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

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2014-04-18 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

In a currency war, everyone loses. Should monetary policy be coordinated across countries? The International Monetary Fund is at a crossroads.

2014-04-17 What to Make of the Rebound in Emerging Market Equities by Dara White of Columbia Management

A month ago, much of the news from the emerging markets (EM) was negative. We saw headlines highlighting the liquidity headwinds created by U.S. QE tapering, Russias aggressive opportunism in the Ukraine, and Chinas imminent hard landing.

2014-04-17 Tick, Tock, Tax Time by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In 2014, Americans will pay $3 trillion in federal taxes and $1.5 trillion in state taxes. Believe it or not, according to the Tax Foundation, that means more of your income is being spent on taxes than on food, clothing and housing combined!

2014-04-17 Hasenstab in Ukraine, on Ukraine by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

Ukraine is a country both rich with potential and strategically well positioned. While recent events have been very difficult for many, the people of Ukraine have shown their strength. Its also been heartening to see the proactive support from the international community. Michael Hasenstab, chief investment officer, Global Bonds, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, shares his view on the long-term potential of this unique country after a recent visit to Kiev.

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.

2014-04-17 Why Energy is Catching the Market\'s Eye by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Over the last month the energy sector has outperformed the market, and as you can see in the chart below, has done so by 6.5 percent. Year-to-date the sector is beating the S&P 500 Index by over 3 percent. In a spectacularly performing market during 2013, energy lacked some of the incredible performance seen throughout the other sectors, but recently it has turned up, catching the attention of the market yet again.

2014-04-17 U.S. Financials: Investment Theme Update by James Calhoun of AdvisorShares

We reaffirm our recommendation for U.S. Banking and Financial Services as a satellite equity investment. The Federal Reserve’s "Stress Test" reinforces a constructive outlook and conservative risk profile for U.S. Banks. The positive results confirm that U.S. banks have enhanced their ability to withstand macroeconomic challenges by reducing problem assets during the past few years. Equally important, the financial sector appears to be more exposed to a key driver of the broader equity market advance over the last few years: share buyback programs and increasing dividends.

2014-04-17 What\'s Wrong with PIMCO? by James Calhoun of South Texas Money Management

When Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke first talked about reducing or tapering the Federal Reserve’s asset purchase program back in May of 2013, the market response was dramatic. Investors started fleeing bonds, causing bond prices to drop and bond yields to rise. In a rising interest rate environment, the net asset value (NAV) of fixed income mutual funds falls as rates rise. This often leads to shareholder redemptions (they want out!), forcing these bond mutual fund portfolio managers to sell bonds in an unfavorable market.

2014-04-17 Ukrainian Crisis: Should Investors Avoid the Russian Stock Market? by Philip Lawton and Noah Beck of Research Affiliates

This is neither to treat the profoundly worrisome crisis in Eastern Europe cavalierly nor to advocate profiting, however indirectly, from the distress of Ukraine, a sovereign nation whose people have suffered horribly over the last three-quarters of a century. It is merely to caution international investors that, from a strictly financial perspective, withdrawing assets from Russia might not be the right move.

2014-04-17 Three Yards and a Cloud of Dust by Sam Stewart of Wasatch Funds

Former Ohio State football coach Woody Hayes was well-known for his conservative offense-often quoted as saying, "There are only three things that can happen when you pass, and two of them are bad." The two bad outcomes are either an incompletion or an interception. Instead, Hayes favored a methodical, grind-it-out approach, running the ball directly into the line: "three yards and a cloud of dust." What Hayes’ style of play may have lacked in pizazz, it more than made up for in results. The U.S. economy today is following a similar offensive playbook, but with less satisfying results.

2014-04-16 Gold Strategy Investor Letter, Q1 2014 by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

John Hathaway, manager of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), remarks in his latest quarterly letter that it appears "the precious metals complex has bottomed and is attempting to gain footing following the grueling two-plus year correction that started in August of 2011." Giving credence to gold's utility as an equity hedge, he notes that "the positive returns generated by equity markets over the past two years have represented a substantial barrier for capital to reenter precious metals.

2014-04-16 Every Portfolio Has Faith by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we believe that everyone who invests has faith in someone or something. We also believe that who and what you put your faith into is greatly influenced by the time period involved. As we look out into the rest of 2014 and beyond, we would like to consider the kind of faith required by the largest pools of investment dollars in the US. This includes looking at who they are trusting, what they are trusting in, and what time frames they are operating under.

2014-04-16 A Classic Barometer by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Investors seem a bit too eager to tout emerging market equities. Much as they did with technology stocks during the early-2000s, investors today are looking for the best re-entry point. Data clearly do not support anymore the notion that emerging markets are a superior growth story, yet investors seem to be ignoring the classic warnings signs for fear of missing out. One such classic warning sign is the slope of the yield curve. Historically, steeper yield curves have been reliable forecasters of stronger overall nominal economic growth and stronger profits growth.

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!

2014-04-16 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

And what a bad week it was. After flirting (and setting) new record highs on both the S&P and Dow, equity investors worried about the upcoming earnings reports and freaked out over the some disturbing news from China. Stocks plunged late in the week with the Nasdaq particularly hard hit, though the other indexes followed suit and gave up all of their prior gains for the year. For the most part, domestic developments remain strong but news on the global front have prompted investors to seek out the safe-haven of treasuries. Over-reaction or new trend?

2014-04-15 Equity Market Insight by Thomas Faust, Jr. of Eaton Vance

After a powerful rally in 2013, the first quarter of 2014 saw the bull market demonstrate a measure of resilience in the face of several headwinds. In the latter half of January, stocks fell sharply on emerging-market concerns, with volatility spiking to more "normal" post-financial crisis levels. The market bounced back strongly in February and went on to record a new all-time closing high on March 7. Performance was choppy in the final few weeks of the quarter, as investors digested mixed economic reports, geopolitical issues and the latest U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting.

2014-04-15 Credit Availability Underpins Recovery in Commercial Real Estate Prices, But Also Poses Risks to CMB by Bryan Tsu of PIMCO

Credit availability, low interest rates, limited new construction and improving economic conditions have contributed to the recovery in commercial real estate (CRE) prices. We expect a strong 2014 in the commercial mortgage-backed securities (CMBS) market, which has been a primary source of CRE credit expansion. Increasingly aggressive loan underwriting is a concern. CMBS investors need to speak with their wallets and push back on either valuations or underwriting standards if recent trends continue.

2014-04-15 Approaching a Pause? A Market Review by Rick Vollaro of Pinnacle Advisory Group

First quarter market performance was as whippy and volatile as the weather. Unusually cold temperatures in the U.S. not only froze much of the country’s population, but it also wreaked havoc on the quality of economic data, and kept markets on edge regarding how investors should be positioned. Geopolitical issues also rose from the ashes as various emerging markets had currency issues and Russia showed poor sportsmanship and invaded the Ukraine shortly after the conclusion of the Olympic Games.

2014-04-15 Complacency Makes Volatility Markets a Dangerous Place by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With a dissipation of economic stress in Europe, and a general strengthening of economic conditions in the U.S., equity market volatility has plunged to new lows. Some would argue that market intervention by central banks is acting as an unnatural dampener to market volatility, raising the question as to whether a gradual removal of those policies will cause volatility to resurface. So far, the answer is up for debate, but current positioning suggests many investors are becoming complacent and will be caught off sides if such a scenario emerges.

2014-04-15 Beta Earthquake by Ben Hunt of Salient Partners

One of the things I like to keep my eye on when I’m puzzling out what’s going on in the market are the specific company factors that loosely define concepts like Momentum and Value. I do this because any sort of big market move, like we’ve seen over the past week, is inherently over-determined and over-explained. That is, there are dozens of "reasons" trotted out by the financial media and various experts, ALL of which are probably right to a certain degree.

2014-04-15 What\'s Next for Emerging Markets? by Nathan Rowader of Forward Management

Emerging markets (EM) have been an enduring growth story, but their recent stretch of underperformance and fears of a global economic slowdown are chilling investors’ enthusiasm. Pulled between opportunity and risk avoidance, many investors have been left uncertain as to what they should do next.

2014-04-15 5 Things You Need to Know About the Selloff by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper puts the sharp pullback in the stock market in perspective for investors who may be wondering about a correction.

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

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

2014-04-15 Running Backwards to Catch Up by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

Did you ever try to run backwards? I find walking backwards difficult enough. Running in reverse can send you tumbling.

2014-04-14 The Default Outlook by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

On April 1st, TXU/Energy Future Holdings skipped their interest payment due that day, immediately triggering a default by some reporting mechanisms. While the company has a 30 day grace period to pay the coupon payment, most expect them to use the grace period to work further on a restructuring and ultimately file for bankruptcy at some point over the next 30 days.

2014-04-14 US Stock Markets Surprisingly Steady - First Quarter Review by David Edwards of Heron Financial

Surprisingly steady! How can we say that? Because compared to the price swings of the last six years, the recent 3.9% decline in US Stocks (from a record set April 2) barely registers relative to the powerful uptrend since mid 2011.

2014-04-14 Were Shuffling the Cards on Our European Play by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Did you know that over the last year the Greek stock market is up roughly 45 percent? The country that many believed would never recover from a six-year recession is now making astounding strides, recently being added to the MSCI Emerging Markets Index at the end of 2013.

2014-04-14 Economic Insight: Fed Policy Goes Back to the Future by Thomas Luster of Eaton Vance

We fully expected the strength the economy showed in late 2013 to carry over into 2014; however, that simply was not the case. Instead, we saw weaker-than-expected economic data across a wide range of economic indicators. Not surprisingly, interest rates fell modestly during the quarter rather than continuing their trend higher from last year, while U.S. stocks (as measured by the S&P 500) reacted similarly barely advancing after a 32% gain in 2013.

2014-04-14 Margins, Multiples, and the Iron Law of Valuation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Iron Law of Valuation is that every security is a claim on an expected stream of future cash flows, and given that expected stream of future cash flows, the current price of the security moves opposite to the expected future return on that security. A corollary to the Iron Law of Valuation is that one can only reliably use a price/X multiple to value stocks if X is a sufficient statistic for the very long-term stream of cash flows that stocks are likely to deliver into the hands of investors for decades to come.

2014-04-14 Why Todays Environment Favors Active High Yield Strategies by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco Blog

Fixed income investors are looking for ways to prepare their portfolios for rising interest rates. While bond prices generally fall when rates rise, history shows that high yield bonds have typically held up well in rising rate environments.

2014-04-12 In the End, Time is Everything by Doug MacKay of Broadleaf Partners

While some will claim that valuations are to blame for the large selloff in growth stocks, high growth stocks almost always have premium valuations. In some sectors of the market, we’ve found that it makes more financial sense to pay up for a company of the future than to pay down for one in the past. As Warren Buffet has said, "Price is what you pay, but value is what you get."

2014-04-12 Risk Tolerance: Defining a Misunderstood Term by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

First, let’s be clear: "Risk" is the possibility that you will need money but don’t have it, either because your portfolio’s value plunged, because your investments don’t have near-term liquidity, or both. What freaks investors out in the here-and-now, is VOLATILITY. Yet many traditional approaches to building a portfolio don’t really take this into account, other than a token survey question or two when the client is first starting to invest.

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.

2014-04-11 Bubble Bursting? Only for Biotech & Internet Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The recent sluggish performance of U.S. stocks is leading some market watchers to question whether were witnessing the bursting of an equity bubble. Russ explains that while U.S. equities overall are not in a bubble, valuations have started to become an issue, particularly for certain segments of the market.

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

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

2014-04-11 Gold - Managing the Downside by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

We get a lot of questions regarding the impact on portfolio risk of having an allocation to gold. In particular given the status of gold as a safe haven asset, focus has centered on its performance during periods of extreme market stress what is the downside to gold during periods of high risk aversion? The high level answer to this question is that the financing currency used to make the gold purchase matters and as is often the case when discussing portfolio construction, you ask a simple question, you get a complex answer.

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

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

2014-04-11 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 134.9, up from last week's 133.6 (revised from 133.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 3.3 from last week's 3.0.

2014-04-10 The Russians Are Coming by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming is a 1966 American comedy film directed by Norman Jewison and based on Nathaniel Benchleys book The Off-Islanders. The movie tells the Cold War story of the comedic chaos that happens when a Soviet submarine runs aground closely offshore a small island town near New England and the crew is forced to come ashore. Last Friday, however, rumors that the Russians are coming swirled down the canyons of Wall Street, causing a late Friday Fade that left the S&P 500 (SPX/1865.09) down an eye-popping 24 points.

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 Looking at Current Long-Term Growth Plays by Chip Skinner of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager and Principal Chip Skinner talks about the market's more volatile behavior in the first quarter, potential growth areas that he finds interesting, ideas in which he has high confidence, and one stock that has recently done well for him.

2014-04-10 Building Shareholder Value through M&A: Valeant Pharmaceuticals by Brian Fontanella of Diamond Hill Investments

There has been a notable increase in merger and acquisition (M&A) activity in the specialty pharmaceutical industry over the past year. This has been driven by several factors including the relatively low cost of debt and the magnitude of cost savings that can be realized. But recently, tax savings have been an additional driver of deal activity.

2014-04-10 "I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today" by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

In October of 2013, Robert Shiller won the Nobel Prize in economics for his research on spotting market bubbles. Shiller, an economist and professor at Yale University who accurately predicted the housing bubble, is a pioneer of behavioral finance, or the understanding of how psychology causes us to act irrationally with our money.

2014-04-10 Investment Success Often Depends On Choosing the Right Investment Horizon by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, reminds investors of the dangers of extrapolation, terming it "one of the worst biases of investing." Complicating matters is Sicart's contention that "possibly the second worst investment bias is our need to believe a good story."

2014-04-10 Assuage Your Fears of Rising Rates with Global Diversification by Julie Salsbery of PIMCO

?Although PIMCO believes interest rates are fairly anchored in the near term, we think investors can position their fixed income portfolios more defensively. Global diversification across developed and emerging markets can offer a defense against rising U.S. rates by reducing the concentration of risks within a portfolio, while also potentially lowering volatility and enhancing returns.

2014-04-10 March 2014 Pension Finance Update by Brian Donohue of October Three Consulting

Pension finances deteriorated slightly in March, and both model plans we track ended the first quarter of 2014 in modestly negative territory. Traditional Plan A lost about 1% last month and is now down almost 4% for the year, and Plan B slid less than 1% during March, ending the quarter almost 2% in the red.

2014-04-09 Whatever It Takes 2.0? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

If you are convincingly irrational the market may expect extreme measures and front run your bluff. Its in this spirit that ECB President Draghi is threatening the market with another bazooka. We discuss implications for investors.

2014-04-09 Managements History of Shareholder Friendliness by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

Many years ago, United Airlines had the slogan, "Fly the Friendly Skies." At Smead Capital Management, we like to own companies for a long time which are "friendly" to their public shareholders. In this missive, we will define what it means in our eyes to be shareholder friendly and give a company specific example of this friendliness.

2014-04-09 Reasons To Remain Optimistic In 2014 by Sandra Martin of Martin Investment Management

The equity markets have taken a respite in 2014 after returning more than 32% in 2013. Margin expansion has been the largest influence on profit growth and should continue with present low inflation expectations. We believe that mergers and share buybacks may continue to increase shareholder value for large capitalization stocks.

2014-04-09 Take an Active Approach to Selecting Your Active Manager by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

For some time, we have written about the challenges active equity managers face from a market with unusually high cross-correlations. We have also stated our belief that the correlation pendulum would swing back to more normal levels (at least) as the aftershocks of the 2008 financial crisis abated, with a corresponding benefit to active managers. That swing is well under way and a growing number of commentators have begun to echo our observation.

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.

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

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

2014-04-08 Overcoming Fear and Loathing in Lost Wages by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Personal income, not job growth, may have drawn the ire of investors as stocks sold off on Friday. But look for the market to rebound on continued economic progress and soothing remarks from the Fed, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-04-08 Labor Markets Looking for a Spring Blossom by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With an unusually harsh winter finally ending, economists were excited to see if labor markets would rebound in March. By many accounts, they were left wanting for more, but the underlying theme in the March report was consistent, steady job growth.

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 Avoiding Losers Is as Important as Picking Winners in High Yield Markets Today by Andrew Jessop, Hozef Arif of PIMCO

Although high yield bonds span a broad range of sectors, industries and individual credits, their yields today tend to fall within an increasingly narrow range. Narrow dispersion means portfolio decisions that target outperformance should now be guided by avoiding deteriorating credits as much as by selecting the most attractive rising stars. Strategies for picking the rising stars can extend to CCC rated credits where agency ratings lag the improvement in the underlying credit profile.

2014-04-08 Moving Forward With the Normalization of Yields by Scott Mather, Michael Story of PIMCO

One response to yield normalization is to consider retaining core bonds and diversifying the specific risk factor of concern, in this case duration. In the past, global bonds have captured most of the upside but avoided a significant amount of the downside relative to domestic-only bonds. Generating capital gains from bonds in a rising yield environment requires defining concretely what yield normalization means where yields are going and when they will get there and setting these expectations against forward market pricing, country by country.

2014-04-08 Predatory Trading Just How Big an Issue is High-Speed Trading? by Matt Waldner of Columbia Management

High-frequency trading (HFT) is a topic institutional investors and traders have been battling for years. A new book titled Flash Boys by author Michael Lewis of Moneyball fame, investigations out of U.S. regulators and a 60 Minutes spot on a recently developed exchange, IEX, brought this topic from Wall Street to Main Street. In this article, well take a walk around the issue, educate our investors, and hopefully, quell any concerns.

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 First Quarter of 2014 Brings Many Reversals, Regressions to the Mean by Ron Surz of PPCA

Unlike 2013, diversification worked in the first quarter of 2014. As revealed in our 2013 market commentary, U.S. stocks dominated with a 33% return while diversifying assets like commodities lost 10%. As shown in the graph on the right, diversification into real estate and commodities was handsomely rewarded in the first quarter.

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.

2014-04-07 Examining Companies Through the Lens of ESG by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

No matter where we invest, theres always some sort of risk. This includes not only geopolitical or macroeconomic factors in a given country, but also issues that are unique to a specific sector or individual security. As bottom-up stock pickers, my team and I must assess the potential risks and returns related to each and every company we invest in. One area that warrants closer examination is environmental, social, and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities, which can play a big role in our stock selection and valuation process.

2014-04-05 Investing for Retirement: The Defined Contribution Challenge by Ben Inker and Martin Tarlie of GMO

Target date funds are rapidly becoming the workhorse for DC plans. These funds have grown substantially in recent years, partly as a result of automatic enrollment made possible by the Pension Protection Act of 2006. By and large, current target date funds resemble the old investment advisor adage that stock weight should be about 110 minus a person’s age. While this satisfies the common-sense intuition that, all things being equal, weight in stocks should go down as a person ages, there are a number of problems with this approach. In this paper we focus on two in particular.

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.

2014-04-04 Bob by Bill Gross of PIMCO

PIMCO recommends overweighting credit and to a lesser extent volatility and curve. Underweight duration. Although credit spreads are tight, they are not as compressed as interest rates, which are now in the process of normalization. While PIMCO agrees with Janet Yellen that such normalization will be a long time coming (the 12th of Never?), probabilities suggest that as the Fed completes its Taper, the 530 year bonds that it has been buying will have to be sold at higher yields to entice the private sector back in.

2014-04-04 Putin and the Naughty Chair by Robert Stimpson of Oak Associates

On the surface, the first quarter of 2014 appears to be decent. The S&P 500 eked out a gain of 1.8% in the first three months of the year, despite heightened geopolitical tensions, a changing of the guard at the Federal Reserve, and frigid weather hampering economic growth. Accounts managed by Oak Associates have topped the S&P 500 year-to-date. That being said, signs of internal weakness are present in US equities.

2014-04-04 Meet "Lowflation": Deflation's Scary Pal by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In recent years a good part of the monetary debate has become a simple war of words, with much of the conflict focused on the definition for the word "inflation." The latest front in this campaign came this week when Bloomberg News unveiled a brand new word: "lowflation" which it defines as a situation where prices are rising, but not fast enough to offer the economic benefits that are apparently delivered by higher inflation. Although the article was printed on April Fool's Day, sadly I do not believe it was meant as a joke.

2014-04-04 Warning Signs in Leveraged Credit? by Elizabeth (Beth) MacLean of PIMCO

Though leveraged credit markets are less levered than they were pre-crisis, signs of more lenient, issuer-friendly terms are prompting regulators (including the Fed) and investors to voice concerns. Regulators have tightened lending guidelines, but strong demand versus supply means the market is able to find ways around such guidance. Detailed bottom-up credit analysis with an emphasis on long-term fundamentals and loss avoidance remains crucial to investing in leveraged credit today.

2014-04-04 Why Chinese Stocks May Still Make Sense Over the Long Run by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Many investors have been concerned about the Chinese market lately and are asking Russ whether they should abandon Chinese stocks. Russ explains why his answer is still no, at least for the long term.

2014-04-04 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.6, unchanged last week (which was revised from 133.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 3.0 from last weeks 2.9. Here are some notable developments since ECRIs public recession call on September 30, 2011: 1) The S&P 500 is up 61.9% at yesterdays close, fractionally off its record close on April 2nd. 2) the unemployment rate has dropped to 6.7%, and 3) Q4 GDP was revised upward to 2.6%.

2014-04-04 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

For the European Central Bank, actions will speak louder than words. US hiring is back on track. The debate over unemployment and wage pressure.

2014-04-04 Avoiding Complacency by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

Active managers don’t have a mandate to hold any certain securities, thus they can pick and choose as to what they feel offers the best return level for a given risk profile. The high yield bond market still offers plenty of what we view as very attractive opportunities in credits that we see as solid companies at yields about 300 basis points or more above the yield level on this bond.

2014-04-04 Income Is Always a Good Idea by Jack Tierney of Invesco Blog

Most of the 2014 forecasts were positive on stocks, albeit at a lower return after such a strong year in 2013, and negative on bonds. However, January was a down month for stocks and a very strong month for bonds, February saw stocks rebound and bonds range-bound, and March thus far has stocks down more than up and bonds still range-bound. With apologies for altering the famous quote attributed to Audrey Hepburn in Sabrina, "Paris is always a good idea," I would say that "income is always a good idea."

2014-04-03 Foolish Investment Ideas by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

With April Fools Day behind us, its time to get serious about investing. Dont be fooled by this weeks non-farm payroll report; nor by the assertion that the U.S. may have the cleanest of the dirty shirts. And certainly dont be fooled into thinking the market has your interests in mind

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

Beth Banker, a successful business woman, has been having ongoing neck and back issues. She decided to access web based information as to obtain self treatment options. Upon her reading, she realized that her condition, although appearing musculoskeletal in nature may be more involved with underlying pathologies. Although her intent was to heal herself, in reality she became more concerned and stressed as to the amount of research and data that existedwhich she didnt understand.

2014-04-03 The Stealth Rally: Gold Under the Radar by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

So far, 2014 has been a paradoxical year for gold. Many investors aren't even aware that it has rallied almost 8%. On the rare occasion that the financial media mentions the yellow metal, it is only in the context of comparing the recent rise to last year's decline.

2014-04-03 Q2 fixed income outlook Hitting for the cycle by Gene Tannuzzo of Columbia Management

By the middle of this year, the economic expansion in the U.S. will officially turn five years old. By comparison, the average of all business cycle expansions tracked by the National Bureau of Economic Research dating back to the mid-1800s is about three and half years. But like many five year olds, this cycle hardly seems mature. In particular, we have taken notice of three key elements of the business cycle that have distinct implications for bond investing today.

2014-04-03 Being There by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Spring has sprung, yet many market pundits are worried about the softening economic reports, causing me to remember the book Being There by author Jerzy Kosinski.

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 Gain International Exposure with Small-Caps by David Nadel of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager and Director of International Research David Nadel discusses our attraction to international small-caps, how our investment approach translates into the international small-cap universe, how we try to avoid value traps, the effect monetary policy has had on our approach and performance, and more.

2014-04-02 Available at a Low Price in Relation to Intrinsic Value by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, valuation matters dearly. We believe all the academic studies from Fama-French, Bauman-Conover-Miller and Francis Nicholson, show that cheap stocks as measured by price-to-book value (P/B), price-to-earnings (P/E) or price-to-dividends outperform more expensive stocks. We especially love Nicholsons 25-year study because it shows that the 100 cheapest stocks that make up the lowest P/E quintile see their outperformance expand the longer you hold them. Cheapness is the gift that keeps on giving.

2014-04-02 Consumer Confidence Up, But Concerns Remain by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Conference Board reported last week that its Consumer Confidence Index jumped to 82.3 in March (up from 78.3), the highest reading since January 2008, just as the recession was beginning. But the two underlying components of the Index provided two different perspectives, as we will discuss today.

2014-04-02 Foolish Investment Ideas by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

With April Fools Day behind us, its time to get serious about investing. Dont be fooled by this weeks non-farm payroll report; nor by the assertion that the U.S. may have the cleanest of the dirty shirts. And certainly dont be fooled into thinking the market has your interests in mind

2014-04-02 Tax Reform: Camp Fires Up the Debate by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Chances for passage of the congressman's overhaul of the U.S. tax code are slim, but provisions of the bill could point the way to future reform.

