29 A Two-Pronged Case for Holding Gold by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Gold continues to benefit from today's low interest rate monetary climate, and Russ says its diversifying effects mean the metal can be a valuable risk management tool for investors.

2012-08-28 Who’s Fooling Whom? by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Equity markets are exhibiting a remarkable degree of complacency. The VIX is currently at extremely low levels and it can maintain those levels for a long period of time. The worse things get in terms of the economic data, the higher the market goes on hopes of central bank stimulus. At this rate, the Dow will peak just as the world is coming to an end!

2012-08-28 Israel and the Evangelicals by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On several occasions, we have noted that Israel enjoys significant leverage over U.S. policy into the November elections. Often, it is assumed that this leverage comes from the influence of American Jews on the political system. Although not unimportant, the numbers, as discussed here, suggest that the Jewish vote is barely significant in only two states, New York and Florida. Even in these two states, capturing all the Jewish voters would not guarantee winning these states.

2012-08-28 Curious Repetition by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Greece had a bond payment in the middle of the week that was paid with no drama and then announced that it had enough cash to finance its needs through October. However, it is using cash set aside to recapitalize banks in order to meet general obligations. The bond buying proposals are still priced into the market.

2012-08-28 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.

2012-08-27 FPA Crescent: Steve Romick's Semi-Annual Report by Steven Romick of FPA Fund

FPA Crescent Fund has released its Semi-Annual report on the state of the fund and its investments. The piece also delves into portfolio manager Steve Romick's market outlook and thoughts regarding the fund's positioning moving forward.

2012-08-24 Is a Japan-Style "Lost Decade" Ahead for the US? by Sharon Fay of AllianceBernstein

The laborious pace of the US recovery has inevitably fostered comparisons with Japan. But we find several reasons why a protracted slump like Japan's is unlikely, as my colleague Gerry Paul argues. After five years of tepid growth, investors can be forgiven for wondering if the US is headed for a decades-long slump like Japan's.

2012-08-22 Mistrust Fuels Continued Gold Demand by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In the face of growing fears of a renewed global plunge into economic depression and a climate of low apparent price inflation, investors might expect commodities and precious metals to be falling in price. Instead, gold continues to hover around a relatively high $1,640 an ounce and silver at $29. At the same time, central banks - including those of the ever more important China, Russia and India - continue aggressively to buy gold.

2012-08-22 The Faustian Bargain by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

In Goethe's 1831 drama Faust, the devil persuades a bankrupt emperor to print and spend vast quantities of paper money as a short-term fix for his country's fiscal problems. As a consequence, the empire ultimately unravels and descends into chaos. Today, governments that have relied upon quantitative easing (QE) instead of undertaking necessary structural reforms have arguably entered into the grandest Faustian bargain in financial history.

2012-08-21 Stocks and Bonds: Comparing the Range of Potential Outcomes by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

Investors fleeing stocks have mostly sought shelter in bonds. That's understandable, given their relative stability and reliable income. But it's important to compare long-term expected returns, too. While bonds can be volatile in the short term, over longer time horizons, expected returns for bonds are easy to project: they are close to the starting yield, and the range of possible outcomes is narrow. Today, yields are extraordinarily low.

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 Disconnected Markets Confound Investors by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The current environment for investors is perhaps one of the most confusing that many have ever encountered. Unpredictable markets now appear to take no clue whatsoever from underlying economic data, and maxims long cherished by traditional money managers are being abandoned in favor of seemingly illogical choices. While such an environment is enough to encourage many to cash out completely, we believe that investors should remain focused on the fundamentals.

2012-08-16 Markets Holding Up Despite Volatility by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investments

Despite a steady stream of negative headlines and high volatility, markets are holding up pretty well. The broadest measure of the stock market, the S&P 500 Index, is up nearly 13% year-todate through today, August 13, 2012. The NASDAQ is up almost 17%. High yield bonds are up almost 9.7% while investment grade corporate bonds have gained over 7%. Even Europe has managed 7.5%, as measured by the FTSE Eurofirst 300 Index in dollar terms.

2012-08-14 The Eurozone Drama Continues by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we will review the political and economic structure of the Eurozone. From there, we will discuss the critical event that caused the reversal in safety assets and what this reversal likely means for the geopolitics of the Eurozone. As always, we will conclude with potential market ramifications.

2012-08-13 Thinking about Treasuries? 2 Reasons to Think Again by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The Fed will soon own more long-term Treasuries than the entire private sector. Russ explains the implications of this milestone for US long-dated debt and shows investors where to look for more attractive alternatives.

2012-08-09 Market Surge is Amplified by Low ExpectationsAs Expected by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

European fears have subsided a bit as the European Central Bank's (ECB) president continued to offer words of support for a more comprehensive solutionthough he appeared to dampen the statements with concessions about the ECB's ultimate subservient role to the governments.

2012-08-08 How Hoover Caused the Euro Crisis by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

There is a Burkean principle that many sorts of change must be regarded with skepticism. In the last few months in Europe we have seen new maxims, new ideas, new commitments, new resolves, lots of new acronyms, yet very little has changed from two years ago when Greece surfaced as the first casualty of the banking/sovereign crisis.

2012-08-08 Cash Flow is King by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

In today's yield starved environment, investors continue to seek secure sources of income with the potential for growth. Energy infrastructure master limited partnerships (MLPs) have become increasingly attractive not only for their above average current yield, but for their low risk profile and ability to generate predictable cash flows backed by, in many instances, long-term tariff based contracts.

2012-08-07 All That and Nothing To See by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The ECB learned a tough media lesson last week. If you say, as Mr. Draghi did in a pre-Olympic euphoria, that you will do "whatever it takes to preserve the euro" then markets will take you at your word.

2012-08-06 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Action speaks louder than words. While the positive rhetoric coming from the mouths of center bankers brought optimism to the markets, their actions (or lack thereof) sent the indexes into a four day losing streak. Only a strong non-farm payroll release late in the week salvaged the market and a solid rebound left the major indexes in positive territory for the week (though the eternal pessimists believed the data was an aberration). Maybe Bernanke has more words of wisdom for them?

2012-08-06 Note to Bond King: Check Your Math by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

The Wall Street Journal published an article on August 1 headlined: "Bill Gross: Equities are Dead." In fairness to Gross, what he actually wrote in his August "Investment Outlook" was, "the cult of equities is dying." We agree with most of Gross's argumentbut not with his unsupported forecast of extremely low stock returns. Let's take a look at Gross's claims...

2012-08-03 Priced for Collapse by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Where is the gold price today? If you're like many Americans, you have no idea whether it went up, down, or sideways. Fortunately, I know my readers to be more informed - you likely know that after falling from almost $1900, gold has been trapped around $1600 since early May. But you may still be curious why despite continued money-printing and abysmal US economic reports, gold hasn't been able to hit new highs.

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 Is Buy-and-Hold Dead? by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

If one searches in Google for Does buy-and-hold work?, more than 191 million results will appear.If one searches for Is buy-and-hold dead?, more than 81 million results will appear.However, if one searches for Successful buy-and-hold strategies, only about 9 million results will appear.Its pretty clear that the investing world believes that buy-and-hold strategies are basically dead and gone.

2012-08-02 Two Inflection Points by Andrew Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors

I'm generally happiest, professionally, when I have at least one strong investment conviction. Currently I have two. I want to be long large-cap equities and short small-cap equities. And I want to be long cheap options on natural gas, mostly by owning E&P (exploration and production) firms that have become attractively cheap with the collapse of gas prices.

2012-08-01 What History Suggests About the Future of Stocks by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

Some experts today argue that the world has entered a New Normal condition in which stocks have permanently lost their return edge. We've heard this before. It was wrong then, and we think it's wrong now, too. In 1979, BusinessWeek published a cover story famously called The Death of Equities. now, stock market returns had lagged 10-year Treasury returns for a decade, although for somewhat different reasons.

2012-08-01 Municipal Bonds: Putting Things in Perspective by Sheila Amoroso, Rafael Costas, John Wiley of Franklin Templeton Investments

It's easy to jump to conclusions based on shocking headlines and dire predictions. If that's all you read, you'd probably be walking around with a stiff neck from looking up, waiting for the sky to fall. Beneath the sensational headlines often lies a more mundane story. This could be the case with the current bout of muni-bond default mania, which harkens back to the muni-market panic in December 2010.

2012-08-01 The Vanishing Treasury Yield by Team of Neuberger Berman

Although Treasury bonds have performed well in recent years, investors should be aware of increasing risks as yields decline. Yields for 10-year Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities have been persistently negative since the fourth quarter of 2011 and continue to trend lower, implying that investors are paying increasingly higher prices for the relative safety these investments are supposed to provide.

2012-07-31 Cult Figures by William Gross of PIMCO

The long-term history of inflation adjusted returns from stocks shows a persistent but recently fading 6.6% real return since 1912. The legitimate question that market analysts, government forecasters and pension consultants should answer is how that return can be duplicated in the future. Unfair though it may be, an investor should continue to expect an attempted inflationary solution in almost all developed economies over the next few years and even decades.

2012-07-31 An ECB Rally by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

We remain dependent on European statements but what a difference a year makes. This time last year we saw softening economic data and increasingly poor news coming out of Europe. But then we had a diffident ECB president who had just finished a round of rate increases as Europe slumped. This time we have combative words from Mario Draghi to support the euro, apparently at all costs.

2012-07-27 Secular Outlook: Implications for Investors by William Benz of PIMCO

For investors, the biggest challenge now is moving from a world of normal distributions, with expected occurrences around the mean, to one of bi-modal distributions where more extreme scenarios prevail. Key institutions, including governments and central banks, were previously stabilizing forces but are now helping to accelerate underlying, destabilizing trends in the global economy and financial markets.

2012-07-27 Challenging the Paradigms of Investing by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Global investors constantly need to be watchful of individual biases, impaired thinking and emotional reactions that can have an adverse effect on a portfolio. One of our values at U.S. Global Investors is to always be curious to learn and improve, and the Investor Alert was borne from a belief that shareholders want to understand the very subtle nuances of biases and misconceptions. I have selected a few that I believe challenge the paradigms of investing.

2012-07-26 Days of Reckoning - The Potential Impact of the 2012 Elections on the Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Elections can, and often do, matter for markets, but not necessarily for the reasons investors tend to emphasize. For example, there is little historical evidence that markets perform better or worse depending on which party occupies the White House. There is also no concrete evidence that markets do better under divided government, a myth that seems to have taken hold thanks to the bull market of the 1990s.

2012-07-25 After the Downgrade: German Stocks or Bonds? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Amid rising uncertainty surrounding Europe, Moody's earlier this week lowered its outlook for Germany. Now, given the likelihood that Europe will continue to be a source of economic risk and investor angst, many investors are wondering whether they should stick with German assets. Should investors stick with German assets? Russ says the answer is yes on German stocks but no on the country's bonds.

2012-07-24 Fed Outlook: An Itchy Trigger Finger by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Fed Chairman Bernanke's monetary policy testimony to Congress was not expected to be a big deal. The economic projections of senior Fed officials were already published and the minutes of the June 19-20 policy meeting showed the Fed in a wait-and-see attitude However, most of the economic data released since the Fed policy meeting were weaker than expected. While Bernanke did not signal that policy action was imminent, the tone of his testimony was clearly concerned.

2012-07-23 Quarterly Market Overview by Robert Carey of First Trust Advisors

While it is nice to get the news in real time, the need for speed on the information superhighway can lead to incomplete or erroneous reporting. Look no further than the current election campaign season where the finger pointing has already started between President Obama and Mitt Romney. Good thing the Internet has also brought us some fact-checkers to help sort things out. Helping to sort things out is what we strive to do for our clients, as well.

2012-07-23 Weekly Commentary and Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stock prices recouped their early week losses, as earnings reports were not as bad as feared. Fridays session, and again today though, have seen investors reminded that Europe is a broken economic zone which cannot be repaired using the current European Monetary Union framework.

2012-07-22 Extraordinary Strains by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A broad array of observable evidence suggests extraordinary strains in Europe, and abrupt though expected deterioration in U.S. economic activity. The Federal Reserve certainly has policy options, but those options have no material transmission mechanism to the real economy.

2012-07-20 America's Competitive Spirit by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe there are many great American companies to invest in. We like those that are growing their top line revenues and paying robust dividends. Currently 47 percent of the S&P 500 stocks pay a dividend yielding more than a 10-year Treasury, demonstrating the resiliency and strength of American enterprises.

2012-07-19 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Recent escalations in the euro crisis and weaker-than-expected global economic data have led to widespread calls for further stimulus. Global leaders believe they are addressing the issue, with China and the ECB lowering interest rates and the Bank of England announcing an additional 50 billion sterling of quantitative easing. We are skeptical about the benefits of such policy action and believe that the U.S. and Europe each require different solutions to solve their fiscal issues.

2012-07-17 Can you Beat SPIAs with Long-Term Bonds? by Michael Edesess (Article)

While single-premium income annuities (SPIAs) guarantee a specific income as long as the purchaser lives, their rates of return generally compare unfavorably with long-term bonds over normal life expectancies. This makes SPIAs look like the inferior investment, notwithstanding their value as longevity insurance. But considering the low level of interest rates and the potential for future volatility, SPIAs are still a good choice for many retirees.

2012-07-17 The Mystery of Chinese Capital Flight by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

Capital flight is defined as the rapid withdrawal of assets out of a country for political, economic or geopolitical reasons. Since late last year, there have been steady reports indicating that capital flight has been occurring in China. China restricts its capital account; inflows of foreign capital are carefully regulated and private outflows face significant restrictions. Chinese citizens can legally transfer only $50k per year out of the country.

2012-07-16 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook - July 2012 Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners

After a strong first quarter for high yield bonds and bank loans, the mixed performance of the second quarter has conjured up memories of 2011s volatility. While the lack of clarity in Europe and the looming U.S. fiscal cliff will continue to weigh on the economy, the current macro-induced price dislocations present attractive long-term opportunities for investors with patient capital.

2012-07-16 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Now that's a nice way to end a losing streak. After six consecutive down days (and little in the way to promote optimism), investors jumped back into the equity pool feet first and the Dow surged over 200 on the final day of trading. In terms of new news, the JP Morgan earnings announcement was not as bad as expected (I guess), though investors may have been looking for any excuse to seek out bargains in the aftermath of a pretty dreary week-plus.

2012-07-16 We Are All Alone by John Nyaradi of Wall Street Sector Selector

Global markets seem to be pricing in a new round of quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve. Dr. Bernanke and his colleagues will likely comply sometime between now and December. However, even with more quantitative easing, investors cant count on the Federal Reserve to rescue the stock market and their portfolios. We are on our own, and here's why.

2012-07-13 Bond Investing - Its the Short Side, Stupid by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

As you are probably aware, I am an avowed political junkie but this article isnt about politics. Instead, I want to borrow a phrase from the 1992 presidential election as an analogy to highlight what I believe bond investors should be concentrating on right now - the short side.

2012-07-12 Pretzel Logic by James Moore of PIMCO

The primary pension-related change in the legislation is to give temporary funding relief by altering the discount rate used for liability valuation and represents the third such change in the past decade. The estimated revenue impact from lower minimum required contributions seems optimistic to us, and misses some fairly obvious costs. Congress essentially extended a welfare transfer from the Haves to the Have Nots.

2012-07-10 Investing and the Euro Crisis by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

In the summer of 2012, the Euro Zone crisis continues to dominate financial markets as it has done over each of the past two summers. While the solution to the problem remains relatively straightforward, it requires a level of economic understanding, political courage and communication among policymakers that has been absent thus far. Without this, the crisis is likely to lurch forward with only a very slow and painful resolution.

2012-07-09 The 4 Biggest Investment Performance Myths - and How They Can Torpedo Advisor-Client Trust by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In 26 years in the investment industry, I have seen investor and advisor behavior from many different angles: as an advisor, portfolio manager, strategist, author and proprietor. Two things have been quite consistent during that quarter-century: 1) That clients and advisors both care deeply about investment performance and 2) that investment performance is rarely evaluated with proper perspective.

2012-07-09 Disappointing, but Not Terrible by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Job growth has slowed to a disappointing pace over the past three months, insufficient to bring down unemployment, but not so weak that recession is much of a threat. This mediocre performance also leaves the Fed in a quandary, neither making an obvious case to leave policy unchanged or a clear case to implement yet another form of policy accommodation.

2012-07-06 Market Perspectives Q2 2012: A Long Road Ahead by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The most important economic news in the quarter occurred in the last two business days. Investors were losing patience with seemingly endless and ineffectual eurozone summitry. But the resolutions by the four major eurozone members at the end of the quarter were different. The agreements allow recapitalization of Spanish banks and purchase of Italian sovereign bonds. The proposals appear to effectively address short- and long-term problems in the eurozone economies.

2012-07-05 And That's the Quarter That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So much for that Random Walk Theory. During the past two years, equities started strong before running into headwinds in the second quarter and Europe (namely Greece) was perceived to be the primary culprit. As another very solid first quarter came to a close, perhaps smart investors should have been looking at charts and reading the Greek press to predict another downturn.

2012-07-05 Looking for Bubbles by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward, Thomas Wittenborg of Absolute Return Partners

This month's Absolute Return Letter picks up on the question we left hanging in the air back in May - is Asia a potential re-run of Europe? Although policy rates appear to be dangerously low, and thus encouraging further borrowing, Asia has come a long way since 1997 and there is no immediate risk of a financial meltdown. Australian property prices and commodity prices - in particular crude oil prices - are more likely 'credit event' candidates in our opinion.

2012-07-03 A Crisis Is Not An Emergency by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Some crises linger for years. The sterling crisis began in 1964 and, despite periodic respites, was not solved until the early 1990s. The oil crisis burned for over ten years until the political and economic stars realigned and restored order. Latin America lingered for over ten years before a breakthrough of sorts...not for everyone though, as Argentina's GDP per capita is the same as it was in 1960. A crisis is not the same as an emergency.

2012-07-03 What's In A Name? by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Not only banks and insurance companies but sovereign nations as well cannot all be counted on to guarantee a return of principal, let alone a return on investment. An authentic debt crisis which the world is now experiencing can only be ultimately cured in two ways: 1) default on it, or 2) print more money in order to inflate it away. There are very few clean dirty shirts in this world. Timing in investment markets is critical and at the moment the U.S. is considered to be the cleanest.

2012-07-03 Let's Twist Again by Daniel Kurland of Corby Asset Management

Ben Bernanke must be nostalgic for his childhood. On June 19th in the summer of 1961, when Chairman Bernanke was only 8 years old, Chubby Checker released his smash hit, Lets Twist Again. Chairman Bernanke, citing decreased inflationary concerns and heightened employment weakness, announced that Operation Twist, which had been set to expire at the end of June, would be extended until the end of the year.

2012-06-29 Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch... by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

With worries about Europe and the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act behind us, we can go back to looking at the economy. At issue is whether recent signs of slowing were an illusion or more real. In particular, the June job market figures will be critical.

2012-06-27 Q3 2012 Outlook by Asset Allocation Committee of Neuberger Berman

The second quarter experienced a return to volatility as heightened concerns over the European sovereign debt crisis and an aura of pessimism around the pace of global economic growth have reverberated through financial markets. The year began on a positive note, with all major equity indices posting strong double-digit gains.

2012-06-25 Let's Twist Again by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

It looks like the Fed is finally facing up to the facts. The U.S. economic recovery has stalled and policymakers have realized that they need to step in. Despite a favorable election outcome in Greece, a renewed commitment to austerity and staying in the euro zone, the Fed has lowered its outlook for growth and extended Operation Twist.

2012-06-25 Market Breadth Pretty Good, Save for Thursday by John Buckingham of AFAM

It would have been a nice week if it wasnt for the big plunge on Thursday as that days 250-point drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average interrupted a solid stretch in which market breadth had been quite favorable. In fact, the other four days last week saw more advancing stocks than declining stocks, looking at the New York Composite Daily Breadth statistics from this weekends Barrons Magazine.

2012-06-25 Markets Vacillate Between Weaker Data and Hopes for Policy by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Last week was a modestly negative one for stocks as investors continued to focus on a trend of weakening economic data. Additionally, many were disappointed by what was perceived to be a less-than-robust response from the Federal Reserve following its policy meeting last week.

2012-06-25 Jilted Investors Unsure Where to Turn by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Institutional and individual investors are at an uncertain juncture, waiting to see what the next shoe to drop is. With an important series of events occurring soon, such as the US Presidential election this fall and the fiscal cliff facing the US at years end, investors may need to wait to get more clarity on the market outlook.

2012-06-25 Timid Actions, Fearful Times by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Since 2010, investors have traveled between optimism and pessimism every three months. It's negative right now. Here's why: A very timid move by the Fed. What was glaring was the entire board revised down their expectations on the economy: i) GDP down by $500bn ii) unemployment up 500,000 and iii) lower core and PCE inflation. Not just for 2012 but next year as well. That takes complacency to a new level.

2012-06-22 An Ending Made For Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Hold tight to your convictions, gold investors. Review your allocation to gold and gold stocks to make sure it remains around 5 to 10 percent of your portfolio. That way the precious metal can act as a shock absorber to help protect from any unexpected bumps in the financial system.

2012-06-20 WSJ Economists' 10-Year Yield Forecasts: The Growing Spread by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal posted the results of its June Survey of economists. In the past my main interest in these forecasts has been the GDP estimates. But today my attention is fixed on the estimates for 10-year yields. The various Federal Reserve strategies in recent years (ZIRP, QE1, QE2 and Operation Twist) have focused on lowering interest rates, for which the 10-year note yield is an interesting "tell".

2012-06-20 Reconnaissance: Strategy Notes by Douglas Clark Johnson of Codexa Capital

The OPEC meeting in Wien came-and-went, masked by bigger problems. Perhaps Iran, Iraq, and Venezuela decided that they would do injustice to their international standing if they aimed to tighten output quotes as Europe was on the cusp of imploding. We also look at how inexpensive emerging markets appear to be, while we consider the implication of Arab-market uncertainty on Turkey. Ghana may be an attractive story for the specialist investor.

2012-06-20 Growth Versus Austerity: A U.S. Dollar Perspective by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Austerity versus Growth? Which economic model is sustainable? If it werent for those pesky bond vigilantes, it may be only politics. Lets not get too excited that either path will work. Lets look at the implications for investors with a focus on the U.S. dollar.

2012-06-19 U.S. High Yield: A Closer Look at Junk Spreads by Hozef Arif of PIMCO

Investors are cautious about high yield bonds which have become more volatile following strong performance and inflows earlier this year. We believe the cyclical bottom in default rates is behind us, and based on a tightening in lending standards compared to last year, we expect a gradual increase toward the mean in default rates and credit losses in 2012.

2012-06-19 Shocking Fed Survey on Consumer Finances by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Today we focus on a new Fed study which found that Americans net worth plunged almost 39% in the period from 2007 to 2010. That period included the so-called Great Recession, a financial crisis and a severe bear market in stocks. There are lots of interesting statistics to look at in this new Fed study.

2012-06-18 A Brief Primer on the European Crisis by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Europe has repeatedly been successful at addressing its recurring liquidity crises with the help of other central banks, but its still an open question whether they can durably solve the solvency crisis without more disruption and more restructuring of both government debt and troubled banks. In my view, the hope for an easy solution is misplaced, and the likelihood of recurring disruptions from Europe will remain high.

2012-06-18 Japanese Equity The Impact of Global Instability by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Mainly owing to fears of a potential Euro break up, the decline in the global stock markets in April 2012 continued through May as well. On June 4th, the Japanese equity market (TOPIX) sank to its lowest level in 29 years, declining even further below the bottom set in the aftermath of the Lehman shock in Japanese yen (JPY) terms. However, in U.S. dollar (USD) terms, the level of the Japan equity market is still above its post Lehman low recorded in March 2009.

2012-06-18 I Like These Calm Little Moments Before the Storm by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

It is the job of investment managers to look beyond the gloom. There's plenty of it. The big list last week was the slow hand clap the market gave to the Spanish bank rescue, the probable downgrade of India, one of the dead cert BRICs we all read about, and queasy economic data from the US. Now we don't just jump in and buy on all the bad news. We're not likely to retain clients that way.

2012-06-18 Choosing the Right Asset Class in Emerging Markets: Why it Matters by Ignacio Sosa, Christopher Getter of PIMCO

Depending on individual risk tolerances during the past five years, it may have made more sense to overweight one or two EM asset classes and at times to avoid one or two EM asset classes altogether. In general, asset classes are better viewed as carriers of risks rather than each being considered a risk in its own right. This phenomenon is readily apparent in the emerging market space. We have advocated that asset allocation in EM should be dynamic with respect to both segment and country.

2012-06-15 Schwab Market Perspective: Time for Action by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

With escalated uncertainty, sitting back can be an easy choice, but we believe investors and policymakers alike need to take action. Equities bounced off of what appeared to be oversold conditions but although the US economy appears to be holding its own, a renewed sustainable uptrend may be hard to come by until some substantive policy actions are taken around the globe. The time for decisive action in the eurozone appears to be quickly approaching as short-term solutions are no longer satiating the market.

2012-06-15 Speed Up or Slow Down--Don't Exit the Commodities Highway by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A positive signal received this week came from Goldman Sachs, when the firm recommended stepping back into the markets in its latest Commodity Watch. Goldman is anticipating a 29 percent return for the S&P GSCI Enhanced Commodity Index over the next 12 months and suggests investors might want to increase their position in commodities.

2012-06-12 Kingdoms of the Blind by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Recent events offer a rare illustration of the combined effects of the failure of monetary, fiscal and regulatory policy to coordinate a meaningful response. Rising budget deficits, record low interest rates, J.P. Morgan's proprietary trading blunder and the botched Facebook IPO process speak to abject policy failures in virtually every aspect of finance. It's not even a question of not having learned our lessons; our collective policy intelligence actually appears to have diminished.

2012-06-12 Europe Is Near Term Driver of Market Movements by John Buckingham of AFAM

Though the dates do not coincide, as there is a lag in the Investment Company Institute data, last weeks rally in stocks was accompanied by word that for the first time in seemingly forever, mutual fund investors actually put more money into domestic equity funds than they took out, while the reverse was true for bond funds. Because it is only one week and Memorial Day was part of those ICI numbers, we hesitate to say that the tide is finally turning in terms of investor sentiment.

2012-06-11 The Economy Cannot Live on the Fed Alone by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The road to economic recovery cannot be paved by monetary policy alone. It must be accompanied by greater access to credit. Rates can be kept low for years, but without looser credit standards they cannot be truly potent and stimulative. In other words, banks will need to do their part. Offering capital to a larger number of small businesses and enabling more homeowners to refinance their mortgages, or even purchase new homes, is a key ingredient that will help keep us out of a liquidity trap.

2012-06-08 Monthly Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

Global stock markets dropped sharply in May amid renewed macroeconomic fears. Large-cap U.S. stocks fell 6%, while small and mid-cap stocks lost 6.6% and 6.7%, respectively. Domestic stocks are still well in positive territory for the year, with returns ranging from just over 5% for large-caps to 3.4% for small-caps. Foreign markets fell further, as questions over the stability of the eurozone dominated headlines. Both developed and emerging-markets were down 11% for the month and in negative territory year-to-date (down 3.3% and 0.4%, respectively).

2012-06-08 The Default Delusion - Inevitable....and Desirable by Jonathan Compton of Bedlam Asset Management

The many tortuous what if articles on the eurozones financial problems address the risks of collapse and contagion together with the inchoate political responses. Inevitably they conclude catastrophic consequences. There is no gain in further exaggerating this fairy tale, which is repeated to frighten voters into submission. Every scribbler had got there apart from those for whom it became a quasi-religious cult. The current cacophony of commentary remains backward looking so will again miss the key issue: default is good.

2012-06-07 The Specter of Default: How Safe Are U.S. Treasuries? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Just how solid are U.S. Treasury bonds, long considered a "riskless" investment? Is a default possible? Desirable? Unthinkable? And what are the options for reducing the annual government deficits that cause the country's debt to grow? Those and other questions were the subject of a recent Wharton conference titled, "Is U.S. Government Debt Different?" The conference was set up in the wake of last summer's debt-ceiling showdown in Washington, which highlighted the risk of a default on government bonds.

2012-06-06 Liquidity Lessons: The Critical Importance of Budgeting for Overlay Strategies by Markus Aakko, Jared Gross of PIMCO

One approach is to tier liquidity into current and contingent tiers, where some assets are kept in more liquid form and others are kept in higher-yielding investments. Quantifying how much of the immediate category is needed is a relatively straightforward risk-management exercise involving estimating the potential mark-to-market change in value of the overlay. Our view is that locating the liquidity pool internally has a number of potential advantages over an external model.

2012-06-05 When OK is Good Enough by Team of BondWave Advisors

The US economy continues to grow, but in recent months manufacturing and employment indicators have remained positive but have been flagging. While there might not be a lot to get excited about economically here in the US, OK is better than elsewhere, like Europe. We discuss the situation in the US and Europe and provide a commentary of the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal bond markets.

2012-06-05 Rational Despair and Analogous Situations by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Randall Forsyth of Barrons wrote a piece on May 31st, 2012 called, Irrational Exuberances Flip Side Seen in Low Bond Yields. It reminded me of the following and wise joke. A younger person asks an older person, How do you succeed in business? The older person says, Good Decisions. The younger person says, How do you make good decisions? The older person answers, Through experience. The younger person asks, How do you get experience? The older person answers, Bad decisions.

2012-06-04 Opportunities in Credit Higher Quality High-Yield Bonds by Team of Columbia Management

One of the more compelling opportunities across todays fixed-income landscape is within the higher quality segment of the high-yield market bonds rated BB and B. Strong underlying fundamentals driven by a wave of refinancing and solid operating performance have greatly diminished credit risk among these issuers, as demonstrated by exceptionally low current and expected default rates. Despite this, spreads, or yield premiums relative to Treasuries, are generally higher than long-term averages.

2012-06-04 And That's the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Nothing good to report here so why even try to spin it. (Effective politicians may beg to differ.) The once promising labor picture just turned from bad to worse; manufacturing is no longer the one staple in the economy; Spain may be replacing Greece as the poster child for what ails the EU (and thats not because things are looking up in Greece). Stocks suffered their worst day of the year to end the week and the gains of the first quarter have been long forgotten. (Even the Astros stink again.)

2012-06-04 The Sky Is Falling - Again by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Last week provided a very scary end to May in both the equity and bond markets. The 10-year Treasury set a new historic low yield and the equity markets ended the week giving back all of its year-to-date gains. European fiscal and banking issues continue to overshadow the slow recovery of the U.S. economy. Of current note, the EU and ECB are trying to successfully deal with the need to recapitalize the banks of Spain. On top of this rosy news, the U.S. economy continued to show a slowdown which was indicated by a much lower than expected job creation for May.

2012-06-04 Job Drought, Greece Wipe Out 2012 Gains by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The U.S. employment report dominated headlines and put investors on watch for further threats to the recovery. In Europe, Ireland's adoption of the fiscal pact was not enough to counter worries about the escalating banking problems in Spain. But as long as the U.S. savings rate, which currently stands at 3.4%, continues to decline, the downside risk to U.S. economic growth is limited. In addition, the substantial drop in the price of oil should also help boost the economy. We maintain the view that the United States will achieve 2% economic growth this year.

2012-06-02 Economic Reality Bites by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Many people became convinced that data releases earlier this year indicated that "recovery" in the U.S. was imminent. But as I have been saying for months, this evidence would ultimately be shown to be as reliable as sightings of Bigfoot. Lots of people claim to say they have seen it, some even produce plaster footprints, but in the end all we have is a guy in an ape suit. The economic recovery, that has been discussed so loudly and often in recent months, will be shown to be similarly mythical.

2012-06-01 Are Small-Caps Overexposed to International Markets? by Frank Gannon of The Royce Funds

Frank Gannon looks at U.S. small-caps and how much revenue they derive from non-U.S. sources. According to a recent report by Steven DeSanctis of Bank of America-Merrill Lynch, small-caps derive less than 20% of their revenues from outside the U.S. but almost 45% of all companies in the Russell 2000 have overseas exposure.

2012-05-31 Wall Street Food Chain by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Soaring debt/GDP ratios in previously sacrosanct AAA countries have made low cost funding increasingly a function of central banks as opposed to private market investors. Both the lower quality and lower yields of such previously sacrosanct debt represent a potential breaking point in our now 40-year-old global monetary system. Bond investors should favor quality and clean dirty shirt sovereigns (U.S., Mexico and Brazil), for example, as well as emphasize intermediate maturities that gradually shorten over the next few years.

2012-05-31 The Case for Short Duration High Yield by Greg Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

Valuations in the domestic high yield market appear stretched and we are concerned that opportunities for incremental return are fewer over a near term horizon. In this article we provide an analysis of the structure of the high yield market and a rationale for investing in specific short duration and callable high yield bonds which offer investors a better risk/reward trade-off in the current environment.

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.

2012-05-30 Delayed Entitlement: The Changing Economics of Retirement by Tom Streiff of PIMCO

Its a foregone conclusion that Baby Boomers retirements will be very different from the retirements of their parents. To understand how, we need to explore the impact of the most recent financial events on Baby Boomers. The conventional wisdom is that as the leading edge of Boomers converged on age 65, their associated retirements are well underway and the economic and societal effects of this demographic-driven, transfer-payment-promised contingent are just beginning. In the next three to five years we should face a rapid and unprecedented expansion of entitlement expenditures.

2012-05-29 Amid Uncertainty, What is an Investor to Do? by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Markets rebounded last week after a two-week slide. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.7% and 0.7%, respectively, in a choppy trading period. Discussion of a potential Greek exit from the Eurozone rattled investors, while economic data in the US was modestly positive.

2012-05-25 Searching for European Solutions, and Dividends by Team of Franklin Templeton

As the European debt crisis rages on, people in the eurozone are voicing their opinions about austerity measures, bailouts and such, not just on the streets, but also at the polls. As the winds of political change swirl, the future of the eurozone seems to hang in the balance. Tucker Scott, portfolio manager of Templeton Foreign Fund, and a vocal fan of a thorough vetting process, says hes focusing on long-term outlooks, not just todays headlines. And, hes finding select European stocks with dividend-growth potentialin some cases even better opportunities than in the U.S.

2012-05-22 New Lows and a Dud IPO by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

We're testing all sorts of lows: 1) record low for GT10 auction last week 2) GT30 yield, same level as Dec 2008 3) European banks are at same price level as 1987...so 25 years of gains wiped out 4) euro stocks same level as March 2009, so all the gains gone 5) US safest and best place to be 6) China stocks at same level as 2006, since then the Chinese economy has doubled and 7) to cap it all we had an IPO that should never have happened. We're back in risk territory and markets don't want to extend or commit.

2012-05-22 The Achilles Heel of the US Economy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The Achilles Heel of the US economy may just be that entitlement programs havent kept pace with US demographics, a fact that has long-term implications for investors. According to a recent annual government report on entitlement programs, the Social Security trust fund is likely to run out of money in 2033, three years earlier than previously projected. Meanwhile, both Social Security and Medicare arent sustainable in the long term without structural changes.

2012-05-21 Liquidation Syndrome by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Presently, the market remains richly valued on normalized earnings, and is coming off of a speculative peak with an abrupt and persistent initial decline. All of this reflects what might be called a "liquidation syndrome" that is selective for awful drops that began in 1969, 1972, 1987, 2000, 2007, and the more moderate but still steep losses in 1998, 2010, and 2011.

2012-05-21 Europe's Woes Flood Wall Street - But Not the Economy by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The rising tide of contagion has reached our shores. After months of buildup, Europes debt crisis has finally wreaked havoc on U.S. stocks, as a wave of anxiety prompted a major selloff on Wall Street. Investors fears are coming to fruition and we are once again experiencing a spring swoon. But the turmoil overseas has yet to impact the U.S. economy. In fact, the FOMC highlighted a bright spot that may have been overlooked: banks are loosening credit standards. While volatility will continue in the near-term, dividend-paying stocks may help steer portfolios until we see calmer seas.

2012-05-18 Gold: The World's Friend for 5,000 Years by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Investors have defriended gold recently in favor of the dollar, as Greek and French voters rejected austerity measures. Greeks have been responding to their escalating debt issues for a while by steadily pulling money from overnight deposits. I often say, money goes where it is best treated, and these deposits will need to find a safe haven.

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.

2012-05-17 The Investing Implications of Price Creep by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While double-digit inflation is extremely unlikely this year, the new core inflation figure shows that prices are slowly creeping up in the US. For investors, there are a couple of implications. 1.Recognize purchasing power erosion: Even if inflation stabilizes at current levels, over the long term 2.3% inflation would still cause prices to rise by 50%. 2. Consider equities and commodities: While uncertainty over Europe and Chinese growth are likely to keep volatility high this summer, investors should consider using near-term market weakness to add to long-term equity and commodity positions.

2012-05-16 A Taylor-ed View of Dividends by Team of Franklin Templeton

The baby boomer generation, people born in the U.S. from 1946 19601, numbers some 78 million and is now moving into retirement. Taylor challenges this group in particular to think differently about their investments given the current economic climate. We are currently in a low-growth, very low interest rate environment and I really dont think thats going to change too much anytime soon. Dividends and dividend yield in the equity market matter a lot more than they did before..."

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.

2012-05-15 Ponzi's Children by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Europe, whose economic condition is nothing less than terminal, is about to receive what physicians refer to as a 'zetz' of morphine in the form of M. Hollande. A 'zetz' is the final dose that doctors give to dying patients to hasten their passage to the afterlife. In Europe's case, however, the medicine is not going to be painless, and its administration is not based on mercy but on resentment and stupidity.

2012-05-14 Dont Paint Yourself into a Corner with Overly Defensive Strategies by Vadim Zlotnikov of AllianceBernstein

Popular strategies for hedging against deflation and hyperinflation are likely to be disastrous if the economic outlook grows more benign as we expect. With the economic and policy outlook still uncertain, investors fear two contradictory but equally negative possible outcomes: deflation/deleveraging on the one hand and hyperinflation/currency devaluations on the other. As a result, instruments that can deliver protection in one or the other of these scenarios have enjoyed substantial inflows. Many investors have snapped up Treasuries, REITs and high-dividend-yielding stocks for insulation.

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.

2012-05-14 The Flaws of Finance by James Montier of GMO

Bad Models, or, Why We Need a Hippocratic Oath in Finance. The NRA is well-known for its slogan Guns dont kill people; people kill people. I have often heard fans of financial modelling use a similar line of defence. However, one of my favourite comedians has a rebuttal that I find most compelling. He points out that Guns dont kill people; people kill people, but so do monkeys if you give them guns. This is akin to my view of financial models. Give a monkey a value at risk (VaR) model or the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) and youve got a potential financial disaster on your hands.

2012-05-14 A Taste of Reality by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

There was nothing fun loving about the spoonful of bad news overseas last week that left investors with a bad taste in their mouths. New wrinkles to Europes debt crisis and slower growth in key emerging markets have shaken the stock market and put the U.S. recovery in doubt. The recovery may be weakening and there is a good chance we will see more negative surprises in the near term. This challenging environment calls for investors to be selective in choosing risk assets. Still, shunning stocks altogether could undermine long-term financial goals and, ultimately, is a recipe for disaster.

2012-05-11 Spring Quarterly Commentary by John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

U.S. GDP rose at a disappointing 2.2% annual rate during the first quarter of 2012; so far this recovery has been too weak to reduce relative government debt levels through growth. A step toward austerity is next years fiscal cliff which features automatic spending cuts and tax increases. We have been told one-third of the entire tax code is expiring at the end of this year, with payroll, income, capital gain and dividend tax burdens all set to increase. Simultaneously, automatic cuts to defense and other discretionary areas of the Federal budget are set to take effect.

2012-05-11 Looking to China to Fire Up its Economy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Following on the heels of renewed concern over Europes debt situation, China released its monthly economic data. Fixed asset investment, industrial production and retail sales all rose in April, yet growth was not as strong as analysts anticipated. Weak is the word to describe Chinas April figures, says CLSAs Andy Rothman in his Sinology Report. But China wants the ability to manage a stable decline to promote medium-to-long-term structural reforms as well as avoid a hard landing, says CEBM.

2012-05-10 Staying Bullish by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

We believe we are in a new bull market, and bull markets thrive on climbing that proverbial wall of worry. Bullish sentiment is low and bearish sentiment high. Anxious retail investors, having suffered two ugly bear markets since 2000, continue to shun stocks, with money flowing out of mutual equity funds now for more than 5 consecutive years. The public is hugely underinvested. Cash on the sidelines is enormous. The fuel to ultimately power stocks higher as confidence returns.

2012-05-09 Will The Bond Mania End Ugly? by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Mass migrations of the investment public from one asset class to another have often ended very badly. We can all remember the late 2000-2002 bear market in stocks when the S&P 500 plunged almost 50% and the Nasdaq over 70%. Investors had been in a mania for stocks during the late 1990s. I believe what were seeing today qualifies as a mania for Treasury bonds. Im not predicting that the current bond bubble will end the way the dot.com mania ended, but it wont take a huge increase in interest rates to put a lot of bond fund investors who came late to the party underwater.

2012-05-09 Going Global Can Pay Dividends by Brad Kinkelaar, Cliff Remily and Raji Manasseh of PIMCO

In todays low yield environment, many investors now include dividend-oriented equities in their portfolios in an effort to reach their income goals. U.S. investors with home market bias risk severely limiting their income potential because in the U.S., dividend payout ratios are on the decline, taxes are potentially on the rise, and valuations in sectors that typically offer attractive dividends are near historical highs. In our view, global equities can provide more attractive dividend income opportunities and offer potential for additional benefits, including diversification

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

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

2012-05-08 Dont Fight the Last War Lessons from the Battlefields of Risk Management by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

Investors often behave as if they operate in a world of logic and certainty even when that is not the case. For that reason, history is littered with investors who have failed miserably. In this month's Absolute Return Letter we look at many of the pitfalls facing risk managers and we take a stab at where the next big crisis is going to surface. Our conclusion may surprise a few readers.

2012-05-04 Bullish on America by Andrew J. Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors

Todays crisis has nothing to do with the shadow banking system or any other sort of shadow. Todays crisis is all out in the bright sunshine and remarkably straightforward. The supposed danger is that some major economic power (i.e., not Greece) will become unable to access credit markets. Spanish or Italian or French bonds will decline so steeply as to imperil the banks that own them or appear to do so, causing a run on global financial institutions as severe as 2008s.

2012-05-04 Back In by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

U.S. housing may be a decent place to put money over the next several years due to improved absolute and relative valuations. U.S. housing fundamentals have improved significantly, led by lower prices, record low mortgage rates, improving inventory and delinquency trends and a gradually improving labor market, which in combination are helping homebuyer confidence and potential demand. While the outlook for U.S. housing has improved, several headwinds remain, including tight credit, potential supply from the shadow inventory and weak household formation due to a subpar economic recovery.

2012-05-03 6 Reasons Why a Soft Landing in China Matters by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

World markets and financial media seem to react to every new data point about Chinas economy, whether its manufacturing reports or gross domestic product numbers. This market sensitivity isnt very surprising given how important China has become for the global economy. But it also means that it will be hard for the global recovery to continue without a soft landing in China.

2012-05-03 A Troika of Problems by Team of BondWave Advisors

The troika of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Union (EU), and European Central Bank (ECB) has continued to prescribe austerity. But at the end of what is now a lengthy cycle of agreements and ever-increasing austerity measures, the debt still remains significant and much of the region has either been plunged into recession or is heading that way. We discuss these ongoing problems and provide additional insight on the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.

2012-05-02 Investments vs. Outvestments by Andrew J. Redleaf of Whitebox Advisors

This is a great time to invest. But you have to make sure you really are investing and not accidentally outvesting. The market is currently sorting credit into about four big categories. Three of those categories are priced roughly in reference to Treasuries (outvestments). Those are the categories in which we are not interested. The first category, obviously, is Treasuries themselves. Next, short-term paper of super-blue-chip firms. Third, bonds that are just on the border of being investments. Finally, all domestic bonds whose prices are detached from Treasuries.

2012-05-02 Digbys Umbrella and a Dinner to Remember by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The US economy is on a painfully slow road. It is recovering. Jobs numbers are better, even though some hiring in the first quarter may have been brought forward by mild weather. Production, manufacturing and exports, all signs of regained competitiveness in the US, are showing steady improvements. And the government sector is contracting. Not on purpose mind you, but jumping off a cliff and letting inertia do the work result in the same end. Above all of this, we have a Fed using every monetary policy at their disposal to try and promote growth and employment.

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

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

2012-05-01 Illinois: The Land of Lincoln is Leaking by John Mousseau of Institutional Risk Analyst

The State of Illinois, often a microcosm of the country, is now at the back of the pack as far as the fifty states of the US are concerned. With its general-obligation rating lowered to A2 from A1 in January, it is now the lowest-rated by Moodys of all the states. Its A+ rating by Standard and Poors is the fifth highest in that firms ratings of the states, but it is on negative outlook and could be downgraded.

2012-05-01 Tuesday Never Comes by Bill Gross of PIMCO

The current acceleration of credit via central bank policies will likely produce a positive rate of real economic growth this year for most developed countries, but the structural distortions brought about by zero bound interest rates will limit that growth and induce serious risks in future years. Gradually higher rates of inflation should be the result of QE policies and zero bound yields. Focus on securities with shorter durations bonds with maturities in the 5-year range and stocks paying dividends that offer 3%4% yields. Real assets/commodities should occupy an increasing percentage.

2012-04-27 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook April 2012 Sector Report by Team of Guggenheim Partners

The leveraged credit market began the year strong with yields across the credit spectrum approaching historical lows. Investors should realize that it is no longer early in the credit market rally. We are coming into the seventh inning stretch and it is getting tougher to find opportunities. It is also important to watch for signs of overheating and to remain focused on fundamental credit work and security selection. As we look ahead, we continue to see room for further price appreciation as investor demand should remain robust, while new issue supply wanes from its record first quarter pace.

2012-04-27 3 Signs That US Treasury Rates Will Rise by Russ Koesterich and Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

How long can the 30-year bull market for Treasuries be sustained? While a bond market meltdown isnt imminent, Russ and Matt outline the signs that investors can watch for that could signal the beginning of the end.

