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

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2014-04-05 The Lions in the Grass, Revisited by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we explore a few things we can see and then try to foresee a few things that are not quite so obvious. The simple premise is that it is not the lions we can see lounging in plain view that are the most insidious threat, but rather that in trying to avoid those we may stumble upon lions hidden in the grass.

2014-03-28 Why International Now? by David Garff of AdvisorShares

One of the ongoing challenges that advisors face is determining what percentage of their clients assets should be allocated to international equities. The magnitude of this decision is often amplified when the United States has years of persistent out/under performance. US clients will inherently gauge the success of their portfolio based on the S&P 500, or similar index. The challenge for advisors is explaining why a more diversified exposure to global equities is meaningful in the long-run, despite recent years of outlandish performance.

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.

2014-03-06 Gold Scams Revisited by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Before Bear Stearns and Lehman collapsed, the market for physical gold was limited to a relatively small group of investors who understood the havoc inflation was wreaking on our savings and the US markets. As the financial crisis took hold, a flood of new and inexperienced buyers entered the market, creating an opportunity for unscrupulous metals dealers to swindle their way to massive profits. This is what drove me to launch my very own gold dealer, Euro Pacific Precious Metals, to provide a safe alternative for those who were taking my advice to diversify into sound money.

2014-01-31 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

This month, we sing happy birthday to Apple. It was 30 years ago that Apple introduced its first Mac computer. What was novel then is commonplace today and far less clunky. For those old enough to remember what that boxy looking thing was like, it’s hard to believe how far we’ve come. Carl Icahn bought another $500 million more shares of Apple stock, bringing his total investment to $3.6 billion. As an activist shareholder he is trying to force Apple to buy up to $500 million in a stock buyback program.

2014-01-18 Forecast 2014: \'Mark Twain!\' by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The surface of the market waters looks smooth, but the data above suggest caution as we proceed. Perhaps slowing the engine and taking more frequent soundings (or putting in closer stops!) might be in order. The cry should be "Mark twain!" Let’s steam ahead but take more frequent readings and know that a course correction may soon be necessary.

2013-12-04 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

For the 7th year in a row, the US Postal Service lost money. After setting a record loss last year of $15.9 billion, it pared the losses to $5 billion in the current year. The USPS showed its first growth in revenue since 2008, rising 1.2% to $66 billion. In no surprise, the USPS asked Congress for help. Wonder how that is going to work out for them?

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.”

2013-10-29 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)

Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.

2013-10-22 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future.

2013-10-17 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Last month, a Wells Fargo/Gallup survey of non-retired investors showed just how lingering the hangover is from the financial crisis five years ago. Much like the Great Depression financially scared their great grandparents and grandparents, the Great Recession is impacting investors’ expectations about the future. 41% indicated they were concerned about another global crisis during their retirement years, and 28% were convinced they would have a lower standard of living during retirement.

2013-10-14 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

2013-10-07 Defining the EM Corporate Bond Opportunity by Elisabeth Colleran, Peter Frick, Peter Marber, David Rolley, Edgardo Sternberg of Loomis Sayles

Finance is a numbers business. Investors study prices, yields, rates of return. However, when it comes to sizing up emerging markets, we think they should also pay attention to semantics. In the past, terming a country “emerging” made it synonymous with low credit quality and higher risk. But today, many emerging markets boast strong credit profiles while parts of the developed world buckle under heavy debt loads.

2013-10-04 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.

2013-07-23 Emerging Markets: Undervalued or Value Trap? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In the first quarter, we explored the divergence of emerging market equities from the US. We noted that a combination of factors likely drove the 12% performance differential, including investor risk appetites, inflationary pressures in developing markets, and reduced commodity price expectations.

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.

2013-06-04 The Gold Bull vs The Paper Tiger by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

That’s all, folks. One look at the headlines will tell you the gold bull market is officially over: the stock market is booming, a modest recovery of the US economy is underway, and the dollar is dominating the forex. Time to sell your bullion and get back into US stocks!

2013-05-30 Cyclical Securities: Too Early? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We have been making a number of arguments about various asset classes over the last three years and we would like to keep our readers very aware of the progress being made in these markets. We have argued that a secular bear market is in place for commodities and US company shares which are attached to the commodity cycle. Additionally, we maintain that there is a secular bear market operating under the surface in emerging equity markets. We believe that July of 2011 was the beginning of the secular bear market involving a number of asset classes beyond just commodities and emerging markets.