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 years winners are shaping up to be this years losers. Russ explains the shifts hes seeing and what they mean for investors.

2014-04-01 Have You Looked at India Lately? by Eric Stein, Patrick Campbell of Eaton Vance

In our judgment, its time to remove India from the ranks of the so-called Fragile Five* emerging-market countries. We believe the strong investment case to be made for India today underscores the importance of taking a country-by-country approach to emerging-market investing.

2014-04-01 U.S. Growth Offers a Tailwind for the Region by Mohit Mittal, Ed Devlin, Lupin Rahman of PIMCO

PIMCO expects growth in the U.S. to improve due to a reduction in fiscal drag, although the Federal Reserves tapering and slowing growth in China are risks. While higher U.S. growth should offer a boost to exporters, Canada will likely face headwinds from a housing correction and drop in consumption. Latin America has fared relatively well amid the recent volatility in emerging markets, but differentiation across credits and markets continues to increase.

2014-04-01 A Look at First Quarter Market Performance by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the first quarter draws to a close, equity markets appear poised to finish in positive territory despite a somewhat tumultuous news environment. As noted by Bloomberg, save for a sharply negative Monday period, the S&P 500 will close out a fifth consecutive quarter in positive territory for the first time since 2007.

2014-04-01 Equities Sag as Macro Backdrop Quiets Down by Robert Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week U.S. equities struggled for direction as the S&P 500 declined 0.4%. Small cap stocks were hit harder, and macro and geopolitical issues seemed to be on the back burner. Overall, emerging markets rallied, value and contrarian plays outperformed and Japanese stocks bounced.

2014-04-01 Signs of Life?? by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

As mining investment in Australia tapers, improvements in other sectors of the economy recently have allayed some concerns of a collapse in domestic demand. We share the cautious optimism but stop well short of expecting higher policy rates this year. Australian bond yields remain highly correlated to global developed market bond yields, and without a near-term domestic catalyst to cause that correlation to break, Australias yields are more likely to gradually rise, particularly in the longer end of the yield curve, which isnt supported by anchored policy rates. ?

2014-04-01 2016 (Part 1, The Economic Issue) by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In this report, we are tackling the geopolitical impact of the 2016 elections. Given the size of the topic, it will be discussed over a three-part series. As we survey the political landscape for 2016, the next presidential election could be historic. In our opinion, the last three presidents have been unable to create a consistent foreign policy that reflects Americas role as the unipolar superpower. We will begin by examining the economic challenges the next president will face, with a broad analysis of the issues of inequality and economic growth.

2014-04-01 Investing is Hard by David Wismer of Flexible Plan Investments

Or better put, successful investing is hard. So says author, speaker, and CIO Robert Seawright of Madison Avenue Securities in a recent series of Investment Belief columns on his award-winning blog, Above the Market.

2014-04-01 Why Key Long-Term Trends Matter to Stock Pickers by Virginie Maisonneuve of PIMCO

The combination of demographic changes, climate change and the ongoing shift in emerging markets over the next 30 years will have long-term consequences for supply and demand factors and business sustainability for many companies. The impact of these long-term trends must not be underestimated. It is crucial for equity investors to not only be attuned to them, but also to understand how companies are adapting to the shifts in the global corporate operating environment. ?

2014-04-01 Fundamental Tango by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The economy and financial markets are forever sending out mixed, parallel, or confusing messages. Inflation or stagflation? Buy now, or take your profits? Proceed slowly, or go home? At this moment, the signals are hardly synchronized.

2014-03-31 European Rally Has Legs by Nick Kalivas of Invesco Blog

Since hitting a low on June 1, 2012, the MSCI Europe Index has rallied 64.73%. In our view, theres room for European equity markets to advance further, supported by strong fundamentals, positive flows and a steady uptrend from the June 2012 low.

2014-03-31 Labor Market Clues for Bond Investors by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton

When the US Federal Reserve (Fed) began tapering early this year, the general assumption was that investors would flee en masse from fixed income investments. Certainly, there has been some volatility in Treasury yields, most recently after Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested interest rates could start to rise around six months after tapering ends which would be somewhat sooner than many were expecting.

2014-03-31 Shifting Policy at the Fed: Good for Long-Term Growth, Bad for Cyclical Bubbles by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Fed is wisely and palpably moving away from the idea that more QE is automatically better for the economy, and has started to correctly question the effectiveness of QE, as well as its potential to worsen economic risks rather than remove them.

2014-03-31 Will Jobs Benefit From a Spring Thaw? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The upcoming jobs report, a bellwether for the health of the US economy, could reveal that the harsh winter has created a coiled spring in the labor market, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-03-29 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Using energy as a pawn may work to Russia’s disadvantage in the long run. China’s 2014 economic outlook is hazy. Lessons from the 2014 stress test.

2014-03-29 When Inequality Isn\'t by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We’ve discovered so far that income inequality is a fact; however, income mobility has remained roughly the same over the last 40 years. That is, a person’s chances of rising from a lower stratum of wealth distribution to a higher stratum is approximately the same as it was in 1975.

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 Mind the Gap: Adapting to a Post-Crisis World in Transition by Virginie Maisonneuve of PIMCO

??Barring any sharp deterioration in global geopolitical risk, the medium term outlook for equities is quite positive in an environment where we see subdued growth and inflation amid healing economies. From a markets standpoint, valuations are not very expensive theyre not cheap, but theyre not expensive versus historical standards for the market overall.

2014-03-28 What Investors Should Know About Fed Forward Guidance by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Last week, at Janet Yellens first meeting as Fed Chair, the FOMC revised its forward guidance for the funds rate, dropping its reference to 6.5% unemployment and instead stressing the committees qualitative assessment of the economy. The change was a symbolically important step, but did not alter the broader outlook for policy rates, in our view.

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.

2014-03-28 Asia's E-Commerce Trends by Jerry Shih of Matthews Asia

On a recent research trip, I went to Beijing, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Melbourne and spoke with Internet companies in industries as diverse as automotives, travel and real estate. I also met with several e-commerce companies with varying Internet penetration rates. As growth rates for new Internet users across parts of Asia level off, comparing these firms offered me an interesting glimpse into the potential opportunities and challenges facing the region's newer Internet firms.

2014-03-28 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.5, up from 133.0 last week (a revision from 132.9). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 2.9 from last week's 2.3.

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.

2014-03-28 Four Areas Revved Up for a Resources Boom by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Commodity returns vary wildly, as experienced resource investors can attest and our popular periodic table illustrates. This inherent volatility can spell opportunity for the nimble investor who can look past the mainstream headlines to identify hot spots. Our global resources expert, Brian Hicks, CFA, identified four we believe are revved up for a resources boom.

2014-03-27 A Sustainable Recovery?? by Mike Amey of PIMCO

Early signs indicate that the long awaited increase in business investment is underway. In turn, that bodes well for real income growth and the sustainability of the economic recovery. Given the improved economic prospects and the change in rhetoric at the Bank of England, the central bank could well be an early adopter of tighter monetary policy. We expect the BoE to hike rates ahead of the US Federal Reserve. While we beli?eve the British pound has already reflected the BoEs guidance for official rates to rise by mid-2015, the bond market has yet to fully reflect the new environment. ?

2014-03-27 Real Estate Alpha Hides in Smaller Neighborhoods by Eric Franco of AllianceBernstein

After a spectacular five-year run, global real estate stocks look headed for a period of more normal returns. We think winning in this space will require a more discriminating eyeand venturing into the often neglected nooks and crannies of the smaller-cap real estate world.

2014-03-26 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Well, apparently Janet Yellen has her own style, her own personality, her own mixed message. Just as Fed watchers had to get used to Bernanke in the aftermath of maestro Greenspan (does that name still apply after the financial crisis?), investors will need a few meeting to figure out the new Fed Chair. An early rebound was followed by a selloff which was followed by a rebound which was followed by a late-week selloff. Nicely done, Ms. Yellen (though Russia played a role as well).

2014-03-26 Looming Retirement Crisis Boomers In Big Trouble! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

Lets face it, we all know this country is facing a retirement crisis. The first of the Baby Boomers turned 65 and started retiring in 2011. The number of Boomers retiring each year will rise rapidly over the next decade or more. Before the end of this decade, Boomers will be turning age 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day.

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. ?

2014-03-26 Understanding Gold Cost of Carry in Various Currencies by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

Under normal market conditions, the term structure for the price of gold for delivery at increasing maturities (the term structure) exhibits an upward sloping curve. In futures market terminology the term structure is said to be in contango and implies that the price of gold for spot delivery is lower than the price of gold for future delivery.

2014-03-26 Europe is a Land of Opportunity in 2014 by Kevin Mahn of Hennion & Walsh

While we are forecasting a high, single-digit gain for the S&P 500 index over the course of 2014 at this time, we do still contend that U.S. stock market returns will likely be outpaced in 2014 by certain International Developed Country stock market returns (notably Europe) as regions such as the Eurozone continue to emerge from their own recession.

2014-03-26 Picture This by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Picture this: youre an investor starting out in the 1940s after World War II came to an end. Your own experience in the contemporary history of the stock market would've taught you that bonds were the safer, and superior, asset allocation over the long-term.

2014-03-26 Unleashing Africas Potential by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

Many investors who have never traveled in Africa probably have preconceived ideas about it, perhaps as a land of safaris and political strife, rich in coveted natural resources that have failed to bring widespread wealth and development to the continent. Many also might not realize how diverse the landscape, the economies and the people are on the continent, which boasts more than 1,000 languages spoken in more than 50 countries and climates ranging from hot deserts and tropical rainforests to frozen glaciers.

2014-03-26 Housing Booming, Busting and Muddling Along by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

Housing is local again! Our consultants and clients see vastly different housing markets all across the country. I categorize them into three groups (booming, busting, and muddling) in this article and provide anecdotes from our team members---- but it is really more complicated than that.

2014-03-25 Janet Yellen Enters the Picture by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

After bursting onto the scene earlier this year, Janet Yellen held her first official FOMC meeting last week. Rather than upset the apple cart, she held a largely status quo stance, but several comments raised more than a few questions.

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 Putins perspective. From this viewpoint, we will examine Putins 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.

2014-03-25 Stocks: "Aging Bull" Could Still Pack a Punch by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Bearish market observers fret that earnings growth will falter and that current equity valuations are unsustainable. Their worries are misplaced.

2014-03-24 March Flash Update by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

At the end of February, the market as measured by the S&P 500 moved slightly above the year-end levels. Subsequently, a brief calming of the tensions surrounding the events in the Ukraine (time will tell) generated a relief rally that extended a bit further resulting in new record highs exactly 5 years after the financial crisis lows of March 2009.

2014-03-24 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

For those of us that have been around for awhile, we have come to recognize that each Federal Reserve Board Chairman has had a unique way of speaking and a unique personality. Remember the "Volcker Rules"? How about "Greenspan-speak"? Well, last week we had a chance to take a measure of the person, and her language, who currently presides over monetary policy, Fed Chair Janet Yellen. And while a snapshot is not necessarily a truism of the embodiment of the whole, there were a few takeaways, not the least of which was the market's (once again) overreaction to what was being said.

2014-03-24 Michael Cirami on Ukraine: It May Just Be Spring Training for Putins Hardball Tactics by Michael Cirami of Eaton Vance

Earlier this month, Michael Cirami, co-director of Eaton Vances Global Income Group, offered his views on the immediate crisis surrounding the seizure of Crimea by Russian and pro-Russian troops, having been in Kiev just two weeks prior. In this Viewpoint, he adds some perspective to how events have unfolded since and how they may going forward in the wake of that event.

2014-03-24 Fed-Induced Speculation Does Not Create Wealth by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Fed-induced speculation does not create wealth. It only changes the profile of returns over time. It redistributes wealth away from investors who are enticed to buy at rich valuations and hold the bag, and redistributes wealth toward the handful of investors both fortunate and wise enough to sell at rich valuations and wait for better opportunities.

2014-03-24 Is the Fed Supporting the Equity Markets? by Tom Riegert of Hatteras Funds

The Federal Reserves unprecedented increase in reserves purchased through its quantitative easing programs has paralleled the performance of the equity markets to a startling degree. Has the Feds program been supporting the equity markets? We examine the strong correlation between the Feds balance sheet and the performance of the S&P 500 since end-2008, and ponder the effects the Feds 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 Yellens 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 weeks 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 Feds summary of economic projections and Chairwoman Janet Yellens remarks following the meeting, the FOMC suggested a shorter timeframe for rate hikes than the market had expected.

2014-03-22 China\'s Minsky Moment? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In speeches and presentations since the end of last year, I have been saying that I think the biggest macro problem in the world today is China. China has run up a huge debt, and the payments are coming due. They seem to be proactive, but will it be enough? How much risk do they pose for the global system?

2014-03-22 We See Opportunities in Commodities by Bob Greer, Ronit M. Walny, Klaus Thuerbach of PIMCO

Fundamentals and some recent data suggest that challenging trends for commodity investing may be coming to an end. Commodities may increase their role as an important and unique source of returns, diversification and protection from unanticipated inflation. As commodity sectors are each dominated by unique factors, we see even more opportunities to add value through active management.

2014-03-22 The Two-Minute Portfolio Manager by Rob Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

It’s a short attention span world, and while we often wax poetic about investment topics we feel passionate about, today we will summarize our world markets view in less than the time it takes to heat up the dinner your family ate two hours ago (a scenario most familiar to this writer).

2014-03-22 What Makes a Slam-Dunk Portfolio? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As a native Canadian, hockey is in my blood, but after moving to Texas, the icy arenas changed to basketball courts, as the sole major league sports team in the city is the San Antonio Spurs.

2014-03-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, down from 133.6 last week (a revision from 133.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 2.3 from last week's 2.1 (a revision from 2.3).

2014-03-21 We See Opportunities in Commodities by Bob Greer, Ronit Walny, Klaus Thuerbach of PIMCO

Fundamentals and some recent data suggest that challenging trends for commodity investing may be coming to an end. Commodities may increase their role as an important and unique source of returns, diversification and protection from unanticipated inflation. As commodity sectors are each dominated by unique factors, we see even more opportunities to add value through active management.

2014-03-21 Emerging Markets: Four Reasons for Caution, Not Abstinence by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

In the space of three years, emerging markets have gone from a key strategic asset class to persona non grata. But while Russ shares investors concerns on the near-term outlook for EM assets, he doesnt agree that EM stocks should be completely shunned.

2014-03-21 Climbing a Wall of Worry? by Norm Boersma of Franklin Templeton

One of the main questions our clients have been asking us lately revolves around worries of how strong equity markets have been over the last five years. During that period, weve seen markets bottoming out in February March 2009 and basically recovering since then.2 Given the performance of the market since the trough, its not surprising that people are a bit concerned right now, and the market has been quite volatile in early 2014.

2014-03-21 A Second Leg to Our Economic Outlook by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

In our heavily consumer?driven economy, it can be easy to overlook the importance of corporate capital spending. Weve seen a number of data points suggesting such expenditures are due for an uptick.

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

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

2014-03-20 Exploration & Production: An Evolving Business Model by Suken Patel of Diamond Hill Investments

The successful development of shale crude oil and gas has led to one of the most rapid and unexpected increases in production in the history of the energy sector. This remarkable turn of events is in complete contrast to the previous popular belief that the country was running out of both resources.

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

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

2014-03-19 Pockets of Opportunity in Europe, Emerging Markets by Lisa Myers of Franklin Templeton

Maintaining the right mix or balance of assets in a portfolio to achieve a desired goal can be a challenge, particularly when the markets are constantly shifting. As portfolio manager for Templeton Global Balanced Fund, Lisa Myers, executive vice president, Templeton Global Equity Group, regularly faces that task.

2014-03-19 A Kids Market? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The Great Winfield goes on to say, in Adam Smiths classic book from 1967, The strength of my kids is that theyre too young to remember anything bad, and they are making so much money they feel invincible. He rented kids with the idea that one day the music will stop (it partially did in 1969-1970 and completely did in 1973-1974) and all of them will be broke but one.

2014-03-18 Emerging Markets: Fertile Ground for Country Picking by Michael Cirami, Eric Stein, John Baur, Matthew Murphy Jr., Bradford Godfrey of Eaton Vance

Given the variations among individual emerging countries in todays environment, country-by-country differentiation is likely to remain key to successful emerging-market investing. We believe investors may benefit from emerging-market strategies that: 1. have the flexibility to invest both long and short. 2. invest beyond traditional emerging-market benchmarks. 3. access frontier markets outside those benchmarks.

2014-03-18 Japans Rising Opportunity by Neil Hennessy, Masakazu Takeda of Hennessy Funds

After WWII, the Japanese economy began what is sometimes referred to as the Economic Miracle, a three-decade long period of growth and prosperity. Japanese firms and their management teams were studied around the world as the model of efficiency and an example for all companies and leaders to strive for. In 1989, a bubble in real estate fueled by speculators burst, and the Japanese markets crashed. Since then, the Japanese economy has been in a virtual standstill with more than two decades of stagnant growth and a deflationary environment.

2014-03-18 Can the Fed Fend Off the Ides of March? by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Mid-March hasnt been associated with much good luck in Europe historically. And with Ukraine mired in conflict, this years no different. But investors should resist the urge to react to geopolitical uncertainty and expect steady guidance from the Fed.

2014-03-18 Currency Markets Heat Back Up, and Will Likely Remain that Way by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Long dormant after the financial crisis, foreign exchange markets are beginning to heat up, offering ample trading opportunity for asset managers. The U.S. dollar was widely viewed as being the best long trading opportunity for 2014, but so far, that has not played out, with activity in the Euro, Chinese Yuan, and other currencies impeding dollar strength.

2014-03-18 Where's the Plane? by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

In another example of life duplicating the media, it seems like most people here and abroad have been consumed by watching a real life episode of Lost for the last week. The question of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has quickly soared to the opening spot on all of the network news shows, much as Lost and its Oceanic Airlines Flight 815 climbed quickly to the top of the ratings. At CNN it appears that the network of late can report on nothing else!

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 Restoring the "Virtuous Cycle" of Economic Growth by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The so-called dual mandate of the Federal Reserve does not ask the Fed to manage short-run or even cyclical fluctuations in the economy. Instead whether one believes that the goals of that mandate are achievable or not it asks the Fed to maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy's long run potential to increase production, so as to promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.

2014-03-17 Frontier Markets Find Footing by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Frontier markets remain in focus for the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 2014, and my team and I have spent the early part of the year exploring potential investment opportunities in a number of them.

2014-03-17 Recalibrating the Retirement Clock: Should 75 Be the New 65? by Nick Kaiser of Saturna Capital

Retirement sounds pretty sweet, doesn't it? Exotic holidays. Finally writing that novel. Never having to rely on an alarm clock to wake up early. Being your own boss. Retirement goals are as varied as people themselves.

2014-03-17 Frontier Markets: Weighing the Risks by Nathan Rowader of Forward Investing

Why would investors even think about investing in fledgling, so-called frontier economies half a world away? The quick answer is that some of the best-performing stock markets in the world can be found in places like Kenya, Bulgaria and Argentina. Annual equity returns topped 40% in all three countries in 2013 while a number of other frontier markets (FMs), including Romania, Serbia and Nigeria, experienced annual returns ranging from 25% to 35%. Although past performance is not a guarantee of future results, investors in search of portfolio growth and diversification are taking note.

2014-03-16 Inequality and Opportunity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today we will continue our thinking about income inequality, and I will respond to some of your letters, as they make good launching points for further discussion of the topic.

2014-03-15 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Harold Evensky's quarterly letter to his readers.

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.

2014-03-14 A Matter of Odds: Not Everything Thats Supposed to Work, Works All the Time by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, explores the worth of quantitative analysis versus fundamental, and examines forecasts, consensus, and valuation as three ways of looking at the market for investment.

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

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

2014-03-14 Assessing the Impact of Financing Currency on Gold Price Performance by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

In our weekly commentary we follow up our discussion from last week with a brief overview of the impact on performance of diversifying the financing currencies used to make gold purchases. We also compare "Gold/Basket" performance versus gold financed with a number of different, single currencies. For the purposes of this analysis we define the Gold Basket as a gold financed with an equally weighted basket of four currencies, the dollar, euro, yen and pound; the portfolio is also assumed to be rebalanced weekly.

2014-03-14 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.8, up fractionally from 133.5 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 2.3 from last week's 1.8.

2014-03-14 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Global trade negotiations have stalled; This is a delicate time for Chinese finance; Where will Europe’s growth come from?

2014-03-13 Consider paying a premium for municipal bonds: Focus on yield to worst rather than a municipal bond' by Eaton Vance Municipal Insight Committee of Eaton Vance

The price of a premium municipal bond should not be the sole determinant of value; Yield to worst is a meaningful metric to help determine the value and risk of a premium municipal bond; In rising rate environments, higher cash flows from a premium municipal bond may help to protect purchasing power.

2014-03-13 Investment Portfolios Need Someone to Take Fiduciary Responsibility by William Wolfson of American Financial Advisors

There is a protocol to follow after a new patient enters your office. Staff is expected to meet, greet, welcome and have a patient fill out forms. This allows the Doctor of Chiropractic (D.C.) to ascertain demographics, responsibility of payment, the patients primary complaint and reason for visiting the office. Similar to that of a Doctor of Chiropractic who cares for a patient and follows the oath to do no harm, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), parallels the doctors fiduciary responsibility.

2014-03-13 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: A Steady Passage in 2014? by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

PIMCO's baseline expectation is for 2.5% to 3% real growth in the U.S., thanks to trends toward growth and spending in the consumer, corporate and public sectors. In the eurozone, our baseline expectation of 1% to 1.5% real growth calls for a broad-based cyclical improvement in domestic demand amid steady external demand. We anticipate Japan will be the only major developed economy experiencing a slowdown this year, down to 0.5% to 1%, and we expect China's growth will continue slowing as well, with growth in the range of 6.5% to 7.5%.

2014-03-13 A Closer Look at Japanese Yen Depreciation and its Impact on Growth and Equities by of Manning & Napier

Weakness in the Japanese economy has given investors reason for concern. Recently released data showed that GDP grew just 0.2% quarter-over-quarter (qoq) during the last three months of 2013. This worked out to be a qoq annualized rate of merely 0.7%, and marked the second consecutive quarter of weaker growth relative to the preceding periods. Growth in the country has softened despite significant monetary and fiscal stimulus, and it is especially concerning considering that an impending tax increase (April 2014) has pulled some consumption forward.

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.

2014-03-13 Beware of Earnings Gimmicks by Jason Wang of Columbia Management

Since the global financial crisis, economic recovery worldwide has been slow. Over the last three years, annual gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the U.S. was limited to 2.1%, significantly below its long-term average of 3.3%. In this low growth environment, for a majority of companies, churning out high earnings-per-share (EPS) growth rates, either through top-line growth or margin expansion, has become increasingly more difficult.

2014-03-12 The Bull Market Turns Five by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

The post-2009 stock market upswing now qualifies as only the sixth cyclical bull market since 1900 to last five years or more. Life expectancies at such an advanced age are limited; only three of the previous five-year-old bulls lived to see a sixth birthday. Many media and market pundits seem to believe a rising age somehow leads to rising life expectancy. The consensus opinion that a new secular bull market has begun is much more confident today than at the bulls first, second, third or fourth birthdays.

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

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

2014-03-12 The Importance of Beta Management by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Morningstar recently released Mind the Gap-2014 which demonstrated that investors are generally very poor beta managers. The Morningstar data showed that investors performance lagged that of their funds by about 250 basis points per year for the past ten years because of poor beta management, i.e., investors tend to be very poor allocators of capital.

2014-03-12 The Goldilocks Conundrum: A Market Review by Rick Vollaro of Pinnacle Advisory Group

When we decided to ride the central bank liquidity wave in 2013, we knew there was a chance the market could have a pretty good year, but like most investors we were pleasantly surprised with the gains that the U.S. stock market delivered. Including dividends, the S&P 500 Index soared by 32%, well in excess of what even the most optimistic prognosticators envisioned at the start of the year.

2014-03-12 U.S. Household Net Worth Hits New Record High by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Federal Reserve announced last Thursday that US household net worth reached a new record high by the end of last year at $80.7 trillion. The Fed said the new record was made possible largely due to vaulting stock prices, increased home values and Americans paying off more of their debts.

2014-03-11 10 Tax-Management Strategies to Consider in a Rising Tax Environment by of Eaton Vance

When it comes to investing, we believe the most important thing is determining not what you make, but what you keep. The goal of tax management in an investment program is to maximize after-tax returns. We believe this strategy is even more critical, with investors now waking up to the fact that tax rates have risen considerably.

2014-03-11 Making Green from Gold, Palladium and Pollution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold is coming back with a vengeance, experiencing a clear recovery and grabbing the attention of market cynics. Analysts from Noruma Securities even upgraded its outlook for gold, expecting bullion to climb over the next three years, according to Barrons.