2012-04-27 TIPS for Value Investors: Whos Afraid of Negative Yields? by Jeremie Banet and Mihir Worah of PIMCO

Why wasnt the recent TIPS auction a blockbuster among Main Street investors? We believe they were frightened away by the -1.08% real yield. We would argue that the negative real yields that are explicit in TIPS also represent the implicit discount rate for ALL financial assets in the U.S. Moving away from TIPS into nominal yield is a bet on inflation being less than 2% for the next five years and less than 2.25% for the next 10 years a pretty bold bet!

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 Sell in May and Go Away? Not this Year by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

One catchy investing maxim thats popular this time of year is sell in May and go away, the notion that investors should cash in their investments and take the summer off. We believe its a much better market this year. After following a similar trajectory as the previous year from October to the beginning of March, improving economic data pushed the S&P 500 over 3 percent higher in March 2012 after trending sideways during the same time period last year.

2012-04-26 The Newlyweds Dilemma by John West of Research Affiliates

Before marriage, men and women enjoy a lot more free time. Married life represents a huge shift in their habits and schedules. Similarly, a new world of lower expected returns signals a major break from mainstream investment approaches. This months Fundamentals examines how investors can position their portfolios for the future.

2012-04-24 65+5+Dividends: The case for quality dividend stocks in the first five years of retirement by Legg Mason ClearBridge Advisors (Article)

Retirees are living longer than ever before, and for many, outliving their money is a real concern. A good reason to consider quality large-cap dividend stocks in the early years of retirement - which have historically offered higher returns than fixed income with lower volatility than equities overall.

2012-04-24 Why a 60/40 Portfolio isn’t Diversified by Alex Shahidi (Article)

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

2012-04-24 Fixed Income Commentary First Quarter 2012 by John E. Villela, David W. Seeley and Barbara J. McKenna of Longfellow Investment Management

The ever‐changing regulatory environment must be watched closely. The new, onerous capital requirements directed at the broker‐dealer community will make it more costly for broker‐dealers to hold inventory on their balance sheets. This will affect the cost of liquidity by making transactions more expensive in the marketplace. In addition, potential changes to money market regulations, which could include allowing the net asset value to float, could force a number of market participants to seek alternative fixed income solutions such as cash or short duration strategies.

2012-04-24 Rising Rates? Why Municipal Bonds May Weather the Storm by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

A rising interest rate environment over the next few years is an investment scenario to which many investors now subscribe. The prospect of rising rates often prompts investors to think along the following lines: Interest rates are going rise and thats bad for bonds, so Ive got to cut back or stay away completely. But what if we suggested that investment grade, intermediate muni's might weather a rising rate storm comparatively well? We believe there are a number of factors worth considering that could help municipal bonds lessen the negative impact of generally rising interest rates.

2012-04-24 A Risky Business by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In todays low yield environment, fixed income investors face a stark choice: accept lower income or take on additional risk to generate incremental yield. In assessing these two options, investors must start with their own tolerance for risk and investment objectives. For those willing to take on additional risk, I continue to advocate reducing duration risk, for which investors are not being adequately compensated, and modestly increasing exposure to spread products. I currently see opportunities in Investment Grade US Corporate Debt and Emerging Market Bonds.

2012-04-23 Run, Don't Walk by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

One way to gauge your speculative exposure is to ask the simple question - what portion of your portfolio do you expect (or even hope) to sell before the next major market downturn ensues? Almost by definition, that portion of your portfolio is speculative in the sense that you do not intend to carry it through the full market cycle, and instead expect to sell it to someone else at a better price before the cycle completes. With respect to those speculative holdings, and when to part with them, my own view is straightforward. Run, don't walk.

2012-04-23 A Seesaw of Surprises by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

It was a week full of surprisesboth good and bad. Corporate profits in the United States have come in stronger than expected. U.S. consumers are spending more money than anticipated. But continued housing weakness, higher-than-expected jobless claims and deeper disruptions in Europes debt crisis have raised some eyebrows. Adding to uncertainty are the events in the Netherlandsone of only a few AAA-rated lenders in Europeas its government rejected a fiscal austerity plan and now is in jeopardy of collapsing. Here is how to put such a mixed bag in perspective.

2012-04-20 Fixed Income Investment Outlook April 2012 by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

The Feds easy money policy will likely not reverse in the near term, but may do so before 2014, if economic growth strengthens meaningfully; some inflation is also acceptable to the alternative deflation. We are seeing some economic strength in the U.S., which is translating into higher equity prices (and hopefully higher capital gains). We are still generally avoiding exposure to interest rate risk found in Treasuries and investment grade bonds. We believe the easy money has been made there and we are not currently being compensated for the risk of rising interest rates.

2012-04-20 Weighing the Evidence of Oil and Gold Stocks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe in thinking contrarian and keeping a close eye on historical trends to discover inflection points, as stocks tend to eventually revert to their means. For example, in March 2009, we noted significant changes signaling the market had hit rock bottom; following that time through the end of the first quarter, the S&P 500 Index rose more than 100 percent. Todays extreme divergence in oil and gold stocks and their underlying commodities presents a rare opportunity: what these stocks need now are investors to take advantage of it.

2012-04-20 Preferred Securities First Quarter 2012 Review and Outlook by Team of Cohen & Steers

Preferred securities continue to offer a compelling total return proposition. Treasury yields are at or near historic lows, and the Federal Reserve appears committed to holding interest rates steady for the foreseeable future. At the same time, with preferred yields near 7%, the yield spread between preferred securities and Treasuries remains far wider than its long-term average, and few other investments offer as much income.

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 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.

2012-04-16 Hold In There...Still Good News by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

First quarter markets flirted with euphoria. Jobs numbers were good, the Fed kept its head and confirmed a stable policy, Europe was quieted through the LTRO feedstock and corporate earnings looked good with the bank stress tests and a California fruit company powering ahead. But, understandably, and as with any attention disorder patient, markets need caring support. The catalyst for the recent drops was surprisingly benign: Spain and Italy are finding it tough to implement austerity, the Fed is not promising QE and earnings are going to be spotty. Still we haven't changed our outlook.

2012-04-13 Diversification Remains Difficult by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Our firm believes three principles build long-term wealth: Extend the investment time horizons. Compound dividend income. And truly diversify portfolios. Although obvious, few investors actually follow them consistently. In particular, we remain quite concerned that investors appear grossly under-diversified. Diversification is not dependent on the number of asset classes, but rather it depends on the correlations among those asset classes. Because correlations among asset classes have been so high, investors must be extra careful to ensure portfolios are indeed well-diversified.

2012-04-13 Wheres the Beef for Gold Equities? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If you plan on shopping for bargains in the gold miner department, youre going to fight a crowd. Numerous global investors have been pounding the table for gold stocks, including Marc Faber who said gold shares have become extremely oversold and could rebound in the next few days and Global Portfolio Strategist Don Coxe, who reiterated that gold equities are undervalued compared to the precious metal. A big buyer has been the miners themselves. Mergers and acquisitions in the mining sector have been at an all-time high over the past two years. Theyve been willing to pay a premium too.

2012-04-13 The Next Error by John Gilbert of GR-NEAM

The escalating frenzy for yield may in fact prolong the trying process of deleveraging by tacitly supporting bad investment decisions, and underpricing of risk. The relentless destruction of private capital in real terms is policymakers' answer to reducing leverage in nominal terms. If central banks err in the direction of ease, as the Fed will signal if it ignores the Taylor Rule for a time, poor long-term investments are likely to do well for a transitory period. The eventual reckoning can be suppressed, but only for a time.

2012-04-12 Volatility Is Not Risk by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Rogers blog dealt with his feelings about a recurring theme in Barrons over the weekend referencing peoples complacency for risk. The first part of his writing dealt with the risks associated with the utilization of puts. On this subject, Roger and I are in agreement. However, the second part of his blog talked about what he felt was the great risk of using dividend paying equities as an alternative investment choice. The following analysis utilizing the F.A.S.T. Graphs earnings and price correlated research tool illuminates the important parts that I feel Roger left out.

2012-04-11 Emerging Market Rates: A Different Cycle by Francesc Balcells of PIMCO

The business cycle in EM has been conducive to easing policy rates. Global growth decelerated noticeably in the second half of 2011, and this included most EM economies. While we expect EM local rates will move higher again as the business cycle progresses, the cyclical highs will likely be lower than the previous highs, reinforcing the secular trend towards lower rates. We like EM local rates with a strong credit quality, steep local curves and high real rates that may offer compensation for taking inflation risks. The local markets of Brazil, Mexico and South Africa all stand out.

2012-04-10 Super Macro - A Fundamental Timing Model by Theodore Wong (Article)

Rather than endure losses in bear markets - as passive investors must - I have shown that a simple trend-following model dramatically improves results, most recently in an Advisor Perspectives article last month. Now it's time to extend my approach by showing how this methodology can be applied to fundamental indicators to further improve performance.

2012-04-09 And That's The "QUARTER" That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Europe hopes the latest (bailout and reg) moves will help it get its act together. (Good luck with that.) China applies the brakes. Labor looks strong, but can it continue? The Fed debates the need for more stimulus (without any consensus). Facebook moves closer to IPO (and investors beg to participate). The world lectures Iran and finally takes harsh measures (stand by to help Saudi). Investors hope to keep the mo going for another quarter, while being tempted to take profits along the way. Can we finally start focusing on Obama vs. Romney?

2012-04-09 Strong Fundamentals Drive Best First Quarter Since 1998 by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

The best first quarter since 1998 was marked by strong fundamentals and reduced volatility and global risk.Could it be that the vicious cycle of the past few years has been broken? Could we have entered into the type of virtuous cycle in which positive data beget more positive data, as has marked prior sustained bull markets? Sell in May and go away and other bear strategies that have worked in prior years will likely be ineffective this year, driven in large part by strong fundamentals and global risks that have been excessively discounted.

2012-04-09 Investment Grade Bonds Still Attractive by Tom Murphy of Columbia Management

We continue to find investment grade corporate bonds attractive. Even after a strong start to the year, corporate bond spreads are anywhere from 20-90 basis points above their 20 year averages. This historical absolute valuation advantage is also buoyed by attractive relative valuations versus Treasuries spreads as a percentage of overall yield are currently from 1.8 to 2.4 standard deviations above their 20 year averages. Aggregate corporate credit metrics are also basically as good as they have been any time over that 20 year period, and companies maintain tremendous financial flexibility.

2012-04-05 Our National Debt Is Scarier Than You Think by Gary D. Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The US national debt stands at just over $15.6 trillion as compared to the $15.1 trillion gross domestic product in 2011. This means that our national debt is now 103.3% of GDP, a feat which has not happened in the Post-WWII era. To put $15.6 trillion into perspective, this means that every man, woman and child in America owes just over $50,000 toward the national debt. If we use an estimated budget deficit of $1.1 trillion for 2012, the national debt will have grown by just over $5 trillion in the last four years.

2012-04-05 Calm After the Storm by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The Fed has announced that it stands ready to promote economic growth with all the tools at its disposal. The Fed policy of low interest rates and cheap credit may still be needed to help the job market heal for some time to come. However, the inevitability of a rise in interest rates at a foreseeable point may encourage investors to avoid fixed income securities. The financial reality is that markets clear and prices depend on buyers as well as sellers. Time horizons and global forces are always considerations. The importance of diversification is always prudent for long-term investors.

2012-04-03 Senior Loans Attractively Priced Relative to High Yield by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. (Article)

By restoring confidence in the global financial system, the European Central Bank's Long Term Refinancing Operation has allowed global bond investors to participate in attractive opportunities around the world.

2012-04-03 Good Quarter. More to Come. by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Good week ending an even better quarter. We like this rally because i) large cap stocks were in line with small and mid, that means less speculative juice and more reality investing ii) GTs came unglued fast but iii) Baa spreads came in thanks to low net issuance and high demand, again crushing the crowding out theorists but, no matter, iv) Europe came back from the brink and fewer daily catastrophe headlines and v) the Fed gave plenty of information to not expect a policy reversal. This is solid stuff and markets feel better than this time in 2010 and 2011 when we saw spring sell offs.

2012-04-03 Proceed with Caution in the Hunt for High Yield by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Given high yield credits recent rally and surge of inflows, Im now getting a lot of questions about whether or not the asset class still looks appealing. While high yield provides an attractive pickup in yield and Im maintaining my neutral view of the sector, I believe the easy money has probably already been made and the asset class no longer looks cheap. As such, over high yield, I prefer investment grade credit and municipals.

2012-04-03 Time to Pay the Piper by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

One way investors can offset higher tax rates is through municipal bonds. In general, interest generated from municipal bonds is exempt from all federal income taxes and some state and local taxes (depending on your state). While municipal bonds carry a greater amount of risk than Treasury bonds, tax advantages and higher yields make them extremely attractive to Treasuries on a relative basis. The yield on government debt is currently in the doldrums just above 3 percent while the yield on the Bond Buyer 40 Index of munis is above 4 percent.

2012-04-03 Beyond Bonds: The Role of Risk Assets in Liability-Driven Investing by Sebastien Page of PIMCO

In liability-driven investing, unless the plan is fully immunized or significant leverage is employed, the bond portfolio only hedges part of the liabilities. Overall, when diversifying across risk assets, there are choices that may be more attractive to pension plans than they are to liability-agnostic investors, such as risk assets with exposure to duration. Plan sponsors who choose to maintain a short duration stance on a total portfolio basis should consider alternative sources of diversification beyond equities.

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.

2012-04-02 Too Little to Lock In by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

At present, investors have no reasonable incentive at all to "lock in" the prospective returns implied by current prices of stocks or long-term bonds.

2012-03-30 Does China Hold the Winning Ticket? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Some bears may think the odds of China being the winner among emerging markets in 2012 are also remote. Over the past few years, Chinese stocks have lagged compared to its emerging market peers. However, the Periodic Table of Emerging Markets perfectly illustrates: last years loser can be this years winner. Historically, every emerging country has experienced wide price fluctuations from year to year. Over time, though, each country tends to revert to the mean.

2012-03-29 To QE or Not to QE by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

If the Fed does nothing, asset prices could fall, threatening Americas fragile economic recovery. But if the Fed decides to battle the forces of deleveraging, it could commit a classic error by acting during a turning point and thereby doing too much. During Operation Twist, the Fed will absorb the equivalent of all of the issuance of U.S. Treasury securities maturing beyond seven years. When Operation Twist ends, global investors will be left to shoulder the burden.

2012-03-29 Stocks: Still a Bargain by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With global stocks up approximately 25% from their fall low and many market watchers endorsing equities in recent weeks, its hardly surprising that investors are wondering if stocks are still a good bargain. While some measures of sentiment notably abnormally low volatility levels could be interpreted as flashing yellow caution signs, valuations and fundamentals still favor global stocks over the long term. Currently, equities look reasonably priced. Developed market equities are trading at around 14.5x trailing earnings, while large emerging markets are trading at roughly 12x earnings.

2012-03-28 The End of the 30-year Bond Bull Market? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

Is the great 30-year bull market in bonds coming to an end? Yes, perhaps -- or maybe not: It depends on whom you ask and how flexible your timing is. While many people think of bonds as conservative holdings, they have produced stellar returns for decades, thanks to the taming of inflation and other factors. But some experts say economic recovery could now reverse the process by driving interest rates higher, causing bond prices to fall.

2012-03-27 The Great Escape: Delivering in a Delevering World by Bill Gross of PIMCO

When interest rates cannot be lowered further or risk spreads significantly compressed, the momentum begins to shift, gradually yields moving mildly higher and spreads stabilizing or moving slightly wider. In such a mildly reflating world, unless you want to earn an inflation-adjusted return of minus 2%-3% as offered by Treasury bills, then you must take risk in some form. We favor high quality, shorter duration and inflation-protected bonds; dividend paying stocks with a preference for developing over developed markets; and inflation-sensitive, supply-constrained commodity products.

2012-03-27 The Economic Backstop: The Consumer by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

As we near the summer, if you listen close you might hear the anticipation of yet another macro shock to stall out the equity market gains. Over the last couple of years, the risk of a domestic double-dip recession, natural disasters, public political debates and European sovereign debt crises have all had the effect of stalling out positive momentum gained in the first quarter. Through April of last year, the S&P 500 showed a total return of 9.05%. However, by the end of September it was at negative 8.67% including dividends and thus rebounded to show total return of 2.11% by year end.

2012-03-26 A False Sense of Security by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

As we examine the present evidence relating to both the financial markets and the global economy, the aspect that strikes us most is the extent to which Wall Street continues to emphasize superficially positive data in preference for deeper analysis, to extrapolate short-term distortions as if they were long-term trends, and to misconstrue freshly printed wallpaper and thin supporting ice as if they were solid walls and floors.

2012-03-26 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Europe takes a well-deserved back seat to the global headlines as all eyes shift to China to see how the country deals with its recent economic slowdown. Consumer activity is on the hot seat domestically as a key confidence gauge is released and analysts closely dissect personal income and spending data in light of the sudden pickup in the labor market. The markets continue to test key levels as investors weigh the low yields in fixed income against the current risk in equities. Hows that speaking tour treating you, Dr. B.? Any Ron Paul sightings?

2012-03-26 Postcards from the Edge: Central Banking in the Age of Policy Extremes by David Kelly, David M. Lebovitz and Brandon D. Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds

Major developed world central banks have taken extraordinary action over the last few years, leaving us in uncharted territory, close to the edge with little experience or history to rely on. The move to todays extremes was forced by the impotence of conventional monetary policy tools, as well as the breadth and depth of the crisis-causing issues. Uncertainty about the probabilities and range of possible outcomes resulting from current extremes has, and will, impact both capital markets and decision making in the real economy.

2012-03-23 Preferred Securities - February 2012 Review and Outlook by Team of Cohen & Steers

We are encouraged by the trajectory of U.S. economic data and credit trends, as well as positive developments in Europe that have somewhat brightened the outlook for risk assets. However, we are closely monitoring various macro risks that could weigh on the global economic recovery, including a recession in Europe, high oil prices and slowing growth in China. Our portfolio remains more heavily weighted towards domestic issuers and is somewhat conservative relative to credit. That said, we continue to add to certain European issues and other higher-beta securities.

2012-03-21 The Scarcity of Income: A Hobsons Choice by Alan Dorsey, Juliana Hadas and Leah Modigliani of Neuberger Berman

The post-global financial crisis environment has resulted in rock-bottom yields for U.S. Treasuries and other sovereign debt deemed to be either liquid or low risk. This situation leaves income seekers in some markets with a negative real yield (inflation adjusted), which could become more manifest during periods of rising interest rates in eventually recovering global economies. Alternatively, these investors may want to consider migrating a portion of their asset allocation to less senior income-producing securities.

2012-03-21 Falling Treasuries: A Currency Perspective by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

What are the implications for the U.S. dollar and investors portfolios if bond prices continue to fall, as they have of late? Within that context, should investors care whether the U.S. retains its status as a reserve currency? Should it effect the way investors think about their own cash reserves?

2012-03-21 US Treasuries: This is the End? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last week, the US Treasury market suffered its worst losing streak since 2006. This rapid rise in yields has prompted investors to wonder whether the 30 year rally in bonds is finally coming to an end, and if so how high will rates rise? The answer may surprise you.

2012-03-21 Trade Rains on the Jobs Parade by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Back in the late 1980s, when annual trade and budget deficits were but a small fraction of today's levels, the markets were rightly concerned about America's ability to sustain its twin deficits. This anxiety helped lead to the stock market crash of 1987. More recently, large and persistent trade deficits were a significant factor in building the imbalances that caused the U.S. economy to implode in 2008. But in recent years, most Americans have lost their concern with gaping trade deficits. I believe it will soon come back with a vengeance.

2012-03-20 Is There a Bubble in Treasuries? by Mike "Mish" Shedlock of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

Both Sides of the Case; Explaining the 2011 Treasury Rally (It's Not What You Think); Where to From Here? People have been calling a bubble in treasuries for at least a decade. The shocking result, especially to hyperinflationists, has been a stair-step decline in yields for 30 years. That's quite a long time.

2012-03-20 An Actively Passive Debate by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

The debate surrounding active versus passive investment management continues to attract a growing share of investor interest. After several years of underperformance, active managers are finally outperforming their benchmarks YTD, but it may be too late. Investors, frustrated with the underperformance and higher fees, are piling en masse into exchange-traded funds (ETFs) and other low cost solutions. The time for an all-passive solution may not be right now, but active managers are undoubtedly concerned about what the future may hold.

2012-03-20 New Normal Still Part of the Vernacular by John Buckingham of AFAM

Have to say that I chuckled a bit when I read in Saturdays New York Times that most professional investors think that a black swan event is possible, even as a black swan was described as an unlikely event that too few people plan for! The comments accompanied a piece entitled, A Forecast for Low Returns, in which several investment pros put forth the argument that people should plan for single-digit investment returns for the next five to as many as 20 years.

2012-03-19 The Search for Yield in a Low-Rate Environment by Team of Franklin Templeton

There are always opportunities to capture yieldif you are willing to shoulder the price of the associated risk. In their words: We look at the return profile for a company historically, and we project that out three to five years. A low-interest rate environment generally benefits heavy borrowers, whose cost of borrowing will be kept low. We believe investors tired of little return may move out on the risk spectrum in search of more potential return. Dividends can indicate a company cares about its shareholders. Dividends look like theyre here to stay.

2012-03-19 Did You See The 10-Year? by John Petrides (Article)

This week the US 10 year Treasury note spiked from 2% yield on Monday to 2.4% by the end of Wednesday. Around the office we were marveling at this move. Given the recent volatility in the equity market, that might not seem like much to stock investors, but to those in the fixed income world thats quite a change. The sudden spike in Treasuries has several implications: 1. Those investors who rushed into U.S. Treasuries over the past four months out of fear and panic (presumably not in hopes of achieving income) in search of safety, actually have an unrealized loss in their position!

2012-03-19 Stocks: More Room to Run by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

While it is important to remain cognizant of the risks facing the markets, our overall view toward stocks remains constructive. Since the current rally began last autumn, we have seen some market pullbacks, but they have been brief and shallow, likely because many investors remain underweight equities and have been using pullbacks to buy on price dips. Now that bond prices are falling, we believe investors as a whole will finally begin to move out of Treasuries and into stocks. As such, as long as the macro fundamentals remain reasonably good, we believe equities should grind higher from here.

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

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

2012-03-16 The Real Debate: Preservation of Capital vs. Preservation of Purchasing Power by Chris Clark of The Royce Funds

Investments in high-quality companies that have embedded pricing power and high returns on their invested capital look to us to be some of the best investments to protect and grow purchasing power, and we believe they need much broader representation in investors' asset allocation. We think that the period of exclusively focusing on the preservation of capital has passed and that now is the time to be focused on the preservation of future purchasing power.

2012-03-15 Market Update: A Real Recovery, or a False Start? by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

The Dow has hit its highest level in years, loan rates are at record lows and the U.S. economy appears to be gaining momentum. Even the housing market is starting to look inviting. But is this a real recovery -- or a false start like last year's? Wharton's Jeremy Siegel and Scott Richard think the economy is showing signs of a true rebound, and predict that stocks should do well in the next 12 months. But bonds, they warn, are in dangerous waters, and economic growth will be in jeopardy if oil prices keep rising and the European credit crisis worsens. (Video with transcript)

2012-03-15 Stress Tests No Sweat by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The Federal Reserve ran another "stress test" on major financial institutions and has determined that 15 of the 19 tested are safe, even in the most extreme circumstances: an unemployment rate of 13%, a 50% decline in stock prices, and a further 21% decline in housing prices. The problem is that the most important factor that will determine these banks' long-term viability was purposefully overlooked - interest rates.

2012-03-14 Systemic Risk, Multiple Equilibria and Market Dynamics What You Need to Know and Why by Mohamed A. El-Erian and A. Michael Spence of PIMCO

In assessing the possibility, duration and impact of systemic risk factors, we need to analyze the interaction of expectations with market (endogenous) and policy (exogenous) circuit breakers. In the current environment, the prevalence of some subjective bimodal expectation distributions (e.g. Europe related) speaks to the multiple equilibrium features of sovereign debt markets. Multiple equilibria give rise to a range of scenarios, each quite different and each with its own distribution of returns, risks, correlations, and market functioning.

2012-03-13 Europe's “Back-door QE”: Good News for Global Bond Investors by OppenheimerFunds, Inc. (Article)

By restoring confidence in the global financial system, the European Central Bank's Long Term Refinancing Operation has allowed global bond investors to participate in attractive opportunities around the world.

2012-03-13 Checking In With the Municipal Market by Team of Neuberger Berman

In 2011, many investors appeared concerned about the potential for widespread defaults in the U.S. municipal bond marketsomething that failed to materialize. Now, we check in with the municipal markets and find that the outlook is greatly improved; however, in the wake of recent robust performance, it may also be a good time to exert some caution.

2012-03-12 The King is Back by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

On Mar 1, Lazlo Birinyi called for the S&P500 to hit 1700 in 2012 (an increase of 35%). The 24% rise in the S&P500 between Oct 4 and Feb 29 has prompted many to review their outlook for the year. Their euphoric revisions are propelled by some tailwinds: lean company financials with high operating leverage; emerging markets consumer demand; improving jobs reports; low interest rates, and high cash balances. Many of these factors contributed to Galways relatively positive outlook. However, one lesson we have learned over the years is to start getting nervous when everyone agrees with you.

2012-03-09 Why Equities Are Attractive Today by Matthew OConnor of Hartland & Co.

Is today the right time to invest in equities? Equity investors have experienced a roller-coaster ride. As a result, many investors have run as far as they can from equities, pulling out roughly $135 billion from U.S. stock mutual funds last year. Even with the S&P 500 Index off to its best start in 25 years and inching closer to its 2008 high*, investors continue to withdraw money from U.S. stock mutual funds. So, where are we? Is it the right time to invest in equities? Due to a combination of reasons, we believe equities do look particularly attractive today and for the long term.

2012-03-08 Of Tulips and Treasuries. Treasuries Securities Entering Bubble Zone. by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

U.S. Treasury securities could take their place alongside other bubble assets like tulip bulbs did in the 1630s. There are signs of a secular change afoot in the U.S. Treasury market as rates set historic lows. The U.S. Treasury market is indeed a crowded market as Euro-singed capital is being tucked behind the ultimate safety of the U.S. obligations. Add to that the Feds own record setting buying binge in these securities and you have an asset that may have well crossed the line of what its long-term value could possibly be.

2012-03-08 Inflation Inferno? Maybe in 2013 and Beyond by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In a controversial new paper, a staff economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis warns that conditions are ripe for a spike in inflation. While Russ shares many of the economists concerns, he explains why its too soon to make significant changes to a portfolio based on inflation fears.

2012-03-07 Winning the War in Europe by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim

Given my view on the global liquidity glut, it probably will come as no surprise that I remain bullish on U.S. investments, including equities, high yield bonds, bank loans and other risk assets, as well as art and collectibles. I believe the United States has entered a period of self-sustaining economic expansion, driven primarily by the aggressive monetary policy of the Fed, which is now being reinforced by the ECB. U.S. growth is necessary to reduce domestic unemployment and to provide support to the struggling economies in Europe and Asia.

2012-03-02 Positioning Your Portfolio When You Dont Have All the Answers by Josh Thimons of PIMCO

Faced with difficult questions like the European debt crisis, portfolio managers have two possible courses of action: feign omniscience and seek to position portfolios for one outcome, or admit to not knowing the answer and seek to position portfolios to prosper in the most likely scenarios and hold ground in the least. We believe the latter is the better course because two extreme outcomes appear increasingly likely for almost all asset classes, which increases the risk involved in choosing the wrong answer.

2012-03-01 2012: A year in US bonds by David Harris of Schroder Investment Management

There are two new factors that came to the forefront in late 2011 and which are set to influence investments throughout 2012. Indeed, it appears the collective bond market had a series of epiphanies in Q3 that should frame investment activity for some time to come, and these factors are by no means isolated to the US. The first factor is the broad recognition that debt expansion will not be the large driver of economic growth as it has been for the past several decades. The second factor is that political policy pronouncements will often trump economic and credit fundamentals.

2012-03-01 Cures for the Apathetic Investor by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A lack of faith and trust has driven investors to the sidelines and halted the flow of capital in the U.S. According to the Investment Company Institute, investors pulled more than $130 billion from equity mutual funds during 2011. This is a common reaction in the cycle of market emotions where investors generally move from a fear of losing money, to becoming apathetic about the markets, to feeling confident about investments, and finally, to irrational exuberance. Right now, many investors appear to be stuck in an apathy sandpit.

2012-02-28 De-Fence by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Over the past 30 years, an offensively minded Federal Reserve and their global counterparts were printing money, lowering yields and bringing forward a false sense of monetary wealth. Successful investing in a deleveraging, low interest rate environment will require defensive in addition to offensive skills. The PIMCO defensive strategy playbook: Recognize zero bound limits and systemic debt risk in global financial markets. Accept financial repression but avoid its impact when and where possible. Emphasize income we believe to be relatively reliable/safe; seek consistent alpha.

2012-02-27 Brute Force and Two Serious Problems by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The brute force of liquidity driven markets is waning. Earnings season draws in and there were enough negative surprises, about 30% of reporting companies, to take the edge off the rally. As of writing, we're up over 6% YTD on SPX [1] but with little decisive break out in the last three weeks. Why? Well, the culprits are: Greece: Greece has been punching well above its weight as a pain for some time. China: After a pretty awful 2011, when stocks fell 20% and remain at about half the 2007 peak, inflation, housing and net exports remain a problem.

2012-02-25 The Emotions of Fear and Apathy Create Good Buying Opportunities by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

One of the reasons money has found its way back to the market is that low interest rates and a bubble in bonds have upped the attractiveness of equities relative to other asset classes. In fact, many large-cap equities come with a higher yield. This means that investors can wait for the growth, while receiving the income. Overall, it looks like the markets dark clouds are lifting and we could be in for a period of sunny skies in the months ahead.

2012-02-24 Global Commentary: Investors Want to Gains to Continue by Bill McQuaker of Henderson Global Investors

Although the start of the year has been encouraging, significant risks remain, especially from Europe, specifically Greece as it seeks to secure the next tranche of its bailout funding. The improvement in economic data, particularly from the US, however, provides some grounds for optimism, particularly as equities, despite their recent rally, appear inexpensive. Investors will be looking to see whether the global market momentum can be maintained: January last year began on a similar positive note, only to give way to weakness later in the year as structural economic problems resurfaced.

2012-02-24 Schwab Market Perspective: Two Steps Forward... by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

US stocks and economic data appear to be moving at least two steps forward for every step back, which we believe leads to a strengthening trend for bothalthough there are inevitable bumps along the way. We believe the agreement in Washington to extend the payroll tax through 2012 may be the last substantial economic-related agreement before the election, but there are major issues looming. The Fed continues to believe another round of easing may be appropriate, which we think could be dangerous and that they should be looking to move in the other direction.

2012-02-23 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 Uncertainty and Change Dominate Markets by Daniel C. Chung of Fred Alger & Company

US companies are doing an admirable job in difficult times. Uncertainty is not an acceptable management strategy, so businesses are continuing to move for-ward and seek opportunities to grow, even as Washington dithers. Despite our many concerns about the state of US policy-making, we remain confident in the fundamental strength of our economic system and the vitality and creativity of corporate American its people and in its structure

2012-02-21 David Rosenberg: "Searching for Certainty in a Sea of Uncertainty" by Katie Southwick (Article)

David Rosenberg is known for his bearish outlook, and he has not yet seen anything in recent economic news that persuades him to change his tune. Contrary to prevailing "bullish complacency" and the widespread belief that central banking systems "have the answers to the ongoing global debt deleveraging cycle," in the United States Rosenberg sees monumental deficits, flat growth, an underlying trend of deflation, and current fiscal policies that will limit future flexibility. In other words, trouble remains on the horizon.

2012-02-21 Good News Cant Keep a Lid on Investor Fear by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The outlook for the stock market keeps getting brighter, but investors are still letting fear cloud their judgment. In the United States, the jobs picture a rather bleak scenario less than a year ago has improved substantially. The euro-zone debt crisis has also improved. We havent seen any real contagion from Greece, as evidenced by sovereign debt yields. And despite prominent investors such as Warren Buffett and Jeremy Grantham favoring stocks over bonds, a lot more money flowed into bond funds in January. This disconnect reveals a continued tug-of-war between fear and fundamentals.

2012-02-18 The Enduring Popularity of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For thousands of years, pharaohs, explorers, rulers and investors have been attracted to gold, as the precious metal has been a vital tool in building and protecting wealth. While gold naysayers focus on the day-to-day fluctuations in price, I believe gold equities and bullion will continue to enjoy maximum popularity, as the Oracle of Omaha puts it, for years to come. The allure of goldwhether it is from Fear or Lovecannot be underestimated.

2012-02-17 Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed and Something 2 by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

Given the Feds targets for both inflation and long-run normal employment, the new framework suggests continued lower bound rates, forward guidance and potentially additional QE. The Fed explicitly extended the length of time that it expects interest rates to remain exceptionally low and kept the door open to adjusting at a future meeting the size and composition of its balance sheet. The Fed reached unanimous agreement on a published numerical inflation target of 2% that, in its judgment, best satisfies its mandate to achieve price stability.

2012-02-17 Economic Insights: Around the World of Investing Opportunity by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Europe seemingly creates new financial and economic concerns daily, while in the United States, fiscal questions and election uncertainties trouble the outlook. Still more dangerous issues surround the military and diplomatic maneuvering in the Persian Gulf. And these are just a sample of the sources of investment concern. But even as all this prompts people to hide in cash and the usual safe havens, such as U.S. Treasury bonds, these investment choices pay such poor yields that presumed safety comes at tremendous cost. Investors, then, must consider riskier investments.

2012-02-16 Hasenstab Sticks to His Guns by Team of Franklin Templeton

Michael Hasenstab, Portfolio Manager of the Templeton Global Bond Fund, doesnt scare so easily. As he reiterated recently, he actually sees times of market panic as opportunities to make investments where he sees long-term value. The key thoughts he shared: The challenge during periods of volatility is that, although investors can take a short-term hit, this volatility can create opportunity. Fears Europe will sink Asia appear overblown. China not likely to see a hard landing. The Eurozone drama continues to unfold.

2012-02-15 Not in My Lifetime by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

The weak dollar and international economic fears have sparked multi-year bull markets in gold, oil and most major commodities. This has forced asset allocators at the largest institutions, consulting firms, registered advisory firms and financial advisor networks to over-emphasize all aspects of the capital eaters and the longer-term Treasury bonds which compete for these dollars. In effect, the Federal Reserve Board caused the last of the unbelievers to give up in early February because it does not appear that rates will rise in our lifetime.

2012-02-14 Savers Are Not A Special Class by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The self-reinforcing struggles between risk appetite and liquidity continued this week. Since the FOMC meeting, LTRO kicking in, easier policies from the ECB and a run of good economic numbers, we're in rally territory for equities here and abroad. The good news is that this has not come at the expense of other asset classes...so gold, bonds, US$, commodities are all holding up well. The liquidity push cannot have come at a better time. Private sectors are still building precautionary savings and public deficits are closing...

2012-02-14 What a Difference 3 Years Make by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Three years removed from the Styxian depths of the financial crisis, investors are now in much better shape. Back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was running for president, he struck a chord with the voting populace by asking the seminal question, Are you better off now than you were four years ago? Much of the electorate ran through a mental checklist and decided that they were worse off. As a result, voters pulled the proverbial ripcord, ousted the incumbent and Reagan was elected our 40th president. Investors should be asking themselves a similar question today.

2012-02-13 Bill Gross vs. Warren Buffett and Larry Fink by Charles Lieberman (Article)

While bonds seem frightfully overvalued, stocks are cheap because investors are so hell bent for safety. Investors continue to shift capital out of stock funds and into bond funds virtually every month. This behavior suggests that they are fixated on the zero risk of default and fail to appreciate how they will be hurt by the loss of buying power.

2012-02-13 Around the World of Investing Opportunity by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Among those choices, credit-sensitive fixed-income instruments would seem to offer superior returns with reasonable security. Opportunities also present themselves in the equity markets. In the developed markets, North America seems to offer the best risk/reward balance. Though stock valuations are better in Europe and Japan, the former still needs to deal with its debt crisis and the likelihood of recession, while the latter faces the very fundamental matter of severely aging demographics as well as the immediate adverse impact of an expensive currency.

2012-02-10 Current Market Volatility? Too Quiet by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In horror movies, the time to worry is when things become eerily quiet. Last Friday, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX), hit its lowest level since last July. This is the financial equivalent of eerily quiet. Assuming that volatility is set to rise, how should investors adjust their portfolios? First, remember that its the change in volatility that tends to impact asset prices. Investors would want to modestly lower their weight to market segments that are very sensitive to changes in volatility and raise their weight to less sensitive or lower beta instruments.

2012-02-09 Our Budget Deficit and the Coming Elections by Team of American Century Investments

One week ago, the CBO released its latest federal budget and economic outlook for the U.S. In the associated report, they explain that their ten year baseline budget projection is not a forecast of future events. Instead, it is provided as a policy benchmark that reflects what will occur to the federal budget and deficits if the existing taxation and spending laws are kept intact without additional legislative actions. Of course, we are now within nine months of a major election where a key issue will be what changes are needed to address our present fiscal woes.

2012-02-08 What the Bond Market Knows That You Dont by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

On the back of improving US economic data, equities have rallied off of autumn lows, and yet US Treasury yields have continued to surf bottom with the 10-year note trading below 2% for the first time on record. Why havent interest rates recovered in support of improving data? Do US Treasury investors know something that equity investors dont? The answer may lie across the pond in Europe. The European crisis intensified significantly in the fall, causing equity markets (and most risky assets for that matter) to sell off and US Treasury rates to fall, despite the August downgrade.

2012-02-07 Market Dimensions by James Damschroder of Gravity Capital Partners

We estimate there is a 15% to an upwards of 31% opportunity for some reasonable re-inflation to normal valuation to be had in emerging equity securities. It wouldnt be too aggressive to even call 60%. That would bring us to an implied P/E of only 15. I dont know if itll take six months or several years to accomplish this, but this was the logic I used in getting back into the international markets quickly after having correctly anticipating the start of the sovereign debt crisis. In retrospect, we came back a little early; but I believe this move will be very fruitful in the long run.

2012-02-06 The Value in Fear by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

It is hardly an insight to note that markets today are beset with fears. What is less widely acknowledged and critical to investment strategy, however, is that the level of anxiety has driven market segments to different extremes of valuation. On the one side, widespread fear has driven up the prices of the usual safe havens, such as U.S. Treasury bonds, gold, even the debt of other presumably stronger governments. On the other, the anxiety has severely held back relative pricing on equities and credit-sensitive bonds. This divergence presents potentially remarkable investment opportunities.

2012-02-06 Time to Get in the Game by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Recent data on job growth, unemployment and manufacturing activity offer compelling reasons for investors to get off the sidelines. Private job growth continued with a gain of 257,000 jobs, signaling a very constructive trend weve seen for a number of months. Public sector job shrinkage also continued and should be a welcome sign given the need to reduce government debt. The unemployment rate fell to 8.3% in January. Arguably, investors should be willing to take on more risk when they feel their employment is more secure. And the feeling of greater job security might soon be on the horizon.

2012-02-03 The U.S. Economy Marches On To An Unsteady Beat by Team of BondWave Advisors

Despite the misgivings by the Fed about the recovery, and with much of Europe teetering on recession, domestic economic data continues to suggest moderate expansion in both output and employment. We discuss this situation along with the positive performance of the Treasury, Corporate and Municipal bond markets.

2012-02-03 The Case Against Long-Term Treasuries by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Just last week, the yield on 10-year Treasury notes slid in response to the Federal Reserves announcement that interest rates would remain low through 2014, and yields dropped further early this week on concerns about Europe. With the yield on 10-year notes now hovering around 2% and core inflation at its highest level in over three years, the spread between the 10-year Treasury yield and core inflation is currently at its most negative since 1980.

2012-02-03 Global Markets Rally on Moderating Global Risk and Positive Fundamentals by Doug Cote of ING Investment Management

The so-called January Effect typically causes equity markets to explode out of the gates only to fizzle out after the second week of the month. January 2012 was different, however, as the equity market delivered four weeks of moderate but relentlessly positive returns on the back of easing global risks. Meanwhile, volatility broke below 20 for the first time since last May. Investors on the sidelines barely noticed the explosive performance, nor did a media that nonchalantly labeled it a stealth rally There is nothing stealthy about a 4.5% monthly return!

2012-02-02 2011: The US Year by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The market generally proves the consensus wrong, and 2011 certainly adhered to that historical precedent because the consensus "must owns" at the beginning of 2011 generally underperformed during the year. What is somewhat startling to us, however, is that conviction has yet to be shaken. The consensus continues to favor commodities, emerging markets, and "any-bond-but-treasuries".

2012-02-01 Life and Death Proposition by Bill Gross of PIMCO

When interest rates approach zero they may transition from historically stimulative to potentially destimulative/regressive influences. Recent central bank behavior, including that of the U.S. Fed, provides assurances that short/intermediate yields will not change, and therefore bond prices are not likely threatened on the downside. Most short to intermediate Treasury yields are dangerously close to the zero-bound which imply limited potential room, if any, for price appreciation. We can't put $100 trillion of credit in a system-wide mattress, but we can move in that direction by delevering.

2012-02-01 The Doves are Flying Circles around the Hawks by Colin Moore of Columbia Management

Most of the members of the FOMC of the Fed remain concerned about the level of economic growth and inflation over the next few years. The Committee expects growth to be modest over coming quarters which appears to be a downgrade from moderate. As a consequence, the FOMC pledged to keep rates near zero into 2014 versus 2013, as previously indicated. Some members were slightly more hawkish. Six members thought monetary policy tightening should begin as early as 2012 or 2013. Five participants chose 2014. Six participants thought 2015 or later.

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

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

2012-01-31 2012 Tale of Two Bond Markets Handicapping the Bull and Bear Case for Bonds by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

2012 will likely be the tale of two bond markets. You have the high-grade debt market that has been the recipient of a huge flight to quality and fear trade. The prices of these obligations have skyrocketed and yields plummeted. Additionally, the Fed has turned out to be the biggest buyer of longer-dated Treasuries in the markets today. It is rumored that they might engage in a mortgage buying campaign later this year. That would have the effect of lowering mortgage rates further than the record lows where they are at. In short, the world has sought refuge in the U.S. bond high-grade market.

2012-01-30 TIPS for Financial Repression by Mihir Worah of PIMCO

Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities got a boost last week after the Fed extended the period of time it is likely to maintain unusually easy monetary policy and moved toward adopting a formal inflation target of 2% for the Personal Consumption Expenditure Index. Bernanke said that the central bank was likely to allow deviations from this target if employment was not where the Fed thinks it should be. We think financial repression is likely to persist and real interest rates are likely to be lower than recent history would suggest for the foreseeable future.

2012-01-30 Fourth Quarter Investor Letter by Mark Bennett, David Templeton and Nick Reilly of HORAN Capital Advisors

We have our reservations about world economic output, but stand by our past comments about slow U.S. growth without a recession. We do believe equities offer attractive return opportunities for the foreseeable future in the context of historical valuation and relative valuation. We acknowledge the structural issues prevalent in developed economies and the risk that comes with debt hurdles, demographic challenges and potential deflation, but there are many data points that make us optimistic about equity returns in 2012 and for long-term strategic investment allocations of capital.

2012-01-30 Fed Rings Dinner Bell for Equities by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The Fed's decision to keep short-term rates at historical lows and to provide greater visibility on monetary policy is likely to beckon stock investors to take on more risk. Plus, what you may have missed in the GDP report. Investors hungry for yield may have gotten the sign they needed to increase stock portions of their portfolios. On Jan. 25, after a Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke surprised the capital markets by announcing that the central bank planned to keep short-term interest rates historically low into late 2014 and possibly beyond.

2012-01-27 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 Waist Deep in the Big Muddy by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

As long as interest rates remain far below the rate of inflation, the U.S. economy will fail to equitably restructure itself for a lasting recovery. As a secondary effect, U.S. savers will likely continue to suffer from a lack of yield and a weakening currency. In the end, the collapse of the U.S. economy will be that much more spectacular due to the great lengths we have gone to postpone it.

2012-01-27 What the Bond Market Knows That You Dont by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

On the back of improving US economic data, equities have rallied off of autumn lows, and yet US Treasury yields have continued to surf bottom with the 10-year note trading below 2% for the first time on record. Why havent interest rates recovered in support of improving data? Do US Treasury investors know something that equity investors dont? The answer may lie across the pond in Europe. The European crisis intensified significantly in the fall, causing equity markets (and most risky assets for that matter) to sell off and US Treasury rates to fall, despite the August downgrade.

2012-01-27 Slow Road to 'Normal?' by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Market volatility has fallen and tight correlations have loosened, indicating to us some calming of fears and increased attention on more traditional economic and earnings-related news. This is a good sign for stocks in the foreseeable future. The Fed unveiled its new communication strategy after its most recent meeting, reiterating that interest rates will likely remain extremely low for some time. The European picture is brightening slightly and there may be a glimmer of hope for stock market investors. After a soft patch, global growth may be turning around.

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

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

2012-01-26 Big State Doesnt Mean Bad Muni by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With their budget woes frequently dominating headlines, California and New York are regularly cited as poster children for bad state finances, and investors often avoid these states municipal bonds as a result. But these two states may not be in as bad shape as many people believe. My team recently performed a basic examination of the financial health of the 50 states. We looked at three metrics for each state: Revenue-to-interest payments, state debt levels to state revenue and the funding of pension costs.

2012-01-26 The Price of a Good Nights Sleep by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Even with the recent market rally, investors are still placing a significant premium on those assets perceived as safe. Case in point: the US Treasury market. By one measure-real yields measured against core inflation long-dated Treasuries are offering the worst returns in over 30 years. The flip side of this trade is a persistent aversion to assets perceived to be the most risky, particularly Europe. Even in the more stable, northern parts many markets are trading at 8 times earnings, with dividend yields at 4% to 5%. In a low yield world, this strikes us as a long-term opportunity.