2013-05-17 Stress Points: What High Frequency Data Tell us About Hidden Tail Risks by Vineer Bhansali, Qingxi Wang of PIMCO

Whereas rare events that occur over lower frequency, longer horizons are much harder to find (and hence much harder to derive statistics from), intraday events create a larger, more accessible data set that can be used to supplement data on tail events. Analyzing the reactions of different markets to intraday tail events can provide valuable information for investors looking for effective tail risk hedges for their portfolios.

2013-05-06 Beyond the Headlines: Job Growth, Exports and Housing by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Congress has done something for the American public. FAA, sequester, flight delays we can fix that! While I would usually take a cynical swipe at Congress (something like, “did they act because they, too, were impacted by their own stubbornness”), I’ll let well enough alone and simply pass on a heartfelt thanks. Perhaps this is the start of something. I hear they are working closely on immigration reform and an exemption for Congress and their staff from the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Ok, so two of three initiatives garnering bi-partisan support are purely self-ser

2013-04-16 Tax Day as Polarizing as Ever by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Tax season is once again upon the American population, and this year, just as in years past, people are less than enthusiastic. It is estimated that the average taxpayer contributed slightly more than $11,000 dollars to federal taxes in 2012 and those figures are on the rise. As might be expected in the current backdrop, however, not everyone shares the same opinion on taxes.

2013-04-02 A Q1 Letter to Clients: Why Warren Buffett is Bullish on Stocks by Dan Richards (Article)

Since 2008, I have posted templates to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the year that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead. This quarter’s letter draws on Warren Buffett’s most recent letter to shareholders, and why he is bullish on the US equity market.

2013-04-01 U.S. Stock Market: Too Good to Be True? by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Funds

There is nothing worse than buying at the top of the market. Think back to the last two economic cycles. If you bought the US stock market or real estate in late 2007, you are way under on those purchases and that is after sweating it out for the last 5 years. Even with the 2009-2012 rebound, we have not seen real estate values or the Dow Index back to even. You have to ask yourself, how can this be?

2013-03-26 Throw the Book at Him by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

On February 2, Ground Hog Day, Punxsutawney Phil failed to see his shadow forecasting, and as legend has it an early spring. Yet on the first day of spring, I looked out my back window at a lake still more than half frozen with my view partially obscured by a wicked little snow flurry. So much for forecasts!

2013-03-25 Energy: Perilous Present, Promising Future by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

For oil and gas, an era of abundant supplies and lower prices awaits. But investors will have to weather a tricky geopolitical situation before it arrives.

2013-03-22 Happy Clients; Terrified Prospects by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Four years ago, on March 9th, 2009, US stocks collapsed to a 12 year low. A financial crisis rooted in overleveraged purchases of junk (or even fraudulent) securities claimed, in quick succession, Bear Stearns, Lehman Brother, Merrill Lynch (forced into a shotgun marriage with Bank of America) and AIG. Investors panicked, selling good securities at deep discounts to fair value.

2013-02-12 Don't Just Do Something, Sit There. by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

"Don't Just Do Something, Sit There" is the title of a book written by Sylvia Boorstein. I was reminded of the title when I received the following email from a financial advisor at another firm last week...

2013-01-15 Gundlach’s Predictions for 2013 by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Don't expect the low volatility that characterized the capital markets in 2012 to continue. Global economic uncertainty remains, and markets are poised like a 'coiled snake' to reward or penalize investors in certain asset classes, according to Jeffrey Gundlach.

2013-01-07 Fiscal Cliff: No Grand Bargain, But Enough for Now by Joanna Shatney of Schroders Investment Management

Although the best case scenario is off the table, US markets are breathing a sigh of relief that the tax cliff has been averted at least for a few more months. The final package holds enough for both the bears given that we will have to revisit the fiscal worries in the next few months and for the bulls who believe that the near-term risks have been pushed aside.

2012-12-17 I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

While last week, and this week, often see distortions in individual stock prices due to tax loss selling, Santa Claus tends to arrive the following week. Indeed, the last week of the year, into the first two days of January, has a pretty good track record on the upside with a rally coming about 65% of the time. As stated in previous missives, I expect the same Santa rally this year driven by a "staged in" solution to the fiscal cliff. Most readers know that I have lived in the D.C. Beltway and have a good working knowledge of how our system works.

2012-11-22 Emerging Asias Rising Productivity by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

Per capita GDP in China has tripled in purchasing power parity terms in the last decade yet Chinese workers still likely have their most productive years ahead of them. Asia as a whole has seen consumption increase by a third since the global financial crisis, even as the West has languished. This month, Robert Horrocks, writes about what is key to the emerging opportunities in Asia: Productivity.

2012-11-13 The Election by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

As most of you know I was in Glasgow, Edinburgh, London, Zurich, and Geneva during election week seeing institutional accounts and speaking at conferences. Of course the question on all the portfolio managers' (PMs) minds was about the election, the subsequent effect on the economy and the various markets, currencies, and the Fiscal Cliff.