2014-03-11 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Markets waited all week for the jobs report for February. After its release the data continued to be mixed at best.

2014-03-11 Michael Cirami on the Ukraine Crisis by Michael Cirami of Eaton Vance

Investors tend to ignore events that do not demand immediate attention. Unfortunately, this approach is no longer an option following the recent events taking place in Ukraine. Michael Cirami, co-director of Eaton Vances Global Income Group, was in Kiev the week before President Yanukovych was ousted. In the following interview, he shares his views on the crisis in this emerging market and its implications for investors.

2014-03-10 M&A: A New Rx for Specialty Pharma by Janus Equity Team of Janus Capital Group

Merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is heating up among specialty pharmaceutical companies and potentially creating a once-in-a-generation investment opportunity in an industry that is quickly consolidating.

2014-03-10 Positive Payroll Report Offsets Geopolitical Concerns by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities increased 1.1% last week after somewhat volatile trading due to heightened tension in Ukraine. Although the crisis dominated headlines, the market relegated the major geopolitical issue to the back burner. The broader macro narrative did not change, as concerns about dampened growth momentum continued to be pacified by the distortion from adverse weather.

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.

2014-03-10 It Is Informed Optimism To Wait For The Rain by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Regardless of very short-term market direction, it is urgent for investors to understand where the equity markets are positioned in the context of the full market cycle.

2014-03-10 Four Reasons to Consider Emerging Markets for the Long Term by Borge Endresen of Invesco Blog

Emerging markets are at that peculiar place where everyone likes them over the long term, but very few like them in the short term. Many well-publicized headwinds from 2013 remain going into 2014, accompanied by election uncertainty in Brazil, India, Indonesia, South Africa and Turkey. And political uncertainty keeps surfacing in such places as Thailand, Turkey and the Ukraine.

2014-03-10 With Fed in Charge, 5-Year Bull Run Poised to Continue by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The Federal Reserves loose monetary policy and gradual improvement in the economy are two big reasons the stock market can keep moving higher, says Kristina Hooper. Will it be reflected in this weeks consumer sentiment and spending data?

2014-03-10 Tech Bubble 2.0? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp by Facebook in late February put an exclamation point on several high profile takeovers in the technology space in recent months. Sizeable deals such as Googles $3 billion acquisition of Nest and Facebooks $3 billion offer for SnapChat have fueled the idea that an indiscriminate buying spree in the technology space a la 1999 could set up financial markets for another valuation bubble.

2014-03-10 How Much Slack Is in the U.S. Economy? The Inflation Jury Should Decide by Jeremie Banet of PIMCO

The unemployment rate may not be a reliable indicator of output slack in the U.S. economy. Well know (with a lag) if the economy has reached the end of the cyclical downturn when inflation picks up. The Fed will have to choose between risking a hawkish mistake or being behind the curve, waiting to see inflation actually increase. We expect it will choose the latter.

2014-03-09 The Problem with Keynesianism by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Keynes himself would appreciate the irony that he has become the defunct economist under whose influence the academic and bureaucratic classes now toil, slaves to what has become as much a religious belief system as it is an economic theory. Men and women who display an appropriate amount of skepticism on all manner of other topics indiscriminately funnel a wide assortment of facts and data through the filter of Keynesianism without ever questioning its basic assumptions. And then some of them go on to prescribe government policies that have profound effects upon the citizens of their nations.

2014-03-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The fight over Ukraine is an unwelcome source of uncertainty; Hiring in the U.S. improves in February; American businesses have lots of cash to invest.

2014-03-07 Making Green from Gold, Palladium and Pollution by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold is coming back with a vengeance, experiencing a clear recovery and grabbing the attention of market cynics. Analysts from Noruma Securities even upgraded its outlook for gold, expecting bullion to climb over the next three years, according to Barron's.

2014-03-07 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 135.5, up from 131.8 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 1.8 from last week's 1.7.

2014-03-06 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

February ended up being a strong month for stocks despite the growing perception of a slow economic start to the year 2014.

2014-03-06 Emerging Markets: Distinguishing Opportunities by of Manning & Napier

The recent sell-off in emerging market currencies and equities is part of a broader move that has seen the asset class heavily underperform developed markets since mid-2012. Part of the underperformance can be attributed to disappointing economic performance, as actual growth in the emerging markets (EMs) has come in much lower than broader consensus expectations.

2014-03-06 Risk Parity No Free Lunch by Lisa Goldberg of Aperio Group

2013 was tough for risk parity. Many of the most popular funds such as Bridgewater, Salient and AQR were flat or down even as investors in the S&P 500 enjoyed a return of almost 30%. A brief look at what happened.

2014-03-06 Evolution of SRI Leads Investors to a Sustainable Future by Chat Reynders of AdvisorShares

Its no secret that positive screening as an investment strategy is becoming increasingly popular as advisors seek ways to identify substantive investment opportunities. The practice focuses investors on the elements of a company that can make a positive impact both on the bottom line and on society, pointing to socially progressive companies that generate returns.

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

The cleanest of the dirty shirts doesnt 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. dollars long-term decline may be firmly in place and investors may want to buckle up to get ready for the ride.

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.

2014-03-05 "Purer" Gold Exposure for the Long Term Investor by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

This week we dive into a discussion on the impact of diversifying the financing currencies used to purchase gold. At a high level the primary objective of wanting to diversify financing currencies is to gain a purer form of exposure to gold by using a number of different currencies (rather than a single currency) to make gold purchases. For example an investor could decide to use a combination of euro, yen, pounds and dollars to make a purchase.

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.

2014-03-05 2014: A Transition Year - Back to Fundamentals by Lorenzo Pagani of PIMCO

The past several years have seen multiple regime changes in financial markets in Europe, each dominated by different factors and requiring a distinct approach to fixed income investing. As spreads tighten to pre-2008 levels, it is now time to ask whether a shift in investment style is due. Macroeconomic developments and inflation expectations are likely to be key determining factors in whether 2014 will be a good year for European bond investors.

2014-03-05 The Renminbi's New Normal by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

The gyrations in Chinese money markets in the last few weeks have caused much alarm in the financial press. The moves in these markets are not only inline, but healthy for an economy looking to increase the role of the market in allocating resources. Those who believe these moves indicate financial stress, or draw parallels between the recent volatility and that which preceded the subprime crisis in the U.S., might be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

2014-03-05 Active or Passive? Multi-asset Investing Can Turn Both Valves by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Investors, whether institutional or individual, face a common challenge: how to get the return they need, at an appropriate risk level, and at a fee they can afford.

2014-03-05 The Renminbi's New Normal by Teresa Kong of Matthews Asia

The gyrations in Chinese money markets in the last few weeks have caused much alarm in the financial press. The moves in these markets are not only inline, but healthy for an economy looking to increase the role of the market in allocating resources. Those who believe these moves indicate financial stress, or draw parallels between the recent volatility and that which preceded the subprime crisis in the U.S., might be looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

2014-03-04 Our Thoughts on Warren Buffett's Thoughts by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

The Berkshire Hathaway 2013 Annual Shareholder Letter came out on Saturday the 1st of March, 2014. Mr. Buffett was in rare form and we'd like to share some of his key thoughts which speak directly to what we do at Smead Capital Management.

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.

2014-03-04 The Second Coming by William Gross of PIMCO

Almost permanently affixed on the whiteboard of PIMCO's Investment Committee boardroom is a series of concentric circles, resembling the rings of a giant redwood, although in this case exhibiting an expanding continuum of asset classes with the safest in the center and the riskiest on the outer circles. Safest in the core are Treasury bills and overnight repo, which then turn outwards towards riskier notes and bonds, and then again into credit space with corporate, high yield, commodities and equities amongst others on the extremities.

2014-03-04 A Century of Policy Mistakes by Niels Jensen of Absolute Return Partners

A century ago Argentina ranked as one of the wealthiest countries in world. Today it is a shadow of its former self. A long string of policy errors explain the long slide from riches to rags. Europe, like Argentina 100 years ago, is facing enormous challenges - as well as potential pitfalls - and the management of those challenges will define the welfare path for many years to come. Unfortunately, the early signs are not good. Our political leaders, afraid to face public condemnation, have so far chosen to ignore them.

2014-03-04 What the Jobs Report Will Tell Us-And What It Won't by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper puts the soon-to-be-released February employment report in context, including what it means for Fed policy, consumer confidence and stocks.

2014-03-04 A Consumer Releveraging Renaissance? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

After a long period of deleveraging, there are appearances that consumers are entering a stage of releveraging. The devil is always in the details, though, and this releveraging cycle is likely to play out vastly different than those of previous expansions.

2014-03-04 Time for Nat Gas Stocks to Come in From the Cold? by Bradford Evans of Heartland Advisors

The prices of natural gas stocks haven’t risen in concert with this winter’s higher commodity prices. Here’s a look at why that might change.

2014-03-03 Ukraine: Geopolitical Risk Rising For Global Markets by Francesc Balcells of PIMCO

Following Russias military intervention in Crimea, the situation in Ukraine remains extremely fluid. The outcome will determine to a large extent the systemic nature of the crisis and its impact on global markets, not just Europe. Russia stands to lose the most if this conflict should escalate into a full-fledged military confrontation, given the countrys financial, economic and reputational stakes.

2014-03-03 Chinese Banking: Red Alert by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Has China averted a financial crisis? Not according to behavioral evidence.

2014-03-03 Do Foreign Profits Explain Elevated Profit Margins? No. by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Foreign profits as a share of GNP have been contracting since 2007, are only about two-tenths of a percent above the 2009 low, and therefore do not have any material role in the surge in overall profit margins weve observed in recent years. The surge can be fully explained by mirror image deficits in household and government saving - a relationship that can be demonstrated across decades of historical evidence.

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

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

2014-03-03 Six Easy Pieces: Fundamentals of Asset Allocation Explained by Patrick Rudden of AllianceBernstein

Figuring out the best split for your assets often seems daunting. But it doesnt have to be. This template can help you get started.

2014-03-03 Equities Rise Despite Mixed Fundamental News by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities increased 1.3% last week as the S&P surpassed the key 1850 level and pushed to new record highs. One favorable dynamic of the rally was the upside leadership from retail stocks, as earnings were largely ahead of expectations. Fed Chair Janet Yellen suggested concern about softerthan-expected spending in a number of recent data releases, but the bar for adjusting the tapering process has not been lowered.

2014-03-03 Bond Aid: Positive Outlook for High Yield in 2014 by Darren Hughes, Scott Roberts of Invesco Blog

While most fixed income asset classes tied to interest rates saw negative returns during 2013, high yield bonds returned more than 8%, according to the JP Morgan Domestic High Yield Index. While we anticipate slightly lower returns in 2014, it looks to be a positive year for high yield markets.

2014-03-01 Black Swans and Endogenous Uncertainty by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

John is in Florida and feeling a bit under the weather, so this week we’re bringing back one of his most popular letters, from December 2007. In the letter he discusses the work of Professor Graciela Chichilnisky of Columbia University, one of whose key insights is that the greater the number of connections within an economic network, the more the system is at risk. Given the current macroeconomic environment, it is important to remind ourselves of how complacent we were back in 2007 and how it all fell apart so quickly, just as John outlined in this rather prescient piece.

2014-02-28 Measuring the "Skill" of Index Portfolios by Jason Hsu, Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

Investors devote huge resources to deciding whether a manager is skillful. When it comes to passive investing, they appear to lose their critical faculties.

2014-02-28 The Stock Market's Shaky Foundation by Chris Martenson of Whitney Peak

Martenson explains the headwinds that make the long-term case for lower valuations than we've seen in previous decades. But more urgently, he lays out the litany of short-term triggers likely to result in a vicious correction in stock prices this year. In fact, for the first time in years, he believes the time to actively short equities is arriving.

2014-02-28 Korea's Changing Consumer Patterns by Michael Han of Matthews Asia

Following a recent research trip to Korea, I was able to spend some time there with my family. Three consecutive weeks away afforded me the opportunity to observe changes in spending patterns among Korean consumers as well as the improving competitiveness of the countrys service industries.

2014-02-28 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.8, down from 123.3 last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 1.7 from last week's 2.5 .

2014-02-28 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The sensitivity of emerging markets complicates the Feds exit plans; Raising the minimum wage is not the only way to aid low-income workers; Brazils economy is faltering as the World Cup approaches.

2014-02-28 Hide and Seek by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

Hide and seek. A game investors played as children but should not forget these days. Currently, investors need to hide safely to protect from some unfavourable developments in an environment that could hurt them.

2014-02-27 Trading Secrets: The Godot Recovery by Tad Rivelle of TCW Asset Management

With this recovery, prosperity has always been just around the corner. It wasnt supposed to be this way. True, the massive fiscal and edgy new monetary measures enacted in the wake of the 2008 crisis kept the economys heart beating. The Fed deftly executed its role of lender as last resort, and for this we should all be grateful. What has become steadily less clear is why, five years after the crisis, the Fed remains committed to its zero rate policy. Are artificially low rates truly the secret sauce that takes a weak recovery and makes it strong?

2014-02-27 Gut Check: The Outlook on Fixed Income by Colin Lundgren of Columbia Management

With nearly two months of the year behind us, we thought now would be a good time to see how the fixed-income market is faring in 2014 and assess our outlook. We asked our investment team five questions to help capture our view on the market today.

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.

2014-02-26 Is It Time for the Fed to Level With Markets? by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

If unemployment continues to diminish and quantitative easing tapers to its expected conclusion, the Federal Reserve will likely feel compelled if not by consensus, then by markets to refine the forward guidance that it provides to the public today. With inflation running below 2%, the Fed may consider a price level target, together with more holistic measures of the state of the labor market, as a replacement for the unemployment threshold in offering guidance on the future pace of policy normalization.

2014-02-26 What Columbus Missed: Royce Rediscovers India by David Nadel of The Royce Funds

In 1492, Italian explorer Christopher Columbus set sail to discover India. He missed his mark, however, landing in America instead. The rest, as they say, is history-with the exception that more than 500 years later India is still worthy of discovery for many Western investors.

2014-02-26 Market Perspective by CCR Wealth Management Investment Committee of CCR Wealth Management

It cost $0.32 to mail a letter, unemployment was 4.9%, O.J. Simpson was found liable in a civil suit, Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule, Timothy McVeigh was sentenced to Death, Green Bay defeated the Patriots in the Super Bowl, Titanic came crashing into movie theatres, and Dolly, the first genetically engineered lamb was unveiled to the public; the year was 1997.

2014-02-26 A CAPE Crusader by James Montier of GMO

In a new white paper today, James Montier of GMO's asset allocation team reviews a range of valuation measures to assess current U.S. equity market valuations. He concludes: "We continue to believe that the weight of valuation evidence suggests the S&P 500 is significantly overvalued at its current levels."

2014-02-26 Gaps, Not Growth by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Monetary policy is primarily about "gaps" not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.

2014-02-26 The Differences Between Gold Financed vs Gold Hedged Transaction by Ade Odunsi of AdvisorShares

Following on from our previous discussion piece on commodity fund taxation, this week we discuss the differences between a gold position financed in a (given) currency versus a gold position hedged into a currency. Broadly speaking the objective of a "currency financed" transaction is to give an investor the flexibility to choose the currency with which gold purchases are made.

2014-02-26 U.S. Housing: Investors Reach for Higher-Hanging Fruit by Joshua Anderson, Emmanuel Sharef, Grover Burthey of PIMCO

PIMCO expects house prices to transition to steady secular growth, with nominal price increases of 5%10% cumulatively over two years. An environment of reduced volatility and steady gradual growth may result in tightening risk premia and spreads as the market begins to price in this new dynamic. Over the coming years, we will focus on whether the underbuilding of single-family homes is ultimately resolved through housing starts, rental growth or continued price appreciation.

2014-02-26 The White Hurricane by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

'Unseasonably mild and clearing' was the weather forecast going into the Ides of March back in the year of 1888. And it was true, as temperatures hovered in the 40s and 50s along the East Coast. However, torrential rains began falling, and on March 12th, the rain changed to heavy snow, temperatures plunged, and sustained winds of more than 50 miles per hour blew.

2014-02-25 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 Time to Worry About Europe Again? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The European sovereign debt crisis has all but faded from investors minds since ECB President Mario Draghis famous pronouncement on July 26, 2012 that he would do whatever it takes to save the monetary union. Since that time, equity markets in Europe rallied sharply as accumulated risk aversion fell away.

2014-02-25 Mid-Quarter Update: Good Start to 2014 for Many Categories of CEF Marketplace; Still Compelling Valu by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

Many categories of closed-end funds (CEFs) are off to a good start to the year. Investors took advantage of the big discounts to net asset value (NAV) and attractive yields available in the secondary market which helped push the average CEF up 2.57% the first 6 weeks of the year as measured by the First Trust Closed-End Fund Composite Total Return Price Index (UPCEFT) as of 2/14/14.

2014-02-25 Prepayments and Value in the Non-Agency Market by Harrison Choi, Brian Rosenlund of TCW Asset Management

Non-agency mortgage bond investors look to voluntary prepayment projections as an essential component of assessing future cash flows and returns. Voluntary prepayments are the annualized percentage of the mortgage pool that leaves the pool each month due to refinancing or paying off a mortgage without a loss. Without equity in the home, it is nearly impossible for a non-agency borrower to refinance the mortgage and the sale of a home would generate a loss through a short sale or foreclosure.

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 worlds most powerful printing press. We take a closer look at what her reign might mean for investors portfolios.

2014-02-25 Alternative Energy Brief by Edward Guinness of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

This month we provide our Outlook for the Alternative Energy sector in 2014.

2014-02-25 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

A quiet four days for stocks last week. Between the holiday, school vacations and winter weather; there just were not many catalysts for the stock marker.

2014-02-24 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

In the four and one-half year market recovery since the "Great Recession" there has been a remarkable transformation in the construction and analysis of corporate earnings. This is something that gives me pause for concern.

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.

2014-02-24 Wallflower Value Stocks Are Ready to Dance by Chris Marx of AllianceBernstein

Global equities are notching new highs, valuations are elevated and talk of market bubbles is increasingly common. Yet, by our measure, the potential for outperformance in value stocks has rarely been better. How can that be?

2014-02-24 Leading Indicators Offer a Window into Europes Recovery by Matthew Dennis of Invesco Blog

Were seeing signs that the recovery in Europe is progressing. I wanted to take a moment to highlight some of the positives, uncertainties and opportunities that we believe investors should consider about the region.

2014-02-23 The Worst Ten-Letter Word by John Mauldin of Mauldin Economics

A new word is achieving ubiquity. The word has always been with us and at times has been a beacon to attract the friends of liberty and opportunity. But now Im afraid it is beginning to be used as a justification for social and economic policies that will limit the expansion of both liberty and opportunity. The word? Inequality.

2014-02-22 Going for the Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Everyone wants the gold. Around the world, athletes train for years to compete for a gold medal. In Hong Kong and China, the Love Trade seeks gold coins, bars and jewelry.

2014-02-21 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With yesterday's release of the January Consumer Price Index, we can now calculate Real Retail Sales for the underlying sales data released on February 13th. Nominal Retail Sales had fallen 0.4% month-over-month, the second month of contraction, and are up only 0.3% year-over-year. When we adjust for inflation, January sales were down 0.6% MoM. The YoY change was a fractional 0.1% growth. Real sales are down 0.9% from their all-time high in November.

2014-02-21 Mid-Quarter Update: Good Start to 2014 for Many Categories of CEF Marketplace by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

Many categories of closed-end funds (CEFs) are off to a good start to the year. Investors took advantage of the big discounts to net asset value (NAV) and attractive yields available in the secondary market which helped push the average CEF up 2.57% the first 6 weeks of the year as measured by the First Trust Closed-End Fund Composite Total Return Price Index (UPCEFT) as of 2/14/14.

2014-02-21 Is the U.S. Economy Under the Weather? by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Is the U.S. economy under the weather?; Japan is faltering a bit as year two of Abenomics begins; Bitcoin has generated a lot of attention, some of it unwanted

2014-02-20 American Industrial Renaissance Revisited by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We first wrote about The "American Industrial Renaissance" in 2012, and it remains one of our favorite investment themes. We continue to implement this theme through small US-centric industrial companies and small financial institutions that lend to public and private industrial firms. It remains unlikely that the United States will be the manufacturing powerhouse that it was during the 1950s and 1960s, but many factors are suggesting that the US industrial sector will continue to gain market share.

2014-02-20 The Next Phase of Housing\'s Recovery: Which Five Investments Should You Own Today? by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

PIMCO has significant top-down and bottom-up expertise dedicated to understanding the U.S. housing market cycle. In 2006, we warned U.S. housing prices were significantly overvalued, which led to our defensive positioning heading into the recession. In 2011, we turned bullish on real estate and added investments such as non-agency mortgage-backed securities, banks and homebuilders that we felt would benefit from an eventual recovery in housing prices.

2014-02-20 Bond Investors Need Not Feel Powerless by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, explains the strategies investors should be pursuing when considering fixed income investments in their portfolios and how additional yield cushion while opening a door to additional security selection returns from active management.

2014-02-20 Value Creation through Share Repurchases: Juniper Networks by Rick Snowdon of Diamond Hill Investments

An activist investor, Elliott Management, recently acquired a 6% stake in Juniper Networks, Inc. (JNPR), one of our holdings, and published a presentation proposing that management take certain actions including the initiation of an accelerated share repurchase program. Management teams, investors, and market observers talk a lot about creating value through share repurchases; the JNPR situation provides a good opportunity to discuss the extent to which, and the mechanism by which, this is the case.

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

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

2014-02-20 The State of International Small-Cap by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

While some argue that domestic small-cap leadership in 2013 was a result of its heavy exposure to companies that tend to generate most of their income domestically, others contest that this greater focus on the U.S. may mean missing out on the benefits of faster-growing foreign economies. We, on the other hand, choose to focus our attentions on individual companies, particularly those in more cyclical areas of the market that are more closely tied to the global economy.

2014-02-20 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks soared last week as economic reports showed the global economy was weaker than originally estimated in the last quarter of 2013 and has lost further momentum in 2014. This has acted to support bond prices and lower interest rates. Thus, stocks as an asset class continue to do well.

2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: Fairly Valued Dividend Growth Stocks with an Emphasis on Dividends - Part 4 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

I am a firm believer that common stock portfolios should be custom-designed to meet each unique individual’s goals, objectives and risk tolerances. With that said, I believe it logically follows that in order to create a successful portfolio, the individual investor must first conduct some serious introspection to be sure that they truly "know thyself." Therefore, I believe the first, and perhaps most critical step, towards designing a successful equity portfolio is to ask your-self, and honestly answer several important questions.

2014-02-20 Stocks for 2014: High Yield and Fairly Valued Dividend Stocks for High Current Income Part 5 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Retired investors seeking high income to live off of during retirement, face greater challenges today than almost ever before. The days of high yields available from bonds and other fixed income vehicles are long gone. Consequently, generating an adequate level of current income on retirement portfolios is difficult to say the least. This is especially tricky for those investors with a low tolerance for risk.

2014-02-20 The Fed: Yellen's Tapering Tightrope by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In reducing quantitative easing, the Federal Reserve chairwoman faces a big challenge: preventing asset bubbles at home without pressuring developing economies.

2014-02-20 Preparing for the Unexpected with Commodity Futures ETFs by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

Three straight years of negative returns for broad commodity benchmark indices, such as the Dow Jones-UBS Commodity Total Return Index, have led some investment advisors (and their clients) to begin questioning the rationale for including commodity futures ETFs1 in their asset allocation models. Relatively tame inflation expectations seem to support these doubts, as commodities are often thought of as a hedge against inflation.

2014-02-20 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, unchanged from last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 2.5 from last week's 3.2 (a downward revision from 3.3).

2014-02-20 WhatsApp With That? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Two pieces of business news announced this week provide a convenient frame through which to view our dysfunctional and distorted economy. The first (which has attracted tremendous attention), is Facebook's blockbuster $19 billion acquisition of instant messaging provider WhatsApp. The second (which few have noticed) is the horrific earnings report issued by Texas-based retail chain Conn's. While these two developments don't seem to have much in common, together they shed some very unflattering light on where we stand economically.

2014-02-19 Checking in on Earnings by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Earnings season is nearing its finale, and the latest results show plenty of reason to be bullish, but the longer-term trend remains an outstanding question for markets.

2014-02-19 Interest Rate Outlook - \"Old Normal\" by Jerry Paul, Zach Jonson of ICON Advisers, Inc.

Contrary to a popular belief that interest rates are destined to rise significantly, at ICON we believe we may be re-entering the "old normal" where the U.S. Treasury 10-year yield remains between 2%-4% for an extended period of time. As can be seen in the following chart of interest rates since 1871, with a few exceptions this is where interest rates traded prior to the mid-1960s. From this perspective, the late 1970s appear to be unusual and the decline of the last 32 years is simply a return to normal, where rates can remain for many years in a setting of slower growth and low inflation.