2012-01-25 2011 Review and Outlook by Ronald W. Roge and Steven M. Roge of R. W. Roge

While there is plenty to worry about globally, particularly the European financial crisis, Iran, and domestic policy decisions, we can take some comfort that corporate earnings continued to grow and our economy is muddling through with positive GDP numbers. Traditionally, election years are positive for equities. Since 1928 there have been 21 Presidential elections with only three of those years producing negative returns for the S&P 500. Until we have more clarity on the U.S. election, domestic policy decisions and the European financial crisis we will remain cautious and flexible.

2012-01-24 The Global Economic Outlook: Diverging Paths by Thomas D. Higgins of Dreyfus

The global economy can weather a mild eurozone recession, but is too fragile to absorb a severe financial shock such as a breakup of the euro. Higgins expects Central and Eastern Europe are likely to be most negatively affected by a eurozone recession, followed by the UK, the US and other advanced economies, given their respective trade dependencies. The least vulnerable regions would be Asia and Latin America. Long-term value in popular safe havens such as U.S. Treasuries and gold, preferring to focus on U.S. non-financial corporate credit as well as emerging market local currency debt.

2012-01-24 Risk Off, Risk On...? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Since the start of 2012, global risk markets have all but ignored the overhang of pessimism that frustrated the markets in 2011. For the most part, equity indices already surpassed their gains for all of last year. While such gains may ultimately prove sustainable, there remains a modicum of uncertainty that could rear its head quite suddenly, and quite viciously. In the meantime, an assessment of the investment landscape shows investors may have a legitimate reason for bullishness in the short term.

2012-01-23 The Path of Least Resistance Is Up by Charles Lieberman (Article)

There is so much skepticism with respect to stocks that most everyone who might be scared out of the market has already exited. Investors fear a credit meltdown in Europe following a Greek default. They also fear a weakening domestic economy. As a result, stock prices are depressed, despite solid earnings growth and a healthy corporate sector. If investor's fears are not fulfilled, stocks should move higher.

2012-01-23 Smart Strategies Looked Stupid in 2011 by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

The US has a confidence crisis, not a growth crisis. Jobs are being created. Consumers spending rose 6.9%. Corporate profits went up 16%. Financial leverage is low, operational leverage is high. Even with the rise in government debt, public debt service is at its lowest since the mid 80s. And all this during the year we survived a major nuclear crisis in Japan, the first-ever Treasury downgrade, revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East, several hundred thousand government layoffs, gridlock in Washington, and the effective bankruptcy of Greece.

2012-01-23 Focus Shifts from Fear to Fundamentals by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper, head of portfolio strategies, highlights last week's rally in stocks as a launching point for investors to overcome anxiety and regain focus on valuations, corporate earnings and improving macroeconomic conditions.

2012-01-23 Stocks Advance Despite Softening Earnings Data by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

The recent bounce in stocks and in other risk assets can be attributed to a combination of some improved US economic data, a lack of significant new negatives in the euro debt crisis and further evidence of a soft economic landing in China. For the rally to continue, we believe at least two developments need to occur. The first is that we need to see policymakers in the euro area continue to stabilize conditions. The second is that we need to see global economic data continue to improve enough to support corporate earnings growth.

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.

2012-01-17 Martin Wolf on the Eurozone and Beyond by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Martin Wolf is widely considered to be one of the world's most influential writers on economics. Since joining the Financial Times in 1987, where he is chief economics commentator, he has received numerous awards for excellence in financial journalism. In this interview, he discusses the Eurozone crisis and prospects for global economic growth.

2012-01-17 The Mess That Is the Eurozone Inflation-Linked Bond Market by Michael Althof and Jeremie Banet of PIMCO

Italian ILBs now mostly reflect credit risk and tend to trade at a discount to compensate for the higher volatility. Unless the eurozone collectively decides to inflate their way out of their sovereign debt problems through a large increase in the ECB balance sheet, Italian inflation-linked bonds are likely to keep trading like a more volatile and less liquid version of nominal Italian bonds. A European investor looking to secure consumption of real assets in the future may wish to think about alternative measures to help protect their real purchasing power when hedging real liabilities.

2012-01-17 In Praise of Radhanath Sikdar by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

This week we saw: France and Austria downgraded, Greece take a step closer to default, new bond auctions from Spain and Italy that, while below last month's, had pitifully low bid/cover ratios and Hungary lurch again in its bond prices and currency...down 11% and 22% in last 3 months. On the other side of the trade, Germany auctioned 6-month paper at a negative 0.012%. So this is what happens: fiscal consolidation hits private consumption and investment without (because of a pegged exchange rate system) a rise in net exports or higher lending. Mr. Sikdar would have figured this out long ago.

2012-01-17 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Carl Kaufman and Simon Lee of Osterweis Capital Management

An incongruity developed during the 2nd half of 2011. As Treasuries continued their rally that began after the S&s, US equity markets also rose from their August lows. Normally, a rally in Treasuries implies that investors are in a risk off mode, fear of economic weakness causes investors to seek safe havens, like US Treasuries. Conversely, a rally in equities is perceived as a risk on mode, meaning that the sky is clearing and it is safe to invest again. With the Q4 rally in both the risk on and the risk off markets, the question arises: What is causing this anomaly?

2012-01-13 The Year that Was and The Year to Come by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

From a long-term perspective, we continue to have a positive outlook on emerging economies. In our opinion, balancing growth, inflation and global competitiveness will be the task ahead for many emerging countries in the months to come. We believe that emerging stock markets could be much larger than they are today, and over the long term, their combined value could potentially exceed the combined value of the U.S., Japanese and European equity markets.

2012-01-13 Fed Plays PR Games by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The world was taken by surprise recently by the Fed's announcement that it would publish some of its economic forecasting that forms the basis for its strategy. The Fed claims that the move will vastly increase so-called transparency, which has become a buzz word for honesty and virtue. However, the new policies do nothing to remove the cloak of secrecy that conceals still many of its most significant activities. This myth will do little to lure investors back into the markets but as an unintended consequence will reveal just how profoundly the markets are currently guided from the top.

2012-01-13 What the Next Decade Holds for Commodities by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

What will happen over the next 10 years? I believe the supercycle of growth across emerging markets will continue with rising urbanization and income rates. This bodes well for commodities, especially copper, coal, oil and gold, and well continue to focus on companies that will benefit the most from these much-needed resources.

2012-01-13 Investing in 2012: Same Issues, More Extreme Valuations by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

When all was said and done, 2011 turned out to be the metaphorical equivalent of a roller coaster ride.There were quiet positives: The addition of 1.6 million jobs with the unemployment rate falling from 9.4% to 8.5%, a gradual improvement in light vehicle sales, the demise of Bin Laden and gathering economic momentum as the year drew to a close. There were scary negatives: soaring oil prices in reaction to the Arab Spring the human and economic toll of the Japanese tsunami the inability of Europe to deal with its complicated debt issue and the inability of Washington to deal with simpler one.

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.

2012-01-10 The Dollars Lucky Streak by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

All self-perpetuating virtuous cycles are vulnerable to a sudden break in the positive feedback loop. When reality rears its ugly head, and the spell breaks, the reverses can be vicious. It happened with dot com stocks, it happened with real estate, and I believe it will happen with the dollar and Treasuries. Even if Europe does not resolve its problems, the day of reckoning will still eventually arrive. The unfortunate truth is that the longer it takes, the worse it will be, as we will have that much more debt to reckon with.

2012-01-09 Retail Trades of Municipal Bonds by Chris Shayne and Farshad Mashayekhi of BondDesk Group

ecember was a quiet month in the muni markets with no bankruptcies or defaults. Retail demand for individual municipal bonds was relatively strong in December, particularly considering it was the holiday season. Mutual funds had a very strong December, receiving $4.4B in net inflows (according to Investment Company Institute), which was easily the high-water mark for 2011. Median municipal yields fell consistently during December (and prices rose), largely due to the increased demand in the mutual fund market.

2012-01-09 Corporate Market Transparency Report: December 2011 by Chris Shayne and Farshad Mashayekhi of BondDesk Group

December was a relatively calm month on Wall Street, particularly compared to the extreme volatility of 2011. Concerns about Europe surfaced briefly, but by the end of the month all three major U.S. stock indices had recovered their losses. Corporate yields and spreads were essentially flat last month while transaction volumes were down slightly due to the holiday season. Demand for taxable (i.e., corporate) bond funds was moderate during December. According to the Investment Company Institute, mutual funds received $9.3B in net inflows vs. $15.5B during November.

2012-01-06 Doing Nothing Nothing Done by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

Somehow, this is about the only time of year when most people reflect on the past, ponder the present, and plan/predict the future. There are several themes we have identified that will affect our asset-allocation discipline for 2012. As I commented in November, the market risks are geopolitical and the sentiment is driven by government policies. Our themes for 2012: Germanys Euro, Inflation versus Deflation, Election Year and It Isnt All Bad . For the year 2011, stocks basically broke even, although the 37 days where the Dow was plus or minus 200 points certainly made for a wild ride.

2012-01-06 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 And Thats The Year/Quarter That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Global geopolitical events continue to impact all investments markets. Just when Europe seemed to be taking positive steps to move passed crisis mode, along come Spain, Italy, and Hungary to remind investors that the road to recovery will be paved with many bumps along the way. A nuclear Iran presents huge concerns and additional sanctions could cause new crude supply challenges that may prompt inflation to resurface. The recent favorable labor releases woke the consumer from hibernation in time for the holidays, but will the enthusiasm last once the season ends?

2012-01-06 Have Winds Shifted to Provide Relief to Investors? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

We believe the winds are shifting to bring needed relief to global investors. Weve seen improving economic data from the U.S. lately, and this positive news from the worlds largest economy, along with an improving Chinathe worlds most populated countryoffsets the negativity in Europe.

2012-01-05 3 Economic Scenarios for 2012 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ believes that one of three economic scenarios will likely play out next year: the Great Idle will continue, the global economy will slip into a recession or global growth will accelerate. The most likely scenario is that The Great Idle continues. A severe global recession in 2012 is a second possible scenario. In fact, Im placing higher odds on another global recession than I did last year. Theres a tiny chance of a third scenario. In this scenario, emerging markets would resume stellar growth and the developed world would revert back its long-term average growth.

2012-01-05 U.S. Dollar & Currencies: Review and Outlook by Axel Merk and Kieran Osborne of Merk Funds

In 2012, policy makers around the world may be driven by the realization that the theme of 2011 was not a Euro-specific crisis, but simply another stage in a global financial crisis. Central bankers may ramp up their printing presses in an effort to limit contagion concerns. As such, the currency markets may be the purest way to take a view on the mania of policy makers. Market movements may continue to be largely driven by political rhetoric. We dont believe this trend will abate over the foreseeable future, especially given the likely leadership changes throughout several G-7 nations.

2012-01-05 New Year, Old Worries by Team of BondWave Advisors

2011 was a volatile year where the old guard of the global economy was plagued by weak economies, bloated debt levels, tight credit, and action against normally stellar credit ratings. Europe dominated the headlines, both in December and 2011 overall, and continues to struggle. We discuss these issues and provide additional insight into the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.

2012-01-04 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

The year 2012 is upon us and looms large for a number of different reasons. Within the next few days, the first of the Presidential primaries will begin and by early November we will know who our next President is and who controls Congress, along with many State Houses. Some astrologists believe this is the Age of Aquarius and according to the Mayan calendar, December 21st will be the end of time, or as some prefer to think of it (ourselves included) the beginning of a new age. Maybe the astrologists and Mayans have something going.

2012-01-04 Towards the Paranormal by Bill Gross of PIMCO

The New Normal, previously believed to be bell-shaped and thin-tailed in its depiction of growth probability and financial market outcomes, appears to be morphing into a world of fat-tailed, almost bimodal outcomes. A new duality credit and zero-bound interest rate risk, characterizes the financial markets of 2012, offering the fat left-tailed possibility of unforeseen policy delevering or the fat right-tailed possibility of central bank inflationary expansion. Until the outcome becomes clear, investors should consider ways to hedge their bets.

2012-01-04 Ebay and Amgen: Dividends Do Matter by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We are owners of both EBay and Amgen. We believe the dividend policy and price action in the shares of these two companies can teach us about stock price performance over the next three to five years. History shows that for a few decades after terrible stock price performance investors demand more of their return from cash dividends. Historical payout ratio over the last 50 years is 52.6% and over the last 20 years it was 46%. We believe that the companies which raise their dividend payout ratio will enjoy the kind of outsized price gains that Amgen has seen in the second half of 2011.

2012-01-03 Good Defense, Slow Progress a Win for 2011 by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The stock market finished flat for the year, but an absence of loss in the face of a wave of negative news coupled with improving economic conditions are cause for optimism in 2012. While the stock market took us on a wild ride to nowhere, investors are better off than they were a year ago.

2011-12-31 Remarkable Resilience by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Despite a remarkable series of crises, the stock market was roughly flat on the year. Earnings increasing, inflation decreasing, and economic data improving, the environment for a renewed upward move may be in place to start 2012. There seems to be little hope from DC for any relief in the near term, but 2012 brings an election cycle that will likely have a major impact on the future of the US. A near-term implosion in Europe seems to have been avoided but real solutions remain absent and the risks for a greater economic pullback are growing, which would likely have global implications.

2011-12-30 A Look Back at 2011s Calls by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Last December, Russ shared his economic forecast for 2011, along with a series of investment calls. Nearly every Monday since then, he has highlighted certain asset classes and market sectors in his weekly call posts. So, how did his calls perform? Read more to find out.

2011-12-30 Case for Sustained $100 Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China, along with other emerging markets, and the European Central Bank are in the early stages of a global easing cycle, primarily by cutting interest rates to spur growth. Also, the Federal Reserve should remain stimulative. These government actions set the stage for sustained, or perhaps higher, demand for oil. Geopolitical threats remain on the horizon, and could also be a positive catalyst for oil.

2011-12-29 2012 Offers Few Reasons for Optimism by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In 2011, politicians of the U.S. and EU set their economies on a rendezvous with economic and financial disaster. If one assumes as I do that no leader on either side of the Atlantic has the courage to face the music, then there can be little reason for optimism in 2012.

2011-12-23 Camus and the "Implacable Grandeur" of Investing by Richard Bregman of MJB Asset Management

We have opportunistically entered the stock market when prices appear attractive; we believe the strongest values currently are in large U.S. stocks. We have continued to limit our exposure to interest sensitive bonds; we do find value in distressed securities, as they are available at comparatively inexpensive prices and have comparatively low interest rate risk. Lastly, in the face of continued high market fluctuations, we have maintained an above-average weighting to alternative strategies designed to limit volatility.

2011-12-21 Time for the Fed's Public Service Announcement by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Jitters over Europe's debt crisis once again sent investors fleeing despite mounting evidence of economic expansion in the U.S. While the Fed has prudently kept interest rates at historical lows, an explicit call to action for investors is needed.

2011-12-21 Hot Potato by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth, Lupin Rahman and Rob Mead of PIMCO

The world is playing a game of hot potato with European financial assets, and the European Central Bank is a reluctant player. Together, Europes fiscal and monetary authorities can likely avert a systemic accident, but they must act quickly and courageously. Differentiation among emerging market monetary policies is increasing. And in Australia, the central bank will likely need to ease further in 2012. If every central bank enacts similar monetary policy tools, those tools compete for the same targets (financial and inflation stability), thereby potentially eroding their effectiveness.

2011-12-20 Gundlach on the Key Threat to Global Economies by Robert Huebscher (Article)

If class warfare is to be the dominant theme in next year’s presidential campaign, it will revive the premise of Ernest Hemingway's 1937 novel, To Have and Have Not, which he wrote in the midst of the second downturn of the Great Depression. That was also the title Jeffrey Gundlach gave his conference call with investors last week, during which he warned that wealth inequality will threaten European and domestic economies. Last week also saw Morningstar pass over Gundlach as a candidate for its fixed-income manager of the year award, so we’ll look at whether that decision made sense.

2011-12-20 Fixed Income in 2011: The Year of Opposites by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

Fears of municipal bond defaults. Expectations of rising interest rates. Those were the conditions fixed income investors were positioned for heading into 2011. Instead, it turned out to be the year of opposites. Matt Tucker looks back at 2011 and studies how market expectations matched up with reality.

2011-12-16 A Bad Year for Common Sense by Gerald Hwang of Matthews Asia

The phrase common sense can be a paradoxical concept in investment conversations. Seemingly imbued with a perverse, reverse meritocracy, the catchphrase appeals to investors as an intellectual leveler. It suggests, Let us think things through logically. Not only does this sound good, but what could be more egalitarian and humble? But when investment managers consider something to be common sense, be wary. We take a look at how common sense failed bond investors this year.

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 Clinton Investment Management 3Q2011 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

As we look toward year-end, we endeavor to seek out the best means for adding meaningful value to our client portfolios. We expect municipal bond new issue supply to dissipate as we approach the New Year. As it does, we expect technical conditions to improve materially. We also believe that the roughly $20 billion in anticipated January reinvestment will pull demand for municipal bonds forward into December. We have extended our client durations modestly in an effort to capitalize on what we believe could be a period of solid outperformance for the municipal bond market.

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.

2011-12-09 2012: Politics Versus Fundamentals by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Assessing the prospects for a coming twelve-month period is always a challenge. We rely on our broad arsenal of fundamental barometers for profits, sentiment, momentum, and our cyclical indicators to help us identify whether markets are correctly aligned relative to their economic and profits cycles.

2011-12-09 Corporate Market Transparency Report: November 2011 by Chris Shayne of BondDesk Group

November was an extremely volatile month on Wall Street. Concerns about Europe caused a temporary free fall in the equity market, and later in the month American Airlines filed for bankruptcy. Not surprisingly all the turmoil drove up yields for corporate bonds as concerns about credit risk resurfaced. "A" rated corporates experienced the biggest increase, and we continue to believe that investors looking for yield should consider purchasing those bonds opportunistically. Demand for corporate bonds also increased in November, marking the fifth consecutive month buying activity has gone up.

2011-12-09 Emerging Markets Bonds and Currencies in an Uncertain World by Ignacio Sosa of PIMCO

Even if global risk deteriorates significantly, emerging markets may continue to offer compelling risk-adjusted return characteristics. Emerging markets external sovereign debt, along with receiving interest rates in higher-quality EM countries, could be the best relative performers. EM currencies would likely sell off sharply in risk-off periods but would also tend to rebound robustly when risk appetite returns. Several Asian currencies are likely to be the best relative performers. Emerging markets assets remain a risk asset class and will not be immune to waves of global jitters.

2011-12-07 4 Portfolio Moves for a Long-Term European Debt Crisis by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In recent weeks, governments around the world have stepped up efforts to solve the European debt crisis. While Russ believes European leaders will address the outstanding issues in time to avoid a sovereign debt collapse, here are four investing ideas to consider if you expect the crisis to drag on. 1. Within your international equity exposure, overweight CASSH countries. 2. Within your international equity exposure, overweight emerging markets outside of Europe. 3.) Overweight safe-haven assets. And 4.) Within fixed income, overweight investment grade and munis.

2011-12-07 Asset Class Correlations by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

The charts below highlight the rolling six month correlations for the S&P 500 relative to oil, US Treasuries, and gold. There has been much discussion recently regarding the extreme correlations within global financial markets. In fact, the correlation between the S&P 500 and US Treasuries was recently at a record inverse extreme.In recent weeks, however, the extreme correlations between the S&P 500 and all three asset classes has eased somewhat, with the inverse correlation between the S&P 500 and gold moderating substantially.

2011-12-06 Adding Some Holiday Gloss to a Not-So-Super Month by Team of BondWave Advisors

November began with a European shakeup that did little to bolster the confidence of investors. Fear raged as Greece and Italy threatened to roll back efforts made by the ECB and IMF. In the US, all eyes were on the supercommittee, which was tasked with reducing the deficit over the next 10 years. BondWave Advisors discuss the US economic indicators that brought a coat of gloss to the pessimism and provide additional insight into the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.

2011-12-06 Treasury Inflation Protected Securities: Whats Next? by Vishal Khanduja of Columbia Management

TIPS have performed relatively well in 2011. Over the next 12 months we expect TIPS to outperform equivalent maturity U.S. Treasuries, However, given the current historic low level of real interest rates, we believe that absolute returns for the asset class will be only slightly positive. Our view is based on three factors: U.S. economic and policy outlook, recent trends in the components of consumer inflation and current valuations versus our base case assumptions.

2011-12-05 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Like a train wreck, the global markets have maintained a vicious shakeout whose collapse is frightening not only for the Europeans but for America and its trading partners. For the past several months we have been building a slow crescendo which, like a great symphony, has many codas yet to play. Clearly, a correction to overborrowing, overspending, and over-expecting is in place. Turbulence and volatility, both in the markets and political discourse, is the order of the day. The foundation of trust which underpins all capital exchange and political governance is nearly in default.

2011-12-02 The Paradox of Active Fixed Income Management by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

Amid this years volatile markets, many investors expected their fixed income holdings to be a source of stability in their portfolios. But some are finding the opposite has been true. In this blog, Matt Tucker explains how the Paradox of Active Management could be partly to blame.

2011-11-29 Homeownership To Fall 8% by Wayne Yamano of John Burns Real Estate

We have done a lot of quantitative and qualitative research on the future of homeownership, and concluded that homeownership is likely to fall eight percentage points, from 70%* in 2005 to 62% in 2015. The American Dream of Homeownership is still alive and well, as confirmed by several surveys, including ours. However, we are going to return to requiring future homeowners to save and to take on debt that they can afford to repay. This will be a shock to some, but we all know it is the right thing to do.

2011-11-28 The Upshot: In Thanksgiving by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Despite a turkey performance from the stock market last week, U.S. investors still have a lot to be thankful for, namely a doubling of corporate profits in the last three years, improved labor market conditions and surprisingly strong consumer spending.

2011-11-26 Beyond the Supercommittee by Team of Charles Schwab

After months of negotiations, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction announced that it could not reach agreement, stating: "we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee's deadline" The supercommittee had a deadline of November 23 to make recommendations to trim at least $1.2 trillion from the budget deficit. What's beyond the supercommittee? Schwab answers the key questions. Such as, why did the supercommittee fail? and are US Treasuries still a safe-haven investment? among others.

2011-11-26 With Rising Wages, Will China Remain a Manufacturing Hub? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In 2010, countries such as Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Germany depended on China for data processing, apparel, and iron and steel exports. Chinas largest import partners in 2010 were Japan, South Korea, the U.S., Germany and Australia. For those companies not already doing business in China, theres one dominant factor that shows they should start: the vast domestic market. Companies may be able to find a cheaper workforce in Bangladesh, India or Sri Lanka, but being located in China allows convenient access to what is rapidly becoming the worlds largest consumer market.

2011-11-23 Manipulated U.S. Rates See Saw Gold Prices by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The Super Committee has followed the path of least resistance and maximum irresponsibility. Given the likely after-effects, the outcome should be judged as criminal dereliction of duty. It should now be crystal clear to even the most casual observer that a solution to the U.S. debt crisis will not come from within, but will be imposed, perhaps brutally, from without.

2011-11-22 Municipal Debt: Did My Bonds Go Down the Sewer? by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

This month, Jefferson County, Alabama became the largest issuer in the municipal bond market to file for bankruptcy. While the headlines may sound alarming, Matt Tucker explains why this bankruptcy filing does not signal an upcoming wave of municipal bankruptcies or bond defaults. He believes this is a unique situation, one driven more by fraud and poor deal structure than by the economic environment. It is unlikely that there will be any broad impact on the municipal bond market.

2011-11-22 Whether the U.K. is in the Euro or Not, We Are All in This Together by Mike Amey of PIMCO

Can the U.K. economy withstand a further sharp deterioration in the European debt crisis? The prospect of European recession, coupled with the U.K.'s program of tight fiscal policy, points to a challenging economic outlook for the U.K. A weak eurozone means weak export prospects at a time when the U.K. is trying to rebalance its economy towards greater exports. The U.K. economy has made great strides in stabilizing its banking system, but it is not yet in a position where it can withstand a systemic European crisis involving multiple defaults.

2011-11-21 The Upshot: Anxiety, Not Hard Evidence, Occupy Wall Street by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Stocks retreated despite positive economic news, suggesting even tangible proof of recovery may prove too little to overcome investor fear. With higher volatility over political handwringing expected, investors can exploit likely buying opportunities. Indeed, anxiety occupied Wall Street last week and trading was decidedly risk off: The S&P 500 gave up almost 4% and the Dow Jones Europe Index lost 5%, while the 10-year Treasury was driven down to 2.01%. But stock market performance belies an improving economic picture, a condition best illustrated by the latest government data.

2011-11-17 Supercommittee Update by Team of Charles Schwab

New this week: the real deadline for the supercommittee; why we think there's still hope for an agreement; President Obama's vow to veto legislation to "undo" automatic cuts if an agreement isn't reached. What are the different deadlines for the supercommittee, and what do they mean? November 23 is the deadline by which the supercommittee must put forward recommendations to cut at least $1.2 trillion from the deficit. However, the supercommittee must post its recommendations publicly 48 hours prior to November 23, meaning the true deadline for finishing its work is Monday, November 21.

2011-11-15 Capital Flows: Asias Quiet Revolution by Gerald Hwang of Matthews Asia

As markets evolve, so do regulations. The reflexive rebuke of capital controls once voiced by Western regulators has given way to a more flexible approach in times of extreme volatility. Asias regulators have observed the efficacy of volatility-dampening measures, and thus far, appear to have avoided the worst excesses. As fears continue over diminishing U.S. dollar power, Asias bonds remain attractive diversifiers for their yields and good credit ratings. However, one should never forget the volatile history of currencies in Asia.

2011-11-14 The Upshot: Fear vs. Fundamentals by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

There is continued disparity between investor moods and a healthy corporate America. A vicious tug-of-war between positive economic data and negative news formed the backdrop for another tumultuous week in the financial markets. The tiebreaker was a more optimistic take on Europes ability to solve its debt problems, which enabled stocks to finish the week on a positive note with the S&P 500 gaining less than 1%. Looking at the stock market's progress so far in 2011, it has been a similar tale: volatility with little to show for it. The S&P 500 is up a modest 0.5% year to date.

2011-11-11 Get Paid to Play Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

With money markets and Treasuries yielding next to nothing these days, investors are finding income in new places. One area those investors should consider is gold mining. With gold rising in value, mining companies are reaping record profit margins, yet the stock prices are depressed due to lack of investor interest. A solution for both gold companies and investors may be dividends, specifically gold-linked dividends. Several top-tier gold producers that are benefiting from higher gold prices have begun to share a portion of their profits with shareholders via a dividend payout.

2011-11-11 The Beginning of the End of Fiat Money by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Last week, the G-20 meetings did not produce an expanded bailout fund for the eurozone. While this may bode well for the long-term solvency of the member-states (moral hazard and all), it has also triggered a market reaction that I expect to help destabilize the common currency. Yesterday's market moves suggested that this development is good for the dollar and bad for gold. Allow me to step back from the stampeding herd to evaluate whether they are, in fact, moving in the right direction.

2011-11-09 Seasick: Hanging on the Rail by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

For the past 22 months the question has lingered: when will Greece default? The markets are beginning to learn from the prior three Euro-crises what to expect from European policymakers. In the end it will be what Germany wants, as they are seemingly content to amputate the leg of Greece six inches at a time. Even prior to this past weekends summit, German Chancellor Merkel complimented now former Prime Minister Papandreou for stepping down but implored the new Greek policymakers to carry out the Brussels decisions completely and immediately.

2011-11-08 Bill Gross' Revised Paradigm: The New Normal Minus by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Following the financial crisis of 2008, PIMCO articulated its 'new normal' forecast of slow growth and mediocre capital market returns. Appending the even drearier modifier 'minus' to that outlook, Bill Gross said that expectations now appear worse than even he previously feared. Gross was pessimistic in both the near and long terms, and he startled the audience with his premonition that 'capitalism is at risk.'

2011-11-08 Is One Better than Three? by Dave Loeper, CIMA, CIMC (Article)

One way to 'juice' a portfolio is by increasing allocations to small- and mid-caps, as one recently published paper contends. But a careful analysis - properly adjusting for risk - shows how that seemingly appealing approach can destroy client wealth.

2011-11-08 Corporate Market Transparency Report: October 2011 by Team of BondDesk Group

October was the stock market's best month in nearly a decade. As expected, the strong equity rally caused retail corporate bond yields to fall as concerns about credit risk receded. Bonds rated single A experienced the biggest decrease in yields, though yields for triple B bonds remained largely unchanged, providing continued opportunity for investors willing to own lower rated investment grade bonds. The buy/sell ratio increased to 1.9 in October, a modest increase over the 1.8 ratio in September but a material increase over the historical norm of 1.4.

2011-11-08 Municipal Market Transparency Report: October 2011 by Team of BondDesk Group

The big muni news last month was that Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania, filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection. But the incident didnt have much impact on the retail markets. In fact, trading activity in October recovered from the ultra low levels of August and September, though it was still a relatively quiet month. Mutual funds had a solid October, receiving $1.8B in net inflows according to the Investment Company Institute.

2011-11-08 Equity Market Correlation Could Signal a Divergence by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

One thing lost in the market moves is correlation between the volatility in the equity and Treasury markets. Standing alone, one notices that the Treasury volatility index from BofA/ML has spiked up since the initial potential downgrade by S&Ps in April. This coincided with a spike in the Equity volatility though it has tempered a bit lately. When we look at traditional analysis, one would expect both volatilities to be somewhat divergent, yet now we stand at the third highest correlation over the last 10 years.

2011-11-07 Reduce Risk by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Nearly every traditional asset class is priced to achieve miserably low long-term returns. Meanwhile, our leading economic measures are negative, and the global economy has already begun to show overt signs of a new downturn. We can understand that investors are inclined to hold off any concerns until an economic downturn can be seen and touched in actual (not just leading) U.S. data, but that inclination comes with the prospect of trying to reduce risk when a hundred million other investors suddenly become interested in doing the same thing.

2011-11-07 Euro Drama Offsets Winning Earnings Season by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Stocks gave back gains last week with help from Europe, but there are ample reasons to stay upbeat on equities: 7 out of 10 U.S. companies are beating earnings estimates so far in the third quarter, and the private sector continues to add jobs. Stocks finished the week downbut definitely not outas a strong earnings season is cause for optimism in the face of a pervasive European debt crisis.

2011-11-04 Corporate Bonds: Figuring out a Fair Price by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Q: How can you determine if corporate bonds are cheap or expensive? A: By looking at the spreads to Treasury bonds, relative to the state of the economy. Why you should care: Corporate bonds look reasonably priced compared with Treasuries. One way to think about corporate bond valuations is to consider thespread. Investors in corporate bonds are assuming credit risk the risk that the issuer wont repay the principal or make good on an interest payment. Investors are arguably not subject to that risk with a Treasury bond (for all its troubles, the US government has never defaulted).

2011-11-04 Supercommittee Update by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

What is the supercommittee?; What is the committee's official task?; What happens to the budget if the committee can't reach an agreement?; Is the committee making any progress?; If the committee can't come to an agreement, what effect could this have on the stock market?; If the committee does come to an agreement, what effect could this have on the stock market?; Is there a chance that Moody's will downgrade US debt as a result of the committee's work?; Will the supercommittee deliberations affect the municipal bond market?

2011-11-03 Dressing Up a Default for Halloween by Team of BondWave Advisors

Politicians in Europe spent October trying to juggle three balls: 1) avoiding an unavoidable Greek default, 2) keeping a Greek default from cascading into Italy and Spain, and 3) shoring up the European banks before a Greek default. BondWave Advisors discuss the details of the Greek situation in our November Fixed Income Report and provide additional insight into the US Treasury, Corporate and Municipal Bond Markets.

2011-11-02 Nuclear Option Back On the Table for Europe? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

We have seen a violent reaction in the equity and bond markets globally over what seems to be a return to chaos in Europe. After seemingly removing the nuclear option by levering up the EFSF (European Financial Stability Facility) and the 50% voluntary haircut for holders of Greek debt the markets are once again headed south. Compounding the problem is the Monday morning bankruptcy of MF Global was not necessarily unexpected but the magnitude of the leverage embedded on the firms balance sheet is remarkable.

2011-11-02 Debarred from Certainty by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The innocent pre-2008 are days gone. Expect volatility. Markets distrust most of the news and theres little conviction in any one direction. Vanilla investors are on the sidelines. Day to day trading is mostly position covering and range bound investing. Thats fine with us. The more algos and high frequency trading noise, the easier to spot fundamental anomalies. The challenge is to keep fluid between seemingly different but highly correlated markets.

2011-11-01 Crescendo? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Websters defines the word crescendo as, The peak of a gradual increase; or a climax. And, thats the climatic feeling I got last Thursday when the D-J Industrials sprinted some 340 points on the European euphoria to close above 12000 for the first time since August 2, 2011. Such action caused one old Wall Street wag to exclaim, Buy on the cannons and sell on the trumpets! Clearly we bought on the cannons back on October 4th when the indexes broke below their respective August 8th and 9th selling-climax lows.

2011-10-31 Pennies from Heaven by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Growth is the commodity that the world is short of at the moment. Once interest rates inch close to zero and discounted future cash flows are elevated in price, it's difficult to generate much more return if economic growth doesn't follow. Equity markets should be dominated by dividend yields and the return of capital via share buybacks, as opposed to growth. In fixed income assets, we suggest that portfolios should avoid longer dated issues where inflation premiums dominate performance.

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.

2011-10-27 Eyes on the Prize by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

Before Nobel laureates Tom Sargent and Chris Sims developed their methods, economists and policymakers had no rigorous way to incorporate expectations into their statistical models. There is a limit to forward guidances effectiveness, which is why the Fed has pursued other policy options since hitting the zero lower bound. An uncanny correlation exists between the Feds preferred measure of the publics long-term inflation expectations and the timing or initial announcement of a quantitative easing or twist program.

2011-10-26 The Long ViewBuilding The 3-D Shelter by Robert Arnott of Research Affiliates

The third quarter was harsh not only for stocks but for asset classes that provide valuable protection against inflation. Our view is that, in the long run, the combination of rising debts and deficits and aging demographics will create a 3-D hurricane affecting capital markets. In this issue of Fundamentals, we look at how investors can start erecting inflation shelters to protect themselves from the coming storm.

2011-10-25 The Questions You Should Ask about PIMCO’s Total Return Fund by Martin Weil (Article)

When a manager's performance slips, the inevitable question is why. Was this a simple misjudgment on the direction of the markets or an incorrect selection of securities in the portfolio? On the other hand, is the slip indicative of a more serious process failure? When the manager in question is Bill Gross, the answers to these questions become crucial to money managers and investors across the country.

2011-10-25 Fed Outlook More Asset Purchases? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The Federal Open Market Committee, the Feds policymaking arm, will meet on November 2-3. Clearly, there are some differences of opinion among senior Fed officials regarding the appropriate path for monetary policy. However, the dissenters (those wanting to do less) are a small minority. The FOMC will come together with a somewhat less troublesome near-term economic outlook (no recession in the near term), but there are more concerns about growth in 2012.

2011-10-25 Time to Put Your Shades On by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

The paradox of the stock market is that higher prices attract buyers, while lower prices attract sellers. This herd-like behavior is confirmed by peers and exaggerated even more now by social media outlets. The most important thing to acknowledge in these markets is to be tactical and buy on weakness. In our current yield starved environment, I have focused on growth and income (two such scarce resources these days) in both dividend paying large cap stocks and energy infrastructure MLPs.

2011-10-24 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The Fed, and a majority of global state treasuries, have made the decision that keeping money inexpensive is at least one of the tools they can use both to sustain economic growth. This policy has been a boon to those with money, and a severe hindrance to those without. A vexing conundrum exists when monetary policy is designed to promote the flow of money into dynamic expansion but the spigot gets blocked because psychology and momentum are running in the opposite direction. In the meantime savings rates have nearly disappeared, along with whatever savings the losers in this game had.

2011-10-24 Stocks on Sale by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In this horribly uncertain investment climate, one thing at least is clear: American equity markets have priced themselves for disaster. Stocks by almost any measure (except those carefully designed to make them look bad) do look cheap, especially relative to bonds. Such valuations, apart from what they say about sentiment, give markets upside potential even in the absence of full-fledged good news. All they need for a positive response is an abatement of the flow of bad news. And although it is possible that the stream of bad news will continue endlessly, it is not likely.

2011-10-24 Beige Book Should Leave Investors Less Blue by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The Feds Beige Book, which provides a more holistic view of the economy than any individual data point, confirmed what weve seen in recent economic reports: the U.S. economy grew slightly in September and the first week of October. Also positive were the latest industrial production numbers: U.S. industrial production increased for the third straight month helped by rising demand for autos, planes and electronics. This offers further evidence of a disconnect between sentiment and dataone that could spell opportunity.

2011-10-21 How to Succeed at Auctions by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

We believe weve suffered more from the illiquidity and greater volatility of many of our smaller cap holdings, but thats where we are finding the best values with the greatest potential. When the markets recover, that same illiquidity should boost performance on the way up. Maybe sooner than is believed.

2011-10-20 Making the (Credit) Grade in Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While emerging markets are not without their share of macroeconomic problems, they are not experiencing the same sovereign debt problems as their developed market neighbors. In fact, the worlds sovereign debt problems are centered in developed markets such as Europe, the United States and Japan. Ive already mentioned this as a fact supporting emerging market equities. Its even more supportive of emerging market fixed income.

2011-10-19 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

We continue to favor short-term high yield securities.While the high yield market has generally been under pressure due to fears of lower economic growth, lower gross domestic product growth does not necessarily translate into weaker credit fundamentals. In light of all the uncertainty in the market, we have generally reduced our exposure to convertible bonds and have continued to favor bonds with high coupons that we think are likely to be refinanced before maturity.In addition we are keeping some cash on the sidelines so that we are in a good position to buy as future opportunities arise.

2011-10-19 U.S. Dollar and Euro - Review and Outlook by Axel Merk and Kieran Osborne of Merk Funds

With so many global dynamics playing out, and the worlds financial markets fixated on the political process (or lack thereof) in the Eurozone, driving market sentiment around the world, it may be a good time to take a deep breath, take a look back at where weve come from, and assess the likely implications going forward. Specifically, what are the implications for the U.S. dollar and currencies globally? With continued expansionary monetary policy here in the States, and lack of such policies elsewhere, the divergence in monetary policy is likely to further erode the U.S. dollar.

2011-10-19 Emerging Asia Pacific: Economic Review September 2011 by Team of Thomas White International

After battling inflation for over a year, many emerging Asia Pacific economies are now facing challenges over stimulating growth. A year of persistent monetary tightening in emerging Asia Pacific has unfortunately coincided with slowing growth prospects in the developed world. The U.S. and the European Union are the largest trading partners for many export-dependent emerging Asian economies like South Korea, Taiwan and even China. With economic growth slowing in the U.S. and the European Union, many emerging Asian nations are rightly worried about their export prospects.

2011-10-18 Crossing and Recrossing by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Heading into another G20 weekend meeting. There are plenty of ideas around: IMF backing, strategic defaults, broader EFSF guarantees and infusions of bank capital. We would put the probability of any breakthrough at less than 10%, which means more drift. Bond spreads narrowed and the 30-year auction bid-to-cover ratio was significantly better. So much for crowding out. The market rallied but does not feel particularly underpinned.

2011-10-18 Three Strategists Speak Out & Rare Apology From PIMCO by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Quality in bond land is expensive and promises little return for a fair amount of risk. The Fed is punishing Treasury investors with historically-low yields. We believe the only way to generate a return in these markets is by price appreciation because these notes have very little in the way of coupon income. This lack means that they will trade more like zero coupon bonds when, and if, the Fed ever removes the buying pressure on that market. History has shown us that the market will move before the Fed does. Our discipline has thus far beaten our benchmark.

2011-10-18 Volatility Rears its Ugly Head by Jeremy Blackman of Hester Capital Management

The major debate in the financial markets today revolves around whether or not the U.S. is going to experience a double-dip recession. We do not expect a recession, but if that does happen it should be a shallow one. We remain cautiously optimistic that the politicians in the US and Europe will eventually do the right thing as the consequences of not acting in a prudent and responsible manner are not pretty. We anticipate that markets will continue to be volatile until Europe finds resolution for its problems and until politicians across the globe learn to compromise across party lines.

2011-10-17 Connecting the Dots by Pamela Rosenau of HighTower Advisors

The efficient frontier provides the optimal expected return for a portfolio for a given level of risk, or the lowest level of risk needed to achieve the optimal expected return. Over the years, investors have come to perceive that certain asset classes with higher risk premiums are more risky than others. We believe what many view as traditional asset allocation may be vulnerable going forward. In short, it is dynamic, not static. In todays negative real interest rate environment, investors will be well served by investing in certain asset classes perceived to be more risky.

2011-10-17 Investors Await Additional Clarity Around Europe by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

For the second consecutive week, stock prices moved sharply higher as investors welcomed the news of progress in addressing the European debt crisis and also took some solace in improved US economic data. For the week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 4.9% to 11,644, the S&P 500 Index advanced 6.0% to 1,224 and the Nasdaq Composite jumped 7.6% to 2,668. Other risk assets, including commodities, also experienced gains last week, while safe-haven assets such as US Treasuries struggled.

2011-10-17 Weakening Ties Between Data and Sentiment by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Surprisingly strong economic data shows a weakening link between investor attitudes and economic realities, suggesting fears of a recession may be overstated, writes Kristina Hooper, CFA, CIMA, head of portfolio strategies at Allianz Global Investors.

2011-10-17 Stocks on Sale by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In this horribly uncertain investment climate, one thing at least is clear: American equity markets have priced themselves for disaster. Stocks by almost any measure (except those carefully designed to make them look bad) do look cheap, especially relative to bonds. Such valuations, apart from what they say about sentiment, give markets upside potential even in the absence of full-fledged good news. All they need for a positive response is an abatement of the flow of bad news. And although it is possible that the stream of bad news will continue endlessly, it is not likely.

2011-10-14 Portfolio Strategy by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial

In previous newsletters, we have discussed the tendency of investors to extrapolate recent experience, and how this causes them to act most decisively near inflection points. Today, investors are selling assets they perceive to be risky to buy assets they perceive to be safe. Along the way, they seem to have forgotten that even safe havens can fall victim to speculative excess. How long this trend will continue is unknowable. However, the longer it persists, the more likely it is that risk assets will prove to be the better investment.

2011-10-14 The Other Keynes by Bill Mann of Motley Fool

We are buying stocks for two reasons. First, we see a market environment in which there are enormous disconnects between how much companies are worth and how much they're selling for. That's the easy reason and the one entirely in our control. Put simply, where there is fear, there is opportunity. But the second reason is far more important: We are buying stocks because we can. Thanks to patient, long-term-oriented shareholders, our funds have seen extremely mild levels of redemptions. That means we still have capital to put to work at a great time to be putting capital to work.

2011-10-14 Fall 2011 Quarterly Commentary by Alan T. Beimfohr and John G. Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

We are left with depressed equity valuation in the US and Europe. Stocks are not supposed to be this cheap in the face of interest rates and inflation this low. In fact, stocks have tended to trade at more like 20 times earnings in the context of todays 2% inflation and 2% ten year Treasury yields, roughly 50% higher than todays valuation. Alan Greenspans Fed Model, which compares forward earnings yield (inverse of P/E) to 10 year Treasury yields, suggests US stocks are the most compelling vs. Treasuries in over fifty years.

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.

2011-10-13 Prediction? Pain by James Moore of PIMCO

​Recent Federal Reserve activity has pushed down the long end of the yield curve, spiking the present value of plan liabilities and widening the funding chasm. The pain of the pension community shows up most obviously in funded status estimates. High and increasing levels of implied equity risk premium in pension plans suggest sponsors expectations are increasingly optimistic about future contributions from risk assets.

2011-10-12 Jobs Plan casts Unexpected Spotlight on Munis by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

Obama's job creation plan included a proposal to cap thetax break for muni interest at 28% for couples earning $250,000+ a year. For an investor in the 35% tax bracket, income from municipal bonds that was tax free would effectively be taxed at 7%. Where does this leave muni bond investors? Vigilance is warranted, but panic is not. Munis are generally viewed as a stable asset that can help investors preserve capital while generating income. I would advise investors to keep an eye on the debate as it progresses and determine how best munis could fit into an overall investment portfolio.

2011-10-11 A Q3 Client Letter Drawing on Buffett’s Optimism 'The U.S. is coming back now' - and why three inves by Dan Richards (Article)

Since 2008, each quarter I have posted a template for a letter to clients; these are consistently among my most popular articles. This quarter's letter provides clients with perspective on the recent market turmoil.

2011-10-10 And That's The "QUARTER" That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Yes, the quarter was bad for the markets, but earnings season will go a long way toward revealing if companies are truly hurting. Many are thought to be sitting on plenty of cash, just waiting for calmer times to invest in operations (and hopefully human capital). Meanwhile, Dr. B. still claims to be ready to jump in with more stimuli if deemed necessary. As for Europecan they ever get their house in order? Their politicos may be just as bad as ours?

2011-10-07 Market Turmoil by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

A promising market expansion was stilled by ugly politics in Washington and Brussels. While both domestic and European crises were largely political rather than economic, the consequences rattled investor confidence in capital values worldwide. As in the U.S., agency issues are the root cause of the European debt crisis. The U.S. subprime mortgage crisis resulted from agents paid to issue mortgages without considering the ability of borrowers to pay back the loans. Similarly, European bank agents ignored the default risk of euro-based Greek government.

2011-10-07 The Hunt for (Sustainable) Yield by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors

In any low-rate environment, it is easy to be seduced by any investment that can deliver high yields. But to achieve a consistent total return, you need to carefully weigh the risks and focus on investments that can deliver attractive yields that are sustainable, while also providing the potential for higher income in the future. Our answer thus far has been a combination of sources. Given the current miniscule yield environment, we expect these higher-quality asset classes to move the income-generation meter at least a little for client portfolios without exposing them to inordinate risk.

2011-10-07 On Teflon and Emerging Market Currencies by Andrew Foster of Seafarer Capital

Investors can distinguish between the fundamental health of EM credit which is, as some have suggested, strong and the still fragile currencies of those markets. Rapid unwinding of capital flows may do quick damage to local currency EM bonds, wiping out fixed income investors expectations for current income. EM credit denominated in U.S. dollars may be a viable alternative. EM currencies may offer desirable diversification, and they may even be a good investment but they remain speculative, and should not be considered a safe haven.