2012-10-22 An Alternate Reality by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates

The largest positive factor affecting the environment for stock prices this year has been the recovery in the housing sector. After years of struggle, the sector appears to have turned the corner. The housing market had been showing signs of improvement for some time, but the debate as to whether the recovery was legitimate weighed on the group and added to concerns over the economy.

2012-10-16 The ABCs of China's Share Markets by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

A shares, B shares, H shares. Chinese equity listings can be confusing to global investors. I'm often asked what I think about a particular share market in China, why one is outperforming others, and which to invest in. I can't tell you what to invest in, but I can give you some information which I hope will help you discern what choices make sense for you.

2012-10-15 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

Global equity markets performed well in the third quarter after posting modest losses in the second quarter. The soft second quarter, which followed back-to-back double-digit quarterly gains, proved to be a pause rather than a signal that the equity bull market was ending. Though defensive sectors garnered favor in the second quarter, economically sensitive sectors have generally led performance this year, with technology, financials and consumer discretionary topping the list year to date.

2012-10-03 Where are the Global Winners? by Louie Nguyen of Soledad Investment Management

In today's ber-dreary and volatile global market condition, it can be difficult to imagine how the various markets around the world will eventually right themselves. It is worth noting, however, that the global market has righted itself before, from predicaments that seem just as, if not even more, dire than what we face today. Think Thailand and Korea in 1997, Mexico in 1994 and the Dot-Com Bubble in 2000. The following is the latest in our annual Global Price to Earning (P/E) analysis. It is part of our on-going effort to find compelling investments from around the world.

2012-10-03 Don't Bring Me Down: Not Swayed by Pessimism at BCA Conference by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

We present highlights, key takeaways and perspective on the recent BCA Research Investment Conference. The eurozone crisis and China's slowdown remain risks, but are somewhat offset by optimism about US markets. Politics will remain a force underpinning uncertainty and volatility.

2012-09-25 Jim Bianco – Markets Will Benefit From Disastrous Fed Policy by Robert Huebscher (Article)

The Fed's quantitative easing policy will be 'disastrous,' according to Jim Bianco, but prices for riskier assets will rise over the near term as a result. In remarks last week, Bianco, the head of the Chicago-based economic research firm that bears his name, also gave the US economy a near-failing grade of C-, and warned that inflation will be 'problematic.'

2012-09-11 Rally Should Continue, but Look for More Volatility by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

Despite a relatively disappointing jobs market report for August, stocks rose last week as investors focused on the European Central Banks (ECB) announcement of its longawaited plan to buy bonds in the secondary market. The ECB program represents an important step in terms of lowering volatility and providing a cushion for Europes debttroubled countries to make some longer-term improvements in their fundamentals.

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

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

2012-07-17 Impact of ETF Growth on Active Managers by Dmitriy Katsnelson, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

A paradigm shift away from active management has been in place for more than a decade. Active mutual funds held more than 19 times the amount of assets than passive strategies before the SPDR SPY ETF was launched in 1993. As seen below, they have gradually lost market share to passive vehicles, particularly in US Equities.

2012-07-10 One Way Pockets by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

This morning I awoke to headlines "Asia Signals Drop In Global Demand," "Euro Zone Fragmenting Faster Than EU Can Act," "European Worries Send Shares Lower," and "Investors Brace For Shaky Earnings Season." Such musings have the S&P 500 futures off about six points. Somewhat offsetting these negative quips are these headlines, "Fed Officials Favor QE3" and "Obama To Seek One-year Extension For Some Of Bush Tax Cuts;" but alas, this morning the negatives are outweighing the positives.

2012-07-07 Into the Matrix by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

What does the current environment of earnings and valuations tell us about the prospects for the US stock markets in general over the next 3-5-7-10 years? This week we have part two of "Bull's Eye Investing Ten Years Later," which we started last week. These two letters have been co-authored with Ed Easterling of Crestmont Research. We take a look at research we did almost ten years ago as part of my book Bull's Eye Investing, updating the data and asking,"Are we there yet? When will we get to the end of the secular bear market?"

2012-07-03 10 Predictions for 2012: Mid-Year Update by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

At the midway point of 2012, it seems an opportune time to review the predictions we made at the beginning of the year. Although much could change, at this point it appears that the majority of our predictions are on track.

2012-07-03 Gleanings by Jeffrey Saut, Art Huprich, Scott Brown of Raymond James Equity Research

With this Gleanings report, we begin a monthly chart presentation and discussion, which attempts to pull together the separate disciplines of Economics, Fundamentals, Technical analysis, and Quantitative analysis. The report contains what we think are currently some of the most important charts. We will have an overview and then highlight some of the key near-term variables that we believe could have a measurable effect on where the various markets are going.