2014-02-18 Puerto Rico\'s Double-Downgrade by Michael Taylor of Columbia Management

On February 4, Standard & Poor’s lowered its long-term credit rating on the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico’s (PR) general obligation (GO) debt making it the first rating agency to downgrade the Commonwealth to below investment-grade levels. Just three days later, Moody’s cut its GO rating by two notches to ’Ba2’; ratings that are capped by or linked to the Commonwealth’s GO rating were also downgraded two notches, with the exception of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (PRASA) Revenue Bonds.

2014-02-18 From Micro-Caps to Mid-Caps, a Comprehensive Approach to Smaller Companies by Team of The Royce Funds

As the small-cap asset class has grown in size, those companies just beyond the periphery of small-cap have become somewhat orphaned.

2014-02-18 A Time for Optimism in Europe? by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton

Volatile markets and an uneven recovery may appear to justify a cautious outlook for investing in Europe right now, while in the US the specter of higher interest rates might also be signaling a challenging market environment ahead. Philippe Brugere-Trelat believes the investment case for European equities favors a more optimistic outlook and despite a bumpy start to the year for equities globally, he still sees the market as rife with potential opportunities for selective investors, particularly undervalued segments of the market. One place where he thinks caution is likely warranted? Japan.

2014-02-18 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return - Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.

2014-02-18 After a Rocky 2013, What\'s in Store for Asia This Year? by Brent Bates of Invesco Blog

Overall, 2013 wasn’t the best year for Asian markets, however there are several trends emerging that we believe will be good for the region this year.

2014-02-18 Topping Patterns and the Proper Cause for Optimism by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

We would dismiss classic topping patterns we observe here if the recent market peak did not feature the "full catastrophe" of textbook speculative features, particularly the same syndrome of extreme overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yield conditions observed (prior to the past year) only at major market peaks in 2007, 2000, 1987, 1972, and 1929. Meanwhile, we remain encouraged. Those who follow a historically informed, value-conscious, and risk-managed investment discipline should be among the most optimistic investors in the financial markets.

2014-02-15 The Economic Singularity by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Today, let’s think about central banks and liquidity traps and see if we agree that central bankers are driving the car from the back seat based upon a fundamentally flawed theory of how the world works. That theory helped produce the wreck that was the Great Recession and will have its fingerprints all over the next one.

2014-02-14 Does a Down January Dog the Rest of the Year? Probably by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital

The bottom line for investors is that a negative January tends to herald lower (though not necessarily negative) returns for the subsequent 11 months.

2014-02-14 PepsiCo Dividend: Refreshing The Investor World by Team of Fast Graphs

PepsiCo is presently trading in line with its historical valuations and might be offering a reasonable - albeit not necessarily screaming - opportunity moving forward. However, as always, we recommend that the reader conduct his or her own thorough due diligence.

2014-02-14 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, unchanged from last week. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 3.3 from last week’s 4.2. Last weekend, ECRI posted a new publicly available commentary on the company’s website: Failure to Launch. The brief text concludes with this remark: It is now quite clear that the economy is decelerating, not accelerating, with growth in ECRI’s Weekly Coincident Index ... falling rapidly.

2014-02-14 Arresting Disinflation Will Require Taking up the Slack by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Arresting disinflation will require taking up the slack. Estimates of the U.S. output gap remain substantial. The U.S. achieves budget peace but still faces long-term fiscal challenges.

2014-02-14 These Gold Charts Will Make Your Heart Beat Faster by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

So while gold may correct over the next several months as the metal enters its seasonally weak period of the year, this looks promising for gold investors.

2014-02-13 Rich Man, Poor Man! by Jeff Saut of Raymond James

Last week was a pretty wild week starting out with Mondays 90% Downside Day where 90% of total Up/Down Volume, and total Up/Down Points traded, were recorded on the downside (read: negative), leaving the S&P 500 (SPX/1797.02) down ~41 points. It was the second 90% Downside Day in the past two weeks with the first occurring on January 24th, which broke the SPX below its first support zone of 1808 1813, thus now that level becomes an overhead resistance level.

2014-02-13 A Time for Optimism in Europe? by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton

Volatile markets and an uneven recovery may appear to justify a cautious outlook for investing in Europe right now, while in the US the specter of higher interest rates might also be signaling a challenging market environment ahead. The investment case for European equities favors a more optimistic outlook and despite a bumpy start to the year for equities globally, he still sees the market as rife with potential opportunities for selective investors, particularly undervalued segments of the market. One place where caution is likely warranted? Japan.

2014-02-13 A Centennial to Celebrate - The Federal Reserve Looks Forward to Its Next 100 Years by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The Fed’s centennial arrives at an interesting juncture. Never in its history has the American central bank been so deeply involved in economic management, and rarely has it attracted such controversy. The recent transition in Fed leadership marks the end of a significant era. In some ways, this makes it a perfect time to contemplate what the Fed was, what it has become and what it should be during its second century. The results of this review will be valuable to central banks the world over.

2014-02-12 Was the labor report positive, or negative, anyone? by Chris Maxey and Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Stocks were modestly positive last week following three straight weeks of negative performance. Markets crawled back following an ugly Monday in which the S&P 500 suffered its worst loss in more than seven months. For the week, the S&P rose 0.9% while the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.7%.

2014-02-12 Harvards Endowment: Wise or Foolish? by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

Warren Buffett says, "What the wise man does in the beginning, the fool does in the end." In a Barron's feature over the weekend, writer Andrew Bary dug into the portfolio of Harvard's Endowment through an interview with their CIO, Jane Mendillo. After all, who could possibly be wiser than what many would argue is the most respected undergraduate and graduate university in the world? Using a combination of Barys article and our perspective, this missive will seek to determine whether the Harvard Endowment is wise or foolish.

2014-02-12 The Expanding Leveraged Loan Market by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

At the end of the day, a loan investor may be left with a security that has a low starting yield, little left in the way of capital gains potential, and with coupon income that is not at all increasing even if rates were to rise. While there are some selective opportunities for value in the loan space, broadly speaking we see high yield bonds as a more attractive market in the current environment.

2014-02-12 Grey Owl Capitals Third Quarter Letter by of Grey Owl Capital Management

2013 was a banner year for the US stock market. Despite equities meager fourteen-year record of accomplishment, investors, broadly speaking, are limited to short-term memory. Last years performance was enough to generate significant enthusiasm for stocks. We continue to believe, the current environment warrants a more balanced approach.

2014-02-11 Triple Witching Hour Proves Benign by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Markets yawned their way past two big reports and one key deadline last week, but investors are still fleeing stock funds overall. Its a strange brew that signals continued volatility ahead, says US Investment Strategist Kristina Hooper.

2014-02-11 Equities Markets Start 2014 in Deep Freeze by Douglas Cot of ING Investement Management

By slowly normalizing policy, the Fed is passing the responsibility of pricing risk back to the markets, resulting in higher volatility. The health of the emerging markets is vital to global growth, as developing countries have doubled their contribution to global GDP over the past decade to nearly 40%. S&P 500 corporations derive half their revenue from overseas; support from global consumerism and manufacturing is on track to continue. Broad global diversification across equity and fixed income markets is the best way to protect against volatility.

2014-02-11 Obama Spins Subsidies Both Ways by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In our current age of spin and counter-spin, there is no contortion too great for a politician to attempt. On occasion, however, the threads of one story become entangled with another in a manner that should deeply embarrass, if the media were sharp enough to catch it. This happened last week in response to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) bombshell report on how Obamacare incentives could reduce the size of the labor force by more than two million workers by 2017.

2014-02-11 Obama Spins Subsidies Both Ways by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

In our current age of spin and counter-spin, there is no contortion too great for a politician to attempt. On occasion, however, the threads of one story become entangled with another in a manner that should deeply embarrass, if the media were sharp enough to catch it. This happened last week in response to the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) bombshell report on how Obamacare incentives could reduce the size of the labor force by more than two million workers by 2017.

2014-02-11 Leveraged Finance Outlook: Riding the Low Default Wave by Andrew R. Jessop, Elizabeth (Beth) MacLean of PIMCO

Following strong performance in 2013, we expect low (1%-3%) defaults in leveraged finance markets this year. Issuance should remain healthy, and continued slow but steady growth in the U.S. economy should offer further stability to these companies. However, careful credit selection and monitoring of sector trends remain imperative. Investors with low tolerance for volatility and more interest rate sensitivity may emphasize loans, while investors with greater risk tolerance and a more benign outlook for rates may look to high yield.

2014-02-11 Monthly Letter to Our Clients & Friends by Kendall J. Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Although the rest of America may need a manufacturing revival, mutual fund manufacturing is not in need of help, as the business has been growing continuously for three decades. Because of the sheer number of funds and the amount of investment dollars they control, there is a very high probability that we are buying new positions and selling existing positions to one or more mutual fund companies.

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.

2014-02-11 Hot Moneys Fast Exit Cools Emerging Markets by of Knowledge @ Wharton

Capital flight from emerging markets has been accelerating in recent weeks ($6 billion alone in the week ending February 5). Turkey is the poster child, but the exodus is also happening in India, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa and others mostly from equity markets. This hot money is moving out over concerns that asset bubbles have built up, and that emerging market economic growth is now slowing. The slowdown is partly a result of tighter money in the wake of the Feds tapering plans and a decelerating economy in China, many believe. To better understand the risks to the global financial

2014-02-10 Bond Investing in a Rising Rate Environment by Kathleen Gaffney of Eaton Vance

After a transitional year like 2013, when a multidecade declining rate environment moved to a rising rate environment, we think it is important for investors to consider a multisector approach to finding value in the bond market. Finding bonds that can appreciate in price regardless of the interest-rate environment is what a multisector strategy generally seeks to accomplish.

2014-02-10 Double Trouble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

On the basis of a broad range of valuation measures that are tightly (nearly 90%) correlated with actual subsequent S&P 500 total returns over the following decade, we estimate that stock prices are about double the level that would generate historically adequate long-term returns.

2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco

As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, We’re often asked how this affects our view of international markets and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers , so we;re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.

2014-02-10 Market Outlook by Scotty C. George of Alexander Capital

Despite the inverted gyrations of the stock market during the past three weeks, my market overview continues to be moderately bullish, of course with specific reservations about investors’ unbridled carryover of unrealistic expectations borne out of last year’s performance.

2014-02-10 Two Reasons for Value to Outperform in 2014 by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

We’ve seen the longest period of growth outperformance since 1932, but the two catalysts could cause value to return to favor. First, tapering by the Fed should allow interest rates to normalize and thereby benefit the Financials sector. Second, there’s potential for a correction in the Consumer Discretionary sector, which appears overvalued: The group’s P/E is above the historical average and performance has tracked upward despite flat earnings revisions.

2014-02-10 Volatility Should Persist, But Stick With Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iSharesBlog

Volatility rose last week and is now close to its long-term average. Economic data has softened, but we do not believe the Federal Reserve will change course. Investors may want to consider adding to equity positions during periods of weakness

2014-02-10 What Would a Stronger Dollar Mean for Global Markets? by Borge Endresen, Brent Bates of Invesco

As the world watches the progress of the US Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) tapering program, and anticipates the strengthening of the US dollar, we’re often asked how this affects our view of the international market and risk. The short answer is that it doesn’t. We’re long-term, bottom-up stock pickers, so we’re primarily concerned with currency impacts on a company-by-company basis. However, there are some broad trends that are worth noting.

2014-02-09 A Most Dangerous Era by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we were confronted with a rather troubling appendix in the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Affordable Care Act, which suggests that the act will have a rather profound impact on employment patterns.

2014-02-07 Knockout Punch for the Stock Markets? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Boxers are tough. So are secular bear markets. Whether or not we have been in one since back in 2000 (we say yes) is a subject of constant debate in the investment advisory industry. What is more important to investors today is whether past market behavior tells us anything important about the current environment? We think the answer is yes - human behavior repeats itself over and over again.

2014-02-07 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.2, down from last week’s downward revision from 133.7. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place slipped to 4.2 from last week’s 4.3.

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 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Fears over emerging markets, a tightening Federal Reserve Board and a loss in momentum in the economy have combined to create a sloppy market for stocks, while the bond market continues to confound the pundits and enjoy a solid start to the New Year.

2014-02-07 Investment Principles and Habits: Contrarian Value Investing in a Liquidity-Driven Environment by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at how recent market performance, having been both driven down by and buoyed by liquidity, should cause asset managers to re-examine their investment principles. Though he cautions that the possibility exists that the recent market drivers might be an aberration, "stubborn aberrations are worth paying attention to."

2014-02-07 Dark Gold: Shedding Light on a Mysterious Market by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

Gold is the simplest of financial assets - you either own it or you don’t. Yet, at the same time, gold is also among the most private of assets. Once an individual locks his or her safe, that gold effectively disappears from the market at large. Unlike bank deposits or stocks, there is no way to tally the total amount of gold held by individual investors.

2014-02-07 American Bandstand by Ben Hunt of Salient Partners

Clark didn’t poll America to determine their taste in music. He told them their taste in music...not directly, but by creating common knowledge - ideas that a crowd believes that the crowd believes. It’s certainly the most potent force in the social world of markets, and every Central Banker today is playing the Common Knowledge Game just as hard as Dick Clark ever did.

2014-02-06 Divesting When Discomfited by Ben Inker of GMO

Ben Inker explains why, "for our asset allocation portfolios we generally try to trade slowly." He notes, "The slightly odd fact is that moving slowly on value-driven decisions has simply made more money historically than moving immediately would have."

2014-02-06 Year-End Odds and Ends by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

In a new quarterly letter to GMO’s institutional clients, chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham offers "Year-End Odds and Ends": Fossil Fuels: Is Tesla a Tease or a Triumph?, Fracking and Yet More Technical Stuff on Fracking, Update on Metals, Fertilizers, and Food, Problems in Forecasting Short-term Prices for Resources, Another Look at U.S. GDP Growth, Investment Lessons Learned: Mistakes Made Over 47 Years

2014-02-06 Will China Overtake the U.S. as World Leader and Reserve Currency? by Dawn Bennett of Bennett Group Financial Services

Will China Overtake the US as World Leader and Reserve Currency? This has not happened yet, but it may not be far down the road if the US does not get its fiscal house in order. The United States has been the biggest national economy since 1871, but more than half of Americans have slapped an expiration date on its global reign.

2014-02-06 Emerging Market Woes abd Fed Tapering Equals Stocks Plunge by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

January saw US stocks record their first losing month since last August. After reaching new record highs at the end of December, the Dow Jones shed almost 1,000 points in the last half of the month and the decline continues. Analysts attributed the sell-off in large part due to troubling news from several emerging nations, in particular to the so-called "Fragile Five" - Turkey, India, Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa.

2014-02-06 So Cruel: Pullback Could Become Correction by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

For now, the EM tail is wagging the dog, but the US remains the world’s big dog and should ultimately get through the latest turmoil. "January Barometer" has sent mixed signals for the remainder of the year historically. More technical and sentiment recovery is likely needed before a market recovery is likely.

2014-02-06 Health Care Holds Promise by Team of Janus Capital Group

Last year was a strong year for health care investing, as the sector was a top performer in a number of indices. Even after such a strong run, we believe the sector will continue to provide a shot in the arm for equity portfolios.

2014-02-06 Beyond the Mall: Why Consumers Matter by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

The bottom line is, more people are working now than were a few years ago, pumping income into the economy. At the same time that employment and real wages have been staging a moderate comeback, the housing market has continued to hold firm, and equity markets have posted impressive returns. Record-high levels of personal net worth have prompted more discretionary spending. Periods of greater spending also are associated with higher levels of equity ownership, which can push P/Es higher.

2014-02-06 Technology Leaders and Laggards by Paul Meeks of Saturna Capital

The technology sector includes several industries, such as semiconductors and semiconductor capital equipment, software and services, and technology hardware and equipment.

2014-02-05 This Just In: The Secular Bear Market May Be About to Resume. by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

In our 2012 book, Investing in the Second Lost Decade we laid out the case for the secular bear market in equities lasting at least through the end of the decade. Since then prices of most averages have moved to all-time highs. It’s time to throw in the towel on the secular bear market for stocks...right?

2014-02-05 The Importance of Taking a Long-Term Perspective by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

For asset allocation decisions, we find great value in maintaining a long-term outlook for major asset classes. Twice a year, in fact, we conduct an extensive update of our five-year return forecasts for several asset classes. The purpose of this exercise is two-fold. First, taking a longer term perspective helps us to set strategic asset allocations and design portfolios for diverse investment goals.

2014-02-05 Most \'Medieval\' by William Gross of PIMCO

Unlike today, when most believe that animals were put on this Earth for humanity’s pleasure or utility, most people in the Middle Ages believed that God granted free will to Adam, Eve and all of His creatures. Animals were responsible in some strange way for their own actions and therefore should be held accountable for them.

2014-02-04 Volatility Prompts a More Cautious View Toward Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The market selloff continued last week, and emerging markets stocks are looking more uncertain in the short term. With U.S. wages under pressure, consumer-related stocks remain an unattractive option. The Federal Reserve’s tapering program is starting to remove a pillar of support for stocks.

2014-02-04 Groundhog Day for Investors by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

As investors, we’re hard-wired to bow to our emotions, which cause us to repeat the same mistakes over and over. But one tough month for stocks shouldn’t scare us away, says Kristina Hooper. Here are four tips for investors following the January selloff.

2014-02-04 Investors Should Focus on Wages, Not Jobs by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

This Friday investors receive the first official labor market report of 2014. Following a highly disappointing jobs figure in December, many market participants hope to see a rebound - particularly one that will help justify the Fed’s decision last week to continue tapering its asset purchases.

2014-02-04 It Looks Messy Even From a Distance... by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I’m traveling outside the country but I am never far from the latest financial market update. I saw today’s market move and with the sluggish start to the New Year in stocks, I thought I’d drop you all a line with my thoughts.

2014-02-03 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

Despite the inverted gyrations of the stock market during the past three weeks, my market overview continues to be moderately bullish, of course with specific reservations about investors’ unbridled carryover of unrealistic expectations borne out of last year’s performance.

2014-02-03 NY Fed Models Forecasting Excess Returns Through 2018 by John Bougearel of Structural Logic CTA

The NY Federal Reserve has an equity research department. Their research department determined in 2013 that "stocks are cheap" and that investors should enjoy "excess high returns" in an abnormally low or negative real interest rate environment for the next five years through 2018. Before reviewing potential mean reversions, implications from the Year of the Horse, & George Lindsay’s bearish Three Peaks and Domed House model, let’s attempt to quantify the NY Fed models. How high the Dow Jones might climb if it is to enjoy "excess high returns" through 2018.

2014-02-03 A Secular Bull Market? by Juliet Ellis of Invesco Blog

Five years from now, I believe we will look back and see that 2014 was part of the early stages of a multi-year secular bull market for US equities, characterized by rising stock prices with only short, intervening market corrections.

2014-02-03 Pushing Luck by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Speculators have been luckier than they may realize, and are now pushing their luck. Quantitative easing has distorted not only financial markets, but financial memory. The awakening is not likely to be gentle.

2014-02-03 Stocks for 2014: Fairly Valued Dividend Growth Stocks with an Emphasis on Dividends - Part 4 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

I am a firm believer that common stock portfolios should be custom-designed to meet each unique individual’s goals, objectives and risk tolerances. With that said, I believe it logically follows that in order to create a successful portfolio, the individual investor must first conduct some serious introspection to be sure that they truly "know thyself." Therefore, I believe the first, and perhaps most critical step, towards designing a successful equity portfolio is to ask your-self, and honestly answer several important questions.

2014-02-03 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1824.35. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1782.59. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2014-01-31 A Surprising Gift for Chinese New Year by Sherwood Zhang of Matthews Asia

Beijing-based China Credit Trust Company, a firm that operates as a non-banking financial institution in China, announced this week it reached an agreement to restructure a risky high-yield product that had earlier ignited worries over the health of China’s trust industry. Just in time for the Lunar New Year, investors in the troubled trust may receive a big (metaphorical) red envelope-a monetary gift traditionally given during Chinese New Year or other special occasions-or at least avoid a financial hit.

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

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

2014-01-31 Not All Emerging Markets Are Created Equal by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

Emerging markets (EM) is a term given to a universe of countries that is extremely diverse across a wide number of variables including geography, levels of industrialization and political systems. Despite this diversity, emerging markets are often discussed as if they are a homogenous block, particularly in the context of broad asset allocation decision making. We think that’s a mistake. Instead, we see opportunity from applying a more bottom-up approach to country, industry and security selection amidst growing dispersion in outcomes across the emerging world.

2014-01-31 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.8, unchanged at one decimal place from last week’s downward revision from 133.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) at one decimal place rose to 4.3, up from last week’s 4.2.

2014-01-31 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The December month-over-month Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments came in at a disappointing -0.21% (-0.2% rounded to one decimal). The year-over-year change is -2.47% (rounded to -2.5%). However, the YoY metric is radically skewed by the December 2012 end-of-year tax-planning strategy whereby income was captured in 2012 to avoided expected tax increases.

2014-01-31 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

China’s shadow banking products are coming under the spotlight. Emerging markets: Be sure to differentiate. The fixed income sector’s surprising strength.

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

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

2014-01-30 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 Breakthrough by Colleen Denzler of Janus Capital Group

The funny thing about crises is that we tend to feel as if they occur suddenly, on one day. For me, that day was when Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection on September 15, 2008. I remember looking at my Bloomberg screen and thinking I was witnessing the end of the financial markets.

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.

2014-01-30 The Equity \"Game\" by Heather Rupp of AdvisorShares

We have seen the cracks begin to emerge in the equity story over the past week. Earnings are beginning to come in and so far have been a disappointment. The retail sector is showing signs that Q4 was weaker than originally expected, with store cuts announced by, Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s and job cuts at Target. Emerging markets have been roiled this week, with Argentina shifting policy, likely devaluing their currency, and other currencies plunging.

2014-01-30 Getting Comfortable With Volatility by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen significant volatility in the markets, which has spooked some investors, but is also something we have become accustomed to. Markets generally (not only emerging markets) have become much more volatile during the last 20 years as a result of massive flows of money from not only institutional investors and long-only mutual funds but also hedge funds and high-frequency trading. We see such selloffs as potential opportunities to pick up bargains in select stocks if, in fact, the prices move low enough to draw our interest.

2014-01-29 Do China Insider Transactions Lie? by William Smead of Smead Capital Management

In our business, we like to say that insider transactions never lie. For this reason, one of our eight criteria for selecting common stocks is strong insider ownership, preferably with recent purchases. Additionally, as contrarians, we want to make our original purchases in a business at a time when most investors are scared to buy for one reason or another. When we see officers, directors and substantial existing shareholders of a business buying at prices which are temporarily depressed, we raise our confidence in the long-term future of a business.

2014-01-29 2014 Oil Outlook: How Slick Is the Oil Slope by Greg Sharenow of PIMCO

While the supply outlook tilts the balances toward bearish in 2014, an improving global economy is a positive for oil demand and a support for prices. With roll yields positively contributing to returns, investors ultimately could be paid to hold a security that hedges both global event risk and any resulting shock to inflation. Growth in shale oil has been a powerful moderating force for prices by both filling an important gap in global supply and demand and by anchoring the back end of the futures curve.

2014-01-29 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.

2014-01-29 All Things in Moderation, Including Housing by Ed Devlin of PIMCO

In our view, the cooling housing market and other domestic factors will keep Canadian growth at a modest 1.75%-2.25% in 2014, despite a boost from higher U.S. growth. While we expect a correction in Canada’s housing market to begin this year, the macroeconomic environment and the availability of mortgage credit suggest a housing crash is unlikely. In this environment, we think the Canadian dollar should remain attractive, 10-year bonds should offer the potential for gains, and provincial bonds will likely outperform federal government and corporate bonds.

2014-01-29 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - 4Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) anticipates weak growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region mainly due to heightened political instability. What’s more, after years of healthy performance, growth in the oil exporting nations is expected to lose pace due to lower international demand and local oil supply disruptions. Given that these countries are witnessing a population boom, the IMF emphasized the need for economic diversification by the oil exporters and job creation in private non-oil sectors.

2014-01-28 Financial Resolutions for a New Year by Gary Stroik of WBI Investments

It’s the start of a new year; the traditional time for self-examination, reflection, and a new list of resolutions intended to help us work on those aspects of our lives we feel could use some improvement.

2014-01-28 Bitcoin, QE, and Disintermediated Currency by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

Though it may be financial sacrilege to link the emergence of Bitcoin, the $10 billion online currency, with the Federal Reserve’s 300x larger $3 trillion QE program, we believe the two have more in common than their 2008 birthdates. In fact, we think each represents a further extension in our human understanding, use, and possibly abuse of "currency", the lifeblood of our modern societies. Both Bitcoin and QE continue a process that began some 3000 years ago with the invention of coinage in the Greek Isles and, later, the invention of paper money in China.

2014-01-28 Expect Higher Volatility to Persist by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Last week’s selloff can be attributed to EM turmoil, stretched valuations and mediocre earnings. Volatility is likely to move higher to levels closer to long-term averages. We suggest investors adopt overweight positions in European and Japanese stocks.