2011-10-07 Corporate Bond Transparency Report by Chris Shayne of BondDesk Group

The equity market turmoil impacted yields for retail corporate bonds as expected, but the effect was not consistent across rating grades. Yields for 2nd tier investment grade (A, BBB) bonds increased substantially, while upper tier (AAA, AA) were largely unchanged. This was a continuation of the trend established in August.

2011-10-07 Municipal Market Transparency Report by Chris Shayne of BondDesk Group

September was another extremely quiet month in the retail market for individual municipal bonds. Median municipal spreads increased in September, continuing a trend that began last month. because Treasury yields fell faster than muni spreads widened. Comparably rated revenue bonds were generally yielding more than their general obligation counterparts, continuing a trend that began in August.

2011-10-06 Worry and Volatility Continue in September by Team of BondWave Advisors

September was a continuation of the fear and anxiety that plagued August. Worries about a global slowdown and the fiscal situation in Europe drove a volatile month. Fears of a double-dip recession have been growing as economic data has moderated. These fears were stoked after the September FOMC meeting when the Fed downgraded the state of the economy by announcing a new plan intended to stimulate growth. The IMF also adjusted its global outlook down, revising its estimate for global growth in 2011 and 2012 to 4% from 4.3% Estimates for the US were revised from 2.5% to 1.5%.

2011-10-04 Is Recession a Certainty in the U.S.? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

There is certainly much greater economic risk out there than there was just a month or two ago. My sense is that any recession that the United States may experience would be associated with a slowing of U.S. GDP because of a fall of in Europe, and potentially China. I believe that China would act quickly to reverse their tightening bias to spur growth. Calling recessions is a dangerous game. We all try to make logical sense of markets and try to forecast the future. All I know is that folks that have done well decade over decade, like Buffet, are buying and not selling.

2011-09-30 The Fed's 'Twist' Turns into a Problem for Pensions, Insurers and Households​ by James Moore of PIMCO

In its attempt to stimulate borrowing by making long-term money cheap, the Fed has harmed large swaths of savers. A look at three groups in particular proves instructive: pension plans, life insurance companies, and households saving both inside and out of 401(k)s.

2011-09-30 Schwab Market Perspective: Perception vs. Reality by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Economic data continues to reveal sluggish activity, and markets have been increasingly trading in a risk-on, risk-off mode. The Fed continues to try to stimulate greater economic growth, most recently with the announcement of operation twist. We have serious doubts this will engender any broad upturn. We continue to look toward Washington to move beyond short-term rhetoric and provide some serious long-term plans that allow businesses to have more confidence in the future. European policymakers continue to delay any real action, increasing the risks of an escalation of the debt crisis.

2011-09-28 Have the Central Banks Run Out of Tricks? by Ron Muhlenkamp of Muhlenkamp & Co.

The big three concerns (a U.S. or Chinese recession, and a European banking crisis) continue to drive the markets, and the news got incrementally worse last week, and then better this week. The DJIA has been bouncing back and forth between about 10,700 and 11,600 since August. Could things get worse from here? Yes A U.S. recession isnt fully priced into the market, a Chinese recession isnt either, and a European banking collapse could trigger the forced selling of assets like we saw in the U.S. in 2008-2009. Could things get better from here? They could but muddle through is more likely.

2011-09-28 Fed Extends Maturities by Kathy A. Jones and Rob Williams of Charles Schwab

Fed Notes-The TwistObservations and takeaways on the Fed's two day meeting this week. Bank Bondsplus Extraordinary Calls on Trust Preferred SecuritiesWe elaborate on factors affecting the banking sector. Obama Bill Questions Exemption on Muni bondsOur view on one piece of the job proposal presented by the Obama administration. Liquidity- Ignore at Your PerilWe highlight some reasons why liquidity, especially in volatile markets, is an important investment factor.

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.

2011-09-27 Markets Struggle to Reconcile Macro and Micro by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

It was a difficult week from a number of standpoints, not the least of which was the growing number of downside risks that rose to the surface. A broad number of financial markets broke down this week, including copper, the Hang Seng and precious metals. Struggles in those markets came from any multitude of reasons, including the acknowledgement of slower growth ahead from the International Monetary Fund and the US Federal Reserve.

2011-09-27 2011 First Half Review by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

While yields on tax-exempt municipal bonds are lower than they have been in some time, there remains a strong argument for investing in tax-free investments that deliver actual cash flow. In addition, given the municipal bond markets historically stable credit history, illustrated most recently by states and local governments demonstrated willingness and ability to make difficult choices in order to protect debt holders, we would argue that investing in municipal bonds today is particularly compelling given the opportunity to achieve attractive relative return.

2011-09-27 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

When the Federal Reserve Board runs out of tools to fix the economy, its an even worse scenario. They are not simply useless, they become irrelevant. And so, last week the Fed meekly bought more long-term treasuries in an effort to salve the economy by keeping interest rates, all across the time spectrum, low. Instead, what they wrought was disdain, confusion, and declining confidence. Ive said it before. Low interest rates today are analogous to giving free drinks at closing time. You can lead a horse to water, but you cant make him spend.

2011-09-27 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

As finance ministers gather to put Humpty Dumpty together again, Prez O hopes more concrete measures are taken; the contagion is already occurring as other economies are suffering from the global crisis of confidence. Domestically, investors get more manufacturing news that will hopefully show a bounce-back from the Japan disaster-related downturn. Consumer-related data could indicate whether retailers have any hope for the future holiday season. Politicos are sure to bicker; Fed watchers continue to question; and investors remain uncertain. So what else is new?

2011-09-27 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

As finance ministers gather to put Humpty Dumpty together again, Prez O hopes more concrete measures are taken; the contagion is already occurring as other economies are suffering from the global crisis of confidence. Domestically, investors get more manufacturing news that will hopefully show a bounce-back from the Japan disaster-related downturn. Consumer-related data could indicate whether retailers have any hope for the future holiday season. Politicos are sure to bicker; Fed watchers continue to question; and investors remain uncertain. So what else is new?

2011-09-26 Twist And Pout by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

As expected, the FOMC opted for Operation Twist, and will sell short-term Treasuries out of its portfolio and buy longer-term Treasuries. However, the size of the Feds operation was larger than anticipated and more out-the-curve, sending yields on long-term Treasuries tumbling sharply. In addition, to further aid the housing market, the FOMC voted to recycle is maturing mortgage-backed securities and agency debt back into mortgage-backed securities. So whats not to like? By themselves, the Feds latest moves arent going to lead to strong GDP growth anytime soon, but they should help.

2011-09-24 Catastrophic Success by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Rick Perry touched the third rail of Social Security and called it a Ponzi scheme, which of course immediately made him the leading candidate in the shoot the messenger category. Behind the rhetoric, I look at some actual numbers. Not the unfunded liabilities, thats too easy. Lets look at what a heartless, uncompassionate man President Roosevelt was when he started Social Security. And of course, we must start off with the results of the FOMC meeting, which has me feeling not at all amused. What are they thinking? Apparently, they are seeing the results from another, alternative universe.

2011-09-23 A Dual View of Operation Twist by Team of iShares Blog

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve outlined its new Operation Twist program. The central bank will buy $400 billion of long-term Treasuries in an effort to lower long-term interest rates and spur lending and economic growth. The announcement came as no surprise: It had been clearly telegraphed by the Fed. Nonetheless, stock markets fell after the announcement and 10-year Treasury yields dropped to levels not seen since the 1940s. Two of our contributors weigh in to explain the markets reaction and the plans implications for equity and fixed income investors.

2011-09-23 Twist Paves the Way for QE III by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

But many of those who oppose QE3 do so because they believe the economy doesnt need more stimulus not because the stimulus itself is causing the economic weakness. As a result when the economy deteriorates, support for QE III could grow. In the end QE3 will likely be far more popular than another bank bailout, which may be on the table if the Fed fails to rescue the banks it may be pushing over the edge with Twist. But our zombie economy does not need to be perpetuated by more QE. It must be allowed to die so that a living, breathing, self-sustaining economy can replace it.

2011-09-23 Extreme Moves Leave Markets in Rare Territory by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Many investors have used gold and other commodities as a haven from recent volatility, buoying prices while equities sunk, but even those investments werent immune to the wave of selling. The U.S. dollar, in contrast, was up 2.2 percent. Much of the dollars rally came after the Fed announced the creatively named Operation Twist. The Fed will sell $400 billion of short-term securities and buy an equal amount of long-term debt. The goal is to push down long-term interest rates, which would spur economic activity.

2011-09-22 More Focus on Fixed Income by Team of American Century Investments

G. David MacEwen, discusses how volatile market conditions, a population boom in the 65+ years category, and increasingly conservative investment behavior by those in that category as they approach retirement (including growing demand for more predictable outcomes) are shifting the focus of investment strategies toward fixed income. We strongly believe that the scheduled, mostly predictable payments of interest and principal from bonds are becoming progressively more attractive to a growing pool of investors and their advisors.

2011-09-22 Twist and Shout: The Fed, as Expected, Announced "Operation Twist" by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Federal Reserve announced "Operation Twist," which was largely expected. The goal is to further reduce borrowing costs and push money via lending out into the real economy. Whether it will work is the big question because high interest rates are not the economy's problem. Ultimately, confidence has to improve before we're likely to enjoy any reasonable pace of economic growth. Whether this move by the Fed starts the confidence-healing process remains to be seen. But we suggest you keep your expectations relatively low.

2011-09-17 Twist and Shout? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

What in the wide, wild world of monetary policy is the Fed doing, giving essentially unlimited funds to European banks? What are they seeing that we do not? And is this a precursor to even more monetary easing at this next weeks extraordinary FOMC meeting, expanded to a two-day session by Bernanke? Can we say 'Operation Twist?' Or maybe 'Twist and Shout?'

2011-09-16 An Analysis of the Obama Jobs Plan by Mark Zandi of Moodys Economy.Com

In the current political environment, it is less than likely that most of the presidents plan will pass Congress. Our current baseline outlook assumes that the payroll tax holiday for employees is extended for only one more year. There is a fighting chance that broader payroll tax cuts for employees and employers could become law, but the odds arent high enough at this time to change our baseline assumptions.

2011-09-16 Sell your Bonds and Gold and Buy Dividend Growth Stocks Before it is Too Late by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Although we generally believe in the soundness of the principle of diversification, we also believe that extraordinary times require extraordinary measures. Any historian of markets or economies would agree that financial markets are currently far from behaving ordinarily. We intend to point out several markets that are behaving both inefficiently and completely out-of-sync from sound and prudent economic principles. Therefore, we will argue that certain sacred cows that would and should apply during normal circumstances need to be questioned and challenged in these very uncertain times.

2011-09-15 Six Reasons to Sell Economy, Buy Stocks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Money supply is a key lubricant of the economy and financial markets. Historically, if money is growing faster than nominal GDP, the excess money has found its way to other uses such as investment in stocks, commodities and other financial assets. The risk/reward profile for owning stocks appears positively skewed. While bond investors have enjoyed a 30-year bull market, equity investors can now use long-term mean reversion to their advantage by buying those undervalued companies that are flush with cash, reward their shareholders with a dividend payment and have envy worthy balance sheets.

2011-09-15 The Death of Common Ground by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

An all-or-nothing mindset has taken hold of Washington. The days when a Ronald Reagan and a Tip ONeil would hash out a compromise used to be called leadership. Neither gave up their core beliefs but that did not impair the building on common ground. Compromise is now perceived as weakness. Since the rise of cable news and other noise-creating outlets the extremes on each side of our political spectrum have become emboldened, leaving the middle a lonely place. The increase in partisanship is not just a matter of rhetoric. It can be seen clearly in how Congressmen are voting.

2011-09-14 Asian Bonds Fund Manager Interview: A Misunderstood Opportunity by Team of Aberdeen Asset Management

Global investors remain under-invested to Asian bonds. Exposure is often made through global debt benchmarks; however, these benchmarks typically have low allocations to Asia, may not be particularly active, have allocations to less creditworthy countries and possess limited local currency exposure. Many investment opportunities in the Asian region have been overlooked. Asia provides a diverse set of markets and a broad set of country issuers across the credit spectrum, offering what we believe are good opportunities for investors to enhance portfolio yields.

2011-09-12 Fed Policy: No Theory, No Evidence, No Transmission Mechanism by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the main factors prompting a benign response to what is now a recession and virtually certain Greek default is the hope that the Fed will launch some new intervention. Many view the present weakness as a replay of 2010, however, the evidence tells a different story. While we have to allow for the possibility of a knee-jerk response in the event of further Fed intervention, it is also much clearer now than it was in 2010 that quantitative easing does not work. To a large extent, the only basis for further Fed action here is superstition in the absence of either fact or theory.

2011-09-10 The Money Pit by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors

Zero net non-farm jobs were created in August. Likewise, QE1 and QE2 have not boosted economic growth and we certainly do not need a QE3. The Fed has nothing left, and it is not their job to stimulate the economy. Policy decisions coming from Washington will be instrumental in determining our economic recovery. Intentionally or not, Fed policies are propping up our stock market. With the daily bombardment of bad news around the globe you would think equity prices would be in a free-fall. However, corporate earnings are relatively strong and we are still the safest haven for investor money.

2011-09-10 Market Comment by Keith Goddard of Capital Advisors

Whether measured objectively through indicators for valuation, trend and risk; or subjectively by pondering all that might go wrong in the euro zone, we come to the same conclusion about the current market climate proceed with caution.

2011-09-09 Examining Systemic Risk in the Banking System by Team of Litman Gregory

When we spoke over two years ago, we discussed credit default swaps as speculative derivative instruments, the risks these presented to the financial system, and the need to better mitigate these risks. Can you comment on the progress the industry has made in reducing the systemic risk they pose to the financial system and talk about the risks they continue to pose? Derivatives, as such, were never entirely the problem. But, in some senses, they were symptomatic of a much deeper problemwhich is why we had created a system that was highly leveraged, highly complex, and highly networked.

2011-09-09 Whats Behind the Downturn? by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

I feel the prosperity we enjoyed in the final decades of the twentieth century was considerably better than normal, and better than were likely to see up ahead. Im not implying a world without growth or otherwise permanently negative. Just one without the prosperity, dynamism or positive feelings of past decades. In addition, the newness of the macro picture and some of the problems and the opacity of the solutions certainly make it less clear in which direction well go.

2011-09-07 Keep Calm, Carry On by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim

The markets overreaction has created an incredible opportunity in U.S. equities. In particular, I see value in high-dividend stocks. Many companies with strong cash flows and stellar credit ratings pay more in dividends than the yield on their bondsa situation that hasnt existed for such a large number of stocks since the 1950s. Without doubt, Europes problems indicate that further turbulence, even a retest of recent lows on the S&P 500, cannot be ruled out. Nevertheless, for investors with 2- to 5-year horizons, price dips represent buying opportunities.

2011-09-07 A discrepancy in earnings affecting corporate, commodity and debt by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

There is a rising disconnect in the marketplace between perceptions and forecasts. It is occurring predominantly in the corporate earnings sector; however, we notice it in the commodity markets and the debt markets. For the last couple of months we have noticed a rising discrepancy between the top down earning analysts as compared to the bottom up analysts and CEO forecasts. We would typically side with the bottom up analysts as a general rule. However due to some interesting dynamics, we are leaning even more to the side of the bottom up estimates.

2011-09-06 Five Strategies for a Sideways Market by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)

If this slow growth environment coupled with asset price volatility continues for (to steal a quote from Fed Chairman Bernanke) 'an extended period,' what additional portfolio strategies might aid the overall risk/return profile of investor portfolios? More specifically, how do you manage investments in a sideways market?

2011-09-06 No Way Out by Michael Lewitt (Article)

There aren't enough Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerbergs to innovate our way out of the Everest of debt we have built for ourselves (and will continue to build for the foreseeable future). The good news (a purely relative evaluation) is that astute investors will find enormous opportunities in today's markets as they increasingly reflect unsustainable fiscal and monetary imbalances.

2011-09-06 A Buying Opportunity for Retail Municipal Bond Investors by Chris Shayne, CFA (Article)

While market volatility over the last few weeks drove Treasury yields down, odd-lot municipal bonds yields remained intact. This creates a unique buying opportunity for individual investors.

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

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

2011-08-31 Be-Ratings Wars. by Jonathan Leidy of Portico Wealth Advisors

S&Ps US downgrade was an unmistakable watershed event, causing everyone from the President to the proletariat to take a long, hard look at the lackluster numbers that have typified the US economy for months. Perhaps equally noteworthy during the tumult, however, was the sheer quantity of contradictions, ironies, and paradoxes that arose throughout the downgrade process. They sprung from all sides, ranging from the subtle to the downright staggering, and yielded a portrait of a country desperate for direction. What follows is a chronicle of these incongruities.

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.

2011-08-30 New-Fangled Love Songs by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Liquidity concerns may affect all European peripheral bond markets unless the European Central Bank counters the rush for the exits with an enlarged daily checkbook. In the U.S., discord between rich and poor has led to lower, not higher, Treasury yields as approaching recessionary winds force the Fed and private investors to favor bonds. We prefer investing in the cleaner dirty shirt countries of Canada, Australia, Mexico and Brazil, along with non-dollar currencies that have strong trade ties with the Asian continent.

2011-08-30 No More Cowbell by David Baccile of Sextant Investment Advisors

Since 2008, fiscal and monetary authorities around the globe have been clamoring for more and more cowbell, government generated stimulus and financial support. But there are increasingly clear signs now that the effectiveness of more cowbell is on the wane while opposition to more cowbell is on the rise. In a world with no more cowbell, cash and high quality assets are good places to hide out in anticipation of greater opportunities to profit from market uncertainty. While it may be true that we should not fear the Reaper, a healthy dose of skepticism is essential.

2011-08-29 Instant Pudding by Tim Gramatovich, Ron Heller and Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares/Peritus Asset Management

We are in the midst of a prolonged stagnant economy and Europe is facing mounting issueshowever we believe the end result is a resetting of expectations and re-pricing of global equity markets rather than anything economically devastating. Credit bubbles, and the resulting deleveraging, take a great deal of time to heal and this time is no different. There is no instant fix. But with the transfer of debt to public balance sheets from private ones (thanks to QEs 1 and 2), we see corporate credit as more desirable than Government paper.

2011-08-25 Perspective on the Fed, Inflation, and the Economy, as Well as Implications for Income Investors by Team of American Century Investments

The Fed recently took the unprecedented step of declaring their interest rate policy for the next two yearsthey will be holding their short-term rate target essentially at zero well into 2013. Well give our perspective on why the Fed has taken this unusual step, and what these policy decisions tell us about the state of the economy, inflation, and the bond market. Finally, well address potential solutions for income-oriented investors in todays environment of record-low bond yields.

2011-08-25 Will the U.S. Economy Face Recession in 2011? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

The question I am now most often asked is, Will the United States slip into a second economic recession this year? The risks have definitely risen such that the current soft patch in the U.S. economy may translate from slightly positive GDP to a negative reading. Investors are faced with a huge opportunity to buy risk assets at a great entry point. We believe that the probabilities are that the markets will be significantly higher in the future. Market participants are net short this market and cash on the sidelines is at record highs. That is a recipe for a rare opportunity.

2011-08-24 Political Theater by Andrew Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Unfortunately issues can be complicated, but the image of strength is simple. Mitt Romney leaning over a hay bale in Iowa while thrusting a finger at an audience heckler is the campaign moment most clearly relished by his supporters. What he said to the heckler was immaterial; he just looked strong doing it. There is a very similar dynamic in the financial world in which, during times of uncertainty, investors often blindly follow the crowd while seeking safety in numbers. They flock to U.S. Treasuries simply for the aura of safety, not for any inherent virtue of the asset.

2011-08-24 Much Ado About Debt: Dollar vs. Euro by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

A key reason for recent market turmoil may be the long overdue untangling of important debt-driven interdependencies between the U.S. and Europe. Not only has the Feds ultra-low monetary policy taken away any incentive to engage in meaningful reform in the U.S., but the easy money also spilled far beyond U.S. shores, providing European banks with hundreds of billions of reasons not to shore up their capital bases. With volatility riding high, investors appear to be chasing emotions rather than facts.

2011-08-23 Whats A Central Banker To Do? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The Kansas City Feds annual monetary policy symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming is attended by central bankers from around the world. For U.S. investors, the focus will be on Bernankes speech on Friday 8/26. Many market participants are hoping for a repeat of last year, when the Fed Chairman signaled the possibility of a second round of asset purchases QE2. However, while the August 9 Federal Open Market Committee indicated that its members were discussing a range of policy tools to promote growth, the FOMC is unlikely to pull the trigger on another round of asset purchases anytime soon.

2011-08-23 And Thats The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

As another successful earnings season winds down, investors have all but forgotten the solid second quarter showings and are focusing on the sudden economic downturn. So much for the nice results and strong outlooks from energy, health care, retail, and certain techs. Investors are choosing instead to trade based on the political bickering, the seemingly never-ending European woes, and the short-term negative effects of Japan. Many corporations across various sectors remain cash-rich and are weighing their options as they pursue new opportunities: acquisitions, dividends, share buyback.

2011-08-19 What to Make of Todays Market Moves? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The 10-year Treasury has hit an important threshold while equity markets across the globe are off 4-5%. The 10year Treasury hit an intra day low yield today of 1.97%, which was last seen on 12/30/08. This is important in that it is a historical low yield and invites the question whether a secular double bottom might just be taking place. It also begs the question whether this flight to quality is another knee jerk reaction to a stumbling of political processes; or is it an environment where historically low interest rates are semi permanent? Could the answer be yes to all of them?

2011-08-19 Paper Currencies Finally Redeemed for Gold by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The basic unwillingness of politicians to face economic and financial realities has caused the United States and European Union to face currency collapse. The politicians are content literally to paper over the problem with massive amounts of newly printed currency. This means that savvy investors, facing major real losses, are turning increasingly to gold. In essence, even though currencies are no longer on a gold standard, they are increasingly being redeemed for gold in the marketplace.

2011-08-17 Our Take on the Current Market Tumult by Jon Quigley of Advanced Investment Partners

A headline sums up the markets action: its a sell first, ask questions later market as investors experience flashbacks to the 2007/2008 markets. Investors/markets dont like uncertainty and theyre getting political, economic and sovereign uncertainty in abundance. With the austerity discussions that are dominating US and Europe, there are increasing concerns about a double-dip recession even though positive economic signs are out there earnings, revenues, and a slightly better than expected jobs report.

2011-08-17 Readers Questions Answered Part VII by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Many of you may be particularly concerned about the developments related to debt in the eurozone and theU.S.over the last few weeks. Id like to take this opportunity to share my thoughts on these events and respond to a couple of reader questions. To me, the European debt situation does not seem as serious as the U.S. debt crisis, both in terms of scale and the possible impact on the global economy. As such, I believe the worlds focus should really be on the U.S. debt crisis. We also have to remember that the tolerance for debt is generally affected by investor confidence levels.

2011-08-17 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

While people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks, I have to observe how the media has trotted out super-bear Robert Prechter at every major stock market low for the past decade. They featured him again last week. Combine such anecdotal gleanings with the aforementioned market valuation metrics and it suggests a downside inflection point may have been reached. And while the bottoming process should take weeks, many individual stocks have likely already bottomed.

2011-08-15 Global Overview by Team of Thomas White International

Economic outlook softens further as the fiscal crisis in the developed countries escalates. While the European debt crisis continues unabated, the unprecedented downgrading of U.S. debt has shaken investor confidence across the globe. Policy responses to the growing crisis so far are widely perceived to be ineffective, as deep ideological and political divisions make compromises inevitable. Monetary policy is also constrained as central banks have limited tools left to effectively address the slowdown in economic activity.

2011-08-15 Return to Recession.or Recovery? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Soft economic data has caused talk of a return to recession to grow, leading to a return to the risk-off trade and a spike in volatility. We believe these fears and the market reaction are overdone and indicators still point to growth, but risks are high. The chorus calling for a new quantitative easing (QE3) program from the Fed has grown. We believe it's unlikely at this point. The European debt crisis continues to damage investor confidence as policymakers appear to be consistently behind the curve. Meanwhile, the economic slowdown could ultimately help emerging markets.

2011-08-15 Fed Looking in Wrong Tool Shed by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Fed made history again last week when it specifically committed to near-zero short-term interest rates through at least mid-2013. This commitment was a first for the Fed, and while it can always renege, the bar for doing so is now very high. The Fed also said it had discussed a range of policy tools to strengthen the economy. If theyre the ones the Fed has been leaking to the media, count us as unimpressed. One option would be to launch QE3, modeled after round two that ended in June. Trouble is, other than boosting commodity prices, QE2 had little visible affect on the real economy.

2011-08-15 Intense Volatility Rattles Investor Confidence by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

We believe investors are overly pessimistic about the possibility of a renewed recession in the U.S. It is important to remember that equity markets have a poor track record as acting as predictors of recessions and corporate fundamentals remain strong. Since 1950, the U.S. has never entered a recession with corporate balance sheets as flush with cash as they currently are-at present, nonfinancial companies are holding cash in the amount of around 11% of their balance sheets, the highest level in over 60 years.

2011-08-12 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So what will be the effects of the debt deal on the economy and markets? For now, investors are quite pessimistic (to say the least). Even Bernanke has warned that severe spending cuts would prove detrimental and cause a drag on the economy. And any threats (real or perceived) of a ratings cut would prove disastrous. (Thats where we are today.) Retailers join the earnings fun as Macys, Kohls, Nordstrom, and JP Penney lead the way. The Fed meets and issues a statement to help folks make heads or tails over the future direction of the economy.

2011-08-12 Gold is Antidote for Treasury Trap by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Last week Fed Chairman Bernanke raised eyebrows and denied history when he asserted in front of Congress that gold doesn't qualify as money. Yesterday he took the unprecedented step of announcing that the Fed would keep interest rates near zero for at least the next two years. In very short order thereafter it required much more of the money that he believes in (U.S. dollars) to buy the money that he doesn't believe in (gold). It was beyond unusual for the Fed to make such an explicit time commitment on monetary policy.

2011-08-12 The Fix is In by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Until interest rates are allowed to rise to appropriate levels, more resources will be misallocated, additional jobs will be lost, government spending and deficits will continue to grow, the dollar will keep falling, consumer prices will keep rising, and the government will keep blaming our problems on external factors beyond its control. As the old adage goes, 'insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.'

2011-08-12 Making Sense of the Markets by Team of Neuberger Berman

It is one thing to theorize about markets. It is quite another to invest. With that sentiment in mind, we offer a sampling of views from some of our portfolio managers across our firm who each independently form their own conclusions as to what to make of the market and how to position portfolios according to their respective investment disciplines.

2011-08-12 Buy, Sell or Hold? Relax and Don't Panic by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

There was more blood in the streets Monday as the world continued to digest S&Ps downgrade of US debt, the two-week market selloff, and the likelihood the US economy could possibly slide back into recession. These concerns, combined with continued political/economic struggles in the eurozone from socialist policies, have created a potent concoction of fear across global markets and sent volatility skyrocketing Monday to its highest level since the May 2010 Flash Crash. While many investors are running for the exits, others have chosen to ride the wave of volatility or buy depressed shares.

2011-08-11 Clueless by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors

In Greece and Italy national debt now exceeds GDP. Spain and Ireland are not far behind. It is causing turmoil in equity markets across the globe. Meanwhile, here in America Congress pats themselves on the back for finally agreeing to their own debt solution. They must not have been reading the papers as our debt just surpassed our GDP and Standard & Poors dropped our credit rating from AAA to AA+. Our debt is now like the Titanic waiting for an iceberg. So what did Congress accomplish? Its not clear. The best we can tell is Congress agreed to cuts of $900 billion over ten years.

2011-08-11 Breaking Commentary: Fed Gains Disappear by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Stocks fell sharply again today, continuing the extreme volatility seen recently. Concerns over the state of the financial industry in France drifted into the United States, contributing to the sell-off. Confidence appears very fragile right now and investors should use this volatility to judge their level of risk tolerance and adjust long-term allocations as appropriate.

2011-08-10 Aftermath of a Debacle: Raising the Debt Ceiling by Andy Friedman of Washington Update

The deadlines are not over. When Congress returns after Labor Day, it will have three weeks to settle on a federal budget for 2012. If Congress fails to pass a budget, on October 1 the federal government will shut down. The budget cuts incorporated into the debt ceiling compromise should smooth the way toward a 2012 budget agreement. But it is quite possible that the hard line Republicans -- having avoided Armageddon by agreeing to raise the debt ceiling -- shut down the government for a few weeks this fall to make their point.

2011-08-10 Should the US Credit Downgrade Concern You? by Kevin D. Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

While many validly fear that the downgrade may impact borrowing costs for our country, the larger potential risk, in my opinion, could be related to the types of assets that certain institutions (Ex. Banks) can hold on their respective balance sheets. Such a downgrade, or future downgrades, could force a large scale liquidation of these holdings due to changes in the underlying credit quality. With this said, no such panic selling of U.S. Treasuries has occurred. In fact, yields on 10-year U.S. Treasuries have fallen significantly.

2011-08-10 Rumours by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

When asked how he made his money, Mr. Rogers answered, I sell euphoria and buy panic. Currently, gold and Treasuries are gapping on the upside; and, stocks are gapping on the downside. The implication, though I believe gold is in a secular bull market, suggests positions should be sold in metals and the freed-up cash should be used to buy sound stocks with decent dividend yields. The weeks ahead will determine if this is the correct strategy. All said, IMO it is too late to panic. The time raise cash, was months ago. Now it is time to selectively redeploy that cash into select equities.

2011-08-09 America's Tarnished Credit Rating by Bob Veres (Article)

In this letter designed to be sent to clients, Bob Veres explains the impact of S&P's downgrade of the US sovereign debt rating.

2011-08-09 Don't Shoot the Messenger by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

With large-scale bond purchases announced, the ECB is moving closer to how the Fed operates in a crisis. In 2008, then NY Fed President Geithner conferred with Treasury Secretary Paulson whether to "foam" the markets. That referred to massive liquidity injection by buying Treasuries. Now the ECB may buy bonds of the largest European bond market, the Italian. The ECB has indicated it would sterilize any purchases. Let's not forget that some of the market tension comes from U.S. money market funds having dumped commercial paper issued by European banks after a lot of scrutiny.

2011-08-09 Implications of the Debt Downgrade by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

As we had suggested in recent weeks, a U.S. downgrade was going to likely be more negative for the equity market than Treasuries, and that is exactly how the week is starting off. The reason is that history shows that downgrades light a fire under policymakers and the belt-tightening budget cuts ensue, taking a big chunk out of demand growth and hence profits. It is not just the United States the problem of excessive debt is global, from China to Brazil to many parts of Europe. And lets not forget the Canadian consumer.

2011-08-09 Bumped by the U.S. Downgrade by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

In an environment where the economic cycle will likely remain subdued for the foreseeable future and the credit cycle is virtually nonexistent, where are investors likely to find the greatest investment values? Barring an outright recession, the greatest wealth creation will likely accrue to those companies most focused on our third driver of stockholder value, the innovation cycle. When growth is scarce and credit is in short supply, those companies that can still grow in spite of these constraints become scarcer still, and the premiums they are afforded should climb.

2011-08-09 S&P Downgrade and Municipal Market Insights by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

Here is some perspective from Municipal Separately Managed Accounts (SMA) Land about the S&P downgrade and the municipal bond market: Moodys and Fitch have retained their AAA ratings on U.S. Government debt. This action by S&P was not entirely a surprise and was foreshadowed to a large degree. The rating agencies had negative trends on U.S. Government debt for a few months and S&P, in a mid-July report, laid out in three scenarios the actions they might take depending on how the debt ceiling increase was handled by Congress.

2011-08-09 The U.S. Debt and Emerging Market Opportunities by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The initial market reaction will likely be a high degree of uncertainty and volatility, since investors will likely not know where to turn for assets with lower short-term volatility. During the subprime crisis, investors largely sought such assets in U.S. Dollars and Treasuries. While during the subprime crisis the USD index was high, now it is low reflecting a changed perception of markets that may be considered less volatile in the short-term. In particular, we believe currencies and stocks of emerging countries may look relatively attractive.

2011-08-09 A quick update on the S&P downgrade by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Bond investors like nothing more than low growth, high unemployment and low inflation. In an asset class of finite return, their only concern is to be paid in real, non-depreciated currency. Fine. Japan is an example where gov bonds returned 600% in the two recent decades to a dollar investor, and stocks fell by two thirds. Many commentators are seemingly fine with that. We disagree. Some fiscal stimulus and inflation can be very good for the economy at large. Bond vigis have a visceral fear of both. If nothing else, the downgrade can start a sensible discussion on the growth/debt trade off.

2011-08-08 U.S. Downgrade Heralds a New Financial Era by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

There will be endless debate on whether S&P, the rating agency, was justified in stripping America of its AAA rating and even attaching a negative outlook to the new AA+ rating. But this historic action has now taken place, and the global system must adjust. There are consequences, uncertainties, and a silver lining. Not so long ago, it was deemed unthinkable that America could lose its AAA. Indeed, risk free and US Treasuries were interchangeable terms so much so that the global financial system was constructed on the assumption that Americas AAA was a constant at the core.

2011-08-08 What does the Downgrade of U.S. Debt Mean? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The downgrade potential was not mitigated with the overly dramatic yet not surprising game that Congress and the President partook in. Losing the AAA status has some fundamental and some theoretical impacts. The obvious facet is the increase in interest costs for the U.S. government and every interest based instrument. Estimates for increased interest expense have ranged from 25 billion annually to as high as 100 billion annually. Any measuring is sure to have flaws when one considers past rating cuts and the significance and uniqueness of the Treasury market.

2011-08-06 The Case for Going Global Is Stronger Than Ever by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

If we have learned anything from the current financial mess, its that building wealth is dependent on rational analysis, careful decision making, and risk management. Thats why sticking close to home at a time when our markets are more uncertain than ever is a recipe for disaster and absolutely the wrong thing to do. Not only will you miss out on the worlds fastest-growing markets, but the odds are exceptionally high that you will miss as much as 50% or more in potential returns over the next decade.

2011-08-05 Is Todays Selloff a Sign of Market Capitulation? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The paralysis that has dominated the markets has only been enhanced by the recent market movements. For those who have a longer-term time frame and are underweight risk assets in general, current levels still appear attractive. The one characteristic that has been missing from the benign sell-off in the second quarter was a market capitulation. Yesterday actually had a feeling of that; however, it may require more of the flushing of the system before that occurs. Calling a bottom would be foolish. Being a successful investor, buying low and selling high, has always been easier said than done.

2011-08-05 Markets Enter Correction Territory as Economic Concerns Set In by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Two weeks ago, we did not think that stocks were expensive. Now, with markets lower by 10%, stocks are pricing in a more negative scenario than we expect. To us, this suggests that the present market could represent an opportunity to accelerate moves out of cash and Treasuries and into risk assets.

2011-08-05 A Framework for the Equity Market Correction by Michael Dana of Dana Investment Advisors

Corrections of 5-10% are fairly common, even in bull markets. The major indexes usually experience corrections of this magnitude two to three times a year. As investors, we certainly fear them while they are happening, but tend to forget about them once they have passed. The current 11% correction has heightened fears due to the compressed time frame in which it has occurred.

2011-08-05 The Center of Gravity Shifts Slowly by Andrew Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

To an extent not fully appreciated by the investing public, financial markets are influenced by human emotion just as much as they are by economic data, corporate earnings, and dividend yields. Of all human motivations, fear is perhaps the most powerful. When people get scared, the fight or flight instinct forces us to take action. Simple dangers prompt simple responses. If we unexpectedly encounter a bear on our driveway, we immediately run into the house and call animal control. But its harder to know what to do when financial danger stalks the stock market.

2011-08-04 Winners and Losers in the Debt Ceiling Deal by Team of Knowledge @ Wharton

In a last-minute attempt to stop the U.S. from defaulting for the first time ever on its loan obligations, Congress voted this week to increase the country's debt ceiling by at least $2.1 trillion. The deal includes $917 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years, and the establishment of a congressional committee to reduce the deficit further by $1.5 trillion. Questions remain, however, about what is at stake. To answer some these and other questions, Knowledge@Wharton spoke with Wharton professors Olivia S. Mitchell and Kent Smetters.

2011-08-04 Gold is the True Reserve Currency by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

The reliance upon the U.S. dollar as the worlds reserve currency and safe haven asset has created a perverse, but deeply entrenched, mindset among global investors. In fact, many believe the major financial players have no alternatives to owning U.S. debt and dollars. They argue that the market for U.S. dollars and Treasuries is the only financial pool large enough to handle the massive liquidity that sloshes around the globe on a daily basis. This idea makes a mass exodus from U.S. debt holdings seem impossible.

2011-08-03 Why Muni ETFs Now? by Matt Tucker of iShares Blog

Now that the fear of widespread muni defaults has started to subside, were fielding more inquiries about the case for munis in todays environment. Munis have been trading at yields above their historical average. What makes munis interesting to many investors is the tax benefit they can provide. An investor who buys a US Treasury in a taxable account will have to pay federal income tax (28-35%.) on the investment. A municipal bond, on the other hand, is exempt from Federal income tax, and can be exempt from state tax if the investor lives in the state in which the muni was issued.

2011-08-03 Let's Make a (Debt) Deal and Crush the Market by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Today was about fundamentals, both here and in Europe. We got yet another batch of limp economic news today with weak personal income and spending; while we're still hung over from last week's hit to GDP growth for the first half of this year, and all of the recession's era. As a refresher, GDP barely grew at 0.4% in the first quarter and grew a paltry 1.3% in the second quarter. It didn't help that the S&P 500 crossed below its 200-day moving average, which often begets additional selling by the technically-inclined traders.

2011-08-03 Default? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

We have many great campaigners inside the D.C. Beltway, but far too few have the ability to govern given that their main concern is to get reelected. Maybe Warren Buffet had the right idea when he said, I could end the deficit in five minutes. You just pass a law that says that anytime there is a deficit of more than three percent of GDP all sitting members of congress are ineligible for reelection. As for the Nations AAA rating status, I think we are in for a downgrade no matter what happens inside the Beltway as the pendulum always swings too far in each direction.

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.

2011-08-02 Commodity Caution by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The overwhelmingly bullish consensus regarding the emerging markets should be worrisome to even the most stalwart enthusiasts of emerging markets. It's hard to believe that the consensus a decade or so ago was that the emerging markets were terribly risky and should be avoided. Today, emerging markets, and ancillary asset classes like commodities, have become the cornerstone of most investment strategies.

2011-08-02 ProVise Bullets by Team of ProVise Management Group

Recently, the Tax Court affirmed a tax deduction a family had taken for the 24 hour supervision needed for an elderly family member. Caregivers were hired-even though they were not licensed healthcare providers-and the family took a tax deduction for the cost of these caregivers. The IRS denied the deduction, but the Tax Court affirmed it. The Court went further by stating that the costs of maintenance and personal care services could qualify as a medical expense if a healthcare professional certifies that at least two of the six activities of daily living cannot be done without assistance.

2011-08-02 Is the US a "BBB" credit? David Woolley on the MERS land title chain fiasco by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a summary of a paper by David E. Woolley, a California Licensed Land Surveyor and Certified Fraud Examiner, who is a principal of Harbinger Analytics Group in Tustin, CA. Thanks to David and Lisa Herzog, who edited the study and performed research, for summarizing the paper. But first a rant on the furious inaction of the past week.

2011-08-01 And That's The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

A month ago, the DC deficit/debt debate was amusing political theater. Partisan hacks earned brownie points with loyal constituents, while preparing for next years election. Two weeks ago, the theater turned into a game of chicken as Main Street and Wall Street watched with interest to see which party would blink first. Today, theater and chicken are no longer amusing. A complete and utter inability to compromise and a win-at-all-costs attitude have brought government and economy to the brink of disaster. Are there any grown-ups left in Washington?

2011-08-01 Europe's Cognitive Dissonance by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim

The latest bailout program should be successful in one regard: buying more time. Unfortunately for Europe, time is no longer an ally, and it most certainly is not healing all wounds. Across the European periphery, economic data are degenerating as the calendar marches forward. Year to date, Greeces debt burden, budget deficit, cost of funding, and unemployment rate have increased. Its economic output and tax revenues continue to depress.

2011-08-01 Debt Deal is a Blank Check by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

I expect that as soon as our creditors decide that they are no longer willing to lend to us at ultra-low rates of interest, we will refuse to repay what they have already lent. Besides default or major cuts to domestic spending, inflation provides the only other means for the government to deal with this intractable crisis. Once we go down that path, we risk high inflation turning into hyperinflation, which would decimate the remainder of our economy. So, as our leaders congratulate themselves for saving the nation, the reality is that they may have just sold it down the river.

2011-08-01 Debt Deal is a Blank Check by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

I expect that as soon as our creditors decide that they are no longer willing to lend to us at ultra-low rates of interest, we will refuse to repay what they have already lent. Besides default or major cuts to domestic spending, inflation provides the only other means for the government to deal with this intractable crisis. Once we go down that path, we risk high inflation turning into hyperinflation, which would decimate the remainder of our economy. So, as our leaders congratulate themselves for saving the nation, the reality is that they may have just sold it down the river.

2011-07-29 The Chances of a US Debt Downgrade by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

I continue to hold a negative long-term view of US Treasuries. That said, given the anemic state of the economic recovery and the growing risk aversion in market places, Treasuries may not necessarily sell-off in the near-term after a US debt downgrade. My view on Treasuries has a longer-horizon and is based on low real yields and a deteriorating fiscal picture. Finally, even if US debt is ultimately not downgraded in the coming weeks, investors need to realize that the US fiscal situation is an ongoing chronic problem that is unlikely to be fully addressed in the near term.

2011-07-28 Quarterly Commentary: 2nd Quarter by Steven Romick of First Pacific Advisors

We pay attention to the macro environment because it sometimes allows us to identify significant opportunities and, at other times, to avoid or limit catastrophic risk. We still find ourselves worrying today, particularly about unreasonable government budgets that have helped foster unmanageable burdens. Over the past three years we have witnessed a shift in financial obligations from the personal to the public (governments) that has done nothing to enhance the solvency of the overall system, although the optics appear favorable to some.

2011-07-28 Rough Waters? Trim the Sail by Team of Emerald Asset Advisors

These are interesting times, to say the least, for politicians, businessmen and investors alike. Given the systemic challenges and political standoffs in the U.S. and Europe, we believe it's wise to keep a little extra powder dry. While we generally prefer to be fully invested, we believe our more conservative stance may help dampen the impact of what could be some extreme market volatility in the time ahead. The situation is fluid and we intend to redeploy the cash and short exposure into the markets as some of these risks dissipate, but for the time being, we're trimming the sail.

2011-07-27 From Asset Allocation Nirvana to Asset Allocation Nightmare by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We believe the next 10 years will be about money moving back into non-cyclical US large cap stocks and domestic companies which enjoy lower commodity prices and the repatriation of money from highly risky asset classes with poor odds. Being widely asset allocated today prepares folks for an under-performance nightmare In our opinion, bonds are expensive, commodities are outlandish, small caps trade at a huge premium and as Chinas economic contraction occurs, the crowd will flee emerging markets.

2011-07-27 Read Chinas Lips by Stephen S. Roach of Project Syndicate

China, the largest foreign buyer of US government paper, will soon say, enough. Yet another vacuous budget deal, in conjunction with weaker-than-expected growth for the US economy for years to come, spells a protracted period of outsize government deficits. It is no longer willing to risk financial and economic stability on the basis of Washingtons hollow promises and tarnished economic stewardship. The Chinese are finally saying no. Read their lips.

2011-07-26 Obama Demagogues Default by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Many of the key people responsible for Americas historic mess, including the President, Treasury Secretary Geithner, former NEC Director Summers, and Fed Chairman Bernanke, have pronounced publicly that a failure to lift the debt ceiling will cause a catastrophic Treasury debt default. This is simply not true. The US Treasury has tax revenues that cover the service of its current (staggering) debt of some $14.3 trillion. Yet, that doesn't mean the US government won't be forced to default in other ways.

2011-07-26 On Your Mind: The Debt Ceiling, US Credit Rating and Potential Default by Team of Charles Schwab

We are disappointed in the continued inability of Washington to resolve the current short- and long-term debt issues. However, we do not believe now is the time to make major portfolio adjustments given US companies' continued strong earnings reports, few signs of a double-dip recession, and few signs that the bond market currently questions the fundamental ability of the US to pay its bills. Be prepared for more volatility as the political negotiations continue. Watch the VIX index for upward spikes indicating that investors are losing patience.

2011-07-25 US Fiscal Policy a Risk, But an Actual Default Is Unthinkable by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Thanks to a new agreement to at least temporarily resolve the Greek debt crisis, some intermittent progress on the debate over raising the US debt ceiling, and strong corporate earnings results, stocks posted solid gains last week. Despite all of these debt-related risks, global indicators are not signaling a recession. One area of significant strength remains the corporate earnings landscape. We have also been seeing a rebound in industrial production and consumption. There are certainly areas of economic weakness and uncertainty remains high, but we expect to see stronger growth levels.

2011-07-25 Quarterly Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

We remain concerned about the global economy and suspect of broad asset class valuations.However, in a world of tens of thousands of securities there are always opportunities.Absent a significant market correction, we are likely to continue to hold cash or dry powder.We also continue to look to hold assets that can perform well in an inflationary environment, as dollar debasement seems to be the political path of least resistance out of our current problems.The politicians appear happy to solve the problems maana. We on the other hand are happy to make hay when the sun shines.

2011-07-22 The European Rescue Plan & Italy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

At an emergency meeting Thursday, European leaders backed a rescue plan for Greece that was generally in line with what the market had been led to expect. Ultimately, I believe the news supports the case for risky assets such as equities and hurts the case for more risk-averse investments such as the US dollar and US Treasuries. I think that the risks facing the Italian market are more than adequately reflected in the valuations, as the country currently trades at just 9 times forward earnings and 0.8 times book value, one of the lowest valuations among developed countries.

2011-07-21 Running in Place by Christopher J. Singleton of Kanawha Capital Management

Financial markets have been choppy this year, as investors wrestle with many of the same issues they faced a year ago. Once again, the specter of a double dip here in the US has collided with renewed fears of a European financial crisis. It is a testament to the severity of the last recession that, two years after its official end, the recovery remains grudging and uneven. This is hardly surprising. History tells us that downturns prompted by financial crises linger much longer than garden-variety recessions. Why? Primarily because the crisis severely interrupts and alters the flow of credit.