2012-07-03 Jump: Market Rallies Sharply on EU Summit News by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Friday's sharp rally on better European news is followed by weaker economic news this week, keeping debate alive about what the market's priced in. When markets expect nothing and get something it can be a recipe for a rally. Investors of every ilk have de-risked, unleashing a scramble last Friday. The US economy is at stall speed, but still looks better than much of the world.

2012-06-30 Bull's Eye Investing (Almost) Ten Years Later by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The current valuation of the stock market is relatively high, but it is not overvalued, considering today's conditions. Low inflation-rate conditions should be accompanied by relatively high P/Es. But if deflation or high inflation (or both) are likely upcoming, the market is very expensive. On the other hand, if the inflation rate happens to remain near price stability, then this secular bear could remain active a while longer but how likely is that?

2012-06-18 Mood by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

M-O-O-D: That is the important word right here. And, what a difference a few weeks makes for last week the markets seemed to switch from the glass being half-empty to half-full leaving Mr. Market in a more forgiving mood. Importantly, market mood frequently sets the near-term trend. If the mood is positive, all things are possible; if it is negative, little is.

2012-05-25 Loss Capacity Drives 401(k) Investment Default Evaluation by Stacy Schaus and Ying Gao of PIMCO

Based on our research, we believe retirement plan participants capacity for loss may be much lower than many investment default options accept as tolerable. Regardless of asset allocation structure, an investment default option should maximize the likelihood that each plan participant will meet his or her retirement income needs. One of the keys to meeting a set income replacement goal is to understand how much plan participants can afford to lose at every age as they approach retirement.

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.

2012-04-20 Emerging Markets Real Estate Securities Investment Review & Outlook First Quarter 2012 by Team of Cohen & Steers

A general moderation in inflation pressures is giving emerging market authorities more liberty to pursue policy stimulus, auguring well for domestic growth. We believe this will create opportunities for residential developers in various markets and we have increased our allocation to these companies.

2012-02-02 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".

2012-01-10 Gundlach on the Key Risk for Bond Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Watch out if you own a bond fund that underperformed its benchmark by 2% or more last year, as most did. Rather than put their careers at risk by suffering a second year of poor performance, those fund managers will turn to indexation, according to DoubleLine’s Jeffrey Gundlach. And since the Barclay’s Aggregate Index holds nearly 35% of its assets in Treasury bonds with near-zero yields, its investors will endure poor returns.

2011-11-22 Krugman versus Summers – Will the US mirror Japan? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Larry Summers and Paul Krugman may share ideological leanings, but they disagree sharply about our economic prospects. Both agree that political gridlock is responsible for the failure to grow our economy, but is that impasse is so severe that the US is destined to endure the slow growth, high unemployment and deflation that has plagued Japan for the last two decades? It depends who you ask.

2011-11-22 Crafting a Country Call by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

For nearly a year, Russ has made weekly investment calls about markets across the globe. Heres a quick look at the macroeconomic approach behind his country views and a summary of where his calls now stand. Generally underweight in countries where prevailing macroeconomic conditions cannot explain high or expensive valuations, and he is typically overweight in countries where prevailing macroeconomic conditions cannot explain low or inexpensive valuations.

2011-11-18 Behavioral Finance (Why Watching CNBC Wont Make You Rich) by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

The current confluence of strong and rising earnings, low stock price valuations and exceptionally low interest rates presents one of the best stock buying opportunities in 50 years. Most Americans will not take advantage of that opportunity because most invest with their hearts, not with their heads, and right now their hearts are filled with fear! To help our clients invest with their heads, we present this commentary on behavioral finance.

2011-11-14 Italian Job Redux by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

On Wednesday, Enel, the major Italian oil company, said, Its time to tell the truth to Italians. Number 1: The party is over. The party referenced is the welfare state that has careened so many Mediterranean countries down the entitlement road. Recently, driven by the sovereign debt markets, reality has arrived at the crossroads along with the realization that the welfare-state needs major austerity reforms. Ignoring lessons our union leaders steered us down the same road as Ohio voted to reverse a law designed to curb the bargaining power of unions representing public employees.

2011-10-21 Emerging Markets Real Estate by Global Real Estate Team of Cohen & Steers

Emerging market real estate stocks were hit hard in the risk-averse environment that defined the third quarter. The asset class underperformed its developed-market counterpart, which also had a double-digit decline amid slowing global growth and concerns regarding Europes unresolved sovereign debt crisis. Slowing global growth is taking some pressure off emerging markets in terms of inflation containment. A trend of policy easing appears to be underway. This could result in improved performance for recently problematic sectors. We have been incrementally adding to such sectors.