2014-01-28 An Active Management Turning Point? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Active managers faced a difficult road in recent years, leading to many questions about the efficacy of active versus passive investment management. There are signs that the tide is once again changing in favor of active managers and the road ahead could offer happier times.

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

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

2014-01-28 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.

2014-01-27 Closed End Fund Review - Fourth Quarter 2013 by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

2013 was a mixed year for the closed-end fund (CEF) structure. While the Morningstar universe of 176 equity CEFs were up on average 12.13% on a share price total return basis and clearly benefited from the global rise in equity prices, the Morningstar universe of 387 fixed-income CEFs was lower by an average of 8.56% on a share price total return basis.

2014-01-27 Increasing Concerns and Systemic Instability by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The potential collapse of a now-complete log-periodic bubble is best considered something of a physics experiment, and it’s not what drives our investment stance. Still, the backdrop of steep overvaluation, extreme bullish sentiment, record margin debt, and international dislocations could hardly provide a more fitting context for a disruptive completion to the present market cycle.

2014-01-27 Hasenstab: Standing One\'s Ground by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

When the masses are against you, it’s hard to stand your ground. Going against the crowd is familiar turf for Michael Hasenstab, who manages Templeton Global Bond Fund and co-manages Templeton Global Balanced Fund, and certainly knows the virtue of patience. He has staunchly defended his investment theses over the years, tuning out the naysayers and market noise time and again.

2014-01-27 Attractiveness of Municipal Bonds Should Not Be Overlooked in 2014 by Municipal Insight Committee of Eaton Vance

After a challenging year for the municipal bond (muni) market in 2013, we believe the underlying strength of munis has improved, making the asset class an attractive proposition heading into 2014. In our view, challenges and headwinds will continue in 2014; however, more palatable yields and the relative attractiveness of munis versus other taxable alternatives may help investors limit the volatility and downside witnessed over the past year.

2014-01-27 Rummaging for Yield - The Case of the Insurance Investor by Eugene Dimitriou of PIMCO

Since the height of the global financial crisis in 2008, insurance companies have faced three key challenges: First, insurance companies urgently needed to address new critical risk management issues as banking sector and peripheral sovereign credit risks significantly increased in Europe. Second, the prospects of longer-term low yields forced insurers to identify alternative sources of meaningful yield. And third, insurance companies needed to prepare for pan-European insurance regulation Solvency II.

2014-01-27 Commodities: Is the Bear Market Near Its End? by Scott Wolle of Invesco Blog

On the surface, 2014 looks to be a tough year for commodities, as multi-year projects increase the flow of supplies to market even as demand has turned tepid, especially in emerging markets. However, a deeper look at the history of this asset class suggests that the outlook for commodities might turn around sooner than many expect.

2014-01-25 Why the Recent Lift in Junior Miners Will Likely Continue by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Junior venture companies in Canada are finally seeing a significant lift. In early January, the S&P/TSX Venture Composite Index rose above the 200-day moving average for the first time in three years. The index is also very close to experiencing a golden cross, which is when the shorter-term 50-day moving average crosses above the 200-day moving average. Historically, traders see this cross as extremely bullish.

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 Five Things To Ponder: Valuations, Triggers & Inequality by Lance Roberts of Streettalk Live

I was thinking about valuations, profits and what could cause a real correction in the markets. That is the premise behind today’s "Things To Ponder" for your weekend homework.

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

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

2014-01-24 Fundamentals Suggest Yen Could Strengthen in 2014 by Team of GaveKal Capital

We’ve noted on several occasions over the past few weeks the fact that trader positioning and sentiment towards the yen is pushing the most extreme negative levels in a decade.

2014-01-24 Stocks for 2014: Growth and Income For Total Return Part 3 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

When investing in common stocks, there is no one strategy that fits all investors. Some investors are focused on investing for income, some for capital appreciation and others for various combinations of both. Additionally, there is the issue of risk tolerance. Some investors are willing and capable of assuming greater risk if they believe it will lead to greater returns, while others are more risk adverse. These are just but a few of the many variations that apply to the individual investor’s own unique goals and characteristics.

2014-01-24 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.9, down from last week’s 134.3. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place rose to 4.2, up from last week’s 3.5.

2014-01-23 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The year 2014 is off to an uncertain start. Earnings reports are not doing that well (see Best Buy, Citigroup & all retailers etc.), and bond prices have rallied so far in 2014 despite the fears of tapering which were expressed as last year ended.

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

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

2014-01-23 What\'s Your 2014 Market View? by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

U.S. monetary policy seems likely to continue occupying center stage as people fret about interest rates. Last year was a somewhat instructive year for monetary policy theory in that it seemed to show that policies can be effective even when interest rates have no further room to be lowered. Can the nominal GDP in the U.S. grow at faster rates in 2014, and what would that mean for Asia? This month Matthews Asia’s Chief Investment Officer, Robert Horrocks, offers his insights into how reforms planned for China could be a key factor to change and what could lie ahead for the region overall

2014-01-23 Economic Growth is Likely to Improve in 2014 by Derek Hamilton of Ivy Funds Investment Management

We believe a global economic upturn is likely in 2014, although the overall growth rate will remain sluggish. We think developed countries will show the largest improvement, which in turn will help support growth rates in emerging markets.

2014-01-23 Dreman and Lorde: We Will Never Be Royals by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

In his 1980 book, Contrarian Investment Strategy, David Dreman opens with an analogy comparing the stock market to a casino with two distinct sides. The "red" room has lots of action and an occasional player striking it rich quickly. In effect, you become royal. Unfortunately, most of the players leave without the money with which they entered, because the house has the odds stacked heavily in its favor.

2014-01-23 Can Equities Continue Their Rise? Equity Investment Outlook: January 2014 by Matt Berler, John Osterweis of Osterweis Capital Management

2013 marked the fifth year of recovery following the near-death experience of the 2008 global financial system meltdown. From a low of 677 in 2009, the S&P 500 Index (S&P 500) finished 2013 at 1,848, delivering a stunning 203% total return from the low. Over the same period, the total return for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 188%. The tech-heavy and arguably more speculative NASDAQ logged a 249% total return. These very large equity returns reflect both a strong recovery in corporate profits and a dramatic clean-up of our financial system.

2014-01-23 Tacking Through the Banking Headwinds by John Loesch of Diamond Hill Investments

Pick up nearly any financial publication these days and it is bound to have one, if not several, stories about the headwinds facing the banking industry.

2014-01-23 Be Selective by Jim Goff, Adam Schor of Janus Capital Group

After broad rally, focus shifts to individual company growth prospects.

2014-01-23 Ordem e Progresso by Michael Gomez of PIMCO

Amid stagnant growth and high inflation in 2013, Brazil’s equity market was one of the worst performers, the real was a chronic underperformer and the corporate sector struggled. Brazil needs to anchor economic policy around a stringent and credible primary surplus target rather than run the current mix of loose fiscal policy, subsidized public credit and ever tighter monetary policy. Valuations are attractive, but unless an effective policy mix is restored, the outlook for order in Brazil’s financial markets is less certain.

2014-01-22 Crosscurrents Buffet Markets by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equity performance was mixed last week, as the S&P 500 recovered from Monday’s sell-off that was the largest one-day decline since early November. Economic data was mostly in line or slightly better than expected, following the disappointing December unemployment report. Corporate earnings drove much of the price action. Bank earnings were fairly well received but did not always translate to good performance since the stocks ran up earlier. Negative guidance trends remain an overhang, particularly for retail.

2014-01-22 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

One of the most common themes we hear from political pundits and market observers these days is about either the demise or rise of the middle class, an amorphous, non-homogeneous group of people not quite rich but also not too poor. This class is often cited as the reason either to be for or against legislation, fiscal policy, social norms, or the price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump!

2014-01-22 Commodities Remain a Source of Frustration by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The environment following the global financial crisis has been a challenging one for asset allocators, as long held relationships shifted and traditional idioms were turned on their head. As we detailed last week in "The Diversification Obituary," investors have seen little work in their portfolios other than US stocks, while supposed diversifiers have offered little more than muted beta and unusually high correlations.

2014-01-22 4 Simple Truths About US Consumers by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The December employment report called into question the momentum of the jobs recovery, which has clear implications for consumers. While further clarity on jobs is needed, here are some key observations that help frame the consumer-sentiment discussion.

2014-01-22 Market Share: The Next Secular Investment Theme by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

It is well known that corporate profit margins are at record highs. US margings, developed market margings, and even emerging market margins are generally either at or close to record highs. A myopic focus on profit margins may miss an important investment consideration. Whereas most investors remain fearful of margin compression, we prefer to search for an investment theme that could emerge if margins do indeed compress. Accordingly, our investment focus has shifted toward themes based on companies who might gain market share.

2014-01-22 What to Expect in 2014 (And Beyond) by Jack Rivkin of Altegris

Each year, I take Alfred Lord Tennyson’s advice and "ring out the old, ring in the new" by creating a list of expectations about the markets. My list involves events that the average investor thinks have only a one-in-three-chance of happening, but which I believe have more than a 50% chance of occurring. If this approach sounds familiar, it should. It’s modeled after Byron Wien’s annual list of "surprises." Like his, my expectations are designed to provoke thought and discussion.

2014-01-22 The Virtualization of Everything by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at the motivations of participants in capital markets, and how with the advent of synthetic investments and complicated derivatives products, he is concerned that "the stock market has lost its close link to the "real" economy and has become more of a gigantic casino."

2014-01-21 Upstream Companies Set to Benefit if US Allows Oil Exports by Juan Hartsfield of Invesco Blog

US crude oil production is booming, and controversy over possibly exporting some of this abundance has quickly heated up in early 2014. Most recently, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Energy Committee, spoke out on Jan. 7 in favor of easing US restrictions on oil exports, which were largely enacted in the 1970s when domestic energy was scarce and lines at the gasoline pump were long. The topic of crude exports is polarizing politically and, given the recent lack of collaboration in Washington, it’s poised to be a recurring headline for some time.

2014-01-21 Superstition Ain\'t the Way by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

When you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer.

2014-01-21 Stocks 2014: Investing for Growth - The Power and Protection of High Compounding Earnings Growth by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

As I become more mature (translate: gotten older), my investment philosophy has slowly evolved into a more conservative posture. When I was a younger investor I felt I had time on my side, and therefore, was willing to take on greater risk as long as I believed that greater rewards could follow. In other words, if I made a mistake by investing in an aggressive and more risky growth stock that went badly, I felt I had adequate time to overcome or recover my losses. Consequently, as a younger investor I relished a good growth stock.

2014-01-21 Weighing the Week Ahead: More \"Experts\" Predicting a Market Top by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Most potential stock investors have been bruised by events over the last decade. They are receptive to a message of fear, and many pundits are happy to satisfy their urges. Calling for a major market turn can be very profitable for the pundit. This is true even if the prediction is very early and the pundit never signals when to shift back.

2014-01-21 Kansas by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

In the coming year, traditional money market strategies, long viewed as safe havens, will be challenged by new regulations, near 0% returns and a lack of investable assets. Short-term bond strategies could provide the right balance between risk-taking and liquidity management, and offer the potential for positive returns. Active managers have a distinct advantage because they can manage interest rate volatility and potentially source assets by identifying underappreciated sectors.

2014-01-21 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton

The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.

2014-01-21 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.

2014-01-21 Brother, Can You Spare a Bitcoin? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The electronic currency has attracted attention from speculators and financial media, but it’s unlikely to upend the existing monetary order.

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.

2014-01-17 Rebalancing the U.S. Economy by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

It’s happening again-a fourth quarter bounce in economic activity that extends into the first quarter and supports the view that growth really, finally, has started to accelerate. Such bounces have disappointed so far, although it does appear to be more than just hope this time.

2014-01-17 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales and Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With yesterday’s release of December’s CPI, we can now calculate Real Retail Sales for December. Month-over-month real sales came in at -0.07% (-0.1% rounded to one decimal). This indicator is now fractionally off its all-time high set the previous month. Although real December sales were a bit disappointing, this indicator rose 3.57% year-over-year, and it was positive for nine of the 12 months.

2014-01-17 Asia\'s Evolving Science and Tech Space by Michael Oh of Matthews Asia

The main growth drivers of Asia’s science and technology industries are changing to become more domestically driven and service-oriented. These changes are happening as rising disposable income enables more Asian consumers to embrace new technologies.

2014-01-17 Digging for Natural Resource Opportunities in 2014 by Frederick Fromm, Stephen Land, Matthew Adams of Franklin Templeton

The natural resources sector has been through a period of transition in the past year, one which has pushed many companies toward cost reduction and greater capital discipline amid an environment of rather sluggish global economic growth. Franklin Equity Group Analysts Fred Fromm, Stephen Land and Matthew Adams think an improving economic outlook could set the stage for potentially stronger commodity demand going forward, and see healthy potential demand growth for energy in particular. They share their outlook for the natural resources sector in 2014, and where they are finding opportunities.

2014-01-17 Continuing a Winning Formula for 2014 by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In any competition, sports or investment management, there are lessons to learn to improve and better results.

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

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

2014-01-17 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 134.5, up from last week’s 133.4 (an upward revision from 133.0). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place rose to 3.7, up from last week’s 2.5.

2014-01-17 The Profits Bubble by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

Profits are dangerously elevated by all reasonable measures. S&P 500 Index real earnings per share are far above their long-term historical trend. Industry profit margins are at or near all-time highs. Corporate profits, both as a percentage of GDP and relative to labor income, are at or near record levels. The dramatic rise in income inequality is a direct consequence of this spectacular reallocation of income to capital and away from labor.

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 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The U.S. budget deal reduces policy uncertainty. The fiscal state of the states is better, but challenges remain. Meeting the new cast at the Fed.

2014-01-17 Chutes and Bond Ladders by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

At most, a laddered bond approach should be a modest allocation within the total retirement strategy. In our opinion its value is in its emotional comfort to the investor as opposed to the merits of the strategy itself.

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.

2014-01-17 What Does It Take to Be in the Top 1 Percent? Not As Much As You Think by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

You might be surprised to learn that the top 20 percent of income earners bring in a household income of just over $100,000. The top 10 percent of earners have a household income of more than $148,687. To be considered in the top 1 percent, household income is at least $521,411.

2014-01-16 Keep Optimistic and Carry On by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

This is likely to be another good year for risk-on investing, as an improving economic outlook supports stocks and bonds in an environment marked by less volatility than 2013.

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 Home (Finance) Repairs by Eric Schaefer of American Independence Financial Services

Five years after the 2008 financial panic, there are still no concrete plans for what to do with the twin mortgage finance giants, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The only consensus among Congress, the Obama administration, regulators and the banking industry is that no one knows what to do. No clear compelling vision for the federal government’s role in residential mortgage finance has yet to be offered by a party to the debate.

2014-01-16 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Last year ended very well for us! The New Year has started slowly both because of the weather and because of the middle of the week timing of the holidays. Last Friday’s employment report for December was the 1st real piece of economic data which the financial markets could sink their teeth into, and the results have most people (not us) confused.

2014-01-16 Stocks for 2014: Something for Everyone: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

My biggest pet peeve regarding common stock investing is how so many people have a tendency to over-generalize this asset class. Commonly held beliefs such as investing in stocks is risky, or that the stock market is overvalued, or that the fed is driving stock prices, etc., are just a few examples illustrating my point. In truth, common stocks are as individually different as people are individually different. When dealing with human beings, most reasonable thinking people would reject prejudicial statements. Personally, I believe we should have the same attitude about common stocks.

2014-01-16 EM Sovereign Debt 2014: Neither Phoenix nor Failure by Paul DeNoon of AllianceBernstein

Emerging-market (EM) sovereign bonds were burned badly in 2013. Will they rise from the ashes in 2014? We believe some will and some won’t. The watchword for 2014 will be selectivity.

2014-01-15 U.S. Inflation Outlook 2014: Signs of Life by Nicholas Johnson, Mihir Worah of PIMCO

We expect headline CPI to rise to around 2.0% year-over-year in 2014, with our base case oil forecast in the $105-$110 per-barrel range and expectations for food prices to be stable. PCE, in our view, will likely remain below the Fed’s 2% target, around 1.5%. Individuals will get some relief at the supermarket, but they will feel a pinch from landlords, who will likely raise rents.

2014-01-15 AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update - Week Ending 1/10/14 by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The active ETF market experienced a sizable increase, with total net assets exceeding $14.8 billion. The total number of active ETFs rose to 74 with State Street launching three equity products: SPDR MFS Systematic Core Equity ETF, SPDR MFS Systematic Growth Equity ETF and SPDR MFS Systematic Value Equity ETF last week.

2014-01-15 The January Barometer by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

It’s that time of year again when the media is abuzz with that old stock market saying, "so goes the first week of the new year, so goes the month and so goes the year." Admittedly the January Barometer has a pretty good track record.

2014-01-15 Investment Insights from a Road Warrior by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As part of our investment process, we often take the explicit knowledge learned from our statistical models and overlay them with global travel.

2014-01-14 Fed Taking a More Holistic View of Data by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Recently released FOMC minutes and jobs numbers show why the Fed wants to add a qualitative dimension to its forward guidance, writes Kristina Hooper: The unemployment rate can fall significantly, but it may be for the wrong reasons.

2014-01-14 The Diversification Obituary by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

According to some major media outlets, 2013 was the year diversification died. With the S&P 500 racing to a more than 30% gain (the largest since the late ’90s), it seemed as though no other asset class truly mattered last year. While it is true domestic equities had a banner year, one-asset class portfolios will never be robust, and there is reason to believe 2013 is a prime example of why diversification is incredibly important.

2014-01-14 Income Market Insight by Payson Swaffield of Eaton Vance

In 2013, the markets got their first taste of what I referred to in my last report as the post-post-crisis era. It was a year in which talk of "tapering" dominated the financial headlines - a reference to the U.S. Federal Reserve’s plans to scale back its purchases of long-term bonds, as a first step toward reducing its accommodative monetary policy.

2014-01-14 Market Outlook by Scotty George of Alexander Capital

The stock market’s valuation expansion has left a bittersweet taste in the mouths of some who believe that this historic sequence of "new highs" is simply smoke and mirrors and accelerated expectations. Indeed, while the wealth effect is improving the lot of many, it is also exacerbating the gap between "reality" and "perceived-reality".

2014-01-13 Money Matters Part 2: China\'s Bitcoin Ban by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This second of a two-part series about bitcoin looks at the impact of China’s recent ban on the virtual currency. Part 1 examined the viability of bitcoins as a potential global currency.

2014-01-13 Hovering With an Anvil by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In my view, the stock market is hovering in what has a good chance of being seen in hindsight as the complacent lull before a period of steep losses. Meanwhile, we would require a certain amount of deterioration in stock prices, credit spreads, and employment growth to amplify our economic concerns, but even here we can say that there is little evidence of economic acceleration. Broad economic activity continues to hover at levels that have historically delineated the border of expansions and recessions.

2014-01-13 Weighing the Week Ahead: Can Earnings Growth Propel Stocks Higher? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

If you could know one thing about stocks in the coming year, it would be what to expect from corporate earnings. The Q4 2013 reports will provide a preview, with attention starting this week.

2014-01-13 Chuck Royce on 4Q13: Abnormally High Returns Reinforce Our Absolute Bias by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

In a market that’s behaved far from normally, we are sticking with what we believe works best for our shareholders-finding quality small-caps at what we think are attractively inexpensive valuations that have the ability to generate strong long-term returns. President, Director of Investments, and Portfolio Manager Chuck Royce offers his thoughts on last year’s small-cap performance and the prospects for high-quality small-caps.

2014-01-13 \"New Bubble\" Talk, Premature by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

That was fast. A little over two years ago, we declared that housing had not only bottomed, but was about to start its first real growth spurt since the bubble (Housing At An Inflection Point 11/2/2011). While some agreed, others expressed polite disagreement or, in some cases, incredulity.

2014-01-13 Equity Bubble? No. by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The US stock market performed very well during 2013. The S&P 500’s total return of nearly 33% far outpaced the returns of most asset classes. A growing contingent of market observers is fearful that the US equity market is in some sort of a bubble. We disagree completely with this notion. A strong market rally that many investors have missed is hardly sufficient grounds for a financial bubble.

2014-01-13 3 Reasons the Dollar Should Strengthen This Year by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why the U.S. dollar is likely to strengthen in 2014, and what this means for various asset classes.

2014-01-12 Forecast 2014: The Killer Ds by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We’ll continue our three-part 2014 forecast series this week by looking at the significant economic macrotrends that have to be understood, as always, as the context for any short-term forecast. These are the forces that are going to inexorably shift and shape our portfolios and businesses. Each of the nine macrotrends I’ll mention deserves its own book (and I’ve written books about two of them and numerous letters on most of them), but we’ll pause to gaze briefly at each as we scan the horizon.

2014-01-10 5 Investor Tips for 2014 by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

While the winding down of QE signals better times ahead, investors need to be selective and focused in taking smart risks, says US Investment Strategist Kristina Hooper.

2014-01-10 Automation and Lean Manufacturing: Boost Profits, Squeeze Employment by Tyler Howard of Saturna Capital

Despite industrial production reaching all-time highs in August of this year, employment in the manufacturing sector remains substantially below levels witnessed before the 2008-2009 recession. When looking at longer term employment trends in manufacturing, it becomes clear that companies increasingly boost production without adding incremental labor. Profit margins, while not yet recovered to pre-recession peaks, endure at historically high levels. Several long-term changes in the manufacturing economy contribute to this divergence: outsourcing, automation, and lean manufacturing.

2014-01-10 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook- January 2014 by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Improving U.S. macroeconomic conditions should spur additional investor demand for high-yield bonds and bank loans, particularly with defaults exceptionally low. Still, investors should monitor trends pointing to an erosion of safety in leveraged credit.

2014-01-10 Macro Strategy Review by Jim Welsh of Forward Investing

Heavy emphasis on the fundamentals factors driving the U.S., European Union, China, and Emerging economies, and how the fundamentals are likely to impact markets.

2014-01-10 Hasenstab: Fed Tapering Was Inevitable by Michael Hasenstab of Franklin Templeton

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) announced its decision to reduce its $85 billion monthly asset purchase program by $10 billion starting in January 2014. What might the eventual end of the Fed’s policy of aggressive money printing mean for fixed-income investors? Michael Hasenstab, Ph.D, executive vice president, chief investment officer, Global Bonds, Franklin Templeton Fixed Income Group, believes there’s no reason for investors to panic. He outlines why he thinks that’s the case, and where on the map he’s spotting fixed income opportunities.

2014-01-10 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 133.0, up from last week’s 133.0. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place came in at 2.5, up from last week’s 1.9.

2014-01-10 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Today\'s Strange Nonfarm Payrolls in Context by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The January Employment Report gives us a look at the December Nonfarm Employment along with extensive revisions back to January 2009. The big stunner today was the meager 74K new jobs in December against expectations of around 196K. This sucker punch from the Establishment Data was accompanied by the equally stunning news that the unemployment rate declined from 7.0-6.7%. The two numbers, of course, are from two completely different surveys - the jobs number from the Establishment Survey of business and government and the unemployment rate from the Household Survey of the general population.

2014-01-09 AdvisorShares Active ETF Market Share Update by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The active ETF market experienced a slight downtick during the shortened New Year’s week, with total net assets exceeding $14.7 billion. The Global Bond category, led by the PIMCO’s Total Return ETF and Global Advantage Inflation-Linked Bond Strategy, had the highest weekly decrease in net assets by about $62 million. Net assets in the Alternative category decreased by almost $28 million, which included the AdvisorShares Ranger Equity Bear ETF.

2014-01-09 Seesaw Rider by William Gross of PIMCO

There’s 50 ways to leave your lover and maybe more than that to lose your money or "break the buck," as some label it in the money markets. You can buy the Brooklyn Bridge, bet on the Cubs to win the World Series or have owned 30 year Treasury bonds in 2013, to name just a few. But bridges and baseball aside, what you’re probably interested in hearing from me is how to avoid breaking your investment buck in 2014.

2014-01-09 The Price Action of Stocks Trumps Fundamentals by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

Perhaps the best argument that one can make for stocks is that many hold doubts about the continuing bull market. The reasons for these doubts are understandable, as the economic recovery has been anemic and growth has slowed significantly - likely leading to lower profits in the future. As a result, corporations have aggressively cut costs, increased productivity and preserved cash - pushing profit margins to historically high levels.

2014-01-08 Accessing Fundamentals: A Differentiated Approach or Just Another Weighting Game? by Ryan Ballantyne of Reality Shares

Stocks give investors an ownership stake in corporate America, but they can also introduce high levels of volatility and uneven growth to a portfolio.

2014-01-08 When the QE Tide Recedes, Focus on What is Revealed by Robert McConnaughey of Columbia Management

While there is fierce debate on the ultimate effectiveness of monetary stimulus surging from the central banks, one cannot dispute the boost that it has given to asset prices. While we may be seeing some "green shoots" of overall growth pick-up in the developed world, the post-crisis recovery in asset values has not been primarily driven by economic or earnings growth. Instead, we have been in a high correlation environment where the rising tide lifted most diversified investor boats as repressed "risk-free" rates pushed money out into riskier asset classes.