2011-07-20 On Your Mind: Debt Ceiling and the US Dollar by Team of Charles Schwab

The uncertainty surrounding the upcoming decision on the debt ceiling has been a negative factor for the dollar. A US default and/or a downgrade of the US credit rating would almost certainly be negative also. It could weaken confidence in the dollar and cause it to fall. However, there are many global factors driving demand, including support of Japan and China, which continue to be large holders of US Treasuries. It would not be in their interest to sell dollar-denominated assets, including Treasuries, if there was simply a rating change or short-term default.

2011-07-19 Show me your Favorite Sacred Cow and Shoot It by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

Alan Simpson was talking to Eliot Spitzer on CNN’s In the Arena about balancing the national budget when he said “show me your favorite sacred cow and shoot it.”  He’s attained notoriety for his criticism of Social Security. But when asked to list some cows to slaughter, he went on to describe how the tax loopholes and subsidies for various fuels in his home state of Wyoming (where he served as a US Senator for 18 years) need to be closed. That ability to go beyond our own personal bias and focus on the greater good is something investors should keep in mind when viewing markets.

2011-07-19 The Debt Ceiling Debate & China by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

This week, our first call focuses on the ongoing drama over the US debt ceiling and its implications for the US Treasury Market. While the clock continues to tick towards an August 2nd deadline for raising the debt ceiling, Congress and the White House are still nowhere near a compromise. Next, heres a quick update regarding our view of China. While we remain, for now, neutral on China, and hold a negative view of emerging markets in general, our stance on China is starting to shift to a more constructive, or positive, view.

2011-07-19 WSJ Economists's Forecasts for the 10-Year Note by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Every month the Wall Street Journal surveys a few dozen economists to get their opinions on a variety of hot topics. The survey also asks for forecasts on a regular set of economic indicators: 10-Year Yields, Fed Funds Rate, GDP, CPI, Unemployment Rate, Housing Starts, Crude oil, Payrolls, Home Prices. Now that the July forecast is available, I spent a few minutes this morning reviewing the 2011 and 2012 year-end forecasts for 10-year yields. The chart below illustrates the responses of the 55 economists solicited in the July survey.

2011-07-19 The Budget Cut Endgame - Update by Andy Friedman of Washington Update

Although President Obama and Speaker Boehner tried to craft a grand plan to address entitlements and taxes, that plan was rejected by hard-liners in the Republican Party who refused to raise taxes (and it received only reluctant support from rank-and-file Democrats who did not wish to trim retirement benefits). The parties will agree on a mechanism to raise the debt limit before the August 2 default date, but that action will be accompanied by only modest spending cuts (perhaps $150B a year for ten years) that do not meaningfully address long-term deficit reduction.

2011-07-16 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Just what happens when politics moves over into the investment spectrum? For this week, at least, the results were not so good. With partisan bickering dominating the debt negotiations (and virtually all non-politicians worrying about a default and ratings downgrade), investors ran for the hills (or into treasuries). At least, the Fed looks prepared to add more stimulus (hey I thought that was done?).

2011-07-15 It Ain't Money If I Can't Print It! by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

I have been forecasting with near certainty that QE2 would not be the end of the Fed's money-printing program. My suspicions were confirmed in both the Fed minutes on Tuesday and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke's semi-annual testimony to Congress yesterday. The former laid out the conditions upon which a new round of inflation would be launched, and the latter re-emphasized – in case anyone still doubted – that Mr. Bernanke has no regard for the principles of a sound currency.

2011-07-14 The Brightening Air by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

A casual empiricist would conclude that the US economy is troubled: weak GNP, employment, housing and slowdowns in the important ISM and Fed surveys. But a longer perspective shows this is entirely in keeping with a recovery from a deep-seated financial and borrowing crisis. There are many signs that the US is picking itself up: manufacturing productivity, private sector job creation, corporate profitability and household deleveraging. Monetary policy has saved the economy from the insidious threat of deflation. Fiscal policy is meandering. Some of the answers are right in front of us.

2011-07-13 The Inflation Revival: Is it Time to Recalibrate Your Portfolio? by Richard Levine, Matthew Rubin and Tom Marthaler of Neuberger Berman

After a decades-long hiatus, inflation appears to be making a comeback. Clearly few anticipate a return to the days of the late 1970s and early 1980s when double-digit annual inflation gains were the norm. Still, the cumulative impact of inflation can be costly even during periods of modest price increases. According to Bloomberg $100 saved by the end of 1988 was “worth” only $56 by the end of 2009. Investors may wish to take into account such changes as they estimate the potential returns of their portfolios, and consider incorporating inflation hedges into their investment strategy.

2011-07-12 An End-of-Quarter Letter to Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Given recent unrest in Europe and uncertainty about economic growth, many clients are looking to their advisors for direction. This template for an end-of-quarter letter is a starting point for your own letter to clients, one that can be a catalyst for a conversation about how to position portfolios.

2011-07-12 The Titanic Has Sailed by Michael Lewitt (Article)

It was entirely predictable that the U.S. equity market would rally on the news that Greek would not default this month, but it does little to convince me that the long-term outlook for European sovereign debt or the global economy has improved. Markets - particularly the equity markets - are trying to pretend that the global economy is experiencing a self-sustaining recovery. A hard look at the economic numbers would tell an objective observer that no such recovery is occurring.

2011-07-12 Widespread Tail Risk Concerns Seem Bullish by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Tail risk, as the name implies, is the risk of a highly unusual event occurring. A tail risk is often defined as an event occurring that provides a negative return at least three standard deviations below the average return. We doubt that the peak in the current stock market cycle is likely to occur when hedging tail risks is so common. After all, no one discussed tail risks at the market peaks in 2000 or 2007. Just like in previous cycles, the ultimate stock market peak will likely be accompanied by levered investments, rather than by hedged investments.

2011-07-09 What Happened to the Jobs? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economy will be slowing down. A recession in 2012 is a real possibility if there is any type of shock coming from Europe. Most European leaders are basing their thinking more on hope than on reality. When Greece defaults there will be a domino effect. And you could actually see a banking crisis before we get actual sovereign defaults. The market does not get it. Neither in Europe nor in the US. When someone says the market has already priced in a default, go back and ask them how well the market priced in a crisis in the spring of 2008. The market doesn’t know jack.

2011-07-08 And That's The "QUARTER" That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

April 2011 picked up exactly where the first quarter ended as equities enjoyed their best month of the year and bulls appeared to be firmly in control. Then a funny thing happened on the way to big gains (actually a few not-so-funny things)…Stocks tumbled and key indexes dropped for seven out of eight weeks as the quarter neared a close and investors looked to the safe-haven of treasuries (despite the credit rating concerns). And just when all hope seemed lost…a new Greek solution emerged, manufacturers seemed to get back on track, and the Fed ended the QE2 stimulus to little fanfare.

2011-07-08 On Your Mind: Debt Ceiling and the US Dollar by Team of Charles Schwab

Theres been a lot of media attention on the US debt ceiling and the outlook for the US dollar. Here we'll answer some of the questions weve been receiving from clients. The US debt ceiling: What are the chances of the U.S. defaulting on its debt? Will the United States automatically default if the debt ceiling isnt raised? When can we expect a resolution? What will happen if the United States does default? What does this mean for investors? Outlook for the US dollar: Is there a risk of the dollar collapsing in the short term? Is the world going to abandon the dollar as a reserve currency?

2011-07-08 America Needs a Grand Bargain, But All It’s Getting Is a Mini Deal by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

To address its economic woes, America needs to transition from a series of ad hoc measures to a more holistic policy approach. Aided by President Obamas personal and highly visible involvement, politicians are likely to meet the August 2nd debt ceiling deadline. A "grand bargain" can serve as the catalyst for unifying diverse policy actions into clearer, more comprehensive drivers for growth and medium-term fiscal sustainability. This would intensify pressure on other systemically-important parts of the world-particularly Europe and China-to join the US in striking their own grand bargains.

2011-07-08 Job Trend Slowing as Distributional Skew Remains by Phillipa Dunne and Doug Henwood of Liscio Report

Today's employment report showed that the diffusion index slipping, leading index is slipping. Drags on hiring and wages remain. U.S. fiscal picture: it doesn't deserve all the wailing The distributional skew remains: profits are up 12 times as much as wages.

2011-07-07 Debt Ceiling Debate: We’ve Seen This Movie Before by Bret Barker of TCW Asset Management

The limit on the amount of Federal debt outstanding has been in place since 1917, when Congress enacted the Second Liberty Bond Act. Since 1940, that limit has been increased 80 times and now stands at $14.3 trillion. The debt that is subject to this limit is marketable debt (Treasuries) as well as non-marketable debt (State and Local Government Securities or SLGs) and the debt the U.S. government owes itself (trust fund obligations to Social Security). In sum, this borrowing represents debt already accumulated, not future obligations. The stakes are too high for political gaming.

2011-07-07 Politics of Default: Roadmap to Debunk the Dollar by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

We were one of few who defended the euro when many pundits predicted parity to the U.S. dollar in the spring of 2010, when Greece’s issues first came to the fore. Since then, Old Europe’s currency has had a dramatic comeback, although not without significant jitters along the way. A roadmap is playing out that may lead the euro to debunk the dollar. Not convinced? Let’s look at what is and what isn’t working on both sides of the Atlantic, and how dynamics may play out. If one thing has been working in Europe, it’s the “dialogue” between the bond market and policy makers.

2011-07-07 The Psychology of Bond Investors by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

We argue that as the United States takes on ever more debt and prints greater quantities of dollars, that buyers of our debt will demand higher rates of interest to compensate for greater risk. In fact, our philosophy leads us to believe that rates would currently be spiking as Washington debates whether to raise the debt ceiling yet again or default on existing debt. Instead, rates are hitting close to multi-year lows. As a result, our critics have found a seemingly valid issue. However, we believe that there are strong market reasons that are holding rates low.

2011-07-06 Sparks: Are Stocks Telling a Better Story For the Second Half? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Investors continue to focus on the macro … but the micro is telling a much better story. There was lots of good micro and macro news last week. Is the market's rally sending a signal that the second half of the year is looking up?

2011-07-05 Fox in the Henhouse by Joseph Calhoun and Douglas Terry (Article)

In 1971, President Nixon ended the Bretton Woods gold standard currency system. That move set us on a path of debauching our currency through inflation. Ever since, we have counted on the Federal Reserve to preserve the purchasing power of our money. We have depended on the fox to protect our hens.

2011-07-02 The True Size of the Budget Deficit by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

While Washington debates raising the debt ceiling and cutting spending to achieve $1 to $2 trillion of savings over the next decade, it’s worth pointing out that these savings may never materialize because the existing official budget numbers are too optimistic across several fronts.

2011-07-02 My View on the Last Half of the Year by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economy should be in Muddle Through range (around 2% growth), absent any shocks. For instance, today we had the June ISM number, which was stronger than most analysts expected, at 55.3. There was a lot of whispering that it could dip below 50. Some of the internal components were a little soft, though. New Orders were barely above 50. And Backlogs fell below 50. Exports fell to the lowest level in two years (more on that below). Of the 18 industries surveyed, only 12 reported growth. But Muddle Through is not going to allow us to really cut into the unemployment problem.

2011-07-01 Schwab Market Perspective: Dealing with Debt by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Global governments are dealing with rolling debt crises equaling shaky investor confidence. We are concerned that many of the solutions weigh on growth prospects, but are hopeful about short-term resolutions that restore business confidence and lead to more investment and hiring. The Fed continues to hold steady, keeping short rates near zero and likely reinvesting maturing Treasury securities after QE2 ends. Greece passed the austerity package required to get short-term funding but much more is needed. And while the focus has been on Europe, it may be time to focus on the Asian region.

2011-07-01 Expert Roundtable on Interest Rates by Mark W. Riepe, Liz Ann Sonders, Kathy A. Jones, Rande Spiegelman & Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

US short-term interest rates have hovered near zero percent for a record period of time. The Fed has kept the funds rate extremely low, not only to boost economic growth, but also to ward off the threat of a deflationary spiral. Given the economy's recent soft patch, we don't expect the Fed to raise rates too soon. But, at some point rates will rise, it makes sense for clients to start planning now. With this in mind, Mark Riepe, led a roundtable discussion of investment and debt strategies for both the current low-interest rate environment and a future point when rates begin to tick up.

2011-06-29 Covered Bonds: Strong Demand, New Regulations Create Global Momentum by Ben Emons and Kris T. Mierau of PIMCO

Basel III’s long-term funding and liquidity coverage requirements could boost demand, create technical support for valuations. The EC has proposed an exemption excluding covered bonds from private sector participation in post-insolvency burden sharing. The Covered Bond Act could alter the way regional banks in the U.S. rely on the Federal Home Loan Bank (FHLB) system for funding.

2011-06-27 Higher Commodity Prices and the End of Economic Growth Without Inflation by Mihir P. Worah of PIMCO

Global inflationary patterns may shift amid higher commodity prices. We expect commodity prices to be generally rising going forward, though with volatility and differentiation among commodities. Emerging markets going through a particularly commodity and energy intensive phase of growth may affect what developed-world consumers pay for commodities. Currencies are another factor. If developed-world policymakers attempt to make their economies more competitive via a cheaper currency, that could lead to higher inflation for those that are net importers.

2011-06-24 Fed Benefits from Global Fears by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

This week, in the second in a series of less-than-impressive press conferences, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke offered market observers little hope that any additional quantitative easing programs are on the horizon. The Chairman continues to cling to the position that the economy is improving (with the recent “soft patch” attributable to external forces) to the extent that additional Fed support will be unnecessary. Left unsaid was any guidance as to who the Chairman believes will buy the massive amounts of Treasury debt formerly swallowed up by the QE II program?

2011-06-23 Fixed Income Commentary: High Yield Takes a Pause by Gino Nucci of TCW Asset Management

Given that the current credit cycle is but 30 months old (as compared to the more typical 60+ month cycle lifespan), TCW views current conditions as reflective of a mid-cycle correction and not a harbinger of a return to recessionary conditions. As such, current high yield bond spreads are attractive.

2011-06-23 Fixed Income Commentary: Recent High Yield Selloff: Caution or Opportunity? by Jamie Farnham of TCW Asset Management

The spring season has tested the mettle of the high yield market. A common inquiry on investor minds of late is whether this is a short-term bump on a longer journey or alternatively that risk is rising for high yield investors. This note touches on (i) relative value, (ii) fundamentals and (iii) the potential interest rate effect on high yield.

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.

2011-06-21 The Greek Comedy by Michael Lewitt (Article)

It is no longer prudent to dismiss the possibility of a worst-case outcome for the Greek debt crisis. Greece is not only laying bare the flawed structure of the European Union, but the fragility of the global financial system. An interconnected and networked global economy cannot ignore problems on its so-called periphery because there is no longer any periphery. Derivatives and other counterparty relationships have seen to that.

2011-06-21 What Can The Fed Do? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Senior Fed officials meet next week amid what is widely seen as a slow patch in economic growth. A key question for investors, as well as for monetary policymakers, is whether this slowing will be temporary. Most likely, growth should pick up in the second half of the year. However, there are downside risks in the near term. Moreover, monetary policy appears to be handcuffed and fiscal policy is set to go in the wrong direction. The wide range of data have been consistent with a near-term slowing in economic activity.

2011-06-21 The World Held Hostage by Credit Default Swaps? Alford on the FOMC: Watch what they say by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

In this issue of The Institutional Risk Analyst, we feature a comment from Richard Alford on the state of thinking inside the Federal Open Market Committee regarding monetary policy -- at least based on what folks at the Fed say in public. We also comment on the latest financial bailout, in this case the apparent salvation of the European and US banks in the CDS market from taking a hit in the restructuring of Greece.

2011-06-21 Euro: Safer than the U.S. Dollar? by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

Which one is safer: the euro or the U.S. dollar? Before jumping to a conclusion one way or the other, let’s look at different sides of the respective coins. We have been warning for years that there may be no such thing anymore as a safe asset and investors may want to take a diversified approach to something as mundane as cash. We believe Greece has rather serious issues, but concerned investors may want to take a closer look at their dollar holdings for potential “contagion” risks.

2011-06-20 Will the End of QE2 Cause Interest Rates to Rise? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The key to the interest rate outlook is the pace of economic activity, not QE2. If Greece obtains its financing and economic activity rebounds from the supply chain disruption, capital flight into dollar assets will cease and investors will turn their concern to the prospect of losses on Treasuries due to a healthier economy. No one believes 3% yields on 10-year Treasuries are compatible with an improving economy. QE2 is a distraction.

2011-06-16 U.S. Investors Overexposed to U.S. Dollar Risk? by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

The U.S. dollar has experienced significant weakness over recent years. And there is a risk the U.S. dollar will experience ongoing deterioration for an extended period of time. U.S. investors may want to take this possibility into consideration when assessing the U.S. dollar risk inherent in their investment portfolios. Our analysis into the aggregate financial asset holdings of the U.S. personal sector finds that the vast majority of investor’s financial assets are denominated in U.S. dollars and as a result, significant U.S. dollar risk exposure is evident.

2011-06-15 RMB Liberalization —What All the Excitement is About by Kenneth Lowe of Matthews Asia

Investors tend to be a fairly excitable bunch, always looking for the latest trends and themes to try to make a profit. But many trends have little relevance or impact over the longer term. During the past 12 months, one of those more “exciting” topics that have been discussed is the initial stages of renminbi (RMB) liberalization in Hong Kong—a concept that allows foreigners to get their hands on, and trade in, Chinese currency for the first time. But how excited should long-term investors be? A roundtable discussion among Matthews’ managers, on the same topic, is also included.

2011-06-15 The End of QEII: Gaining Clarity, Losing the Treasury’s Biggest Customer by Anthony J. Crescenzi and Ben Emons of PIMCO

​The Fed’s policies and its fat balance sheet are playing a powerful role in shaping financial and economic conditions around the world. The drain of a single dollar from the financial system will signal a reversal of Fed policy and thus have a major bearing on financial conditions. Depending on the speed of the economic slowdown, the Fed could decide to keep a level of discretion over when and what will be reinvested in its portfolio.

2011-06-14 The Consequences of Policy Failure by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Investment performance for the rest of the year will be determined by the macro-economic views of investment managers. While microeconomic factors are always extremely important in charting investment strategies, they are particularly important today as the U.S. and global economies continue to fight their way through the detritus of the global debt crisis. A compelling case can be made for weaker 2Q112 growth based on a combination of factors.

2011-06-10 Why Bill Gross Doesn’t Like Stocks (or Treasury Bonds) by Sam Parl (Article)

Stocks have come to the end of a “wonderful journey,” according to PIMCO's Bill Gross, and are now on their own, like “a baby bird just released from the nest.” The journey Gross spoke of is the multi-decade decline in real interest rates, which have fueled bull markets across “risk assets,” especially in equities and bonds.

2011-06-10 Searching for the Market's 'Sweet Spot' by John Derrick of U.S. Global Investors

One of U.S. Global Investors’ “sweet spots” is investing in global small-and mid-cap companies. We generally define these companies as having a market capitalization between $1 and $10 billion. Ten billion sounds like a lot but is relatively small compared to market caps of companies such as Apple ($301 billion), Johnson & Johnson ($181 billion) and Coca-Cola ($149 billion). We like small and mid-cap companies because they tend to be less volatile than micro-caps, but still nimble enough to grow at faster rates than large companies.

2011-06-10 Pause or Panic? by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Economic data has deteriorated to the point that talk of a double dip recession has returned. The risk of another recession is low as most indicators remain well in expansion territory. Several factors are contributing to a soft patch, but a rebound is likely in the latter part of 2011. Along with talk of recession risk, chatter about the need for QE3 by the Fed has increased. The bar is quite high for QE3, but it is very likely the Fed will not let its balance sheet shrink in the near-term. Global growth is decelerating as well, with China tightening and Japan dealing with reconstruction.

2011-06-09 Taking Advantage of Cyclical Highs and Lows by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

As we find ourselves in the throws of an economic soft patch, the anxiety to investors seems only to be a sniffle versus an outright sneeze or full-fledged cold. Many are wondering as to why the accumulation of the slowing economic news is having such a muted impact and cause many to extrapolate that a “coming to Jesus” meeting is around the corner. As we stated last week, the conundrum of negative outlook on Treasuries by three credit rating agencies is being trumped by slowing economic metrics. It is also influenced heavily by the majority of investors believing rates will rise.

2011-06-08 Ratio of Earnings Yield to Long-Term Interest Rates by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

The "Fed Model" is a valuation model used to gauge the relative valuation between stocks and bonds. While there are several variations, in its basic form the Fed Model compares the earnings yield on the S&P 500 (inverse of P/E ratio) and the yield on long-term interest rates (10-year Treasury yield). When the yield on the 10-year Treasury exceeds the earnings yield of the S&P 500, stocks are considered to be overvalued relative to treasuries, and vice versa when the earnings yield exceeds the yield on the 10-year Treasury. So what is the Fed Model saying now? Equities are undervalued.

2011-06-08 Behind the Numbers: The Latest from the Federal Reserve by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

On Wednesday, the Federal Reserve Board released its latest Beige Book report, which provided more color on the recent slowdown and indicated the recovery is likely to be anemic and uneven. According to the report, which is a summary of anecdotal information from each Federal Reserve Bank on its district’s current economic conditions, “economic activity generally continued to expand since the last report,” though it did slow somewhat in four of the 12 districts. In particular, “some slowing in the pace of growth” was noted in the New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Chicago districts.

2011-06-07 Monday Market Calls | US Retailers and Emerging Market Bonds by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Call #1: Maintain Underweight US Retailers. Last week, the main monthly gauge for manufacturing activity and May’s non-farm payroll report both came in weaker-than-expected and both confirmed that the economy is experiencing a dramatic slowdown. Call #2: Neutral Emerging Market Bonds. The other implication of a slower global economy is that bonds should do better relative to stocks. Given what appears to be a case of extreme over valuation, we would still advocate a negative view on US Treasuries, but we are now changing our view of emerging market bonds from negative to a neutral stance.

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.

2011-06-06 David Kotok on Central Bank Credibility; Bob Eisenbeis: Did the Fed Print Money with QE? by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week in The Institutional Risk Analyst, we republish a comment by Robert Eisenbeis, Chief Monetary Economist of Cumberland Advisers, "Did the Fed Print Money in QE1 and QE2?" Eisenbeis, who was Executive Vice President and Director of Research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta prior to joining Cumberland, corrects a puzzling comment on the Fed published last week in the Wall Street Journall by George Melloan. We assumed that Melloan and the Wall Street Journal editorial staff were aware of the rules of monetary quantum mechanics, but maybe not.

2011-06-03 Natural Resources Q&A with the Global Resources Fund Team by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This week Frank Holmes and the co-managers of the U.S. Global Investors Global Resources Fund (PSPFX), Evan Smith and Brian Hicks, participated in a special webcast for the Peak Advisor Alliance. Here are some candid portions of the Q&A: Q. How are interest rates currently affecting commodity prices? A. The magic number for real interest rates is 2 percent. That’s when you can earn more than 2 percent on a U.S. Treasury bill after discounting for inflation. Our research has shown that commodities tend to perform well when rates fall below 2 percent.

2011-06-02 Some Days (Months) Are Better Than Others by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

May was a rough month for investors, though it ended on a sunnier note. A growth slowdown is evident, but the debate rages about whether its factors are temporary. We think May's risk-off mode is easing, but choppy action remains likely until longer-term worries subside. After an uphill ride in April, when the Dow was up 4%, May wasn't kind to investors, although the last two trading days brought some sunshine. It was the first time in nearly three years that the S&P 500® index had no up weeks in a month.

2011-06-02 Expert Roundtable on Risk by Mark W. Riepe, Liz Ann Sonders, Randy Frederick, Rob Williams, & Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

The word "risk" has a negative connotation-something to steer clear of whenever possible. However, in the investing world, risk and performance are intertwined. Market sentiment can shift quickly depending on economic or political news, geopolitical events and even natural disasters and these shifts can sometimes send investors fleeing for safety or taking on more risk as they seek higher returns. Mark Riepe, led a roundtable discussing the concept of risk in investing, strategies for reducing portfolio risk, and investment suggestions tailored to both risk-seeking and risk-averse investors.

2011-05-31 So you have no frame of reference, Donny by Liam Molloy and Bethany Carlson of Galway Investment Strategy

Using Mr. O’Neill’s own metric, the market’s shrug on April 18th indicates that the ongoing value of S&P’s business has dropped rather dramatically. Continued investor confidence in the credibility and reliability of its ratings is in question, at best. On April 18th, 2011, S& P did something that no credit rating agency had ever done: it released a negative outlook on US debt. The reaction of the market to this historic news was anything but historic. Insurance on Treasuries barely budged up to less than half of its all time high at the trough of the credit crisis.

2011-05-28 And That’s The Week That Was … by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

While Memorial Day starts summer, many traders got a jumpstart on the season by skipping town early as volume was quite thin on the exchanges. Earnings announcements continued (though folks stopped paying attention long ago) and Tiffany and Guess both bested expectations, a nice sign for luxury retail. As the season comes to a close, the results spoke well for the state of Corporate America. For the quarter, profits increased by almost 6% to $1.45 trillion. The IPO world did not fare as well after investors thought the LinkedIn success of last week had ushered in a new “exuberance.”

2011-05-28 Railway Revolution Builds China's Consumer Culture by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

China is building the world’s largest network of high speed rails. Since opening the first high speed line between Beijing and Tianjin in 2008, the country has laid down more than 4,600 miles of new tracks. This is three times more than Japan, where the bullet train was invented. Once completed near the end of this decade, the high speed rail system will connect more than 250 Chinese cities, span 18,641 miles and reach roughly 700 million people. Currently, the high speed rail network connects about one-third of China’s cities. That figure is set to nearly double over the next two years.

2011-05-26 The Case for More Monetary Elixir by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim

Ive noticed a critical mass of groupthink growing around the expiration of the Feds asset purchase program dubbed QE2. After tripling its balance sheet in 2.5 years, the conventional wisdom is that the era of quantitative easing should now give way to the era of inflation. As a result, the foregone conclusion is that U.S. interest rates will rise and bonds will underperform significantly. While I acknowledge the potential for rising rates, I dont think the expiration of QE2 is the catalyst that most believe it to be. In fact, I believe U.S. rates should remain at historically low levels.

2011-05-26 Protecting Bond Portfolios From Rising Rates by Team of Neuberger Berman

As the U.S. economy continues to strengthen and the prospect of inflation rises, investors are concerned the U.S. may potentially face a sustained period of rising interest rates. This matters to bond owners because changes in interest rates directly impact the market value of bonds and bond portfolios. With today’s fixed income markets now implying an increase in interest rates and higher volatility in credit spreads, a traditional buy-and-hold bond portfolio or a more traditional fixed income mutual fund strategy may not be as attractive to investors.

2011-05-26 The Case for Equities by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

With global equity markets up over 100% from their 2009 lows, many investors are questioning whether it is time to lower their strategic allocation to stocks. While there are no shortages of risks facing global equity markets, overall we find that most markets are fairly valued and arguably already reflecting some of the risks – particularly higher inflation and interest rates – that are likely to challenge the global economy. We believe that over the long term, equities are still likely to produce higher nominal (inflation-adjusted) and real returns than other financial assets.

2011-05-25 Double-Invoicing and the Yuan by Andrew Foster of Seafarer Capital

It’s widely held that the Chinese yuan is a “cheap” currency, and that it is undervalued relative to the U.S. dollar. I agree, especially in light of how expensive some foreign currencies appear to be. However, I would quickly caveat my opinion by clarifying that it applies only to a long-term horizon. If you are looking for pessimism regarding the yuan, there is no shortage of popular arguments against it, but I will leave that aside for now. By examining a little-known practice called “double-invoicing,” we can observe commercial traders’ preference for the yuan versus other currencies.

2011-05-24 The Federal Debt Ceiling and Treasuries by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The federal government is limited by law as to the amount of debt it can issue. Currently the debt ceiling is 14.3 trillion, an amount that was exceeded last Monday. Fortunately, the government can operate and pay its obligations through various accounting mechanisms. These mechanisms will allow the government to continue to function and avoid defaulting on its existing debt through early August, after which point the government could theoretically default on its Treasury obligations, something that has never happened in US history and would obviously be catastrophic for financial markets.

2011-05-24 Debt Ceiling Jeopardizes Dollar’s Reserve Status by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

While borrowing costs for the U.S. government have not yet risen, irreparable harm may have already been done to the U.S. dollar and its status as a reserve currency. Ironically, it’s not a plunging, but a rallying bond market that is a symptom of the problem. Most observers believe that a) the Treasury has a big bag of tricks to continue servicing the debt; and b) politicians will play a game of chicken, but eventually do what they always do: agree to spend more money. We don’t know how the bond market will react; but we do know that policy makers are playing with fire.

2011-05-23 Spreads Edge out as Large Supply Continues by Stephen Smart of CCM

Secondary investment-grade and high-yield corporate bonds are still in favorable (albeit attenuated) trends, but are now past the seasonally “right” time of year for outperformance; most new nonfinancial issues are still being priced rich to secondaries. Investment-grade corporate bonds still look like they will probably outperform Treasuries over the next two-to-three year period, but I expect most of that outperformance will recommence later in the year – not in the May-October period.

2011-05-20 What’s Eating You? Global Inflation and Your Portfolio by Matt Tucker of BlackRock Investment Management

Headlines have been filled with news about inflation, from rising commodity, precious metals and gas prices to higher prints of the consumer price index. Traditionally investors have looked to US real estate, commodities and US TIPS to help protect against inflation. As news of rising foreign inflation reaches the US, investors may now be asking if they need to think this in the context of their portfolios. Is global inflation different than US inflation? Could investing in assets that help protect against global inflation increase a portfolio’s efficiency? Am I missing an opportunity?

2011-05-19 Explaining U.S. debt levels, credit ratings, and recent bond market behavior by Team of American Century Investments

This week, we discuss the U.S. debt ceiling and the credit ratings for U.S. sovereign debt, plus explanations for seemingly counterintuitive bond market behavior. To fully comprehend the ceiling, we should first review the U.S. federal debt it’s attempting to cap, and why. The U.S. federal debt reflects what the U.S. government has to borrow to help pay for its multitude of operations, services, and financial commitments. Like some of its citizens, the U.S. government has been living beyond its means in recent years, spending more money than it has in reserve or receives in tax revenues.

2011-05-19 The Good, the Bad and the Uncertain by James G. Tillar and Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup Advisors

Recently the financial media has been focused on the end of QE2, the process by which the Fed has been minting new funds to buy back U.S. Treasuries to pressure interest rates down. While they have been successful in driving rates down, the additional borrowing has put additional strains on the rising debt limits the legislature must continually approve. Regardless of whether the Fed officially ends QE2, as of June 30th it will not end the Fed’s Treasury buying spree as they will continue to repurchase Treasuries using the proceeds of maturing mortgages they took over in the financial crises.

2011-05-18 Floating rate: Hedging the interest rate risk in your fixed-income portfolio by Team of Columbia Management

Following the Great Recession of 2008, many investors aggressively moved to cash and fixed-income securities in a classic flight to safety. In early 2009, we could point to a historic opportunity to capture significant total return. Much of that correction has already occurred and valuations across the fixed-income market have largely recovered. At this juncture in the business cycle, credit risk has declined dramatically, as evidenced by defaults that are running below long-term averages, robust new issuance and demand for bonds, and healthy corporate balance sheets and earnings.

2011-05-17 Are we at a Market Detour or merely a Speed Bump? by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

The market has been predisposed to a positive bias over the last quarter. This is in light of what we see as a bit of rolling over in the economic metrics and various global forces. The market has somewhat disregarded the impacts of natural disasters, the European Central Bank (ECB) turning generally hawkish and placing the rating of U.S. Treasuries on negative outlook. A few years ago, any of these events would have proven to be a detour to the markets road to higher levels, currently they are merely speed bumps.

2011-05-16 Hanging Around, Hoping to Get Lucky by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Despite the unique challenges of the most recent market cycle, I do expect that we will observe frequent opportunities to accept market risk in the coming years, even in an environment where valuations gradually work lower from a secular perspective. Even here, if we can clear some element of the hostile overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome that has characterized the market, we will be open to moderate, if transitory exposure to market fluctuations, provided that we maintain a line of index put option protection against any abrupt deterioration.

2011-05-16 Weekly Market Commentary by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Overall the stock market was quiescent last week but underneath the surface a dramatic sector rotation was taking place. As the charts above illustrate, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average as well as the NASDAQ Composite barely moved from their previous weeks closing level. This apparent peaceful trading though came as the defensive sectors benefited as money raced out of financials or any commodity related including the economically sensitive sectors.

2011-05-11 Time To Be Serious (and probably too early) Once Again by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Lighten up on risk-taking now and don't wait for October 1. But, if you listen to my advice, be prepared to be early! A word on being too early in investing: if you are a value manager, you buy cheap assets. If you are very “experienced,” a euphemism for having suffered many setbacks, you try hard to reserve your big bets for when assets are very cheap. But even then, unless you are incredibly lucky, you will run into extraordinarily cheap, even bizarrely cheap, assets from time to time, and when that happens you will have owned them for quite a while already and will be dripping in red ink.

2011-05-09 The Menu by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the ways investors can think about prospective return and risk is from the standpoint of the Capital Market Line, which lays out a menu of investment possibilities at various levels of return and risk. In theory, investors like to believe that this menu is always a nice, positively sloped line, where greater risk is associated with greater prospective return. And somehow, regardless of where market valuations are, investors often seem to believe that 10% is 'about right' for the prospective return on stocks. As it happens, valuations exert an enormous effect on the prospective returns

2011-05-03 The Caine Mutiny (Part 2) by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Low policy rates and the increasing negative real yields that they engender as inflation accelerates represent an immediate threat to investment portfolios. Bond prices dont necessarily have to go down for savers to get skunked during a process of debt liquidation. PIMCO advocates a renewed vigilance, stressing bond market alternatives available globally, including developing/emerging market debt at higher yields denominated in non-dollar currencies.

2011-05-03 The Dollar: It’s Payback Time! by Axel Merk of Merk Funds

It’s payback time for Ben Bernanke. In some ways, this should neither surprise, nor scare anyone. Unfortunately, it might do both. In any open market, information is absorbed into asset prices, including exchange rates. Indeed, exchange rates may be the best pricing source to assess the impact of the relentless involvement of policy makers’ “print and spend” mentality in the markets. When trillions are spent, markets are likely to move. However, an unintended consequence has been that a broad range of assets are now moving more and more in tandem, giving investors fewer options to diversify.

2011-05-03 Bernankes World And Ours Too by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

There were no fireworks at Bernankes first post-FOMC press briefing. All five Fed governors and 12 district bank presidents contributed revised forecasts of growth, unemployment, and inflation last week. The central tendency forecasts exclude the three highest and three lowest projections. Fed officials lowered their outlook for GDP growth this year, reflecting a slower than anticipated rate of growth in the first quarter. Unemployment is expected to decline gradually. Inflation will be higher this year, but the Fed continues to expect that commodity price pressures will be transitory.

2011-04-29 Quarter 1 Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

QEII is set to end no later than June 30th. Prominent money managers disagree on the impact. PIMCO’s Bill Gross thinks yields are bound to rise as the largest net buyer of Treasuries moves to the sidelines. Gross has sold all of the US Treasury holdings in the flagship Total Return Fund. Jeff Gundlach, formerly of Trust Company of the West and now with DoubleLine Capital, believes the opposite. According to him, yields will fall in the short term because quantitative easing is inflationary. When QEII stops, bond buyers will require lower yields as future inflation expectations recede.

2011-04-28 The Fed Meets the Press by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed's meeting ended with no surprises on rates or outlook. But the first-ever news conference added some clarity, context and transparency to the Fed's thinking. The Fed has just begun its long process toward monetary policy normalization—and that's a good thing.

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.

2011-04-27 QE3 on the Horizon? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Everyone is concerned about what happens when QE2 ends. On one side believes that when QE2 ends, long term interest rates on Treasuries will spike as the largest buyer exits the market. They believe that the Fed may be tempted to generate QE3 in order to continue try to keep interest rates down and keep the fragile economic recovery going. On the other side of the aisle, there are folks arguing that the yields on the Treasury bonds will drop even as the Fed exits and despite the fact that they are the largest holder of U.S. debt following a slowing U.S. economy during the first quarter.

2011-04-26 The End of QEII: It’s Time to Make the Donuts by Tony Crescenzi, Ben Emons, Andrew Bosomworth and Lupin Rahman of PIMCO

With quantitative easing the Federal Reserve has in essence picked the pockets of Treasury bond investors throughout the world. Ultimately, the U.S. must own up to its past sins and let the deleveraging process play itself out. The U.S. must invest in its people, its land, and its infrastructure, as well as promote free trade, to achieve economic growth rates fast enough to justify consumption levels previously supported by debt.

2011-04-26 Portfolio Strategy by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial

At the outset of the second quarter, the major trends that have shaped our portfolio strategy since last summer remain largely intact. These include: A global economy that is experiencing a two-track recovery. Growth in the developed markets is generally subdued while growth in the emerging markets is more robust. Inflationary pressures continue to build as evidenced by price increases in many commodities, notably food and oil. Interest rates have begun to move higher, either due to central bank actions (e.g., China, India) or specific country risks (e.g., Portugal).

2011-04-23 The 'Miracle' of Compound Inflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Investors will face the “zero bound” in interest rates for a while longer. They can sit on their cash and earn nothing. They can fret and wring their hands about a ramp-up in inflation, but the evidence so far does not support it. They can stay in the US dollar, in which case they can watch their dollars weaken relative to the rest of the world. Travelling in Sicily or Rome validates how strong the euro is relative to the dollar. All you have to do is buy a dinner or hotel room.

2011-04-22 Could the U.S. Return to 1970s Style Inflation? by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

The U.S. appears to be at the crossroads of fiscal and monetary policy. Many are painting a very bleak picture of the future of the dollar, U.S. credit and the validity of the U.S. economy as the model for the world. Could the U.S. return to 1970s style of inflation? The answer is that, although the possibility is there, the probability that such a high level of inflation returning any time soon is actually very low. Is the Fed conducting monetary policy that is inflationary in nature? Yes they are, but let’s not forget why they are doing this. The Fed is engaged in the avoidance of deflation

2011-04-22 Don’t Fear a Pullback in Prices by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The S&P credit agency sent shockwaves through the global financial system on Monday. This sent markets lower and the prices of commodities such as oil rocketing back above $110 per barrel and both gold and silver to new highs. It should be clear the S&P announcement was just a warning, the rating was affirmed at AAA. The fears quickly subsided and U.S. markets hit fresh three-year highs. Essentially there’s only a one-third chance of a downgrade and anyone who’s ever listened to the weather man knows that a 33 percent chance of rain means you probably don’t need your umbrella.

2011-04-22 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

What do those guys know at S&P anyway? Sure China has been warning us for years, but is the largest US creditor really going to cut us off just because our politicos can’t get along? (Don’t answer that.) This week, the gov got a wakeup call from the rating agency that it’s time to get our budgetary house in order. Investors reacted negatively (briefly), but then decided to focus more on iPhone sales and other positive developments. Let’s see what Dr. B. and friends have to say next week. Enjoy the long weekend.

2011-04-20 Is Europe at the Tipping Point? Sol Sanders & Bill Alpert on Keynes, Keynesianism -- and Keynesianit by Team of Institutional Risk Analyst

With the world preparing for the collapse of the post-WWII, post-Bretton Woods economic order, we thought it might be useful to look at what Keynes actually said. We depart from our optimism due to the situation in Europe. Forget the threat of a ratings downgrade by S&P, Washington on debt ceilings or our part-time POTUS, the final collapse of the southern states of Europe is accelerating. Most banks in the EU are insolvent and the states supposedly backing them cannot access the global markets. The collapse of the EU bank bailout effort could be the next catalyst for global contagion.

2011-04-19 Gundlach: Treasuries will Rally When QE2 Ends by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The bonds that PIMCO's Bill Gross sold to take a 3% short position in the Treasury market may have found a buyer in Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. In a conference call with investors last week, Gundlach said that Treasury prices would rise in the near term, once QE2 expires on June 30.

2011-04-19 Inflation Destroys Real Wages by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

In the same vein as medieval physicians believed bloodletting would cure illness, modern snake-oil economists still perilously cling to their claim that rising wages and salaries are the cause of inflation. With my recent debates with these mainstream economists, I’ve heard the following: “without rising wages, where does the money come from to push prices higher?” I was tempted to respond, “where do the employers get the money to pay those higher wages?” But economists tend to get a little nasty when you make them feel stupid.

2011-04-19 Rear View Mirrors by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

It was another positive quarter for U.S. equity investors. The market’s resilience in the face of the Fukushima earthquake, Middle East rebellions, and euro uncertainties was remarkable. The U.S. economy continued to demonstrate significant signs of recovery with new jobs in March and a 1% drop in the unemployment rate since November. While European markets were up 6.5% in dollar terms, Asian indices were down 2%. Bond market was mixed, with treasuries down and diversified indices flat. Oil prices were up over 16% while the dollar fell 6.4% relative to the euro but up 1.3% to the yen.

2011-04-18 Late to The Party…Once Again by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The only thing more ridiculous then S&P’s downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt was the market’s severe reaction to the announcement. Has S&P really added anything to the debate that wasn’t already widely known? In any event, S&P’s statement amounts to a wakeup call to anyone who has somehow managed to sleepwalk through the unprecedented debt explosion of the last few years. Given S&P’s concerns that Congress will fail to address its fiscal problems, on what basis can it conclude that the U.S. deserves its AAA credit rating? If S&P has genuine concerns, the AAA rating should be reduced now.

2011-04-15 Is the US Headed for a Japanese-Style Deflation? by Daphne Gu of FundQuest

The Great Recession of 2008 ended in June 2009. However, for the majority of 2010, the market was directionless, mired with shocks from European sovereign debt and mixed economic indicators. Inflationary concerns, born of massive liquidity from monetary authorities of the developed world, drove real assets to sky-high levels. Conversely, the traditionally lagging indicator of unemployment, sitting near 9%, has increasingly become a leading indicator of the broad market. Thus, many investors are pondering the possibility that the US might be on the path to a Japanese-style deflation scenario.

2011-04-15 Will Precious Metals Survive the Double Dip? by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

It is rare for precious metals to appreciate in parallel with the broader stock market. Yet, this has been the case in the two years since the stock market began coming back from the 2008 financial crisis. Although metals have outperformed US equities over that time frame, it is noteworthy that stocks have gone up at all. Since January 2, 2009, the S&P is up about 50%. While gold is up 68% and silver is up a staggering 267%. With rising interest rates, oil at over $100 a barrel, and the recovery running out of steam, many investors are wisely asking if the markets are set for a sharp pullback

2011-04-14 Federal Debt Explosion = Inflation by Wayne Yamano of John Burns Real Estate

There's been a lot of talk about Americans living beyond their means, but it looks like we're just taking cues from our own government. In fact, you are $127,000 more in debt than you thought, thanks to the massive federal debt load. The federal debt has grown every single year since 1957, and the debt has doubled in the last seven years alone. On top of that, we have unfunded Social Security obligations, which has a present value of $16.1 trillion as of January 2010. If we counted that, it would add another $144K to the $127K in federal debt we owe, bringing us to a total of $271K.

2011-04-12 Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me by Michael Lewitt (Article)

"The budget crisis is a crisis of leadership," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest issue of the HCM Market letter. "There is no intellectual mystery involved in cutting the budget - entitlement spending must be reduced through the adoption of tighter eligibility standards... The markets will also have to evaluate whether Congress and the Obama administration can make any meaningful progress on budget reform, which will mean tackling the entitlement issue. The failure to rein in federal deficits remains a profound threat to the dollar and interest rates."

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

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

2011-04-12 No Help by Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

If the objectives of QE2 were to: a) raise interest rates; b) slow economic growth; c) encourage speculation, and d) eviscerate the standard of living of the average American family, then it has been enormously successful. Clearly, with the benefit of hindsight these results represent the Fed’s impact on the U.S. economy, regardless of their claims to the contrary. Why the Fed would believe the economy could benefit from the addition of $600 billion in reserves to a banking system that already had over $1.1 trillion in unused, but potentially inflationary reserves on hand defies understanding

2011-04-07 China Part II — Looking Beyond Its Shores by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

China’s latest 5 Year Plan is focusing on growing the domestic economy with a focus on harmony. A lot of the foreign investments and the large capital inflows into the Chinese market have all been focused on tapping into one of the world’s largest consumer markets. However, what many are missing is that China is the world’s fifth largest investor in terms of outbound direct investment at about US$56.5 billion in 2009. Last December, China announced US$16 billion in deals in India and this year, Chinese officials pledged to purchase as much as 6 billion Euro worth of Spanish gov bonds.

2011-04-05 A Close Look at the PIMCO-Met Life Retirement Strategy A Marriage Made in Investment Heaven? by Michael Edesess (Article)

If you embrace their recently announced co-marketing strategy, when you're relatively young you use PIMCO's Real Income Funds for stable income in the near term. When you're older Met Life's Longevity Income Guarantee kicks in and takes it from there. You're set with secure income for life. We examine these products more closely and analyze whether they are good deals, either separately or together.

2011-04-05 When Doves Cry: Debates Rage About QE2's Finale by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Will the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing (QE2) pull into the dry dock in June as intended? If so, what are the implications for stock and bond investors? Might the Fed begin tightening policy before many think?

2011-04-04 Will the Real Phillips Curve Please Stand Up? by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Much of the intellectual basis for the Federal Reserve's dual mandate "to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates" is based on the Phillips Curve. The curve, named after economist A.W. Phillips, is understood as a "tradeoff" between inflation and unemployment. The idea is so engrained in the minds of economists that it is taken as fact. High unemployment, is associated with low inflation risk, and in that environment, policy makers can pursue measures targeted at increasing employment, without consequences for inflation.