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

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

2011-10-03 Markets Continue to Look for Clarity by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

The global financial stresses that have been contributing to market volatility have shown no signs of easing. Financial markets have been signaling that economic growth levels are too weak to support the current financial structure. Corporate bond spreads in most markets have been widening and euro-area bank bond spreads are close to their 2008 crisis levels. These signals suggest that economic growth needs to improve sharply (which is not likely to happen any time soon) or that further policy action is needed to ease the strain.

2011-09-20 Deja Vu? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

Over the past 41 years I have observed a few comparisons that have had fairly good correlations to what was occurring at the time and have used them to help allay panic among investors at inappropriate times. Most recently, I have suggested the panic lows of August 4th and 8th showed such extreme panic-selling readings that participants had to go back to May 13, 1940, when the Germany Army broke through the Maginot Line and invaded France, to find similar panic levels. That observation was consistent with the analogue I have been using for two months.

2011-09-19 Uncertainty Remains, but so too Does Opportunity by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

In contrast to Europe, the United States economy remains in reasonably good health. The United States does, of course, have its own sovereign debt issues to deal with and the future state of the federal deficit is an obvious source of concern. The difference between the United States and Europe is that the United States has the ability to solve its own fiscal problems, even if coming to an agreement about how to do so is a significant challenge. Given this backdrop, its hardly surprising that US stocks have been outperforming on a relative basis over the past couple of months.

2011-08-25 The Fork in the Road by Lance Paddock of Thompson Creek Wealth Advisors

On a fundamental basis the US stock market is still overvalued. As discussed in our last View from the Bluff profit margins are already likely to begin retrenching. If the economy gets worse that will likely accelerate along with a slowing of sales. Narrower segments of the US market are now near fair value, especially the highest quality parts of the market. Overseas markets are another story. International and developing markets are looking reasonable on the whole. Not cheap, but around fair value. Some individual markets (such as Japan and parts of Europe) are actually looking cheap.

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.

2011-08-05 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.

2011-07-11 A Look at Our 10 Predictions for 2011 by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

At the halfway point of the year, we thought it would be appropriate to look at the predictions we made at the beginning of 2011 to see where we stand. 1. US growth accelerates as US real GDP reaches a new all-time high. US real gross domestic product growth reached a new all-time high in the first quarter of 2011, so we have already gotten the second half of this correct. The first half will be dependent on the degree to which the US economy is able to accelerate in the second half of this year. 2. The US economy creates 2 million to 3 million jobs in 2011 as unemployment falls to 9%.

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.

2011-05-28 A Random Walk Through the Minefield by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In the last 48 hours, so much news has come out of Europe that has me frankly shaking my head. It is a strange game of brinksmanship they are playing, and it is one we should be paying attention to (as if the brinkmanship played by US politicians over the debt ceiling is not enough). This week we look at what seems to be European leaders taking random walks through the minefield at the very heart of the European Experiment. As Paul Simon wrote, “A man sees what he wants to see and disregards the rest.”

2011-04-21 Equity Market Review and Outlook by Richard Skaggs and Thomas Davis of Loomis Sayles

The global equity bull market continued in the first quarter despite significant global strife. Most major US indices posted total returns of about +5.0% to +8.0%. Continuing the trend since the March 2009 low, small cap and mid cap stocks outperformed their larger brethren. US markets were among the best in the world, although the MSCI World Index also posted a solid gain of 4.9%. Emerging markets were among the weaker equity asset classes. As the returns demonstrate, however, emerging market stocks remain the winners by a wide margin over the past five- and ten-year periods.

2011-04-15 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

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

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

2011-04-12 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs and Thomas Davis of Loomis Sayles

The global equity bull market continued in the first quarter despite significant unrest across parts of Northern Africa and the Middle East, a massive earthquake in Japan, sovereign debt issues in Europe, and inflationary pressures in certain emerging economies. US markets were among the best in the world, although the MSCI World Index also posted a solid gain of 4.9%. Emerging markets were among the weaker equity asset classes. As the returns demonstrate, however, emerging market stocks remain the winners by a wide margin over the past five and ten year periods.

2011-04-11 Despite Near-Term Risks, Stocks Remain Resilient by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

The preponderance of the economic and market-related news skewed to the negative last week, with an additional earthquake in Japan, rising oil prices, an interest rate hike by the European Central Bank (ECB), escalating debt problems in Europe and increasing noise about the since-averted potential federal government shutdown. Despite this backdrop, however, US equities remained resilient and were roughly flat for the week, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up marginally to 12,380, the S&P 500 Index down 0.3% to 1,328 and the Nasdaq Composite down 0.3% to 2,780.