2014-01-07 More Jobs to Turn Up the Taper Dial - But Not Yet by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The job market is a focal point for the Fed and early signs point toward further progress in reducing unemployment. But don’t expect central bankers to speed up the tapering process until there’s more evidence of a turnaround, writes Kristina Hooper.

2014-01-07 Dow 19,500, S&P 500 2,150 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Last year was the best for equities since 1997. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 26.5%, the S&P 500 was up 29.6% and the Nasdaq was up 38.3%. Despite these outsized gains, and in spite of all the talk of a bubble, we still think stocks are cheap.

2014-01-07 A Healing Economy by Richard Michaud of New Frontier Advisors

The quarter continued the theme of the year, with U.S. equities continuing their dramatic performance. For the quarter, the Dow was up 9.6%, the S&P 9.9%, and the NASDAQ 10.7%. The year’s returns substantially exceeded last year"s "expert predictions" and much of this year’s punditry with the Dow up 26.5%, S&P up 29.6%, and NASDAQ up 38.3%.

2014-01-07 Is 2014 the Year That Alternatives Matter Again? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In the wake of the financial crisis of 2008, investors piled into alternative investments en masse to help insulate their portfolios from another dramatic market decline. For those who had not yet bought into the idea of improving portfolio risk-adjusted returns, the 50% drawdown in the S&P 500 provided all the convincing needed.

2014-01-07 Waiting for the Great Pumpkin by James Moore of PIMCO

Shortly before Thanksgiving, I had the privilege of being on an investor panel at Bank of America’s Debt Capital Markets and Derivatives Conference. On the panel before me was a trio of BofA’s chief strategists, among them Michael Hartnett, their chief investment strategist. Mr. Hartnett reminded the audience that he was the man who coined the phrase "The Great Rotation" and after much anticipation, at long last, it was here.

2014-01-07 Emerging Markets 2014 Outlook: Shaping the Next Decade by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

As we embark upon a new year, the Templeton Emerging Markets Group believes 2014 could be an important year for many emerging markets, possibly establishing trends that could play out through much of the remainder of the decade. In particular, Chinese government reform initiatives announced in late 2013 could have far-reaching significance. And, major elections in a number of countries in 2014 could bring dramatic (or not-so-dramatic) changes. Here are a few themes and countries we’ve got our eye on in the new year.

2014-01-07 The Big Transition: A Letter to an Entrepreneur Friend by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest piece, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, presents a letter he has written to friend, a senior executive at a successful public company in the internet sphere. The friend has realized that 90% of his personal worth is tied up in his company. He is considering diversifying. Mr. Sicart’s letter posits that for his entrepreneur friend, the decision to diversify is not "primarily an investment question" but rather "a patrimonial question, which must be considered in a much longer time frame."

2014-01-07 Turn the Page: Outlook for Economy/Stocks in 2014 by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

In this comprehensive (read: long...sorry!) 2014 outlook report, we assess the likelihood a correction is in the offing given the strong gains since 2009.

2014-01-06 Confidence Abounds by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

It’s the very nature of a peak that it can’t be produced except by unusual optimism.

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.

2014-01-06 Reflections on 2013: What\'s Important, What\'s Not, and What\'s Ahead by Mike Shedlock of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

A tale of 2 halves with lingering questions characterizes what we can say was the story for housing for 2013. In the first half of the year, rates were low as the 10 year note was well under 2%. People were still refinancing, as home prices rocketed. Multiple bids were common, and pundits like Ivy Zelman cheered the improving market with praise like "Housing is in Nirvana".

2014-01-06 Weighing the Week Ahead: Will \"Good News\" be Good for Markets? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Suppose you knew -- right now, at the start of the week -- that the payroll employment report would show an extreme number. With 200K jobs expected, suppose it were to be 350K? Or 50K? If you had advance information from Mr. Beeks would you even know what to do?

2014-01-06 Too Big to Pop by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Most economic observers are predicting that 2014 will be the year in which the United States finally shrugs off the persistent malaise of the Great Recession. As we embark on this sunny new chapter, we may ask what wisdom the five-year trauma has delivered.

2014-01-06 Value Stocks Beckon in Emerging Markets by Henry D'uria, Morgan Harting of AllianceBernstein

Years of playing defense have left many emerging-market (EM) equity portfolios laden with pricey safe-haven stocks. We think they risk missing the big opportunity that’s brewing in value stocks, especially as EM economies begin to stabilize.

2014-01-06 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

To say that 2013 was an interesting year would be a bit of an understatement. We learned a long time ago not to make predictions about the stock market because no matter what is predicted, it is likely to be wrong. Even if we get lucky one year, we are not likely to even get close the following year. We do try to give guidance, however. Last year we suggested that, given the late run in the market in 2012 and its 15% return, investors should be happy with a return of 8 to 10% in 2013. Obviously, investors enjoyed much better returns.

2014-01-06 Money Matters Part 1: Bitcoin as Global Currency? by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

In 2009, bitcoin became the first cryptocurrency, or digital medium of exchange, to begin trading. Is it currency or a commodity? Is it a potential peer or a threat to existing currencies? Let’s take a closer look.

2014-01-06 2013: A Review of the Past, the Present and the Future by Ron Surz of PPCA Inc

This commentary is divided into three sections. I begin with a review of current U.S. and foreign stock markets, examining the year 2013 and the past six years, including the crash of 2008. This perspective serves as a launch point into the future, specifically 2014 and the remainder of this decade. I conclude with a review of the past 88 years of U.S. stock and bond markets.

2014-01-04 Forecast 2014: The Human Transformation Revolution by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is that time of the year when we peer into our darkened crystal balls in hopes of seeing portents of the future in the shadowy mists. This year I see three distinct wisps of vapor coalescing in the coming years. Each deserves its own treatment, so this year the annual forecast issue will in fact be three separate weekly pieces.

2014-01-03 Municipal Bonds: Back to Basics in 2014 by Rafael Costas, Sheila Amoroso of Franklin Templeton

Municipal bonds faced some ups and downs in 2013, falling victim to Fed taper speculation and negative press that dogged Detroit and Puerto Rico and understandably scared off some investors. Sheila Amoroso and Rafael Costas, co-directors of our Municipal Bond Department, note that while there are still some issues to work through and even despite the sometimes-shocking headlines, not all news in the world of munis is bad news. They say investors need to get back to the basics and re-examine the reasons for investing in municipal bonds.

2014-01-03 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 131.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place came in at 1.8, unchanged from last week.

2014-01-03 Gold Stocks: What to Expect in the New Year by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

After three years of pain, can gold stocks break their losing streak and see a gain in 2014? History says chances are good.

2014-01-02 The Enduring Nature of Saving Mr. Banks by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Warren Buffett has admitted that selling Disney in 1966 was the biggest mistake of his entire career.

2014-01-02 2013 in Review: Best of the \"Silver Bullet\" Awards by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Regular readers of my "Weighing the Week Ahead" series know that I occasionally give the Silver Bullet Award. This recognizes writers who take it upon themselves to debunk dangerously misleading financial analysis. Their often thankless work reminds me of the Lone Ranger, whose adventures often upheld the notion that "...that all things change but truth, and that truth alone, lives on forever."

2014-01-02 The Long and The Short of Gold Investing by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

There are two types of gold investors: those trying to make money on short-term market timing and those looking for long-term asset preservation. It was the fear-driven trading of the former that helped gold break $1900 in 2011, and for good reason - stormy markets steer investors to safe havens.

2014-01-02 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1807.78. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1848.36.

2013-12-31 The 10 Most-Read Articles of 2013 by Various (Article)

As is our custom, we conclude the year by reflecting on the 10 most-read articles over the past 12 months. In decreasing order, based on the number of unique readers, those are...

2013-12-31 The Ten Best Articles You Probably Missed by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Great articles don’t always get the readership they deserve. We’ve posted the 10 most-widely read articles for the past year. Below are another 10 that you might have missed, but I believe merit reading.

2013-12-31 Making Your Research Pay Off in 2014 by Dan Richards (Article)

For all the time that advisors invest in conducting due diligence on managers and markets, most do a miserable job of leveraging the hours they spend in communicating with clients. Here’s how to change that in 2014.

2013-12-31 Organizing Principles for Disorganized Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

How do I deal with the people on my staff who are disorganized? I have a couple of people who get three days’ worth of work done in one day, but most of the team gets little accomplished each day and keeps screaming for resources.

2013-12-31 Tech Bubble Circa 1999, or Something Different? by J.P. Scandalios of Franklin Templeton

Technology sector stocks have been investor favorites in 2013, pushing the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index to its highest level since 1999 and drawing comparisons to the "dot com" bubble which burst soon thereafter. Will we see a redux of the tech bust in 2014? John P. Scandalios doesn’t think so. Investor fever for anything "dot com" in the late 1990s was built more on promise than actual results.

2013-12-31 2014? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Year-end letters are difficult to write because there is always a tendency to discuss the year gone by or, worse, attempt to forecast the coming year. Typically, when the media asks where the S&P 500 (SPX/1841.40) will be at the end of the new year, I tell them you might as well flip a lucky penny.

2013-12-30 Weighing the Week Ahead: How Should Investors Judge the Prospects for 2014? by Jeff Miller of New Arc Investments

Sometimes the calendar of news and events makes it easy to predict what will grab our attention in the week ahead. In the last few weeks leading up to the Fed tapering announcement, I highlighted the following.

2013-12-30 NYSE Margin Debt Is Fractionally Off Its Real All-Time High by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The New York Stock Exchange publishes end-of-month data for margin debt on the NYXdata website, where we can also find historical data back to 1959. Let’s examine the numbers and study the relationship between margin debt and the market, using the S&P 500 as the surrogate for the latter.

2013-12-30 Bitcoin Takes on Gold by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Ever since President Nixon broke the US dollar’s last link to gold, the world has been set adrift on a sea of fiat currencies that have been increasingly debased, serving the interests of governments and financial elites. For the last five years, central banks have imposed near-zero rates of interest that have helped push up stock, bond, and real estate prices, but have made it nearly impossible for savers to receive meaningful returns on bank deposits.

2013-12-30 Estimating the Risk of a Market Crash by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A defensive outlook here does not presume, require, or rely on a market crash. Our ongoing discipline is to align our investment outlook with the market return/risk profile that we estimate on the basis of a broad ensemble of evidence that we can test historically and validate in out-of-sample data. That outlook will shift as that evidence shifts, period.

2013-12-30 Plow Horse, Trotting by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

What a year 2013 has been. Remember how it started, with the media hyperventilating over the "fiscal cliff" deal and spending sequester? The vast majority of economists, pundits and politicians believe in Keynesian economics. So, it’s not surprising that higher tax rates and spending cuts sent them into an intellectual and theoretical funk.

2013-12-30 What Does US Tapering Mean for Asia? by Paul Chan of Invesco Blog

The US Federal Reserve (Fed) took its first step toward unwinding its unprecedented monetary stimulus. Beginning in January 2014, the Fed will reduce monthly asset purchases by $10 billion to $75 billion. The scale of the tapering was very much in line with market expectation. While timing may have surprised some investors, the market had already priced in the Fed’s imminent move.

2013-12-27 Global Equity Outlook: Clouded by Uncertainty by Norman Boersma of Franklin Templeton

Global equity investors generally had reason to cheer in 2013, and seemed more willing to embrace risk as the year progressed. Will the bullish mood persist in 2014? Norm Boersma, Chief Investment Officer, Templeton Global Equity Group, says that while it’s clear global investors have been allocating more dollars toward equities in recent days (particularly US equities), there are still a number of unknowns that make it hard to be overly exuberant.

2013-12-27 The Risk Tolerance Paradox....And What You Can Do About It by Ken Mungan, Matt Kaufman of Milliman Financial Risk Management

The risk tolerance level many investors expect to achieve over the long-term rarely equals the same tolerance investors actually experience over shorter periods. This paper provides a brief introduction to this paradox, explores the main reason we think it exists, and introduces a risk management strategy that seeks to solve the problem.

2013-12-27 Gary Shilling: Review and Forecast by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It’s that time of year again, when we begin to think of what the next one will bring. I will be doing my annual forecast issue next week, but my friend Gary Shilling has already done his and has graciously allowed me to use a shortened version of his letter as this week’s Thoughts from the Frontline. So without any further ado, let’s jump right to Gary’s look at where we are and where we’re going.

2013-12-27 Gold in the Toilet? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

I am not debating that gold can be a very good investment over some periods of time. But perhaps these events bear watching to see if gold regains its luster or fades down to a level that would plunge it further into the investment market’s version of the toilet. Gold is now about a break-even from four years ago and its price is sitting near a long-term "support level" price last reached over the summer of 2013. The next few months should be interesting ones.

2013-12-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.9, up from last week’s 130.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, slipped to 1.9, down from 2.1 last week.

2013-12-27 2013: Looking Back at the Year of the Bull by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Will stocks continue to climb in 2014? Odds are "very good," finds BCA Research. According to historical data going back to 1870, there were 30 times when annual returns in domestic stocks climbed more than 25 percent. Of these, 23 experienced an additional increase, resulting in a mean of 12 percent, says BCA. Thinking back to January 2013, investors had a very different frame of mind. While we recently talked about the year’s biggest stories in U.S. energy and gold, today, we recap our popular commentaries focused on the domestic market.

2013-12-26 Creating a Reliable Lifetime Income by Ken Mungan of Milliman Financial Risk Management

With the baby boomer generation rolling into retirement, financial advisors have been faced with increased demand to assist with retirement income planning. As the financial advisory community struggles to address this demand, advisors are realizing that their traditional planning techniques must improve. In this white paper, we analyze the problem of providing a reliable lifetime income. We compare several approaches and demonstrate that risk management is a key element to a successful investor outcome.

2013-12-26 Does the CAPE Still Work? by William Hester of Hussman Funds

We feel no particular obligation defend the CAPE ratio. It has a strong long-term relationship to subsequent 10-year market returns. And it’s only one of numerous valuation indicators that we use in our work - many which are considerably more reliable.

2013-12-26 Economy Surprises On The Upside, But Is It Real? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

In today’s abbreviated holiday E-Letter, we’ll look at last Friday’s surprising report on 3Q GDP. In its third estimate of 3Q GDP, the Commerce Department reported that the economy surged by more than anyone expected. Given the surprisingly strong numbers, more than a few are questioning the report’s accuracy and wondering if it will be revised lower in January.

2013-12-26 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

I admit it, I do occasionally pick on Money Magazine and other consumer financial publications, but as I’ve written in the past, for the most part, Money does a great job of educating consumers. Its story on Lessons from the Crash "Lehman Brothers’ collapse in September 2008 sent stocks on a terrifying ride. A year-by-year look back reveals five key takeaways you need to heed today" is an excellent example. Here are Money’s "Lessons."

2013-12-24 The Price America Pays for Global Leadership by Bob Veres (Article)

America’s political debates inevitably default to finding ways to contain our federal deficits, and our investment debates focus on whether we’re facing a secular bear or bull market - and how to maneuver within that environment. I had never imagined that these two debates could be related until I heard a presentation by Bill O’Grady, of Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, MO at the Insider’s Forum conference in Dallas.

2013-12-24 How Much Should We Pay to Emit Carbon? by Michael Edesess (Article)

Many consider emissions of greenhouse gases to be what economists call a ’negative externality,’ meaning that they are likely to impose a cost on society through climate change and ocean acidification. The cost of that externality should, in principle, be borne by the emitters, who should pay a price to emit. But what should that price be?

2013-12-24 The Three Key Words in Client Conversations by Dan Richards (Article)

Here are four suggestions to help read between the lines in conversations with both existing and prospective clients, including the three key words that you should always be ready to say.

2013-12-24 Calming an Uptight Partner by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

My partner is always anxious and upset about something and everything is urgent. He is a good friend and I respect his intelligence, but he gives me heartburn. Are there strategies I could employ to get him to calm down?

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 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.

2013-12-23 The Diva is Already Singing by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The bell has already rung. The diva is already singing. The only question is precisely how long they hold the note.

2013-12-23 China\'s Consumer Stocks: Opportunities Despite Slower Growth by Richard Flax of PIMCO

A weaker macro environment and curbs on spending by government bureaucrats have hit a range of consumer businesses and, in some cases, forced a reassessment of expansion plans. While Chinese consumption may be challenged in the near term, we think the impact will be felt most in the retail sector where slowing demand is compounded by oversupply. We see opportunity in other sectors that benefit from secular demand growth and constrained supply or strong brands, notably casinos and luxury sectors.

2013-12-23 401(k) Makeover: Future Trends by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog

Retirement experts believe your 401(k) plan will take on a new look and focus over the next few years as the industry introduces changes aimed at getting participants to save more money and do more planning for retirement.

2013-12-21 What Has QE Wrought? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Now that we have begun tapering, we will soon see lots of analysis about whether QE has been effective. What will the stock market do? The US economy seems to be moving in the right direction, but the Fed has forecast Nirvana (seriously) - do we dare hope they can finally get a forecast right? Or have they jinxed us?

2013-12-20 Celebrating Asia\'s Growth Past and Present by Taizo Ishida, Mark Headley of Matthews Asia

Today, Matthews Asia celebrates 10 remarkable years that have passed since we launched our Asia Growth strategy to U.S. investors. During this time, the region has evolved in many significant ways. In the early 2000s, only the "Asian Tiger" economies had managed to reach GDP per capita levels considered the tipping point for consumption growth. More recently, consumption has been on the rise in many of the region’s economies, laying the foundation for Asia’s ongoing prosperity.

2013-12-20 Staying Power by Kapish Bhutani of Diamond Hill Investments

In addition to reducing the risk of a permanent loss of capital, the staying power of a company allows for capital to compound over long periods of time. While the defensive and less cyclical nature of many consumer staples companies indicates an ability to survive, most are able to invest only a portion of earnings at historical rates of return.

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 Five Resolutions for 2014 by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

Entering 2014, the global investment environment is as challenging as ever. After a super 2013 in returns, U.S. equities can no longer be considered inexpensive and yet still look attractive relative to the prospective returns on savings accounts and long-term bonds. Long-term bond yields are higher than a year ago but could still rise further as the Federal Reserve begins to reduce quantitative easing.

2013-12-20 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the Americas: Riding the Cross-Currents of Higher U.S. Growth and the Fed by Mohit Mittal, Lupin Rahman, Ed Devlin of PIMCO

In the U.S., lower fiscal drag and the possibility of higher consumer and corporate spending should drive growth higher in 2014. Supported by higher U.S. growth and stabilization in Europe and China, Latin America is set to grow 3%-4% on average, but with a large dispersion across countries. Canada should benefit from the U.S. recovery but will likely lag U.S. growth due to lower consumption and residential investment.

2013-12-20 Looking Beyond the Initial Fed Taper by Sam Wardwell of Pioneer Investments

Can the Fed be believed or trusted? Pioneer’s Sam Wardwell analyzes the tension between data dependency and forward guidance in Fed policy.

2013-12-20 A Picture: More Misleading than a Thousand Words by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

If you believe mortgage rates will return to 8.3%, backend debt to income ratios will fall to 38%, and that significant down payments and savings will be required going forward, then you should be concluding that housing appears overvalued today. I am not ready to make those assumptions.

2013-12-19 The Great Experiment by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

After 100 years of the US central bank, does it deserve another try...?

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.

2013-12-19 Introducing Our Annual Global Outlook for 2014 by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Jeff Hussey, global CIO, introduces Russell Investments’ 2014 Annual Global Outlook and explains why it will be important for investors to focus on risk premiums and precise exposures in 2014.

2013-12-19 Is Your Inflation Protection Really Protecting You? by Thomas Luster, Stewart Taylor, Kevin Dachille of Eaton Vance

Many investors who own Treasury Inflation-Protection Securities (TIPS) and TIPS mutual funds don’t realize that they may be taking a significant amount of interest-rate risk in exchange for their inflation protection, which may result in losses when rates begin to rise rapidly. Shorter-maturity TIPS carry the same inflation adjustment as longer-term TIPS, but have less sensitivity to interest rates, which may be helpful in times of rising interest rates like what investors experienced in spring 2013.

2013-12-19 One of the Most Notable Stories of the Year: Energy Renaissance in the U.S.A. by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

As we come to the end of 2013, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the biggest resources stories of the year. One that immediately comes to mind is the U.S. energy resurgence and its tremendous effect on oil and gas.

2013-12-18 Australia Inc. by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

In 2013, real growth in business investment in Australia outside the mining sector slowed to almost zero, in part due to the high exchange rate. While some sectors of the economy such as housing appear to be improving, we continue to expect sub-trend growth in 2014 due to the subdued outlook for business investment. The RBA will most likely have to keep interest rates low for an extended period to ease the transition away from mining-assisted growth and encourage a weaker exchange rate.

2013-12-18 PIMCO\'s Cyclical Outlook for Asia: Growth Is Stabilizing but Not Stellar by Ramin Toloui, Tomoya Masanao, Robert Mead of PIMCO

In China, near-term economic performance will be dominated by the dialing back and forth of credit conditions by policymakers, while long-term reform progresses incrementally. Japan’s GDP growth will slow in 2014 due to a consumption tax hike but will still be above the country’s potential growth as it is assisted by reflationary policies. The pace of Australia’s growth will slow due to weakness in manufacturing and mining, reflecting tempered growth in China.

2013-12-18 Three Investments that Could Return to Favor in 2014 by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

When investors lose confidence in an asset class, especially one that had been popular enough to attract outsized allocations, subsequent rebalancing generally leads to prolonged periods of underperformance. Technology stocks after 1999, for example, underperformed the S&P 500 in eight of the next 10 years and by a cumulative total of more than 40 percentage points. Today, many believe that interest rate sensitive bonds might have just begun a similar era of waning investor confidence, portfolio reallocation and underperformance.

2013-12-17 Optimizing Asset Location: Is It Worth the Effort? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Asset location - the choice of whether to hold stocks and bonds in taxable or sheltered accounts - is receiving increased attention as advisors seek more ways to add value. New research has challenged long-held beliefs. I’ll examine that research and answer a question that should concern every advisor and client: Does the value provided by asset-location advice justify the fees for the work involved?

2013-12-17 How a Simple Sandwich Got a Top Prospect’s Attention by Dan Richards (Article)

Many advisors generously support charities and good causes in their communities and around the world. Here’s how to communicate that support to clients.

2013-12-17 Making Brand Communication Work for Your Firm by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I have sat in on meetings with my staff while they talk to prospects and clients and they say things I would never say. Everyone has their own style but it is important that we say the same things. Is there a way to accomplish this through training?

2013-12-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How Service Screw-ups Can Create Happier Clients, and a reader responds to Patrick McVeigh’s article, Low Demand Will Depress Oil Prices, both of which appeared last week.

2013-12-17 Five Strategies for a Rising-Rate Environment Revisited by Kane Cotton, CFA and Jonathan Scheid, CFA (Article)

In June 2010, we recommended five strategies for a rising-rate environment, acknowledging that we had no idea when or how abruptly rates would rise. Indeed, rates fell since we wrote that article. But they are on the rise again. After reviewing how our original five strategies performed, we’ll now present our revised recommendations for investing as rates increase.

2013-12-17 Will 2014 Bring an End to Central Bank Intervention? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Nearing the final two weeks of the year, it is customary to look forward to the trends and events that will shape the coming year. A theme that may come to the fore in 2014 revolves around central bankers, specifically the diverging fates in various economies of the world.

2013-12-17 The Monster That Is Europe by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week, Geert Wilders and his Party for Freedom in the Netherlands and Marine Le Pen of the Front National (FN) of France held a press conference in The Hague to announce that they will be cooperating in the elections for the European Parliament next spring and hope to form a new eurosceptic bloc.

2013-12-17 5 Takeaways from the Mini-Budget Deal by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The bi-partisan budget agreement inked last week has real implications for investors, including its impact on consumers, the stock market and the Fed, writes Kristina Hooper.

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 The One Percent by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I read the Pope’s words about inequality following a meeting of our newly formed Consumer Analysts Panel. The panel consists of our consumer analysts, our lodging/housing analysts, our economist, senior management of our institutional sales team, and me. Interestingly, the recurring theme over the course of said meeting was that the top 20% of wage earners are doing fine, but the bottom 20% are not.

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.

2013-12-16 A Much Better Dilemma by Mike Amey of PIMCO

While the UK economy is likely to avoid reverting to growth levels of recent years, it must transition into a more durable recovery involving business investment, higher productivity and stronger real wages. However, headwinds for domestic demand look significant and the banking system appears to favour secured lending to consumers over businesses. We believe that much of the rise in bond yields is already behind us. With clearer value in shorter bonds, our preference lies in short and intermediate gilts.

2013-12-16 The World We Live In by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

For me, the final month of the year has always been a time to reflect upon the past as well as plan for the future. Analyzing the year soon to pass provides a valuable perspective with which to evaluate the important issues that will impact our country and economy going forward. In this context, 2013 sure has been a memorable year highlighted by horrific natural disasters, the deaths of Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela, and on the lighter side, the unforgettable ending to perhaps the greatest Iron Bowl ever played.