2011-04-02 Above the Fray by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Attacks on Libya and recovery efforts in Japan have dominated the headlines, but behind the scenes US economic growth remains solid and we remain optimistic on the stock market. Commodity prices have backed off a bit and the Fed is likely to see QE2 through to its June 2011 end. Of particular concern is the unwillingness or inability for Congress to agree on a budget that addresses the growing deficit issues in the US. Japan has a significant debt burden with which to deal as it rebuilds, while Europe is struggling to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with the eurozone debt crisis.

2011-03-31 Skunked by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security now account for 44% of total federal spending and are steadily rising. Previous Congresses (and Administrations) have relied on the assumption that we can grow our way out of this onerous debt burden. Unless entitlements are substantially reformed, the U.S. will likely default on its debt; not in conventional ways, but via inflation, currency devaluation and low to negative real interest rates.

2011-03-27 QE2 - Apres Moi, le Deluge by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

As rules of thumb go, "the trend is your friend" historically performs better than "don't fight the Fed". While the market tends to perform better when both are true, the exception is the overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yields syndrome, which is uniformly negative regardless of the random subset of historical data one examines. There is certainly a tendency for "unpleasant skew" featuring a persistent series of marginal new highs for some period of time, but on average, those are ultimately overwhelmed by steep and abrupt losses that finally clear this syndrome.

2011-03-23 As The World Turns by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Japan’s earthquake/tsunami/nuclear tragedy and heightened tensions in the Middle East and North Africa have led to some concerns about the global economy, and in turn, the strength of the U.S. recovery. A weaker Japanese economy and supply-chain disruptions are detrimental to U.S. growth, but moderately and only short-term in nature. Developments in the Middle East and North Africa are more uncertain, but are likely to keep oil prices relatively elevated. None of this is expected to jeopardize the U.S. recovery, but it could keep growth from being as strong as was hoped for just a month ago.

2011-03-23 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: U.S. Economy, Global by Saumil H. Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO continues to foresee a multi-speed global recovery over the next few years. The U.S. is experiencing a cyclical economic rebound, but its strong durability is uncertain. Several countries in Europe face headwinds to growth over our cyclical horizon. Japan’s growth rate will likely fall in the near term, but reconstruction activities should stimulate growth over time. We expect real economic growth in key emerging economies to remain at a solid rate during 2011, but lower than 2010.

2011-03-23 The Insidious Effects of Japan's Disaster by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

While the world’s attention has been focused on the physical destruction wrought by the Japanese earthquake, the attempts to contain the fallout from the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and the problems that Japan faces to rebuild its infrastructure, few have illustrated how long-lasting the radiation's effects may be. There has also been little mention of how large radiological events could impact economies of countries outside the immediate fallout zone. In reality, the disaster could make as much of an impact on investors in New York, London, or Sao Paolo as it makes on an investor in Tokyo.

2011-03-22 There are Still So Many Unknowns by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

There are still many unknowns with regard to the global macro picture, but what we do know are the following 10 things: 1. There are more upside than downside risks to the oil price. 2. Japan was already the number-one importer of liquefied natural gas (LNG) and this status will be accentuated as replacements for a damaged nuclear grid is sought. 3. Nuclear energy development takes a near-term hit here by the politics of the Japanese crisis but not a permanent hit. 4. The aftershock in Japan will be related to contaminated food supply so we can expect to see more inflation on this score too.

2011-03-22 Asset Correlations to S&P 500 by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

While oil and stocks are positively correlated, stocks and bonds have an inverse correlation. In fact, the two asset classes haven't been this inversely correlated in at least ten years. Finally, with respect to the dollar, there is little correlation with the S&P500. The current lack of correlation between the dollar and equity prices stands in stark contrast to the credit crisis and the bull market, when the two had an extreme negative correlation. Today, equities are being driven by more than just the dollar, indicating an environment driven by fundamentals and not just asset flows.

2011-03-21 The Treasury Auction Shell Game by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Very few people have the time to sift through the data released by the Treasury Department in the wake of its bond auctions. But the numbers do provide direct evidence of the country’s current financial condition that in many ways mirror a financial shell game that typifies our entire economy. Despite continued deterioration of America’s fiscal health, the Treasury is still attracting buyers of its debt. Market watchers take these successful auctions as proof that our current monetary and fiscal stimulus efforts are prudent. But who’s doing the buying, and what do they do with the bonds?

2011-03-21 World Near Tipping Point? by Mohamed A. El-Erian of PIMCO

Much of the potency of policy responses has been used up in the successful efforts since 2008 to avoid global depression. The longer the persistence of supply disruptions, the greater the risk of core inflation increasing. Questions about the end of quantitative easing in the U.S. pose a challenge for policymakers.

2011-03-21 iShares Bi-Weekly Strategy Update by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Last week, world equity markets suffered their sharpest correction since August of 2010. Unrest in the Middle East and sovereign debt issues in Europe are contributing to the spike in volatility, but last week’s sell-off was primarily driven by the earthquake in Japan and related concerns over the safety of its nuclear power plants. The events in Japan are unlikely to detract from global growth, or change the market dynamics favoring equities. In fact given the recent flight to safety and accompanying drop in nominal bond yields, we reiterate our preference for equities over bonds.

2011-03-19 How the VAR Model and Japan’s Tragedy Affect Investors by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The threat of disaster from the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant unleashed a ferocious sell-off of Japanese equities, but the damage to other major markets has been limited. Already experiencing a slight pullback prior to the events on March 11, U.S. equities and emerging markets have held up quite well. The MSCI Emerging Markets Index has only pulled back 2 percent since the earthquake and the S&P 500 Index only 3 percent.

2011-03-19 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

March Madness (basketball) could not have come at a better time. For weeks, folks have focused on developments in the Middle East as prospects for (some sort of) Democracy spread, but oil prices ballooned and investors fear Saudi Arabia may fall victim to revolution as well. Then, Japan pushed Libya to the backburner as fears of an economic slowdown (and nuclear radiation exposure) raised concerns across the globe. Markets reacted to the headline, often on mere speculation as no one knows how the global developments will play out.

2011-03-19 The End of QE2? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Fed committed to buying $600 billion of Treasuries between the beginning of QE2 in November and the end of June. June is 3 months away. What will happen when that buying goes away? The hope when QE2 kicked off was that it would be enough to get the economy rolling, so that further stimulus would not be deemed necessary. We’ll survey how that is working out, with a quick look at some recent data, and then we go back and see what happened the last time the Fed stopped quantitative easing.

2011-03-17 Focus on Japan Overshadows Fed Decision by Brad Sorensen of Charles Schwab

To no one's surprise, the Fed kept interest rates at near zero and maintained its scheduled purchases of Treasury securities (also known as quantitative easing, or QE2). We're growing more concerned that the Fed is keeping interest rates low for too long, leading to potential problems down the road. With the market currently reacting to the tragedy in Japan and the ensuing market volatility, it's important to avoid acting hastily.

2011-03-17 Japanese Fallout May Hit Treasuries by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

As the fourth largest economy in the world, behind the EU, US, and China, any major setback in Japan likely will have widespread repercussions. Japan is also the third largest holder of US Treasuries, behind the United States and China. While it is too early even to assess the Japanese damage accurately – let alone to forecast the full implications – it is possible to see the potential for a meltdown of the US Treasury market and international monetary system. Current estimates hold that the Japanese disaster has already lowered world economic growth by a full percentage point for the year.

2011-03-16 Economic & Investment Implications of Japan’s Tragedy by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Markets in Japan and elsewhere have sold off fairly sharply, as the full scope of the tragedy in Japan has unfolded day by day. We will focus on the economic and investments implications of the tragedy, strictly from the perspective of our largely U.S.-based investors. Domestic markets have overreacted somewhat, since domestic business prospects are more likely to be helped than weakened, at least in the short-term. Longer-term policies focused on energy policy will likely remain unclear until we can see how policymakers modify U.S. energy policies in response to the reactor problems in Japan

2011-03-14 The End of QE2 by Charles Lieberman (Article)

This week's meeting of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee is sure to focus on whether to terminate its quantitative easing program early and when it will be time for overnight interests to be returned to more normal levels. While economic growth appears to be much healthier, higher oil prices and credit risks in Europe pose significant risks to the growth outlook. Therefore, we expect no change to policy, although it is our judgment that the Fed should begin to alter its language subtly to remind investors that changes in policy will be coming.

2011-03-14 Interest Rates Are on the Launch Pad by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

A few months ago, the recovery cheerleaders reached a crescendo when expanding consumer credit stats and surging US trade deficits provided them with “evidence” of an economic rebound. In declaring victory, they overlooked the very nucleus of this past crisis: namely, the enormous debt levels and bubbling inflation that created fragile asset bubbles. In reality, only a reduction in US debt levels or increase in the value of the dollar would have signaled a budding recovery; but, thanks to the Federal Reserve and Obama Administration, there is virtually no way those results will ever be seen.

2011-03-12 Inflation and Hyperinflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Companies and households typically deal with excessive debt by defaulting; countries overwhelmingly usually deal with excessive debt by inflating it away. While debt is fixed, prices and wages can go up, making the total debt burden smaller. People can’t increase prices and wages through inflation, but governments can create inflation, and they’ve been pretty good at it over the years. Inflation, debt monetization, and currency debasement are not new. They have been used for the past few thousand years as means to get rid of debt. In fact, they work pretty well.

2011-03-11 Inflation Expectations, Budget Decisions by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Many investors fear that the recent surge in oil prices will lead to a significant uptrend in the underlying inflation rate. However, that depends on whether inflation expectations become unanchored. There's little evidence of that so far. On the deficit, lawmakers are sharply divided on the appropriate path for government spending. However, trimming nondefense discretionary spending is not going to solve the problem.

2011-03-09 Fisher Could Dissent if Oil Prices Maintain Upward Trend by Asha Bangalore of Northern Trust

Dallas Fed President Fisher indicated yesterday that he would vote to scale back/discontinue the Fed's Treasury securities buying program of $600 billion at the March 15 FOMC meeting. Last week, Chairman Bernanke indicated that only under conditions of sustained growth, expanding payrolls, and inflation readings that are consistent with price stability would the Fed consider terminating the program. Economic data indicate that the Fed is not close to meeting these. In his opinion, the Fed's job "is done" and continued purchases of Treasuries may result in raising inflation expectations

2011-03-08 Consumer Confidence Turns Back Down by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

According to an RBC consumer outlook poll, one in three U.S. households is already “significantly” cutting back on spending because of rising gasoline prices. And this was a survey taken at a time when the national average price at the pumps was around $3.20 per gallon ― wait and see what happens when it costs four bucks to fill up the tank ― that is the pain threshold for 41% of the consumer sector as per this poll.

2011-03-07 A Little Understanding Goes a Long Way by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

As the world confronts one of the most critical periods of economic upheaval that it has ever seen, it is clear that our most influential economic stewards have absolutely no idea what they are doing. But, like kids with a new chemistry set, they are nevertheless unwilling to let that stand in the way of their experimental fun. As they pour an ever-growing number of volatile ingredients into their test tubes, we can either hope that they magically stumble on the secret formula to cure the world’s ills, or more pragmatically, we can try to prepare for the explosion that is likely to result.

2011-03-07 Economic Insights: Misplaced Muni Fears by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Though each scare story on municipal bonds has a kernel of truth in it, the trend of late has become hyperbolic, sparked to no small degree by an exciting, popular, but evidently poorly researched television news show. To be sure, state and local finances are a mess. It will take decades of remedial effort to bring them anywhere near what people might characterize as sound. But especially since pricing now seems to anticipate calamity, the prospects for these securities hang less on good than on improving finances, and on that score, the outlook is favorable.

2011-03-07 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last week was dominated by continued good economic data, which supported stock prices, even as concern mounts about supposed inflation and the ability of the Federal Reserve Board to come up with a believable exit strategy from its current policy of quantitative easing (read that to mean the FED is buying treasuries from the government to finance this year’s $1.6 trillion deficit).

2011-03-02 Two-Bits, Four-Bits, Six-Bits, a Dollar by Bill Gross of PIMCO

A successful handoff from public to private credit creation has yet to be accomplished, and it is that handoff that ultimately will determine the outlook for real growth and stability. Because quantitative easing has affected all risk spreads, the withdrawal of nearly $1.5 trillion in annualized check writing may have dramatic consequences. Who will buy Treasuries when the Fed doesn’t? The question really is at what yield, and what are the price repercussions if the adjustments are significant.

2011-03-02 Random Market Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Only time will tell if yesterday’s market action was a true watershed. It was the first time since last July that the stock market was down on the first day of the month. Till yesterday, the opening days in January and February had already accounted for over half the year-to-date gains in the S&P 500. It was also the first time since the last leg of the bear market rally began six months ago that “good” news failed to ignite equity prices. Yesterday we saw auto sales shoot up 6.7% to 13.4 million units, which was the best level since August 2009, and we also saw the ISM inch higher.

2011-03-02 Taps for the Dollar by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

It now appears that the United States has finally succeeded in its efforts to destroy confidence in the U.S. dollar. Given the currency's reserve status, its ubiquity in financial markets, and the economic power and political position of the United States, this was no easy task. However, to get the job done Washington chose the right man: Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Thanks to Bernanke's herculean efforts, investors across the globe have now been fully weaned from their infantile belief that the U.S. dollar will remain the ultimate safe haven currency.

2011-03-01 Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Escalating turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa caused oil prices to spike higher last week and stock prices to fall. Oil prices went over the$100 a barrel mark and despite a late-week rally, stocks ended the week noticeably lower. In many ways, it could be argued that a stock market correction was overdue-before last week, the US stock market had gone 107 days before experiencing a peak-to-trough decline of 3.5%, a new record. Our long-term view is that while shortterm volatility is likely to persist, the growing geopolitical risks are unlikely to derail the global economic recovery.

2011-02-28 Random Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The combination of sharply higher oil prices, the global food crisis, the accelerating geopolitical risks abroad, and the switch in the United States from fiscal stimulus to restraint — all will serve to complicate the macro and market outlook further. Valuation may not be at an extreme, but most measures of market sentiment are. And some folks are beginning to notice that the wheels are starting to fall off the tracks.

2011-02-28 Pushed to Extremes by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Among the economic havoc wrought by turmoil in the Mid East and severe weather around the globe has been the impact upon inflation and upward pressure on prices for raw (and core) materials. Today, most economists and market analysts fear that this confluence of factors could accelerate inflation in energy prices, foodstuffs, and industrial materials, thus undermining a nascent uptick in consumer spending, global trade, and consumer confidence.

2011-02-28 Moment of Surrender: Regimes Fall, Oil Prices Spike by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Geopolitical tensions swell along with oil prices, pushing the stock market lower. The absence of a longer-term oil- supply shock suggests the price spike could be short-lived. Consumers will take a hit, but the broader economy should avoid a double-dip recession.

2011-02-25 And That's The Week That Was… by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

First Tunisia was stricken with political unrest and investors barely noticed. Then Egypt suffered through a revolution which initiated a change in leadership, and the markets offered a collective yawn. Now Libya faces mass protests and traders are on edge. So what’s different in this case? One word…OIL. Libya is the first major oil producing state to encounter the violent turmoil that threatens a major shift in power. It produces 1.6 million barrels of oil a day and crude prices surged in the immediate aftermath of the revolution on fears of a production slowdown.

2011-02-23 FPA Perennial Shareholder Letter by Eric S. Ende of First Pacific Advisors

The major issue affecting global markets continues to be the amount of debt outstanding worldwide. Governments and consumers in many of the world’s developed countries are under the microscope as lenders question whether these borrowers will be able to make interest and principal payments on their loans. We expect these concerns to remain for some time to come.

2011-02-23 Right Brains and the Dismal Science by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

It has been said that successful investors need to employ not only the left side of their brains which is the analytical or scientific part but also the right side which is the centre for creative thinking. Thats because much of investing has to do with the unpredictable, the down cards, variables about future demand, growth, political policy changes, psychological responses, weather, oil spills, and so forth. Value investors dont want to pay for the down cards, but want to buy so cheaply in the here, that there is little or no risk of losing, and the hereafter can take care of itself.

2011-02-23 Right Brains and the Dismal Science by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

It has been said that successful investors need to employ not only the left side of their brains which is the analytical or scientific part but also the right side which is the centre for creative thinking. Thats because much of investing has to do with the unpredictable, the down cards, variables about future demand, growth, political policy changes, psychological responses, weather, oil spills, and so forth. Value investors dont want to pay for the down cards, but want to buy so cheaply in the here, that there is little or no risk of losing, and the hereafter can take care of itself.

2011-02-18 Breakfast with Dave by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The Treasury market retains a nice bid here and equities now look a bit wobbly or at least engaging in a pause. European bourses are in the red column for the most part and Asia was mixed with Japan, Hong Kong, and Korea posting gains but China and India were both clocked for a 0.9% and 1.6% loss, respectively. Even though China raised reserve requirements by a half-point again, the oil price is receiving support from concerns over the spread of social unrest in the Middle East towards Libya and Bahrain.

2011-02-17 Responding to the Stubbornly Steep U.S. Treasury Yield Curve by Team of American Century Investments

Disciplined, active investment managers are constantly on the lookout for capital market extremes, which can provide value-adding opportunities for investors. One such market extreme has been developing in the U.S. Treasury market for the past three years, reaching historic levels in 2010 and earlier this year. We’re talking about the very wide, stubbornly persistent gap between short- and longer-maturity U.S. Treasury yields.

2011-02-15 The Stuxnet Paradigm by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Michael Lewitt discusses the situation in Egypt, the economy, rising risk appetites in the market, sovereign debt and municipal bonds. 'It might be very easy,' he writes, 'to be impressed by the 'two years and thousands of man hours' that Ms. Whitney spent researching the fiscal condition of the 15 largest states. What in the world required so much time and effort? It shouldn't have taken nearly so long to determine that these states are in severe financial trouble and that their options for dealing with it are limited.

2011-02-11 The Year of the Rabbit by Craig Hester of Hester Capital Management

The global financial markets in 2011 are likely to reflect many of the characteristics of the rabbits personality: quick to react, avoiding conflicts, erratic, resilient yet determined. The year started on a fast note. The S&P 500 jumped out to a 3.3% gain before selling off late in January over concerns regarding political instability in the Middle East. Global tensions, sovereign debt, state and federal finance, the economy and earnings may affect financial markets this year. One can expect a year of volatility, but a market that will display resiliency in the face of these uncertainties.

2011-02-10 The Two Faces of Ben Bernanke by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

When the rest of the world no longer links their currencies to ours, the Fed will truly not have to worry about fueling global inflation. Instead, all of its inflation will burn through our banks accounts right here at home. And that blaze, so concentrated, will burn a lot hotter than the fires we see abroad.

2011-02-10 FPA Crescent Fund Q4 2010 by Steven Romick of First Pacific Advisors

We do not have a strong view as to what will transpire over the intermediate-term with respect to the economy or securities markets, nor do we have a great love for the opportunities the markets have to offer. In general, we require more upside than the market currently permits, because the downside (for reasons discussed) is not inconsequential. Taking a look at the S&P 400 Midcap Index gives some idea as to why that may be the case. Midcap stocks have increased 129% since the 2009 trough. That kind of move generally sucks the oxygen out of the room as far as good risk/reward investments go.

2011-02-09 The State of the Municipal Bond Market by Matthew Whitbread of FundQuest

The municipal bond market has been an usually volatile asset class over the past year. In Q4, the Barclays Municipal Bond Index lost 4.17%, its worst quarterly performance in 16 years, and continued to decline in January. The recent turmoil for municipals was the result of the four primary factors: supply issues stemming from the expiration of the Build America Bonds program; excessive negative media attention that has spooked investors; the current economic downturn; and, rising U.S. Treasury rates. FundQuest still believes that the municipal bond market is an attractive asset class.

2011-02-09 How to Play in 2011 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

At the start of every year I remind myself that each individual year has its own story. For example, 2007 taught us that it never hurts to take profits after the market doubles and that if something is too good to be true (housing and credit bubble) it probably is. The 2008 lesson focused on capital preservation strategies and the urgency of managing downside risks. 2009 it was vital not to overstay a bearish stance in the face of massive fiscal and monetary stimulus. Last year’s lesson was how to handle the many post-stimulus market swings that are inherent in a post-bubble credit collapse.

2011-02-07 Why Credit-Sensitive Bonds Still Make Sense by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Clearly if Europe’s sovereign debt problems careen out of control, a global flight to quality would likely reoccur, bringing U.S. Treasury and agency yields back down. But if as expected the European Union (EU) manages the situation, then the recent unwinding of the former flight to quality should continue, rendering Treasuries and agencies problematic investments at best, and leaving the only fixed-income opportunities in credit-sensitive investments.

2011-02-04 Death by Treasuries by Doug Short of Doug Short

Are Treasuries rolling over? Check out the astonishing rise in yields over the past week. In some respects the Fed's quantitative easing has been quite effective — for example in punishing the risk-adverse savers who've invested in Treasuries.

2011-02-04 Seeking Equity Dividends: Now More than Ever by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

The evidence is clear that dividends have been a crucial part of total returns through history and that dividend payers (particularly sustainable dividend growers) have significantly outperformed their non-dividend-paying peers over the long haul. Couple those higher returns with the lower volatility that comes with the dividend-paying class vs. broader equity markets and it makes a clear case for the power of dividends.

2011-02-03 Deconstructing the Current Inflation Conundrum by Team of American Century Investments

As the old saying goes: “The best time to buy flood insurance is when the river is still running low.” We suggest not waiting until inflation pressures increase further before making sure you have some inflation insurance in your portfolio.

2011-02-02 Devil’s Bargain by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Money has become the economic and political wedge for profound changes in American society. Perhaps the most deceptive policy tool to lessen debt loads is the “negative” or exceedingly low real interest rate that central banks impose on savers and debt holders. Old-fashioned gilts and Treasury bonds may need to be “exorcised” from model portfolios and replaced with more attractive alternatives both from a risk and a reward standpoint.

2011-01-31 The Investment Outlook: An Overview by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

This is the first of a four-article series on the macro considerations behind Lord Abbett’s fixed-income and equity outlooks. This first installment offers an overview. The three pieces that follow will, in turn, take up the reasons behind 1) the general preference for credit-sensitive fixed-income issues; 2) the positive overall stance on equities; and 3) the call for a thorough capitalization mix within equities.

2011-01-28 The Fed Sticks to the Status Quo by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The Fed announced no changes to its interest rate and quantitative easing round two (QE2) policies. There were no dissenters, with two new voting members changing their tune about QE2. The risk is growing that the Fed will stay easy too long, which could have implications for bond yields (and bond investors).

2011-01-28 A Mockery of a Sham by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

We do not need more regulation. Government interference has done enough damage already. We simply need to return to a sound monetary policy and get the government out of the mortgage and housing markets. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen.

2011-01-25 Economic Forecast Failures: The 10-Year Yield by Doug Short of Doug Short

Earlier today I analyzed the Wall Street Journal survey of economist forecasts for Q4 GDP. How accurate are economists' forecasts in general? It varies, of course, but sometimes they miss by a long shot. Consider, for example, the forecasts for 10-year Treasury yields in the October 2010 WSJ survey.

2011-01-25 Fed Policy Outlook: Waiting It Out by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The economic outlook largely remains a good news/bad news story. The good news if that the recovery is continuing, even gathering a little more steam. The bad news is that the pace of growth is insufficient to push the unemployment rate down significantly. The Fed has a dual mandate: stable prices and maximum sustainable employment. While these goals may be seen to be in conflict from time to time, Fed officials (and most economists) believe that economic growth can be maximized over the long run by keeping inflation low.

2011-01-25 A Reality Check by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

We will probably end up with a few years of stable to moderately deflating consumer prices once the effects of the latest commodity surge starts to fade. It appears that we are in the process of seeing another down-leg in national home prices. Equities are wildly overbought and may suffer the same fate before long, with all deference to the recent leg-up in valuations. The U.S. unemployment rate is unlikely to come down much, if at all, if real GDP growth does not accelerate beyond 3%. If it couldn’t do it in 2010, then we have no idea why it would be the case in 2011.

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 Word on the Street: Cautious Optimism by Eagle portfolio managers of Eagle Asset Management

The general consensus among Eagle managers is that companies are more optimistic than they have been in many years. Businesses are starting to loosen their purse strings, albeit slowly and deliberately, to take advantage of competitive opportunities. Eagle managers continue to believe independent, diligent research is paramount in selecting stocks right now and that this likely will prove to be an excellent opportunity for long-term investors.

2011-01-19 Breakfast with Dave by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

In more than 20 months, the equity market has managed to turn in the same performance it took 60 months to achieve in the last bear market rally. Strip out the financials, and indeed, the entire equity market is now behaving as if the destruction of debt and household balance sheets either never happened or that the aftershocks are completely yesterday’s story. Governments around the world, especially in the U.S.A., have managed to convince nearly everyone that prosperity is here and will persist to perpetuity. But … if it is too good to be true, it probably is. This is an illusion.

2011-01-19 Market and Performance Summary by Jonathan A. Shapiro of Kovitz Investment Group

The broad market, as represented by the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500), rose 10.8% for the quarter and 15.1% for the full year. We remain optimistic regarding forward returns, not because the market has been strong, but because we believe we still hold a basket full of undervalued securities even after these robust gains.

2011-01-18 The Fed’s Dual Mandate – Therein lies the Dilemma by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management

High-quality municipal bonds should continue to move in concert with U.S. Treasury bonds. We expect supply to decrease slightly to be more closely aligned with softer demand. The media will continue to cast a light on the challenges facing the market. As the overall economy improves, we envision states and local municipalities following suit. Downgrades may continue to occur but the most severe cuts should be limited to the marginal parts of the municipal landscape. In closing, we expect structural change to occur, in a positive way, over the next few years.

2011-01-17 Adding Up the Inflation Carnage; US Consumer Hitting an Air Pocket by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

This is just the fifth time in modern history that BOTH food and energy prices have risen at a double-digit annual rate for any length of time ― 1979, 1980, 1996, and 2008. At this rate, the energy bill is going to create a drag U.S. household spending power by $60 billion this year. Beneath the veneer of all the enthusiasm is the reality that real organic incomes are under pressure.

2011-01-15 Thinking the Unthinkable by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin criticizes Bernanke's comment that a benefit of QE2 has been rising equity prices, arguing that this would amount to a third mandate for the Fed. He commends Richard Fisher of the Dallas Fed for his comments that monetary policy is not a tool to solve the country's fiscal problems. Mauldin then says that a big treat to his growth forecast is continued sovereign debt problems in Europe. Lastly, he questions whether China can engineer a soft landing for its economy, given rising inflation.

2011-01-15 Trading Secrets by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

Treasury yields are lower today than they were in the early 1930s. This is despite a paucity of evidence that prices are deflating, or that the U.S. is the beneficiary of a flight-to-quality. Furthermore, the low rates have continued notwithstanding QE2, a program of thinly disguised “money printing.” Our belief is that low rates are the product of a zero rate policy that is distorting Treasury pricing. This “artificial” propping up of Treasury pricing will last until such time that bank balance sheets are substantially repaired. As such, our outlook for Treasuries is decidedly negative.

2011-01-14 U.S. Building Market Intelligence by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate

Those of you who have been following this e-mail for a while are noticing that many of the grades below have shifted from D’s and F’s to B’s and C’s. That is because the economy is starting to reach its long-term average outlook. Housing, however, is clearly going to lag the recovery rather than lead it. In the meantime, how do you make money in housing?

2011-01-14 Creating an Illusion of Prosperity by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The question really today is still one of sustainability. If the Fed and our public officials were as comforted as the financial markets now seem to be over the sustainability of the recovery, then after a full year into it the central bank would not have embarked on another monetary experiment and the government would not have dipped into Social Security as a means to put more change in people’s pockets for spending purposes. Money, as an aside, that isn’t really ours.

2011-01-12 Tolerable Accuracy by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

It paid to be practical in 2010. We started the year with relief that we averted catastrophe but were dimly aware it would be tough. How could it not be? Financial markets were in disrepair and the economy looked like it had only just made it through a re-stocking cycle. All other parts of the economy looked down for the count. But in the end, despite euro sovereign emergencies, deflationary fears and a phony currency war, both the real economy and financial assets had a strong year.

2011-01-11 Tactical Asset Allocation and Market Timing: What's the Difference? by Nancy Opiela (Article)

Why is it that the industry dismisses significant changes to portfolio allocations as "market timing" transactions but embraces the subtler "tactical shifts" many advisors are making in the current, transitional market? As advisors debate the nuances of that question, the more relevant question may be: How would you respond if a client asked you to explain the difference between market timing and tactical asset allocation?

2011-01-11 The Two Elephants Facing the US Economy by Michael Lewitt (Article)

The consensus has reached the conclusion that financial markets will enjoy a strong start to 2011. This is reason enough to approach the markets with caution as the year begins. When everybody is leaning to one side of the boat, the vessel is far more likely to tip over, particularly if it hits an unexpected wave.

2011-01-10 "Illusory Prosperity" - Ludwig von Mises on Monetary Policy by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Perhaps more than any other economist, Ludwig von Mises got the theory of money and credit right, because he made distinctions between various forms of money and credit that are often conflated by other theorists. The amount of real physical investment in the economy is, and must be, precisely equal to the amount of output not allocated to consumption but instead to savings. Unlike many other economists, Von Mises not only recognized this identity, but carried it through to what it implied for monetary policy.

2011-01-06 Some Risks Worth Factoring In For The Year Ahead by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Home price declines are an added significant risk to household wealth and spending. The Dallas Fed just published a report concluding that home prices have potential to decline more than 20% from here. Perhaps the banks can handle that, but the implications for the household wealth effect, consumer confidence and spending are hardly constructive.

2011-01-05 And That's The 'Year' That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

While the consumer has emerged from hibernation, an improved labor picture would boost this favorable trend. The Fed hopes that QE2 will help build on the recent economic momentum, though many doubters surely remain. Earnings comparisons get more difficult in the coming quarters, though analysts expect improved revenue growth to contribute to the positive results. The tax “compromise” means a continuation of the bullish mindset in equities (for now). Developments abroad will impact the domestic markets as the EU looks to move beyond its debt issues, and China leads the global recovery.

2011-01-05 Off With Our Heads! by Bill Gross of PIMCO

American politicians and citizens alike have no clear vision of the costs of a seemingly perpetual trillion-dollar annual deficit. Meanwhile, policy stimulus is focused on maintaining current consumption as opposed to making the United States more competitive in the global marketplace. Dollar depreciation will sap the purchasing power of U.S. consumers, as well as the global valuation of dollar denominated assets.

2010-12-31 Pessimism was not the Winning Bet in 2010 by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

The easy money has been made, particularly in certain economically sensitive sectors. Returns in bonds could be flat or even negative over the next several years. We’ve substantially increased our exposure to boring old consumer staples, utilities, REITs and telecomm stocks, which offer dividend yields starting at 4% and ranging up to 12%. We expect US GDP growth to range between 2-3% over the next 4 quarters. In that environment, we would forecast gains in the S&P 500 of 8-10%, but now we wonder whether December’s 6.9% gain has already accounted for most of 2011’s stock market returns.

2010-12-30 Rising Rates Reveal Debt Reality by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

Right now, the US national debt is the biggest subprime ARM of all time. Much like homeowners who thought they could afford a mortgage that was 10 times their annual incomes, Messrs. Krugman and Wesbury are blinded by deceptively low current rates of interest. These ostriches won't poke their heads up to see the writing on the wall: low rates and quantitative easing cannot coexist for long. As rates continue to rise, the reality of US insolvency will be revealed.

2010-12-27 A Fed-Induced Speculative Blowoff by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Why are Treasury yields rising despite hundreds of billions of Treasury purchases by the Federal Reserve? There are two possibilities in the current debate. One is that the Fed's policy of purchasing Treasuries has scared the willies out of the bond market on fears of higher inflation, and that the policy is a failure. The other is that the policy has been such a success at boosting the prospects for economic growth that interest rates are rising on anticipation of a better economy. From our standpoint, neither of these explanations hold much water.

2010-12-27 Treasury Moves—Four Reasons Why by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Treasury bonds recently have made an impressive and, to some, frightening move—a sudden reversal of the long flight to quality that previously had so bid up Treasury prices and reduced the yields to ridiculous lows. Many explain this sudden reversal in terms of Washington’s recent decision to extend the Bush-era tax cuts for another two years. Certainly, there is reason to make such a link, but there is more going on than just this compromise, enough to keep the trend in place for some time to come. Here are four references on what lies behind this reversal.

2010-12-22 The Waves of 2011 by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

2011 likely will open with a deepening recession, increasing austerity, and falling asset prices. If this is met by a new round of inflation creation and yuan revaluation, then investors should weigh whether to redeploy assets in anticipation of potential rising commodity prices. I expect these developments not to happen gradually, but to come in great waves. Smart investors will tie their fate to an investment vessel with a solid hull, because in these seas, even a hint of rot could tear a ship asunder.

2010-12-22 Here We Go Again! by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Market sentiment is as overly optimistic now as it was pessimistic at the July-August lows. Eurozone fiscal deflationary shock. Anti-inflation policy restraint in emerging Asia. Widespread cutbacks at the state and local government level. Debt ceiling issue triggers major rounds of market volatility. Tax breaks that are temporary tend to have marginal economic impact with few multiplier impacts, hence GDP revisions will likely be to the downside post-Q1. Another downleg in home prices undercuts confidence and spending (with around two years’ supply of total vacant inventory backlog).

2010-12-22 2011 Outlook: Fixed Income by Fixed Income Investment Team of Neuberger Berman

Entering 2011, there is no shortage of potential issues that could ignite periods of extreme market volatility. While short-term market gyrations are unsettling for both novice and experienced investors alike, for the year as a whole, we believe the outlook for the economy and the fixed income market is generally positive. In particular, certain non-Treasury sectors have compelling fundamentals going into the New Year. In our opinion, these areas could benefit generally from an increased risk appetite, should investors seek incremental yields given a continued low interest rate environment.

2010-12-21 All That Glitters by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

I have ave no doubt: gold is the ideal investment. It serves as a reliable store of value, especially in challenging and uncertain times. It’s a hedge against inflation, since its price rises in sympathy with the general level of prices. It exists without the involvement of man-made constructs such as governments. And it’s desired and accepted all around the world (and always has been.) The supply of gold is finite. It can’t be created out of thin air. Thus it’s not subject to dilution or debasement, as is paper currency when governments decide to print more.

2010-12-21 Gundlach: Are Taxes Too Darn Low? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

One way to avert the crisis posed by growing fiscal deficits is a significant tax increase, according to Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. Although he did not advocate this policy, in his conference call with investors last week he said the strain of fiscal deficits poses as yet unanswered challenges to the economy and the markets.

2010-12-20 Stimulus or Restraint? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The bond bears and equity bulls are placing much of their faith in the $858 billion tax package in the U.S. Most of this “stimulus” only prevented the federal government from acting as a contractionary economic force in 2011. How much of the tax cuts will go into saving and imports remains to be seen. We think the “stimulative” effects are over exaggerated. What we don’t see discussed that much are the spending cuts coming our way and these indeed will show up directly in GDP.

2010-12-20 Weekly Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock

As the year is winding to a close, we thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look back at the predictions we made at the beginning of 2010 to see how they are shaping up. We didn’t get them all exactly right, but most of our predictions were on track.

2010-12-17 The Secular Theme that Transcends the US Business Cycle by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

If there is a secular theme that transcends the U.S. business cycle it is agriculture. Farm incomes are rising sharply and all indications point in a similar upward direction in 2011 and likely beyond. This is another way, beyond going long mining excavation equipment and industrial commodities, to play the increasing demand for food, especially proteins, alongside the ever-rising standards of living in China, India and other emerging market economies.

2010-12-17 For Whom the Bell Tolls by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

What lies ahead is a new era of rising interest rates, soaring consumer prices, increasing unemployment, economic stagnation, and lower living standards. Instead of stimulating the economy, quantitative easing and deficit spending will prove to be a lethal combination. Bondholders beware, the bell tolls for thee.

2010-12-17 Fed Decision: Stick to the Status Quo by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The stock market may not be fighting the Fed, but are bonds? Treasury yields and stocks can rise simultaneously, but dollar strength could bite. Investors are being driven to reallocate away from bonds and toward stocks.

2010-12-16 Next Phase of China's Development by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Considering that China has now exceeded the United States for two years running in terms of motor vehicle sales, it is not 100% the case that the country is exclusively reliant on fixed investment and exports for its economic success. Inch by inch, the consumer is comprising an ever-greater share of GDP. China is also largely responsible for the extended bull market in resources.

2010-12-15 Europe Remains a Clear Downside Risk by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Europe remains a clear downside risk for the global economic outlook with the problems spreading to Spain and Portugal. Contagion risks are being underestimated by Mr. Market who has been myopically focused on irresponsible fiscal expansion in the US and recent hopes that QE2 would morph into QE3. As some proof that the recent economic data flow are over-rated, and likely exaggerated by seasonal influences, the Fed barely raised its macro outlook and actually seemed to dampen its view of the housing sector.

2010-12-14 The Fed's QE2 Intervention: A Disaster in the Works? by Doug Short of Doug Short

QE2 is a gambit. At face value, we must assume that speeding the recovery and increasing core inflation to the target rate are the true motives. The Fed says as much, and the concern of the sole dissenter, Thomas Hoenig about long-term inflation risks, reinforces this view. On the other hand, blog commentators have speculated on a range of ulterior prime motives — ranging from bank bailouts to funding Uncle Sam with interest-free loans, etc.

2010-12-13 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The impact of the tax deal on the economy is positive. The absence of wide spread tax hikes is good but not sufficient to cause our economy to grow. For this we need more trade agreements, less regulation and a reduced presence in the private sector by the US government.

2010-12-10 Fleshing Out Our Themes for the Year Ahead by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Consensus views of 1,350 on the S&P 500 and 4% real GDP growth are far too high. In my view, real GDP growth in the U.S.A. is set to slow from around 3% in 2010 to 2% in 2011, or possibly even lower. This is not a double-dip but it is a slower growth profile. The fiscal and sovereign credit problems in Europe are not going away. The U.S. dollar is likely to strengthen, particularly versus the yen. Emerging markets will struggle as central banks move more forcefully to curb accelerating inflationary pressure.

2010-12-07 'Shadow' NAVs for Money Funds Available by Team of American Century Investments

In January 2011, so-called "shadow" net asset values (NAVs) for money market funds (MMFs) will become available publicly for the first time. They will be posted by the SEC on their Web site 60 days after they are filed monthly with the commission by fund management companies, including American Century Investments(R). As one of the investment industry's MMF pioneers, American Century Investments supports the new regulations and manages five MMFs.

2010-12-06 A Most Important Rule by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

A decline in bond prices has modestly improved expected returns in bonds, but not yet sufficiently to warrant an extension of our durations. Precious metals have become more overbought, and while we are sympathetic to the long-term thesis for gold, intermediate term risks are now elevated. Finally, we have observed a further deterioration in market conditions for stocks.

2010-12-04 Short Skirts and Second Shoes by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

We are in an honest-to-goodness bull market. There is much more upside ahead. Possibly for years. Tops are made in euphoria, as when the Fed decides to tighten money and raise interest rates. With the evident despondency today the Fed continues to bring on the punchmore liquidity, accommodative easing, to keep interest rates low and make credit readily availablefor consumer spending, for housing and autos and apparel and necessaries, for government borrowings. And for stocks. Well be swimming in punch.

2010-12-01 The Risk of Fixed Income Indexing vs. Active Multi-Sector Management by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investment Management

Tepid economic growth coupled with weak equity markets over the past few years have driven U.S. investors to the perceived safe haven of fixed income. We believe that fixed income indices may be appropriate as benchmarks, but not as investment strategies.

2010-11-30 Currency Focus: QE2 and the Course Ahead by Ugo Lancioni of Neuberger Berman

We believe the dollar is likely to move higher on an intermediate-term basis. QE2, in our opinion, could lead to stronger economic growth in the U.S. and eventually drivehigher yields, making the dollar more attractive to investors. In our view, the impact of QE2 was already in the price of the U.S. dollar at the time of the announcement. And the market is generally still shorting dollars.

2010-11-29 The Debt is Still Here by Eric S. Ende of First Pacific Advisors

In the world of investment management, results are typically measured each quarter. While markets sometimes experience a dramatic shift in the course of ninety days, usually the most important influences on the economy evolve more slowly. That is the situation today, where from our perspective, little about the investment backdrop has changed in 2010. This commentary summarizes our view of the current situation, the policy options available and likely outcomes.

2010-11-29 Valuation Opportunity by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Because the fears forged during the 2008–09 crisis still linger, investors continue to avoid equities. For a while, extreme caution drove almost all new flows of funds into cash and U.S. Treasury bonds. As these flows drove down Treasury and agency yields, investors sought returns in more credit-sensitive bonds, but still, they largely avoided equities. The pattern has by now distorted valuations enough to present a special opportunity in stocks, even after their impressive rise from spring 2009.

2010-11-29 A List of Concerns – A Dozen of Them by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Among Rosenberg’s concerns: China undergoing a significant, though likely brief, economic adjustment by 2012; The contagion reaching Spain, which would likely be game over for the euro; A renewed deflation in home prices in the US; State and local government budgets – the critical source of downside risk for the U.S. economy in 2011, which could easily result in 1.5-2.0 percentage points of withdrawal from GDP growth.

2010-11-25 Scenario Building - Key Risks Ahead by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The dramatic fiscal tightening in Ireland and others is insane and I wonder how a new government in early 2011 is going to react. Everybody seems to believe the euro is sacrosanct, but this was also the view around the Argentina nearly a decade ago; it ultimately devalued in order to reflate and pay off its debts in debased currency. Some of these peripheral countries will leave the EU, go back to their own currency to reclaim control over their monetary policy and pay their debts in devalued punts, drachmas and pesetas.

2010-11-24 US Q3 GDP and Profits Analyzed by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The Q3 real GDP is better, but momentum has clearly waned. Based on the hits that the household sector will likely face in the early part of 2011, Q1 growth is likely to be disappointing. On a sequential basis, corporate profits are still clearly rising, but at a more moderate rate than before. Not only did housing starts get clobbered in October, but existing home sales fell unexpectedly as well. Retailers are anticipating a solid holiday shopping season, and yet, they are aggressively marking down their prices well in advance.

2010-11-23 Global Tensions Rising Over Fed's QE2 Initiative by Team of American Century Investments

QE2 represents a dramatic intervention in the capital markets, and its ultimate impact is hard to predict at this point in time. Critics of the plan, including some Fed members, believe that too much monetary stimulus might lead to runaway inflation, which in turn could derail economic growth or even create future asset bubbles. Alternatively, a weaker dollar could create incentives for other countries to implement capital controls and foreign exchange interventions that negatively impact global trade.

2010-11-23 The Fed Under Attack by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Despite hopes that the anti-QE rhetoric would die down, the noise continued last week, and unfortunately, become more political. One of the key aspects of the Fed is its independence. The Fed is answerable to Congress, and ultimately, to the American people. However, it is not controlled by Congress - nor would we want it to be controlled by Congress. Attacks on the Fed and its latest round of asset purchases aren't helping

2010-11-22 Reality Check by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The world's economic environment is extremely fragile. The growth bulls are underestimating the fact that the fiscal disarray at state and local governments is a major headwind for the U.S. economy --state and local governments are the second largest contributor to spending outside of the American consumer. There is still scant evidence of a vibrant organic recovery. At least initially, the reversal of all the risk-on trends in the markets suggests that the pullback that became apparent after the peak in April is likely to be sustained over the intermediate term.

2010-11-22 Does the Fed Create Money? by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

Certain deflationists have recently gone on record saying that the increase in the Fed’s balance sheet is meaningless with regard to creating inflation because our central bank can’t print money, it can only create bank reserves. The problem with their view is that it both disregards the definition of money and ignores the process of creating bank reserves.

2010-11-17 Gold's Allure Tied to Interest Rate by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

The continued bull market in the price of gold has been one of the staple discussions in the financial media for the better part of a decade. But, in that time, almost no consensus has emerged to explain the phenomenon. The truth is the main drivers for the price of gold are the level and direction of real interest rates and the intrinsic value of the dollar.

2010-11-15 U.S. Consumer Confidence - Less than Meets the Eye by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

So, when you do the simple math, Joe Sixpack sees inflation at 3% in the coming year (from 1% now) and then averaging 2% in the next four years. Depending on how food and fuels play out, this could well be consistent with a zero or even sub-zero environment as far as core consumer price trends are concerned. This is why long Treasuries are likely to remain in a secular bull market for some time to come.

2010-11-12 Market Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The overwhelming consensus view is that the market will continue to rise through year-end and into 2011. The trend in most asset classes that had been rallying the past three months are now reaching an exhaustive phase. I’m a little nervous about changing our view at the high end of the range on equities. The problem with the U.S. fiscal outlook is that the intractable U.S. debt and deficit situation cannot be solved by cutting government spending alone. Taxes, that evil five-letter word, will have to rise in the future.

2010-11-12 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Investors surveyed the landscape in the aftermath of two major market moving events (Fed stimulus and midterm election), retreated from their recent optimism, and booked profits heading into the homestretch of the year. Despite the overall success of another earnings season, investors fretted over the global progress (or lack thereof) from the G20 meeting of world finance ministers and news that China may have inflationary problems on its hands.

2010-11-12 A Bull in China by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

On a recent trip to China, we saw encouraging and inexorable signs that the Chinese consumer is becoming a very potent force in the world economy. It wont be without volatilitybut it is happening. Heres how: demographics, changes in consumer behavior and a number of other factors.

2010-11-11 A Kind Word For Ben by Paul McCulley of PIMCO

The Fed makes policy consistent with its legislative mandate handed down by the democratically elected government of the United States. Price stability (mandate-consistent inflation) that promotes bubbles in asset prices and debt creation is a prescription for a debt-deflation bust and a subsequent liquidity trap. Acting irresponsibly relative to conventional wisdom is precisely the right approach for reversing an economy facing, or worst yet, mired in a liquidity trap.

2010-11-11 Global Markets Up, Up, Up and Away by Monty Guild of Guild Investment Management

The world markets moved like Superman last week. They lifted off and moved higher in a decisive manner. In the ongoing contest between bulls and bears, the bulls have had the upper hand in many markets. Wall Street also moved firmly into the bullish camp with U.S. stocks eclipsing their April 2010 peaks. To us this means that the technical short-sellers who had been bearish on U.S. stocks and expecting a correction bought back their short positions and took their losses.