2011-04-05 The Future of Investment Manager Due Diligence (and a Look Back at Q1 Performance) by Ron Surz (Article)

Despite the continuing global financial crisis, the uprisings in the Middle East and the Japanese disaster, global stock markets delivered positive results in the first quarter of 2011, as described in this capital market review. In the second part of the article, you'll discover what due diligence procedures need to change and why.

2011-01-18 Richard Bernstein: The Antidote to Pessimism by Robert Huebscher (Article)

For an antidote to the bearish sentiment coming from David Rosenberg, look at Richard Bernstein. In contrast to Rosenberg's vision of Japan's lost decade, Bernstein expects the S&P to outperform emerging markets, at least in the near term.

2011-01-13 TW3?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

“That Was The Week That Was,” also known as TW3, was a satirical TV comedy first broadcast on the BBC in November of 1962 and subsequently moved to America. The program was radical in that it chronicled events of the previous week and broke new ground in lampooning the establishment. It was also the first show to demonstrate it was truly television by allowing the cameras and boom microphones to be seen, giving the program an exciting and modern feel. I revisit TW3 this morning because despite last week’s holiday-like environment there were some pretty amazing headlines.

2011-01-10 Q4 Bond Market Review and Outlook by Teri L. Mason of Loomis Sayles

The US economic picture brightened as policymakers announced additional steps to stimulate the economy. Bond yields rose, causing many sectors of the bond market to lose ground in the final quarter of 2010, though high yield bonds, selected currencies and equity markets roared ahead.

2011-01-04 The Coming Decade of Sideways Markets by Robert Huebscher (Article)

'We are in the middle of a sideways market, and we still have another decade to go,' says Vitality Katsenelson. In this interview, Katsenelson shares his insights on the decade ahead and the many factors that may keep China from leading us out of the recession.

2010-12-13 Dr. Copper by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

The most important chart patterns of December (at least so far) are the charts of the 10- and 30-year Treasury bonds, whose yields have backed up more than 10% since the end of November (see the first chart on page 3). The second most impressive chart for the month is copper, which is up 10.8%. Copper is often referred to as “Dr. Copper” for it has a better predictive record on economic growth than many economists; and last week copper came a cropper as it traded to new all-time price highs.

2010-11-29 Weekly Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Downward pressure on the markets is coming from a number of sources, including geopolitical risk in the form of heightened conflict between North and South Korea, the deepening of the European debt crisis, policy tightening in China, an FBI-led investigation of insider trading, confusion over the implementation of quantitative easing and weakening housing market data. While we recognize that all of these issues represent downside risks for the market, we believe that stocks are in the midst of a normal corrective phase and that the longer-term trend remains positive.

2010-11-09 New Strategies in Alternative Investments by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Alternative investments, broadly speaking, and hedge funds, more specifically, have performed as intended over the last 20 years, modestly increasing returns and significantly reducing risk when added to a traditional stock-bond portfolio. Selecting the appropriate vehicle is the challenge, and that task has been made easier by the introduction of new exchange-traded strategies.

2010-10-18 'Gone in 60 Seconds' by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

The likelihood of the QE2 has risen dramatically since Ben Bernanke's Jackson Hole speech. This is being reflected by the 'stubborn rally' in most asset classes. If Bernanke did not think QE2 was needed, he surely would not allow such speculation because he does not want to surprise the various markets. Any ensuing pullback will be mild and contained above the 1130 - 1150 level on the S&P 500. Nevertheless, Jeffrey Saut is cautious, which he has not been since April.

2010-10-07 Risk On, Risk Off by Cliff W. Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

The huge drop in bond yields is the driving force in the equity markets and the decline of the dollar. The old adage 'don't fight the Fed' still applies, and Excelsia's allocations will be shifted more towards equities and alternatives as interest rates get driven lower and lower. Emerging market debt, commodity and natural resource companies, gold, and large-cap stocks all offer favorable prospects.

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

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

2010-09-28 A Candid Appraisal of the Recovery by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Over the last two weeks, seemingly good economic news offered some shreds of optimism to a stock market that was desperate for a pick-me-up. Although it hard to begrudge the punch drunk for grasping at a little hope, however, investing is a dispassionate endeavor that calls for close and realistic analysis. Any structural changes to the economy will come slowly – and perhaps too late. Meanwhile, whatever actions the Fed takes in the name of further stimulus will sacrifice long-term sustainability in favor of a short-term boom.