2013-12-16 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This second post looks at where the US stands in the deleveraging process. Part 1 explained the phases of a debt crisis, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.

2013-12-16 Absolute Return Letter: Squeaky Bum Time by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

QE has led to asset price inflation. That much we established in the November Absolute Return Letter. In this month’s letter we go one step further and look at whether we are now in bubble territory. Considering the strong bull-run we have experienced in 2012-13 it is perhaps surprising to learn that, in a historical context, it is not an outsized rally, nor are equity markets - with the possible exception of the United States - particularly expensive.

2013-12-16 The Power of the Platform: The Promise and Peril of Technology Investing by Ryan Jacob of Jacob Asset Management

Without question, technology’s rapid development during the past 20 years has played an incredibly powerful and largely positive role in furthering the progress and productivity of modern economies throughout the world. Technology’s track record as a profitable investment theme, however, is a bit cloudier.

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

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

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

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

2013-12-13 The Year of the Horse: 3 Reasons Chinese Stocks Could Gallop Ahead in 2014 by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While Chinese stocks have massively underperformed their U.S. and developed market counterparts year to date, Russ explains the three reasons why he’s still bullish on China.

2013-12-13 Where Have All the Savings Gone? by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

The last six years have witnessed the most severe financial crisis since the end of World War II, with household earning capacity and saving ability experiencing significant changes due to the downturn in the real economies. This challenging economic situation definitely affected household saving behavior, although the impact has been different in various countries - for some, the impact on household earning capacity was more intense than others.

2013-12-13 The Future in Focus: Relieving Labor Strains by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Demographic trends point to an expanding population of retirees and a relative shortage of working-age people. Here’s how the U.S. economy can adapt.

2013-12-13 Stanley Black & Decker: Powering Its Way Toward Fair Value by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Stanley Black & Decker (SWK) is a machine tools company built on namesakes of - you guessed it - three individuals with the last names: Stanley, Black and Decker. Frederick Stanley started a hardware manufacturing company in 1843. Duncan Black and Alonzo Decker started a similar shop in 1910, becoming known for the world’s first patent for a portable power tool. In 2010 the two companies merged to form what is today Stanley Black & Decker.

2013-12-13 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.4, down from last week’s 132.7 (adjusted from 132.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, slipped to 2.8, down from 2.9 last week.

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 The Fed, Inflation, and the Perfect Storm in Gold Miners by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

Neither hopes of job creation nor fears of inflation (based on the massive expansion of the monetary base since late 2008) have thus far materialized. Total credit creation (i.e. money supply) during most of the last five years either shrank or barely grew despite massive growth in the monetary base. Nominal GDP (growth plus inflation) grows in response to total expansion of credit (both from the Fed and the banking system), not just the monetary base.

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.

2013-12-12 The Wisdom of Looking Like An Idiot Today by Adam Taggart of PeakProsperity.com

Here’s a recently-released report on the stark choice that bubble markets force investors to make: to look like an idiot now, or look like one later. Those that have sought to position themselves prudently and defensively since 2008 currently look foolish as liquidity-inflated stocks and real estate prices have passed them by over the past 2 years-- while ’safe havens’ like precious metals have suffered mightily. But it’s critical to remember that the nefarious nature of a bubble is to suck in as many participants as possible before bursting and causing maximum damage.

2013-12-12 Payment Industry - Follow the Money by Team of Baird Investment Management

The substantial growth in credit and debit card usage is a multi-decade trend driven by increased global consumer activity and a shift in behavior to less transactions completed by cash or check. As the buzz of the holiday season takes hold, consumers wouldn’t think twice about leaving home with just a debit or credit card in hand. The simple act of a purchase followed by swiping a plastic card occurs a staggering several hundred million times each day, with a step up in activity during the holiday season.

2013-12-12 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook: Synchronized Optimism by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

In the U.S., the abatement of fiscal policy tightening combined with steady improvements in labor market demand and higher asset valuations is likely to drive an increase in real growth. The eurozone should finally emerge from recession in 2014, and Japan is likely to continue to grow with the continued assistance of extraordinarily expansive policies. In China, external demand will likely improve, but domestic demand will likely slow somewhat.

2013-12-11 Fed: No More Excuses Not To Taper - Just Do It! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

We had some terrific economic news late last week. The 3Q GDP report and the November unemployment report were so strong that some are wondering if the data are credible, and are likely to be revised lower next month. The government reported that 3Q Gross Domestic Product jumped from 2.8% as reported last month to a whopping 3.6% in its second estimate last Thursday, well above the consensus estimate of 3.1%.

2013-12-11 Muddling Through: The \'Realpolitik\' of the Eurozone Crisis by Andrew Bosomworth of PIMCO

The long-term cost of Europe’s economic recovery is likely to challenge social tolerance and political will to achieve a fully integrated fiscal and political union. Although able to exploit the untapped potential of European treaties, the soon-to-be-elected 8th European Parliament looks more likely to continue to muddle through. We see low medium-term risk for government and corporate bonds with maturities of up to three years, but caution may be required for securities with longer maturities and lower down in the capital structure.

2013-12-11 Q3:2013 Flow-of-Funds Report - \'Tis the Season to Be Jolly by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

I know that being a Debbie Downer gets more face time on cable news, but after looking at the Fed’s latest Financial Accounts of the U.S. report, formerly known as the Flow-of-Funds report, I cannot contain my optimism about the economy’s prospects in the New Year.

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 How Much Can Clients Spend in Retirement? A Test of the Two Most Prominent Approaches by Wade Pfau (Article)

In my last article, I described research-based innovations for variable withdrawal strategies from retirement portfolios. In this article, I put Guyton’s and Blanchett’s strategies to the test. My results provide planners with a better understanding about the potential spending paths generated by these different approaches.

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.

2013-12-10 Six Things Every Advisor Must Have on Their LinkedIn Profile by Megan Elliott (Article)

An optimized LinkedIn profile is an essential part of any financial advisor’s marketing efforts. But putting together a great LinkedIn profile involves more than just copying and pasting information from your resume. To get the most out of this professional social networking site, here are six things you need in your LinkedIn profile.

2013-12-10 Best Practices for an Effective Teambuilding Exercise by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I want to hold a teambuilding session. I don’t like to take everyone away from client calls for the day. Should we have this on a weekend? Or stay late one night? Do I include everyone, from our receptionist to senior advisors?

2013-12-10 Christmas by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Well it is official, Christmas has begun. For me it began with the private wine and dinner party at Morrell, arguably the finest wine store I have ever seen, and anyone that knows me knows I have seen a lot of wine stores! Morrell is located at 1 Rockefeller Center between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue overlooking the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center. I had done a gig on Bloomberg radio at Morrell last Tuesday with my friends Carol Massar and Pimm Fox and got invited to the party the next evening to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree.

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

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

2013-12-10 The Myth of the Most Efficient Market by Patrick O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Perception of the U.S. large cap value market is that it’s the most efficient in the world, and therefore the hardest category for managers to outperform the benchmark. As a result, index funds and ETFs have been gaining dramatic market share. Our latest whitepaper debunks conventional thinking with empirically-proven factors that have significantly outperformed in the U.S. large cap space.

2013-12-10 Macro Factors Distract Wealth Creation by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

What do Obamacare, Federal Government debt/budget deals, Quantitative Easing and jobs data have in common? To us they are all types of macroeconomic factors on which most investors focus. We believe the reason most investors focus on these types of news stories is because they can influence the US stock market over the next six to twelve months instead of the next 10 to 20 years. In this missive, we would like to challenge everyone’s thinking about their ultimate goal for investing in the stock market and the behaviors which lead to wealth creation.

2013-12-09 Fed Creating More Financial Market Uncertainty by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Although the U.S. stock market continues to hit new nominal highs on a nearly daily basis, the U.S. economy bumps along at a lackluster pace. This disconnect has been achieved by a massive Fed experiment in monetary stimulation.

2013-12-09 The Truth Does Not Change According To Our Ability To Stomach It by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The stock market is presently at valuations where not only cyclical but secular bear markets have started. A secular bear period comprises a series of cyclical bull-bear periods where valuations gradually work their way lower at each successive cyclical trough. The past 13 years of paltry overall total returns for the S&P 500 have unfortunately corrected very little of the excess in 2000, largely thanks to yet another round of Fed-enabled speculation. We should have learned how these episodes end.

2013-12-09 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

This three-part series examines the life cycle of a debt crisis and looks at where the US, UK and eurozone are in the recovery process. This first post explains the phases of a debt crisis. Part 2 will look at where the US stands in the deleveraging process, while Part 3 will focus on why the UK and eurozone lag the US in balance-sheet repair.

2013-12-09 Debt Crisis Recovery: Bell Curves and Balance Sheets by Team of GaveKal Capital

The purchasing power parity (PPP) theory basically states that the exchange rate between two countries should adjust so that a basket of goods in Country X costs the same as it does in Country Y when priced in the same currency. It is a useful theory in understanding the relative strength of a currency, especially for a reserve currency such as the USD. It is important to keep in mind that over/under valuation based on PPP can remain in place for years and that this is not at all a timing tool.

2013-12-09 Gauging Tapering Post November Jobs Report by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With another month down in 2013, last week came time to dissect the latest report on employment. If the market reaction was indicative, the highly anticipated November labor report did not disappoint, sending stocks up more than 1% on Friday.

2013-12-07 Interview with Steve Forbes by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For whatever reason, Steve Forbes seems to bring out the passion in me. When I think about what central bank policies are doing to savers and investors, how we are screwing around with the pension system, circumventing rational market expectations because of an untested economic theory held by a relatively small number of academics, I get a little exercised. And Steve gives me the freedom to do it.

2013-12-06 Like a Shakespearean Script by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Shakespearean plays follow a pattern. The underlying plots and storylines change from play to play, but the five-act construction is a common overlap. Market cycles tend to follow a similar pattern cycle after cycle. Like the different plots in various Shakespearean plays, the catalysts that begin and end each cycle, and the events during the cycle are always different. However, market cycles seem to follow a script and, so far, this cycle seems to be following the script almost perfectly.

2013-12-06 Bubble Watch: The Valuation & Sentiment Signs to Look For by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Worried that the U.S. market is about to tilt into bubble territory? Though Russ doesn’t believe that U.S. equities are in a bubble yet, he highlights two sets of data investors can watch to gauge a bubble’s arrival.

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.

2013-12-06 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The U.S. employment report puts taper onto the table. Don’t expect further rate cuts from the ECB or the Fed. Auto sales have been a bright spot amid sluggish consumer spending.

2013-12-06 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.8, up from last week’s 132.3. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 2.9, up from 2.6 last week.

2013-12-06 Did the Government Shutdown Help the Economy? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Take the government shutdown in October, when the House and Senate fought over the debt ceiling. Economic data wasn’t released, services were halted, national parks were closed, and "non-essential government workers were told to stay home. As a result, GDP was expected to collapse. Yet, data released this week reveal a different, stronger image of the U.S. economy. I think Shakespeare would deem the media’s fear mongering tactics as Much Ado About Nothing.

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

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

2013-12-06 Red Shoots? Amid the Holiday Cheer, is a Market Peak Brewing? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

I don’t see imminent signs of a rough market, but it does appear that some "red shoots" are not forming. FYI, a red shoot is a term I just made up. Whereas a "green shoot" is a piece of good news in an otherwise difficult economic environment, I define a red shoot as a piece of potentially bad news among a sea of green stock market profits.

2013-12-05 10 for \'14 by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Each December we publish a list of investment themes that we feel are critical for the coming year. We continue to believe the US stock market will continue its run through one of the largest bull markets of our careers. Our positive outlook extends to the following areas: US Equities, Japanese Equities, European small cap stocks, high yield municipals.

2013-12-05 Running Out of Time by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Well, so far the Federal Reserve is winning out over my timing models that continue to suggest caution should be the preferred strategy in the short-term; and last week that strategy was wrong footed as the D-J Industrial Average notched another new all-time high.

2013-12-05 No Silver Bullets in Investing by James Montier of GMO

In a new white paper today, James Montier of GMO’s asset allocation team reviews recent "innovation in our industry." He argues, "one of the myths perpetuated by our industry is that there are lots of ways to generate good long-run real returns, but we believe there is really only one: buying cheap assets."

2013-12-04 Why Investing in High Quality Companies is More Important Today than Ever by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

One of the first rules a new financial advisor learns is that success in the business has nothing to do with how well your clients do in creating or maintaining wealth. Success is measured by how much wealth the advisor creates for him or herself. The same rule extends beyond the local advisor to the great halls of institutional management.

2013-12-04 ACA: The Importance of Being Transparent by Harlan Sonderling of Columbia Management

President James A. Garfield survived an assassin’s bullet in 1881, only to die several months later of complications from the infection that developed from his doctors’ probing his healing wound with their unclean hands and instruments, contrary to the developing understanding of the need for sanitary medical treatment. In effect, the President was a victim of his doctors’ inattention to or ignorance of medical best practices. As well, one can’t help inferring that the President’s doctors were among the best paid in the nation, regardless of their disastrous outco

2013-12-04 Gold, What Is It Good for? by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Absolutely nothing! Well, except 5,000 years of value exchange, non-correlation, and preserving wealth...The current market environment has led many in the press to question gold’s value as an investment or an asset class, writes Miguel Perez-Santalla at BullionVault.

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.

2013-12-04 Patience in Asia by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Investing in a multitude of markets and companies as we do within the Templeton Emerging Markets Group means that at any given point in time it may appear to some that they are underperforming or outperforming any particular benchmark index or market. Such is the nature of global financial markets. Of course, we’d like all of our investments to go straight up, but at the same time continually like to find new bargains for investors.

2013-12-04 Emerging Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review - Q3 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

The second half of 2013 has posed significant challenges to growth in major Emerging Asia Pacific economies. Almost all emerging Asia Pacific economies showed signs of strain arising from stubborn inflation, higher interest rates, slower consumer spending and lukewarm exports.

2013-12-04 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

And stocks just keep rolling along. November ended with another bang as the Blue Chips climbed 3.5% for the month and The Dow Jones extended its weekly winning streak to eight. But did anyone even notice? Happy Thanksgivukkah.

2013-12-03 Jeremy Siegel - The Market is 10% to 15% Undervalued by Robert Huebscher (Article)

According to Wharton’s Jeremy Siegel, ’the fair market value for the stocks today is 10% to 15% higher, and that might even be on the conservative side.’

2013-12-03 Why Does the U.S. Have High-Cost Low-Quality Healthcare? by Michael Edesess and Kwok L. Tsui (Article)

The U.S. has worse mortality rates than virtually all other developed nations, and yet it spends twice as much per capita on health care. How on earth has the U.S. racked up such an appallingly bad health-care record, and what is the solution? A recent edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association identified many of the problems but was not persuasive in prescribing a cure.

2013-12-03 Active Share. Toward a Stock Picker’s Market? by Sponsored Content from ClearBridge Investments (Article)

Explore five groups of mutual funds-from stock pickers to moderately active to the closet indexers. Which categories produced the best risk-adjusted return 1990-2009? The more different the portfolio from its benchmarks, the greater the range of possible outcomes. Consider a tool like active share.

2013-12-03 How to Keep Prospects from Stealing Your Ideas by Dan Richards (Article)

After multiple meetings with prospective clients during which you provided recommendations on their situation, at some point every advisor has walked away feeling that someone took their advice and implemented it on their own. How do you prevent this from happening?

2013-12-03 What Matters More When Investing: A Good Company or Good Price? by John Alberg and Michael Seckler (Article)

Which approach will serve you best in the uncertain periods ahead - investing in the best companies, or finding the lowest priced opportunities? How did value-oriented investment approaches, such as Joel Greenblatt’s "magic formula," perform when price-to-earnings multiples compressed in the past? A recent study we completed yields some perspective on those two questions.

2013-12-03 How to Communicate Your Year-End Bonus Decisions by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

My staff is angling for strong bonuses this year. But I would like to invest some of the money into the firm. I don’t think I owe my staff an explanation about what I am doing with the money, but I know they think I am taking it for myself and being unfair to them. Is there a proper way to communicate bonuses and profit for an advisory firm?

2013-12-03 Philly Fed, the Geo Score and A Housing Stat Making Some Blue by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Following a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday that involved way too much food, I found myself doing all I could to avoid the Black Friday masses and succeeded until I took to the highway for a journey to Albany, NY - they were leaving the malls and, perhaps it was exhaustion from their day of shopping, but the traffic and driving skills left something to be desired. Those weary shoppers amassed along I-87 brought to mind the question of how healthy (or not so healthy) is the economy?

2013-12-03 Turning Over Rocks by Herbert Abramson, Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

The S&P 500 is at a record high and we believe the markets generally are fully valued. Corporate revenue growth is anemic, profit margins are stretched, and the prospect of earnings rising meaningfully is not high. And, the outlook for the U.S. and global economy is still uncertain. Market psychology is at a level suggesting the market is overbought. Margin debt is at record levels and the current popularity of stocks by retail investors at market highs is in itself a red flag.

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 Secular Bull or Secular Bear? by Leo Cesna of Relevant Investments

Applying statistical control limits to Dr. Shiller’s CAPE Index reveals where the S&P 500 is likely headed.

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.

2013-12-03 High Quality and Time-Horizon Arbitrage by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we love to acknowledge financial journalists who really demonstrate an understanding of the underlying truths associated with high-quality and long-duration common stock investing.

2013-12-02 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1783.54. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1805.81. For the earnings, see the table created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-12-02 The Elephant in the Room by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors will do themselves terrible harm if they ignore the objective warnings of history based on our subjective experience in this unfinished half-cycle. That subjective experience is far more closely related to my 2009 stress-testing decision than many investors recognize.

2013-12-02 Investing in China? What You Should Know About Gaining Access to the Markets by Ted Samulowitz, Graham Day of Invesco Blog

Investors with exposure to China and those interested in gaining a foot into the country received some good news last month when it was announced that China’s GDP grew by 7.8% in the third quarter. The news was a sigh of relief for investors as China’s economy appears to have avoided the hard landing economists and investors had feared.

2013-12-02 China\'s Great Leap by Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

China’s government just announced it would take a big step back...and let its economy take a giant leap forward. We believe China’s proposed economic reforms will transform the economy and should allay investors’ main concerns about Chinese markets. In Janus’ latest Equity Monthly, our equity team offers its perspective on China’s Great Leap.

2013-11-29 Back to Housing Bubbles by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

What we are witnessing in many countries looks like a slow-motion replay of the last housing-market train wreck. And, like last time, the bigger the bubbles become, the nastier the collision with reality will be.

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.

2013-11-29 From the Taj Mahal to Westminster Abbey: Notes from a Global Investor by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

I recently returned from India, a nation where an incredible 600 million people are under the age of 25. That’s nearly double the entire population of the U.S.

2013-11-28 The Race is On by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

There’s a race to the bottom going on, reflecting a widespread reduction in the level of prudence on the part of investors and capital providers. No one can prove at this point that those who participate will be punished, or that their long-run performance won’t exceed that of the naysayers. But that is the usual pattern.

2013-11-27 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

This particular time of year is often a time of contemplation and reflection. As families and friends gather for the holidays, many pause to consider the year almost past, and perhaps the year to come. Whether it’s tax-lot accounting for securities bought and sold, or healthcare issues left unattended, or simply holding ourselves accountable for goals unmet, we tackle these issues as an annual right of passage each year.

2013-11-27 The Market Hits All-Time High. So What? by Dianne Lob, Ding Liu of AllianceBernstein

With the US stock market repeatedly reaching all-time highs in recent weeks, many investors are becoming leery of investing in stocks. Focusing on the market’s level is a mistake, in our view. It’s market valuation, not level, that matters.

2013-11-27 The Future in Focus: Our Demographic Destiny by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In the first of a series on population trends that will shape the U.S. economy, Milton Ezrati looks at the policy challenges posed by an aging America.

2013-11-26 Second-Level Thinking: John Hussman Responds to Howard Marks by John Hussman (Article)

While I am a very great admirer of Howard Marks, his fairly sanguine view of equities here seems inconsistent with what he calls "second-level thinking" about how securities are valued, and is almost certainly inconsistent with his observation that "Rule number one, most things will prove to be cyclical. Rule number two, some of the greatest opportunities for gain and loss come when people forget rule number one."

2013-11-26 How to Develop a Fee Schedule by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Too many advisors share a reluctance to charge what they are worth. That fear is both a philosophical and a business issue. To overcome it, here are several factors to consider when designing your fee schedule.

2013-11-26 Making Vendor Relationships Work Effectively by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We hired an outside contractor to do some marketing work for us. It has been a nightmare. She is difficult to deal with and criticizes every idea we have. Is there something we can do differently to avoid this situation in the future?

2013-11-26 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which appeared on October 29, and a reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Reflections on a Week in Cuba, which appeared on November 12.

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

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

2013-11-26 While You Were Sleeping: Asian Developments Loom for Financial Markets by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Amid all the Fed talk dominating airwaves and headlines, a few key developments occurred overseas last week that could shape financial markets significantly in the quarters ahead.

2013-11-26 Wal-Mart: Fairly Valued Retail Powerhouse by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This Bentonville, AR based mega-retailer perennially ranks amongst the top of the Fortune 500 list and likely needs no introduction. In lieu of a business summary, we thought it might be interesting to highlight some prominent statistics. For instance, every week more than 245 million customers visit Wal-Mart’s (WMT) 11,000 stores under 69 banners in 27 different countries. Last year alone the company had sales of about $466 billion while employing 2.2 million associates.

2013-11-26 For Whom the Nobel Tolls: Efficient Market or Irrational Exuberance? by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, looks at the work of two of the recent recipients of the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. While the work of Eugene Fama and Robert Shiller might at first seem to be in direct conflict, Sicart explores how simultaneously recognizing Fama’s "efficient market hypothesis" and Shiller’s work on investor psychology may be "less of a contradiction than meets the eye."

2013-11-25 Recent Economic Trends Help Make Korea a Hidden Gem in Asia by Paul Chan and Simon Jeong of Invesco Blog

After more than two decades of financial setbacks, recent macroeconomic data is helping Korea overcome the negative economic stigma associated with its economy and equity markets.

2013-11-25 An Open Letter to the FOMC: Recognizing the Valuation Bubble in Equities by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The Fed has done enough, and perhaps dangerously more than enough. The prospect of dismal investment returns in equities is an outcome that is largely baked-in-the-cake. The only question is how much worse the outcomes will be as a result of Fed policy that has few economic mechanisms other than to encourage speculative behavior.

2013-11-25 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.

2013-11-25 Sir Isaac Newton by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

In 1711 the Earl of Oxford formed the South Sea Company, which was approved as a joint-stock company via an act by the British government. The company was designed to improve the British government’s finances. The earl granted the merchants associated with the company the sole rights to trade in the South Seas (the east coast of Latin America). From the start the new company was expected to achieve huge profits given the believed inexhaustible gold and silver mines of the region.

2013-11-25 Unless the Fed Goes Cold Turkey on Us, Expect a Bountiful Economic Harvest for Thanksgiving 2014 by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

If your Thanksgiving family dinner conversation is anything like mine this Thursday, it will be dominated by a discussion of how the U.S. economy and its financial markets will be behaving after nearly a year of Dr. Janet Yellen at the helm of the Fed. Well, I am going to give my family an advance copy of what I plan to say so that we can just concentrate on willing a Packers victory over the Lions. As a preview, I am bullish about what things will look like by Turkey Day 2014 even if Chairwoman Yellen becomes a little hawkish. (Perhaps too cute with the animal references?)

2013-11-24 Game of Thrones - European Style by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The Eurozone crisis is not over, and it will not end quickly or soon. Even if it seems to unfold in slow motion - like the slow build-up in a Game of Thrones storyline to violent internecine clashes followed by more slow plot developments but never any resolution, the Eurozone debacle has never really gone away. The structural imbalances have still not been fixed; politicians and central bankers have still not agreed to solve major fiscal problems; the overall economy still disintegrates; unemployment is staggeringly high in some countries and still rising; and the people are growing restless.

2013-11-22 Dividend Season Scorecard by Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton

As consumers gear up for the upcoming holiday shopping season, many investors in individual equities are eagerly anticipating another season that, instead of draining their wallets, might actually fatten them-dividend season. Don Taylor, portfolio manager of Franklin Rising Dividends Fund, is on the lookout for companies which not only have a track record of paying regular dividends, but increasing them. Here are some of Taylor’s thoughts on the early dividend season scorecard.

2013-11-22 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The underlying sales data were stronger than expected, and the disinflationary October headline CPI boosted the number higher. in light of the general pessimism over the government shutdown and congressional face-off on debt ceiling, the October numbers are indeed surprising.

2013-11-22 Understanding the Rise of China by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If the sweeping economic reforms planned by Chinese leaders during the Third Plenum can be our guide, it looks to be a promising decade for global investors. Details released this week confirmed President Xi Jinping’s concerted efforts to move China toward a market-based economy that mirrors the West.

2013-11-22 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.2, up from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 131.1). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 2.4, up from 2.2 last week.