2010-11-10 Corporate Bonds March to Their Own Drummer by Chris Shayne of BondDesk Group

During the first week of the month traders bet big on QE2, purchasing Treasuries with abandon and dropping long term yields. On October 8th, 10-year yields hit a new low for the year, falling all the way down to 2.38%. But for reasons that arent completely clear, things changed in mid-October.

2010-11-10 On the Road Out of Ireland by Michael J. Schussele of Michael J. Schussele, CPA

Ireland has been celebrated as the European Union poster child for eurozone austerity. Yet, its efforts have received little respect from the bond market, which has become increasingly aware that austerity will not make Ireland again prosperous. In attempting to be the good European Union partner, Ireland created a "bad" bad bank which gave government guarantees to all liabilities of three private banks which had engaged in risky investment policies and poor management. In doing so, the government bailed out incompetent management and bondholders at the expense of the Irish people.

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

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

2010-11-09 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 Keynesian Confusion by Michael Lewitt (Article)

Keynesian policies are inflicting untold damage on the U.S. and global economies today. Keynes did not have to be misread. The reason that the current recovery is below par is that the economy is experiencing a massive paradox of thrift. We doubt that reducing already low rates is going to stimulate much of anything other than more frustration on the part of savers. Sooner or later, everything being earned on the upside of this liquidity-induced rally will be given back in spades - the only question is when.

2010-11-09 The Fed's Asset Purchases by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

As expected, the Federal Open Market Committee has embarked on another round of planned asset purchases. There has been much criticism of the move in the financial press. Certainly, there are risks in the Fed’s strategy. However, it’s hardly reckless or ill-advised.

2010-11-09 The FDIC ambushes the Fed, and gains a beachhead in Basel by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This week The Institutional Risk Analyst is on the road. We were in Merriville, IN last night to give a talk entitled "A New Deal for the American Economy." The well-attended event was sponsored by the School of Business at Indiana State University and City Securities in Indianapolis.

2010-11-09 An Inflationary Death Spiral by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

I have no doubt that Bernanke will be remarkably successful in his stated goal of driving inflation higher. I simply disagree with his nonchalance about the long-term consequences. There is currently no easy exit strategy for the Fed. There is only the prospect of Americans suffering through either a deflationary depression or hyperinflation.

2010-11-08 Fed Follies by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

With the Federal Reserve seeming to embrace another round of what it calls “quantitative easing” and what the cognoscenti in the financial community quaintly refer to as “QE2,” a couple of questions naturally emerge: first, will the additional monetary ease help the economy? and second, is it warranted? On both counts, the weight of argument seems to fall on the negative side, though in the short run the added liquidity will likely boost markets.

2010-11-08 Crossing the Threshold into a New World ... Or Not by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

There is no doubt that the events which transpired last week are without precedent. The long-term implications of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve are entirely unknown. Should the Fed’s program conclude on schedule, private investors would need to step to the plate and replace the incremental demand lost from the Fed. It is unlikely private investors could replace that demand, which would lead to enormous upward pressure on interest rates.

2010-11-08 Weekly Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock

In our view, the strength of the GOP victory makes it quite likely that Congress will push through some extension of the Bush-era tax cuts, which are set to expire at the end of 2010. We expect the Fed to continue to be aggressive in terms of combating deflation and promoting economic growth, at least until it sees a downturn in the unemployment rate. Deflation is a more present risk than inflation, but the environment will eventually be moving to the other side of that risk spectrum. The valuations and earnings backdrop also suggests that stocks should be headed higher.

2010-11-05 Elections and QE2: Will It Make a Difference? by Scott Migliori of Allianz Global Investors

Both Republican victories during the midterm elections and the second round of quantitative easing could result in market gains. A perceived mitigation in government intervention has typically been received favorably by equity markets, and could especially benefit investor sentiment in areas that had previously received the greatest amount of government scrutiny, such as health and financial services. Furthermore, if successful, renewed quantitative easing could increase both consumer and business confidence and result in better than forecast nominal GDP in 2011.

2010-11-05 Effects of Quantitative Easing on Asia by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

While the U.S. intends to stimulate its domestic economy with quantitative easing, the actual effect of QE has been to turbo-charge emerging markets, especially the markets of Asia. There is some concern that short-term portfolio flows or 'hot money' could cause sharp price volatility, and we will continue to monitor these effects and their implications on Asia.

2010-11-05 Thoughts on Liquidity Traps by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Lacy Hunt writes that the Oct employment situation was dramatically weaker than the headline 159k increase in employment measures. The most distressing aspect is the loss of another 124K full-time jobs, bringing the 5-month loss to 1.1 million. John Hussman discusses liquidity traps, where investors prefer cash to debt (because of low interest rates) and the central bank loses control. Fiscal policy, not monetary policy, impacts economic growth and inflation - and the proper fiscal measures, such as infrastructure spending, may be the best hope for growth.

2010-11-05 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Dissecting election results, a Fed policy meeting statement, several key economic releases, and new earnings reports can prove pretty stressful. This week saw a somber Obama offer an olive branch to Republicans following their big victory in the midterms. Bear in mind, Prez Clinton suffered a similar fate in 1994 and lived to fight another day. Politicos now expect conciliation over taxes, health care, offshore drilling, and other GOP action items as Big Oil, Big Pharma, and Wall Street prepare for another boom. (The pressure is on, Speaker Boehner.)

2010-11-04 Moment of Surrender: Musings on the Election and Fed Policy by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Neither the midterm elections nor the Federal Reserve announcement of another round of quantitative easing brought surprises. Tax clarity needs to come next while uncertainty about the implications of QE2 remains front and center. Investors will likely be among the winners, but they need to understand the pros and cons of Fed policy.

2010-11-04 Thoughts on QE2 by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

While the Fed could have done more yesterday, it didn't because the economy is doing better than expected, even if it is still quite fragile. Auto sales, for example, rose to 12.3 million at an annual rate in October from 11.8 million in September (best result since August 2009). However, recall that motor vehicle sales also jumped 2.4 percent in September and all that translated into was a +0.08 percent inch-up in total real consumer spending, which was one of the weakest months of the year. Consumer spending excluding auto will now be essential to watch.

2010-11-03 Five Bitter Pills or One Sweet but Deadly? by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

The current Chairman of the Federal Reserve believes that diluting the dollar is the cure for everything from a recession to male pattern baldness. And like other snake-oil salesmen before him, Mr. Bernanke is heavy on promises and light on results. Michael Pento presents five prescriptions that money printing can't fulfill.

2010-11-03 Four Rather Sick Patients by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

The world is in an unprecedented situation in which all four major trading currencies (EUR, GBP, JPY and USD) face serious challenges. Not all four major currencies, however, can fall at the same time. Currencies are unique in the sense that they are relative as opposed to absolute trading objects. You don't just buy dollars. You buy dollars against some other currency. The scaremongers may have their day in the sun, but ultimately common sense will prevail and currency traders will have to go back to focus on housing starts again.

2010-11-01 Big Week Ahead in the U.S. by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

After Tuesday's elections, there is little question that the GOP will take the House with a 1994-type landslide. Once in control, the GOP will not support more fiscal initiatives. We are therefore likely about to see a pronounced slowdown in the pace of economic activity; outside of government intervention and inventory accumulation, catalysts for growth are few and far between. Unlike during the soft patches of the mid-1980s and mid-1990s, the economy today is just a shock away from slipping back into contraction mode.

2010-10-29 Keep Your Head Above Dollar by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The intent of QE2 is to lower interest rates to promote job growth and avoid the growing threat of deflation. The very idea that the economy is weak because interest rates are too high, however, is laughable. Deflation is the market's cure for asset bubbles that have recently burst, and any attempt to avert it will only weaken the economy further. What we need now is to make hard choices, not engage in more easing - to deleverage, not borrow more.

2010-10-29 RCM's U.S. Market Outlook by Scott Migliori of Allianz Global Investors

RCM's outlook for 2010 remains positive, with some prospect for a year-end rally and the market up at the lower end of 5 percent to 10 percent. Expectations of quantitative easing by the Fed, the election season and the earnings season may create some short-term volatility.

2010-10-27 Triple Down: Fannie, Freddie, and the Triumph of the Corporate State by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

What we need from the Federal Reserve is some leadership on the issue of making the White House take responsibility for restructuring the economy. The Fed should be telling the healthy banks to start taking a bit of risk, making some loans instead of buying Treasury bonds and agency mortgage-backed securities. A bit of increased competition in the origination channel so that performing borrowers can get a refinancing closed will unblock the economy and also do wonders for the efficacy of Fed policy.

2010-10-27 Run Turkey, Run by Bill Gross of PIMCO

The Fed's announcement of a renewed commitment to quantitative easing has been well-telegraphed, and the market's reaction is likely to be subdued. We are in a 'liquidity trap,' where interest rates or trillions in asset purchases may not stimulate borrowing or lending because consumer demand is just not there. The Fed's announcement will likely signify the end of a great 30-year bull market in bonds and the necessity for bond managers and, yes, equity managers to adjust to a new environment.

2010-10-27 QE2: Demise of the Dollar? by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

Today's QE program is conceptually similar to the Kennedy administration program known as Operation Twist. The Fed's form of payment, an accretion to the banking system's reserve accounts, is equivalent to the Fed issuing an IOU to the private sector. In effect, the Fed may have concluded that the pre-recession economy was unduly dependent on a consumption binge enabled by a housing bubble. With housing wealth lost 'forever,' the U.S. must adjust to being a more export-focused economy. Thus, by weakening the dollar, the Fed may be accelerating an adjustment that must, in any case, happen.

2010-10-26 Look For the Silver Lining by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

It is not a good time to buy and hold but there should be excellent one-to-two-year holding periods. Pick stocks with strong financials. Be prepared to reallocate. Stay invested in bonds: With the Fed ready to become buyer of first resort, we could see the 10-year yield fall below 2.5 percent. Real yields are high. However, do not let the search for yield compromise liquidity. The market trades on a narrow front and low volume. Less than 112 stocks account for 50 percent of turnover. That leaves thin numbers for the remaining 17,000 listed companies. Expect volatility.

2010-10-25 Bernanke Leaps into a Liquidity Trap by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The belief that an increase in the money supply will result in an increase in GDP relies on the assumption that velocity will not decline in proportion to the increase in monetary base. Unfortunately for the proponents of 'quantitative easing,' this assumption fails spectacularly in the data - both in the U.S. and internationally - particularly at zero interest rates. Once short-term interest rates drop to zero, further expansions in base money simply induce a proportional collapse in velocity.

2010-10-25 Key Dates Approaching by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The first week of November looms large for the markets. The November 2 midterm elections are expected to result in a power shift on Capitol Hill - but how much will actually change? The Fed's November 3 monetary policy decision has important implications for interest rates, the dollar, and the economy in general. The October Employment Report (due November 5) will help shape the near-term economic outlook and set expectations for future Fed policy moves.

2010-10-21 Latest Global Market Commentary by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Investors should continue to hold U.S. stocks for a further rally. U.S. liquidity formation through QE will create demand for many assets, including U.S. stocks. Long-term Treasury bonds have also become less bearish. Another round of QE, as well as fear of another depression will create strong demand for bonds; it is thus too early to sell them short. Meanwhile, investors should short the Japanese yen. The Japanese have neither the resources nor the political willpower to fight protect their currency's value.

2010-10-21 'Unusual Uncertainty'... It's Certainly Unusual by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management

In mid-July, Federal reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke stated there is 'unusual uncertainty' with regards to the nation's economic outlook. As interest rates trend higher over the coming years from record lows, the yield curve will flatten. And as the economy improves, spreads between higher-risk credits and Treasury bonds will narrow.

2010-10-20 Dirty (Paper) Work: Foreclosure Mess Gets Messier by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Moratoriums on foreclosures, and the reasons behind them, bring back fears of 2008 all over again. These fears will likely cement another round of quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve. Even if 'Foreclosure Gate' blows over, investors shouldn't make too little of a potentially big problem.

2010-10-19 Tales of the Bull and Bear Bond Market by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

The investment advisory business is competing to capture retirement dollars by offering new products that emphasize income. The greatest risk to any retiree is running out of money before they die. Most retirees understand this, so the idea of income for life sounds wonderful. What good is a guaranteed income payment, however, if the payment is not enough to cover the future cost of living? Current interest rates will not allow adequate income from bonds, or protect against the risk of inflation.

2010-10-18 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Low yields, high corporate debt issuance, increased monetary stimulus and the rising dollar do not mean that growth will accelerate any time soon; the outlook of a slow and meandering recovery still holds. Corporations continue to rebuild balance sheets and margins at the expense of hiring and investment. While this bodes well for future debt repayment, the outlook is not rosy for job seekers. When the job outlook does change, however, and the economic pulse quickens, the era of low interest rates could end quickly.

2010-10-18 It's All About Ben, the Fed's Intent and the Market Reaction by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The U.S. economy is caught in a classic liquidity trap. With additional fiscal stimulus no longer a viable political option, even though the government is better equipped to deal with many of the structural hurdles to growth than monetary policy, Mr. Bernanke clearly feels that the Fed is the only game in town. Monetary policy, even in a non-conventional form, is a very blunt tool to use to reverse a secular uptrend in the savings rate, fix chronic unemployment or induce people to spend rather than correct their debt-laden balance sheets.

2010-10-18 Is Inflation Gone Today and Here Tomorrow? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Inflation is arguably not an issue for the time being, but with the Fed prepared to unleash trillions in additional liquidity, the outlook for inflation is more uncertain than ever. While yields on government bonds with a maturity between 2- and 10-years are flattening, the long end of the yield curve is widening dramatically. Long-term bonds exhibit the most sensitivity to interest rates and inflation, so this may be the first indication that inflation will pose a serious threat down the road. Investors and consumers alike should tread very, very carefully.

2010-10-15 A Turn in the Bond Market? by Charles and Louis Vincent Gave of GaveKal

The weak dollar policy forces central banks everywhere to accumulate U.S. Treasury bonds. And with the U.S. registering yet another high current account deficit, one might expect foreign central banks to keep showing up on the 'ask' side of the market. Between the record low TIPS yields, the action of the 30-year bonds, and the overall market valuations, it seems that the bond market rally has come to an end.

2010-10-14 Baggage and Investing by Richard Bregman of MJB Asset Management

Many investors – still fearful of anything that carries risk – have piled into Treasury bonds, stunningly willing to accept paltry rates of interest in exchange for safety of principal. The strongest potential for gains right now, however, is in the common stocks of large, dividend paying multinational corporations that have repaired their balance sheets and have substantial cash on hand. Investors fearful of the stock market are leaving the prices of many of these companies at attractive levels, creating an opportunity for investors who are not as baggage-laden.

2010-10-13 Gold Vs. U.S. Bonds - Which Do You Believe? by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

Any psychoanalyst looking at the behavior of investors today would see clear strains of schizophrenia in a comparison between the markets for gold and U.S. Treasury bonds. Low bond yields warn of deflation, while high gold prices and a declining dollar presage hyperinflation. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will not stop the presses until inflation has a firm and undeniable grip on the American economy. Since the chairman has shown no will to hit the brakes, you would have to be mad to ride the yield curve alongside him.

2010-10-13 Evolution of the Asia Bond Market by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

One of the most profound developments in the history of Asia's capital markets has been the deepening of the domestic bond markets over the last decade. The largest Asian issuers can now diversify their funding sources across both international and domestic currencies. While China's bond market is the largest in Asia outside of Japan, it remains largely inaccessible to most foreign investors. Korea's local currency-denominated bond market is the next-largest at just under U.S. $1 trillion, making it the single-largest bond market readily accessible to offshore investors.

2010-10-12 How Not To Get Screwed by the Bond Bubble by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors

Bond funds, particularly those that invest in U.S. Treasury securities and other types of bonds at the low end of the risk spectrum, have seen piles of new cash in 2010. Whether it is through long-short funds, arbitrage, multi-strategy or 'equity surrogates' like convertibles and REITs, however, it is possible to create a portfolio with a low standard deviation without having to be trapped by a low fixed rate and the threat of rising bond prices.

2010-10-12 It's a Mad World by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Gold could be the only asset class that makes sense right now. If the bond market is right, then we will get deflation, and gold is a hedge against the uncertainty such an environment would entail. If the equity market is right, then we will get gobs of liquidity out of the Fed and then go off to a new reflationary credit cycle - gold would benefit in this scenario, too. And if the commodity complex is right, then we are heading towards a new inflationary cycle, and of course gold is a classic way to play this scenario.

2010-10-12 Capitulation to Uncertainties – Does a Bond Bubble Really Exist? by Frank Wei of FundQuest

The recent near-record low in Treasury yields may be largely attributable to investors' capitulation to today's unusual and uncertain economic environment. While investments in Treasury bonds involve less uncertainty than other asset classes, their valuation is typically rich when yields are low. There remains a vast amount of potential for more lucrative investment opportunities in this low-yield environment, with only slightly more risk involved.

2010-10-09 The Ride of the Keynesian Cowboys by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Mauldin reviews the just-released employment statistics, concluding that the "job picture is terrible." Add to that forecast weak GDP growth, lack of consumer spending, and feeble credit demand, and the Fed is left with one more "bullet" - QE2 - which is advocated by "Keynesian Cowboys" at the Fed. Others at the Fed, though, have warned about the unintended consequences of a possible QE2, and Mauldin doubts it will "work."

2010-10-08 Narratives vs. Facts: Why U.S. Stocks are Surging Despite Anemic Economic News by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Investors chasing yields have bid up the prices of corporate bonds and preferred stock, while Treasury bonds, near post-war lows, barely yield more than inflation. Emerging markets stocks and bonds are doing well, but the high returns of 2008 are unlikely to happen again. Indeed, after a decade of pariah status, perhaps the only asset class that offers a reasonable risk-adjusted return is U.S. stocks. Even so, expect no more than 8 percents returns including dividends until the debt deflation process is complete in another 5-10 years.

2010-10-08 Still Vulnerable by Van R. Hoisington and Lacy H. Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

Economic growth has been largely due to an unsustainable, and probably over-extended rebuilding of inventories. The proposed QE2 is unlikely to succeed, and the U.S. economy faces four problems: excess leverage, counterproductive fiscal policies, sub-optimal tax policies and excess bureaucracy. Treasury bonds are not in a bubble and represent good long-term investments.

2010-10-07 Government Policy and the Markets: Prepare For Some Big Changes by Tony and Rob Boeckh of Boeckh Investment Letter

Proponents of gold base their arguments on predictions of eventual monetary ruin, a dollar collapse and high inflation. The bond market, however, is far bigger and more sophisticated than the gold market, and it indicates that inflation expectations are nonexistent. Bond yields are far below their long-run equilibrium levels and if anything, are forecasting deflation and possible stagnation. The huge disconnect between gold and bonds should serve as a reminder to gold bulls to tread carefully, unless they are sure that the bond market has it wrong.

2010-10-06 Is Warren Buffett Correct on this One?; I Love Gold, But… by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Warren Buffett says that equities are currently cheaper than bonds, and that people who are buying bonds are 'making a mistake.' That's quite a statement considering what bonds, even at ultra-low yield levels, have managed to generate in terms of total returns this year compared to the equity market. It's not even close, with all deference to the recent snapback in the stock market. More fundamentally, there is a critical difference between something that is government guaranteed and comes due in 10 years versus something that has downside capital price risks and never comes due.

2010-10-06 A Sobering Look at U.S. Treasury Debt by Peter Williams of Doug Short

Guest contributor Peter Williams presents charts of U.S. Treasury bond auction results grouped by maturity date and term in order to provide give a bird's eye view of how the Treasury has positioned all debt issued since 1982. The Treasury has issued a total of $4.5 trillion in new debt since 2008. A look at outstanding debt levels, however, suggests that that there is still plenty of wiggle room for more debt to be offered.

2010-10-05 Commentary & Market Outlook by Jeff Spitzmiller, Jim Worden and Alan Chauhan of Iron Point Capital Management

While recent economic numbers have been low, they continue to point to growth - albeit slow growth - over the next few quarters. With the Fed poised to continue engaging in quantitative easing and more stimulus programs being promoted in Congress to help small businesses and improve payrolls, it is clear that all monetary and fiscal tools will be used to keep the economy moving on an upward trajectory.

2010-10-05 QE II Set To Sail, But How Soon? by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

In its September 21 policy statement, the Federal Open Market Committee indicated that it was 'prepared to provide additional accommodation if needed to support the economic recovery and to return inflation, over time, to levels consistent with its mandate.' The key part of that phrase is 'if needed.' Growth and inflation are both too low for the Fed's comfort, but are they low enough to force the Fed's hand? Most officials appear to be leaning in the direction of further quantitative easing, but it's unclear when it will happen.

2010-10-04 What's On My Mind?: Five Developments Driving Investor Sentiment by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The bottom-up S&P 500 operating EPS estimate currently driving equity valuations is $95. That would be a 14 percent gain on top of this year's anticipated 36 percent bounce. Here's the rub: to get that $95 operating EPS for 2011, we either need to see at least 7 percent nominal GDP growth, which last happened in 1989 when inflation was 5 percent, not close to zero, or margins manage to reach new all-time highs. The base case now, however, is for low single-digit nominal growth and some margin compression so frankly we could be looking at something closer to a $75 earnings stream next year.

2010-09-25 Pushing on a String by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Fed will move forward with aggressive quantitative easing (QE), unless economic growth reaches 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent. The Fed's QE efforts thus far have been ineffective, because funds remain on banks' balance sheets. Future efforts would likely lower interest rates or possibly devalue the dollar, but it is unlikely it will stimulate growth.

2010-09-20 Weekly Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Absent any significant economic disappointments, stocks are likely to continue to make gains in the weeks ahead. Although investors have begun to re-enter the markets, however, most still have lower-than-normal levels of equity exposure in their portfolios and are waiting for clearer signs that the economy has regained strength before rebuilding their stock positions. Nonetheless, equity valuations are attractive and, looking ahead, stocks appear likely to outperform Treasury bonds and cash over a two- to three-year time horizon.

2010-09-17 Can The USA Slip Into Outright Deflation? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The last time we flirted with deflation was in 2003, the year when the Fed cut rates to 1 percent. If the core goods consumer price index were to ever revert back to its historic lows of 2003 and bump against the current historic low in the core services CPI, then we would indeed slip into a mild deflation of -0.2 percent. That prospect, however, is not even remotely priced into nominal bond yields, even with the 10-year note sitting around 2.7 percent and the long bond yield just under the 4 percent mark.

2010-09-16 Pass the Ammo by Team of Dana Investment Advisors

The Fed has kept interest rates near zero and has purchased more than $1.5 trillion in Treasury and agency bonds in order to inject cash into the banking system. Although there has been disagreement within the Fed, interest rates will remain low. Free enterprise has worked for us for several hundred years. There have been and always will be recessions and even financial panics, but markets have the propensity to straighten themselves out.

2010-09-15 A Bond Bubble? by David Baccile of Sextant Investment Advisors

Longer-term interest rates may not be particularly cheap right now, but there is no indication that a bond bubble has formed and is ready to pop. When it comes to predicting what the global economy will look like in 2011 or 2012, there is still considerable uncertainty and at least some tangible risk deflationary pressures will continue to build. With yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds under 3 percent, investors are not being paid enough to totally embrace long-term maturities, but to shun them altogether would not be a prudent decision either.

2010-09-15 Using Convertibles for Prudent Stock Market Exposure by Douglas G. Forsyth of Allianz Global Investors

For investors still wary of stepping fully back into U.S. stocks, convertible securities - which possess both equity and bond features - may be a prudent way to participate in potential stock upside while also defending against market volatility. With economic growth and corporate profitability slowly but steadily picking up steam, the prospects for convertibles may be particularly attractive now. At the same time, their diversification and total return benefits make them an appropriate allocation in a long-term portfolio as well.

2010-09-14 Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market by RidgeWorth Investments (Article)

Ridgeworth Investments shares its perspective on the muni bond market in a recent white paper entitled "Identifying Opportunities in the Municipal Bond Market" which outlines the historical benefits of municipal bonds, the changing market dynamics in 2009 as well as RidgeWorth's outlook for municipal bonds in 2010 and potentially beyond. RidgeWorth concludes that despite a challenging market environment, munis still offer attractive investment opportunities. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2010-09-14 The Centre Cannot Hold by Michael Lewitt (Article)

"A refusal to shed discredited monetary and fiscal policies and embrace creative and politically bold solutions is keeping our economy mired in high levels of structural unemployment and below-trend growth," writes Michael Lewitt in the latest edition of the HCM Market Letter. He also believes that "misguided faith in Keynesian solutions to debt crises, a near-religious belief that mild deflation must be avoided... and uninformed media hype about the alleged benefits of mergers and acquisitions" should be added to the list of bad ideas that lead economic policy and markets astray.

2010-09-14 Municipal Bonds : Much Healthier than Feared by Jim McDonald (Article)

Investors and advisors are growing increasingly concerned about investing in bonds. Historical levels of flows into the asset class have driven prices up significantly. The extended economic downturn continues to apply pressures to municipalities and states are struggling with their balance sheets. Despite these headwinds investment professionals maintain that municipal bonds should continue to play a role in client portfolios. We thank Northern Trust Investments for their sponsorship.

2010-09-14 Does the Fed Ultimately Control Interest Rates? by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

In forecasting the consequences of current economic policy, many pundits are downplaying the risks associated with the surging national debt and the rapid expansion of marketable Treasury securities. In the end, central banks can only temporarily distort the savings and demand equation. The more the Fed prints, the higher the eventual rate of inflation will be. If mainstream pundits truly believe the Fed can supplant the entire public and private market for debt indefinitely, then we won't want to be around when that fantasy inevitably becomes a nightmare.

2010-09-14 Sometimes We Get Lucky by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Monty Guild and Tony Danaher strongly recommend that investors sell long- and intermediate-term U.S. bonds, including U.S. Treasury bonds, U.S. government agency securities, municipal bonds and corporate bonds. It would be very unwise to bet that interest rates will stay down. Guild and Danaher also comment on the rising risk of inflation, the drug war in Mexico, the rise of the Japanese currency and bullish prospects for gold.

2010-09-13 Market Comment and Forecast Update by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

One can call it a 'growth recession,' but if Mr. Market wants to focus on the word 'growth' and ignore the word 'recession,' then one may well see ebullience take hold for a time. The most important factor right now is the prospect of significant downward revisions to earnings estimates in the next several months and quarters. The next great buying opportunity will be when the market has come to grips with or even overreacts to that. Therefore, patience over the near-term will be extremely important; now is not the time for impulsive buying behavior.

2010-09-07 The Recognition Window by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Over the course of the market cycle, one of the primary areas of risk for stocks (and conversely, one of the best periods for Treasury bonds) is typically the 'recognition window' where economic activity begins to deviate from the upward trend that is priced into the market, and investors begin to recognize that an economic downturn is, in fact, likely. The instant relief provoked by the manufacturing purchasing managers index and the employment report was an overreaction to data that is still very early in that window.

2010-09-07 It's the Economy, Stupid by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Stocks are so totally out of favor, any excuse will suffice to justify investing elsewhere. Such rationalizations can overcome depressed equity valuations and record low bond yields, at least until the market rallies and investors suddenly confront that new reality. But the key is the economy. If growth is sustained, stocks have enormous upside.

2010-09-02 Bernanke Out of Bullets, But Not Bombs by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

For good or ill (mostly ill), the Fed can never run out of ammunition. Their bullets cost nothing to produce. Unfortunately, unconventional monetary tools can cause far more damage to the economy than regular policy. We must understand that the Fed can shower liquidity directly on the consumer in any amount it wants. The political pressure to do so will only increase as unemployment rises and economic growth falters. Therefore, rather than fearing phantom deflation, investors should prepare their portfolios for the real upcoming battle with intractable inflation.

2010-09-02 Learning From Past Crises by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Although it is unrealistic to assume that the structural changes implemented in some emerging markets can completely shield them from the effects of future global crises, they seem to have borne the most recent global financial crisis reasonably well. While risks have not disappeared, things look a lot better today than they did 20 years ago. The growing use of derivatives contracts is just one of the many reasons to remain cautious, but some emerging markets' strong fiscal health is cause for hope and optimism.

2010-09-01 Land of Confusion … Bubbles and Omens Dissected by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Charles Schwab is sticking with its view that the recovery is square root shaped (a 'V' followed by a stall), and there's little question that we've entered the stall phase. In addition to the havoc the stall has wreaked on stock market volatility, it's taken yields on Treasury bonds to near all-time lows. This, of course, has generated a very strong upward price move in bonds (as bond prices and yields move inversely) and much talk about a 'bond bubble.' That could be the case if yields move higher, which could trigger a swift move out of bonds as an asset class.

2010-08-31 Risk vs. Risk by Herbert Abramson and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

The best stock market returns occur when interest rates are relatively low and supportive of under-owned equities, with lots of cash on the sidelines to fuel a rally. Markets are currently at or inflecting up from 'floors' or buy points. Probabilities remain high that markets will rise significantly from here even if we have another temporary setback. Accordingly, Trapeze Asset Management remains fully invested (even using some leverage in margin accounts) while continuing to have no short positions, particularly with the prevailing low valuations.

2010-08-27 Debt Be Not Proud by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

The looming sovereign debt crisis may be the defining influence on capital market returns over the next 10 years. Greece recently hit a wall and had to break a lot of promises to its citizens, including retirees and prospective retirees from government employment. Greece certainly won't be the last. An exploration of the relationship between sovereign debt levels and the economic might of debtor nations reveals a scary situation, particularly for investors who cap weight their government bond market exposure.

2010-08-27 Double-Dip Economy: Does Quantitative Easing Really Matter? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

While the financial markets await the latest pronouncement from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, the Institutional Risk Analyst features a comment from friend and former colleague at the FRBNY Richard Alford. He asks whether any of the policy options being considered by the U.S. central bank are meaningful to the American economy. As Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times on Friday, 'policy makers are in denial.'

2010-08-26 How Low Are Bond Yields Really? by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

A growing number of investors are calling the bond market a bubble. Bespoke presents a chart showing the yield on 10-year Treasury bonds minus the year-over-year change in the CPI. Using this method, the adjusted 1.62 percent yield on the 10-year bond is still below its historical average of 2.66 percent, but nowhere near historical extremes. While one could make the argument that Treasury bonds are unattractive due to increased supply and their low yields relative to other periods in the past, it is hard to argue that their current valuation fits the criteria for a bubble.

2010-08-25 The Fed's Biggest Bubble by Michael Pento of Euro Pacific Capital

Even top-flight Wall Street analysts seem to believe that the Fed's doubling of the monetary base after the credit crunch has not had an inflationary impact on our economy. Their logic can be summed up like this: "The money the Fed created and dropped from helicopters has all been caught in the trees." In other words, the Fed is creating money, but it is just being held as excess reserves by the banking system instead of being loaned to the public.

2010-08-24 Build America Bonds Power the US States by Hildy Richelson, Ph.D. (Article)

A skeptical attitude toward new products has long served the best interests of advisors and their clients, almost without fail. However, in this guest contribution, Hildy Richelson argues that advisors should not be afraid to embrace one of the market's most prominent recent innovations: the Build America Bond (BAB).

2010-08-24 Bonds or Stocks - Who is Right? by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Over the past several months, bond and equity markets have been on starkly divergent paths. Investors are growing increasingly concerned that perhaps the bond market knows something that the stock market is overlooking. One reason for this divergence is corporations. Emerging from one of the most severe recessions in the last century, companies are more than willing to hoard cash and favor a 'wait and see' approach before resuming expansion. Meanwhile, individual investors continue to sell equities in favor of fixed income securities.

2010-08-24 Crowded Trade by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Equity markets remain mired in a wide-swinging trading range. In such an environment, stock selection, combined with the ability to sell mistakes quickly, should be the key to portfolio performance. There are also reasonable investment alternatives to the sidelines.

2010-08-23 Why Quantitative Easing Is Likely to Trigger a Collapse of the U.S. Dollar by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

A week ago, the Federal Reserve initiated a new quantitative easing program, purchasing U.S. Treasury securities and paying for those securities by creating billions of dollars in new monetary base. Treasury bond prices surged. With the U.S. economy weakening, this second round of quantitative easing appears likely to continue. Unfortunately, the unintended side effect of this policy shift is likely to be an abrupt collapse of the foreign exchange value of the U.S. dollar.

2010-08-20 Take Your Pick: Sinking US or Soaring BRIC by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

If America is headed for depression, then US equity, real estate and even bond investments may become increasingly risky relative to the BRICs. Investors still holding US securities and bonds might wish to follow the example of the People’s Bank of China and begin harvesting their dollar gains. With the proceeds, investors should allocate to economies showing growth based on genuine demand and solid fundamentals.

2010-08-20 And That\'s the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Positive earnings AND an array of new M&A activity. Taken together, these two factors should mean one thing…strength in equities. Unfortunately, investors looked past the week’s business headlines and focused on the economic data, much of which depicted a sluggish recovery. Many skeptical investors took the easy way out and turned to the safe-haven of treasuries in lieu of the riskier equities.

2010-08-19 The Bond Bubble Debate: 'One Rosie' Takes on 'Two Jeremies' by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

What we have on our hands is a powerful demographic appetite for yield at a time when income is under-represented on boomer balance sheets. The two most significant determinants of the trend in long-term bond yields - Fed policy and inflation - continue to flash 'green' at a time when the yield curve is still historically steep and destined to flatten. Finally, the central bank has already assured us that short-term rates will remain at rock-bottom levels for as long as the eye can see. David Rosenberg also comments on growing acceptance of frugality by retailers.

2010-08-18 Pay No Attention to the Headlines by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Market valuations are attractive, especially after the recent correction to below 1,100 on the S&P. What should work is buying companies with strong and sustainable cash flows and proven management. What will not work is chasing risk, and investing in companies that dilute shareholders and operate with high leverage. Don't look for an immediate catalyst. This is a market where stealth, opportunity buying and stock picking work. If you hear the word 'momentum,' run.

2010-08-17 When Unconventional Become Conventional by Paul McCulley of PIMCO

Conventional monetary policy is undergirded by the doctrine of central bank independence, founded on the proposition that fiscal authorities, hostage to the political process, inherently are prone to an inflationary bias. When the economy suffers from private sector deleveraging and a fat-tail risk of deflation, however, conventional monetary policy is not enough. In such circumstances, the central bank has a profound duty to act unconventionally, ballooning its balance sheet by monetizing assets, either government or private, or both.

2010-08-16 Treasury Yields in Perspective by Doug Short of Doug Short

Doug Short presents charts of inflation, 10-year Treasury bond yields and the federal funds rate since 1962. Last week the Fed said it will reinvest payments on mortgage assets it holds into Treasury bonds. Not surprisingly, yields fell, with the 10-Year Treasury index, for example, closing the week down 4.6 percent from its level the hour before the Fed announcement. As the charts illustrate, Treasury bond yields have occasionally led the market. How the Treasury bond market plays out over the next few months will be of critical importance to equity markets and the economy as a whole.

2010-08-16 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

While earnings remain quite good, the macro news on the economy warrants a more defensive stance as we head into the fall midterm elections. Clearly, the economy is not in the kind of trouble it was two years ago, but just as clearly, the policies emanating from Washington D.C., whether they be tax increases, healthcare mandates, oil drilling moratoriums or the recently concluded financial regulation monstrosity, are stifling business plans.

2010-08-16 Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock

The outlook for stocks will be highly dependent on the direction of the economy. Despite last week's decline in both equity prices and Treasury yields, financial markets are signaling that the worst of the deflation scare is ending and that renewed recession is unlikely. A strong current of skepticism is likely to persist for some time, and volatility levels will likely remain elevated, but as long as the economy does not retreat back into recession, stocks should be able to continue to make gains.

2010-08-16 Late Summer Slumber? by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The stock market rallied nicely in July after reaching the bottom of its recent range. Incoming data remains mixed but indicates that the economic expansion continues. However, risks remain elevated. The Federal Reserve downgraded its view and is discussing how to combat possible deflation, while federal and state governments continue to grapple with budget issues. Chinese growth has slowed, but the stock market is providing some positive indicators. Central banks around the world are creating a muddied picture.

2010-08-13 Medicine for a New Normal by Doug MacKay and Bill Hoover of Broadleaf Partners

We could be on the cusp of a major sea change in the markets, one in which cash-rich companies - which are in far better shape than governments - begin to compete for investors through the dynamics of dividend yield. Investors who can start to capitalize on these changes now are likely to benefit as the groundswell for all things bonds begins to find a suitable and potentially even safer path towards stocks with rising dividends.

2010-08-13 Q2 Economic and Market Outlook: “Soft Patch” or “Double-Dip”? by Ken Taubes of Pioneer Investment Management

Inflation should remain well-contained for the next year or two, but a credible plan to cut budget deficits and a return to positive real interest rates will be needed to prevent the bond market from pricing in rising inflation in the medium term. In this environment, the U.S. dollar can continue to strengthen versus other major currencies, and capital markets, especially equity markets, can deliver attractive returns.

2010-08-13 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

No doubt, investor sentiment can shift on a dime. Perhaps, we can blame some of the market moves on overreaction and light volume from the end of summer blahs. After closing out the second quarter on a sour note, the equity market regained its bullish form in July, but again hit a serious road block this week. A perceived pessimistic Fed statement following the policy meeting sent investors running for cover as four straight down days left the major indexes back “in-the-red” for the year.

2010-08-12 Asset Allocation: Volatility, Correlations and Returns in the New Environment by Tom and Rob Boeckh of Boeckh Investment Letter

Slow growth, high unemployment and weak inflation will keep interest rates very low in the short term. Rising government debt levels and heavy reliance on monetary ease from the Federal Reserve, however, suggest rising risks of price inflation later on, possibly much later. The current period of low long-term interest rates should thus be thought of as an extended base-building period for higher rates down the line. Investors should maintain a diversified portfolio, shifting equity exposure to defensive, non-cyclical sectors, and build positions in cash and safe sovereign debt.

2010-08-12 Bonds Have More Fun by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Yields cannot go to microscopic levels, even with large-scale government debts. In the past, at the peak of bull markets in bonds, the yield curve has gotten so flat that the average spread between the long bond and the federal funds rate has been 100 basis points. It would seem that just as BB-grade sliver in the corporate bond universe was the laggard with the greatest return potential, within the Treasury curve it would seem that the long end carries with it the most compelling total return opportunity.

2010-08-11 Real Real Returns Study by Team of Thornburg Investment Management

This commentary features Thornburg's annual look at what investors are left with after expenses, taxes and inflation take a bite out of nominal returns. Once again, common stocks and municipal bonds are the best performers. This year's study also looks at implications for retirees, a group for whom nominal returns don't mean much, since they need to be concerned about actual spending dollars to protect against outliving their retirement income.

2010-08-09 Systemic Regulator Risk: Does the Fed of New York Need a Haircut? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Given its second lease on regulatory life, one might expect that the Fed's bank supervision function would be gearing-up to take a fresh, smart, and tough line with respect to financial company oversight. However, the appointment of Sarah Dahlgren as head of supervision by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York indicates this may not be the case. Ms. Dahlgren has been at the center of many of the Federal Reserve's most embarrassing failures in the area of bank supervision, including the fiasco surrounding American International Group.

2010-08-09 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

For some time we have been discussing the twin factors of a truly jobless recovery versus very strong corporate profits. While much of the media focuses upon the jobs issue because of its political impact, the stock market is mostly concerned with profits and productivity trends of those working. Corporations simply will not expand or hire under the uncertainty of changing tax, healthcare and energy policies. As a result, the economy is now being held hostage to the upcoming mid-term elections as an indication of just what direction the central planning policy of Washington D.C. will take.

2010-08-03 Agency Mortgage Valuations: Government Action and Unintended Consequences by Mitchell A. Flack of TCW Asset Management

In its attempt to bolster housing and stem the tide of foreclosures, the government has enacted several new policies and mandates over the past year to provide underwater borrowers with poor credit histories with subsidized mortgage rates. These policies, however, will likely end the participation of many private mortgage investors. They will cost taxpayers, new home buyers, pensioners and private investors, while giving overseas investors the cold shoulder. Ultimately there is a limit to the assistance the government can provide private markets without doing more damage than good.

2010-08-02 Growing Federal Debt Will Cause Major Challenges in the Years Ahead by Team of Litman Gregory

A combination of sharply declining tax revenues and a surge in stimulus and bailout spending, both stemming from the financial crisis, caused the federal budget deficit to soar to almost 10 percent in 2009. Total debt to GDP ratios are climbing sharply, and could pass 90 percent by next year. The growth track of entitlement programs has led many to conclude that growing federal debt levels are unsustainable in the long term. Additionally, the Greek debt crisis could trigger increasing awareness of sovereign default risk with investors demanding higher rates for owning government debt.

2010-08-02 What Multiples Are Telling Us Now by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The market will begin the next 18-24 months with multiples neither high nor low. Treasury and corporate bond yields, however, look low relative to the same history over which the historical multiples are calculated, seemingly leaving room for stocks to carry higher-than-average multiples. At the same time, prospects for further earnings gains seem good. Earnings have come in 25–30 percent above the easy comparisons of the past year, and as long as the economy continues to grow, which is likely, these good earnings figures should continue.

2010-07-30 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

A couple of Fed sightings, some mixed earnings reports, and a stand against profane emails. At the end of the day (week), the markets were little changed from where they began. Seems hardly worth coming in this week (though the month of July was pretty successful for equities).

2010-07-26 Betting on a Bubble, Bracing For a Fall by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors who will need to fund specific expenses within a short number of years - retirement needs, tuition, health care, home purchases etc. - should not be relying on a continued market advance. If your life plans would be significantly derailed by a major market decline, get out. In contrast, if you are pursuing a disciplined, long-term investment strategy, and you know from your own experience of the past decade that you are diversified enough to ride out periodic losses without abandoning that strategy, ignore my views (and those of everyone else) and stick to your discipline.

2010-07-24 Some Thoughts on Deflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We face the deflation of the Depression era, and central bankers of the world are united in opposition. This is due to excess capacity, high unemployment and massive wealth destruction. Deflationary pressures are the norm in the developed world (except for Britain, where inflation is the issue). The US has mild (1 percent) inflation now, but if it trends to deflation, the Fed will react by monetizing the debt.

2010-07-20 The Fed\'s View by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke will testify on the Fed's semi-annual Monetary Policy Report to Congress this week. This is usually a big deal for the markets. However, there's much less suspense this time around. The Fed's views were already included in the minutes of the June 22-23 policy meeting. Fed officials lowered their projections of near-term growth and inflation, and about half saw the risks to their growth outlooks as tilted to the downside. However, policymakers felt that the shift in the near-term outlook did not warrant stimulus.

2010-07-19 Double-Dip? Seven Reasons Why Not by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

It seems these days that half the headlines in the financial media fear a double-dip recession, as do half the conversations on Wall Street. There certainly are risks, not the least in Europe's financial difficulties. But still, there are reasons to question such widespread concerns. History, after all, offers only one true double-dip experience, and that grew out of a policy error. Moreover, the actual data on the economy flies in the face of such an outlook. Milton Ezrati outlines seven reasons to doubt the double-dip outlook.

2010-07-17 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

So much information; so little time to digest. While earnings season kicked off to some mixed results, investors also eyed critical news from BP, Goldman, Apple, the Fed, and even Playboy as they attempted to determine the next direction for the markets. The early weak euphoria was replaced by newfound late-week concerns and stocks did another about-face as the game of streaks continued. Aren’t the summers supposed to be slow and boring?

2010-07-16 Global Government Spending Hits the Tipping Point... by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management

A combination of spending cuts and tax increases could weigh on economic growth. This is important to bond investors over the short term, as global deleveraging will create slower global GDP growth and provide lower levels of inflation. In the longer term, governments will probably use their printing presses to inflate their way to lower debt levels while investors will demand greater returns relative to the interest rate and credit risks they assume. Thus, with an outlook towards higher rates in the years to come, Carret remains focused on short-duration, high quality portfolios.

2010-07-16 Value in the Agency Mortgage Market: Modern Carry by Mitchell A. Flack of TCW Asset Management

'The road to hell is paved with carry.' We investors find ourselves facing a most unusual mortgage-backed securities market. Mortgage prices are now at or near all-time high dollar prices. And with mortgage rates also near all-time lows, are we not at the precipice of the mother of all refinance waves? Will negative convexity hit us like a Mack truck and mortgage investors suffer poor returns? The simple answer is a resounding no. While we still are walking down that proverbial 'road paved with carry,' the nature of that carry has changed.

2010-07-14 U.S. Equity Newsletter by Team of W.P. Stewart

One thing is certain - there is a lot of bad news around and many people are now forecasting a double-dip recession. 'Bad news,' however, may already be factored into prices. Global growth is still expected to be solidly positive in 2010 and 2011, albeit somewhat skewed to the emerging markets. Corporate balance sheets are very robust, productivity has never been higher and earnings growth remains strong even on somewhat reduced estimates. Equities should therefore offer significantly better returns than bonds or cash.

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

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

2010-07-13 Our Muni Market Perspective: The Sky is Not Falling by Team of American Century Investments

The muni market sky is not falling. Municipal credit downgrades and defaults are indeed likely to increase in the months ahead, even as the U.S. economy regroups and moves forward. It may seem odd that muni credit quality faces continued challenges at a time when businesses and other sectors of the economy are going ahead, but that's just an unfortunate feature of a lagging market, one that municipalities share with the labor market. In the long run, municipal bonds as an asset class still have credit quality second only to U.S. Treasury bonds.

2010-07-12 Recession Odds Still on the Rise by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The Economic Cycle Research Institute's weekly leading index fell again last week despite the equity market bounce. The spot index fell 0.6 percent for the second week in a row, and the growth index slipped to -8.3 percent from -7.6 percent at the end of June. While this is the only indicator so far suggesting that recession odds are rising, once you get to -8.3 percent, looking at the historical record, downturns occur more often than not.

2010-07-08 Update: 10 Predictions for 2010 by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Over the long term, policymakers still have a difficult job to do as they work to unwind the massive amount of stimulus that had been injected into the system without causing either inflation issues or renewed deflation threats. Over the short term, the broad macro environment will continue to be buffeted by financial and economic uncertainty that will keep volatility levels elevated. That said, the odds for a double-dip recession are low. As long as a renewed economic contraction is avoided, equity prices should grind higher over time.

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.