2010-09-20 Sequential Signals by John P. Hussman of Hussman Funds

The U.S. economy is still in a normal 'lag window' between deterioration in leading measures of economic activity and (probable) deterioration in coincident measures. Though the lags are sometimes variable, as we saw in 1974 and 2008, normal lags would suggest an abrupt softening in the September ISM report (due in the beginning of October), with new claims for unemployment climbing beginning somewhere around mid-October. If we look at the drivers of economic growth outside of the now fading impact of government stimulus spending, we continue to observe little intrinsic activity.

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.

2010-09-13 Weekly Investment Commentary by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Last week saw a drop in jobless claims, a narrowing of the trade balance and an increase in wholesale inventories, all of which suggests that the economic recovery remains intact. Although market performance has improved slightly over the past couple of weeks, stocks remain in a trading range. Ultimately, stocks will break out of their current stalemate, either to the positive side or to the negative. BlackRock is in the former camp, but acknowledges that investors will need to see clearer evidence that the double-dip scenario will not emerge before that can happen.

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.

2010-08-31 Boston! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

While the various markets can certainly do anything, it's typically not the snake you see that bites you; and currently the media is replete with stories about the Hindenburg Omen. When so many people are asking the same 'Hindenburg Omen' question, it is typically the wrong question. Meanwhile, the equity markets have been see-sawing, buffeted by deflationary worries from the bond market. The counterpoint to those lower bond yields is copper, which has broken out to the upside in the chart, suggesting no economic double-dip.

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.

2010-08-04 No Man's Land by Mike Hurley of Incline Capital

Rallying nicely on the month of July, the U.S. markets moved back through key areas of resistance and in doing so have formed what may end up being be ‘bear traps’ on their charts. While the jury remains out on the direction of equities, however, interest rates literally across the board have broken important support levels. Among these are yields on 10-year U.S. Treasury bonds, which are now below 3 percent, and are headed lower from here. This is a trend which may well have legs, and which advisors should include in their planning for clients going forward.

2010-07-06 Template for a Mid-Year Letter – Navigating through this Calamitous Decade by Dan Richards (Article)

It's always important for clients to feel they're being kept informed of what's happening in markets - but never more so than in markets like we've seen in the past few months. Dan Richards provides a template for a mid-year market commentary to clients, adaptable to your own opinions and circumstances, based on a recently rediscovered speech by Benjamin Graham.

2010-06-21 Random Musings From a Summer Vacation by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James Equity Research

The debate of the day centers on whether what we have experienced since the March 2009 'bottom' is just a rally in an ongoing bear market or the beginning of a new secular bull market. Since the end of 2001, Jeffry Saut has been adamant that there is a secular bull market in 'stuff stocks' (energy, agriculture, metals, water, electricity, cement, etc.), especially 'stuff stocks' with a yield, as well as a bull market in emerging and frontier markets. The rest of his portfolio is geared toward taking advantage of the various mini-bull/bear market 'swings.'

2010-05-18 Sovereign Debt Crisis Drives Volatility Higher by Bob Doll of BlackRock

Investors have grown increasingly concerned about the potential for contagion from Europe, fearing credit issues could affect other markets. While European Union rescue plans do not address the underlying fundamental issues facing Greece and other countries, however, immediate liquidity risks should be contained in the short term. On a relative basis, U.S. markets have benefited from the uncertainty, as investors have continued to view the United States as a higher-quality haven for their assets. This makes U.S. stocks more attractive than those of other developed markets.

2010-05-10 Brushwood is to Forest Fires as Leverage is to Financial Crises by David Edwards of Heron Financial Group

Leverage ratios are way down since the financial crisis. The issuance of leveraged securities such as collateralized debt obligations, collateralized loan obligations and commercial mortgage-backed securities is nearly completely halted, and so the 'brushwood' necessary to stoke the next financial crisis is almost entirely absent. Heron also comments on the significance of Greece, Thursday's 'flash-crash,' the weakness of financial regulation, technicals vs. fundamentals, and investment strategy.

2010-04-26 Quarterly Letter by Jeffrey Erber and Eric Brugel of Grey Owl Capital Management

While the stock market paused briefly to catch its breath in January, risk taking was broadly rewarded beginning in mid-February. As we entered March and passed the one-year anniversary of the 2009 market lows, the market took off again. As if it was scripted, the most highly indebted and economically sensitive companies have performed the best during this rally. Financials, in particular banks, have roared. The market has been fueled by consistent marginal improvements in the economy, which have led to expectations of much bigger improvements in coming quarters.