2010-07-06 Animal Spirits and the Economic Outlook by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

Near-term economic expectations have softened over the last few months and the risks to the growth outlook have become tilted more to the downside. There's nothing to suggest that a double-dip recession is imminent or even likely over the next few quarters. However, the one element that's hard to get a handle on is psychology. Fears of a double-dip could become self-fulfilling if enough firms stop hiring.

2010-07-02 Focus on China: the Renminbi, Commodities and Real Estate by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

The Remimbi's rise is likely to be gentle and controlled. This move does not dramatically change our overall outlook on Chinese stocks, which we think should perform well in the medium term. While the real estate market may have taken on bubble-like characteristics in some specific areas, the government has been quick to react, to control and prevent bubbles, such as introducing measures to restrict bank lending on second and third home purchases. But overall, I don’t think the Chinese real estate market is in dangerous territory in terms of a bubble.

2010-06-29 Market Insights by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

Christian W. Thwaites takes a deeper look at some of todays big issues. He answers the question Inflation or Deflation, investigates the Eurozone collapse and explains the plight of the U.S. consumer. As the summer begins, Thwaites gives his outlook on the market and some simple rules to follow for a strong financial future.

2010-06-29 Country Risk: The World According to Robert Rubin by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Christopher Whalen writes about the role of Robert Rubin in Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, the Mexico bailout, and the threads he weaves throughout the White House administration’s fiscal policy.

2010-06-28 Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock

We entered 2010 expecting a modest cyclical recovery countered by the structural problems that faced most of the developed world. For the first part of the year, the cyclical recovery did dominate, but in recent months, structural problems (especially those in Europe) began to win out and risk assets have been struggling. Now at the mid-year point, we thought it would be a good opportunity to take a look back at the predictions we made at the beginning of the year to see where we stand.

2010-06-26 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Get used to this volatility and market uncertainty - it could last a while. This week, the naysayers won out again as concerns about the upcoming earnings season emerged and talk of a possible double-dip in Europe made its way into the Fed’s policy meeting. Financial reform appears to be headed to the Prez’s desk. The week found personal conflicts on the military front, a potential loss of the Budget Director, and the realization that a federal judge may have more power over issues of deepwater drilling. Is it time for the July 4th vacation yet? (Will we be able to afford the gasoline?)

2010-06-25 The Big Picture by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Escalating global economic imbalances have dramatically increased the vulnerability of the global recovery. The chances of a growth relapse in the second half of the year are higher than the equity market and credit market have priced in. Treasury bonds seem to be the asset class that most closely shares these cautious views. Anyone with a pro-cyclical bent has to answer for why it is that the yield at mid-point on the coupon curve is below 2 percent, a year after a whippy rally in equities and commodities and what appeared to be a sizeable policy-induced GDP jump off the bottom.

2010-06-22 Odds of a Double-Dip Recession Remain Low by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Equity markets should be able to make additional gains over the course of this year. This outlook is not so much a forecast of significantly improving economic news as it is an expectation that many of the risks facing investors will fade over the coming months. The direction of financial regulatory reform in the United States should become clearer and the slowdown in Chinese growth should result in a soft landing. The uncertainty surrounding European sovereign debt, however, remains the chief wild card.

2010-06-22 Risk Assets Regain Favor But Risk Looms on the Horizon by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

The resurgence in risk appetite continued apace this past week, allowing the S&P 500 index and the Dow Jones Industrial Average to return to positive territory for the year. By the end of the week, the S&P was up 2.4 percent and the DJIA finished up 2.3 percent. The recession of 2008-2009 seems to have left a mark on many individuals, however, especially those in the baby boomer generation who are inching ever closer to retirement. This is fueling a reallocation away from equities in favor of bonds and income-producing securities.

2010-06-21 China's Currency Shift Not a Game-Changer by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The big news over the weekend was the move by China to end the yuan peg to the U.S. dollar. This delink will allow the People’s Bank of China to pursue its own independent monetary policy. In turn, this will help to ease global trade imbalances, ward off the threat of trade protectionism, alleviate domestic credit strains and inflation pressures and accelerate the Chinese shift from export-led to consumer-led growth. It also suggests that the Chinese authorities have confidence in the sustainability of the global recovery.

2010-06-18 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

As politicos took shots oil company execs, the joint strategy from the oil giants seemed apparent…throw BP under the bus: “…a dramatic departure from the industry norm in deepwater drilling…,” “what went wrong at this well that did not occur at the 14,000 other deepwater wells that have been successfully drilled around the world…,” “an independent investigation of the accident will show that this tragedy was preventable.” BP’s chairman and CEO expressed “deep regret” over the spill’s impact (though both denied any involvement in key decisions leading up to the disaster).

2010-06-17 Assessing Investment-Grade Bonds by Team of Litman Gregory

Investment-grade bonds are likely to generate average returns in a 1 percent to 2 percent range in most scenarios over the next five years. That is markedly lower than any historical rolling five-year average annual return number since the mid-70s. Forward-looking scenarios project that bond yields and inflation higher than their current levels and capital losses due to rising yields will cut into income from coupon payments.

2010-06-15 'May Momentum Killers' Supported Economic, Rate Outlooks by Team of American Century Investments

Now that stocks are suffering a bona fide correction this quarter and Treasury yields are again pricing in low inflation expectations in the near term, the case for a long, slow, grinding economic recovery with continued low interest rates for months to come is a lot easier to make than it was seven weeks ago. Money market and FDIC-insured accounts should provide the most predictable path with the least price fluctuation. Investors who want more yield and return should consider high-quality short-maturity bonds and bond funds.

2010-06-15 The Dow-Gold Relationship by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

David Rosenberg provides a chart comparing the Dow Jones Industrial Average to gold prices since 1900. If this ratio ends up retesting the two fundamental lows that it has achieved in the past, and if we are correct in our assertion that gold will go to $3,000 per ounce, then we may be getting a Dow 5,000 trough at some point down the road. Rosenberg also comments on the Fed's continued hold on monetary policy, and the threat posed by rising debt levels to growth.

2010-06-14 Inflation Expectations by Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

The Federal Open Market Committee's expectation that economic conditions are likely to warrant exceptionally low levels of the federal funds rate "for an extended period" is conditional on three things: low rates of resource utilization, subdued inflation trends and stable inflation expectations. Economic growth is not expected to be strong enough to push the unemployment rate down significantly, the trend in inflation is likely to remain benign, and despite some worries about accommodative Fed policy and large federal budget deficits, inflation expectations are also likely to remain low.

2010-06-08 Dan Fuss: What Keeps Bond Managers Up at Night by Dan Richards (Article)

Highly respected fixed-income manager Dan Fuss of Loomis Sayles recently spoke with Dan Richards about what keeps bond managers up at night. Fuss identifies the critical issues bond investors face. We provide a video and a transcript of the interview.

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

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

2010-06-08 Bond Bubble? by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The problem with trying to assess supply or demand in the current market environment is that everything is so confusing in the early stages of this new secular paradigm of a global credit collapse. Bond yields have been low for some time, and they will remain low. But don't be lulled into numerical micro-phobia. The near-30 percent slide in the Chinese stock market suggests that we have three to six more months of deflating commodity prices. And, if the trend in Japanese, German and Swiss yields are any indication, bonds in the United States and Canada have plenty of room to fall further.

2010-06-07 Growth Slowdown Coming by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The declines in the financial sector, construction and state and local governments are vivid reminders that the parts of the economy that were most affected by the bursting of the housing and credit bubble are still licking their wounds and cannot be relied upon to play any role in helping revive a moribund job market. If it weren’t for the plunge in the labor force, the U.S. unemployment rate would have climbed to 10 percent in May. And it's remarkable that with interest rates so low that we would be seeing mortgage applications for new purchases down to a 13-year low.

2010-06-04 All We Are Sayin' Is Give Free Markets A Chance by Paul Kasriel of Northern Trust

Before we can determine whether or not free markets have failed, we must actually have free markets. Central banks currently create or destroy credit by by holding a key short-term interest rate below or above the unobservable free-market equilibrium. The Securities & Exchange Commission determines which credit rating agencies receive official 'approval.' Lastly, without their debt being implicitly guaranteed by the federal government, Fannie and Freddie would not have been able to have consistently fund themselves at interest rates below other financial institutions.

2010-06-03 Some Days Are Better Than Others... Just Not These Days by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The wall of worry is back - and that's not a bad thing. Thanks to the correction, valuation has improved, while excessively bullish sentiment is no more. Growth estimates should be pared back for the second half of this year and next year, as well. Europe's debt crisis has become a deflationary event. The Treasury yield curve presently predicts the risk of a recession this year or next, however, as near-zero. The most likely shape of the recovery continues to be a 'square root,' with a V-shaped recovery followed by a leveling out of growth.

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 May Volatility, Downward GDP Revision and Sputtering Labor Markets by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

We are still in the midst of a credit collapse. There is simply too much debt and debt service globally relative to worldwide income. The fact that we had a year-long respite does not alter this view, because that respite was induced by an unsustainable pace of bailout and fiscal stimulus in practically every country on the planet, not just in the United States. Governments bailed out the banks and stimulated the economy. But because the revenue cupboard was bare, public sector debt loads exploded at all levels of government, and to varying degrees, in every jurisdiction.

2010-05-27 Sentiment Deteriorates - But Still Not Enough by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Bullish sentiment, as per the latest Investors Intelligence survey, fell again to 39.3 percent from 43.8 percent; the bear camp rose to 29.2 percent from 24.7 percent. This means bearish sentiment has risen to July 2009 levels and bullish sentiment has declined to February 2010 levels. It can be argued that at real lows, the bull camp gets to 26 percent (historical average) while the bear camp gets to 49 percent, so we may well have further to go before sending the all-clear signal out.

2010-05-25 W, Not V and Using ECRI Data as a Market Indicator by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The downdraft in the market in recent weeks reflects the financial risk related to the European debt crisis, the monetary tightening in China and the re-regulation of the financial sector that is currently making its way through to Congress. The next leg down in the equity market specifically and cyclical assets more generally is economic risk. As the events of 2002 showed, more-than-fully valued markets do not need a double-dip scenario to falter - a growth relapse can easily do the trick. It’s still time to be defensive and too early in this correction to be picking the bottom.

2010-05-17 Gold, Oil and the European Economic Crisis by Monty Guild and Tony Danaher of Guild Investment Management

Why is oil falling while gold is rising during the European sovereign debt crisis? Gold is rising because quantitative easing in Europe will be highly inflationary in the long term and destructive to the standard of living of every citizen of the developed world, especially in Europe. Oil is falling as investors fear the austerity measures that are required in Europe will shrink economic demand. The other parts of Europe and the U.S. will all have their 'Greece Moment' in the coming months and years. When that happens, investors will be grateful for their gold holdings.

2010-05-14 The Effect of Inflation on Purchasing Power by Robert Urie of Pioneer Investment Management

This paper provides an analysis of what inflation is and its effect on purchasing power. Inflation is a broad rise in the price level of goods and services that reduces purchasing power. In recent decades it has occurred in two predominant forms: rapid, steep increases in prices and a long, persistent rise in prices that gradually erodes purchasing power. Both forms result from a combination of the level of economic growth, monetary policy and unforeseen supply and demand shocks.

2010-05-11 God Is Dead: The Implications of the Goldman Sachs Case by Michael Lewitt (Article)

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

2010-05-10 Europe Fires the Bazooka by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Greece's risk of default has the potential to disrupt markets globally, depressing stock and most commodity markets, while pushing the safest bonds, Treasuries, to artificially high values. With Greece as a possible disruptive force to global capital markets, the Fed will be hesitant to raise rates. Moreover, restrictive fiscal policies in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Italy and the U.K. will weaken U.S. exports to Europe. While a less expansion oriented monetary policy will still be needed in the U.S., it will come later given the disruptive forces from Europe that will restrain global growth.

2010-05-10 Greek Debt and Backward Induction by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Despite the potential for a short burst of relief, the broader concern about deficits in the euro area make it unlikely that global investors will be appeased by a large bailout of Greece, or will go forward on the assumption that all is back to normal once that happens. Looking at the current state of the world economy, the underlying reality remains little changed: There is more debt outstanding than is capable of being properly serviced. Hussman also comments on overbought equity markets, and the current market climate.

2010-05-07 Thoughts on Unemployment and the Market by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The U.S. employment report was strong on the headline but masked underlying deflationary trends beneath the surface. While the primary focus in the media and Wall Street research reports will likely be on the obvious - nonfarm payrolls surging 290,000 and an even stronger 550,000 gain in the household survey - what was most notable was the buildup of excess capacity in the labor market last month and further evidence of wage deflation coming to the fore. Gluskin also comments on yesterday's market dip.

2010-05-07 Keeping an Eye on Currencies by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Even though it is not clear if, when, and how China will make an upward revision in the value of its currency, one trend is clear: moves involving the renminbi by Chinese authorities will be closely watched around the world as China steps up to play a bigger role in world trade.

2010-05-05 The Commodities Con by Niels C. Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

Investor allocation to commodities has grown dramatically in recent years - to the point where commodities have become a mainstream asset class. Commodity prices have thus at least partly been driven not by fundamental demand but by demand from financial investors eager to diversify their equity risk and attracted to the seemingly high probability of generating uncorrelated returns. What these investors do not seem to understand, however, is that now that traders themselves determine market prices, the promised land of uncorrelated returns is little more than wishful thinking.

2010-05-04 Lacy Hunt: Keynes was Wrong (and Ricardo was Right) by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Underpinning the Obama administration's economic policies is the work of John Maynard Keynes, the legendary British economist who called for large fiscal and monetary interventions to counter the Great Depression. On this critical issue, Keynes was wrong, says Lacy Hunt, the internationally renowned economist with Texas-based Hoisington Investment.

2010-05-04 Weren\'t Interest Rates Supposed to Be Rising? by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

A couple of months ago, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond was rising towards 4 percent, and commentators everywhere were declaring an end to the 'bond market bubble,' which would send interest rates sharply higher. So what happened? Thanks to the problems in Greece and the rest of Europe, US treasuries have been a magnet for investors looking to protect their cash. At a current yield of 3.62 percent, the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury bond is currently trading at a two-month low, and breaking below support.

2010-05-04 2010 Q1 Quarterly Report by Jason Nelson of Roumell Asset Management

The national economic debate today seems to be centered on our government’s response to the chal¬lenges of the past two years. In the United States, Europe, and China, the answer to plunging private demand has been strik¬ingly similar - government spending. Critics rightly highlight the liabilities associated with the practice but rarely note that a given nation acquires assets as well that will also be passed on to future generations. The government’s response has been, by and large, necessary, prudent and effective.

2010-05-03 Ten Reasons for a Dose of Caution and Other Thoughts by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

One could say the stimulus is keeping the economy above water; however, the recovery thus far lacks the same organic vigor we saw in the failed recovery and risk asset rally in the opening months of 2002. Real final sales, despite all the government’s efforts, have only managed to recover at a 1.5 percent annual rate since the recession supposedly ended last summer. In a typical post-recession bounce-back, the rebound is closer to 3.5 percent and with far less intervention out of the Fed, Treasury, White House and Congress.

2010-04-28 Greece, Europe and the Significance of Yesterday's Market Action by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

The Euro bounced back this morning, and the flight to higher quality German and French bonds has partly reversed course as markets swirl with speculation that the IMF will announce a stepped-up aid package. The problem, however, is that if Greece is bailed out then Portugal, Ireland, Spain and perhaps Italy may not be far behind. The inability of Greece - and others within European monetary union - to enact an independent monetary policy at a time of crisis has exposed the flaws of the union. The lack of a cohesive national government is another flaw in times of turbulence.

2010-04-26 Stocks Still Have Limited Downside by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Stock valuations are still reasonable and they are getting cheaper, despite the market rally. Profits are rebounding strongly and economic growth is still in the early stages of an expansion. With unemployment still at 9.7 percent, the economy and corporate profits have considerable upside and it will take some years for the economy to revert to a normal level. Any slide in stock prices would provide an opportunity for investors who have missed the rally a chance to get in, which implies only limited downside for stocks at this time.

2010-04-26 The Danger of Zero Percent Interest Rates by Brian S. Wesbury and Robert Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Fed has become overly involved in financial markets and it is losing sight of its number one job - maintaining price stability. Zero percent interest rates are becoming more dangerous every day. The economy is outperforming the Fed’s forecast, creating a dilemma. Before massive snowstorms, the Fed projected that real GDP would grow 3.1 percent in 2010. First Trust's forecast for Q1 real GDP is 3.4 percent, despite record-breaking storms. And we expect Q2 real GDP growth to approach 6 percent.

2010-04-26 Stocks Jump on Earnings News by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Following the stock market lows of March 2009, the bull market that commenced was, at first, driven by government action and increased liquidity. Since that time, stocks have been advancing based on the reality of fundamental improvements in global economic growth and corporate earnings. The key risk to stocks remains the possibility that the economic recovery will become derailed. While deleveraging threats remain and the banking system is still operating in a credit-impaired environment, BlackRock does not expect to see a double-dip recession.

2010-04-23 Fixed Income Investment Outlook by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

The consensus is that we are well past the crisis point and will gradually see more economic sunshine. While Osterweis generally agrees, there are a couple factors that are prompting the firm to keep a conservative posture. In particular, they are concerned with China’s large trade surplus and the prospect of rising interest rates in the U.S. While the market may remain buoyant for some time as the economy recovers, Osterweis does not believe there is much opportunity cost at this time in taking a more conservative posture and waiting for the next good buying opportunity.

2010-04-21 Market Review by Team of Applied Finance Group

During the depths of the downturn a little over one year ago, many investors were quick to provide a lesson on the mathematics of loss. A 50 percent decline would require a subsequent 100 percent gain - not a 50 percent gain - to get back to even. Such truths, it seemed, were a justification for remaining bearish and a comfort perhaps to some, in making the painful decision to sell. Unfortunately, while the mathematics of loss is indeed an investing truth, it may also be an author of lies by suggesting that the only investor goal worth its salt is 'getting back to even.'

2010-04-20 Months-Long Equity Rally Pauses by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Stocks have rallied in an almost uninterrupted fashion over the past couple of months, but the tenor of Friday's news adds an element of uncertainty. This backdrop, combined with various signs of excess in the markets, suggests that a period of profit-taking may be coming, perhaps sooner rather than later. In any case, however, the recovering economy, low inflation, strong corporate earnings and reasonable valuation levels should be enough to cause any sort of correction to be short-lived.

2010-04-20 Letter to the Editor – The Interest Rate Debate by Various (Article)

As a Treasury bond bear of modest conviction, advisor Martin Weil read with interest Gluskin Sheff's David Rosenberg's piece in our April 12 issue. Though providing little data to support his thesis, Rosenberg makes a solid argument for why it is inflation, not supply and demand, that drives Treasury prices and yields. In taking this position, he pits himself against, among others, Jim Grant, with whom he has been carrying on a running debate.

2010-04-19 Goldman SEC Litigation: The End of OTC?; Alan Boyce on the Duration of Fed Open Market Operations by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

This piece features a comment from Alan Boyce, chief executive officer of Absalon, on the impending end of the Fed Purchasing Program. Boyce says that as FPP ends, there is the real potential for unintended consequences in domestic and foreign markets. If markets were to become unglued, the Fed may purchase more mortgages and Treasury debt. Foreign central bankers will likely snap and become sellers, however, if the Fed decides to monetize more debt. Markets would likely take it as a sign that the Fed is politically unable to exit the mortgage market, or quantitative easing.

2010-04-19 Let the Tightening Begin... by Jason R. Graybill and Neil D. Klein of Carret Asset Management

Chairman Bernanke has started to turn the Federal Reserve's liquidity spigot off, and will continue this process through the remainder of this year and into next. It will be a slow process, as the Fed remains concerned about the fragility of the economic recovery. With unemployment at elevated levels, foreclosures a topic of daily conversation and with banks still stingy about extending credit, the Fed seems focused on letting this economy gain its footing versus worrying about the potential risk of inflation.

2010-04-13 Stocks Reach 18-Month Highs by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Continued evidence of improvements in the economy and expectations for strong first-quarter earnings helped push stocks up nearly 8 percent for the year, to their highest levels in 18 months. BlackRock expects stocks to continue to grind higher over the course of the year, and for corporate earnings to become the main driver of equity prices. Over the longer term, the most significant investment issue will likely be the cyclical tailwinds of accommodative fiscal and monetary policy and the secular headwinds of massive budget deficits, high levels of debt and continued deleveraging.

2010-04-13 What Correlates With Bond Yields: The Core and the CPI Are All That Matter by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Monetary policy is the strongest single predictor of bond yields, with an 88 percent correlation. Inflation and inflation expectations, meanwhile, drive Fed policy, and core inflation commands a 75 percent historical relationship with bond yields. Slack in the economy drives inflation expectations, and we currently have tremendous spare capacity in goods, labor and housing. Rosenberg also comments on the tenuous prospects for a big recovery, despite hopeful signals from equity markets.

2010-04-13 Are Public Employees Bankrupting the Nation? by Charlie Curnow (Article)

While markets may be recovering, public debts are still mounting. Charlie Curnow reviews Plunder, the new book by Steven Greenhut, which blames public sector unions for a large portion of these debts. To Greenhut, we the taxpayers are helpless villagers, while corrupt public employee unions are barbarians at the gate, raiding government treasuries and leaving us with nothing but unfunded liabilities.

2010-04-13 Shameless by Michael Lewitt (Article)

The fiscal train wreck in the United States has not been set back on the tracks, and the global imbalances that led to the financial crisis have not gone away. Quite to the contrary, writes Michael Lewittin Shameless, the latest edition of his HCM newsletter. In fact, if progress isn't made with respect to these issues, and if intelligent financial reform is not enacted, future instability is guaranteed.

2010-04-05 Labor Market Turnaround by Bob Doll of BlackRock

The March payrolls report likely signaled the start of a long-awaited rebound in the employment picture, which should benefit the broader economy. As fiscal and monetary stimulus begins to fade over the coming months, the economy is going to require some self-sustaining mechanisms to kick in, and growing employment levels would certainly be beneficial. Over the course of the next year, we expect the economy to successfully shift from a recovery to an expansion. Investors should continue overweighting equities and credit-related fixed income assets and underweighting cash and Treasury bonds.

2010-04-02 And That's the Week That Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

The Brounes & Associates market/economic commentary for the week ended April 2, 2010. For those of you forced to get up early for the labor numbers, here you go. The economy added 162k jobs in March, the best showing in three years, while the jobless rate held steady at 9.7 percent. For those of you still asleep (or who just been back to sleep)…enjoy your holiday (and don’t worry about how those temp census workers impacted the number)

2010-04-01 Market Insight by Payson S. Swaffield of Eaton Vance Investment Managers

Evidence mounts that the U.S. economy is moving away from the depths of the Great Recession. The U.S. economy expanded at a 5.6 percent annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2009, and corporate profits surged. While unemployment stands at 9.7 percent, there are indications that the jobs picture may be improving, and inflation has remained in check. The U.S. stock market has responded favorably to the current environment, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index climbing more than 5 percent since calendar year-end.

2010-03-31 Yield Curve Back Near Highs by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

With long-term interest rates rising and short-term interest rates contained, the rising yield curve is once again starting to receive attention. The Fed defines the yield curve as the difference in basis points between the yield on 10-year and 3-month U.S. Treasury bonds. High values in the yield curve are positive for the economy, while an inverted yield curve is a harbinger of weakness. The curve is currently at the high end of its historical range, and has made multiple attempts to break through the 380 bps level in the current period.

2010-03-31 March Madness Trickles Into Housing Markets by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

As much as we would like to assume that a 30 percent peak-to-trough decline in home prices returned housing prices to fair value, that may not be the case. Housing markets are proving that an endless supply of liquidity can only mask underlying weakness for so long. Without jobs, no amount of principal forgiveness or interest rate reduction will allow homeowners to suddenly begin paying their mortgages again. Fortigent also comments on the IMF's plan to back Greece's debt, the new Federal Reserve public relations tour and the week ahead.

2010-03-30 Multisector Strategies in a Rising Rate Environment by Dan Fuss, Kathleen Gaffney, Matt Eagan and Elaine Stokes of Loomis Sayles

For three decades, the prevailing direction for interest rates was down. This made life easy for bond investors, since principal held up well and even grew for the most part. The cost of these falling rates, however, was steadily lower coupons. One of the best defenses against this reinvestment risk is to maintain a long duration in a bond portfolio with good call protection. The good news is that reinvestment risk appears to be waning as declining interest rates possibly prepare to reverse, and this could create potential for better yields.

2010-03-29 Possible Outcomes: A Typical Post-War Recovery, or a Perfect Storm by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

Credit data suggests two distinct possibilities for the future direction of the economy. The most likely outcome is that we will see serious credit strains in the months ahead, adding to overextended market conditions, and creating a 'perfect storm' with a great deal of potential risk. Alternatively, if we do not encounter fresh credit strains in the coming months, a typical 'post-war' recovery may be on the horizon. Regardless of what lies ahead, current conditions recommend a defensive stance.

2010-03-29 Weekly Commentary and Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The stock market shrugged off the passage of Obamacare and moved higher last week based on the resolution of the debt crises in Dubai and Greece, as well as definite signs that corporate profits remain strong. Both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ Composite gained around 1 percent, even as Treasury yields started to move higher. This week's employment report should see gains of 200,000 jobs or more. While the impact will be overstated, job creation this large could change perceptions.

2010-03-26 Comments Before the Money Marketeers Club: Reflections and Ruminations by Paul McCulley of PIMCO

In a technical discussion of monetary policy, McCulley argues the 2 percent real federal funds rate constant in the Taylor Rule should be toast. In a world of deleveraging and cash hoarding, it makes absolutely no sense to reward holders of cash with an after-tax real rate of return. May Wall Street relearn the doctrine of profit-motivated stewardship, he says, and unlearn the false god of speculation-driven avarice.

2010-03-25 Market Thoughts and Shiller Valuations by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

With a stronger U.S. dollar, rising bond yields, lower commodity prices, slower growth and the stock market flirting with post-crisis highs, the stars are aligning for something big to happen. Bond yields are rising temporarily, and this will very likely prove to be a good buying opportunity. In the near term, however, higher yield activity may well persist and the question is how the equity market is going to handle this backup in market rates. In addition, the latest Shiller data shows that the S&P 500 is overvalued by at least 30 percent, benchmarked against historical norms.

2010-03-24 Rocking-Horse Winner by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Prudent lending must be directed not only towards sovereigns that can escape a debt trap, but ones that can do so with a minimum of reflationary consequences and currency devaluation. A unit of quality credit spread will do better than a unit of duration. Rates face a future bear market if global reflation is successful as central banks eventually normalize quantitative easing policies and 0 percent yields. Spreads in appropriate sovereign and corporate credits are a better bet as long as global contagion is contained. If not, a rush to the safety of Treasury bills lies ahead.

2010-03-24 The Economy, Interest Rates and Fixed Income Markets: What to Expect in 2010 by Curtis Arledge and Eric Pelliciaro of BlackRock

This commentary features an interview with BlackRock chief investment officer of fixed income Curtis Arledge and Eric Pellicaro, head of global rates investments for BlackRock fundamental fixed income. Arledge and Pellicaro predict that the Federal Reserve will keep the federal funds rate in the 0 to 0.25 percent range until at least the first half of 2011, particularly if economic activity slows down as the year progresses. When the central bank does start raising rates, it will do so gradually, and it will clearly telegraph its intentions in advance of formal rate announcements.

2010-03-23 Barron's' Pension Warning Doesn't Change Our Pension Outlook by Team of American Century Investments

A recent Barron's magazine piece about unfunded public pension liabilities painted an otherwise solid bond sector with a broad negative brush. While pension liabilities are a serious problem for state and local governments, they are neither a new problem nor an immediate problem, and they are not the most pressing issue that municipalities face in the post-recession environment, according to American Century Investments credit research director David Moore. Despite unfunded pension liabilities, no state runs a serious risk of default on its general debt obligation.

2010-03-22 Inflation Benign For Now by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Equity markets posted gains last week on news that inflation was muted and that the Federal Reserve would continue holding down interest rates at low levels for an extended period. The core consumer price and producer price indices rose just 0.1 percent in February, and the Fed's target federal funds rate remained between 0 and 0.25 percent. Leading economic indicators, however, have taken a weaker turn in recent weeks. Negative contributions from a shorter manufacturing workweek and falling stock prices were the biggest detractors.

2010-03-19 Paul Krugman Versus Reality by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Paul Krugman is right about one thing - China's currency peg is destabilizing the world economy and it must end. If China reversed its role in the U.S. Treasury market, however, China would emerge as the long-term winner. The value of the Chinese currency would rise sharply, causing prices to tumble in China. Americans, meanwhile, would lose the ability to buy cheap goods overseas. The U.S. must formulate a plan that weans the country off its dependence on Chinese Treasury bond purchases without forcing change too quickly.

2010-03-16 The New Investment Paradigm: Graham Meets Markowitz by Bob Veres (Article)

Broadly speaking, the financial services industry has been divided into two competing paradigms since roughly 1950. One, articulated by Harry Markowitz, suggests advisors add value through diversified portfolios optimized along the efficient frontier. The other, advocated by Benjamin Graham, says advisors add value by purchasing assets at prices less than their fair value. Bob Veres reconciles those views and describes the New Paradigm that has emerged.

2010-03-15 High Yield Newsletter by Ray Kennedy of Hotchkis and Wiley Capital Management

Successful investing involves identifying superior issuers at attractive valuations; the nature of the issuer is extraneous. The high yield market's record performance last year is almost certainly not repeatable in 2010. It will more likely be a tame year for high yield investors. On the heels of unprecedented volatility, however, investors would likely embrace a boring year with open arms. Hotchkis is optimistic about the high yield market's prospects, and believes there are abundant opportunities to 'lend freely against good collateral at a penalty rate.'

2010-03-11 What the PBoC Cannot Do with Its Reserves by Michael Pettis of Michael Pettis

What the People's Bank of China does to the value of China's currency and how it invests its reserves matter a lot to China and the world, but not always in the way China and the world think. To get it right, we need to keep in mind the functioning of the balance of payments, the PBoC and other balance sheets, and the way the two are interrelated.

2010-03-11 Headlines Fail to Derail Munis by Team of BlackRock

Municipal bonds of all maturities enjoyed positive returns in February, outpacing their U.S. Treasury counterparts. Money market rates remain low, however, encouraging investors to move further out on the municipal curve to capture yield. While state and local governments continue to face fiscal challenges and worries over bond defaults, Moody's released an updated default rate study that continues to point to the relative safety of municipals.

2010-03-10 Will the Bond Vigilantes Ride Again? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Projected deficits will remain too large for too long to avoid raising serious concerns about inflation, the dollar's value and the economy's fundamental growth potential. When investors return to these questions, chances are that the bond vigilantes who made pricing so tumultuous in the early 1990s will come back. Those vigilantes were unwilling to tolerate any red ink in federal finances during the Clinton administration. If President Obama wants to prevent bond vigilantism, he must end the current policy uncertainty and present a credible, balanced plan to control the future flow of debt.

2010-03-10 Unlocking the Jobs Dilemma by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Politicians in the U.S. and Western Europe have placed productive, private-sector jobs - the lifeblood of a sound economy - under assault. Most American job losses in recent decades resulted from outsourcing to more competitive economies because of the harmful effects of domestic government policies. Big spending will not resolve this deleterious situation. The only realistic solution is to unlock the power of the entrepreneurial spirit by shrinking government and removing subsidies and guarantees to big businesses.

2010-03-09 What's Next for the High Yield Market by Team of Pioneer Investment Management

The economy can achieve 3 to 4 percent growth in 2010. This growth rate, along with low interest rates, should provide a favorable environment for riskier fixed income asset classes such as high yield. Corporate profit margins, cash flows and productivity are all near record levels relative to prior cycles, and balance sheets are relatively healthy. This puts companies in a good position to capitalize on the recovery. A strategy that balances high yield, equity, convertible and bank loan securities is prudent, given the anticipated investment environment.

2010-03-08 Mark-to-Market Accounting: OneWest and WaMu by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

One year ago, OneWest Bank Group purchased the banking operation of the IndyMac Federal Bank, which was being operated in conservatorship by the FDIC. As with the purchase of Washington Mutual by JPMorgan Chase, the subsidy in these deals came from the write-down of the assets of the failed bank. All of the potential claims against the parent companies of WaMu and IndyMac for rescission of securitized loans are sitting in bankruptcy court, where they will likely remain and die.

2010-03-08 Economic Data Improves Gradually by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

The Federal Reserve Beige Book confirmed that the economy shows signs of expansion, but that labor markets show only tentative signs of improvement. The S&P 500 went up 3.1 percent and the Dow Jones Industrial average increased 2.3 percent after last Friday's employment figures were not as bad as expected. Real estate activity is picking up, but officials are still apprehensive about what will happen when the home-buyer tax credit expires at the end of April. Maxey also looks at this week's upcoming events and releases.

2010-03-05 The Dominoes of Default by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

The sovereign debt crisis in Greece has drawn attention to countries with similar fiscal conditions, including the United Kingdom. Fueled by socialist fiscal policies, the debt ratio in Britain is rapidly approaching Greek levels. The pound sterling has lost 25 percent of its value relative to the U.S. dollar since mid-2008. U.S. sovereign debt is in nearly the same proportion relative to GDP as debt in the U.K. If the U.K. defaults on its debt, the U.S. may be the next domino to fall.

2010-03-03 Recommended Bond Allocation by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

Have analysts become more conservative, or will the recommended bond weighting continue to fall as the market goes up? Wall Street strategists currently recommend a 30.5 percent weighting in bonds. Before the run-up in treasury bonds during the financial crisis, the recommended bond weighting ranged between 15 and 20 percent. As bond prices rallied, strategists increased their recommended weighting. Bond prices peaked in December 2008, however, and have been drifting lower since the onset of the current bull market in stocks.

2010-03-03 February/March 2010 News and Events by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Congress is currently debating whether to apply the fiduciary standard to anyone providing investment advice. Evensky and Katz argue this would help protect client interests. Some brokerage and insurance representatives claim, however, that this would chill the ability of brokers or advisors to provide advice. Evensky and Katz also examine health care costs, social statistics and other varied topics.

2010-03-01 New Order by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The American financial system is losing political and economic power. U.S. output is burdened by expectations and obligations that are increasingly hard to meet, and the country's GDP suggests a national economy that has lost control of its destiny to forces beyond its control. Energy dependence, rising fiscal deficits and an aging population and infrastructure will present problems in the next half decade, but will provide opportunities for capital gains, and will seem more manageable as markets recover.

2010-03-01 Don't Care by Bill Gross of PIMCO

A lack of global aggregate demand, brought by twenty years of accelerated globalization, is the fundamental economic problem of our age. Many states have used government debt to make up for shortfalls in aggregate demand. But as the crises in Dubai, Iceland, Ireland and Greece show, not every state is able to pay off its new debt load. Investors should therefore concentrate on states that have lower credit or inflationary risk, such as Germany and Canada, and avoid higher-risk states such as Greece and the U.K.

2010-03-01 Lessons from the 'Naughties' by Rob Arnott of Research Affiliates

Sizeable real returns will be difficult in this decade, as they were in the last. Almost all asset classes are priced richly relative to historical norms. We can tilt the odds back in our favor, however, by tactically altering our portfolio risk based on measures as simple as yields and yield spreads. The surest path to success marries tactical asset allocation with a more efficient beta, such as the Fundamental Index methodology, and a full toolkit of alternative markets.

2010-02-25 How to Whip Inflation Now (or Whenever It Arrives) by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors

Inflation is coming, but it is hard to predict just when. When it does come, the inflationary era will be several years in length. A flexible investment toolbox that includes the ability to use the short side of the market and employ alternative styles will be essential.

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.

2010-02-23 Fixed Income Investment: What's the Index Doing for You? by Jason Brady of Thornburg Investment Management

The Barclay's Capital Aggregate Bond Index is comprised of thousands of securities picked not due to their size or relevance, but to their presence in the market. It is reconstituted monthly and consists of reasonably large bond issues denominated in U.S. dollars, with 75 percent of its issues backed by the government. Its combination of high negative convexivity, low yield, and long duration, however, makes it an imperfect model for investors seeking fixed income exposure.

2010-02-22 A Speeding Ticket by Team of Beacon Pointe

Most indices are down from their January highs. But this pull-back is more of a speeding ticket than a suspended license, and markets will soon be able to travel cautiously toward their destinations. This environment will favor investors with a focus on security selection, a strong research effort and unwavering valuation discipline.

2010-02-22 Markets Gain on Improving Sentiment by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Equity markets settled down tremendously this past week after a week of volatile trading, posting a 3 percent gain for the S&P 500 index. Subsiding fears about the impact of Greece on global markets support market gains. The CBOE Volatility Index fell in February to 20 from a high of 27. Maxey also comments on mortgages, inflation, and upcoming data releases.

2010-02-18 Just When We Thought They Were Out... by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

Equity markets were still oversold based on a number of momentum and sentiment measures last week as buyers pushed the both the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average indexes to volatile 0.9 percent gains. Headlines this week should center on Greece\'s bid for explicit financial support from other Eurozone members, as well as a slew of new economic data.

2010-02-18 The Ultimate Buy-and-Hold Strategy: 2010 update by Paul Merriman of Merriman

An investor's choice of assets if far more important than the times he decides to buy or sell those assets. In a nutshell, the ultimate buy-and-hold strategy is this: Use no-load funds to create a sophisticated asset allocation model with worldwide equity di-versification by adding value stocks, small company stocks and real estate funds to a traditional large-cap growth stock portfolio.

2010-02-16 Is the Fed's Zero Interest Rate Policy Driving Global Deflation? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analytics says the Federal Reserve's zero interest rate policy may be driving global deflation by holding down asset values. He says the central bank should allow interest rates to rise so banks and other investors may earn positive returns on assets.

2010-02-13 Fear Takes the Wheel by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital says in his economic commentary that the recent strength of the stock market may be more attributable to fears of inflation than an improving economy. Growing U.S. debt levels threaten to swamp to dollar, and are leading investors away from dollars and treasury bonds.

2010-02-11 Fixed Income Investment Outlook January 2010 by Team of Osterweis Capital Management

Osterweis Capital Management says in its fixed income investment outlook that increased investor appetite for risk drove up prices of high-yield bonds, equities and other financial assets in 2009. Investors may want to avoid Treasury bonds and other underweight longer-dated assets in order to avoid the impact of a possible interest rate hike.

2010-02-04 Breakfast with Dave by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Rosenberg's bearish thesis is based on his belief that the "great policy reflation experiment is over." He notes that China, India, Canada and most of Europe are tightening budgets. The 2009 stimulus "cushioned the blow;" 2010 and beyond look much different. He recommends a conservative asset allocation.

2010-02-02 Bonds for the Long Run by Jeffrey Bronchick of Reed, Conner & Birdwell

RCB is a classic value-based investor. They note that the 2009 rally has left them with fewer buying alternatives. However, they state, "equities as an asset class will outperform investment grade bonds of almost any stripe over the intermediate and longer term using January 2010 as our starting point…” They believe equities are valued “to do okay,” since 2009 and 2010 earnings do not represent a “normalized” environment. “Moving forward, the real fun in 2010 will be how investors react to the possibility of higher interest rates driven by a stronger than expected economy.”

2010-02-01 Breakfast With Dave by David A. Rosenberg of Gluskin Sheff

Rosenberg provides an update to his bearish outlook. He says credit flows remain constrained, amid new bank failures last week. The spending freeze announced by the Obama administration will provide what amounts to a “rounding error” of improvement in the context of the unemployment situation. Investors should consider a defensive allocation – similar to what would have worked in 2008 but did not work in 2009.

2010-01-30 Watch Out for Spam! by Bill Mitchell of Billy Blog

Bill Mitchell is an Australia-based economist. This commentary is a direct rebuttal to many of John Mauldin's arguments, particularly regarding the message of Reinhart and Rogoff's book, This Time is Different.

2010-01-28 Monthly Investment Commentary by Team of Litman Gregory

When the dust settled on one of the most eventful and upended years in memory, investors had generous gains in stocks and certain segments of the bond market to salve the wounds of a disastrous 2008 a

2010-01-26 Bill Miller Commentary by Bill Miller of Legg Mason

Bill Miller says, “In our view, one thing the data support and the evidence warrants is the belief that the current consensus for economic growth for 2010 is too low, and that it’s likely expectations

2010-01-26 2010 Outlook / Macro Overview by James F. Keegan of Ridgeworth

“In summary, global asset markets have transitioned from fear at the beginning of 2009 to an environment where government support and intervention have led to complacency and greed. While these powerf

2010-01-26 The Potemkin Market by Michael Lewitt (Article)

We are again privileged to publish the current issue of Michael Lewitt's newsletter, titled The Potemkin Market. Lewitt updates his forecast for the S&P 500, criticizes the current financial reform efforts and the ongoing GSE bailout and Fed Chairman Bernanke. Lewitt argues that risk is overpriced in many segments of the market.

2010-01-23 Annual Report Letter to Shareholders by Hawkins and Cates of Longleaf Partners

Interestingly we have not been asked about the \'lessons of 2009.\' The first answer to that unasked question is that bottoms-up fundamental company analysis matters quite a bit. If it wer

2010-01-22 Thoughts on the End Game by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

"As for financial markets, we have come full circle to the concept of financial fragility in economies with massive indebtedness. All too often, periods of heavy borrowing can take place in a bubbl

2010-01-20 Geithner's Debt Nightmare by Chris Maxey of Fortigent

The problem for the Treasury moving forward is twofold. For one, interest rates have nowhere to go but up. At the end of 2009, the average interest rate on all outstanding US debt stood at 3.3%, a f

2010-01-20 A Strong Dollar Call by Art Patten of Symmetry Capital Management

We're taking a more bullish stance on the USD and related assets such as Treasuries… Markets are making the same case today, with the dollar up, and stocks and commodities down. Pundits are attribu

2010-01-19 Inflation Myth and Reality by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

It is in this context that we should consider inflation risks over the coming decade. At present, inflation risks are hardly considered to be problematic by Wall Street. From the standpoint of the nex

2010-01-16 When the Fed Stops the Music by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Some time in the coming few years the bond markets of the world will be tested. Normally a deleveraging cycle would be deflationary and lower interest rates would be the outcome. But in the face of su

2010-01-16 Q1 2010 Newsletter by Bradley Turner of Chess Financial

It is our expectation that the returns of the major assets classes will generally be lower and less correlated in the year ahead. We reach this conclusion based on several factors, the first of which

2010-01-16 And That's the Week that Was... by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

2010-01-14 Domestic REITs by Team of Litman Gregory

At current valuations, we believe REITs are overvalued. We think REIT investors are anticipating a quick and meaningful rebound in cash flows/dividends. Our dividend growth assumption over the next ye

2010-01-13 Payrolls, Policies, Politics by Art Patten of Symmetry Capital Management

2010-01-09 The Same Old Bear: A Study of Bear Markets and Stock Returns Since 1926 by Patrick O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

2010-01-08 High Yield Bonds Continue to do Well by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

2010-01-08 2009 Is History ... Here\'s What We Learned by Isbitts of Emerald Asset Advisors

2010-01-07 High Yield Bonds Continue to do Well by Team of Bespoke Investment Group

2010-01-06 And That's the Week that Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

2010-01-06 Let's Get Physical by Bill Gross of PIMCO

2010-01-04 Timothy Geithner Meets Vladimir Lenin by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

2010-01-04 2010: The Year of Economic Recovery by Charles Lieberman (Article)

2009-12-29 End-of-Year Letter Templates by Bob Veres (Article)

Bob Veres is the editor and publisher of Inside Information, a publication focused on practice management and related issues for the financial planning profession. He just introduced a new monthly service, Client Articles, which will contain articles (and cartoons) that can be sent to clients, for example as part of your quarterly newsletters. He provides two sample letters.

2009-12-21 The Bumpy Road to Recovery by Paul Merriman of Merriman

2009-11-24 Dan Fuss and the Long-Term Outlook for Interest Rates by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Dan Fuss, the highly respected bond manager at Loomis Sayles in Boston, says we are in the early stages on a long-term rise in interest rates. His view was shared by two other panelists, Carl Kaufman of Osterwies and Margie Patel of Evergreen. If you accept this consensus, you must ask whether your fixed income allocation is appropriate.

2009-11-17 Federal Taxes & Municipal Bonds Historical & Current Perspective by Munder Capital Management (Article)

With income tax increases seemingly around the corner given the budget deficit and a potentially very expensive federal health care plan, the spotlight has returned to municipal bonds and the power of tax-free income. Municipal portfolio managers at the Munder Funds identify the attractiveness of municipal bonds based on projected budget deficits, current spreads over treasuries, and macroeconomic trends. We thank them for their sponsorship.

2009-09-15 Five Reasons to Avoid the Gold Rush (Updated) by Vitaliy Katsenelson (Article)

The reasons why one should sell the cat, pawn the mother-in-law, and use the proceeds to buy gold are well known. However, in this guest contribution, Vitaliy Katsenelson offers arguments why one should think twice before jumping in bed with the gold bugs, or at least remain sober while determining gold's weight in the portfolio.

2009-08-25 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

In our letters to the Editor, a reader responds to Dougal Williams' article last week, A Crash Course in Investing: Six Lessons from the Market Meltdown, and other readers respond to our article on Actively Managed TIPS and to an Advisor Market Commentary on healthcare policy.

2009-08-18 Actively Managed TIPS? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

When PIMCO talks, the market listens. But we mustn't forget that the bulk of PIMCO's revenue comes from actively managing bond portfolios so, when they claim that alpha can be earned by actively managing TIPS, a healthy dose of scrutiny is warranted. Our article shows why that scrutiny is justified.

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

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

2009-06-30 Letters to the Editor: The Road to Zimbabwe by Various (Article)

In the second set of our letters to the Editor, we publish responses to to our article, The Road to Zimbabwe.

2009-06-15 What if the Chinese Sell Treasuries? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

2009-06-08 Why are Interest Rates Rising on Treasuries? by Charles Lieberman (Article)

2009-05-19 Opportunities in TIPS by Robert Huebscher (Article)

TIPS offer a perfect hedge against inflation for US investors, but advisors need to understand their risks. We look at the history of TIPS prices and explain why this asset class is more volatile than you might think.


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