2010-04-06 A Q1 Letter to Send Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Dan Richards provides the latest in his very popular series of quarterly letters for advisors to send to their clients. This Q1 2010 article combines the attributes he considers essential: a balanced outlook, candor, short enough for clients to get through yet long enough to be substantial, fact-based, and customizable to your own voice.

2010-03-18 How will an RMB revaluation affect China, the US, and the world? by Michael Pettis of Michael Pettis

Even if the U.S. took unilateral action to force a revaluation of the RMB and restore the balance of trade, it would take years to wean China away from its undervalued currency. An optimal solution would be to work out a multilateral plan that ends manufacturing subsidies in China, Japan and Germany and returns income to households, while the U.S. and the U.K. shift income from households to investment. Such a global solution, however, may prove politically intractable. Any country that benefits in the short term from stonewalling the adjustment process will probably do so.

2010-03-02 Recovery Continues, But Jobs Data Critical by Bob Doll of BlackRock Investment Management

The economic recovery remains intact, but data remains mixed and outlooks are still uncertain. Employment trends remain the most critical economic data, because the labor market is the mechanism that sustains and reinforces growth. At present, corporate earnings and balance sheets are supportive of companies increasing their payrolls. Trading remains uneven, but higher-risk assets still hold long-term upside potential.

2010-02-02 Zombie Update: Loan Repurchases and REO Anyone? by Christopher Whalen of Institutional Risk Analyst

Whalen addresses the implications of the judge’s actions in the Lehman bankruptcy case of denying seniority to claims of default on CDS contracts. This legal action will have implications for banks in the amount of reserves they must set aside for repurchase transactions, and that this may impair reported earnings. On the economy, he says “There is no way to deal with the current [housing] backlog, much less the volume of new foreclosures in 2010, without immediate action by the financial industry on areas such as securitization and broad restructuring of current residential mortgages.”

2010-01-19 Steve Leuthold: The Market will Rally This Year by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Steve Leuthold is chairman of the $4.5 billion Leuthold Group and one of the most widely-followed market analysts. In his keynote presentation at last week's Fortigent conference, he offered an upbeat forecast for the first half of 2010.

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

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

2009-10-27 The “V” Points Downward by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Long-term equity investors face a critical juncture. They can believe a V-shaped economic recovery is imminent, if not underway, and valuations for broad-based equity indexes properly reflect an end to the "decrepit decade" of return-less risk in US markets. Or they can believe true economic recovery - growth, not just stability - is still a long way off and US equity valuations are in bubble territory, not reflective of the rough terrain ahead. We provide our thoughts.

2009-10-06 So Far so Good: The Decrepit Decade Winds Down by Ron Surz (Article)

Ron Surz provides his award-winning market commentary, covering performance in the US and global markets, broken down by style, sector, and other dimensions.

2009-09-22 Will Momentum Move Your Portfolio? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Instead of mixing value and growth stocks, investors would be far better served by combining value and momentum stocks, according to Cliff Asness, co-founder and Managing Principal of AQR Management. In fact, momentum has "kicked butt" when compared to growth over the last 80 years, Asness said.

2009-08-04 Uncovering the Mayhem in 2008 in the TIPS Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In an interview two weeks ago, Yale Endowment manager David Swensen singled out TIPS as the best way to protect against inflationary and deflationary scenarios. We review a comprehensive study of the history of the inflation-indexed bond market, including an explanation for the extreme volatility in TIPS last year.

2009-07-07 Riding the Stock Market Wave in the First Half of 2009 by Ron Surz (Article)

Ron Surz provides his award-winning market commentary, reviewing the first half stock market performance around the world. He looks at the past decade, to set expectations accordingly. Have markets become cheap enough yet? He concludes with a realistic and sobering look at our current debt problems - a cause for concern for both young and old.

2009-06-23 Compelling Evidence That Active Management Really Works by Ken Solow (Article)

The majority of academic studies conclude that active management does not add value for investors. However, a closer look at how many studies were conducted reveals several flaws in their methodology that are not as well-known as the accepted conclusion about active versus passive management. Guest contributor Ken Solow revisits work by two Yale researchers showing the value added through active management.

2009-06-09 Changes in Asset Allocation by Robert Huebscher and Mary Pitek (Article)

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

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

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

2009-06-02 Jeremy Grantham's Warnings to Investors by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Of the thousands of investment letters penned in the industry, only one draws as much readership as Warren Buffet's annual letter to his shareholders: The quarterly commentary written by Jeremy Grantham. Grantham, the Chairman of the Boston-based investment firm Grantham Mayo Van Otterloo, was a featured speaker at Morningstar's Investor Conference last week, and he spoke at two breakout sessions. Those who, like me, attended both were richly rewarded, as he gave two distinctly different talks, addressing many subjects not covered in his commentaries.

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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