2013-11-22 50 Years Later: JFK and the Misery of Rising Interest Rates by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

On the 50th anniversary of one of the most tragic events in U.S. history, I took a quick look back at investment market history around that time. As it turns out, the stock and bond markets had done quite well in recent years and by mid 1963, the 10-year Treasury was a bit under 4% (around the lowest rate in about a half-decade) and the stock market was near its all-time high. Whether it was a direct result of the calamity of Kennedy’s death or other factors, late 1963 was a turning point for the U.S. stock and bond markets.

2013-11-22 The Market Hits All-Time High. So What? by Dianne Lob and Ding Liu of Alliance Bernstein

With the US stock market repeatedly reaching all-time highs in recent weeks, many investors are becoming leery of investing in stocks. Focusing on the market’s level is a mistake, in our view. It’s market valuation, not level, that matters.

2013-11-21 When the Stimulus Stops, Cash Flow Matters by U.S. Equity Management team of Mesirow Financial

Several rounds of massive stimulus by the Federal Reserve has kept interest rates well below where they would otherwise be, buoying both stock and bond markets. As stock prices have reached new peaks, many professional investors consider current valuations to be stretched. When the stimulus finally stops, a new era of rising interest rates will likely take hold. And experienced investors know that rising interest rates and high valuations and can be a dangerous combination. Read more.

2013-11-21 The Fed and the Economy: “Don't Shoot Until You See the Whites of Their Eyes” by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The Federal Reserve has started to highlight “forward guidance” as a way to keep interest rates lower for longer and get the exhausted hamster off the treadmill of quantitative easing. We still think tapering remains farther off than most investors expect.

2013-11-21 An Update on the Affordable Care Act by Harlan Sonderling of Columbia Management

Regardless of one’s political views, recall that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in early 2010 was a draft House bill approved in late 2009 as a basis for reconciliation with an expected Senate bill. The law was amended only slightly in 2010, and its regulatory and operating deficiencies have become apparent with the troubled launch last month of the federal and state health insurance exchanges, a topic we will address next week.

2013-11-21 Developed Asia Pacific: Regional Economic Review Q3 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Developed Asia Pacific economies were back on their feet during the second quarter of 2013 as economic growth gained momentum, inflation fell mildly and exports climbed strongly. Most developed countries in the region such as Japan, Australia, and New Zealand reported a sharp positive swing in consumer and business confidence. Predominantly expansionary monetary and fiscal policies also helped keep the pace of economic recovery.

2013-11-21 Two Nobel Laureates...Two Tales of Value by Vitali Kalesnik of Research Affiliates

How can you build a better value stock portfolio? The key is discerning whether the value premium stems from mispricing or risk.

2013-11-21 US Stocks for a Baby Boom by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

As contrarians, we at Smead Capital Management frequently get questions about stocks like Gannett (GCI), Bank of America (BAC) and eBay (EBAY). To understand how excited we are to own these common stocks you need to understand how a long-duration common stock portfolio would benefit from the coming baby boom in the developed world. Thanks to wonderful research from The Bank Credit Analyst (BCA), we can understand the demographics of developed nations like the US. BCA concluded that a "baby boom" is coming in the US and in other developed nations.

2013-11-20 Entrepreneurship in Asia by Jerry Shih of Matthews Asia

Using Silicon Valley as a yardstick to measure the success of Asia’s entrepreneurs is an interesting exercise. But it offers little insight into the development of more creative processes in Asia. Many policymakers in the region have declared innovation to be a national, strategic prioritycreating policies aimed at spurring growth to increase R&D expenditure, attract knowledge-intensive foreign direct investment and building more skilled labor pools. This month, Jerry Shih, CFA, takes a look at what changes are occurring around Asia to build more robust start-up ecosystems.

2013-11-20 Valuing Quality by Bhavik Kothari of Diamond Hill Investments

As industry specialists, our analysts make key assumptions when we value a company, which are based on our in-depth research of a company’s future prospects. One of the most important assumptions we make is the multiple applied to future earnings to derive the terminal value of a company at the end of our explicit forecast period. The terminal multiple is a critical assumption because it typically accounts for a significant portion of our overall value and it captures a host of assumptions about the quality of the firm such as return on capital and future growth prospects.

2013-11-20 Follow the Leaders: Gold Opinions from New Orleans by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Bring together some of the brightest, most engaging minds in investing and politics inside the Hilton New Orleans Riverside Hotel along with hundreds of investors eager for market knowledge and insight, and you get the 39th Annual New Orleans Investment Conference.

2013-11-19 Some New Ideas for Holiday Gifts by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Holidays are coming. What can we do to stand out from our competition in terms of gifts or events?

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

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

2013-11-19 New Research on How Much Clients can Spend in Retirement by Wade Pfau (Article)

A major problem remains unsolved in the discipline of financial planning: How should clients adjust their spending patterns in response to changes in the value of their retirement portfolios? The original research on this topic was based on a fixed percentage of assets, adjusted for inflation. Numerous refinements to that model have been proposed, and I will look at how the updated models can help clients maintain their desired standard of living without depleting their assets.

2013-11-19 Howard Marks: Equities are Under-owned and Un-loved by Robert Huebscher (Article)

According to Oaktree’s Howard Marks, U.S. equities are ’under-owned and un-loved, and I like to buy assets like that.’

2013-11-19 Where Will the Holiday Shopping Season Lead Us This Year? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The unofficial start to the holiday shopping season kicks off in a few short days. Economic uncertainty abounds, raising fears that consumers will pull back from spending, but some positive developments suggest consumers will be just fine.

2013-11-19 A Glimpse of a Yellen-Led Fed by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper highlights some key takeaways from incoming Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen’s testimony before the Senate last week, including when the Fed is likely to taper its bond-buying program.

2013-11-19 Confronting the Tax Drag by Tom Metzold, Jim Evans, Lew Piantedosi, Peter Crowley of Eaton Vance

The impact of the “tax drag” on investor portfolios can be significant over long time frames, potentially consuming a quarter or more of every dollar earned by the average investor. As federal tax rates have risen for many investors, so too has the risk of losing a larger portion of one’s returns to taxes highlighting the need for a tax-aware investment approach. Municipal and tax-advantaged bond strategies, tax-efficient equities and solutions for high-net-worth investors can all help improve investors’ after-tax portfolio performance.

2013-11-19 Breaking News! U.S. Equity Market Overvalued! by Ben Inker of GMO

In GMO’s quarterly letter to institutional clients today, co-head of asset allocation Ben Inker outlines the reasoning behind GMO implementing a new forecast methodology for the U.S. stock market. While the new methodology has slightly increased GMO’s seven-year forecast for U.S. equity returns, Ben notes, "The basic point for us remains the same -- the U.S. stock market is trading at levels that do not seem capable of supporting the type of returns that investors have gotten used to receiving from equities."

2013-11-19 Ignoble Prizes and Appointments by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Chief investment strategist Jeremy Grantham comments on this year’s Nobel Prize in economics and "the most laughable of all assumption-based theories, the Efficient Market Hypothesis"; candidates to succeed Chairman Bernanke at the Fed; the impact of commodity price rises and the housing bubble in the crash of 2008; and prospects for the U.S. equity market.

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

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

2013-11-19 October 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

The Fed’s decision in September to maintain it’s policy of asset purchases, better known as Quantitative Easing (QE), caught the broader market by surprise. Fed “tapering” of QE was broadly expected to begin in September. The Fed’s decision to delay the reduction of QE pushed back the date upon which anticipated tapering would begin. This resulted in a meaningful rally in Treasury bond prices in September. To the surprise of many media pundits calling for ever higher interest rates, US Treasury yields ended October at 2.55%, virtually unc

2013-11-19 Levitate: Dismiss Bubble Talk for Now by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

It’s premature to be calling this market a bubble. Rolling 10 year returns haven’t even reached a long-term mean. Valuation still well below prior bull market peaks.

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 Two Investments to Consider when You're Coming off the Sidelines by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

For investors on the sidelines of the equity market, Russ offers his take on which market segments to consider now and which to remain cautious of.

2013-11-18 The ECB Rate Cut - Too Little and Too Late by John Greenwood of Invesco Blog

The decision of the European Central Bank (ECB) last week to cut its main refinancing rate from 0.5% to 0.25% and the marginal lending facility from 1.00% to 0.75% is too little and too late -- and virtually irrelevant to financial markets. The decision came after published data showed the eurozone headline consumer price index slowing to 0.7% year-on-year in October. Of course the equity markets rallied temporarily in a knee-jerk reaction to the ECB’s move, but by the end of the day most of the gains were lost.

2013-11-18 Chumps, Champs, and Bamboo by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

At bull market peaks, it often seems that the market is simply headed higher with no end in sight, and “buy-and-hold” appears superior to every alternative. Meanwhile, the reputation of value-conscious investors and risk-managers goes from “champ” to “chump.” Then, the bamboo tree suddenly sprouts, and the entire lag is often replaced by outperformance in less than a year. Only after the fact does the reputation of risk-managed strategies surge from “chump” to “champ.”

2013-11-18 Doing Well by Doing Good by Tara Thompson Popernik, Paul Robertson of AllianceBernstein

Charitable giving remains one of the few ways that US taxpayers can avoid taxes outright. If you’re philanthropically inclined, giving can be a win-win that benefits you and society at the same time.

2013-11-18 Are You Managing Volatility or Is It Managing You? by Timothy Atwill, Richard Bernstein, Eric Stein, Bradford Godfrey, Chris Sunderland of Eaton Vance

Market volatility has caused investors to make emotional decisions, resulting in performance that may have hindered their ability to reach investment goals. Eaton Vance believes that sound investment strategy should provide investors with tools for managing volatility, so the market’s inevitable fluctuations may work on their behalf. We discuss four approaches to managing volatility: reducing, navigating, harnessing and monetizing.

2013-11-17 The Unintended Consequences of ZIRP by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two recently released papers make an intellectual and theoretical case for an extended period of very low interest rates and, in combination with other papers from both inside and outside the Fed from heavyweight economists, make a strong case for beginning to taper sooner rather than later, but for accompanying that tapering with a commitment to an even more protracted period of ZIRP. We are going analyze these papers, as they are critical to understanding the future direction of Federal Reserve policy. Secondly, we’ll look at some of the unintended consequences of long-term ZIRP.

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 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Official recession calls are the responsibility of the NBER Business Cycle Dating Committee, which is understandably vague about the specific indicators on which they base their decisions. This committee statement is about as close as they get to identifying their method.

2013-11-15 Dressed to the Nines with Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While paper gold is getting the cold shoulder in the West, the Love Trade buyers in the East are wrapping their arms around all the physical gold they can get their hands on.

2013-11-15 Are You Prepared for Economic Recovery? by Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson of Hartford Funds

Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson discusses how many portfolios are out of balance today and explains why investors should consider increasing their equity exposure.

2013-11-15 The Future of the Indian Rupee Is Tied to Oil Imports by Ignatius Chithelen of Knowledge @ Wharton

The weakness or strength of the Indian rupee will continue to be largely determined by the level and costs of the country’s crude oil imports, according to Ignatius Chithelen, managing partner of Banyan Tree Capital Management.

2013-11-14 No Man is an Island by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

When your territory spans hundreds of countries on just about every continent and time zone, the importance of teamwork cannot be underestimated. I am extremely fortunate to have the support of a tremendous team of currently 90 professionals in the Templeton Emerging Markets Group, including 52 analysts and portfolio managers, spanning 26 countries and speaking 24 languages. I couldn’t do what I do without them! For the past 25 years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Tom Wu, whose research responsibilities include companies in Hong Kong and the Philippines, as well as the bank

2013-11-14 This May Sting Just a Bit: Global Diversification by Jeff Hussey of Russell Investments

Russell Investments’ global chief investment officer argues that times when global diversification falls out of favor might provide opportunities for investors.

2013-11-14 And That\'s The Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Data keeps coming fast and furious and (for the most part) it has been favorable. Investors remain torn between being ecstatic about the solid recovery or worried about the implications for another Fed move. Stocks were mixed throughout the week with the Dow Jones staying in record territory. Is that worth a Tweet (now that it’s public)?

2013-11-13 Why I Sell the Dollar: From Dollar Strength to Dollar Weakness by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

To those that say the U.S. has the cleanest of the dirty shirts, we would like to point out that it hasn’t helped the greenback, as evidenced by the euro outperforming the dollar both so far this year, as well as last year. Yes, we have a mess in the Eurozone that won’t be resolved anytime soon. But we also have a mess in the U.S., Japan, and many other places around the globe.

2013-11-13 Accenture: Continuing To Deliver A Growth Story by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Accenture (ACN) is a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company with approximately 275,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries. As of the end of fiscal year 2013, the company had revenues just shy of $29 billion and a market capitalization that was roughly double that amount. Additionally, Accenture provides services to a wide spectrum of industries ranging from Automotive and Aerospace to Energy and Travel. Effectively, Accenture wants to deliver a high performance solution to whatever problem you have on hand.

2013-11-13 When Flexibility Meets Opportunity in the European Commercial Real Estate Market by Laurent Luccioni of PIMCO

The pace of asset sales by European banks has been slower than many anticipated due to the fragile economic, political and regulatory environment across the continent. A complex CRE landscape and the pervasive effects of cognitive bias, capital rigidity and the unintended consequences of regulation mean mispricing can occur frequently. Unlocking value in this environment requires a flexible approach to investing across the capital structure and the resources to source, underwrite, structure, service and operate commercial real estate assets.

2013-11-13 Fed Research on Policy Rules by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

In a paper for last week’s IMF annual research conference, William English (head of the Federal Reserve Board’s Monetary Affairs division) discussed current monetary policy strategy, with a focus on threshold rules and forward guidance. The paper caused a stir in markets but we do not think it signals a fundamental change in Fed communication. Small changes to the so-called “Evans Rule” are possible, but the basic framework will probably remain in place even as QE tapering begins.

2013-11-13 GameStop and Our Long-Term, Contrarian Investment Approach by Jay Kaplan of The Royce Funds

Because our contrarian approach emphasizes a long-term time horizon, we tend to invest in companies that we believe have the financial wherewithal to withstand out of favor periods. GameStop used trying times to build conviction and expand its core business rather than abandoning its discipline to meet outside expectations.

2013-11-12 Beware of Financial Planning’s Misguided Rules-of-Thumb by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Lacking better insights, financial planners cling to rules of thumb, such as allocating a percentage of assets to fixed income based on a client’s age. More recently, those rules have been institutionalized through products like target-date funds, which maintain a fixed glide path for all investors. But new research has led to the development of software products that allow advisors to easily improve on the suboptimal outcomes to which clients were previously destined.

2013-11-12 The Bomb Shelter Portfolio: Maximum Income with the Least Risk by Geoff Considine (Article)

Conservative investors are faced with unappealing choices. They can reduce risk and accept low yields and high exposure to rising rates, or they can push the bounds of their risk tolerance to increase yield. My analysis shows a way out of this predicament: a “bomb shelter” portfolio of ETFs, which offers attractive yield with minimal volatility and exposure to rising rates.

2013-11-12 Three Ways to Turn Casual Contacts into Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Most advisors routinely cross paths with people who are attractive prospects, whether at their golf club, get-togethers with neighbors or through charitable activity in their community. The challenge is how to raise the possibility of working together without appearing to be one of those stereotyped hustlers who give salespeople everywhere a bad name.

2013-11-12 What Twitter’s New Millionaires Can Learn From Google by Dougal Williams (Article)

In what was one of the biggest launches this year for a technology company, social media giant Twitter had its IPO last week. The deal raised approximately $2.1 billion for Twitter, minting the biggest wave of Bay Area millionaires since 2012, when Facebook went public. Those whose bank accounts swelled as a result of Twitter’s IPO should heed the lessons learned by Google’s millionaires.

2013-11-12 Finding - and Keeping - Top Talent by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We just hired the fourth person to fill a junior role. The previous employee gave us notice after eight weeks! It is expensive, frustrating and moreover, we lose inertia every time we have to stop and train someone new. One of my senior advisors is convinced it is the newer generation; they just don’t care. I don’t believe that’s true. Are we doing something wrong or is there really a dearth of good talent?

2013-11-12 Currency Markets Show Signs of Reversal by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

A mixture of surprising economic data and changing central bank policy led to sharp moves in currency markets last week. This came after several gyrations in FX markets earlier this year. Looking forward, volatility is likely to remain, but many signs point towards a strengthening U.S. dollar.

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

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

2013-11-12 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.

2013-11-12 Big Ideas on Gold and Resources in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

For nearly four decades, curious investors have made their way to the Big Easy for a taste of New Orleans and several helpings of advice and perspective at the New Orleans Investment Conference.

2013-11-12 EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Relative Outperformance) by David Kleinberg of Universal Orbit

EPV: Establishing Predictive Value (i.e., Relative Outperformance) is a linear narrative outlining general limitations in third party data provider presentations and implied effects on peer group analytics. Reconciling the modulation of data with nomenclature is one facet of the qualitative assessments associated with quantitative analysis.

2013-11-12 Dream to Outperform the Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

If you dream about investment market outcomes which are already popular in the marketplace, your dreams can turn into nightmares. The Everly Brothers 1958 hit song, “All I have to do is Dream” tells us a great deal about the long-term posture of investors in late 2013 and how dreams can turn to nightmares. On the other hand, if you dream about an outcome which most experts aren’t expecting, the rewards can be explosive.

2013-11-11 Tech in the Time of Twitter: From Growth to Value Play by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Despite the hype surrounding Twitter’s IPO, technology is a very different industry today than it was fifteen years ago. While a few high profile companies are making headlines, the sector is no longer a growth story. Nevertheless, tech still looks attractive as a value play.

2013-11-11 A Textbook Pre-Crash Bubble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Despite the unusually extended period of speculation as a result of faith in quantitative easing, I continue to believe that normal historical regularities will exert themselves with a vengeance over the completion of this market cycle. Importantly, the market has now re-established the most hostile overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome we identify.

2013-11-11 Surprise, Surprise, Surprise! by Scott Brown of Raymond James

The economic data were mostly stronger than anticipated last week. GDP growth exceeded expectations, although the details were a bit troublesome. With everyone anticipating some impact from the partial government shutdown, nonfarm payrolls accelerated in October. Moreover, revisions to August and September, painted a much stronger picture of job growth. What does this mean for the Fed and its decision to taper?

2013-11-11 Health Care: Rx for Growth and Defense by Ted Samulowitz of Invesco Blog

The Capital Asset Pricing Model, used to price risky securities, suggests growth and defensive investments are mutually exclusive because the more an asset can return, the higher its risk must be. But growth itself can provide defensive benefits when a secular growth story occurs regardless of the business cycle.

2013-11-10 What Would Yellen Do? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In advance of this week’s confirmation hearings for Federal Reserve Board Chairperson-nominee Janet Yellen, let’s pretend we are prepping our favorite Banking Committee senator for his or her few questions. What would you like to know? In this week’s letter I offer a few questions of my own.

2013-11-09 TIPS Post Modest Returns in Third Quarter by Steve Percoco of Lark Research, Inc.

After a very rough second quarter, TIPS posted modest returns in the 2013 third quarter. By our calculations, TIPS gained 0.97% in the quarter, better than the 0.19% gain on comparable maturity straight Treasury securities. After the sharp second quarter sell-off, bargain hunters found value in the intermediate maturities for both TIPS and straight Treasurys.

2013-11-08 Who Needs Gold Really? by Miguel Perez-Santalla, Adrian Ash of BullionVault

Four reasons to waste your time with the deeply historic, deeply human value ascribed to gold...

2013-11-08 Manager Q&A: Tocqueville Gold Fund by John Hathaway, Doug Groh of Tocqueville Asset Management

In a new Q&A, John Hathaway and Doug Groh, the co-portfolio managers of the Tocqueville Gold Fund (TGLDX), answer questions about the price of gold, the relationship between the price of the commodity and gold miner stock prices, and industry consolidation amongst gold miners.

2013-11-08 China at a Crossroads by Anthony Chan of AllianceBernstein

Expectations are high that President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang, nearly one year into their likely 10-year reign, will unveil reform policies that will define China’s social and economic development over the next decade and beyond. After the proposals are made public, the new leaders must prove that they can implement substantial change without derailing the growth of the world’s second-largest economy.

2013-11-08 Penske Automotive Group: Fast Cars, Fast Growth by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

If we told you about a company that saw earnings per share drop by nearly half from $1.49 a share to $0.86 during the recession, what would you think? Before you answer, it’s important to also point out that the company suspended its dividend from late 2008 until early 2011 as well. At first blush this might seem like a worst case scenario. Usually we go about our research time looking for the best companies that have held up even in the worst of times this type of company does not fit the bill. Yet what is not readily obvious is the fact this would have been the best time to buy.

2013-11-08 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.0, down from last week’s 131.4 (revised from 131.5). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, rose to 1.8, up from 1.7 last week.

2013-11-08 Asset Allocation: Pie in the Face? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

The typical approach to spreading one’s assets in order to diversify and conquer, is to have the client complete a risk tolerance questionnaire. That survey is important not only to establish guidelines for how the assets will be managed, but also because some form of it is required by securities regulators to make sure advisors know who their clients are. The magical conclusion usually includes a color pie chart, representing a variety of asset classes that are assumed to be a path toward asset growth and preservation of capital.

2013-11-08 Government Shutdown Doesn't Shut Down Markets in October by Karen Cavanaugh of ING Investment Management

The stage was set for an October selloff, but markets treated investors to another round of across-the-board gains. Headlines comparing today’s equity market with 1999 are way off; the current rally has been driven by solid corporate fundamentals, and the market remains compellingly valued. Global economic growth remains sluggish, and eventual Fed tapering is likely to introduce volatility into markets worldwide.

2013-11-08 Equality of Opportunity by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Countless statistics show that the gap between the rich and poor has widened considerably and continues to widen. To an extreme, an economics professor at George Mason recently published a book in which he predicts the population will be divided into two groups: those who are good at working with intelligent machines, and those who can be replaced by them. This is obviously a scary outcome, but are we focusing on the wrong thing?

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.

2013-11-08 Big Ideas in the Big Easy by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

This is likely a contrarian view to the folks in the White House, but I think investors benefit from being contrarian and thinking differently. In preparation for my presentations in New Orleans as well as for the Metals & Minerals Investment Conference in San Francisco and the Mines and Money in London in a few weeks, I’ve been pulling together this kind of research that we can all put to use now.

2013-11-07 EM: The Growth Story That Isn't by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We remain very concerned about emerging market stocks and bonds. The recent outperformance of EM stocks is again luring investors to once again touch the hot stove. Emerging markets seem to have some significant structural and cyclical issues about which investors seem unaware or seem to be ignoring.

2013-11-07 Selective Value = Price plus Quality by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

A paper on backtesting results using many of the metrics that Neosho Capital utilizes when screening for equities.

2013-11-07 Global Forecast: Synchronized Growth - So Long as Governments Behave by Andrew Pease of Russell Investments

Russell Investments released its Q4 Strategists’ Outlook and Barometer report, a quarterly update to its Annual Global Outlook which helps inform the short to medium term asset allocations in Russell’s multi-asset strategies and portfolios.

2013-11-07 Upgrading Non-U.S. Equities by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

Two performance trends have stood out across world markets during 2013. The first is the strong outperformance by equities over bonds. The second is the strong returns of the U.S. stock market relative to other stock markets around the world. The Table breaks down year to date performance for the S&P 500, Eurostoxx 50, FTSE 100, Topix and MSCI Emerging Market indices. Notice that as of the end of July, equity returns in the Unites States were handily outpacing all other regions except Japan.

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.

2013-11-07 Putting Macro Trends in Context: What do They Mean to a Bottom-Up Investor? by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

For some time now, we’ve had a generally positive economic outlook. The occasional setback is assured, but on the whole we believe that the U.S. economy is still in the early stages of a multi-year recovery.

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

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

2013-11-06 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 Permabull? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

A permabull is defined as somebody who is always upbeat about the future direction of the stock market and the economy. Recently I have been called a permabull by certain members of the media, which may be true since March of 2009, but certainly not true over the past 14 years.

2013-11-05 The Advisory Profession’s Best Web Sites by Bob Veres (Article)

His firm has created more than 2,000 websites for financial advisors. Bart Wisniowski, founder and CEO of Advisor Websites, has the best seat in the house to watch the rapidly evolving state-of-the-art in website design and feature sets in this age of social media, video blogs and smartphones. In a recent interview, Wisniowski not only talked about the latest developments and trends that he’s seeing; he also identified some of the advisory profession’s most interesting and creative websites.

2013-11-05 The Key Issues in Today’s Muni Bond Market by Hildy Richelson and Stan Richelson (Article)

Investing in high quality municipal bonds paying a predictable cash flow and returning your principal at the end of the investment is a well-trodden system for lifetime economic success. In this article we discuss some key issues in purchasing municipal bonds to help you make wise choices for your investing system.

2013-11-05 Three Trends That Will Change the Game for Advisors by Steve Lockshin (Article)

This article is excerpted from Steve Lockshin’s new book, Get Wise to Your Advisor. This book makes an impassioned argument as to why clients should choose independent advisors who adhere to a fiduciary standard.

2013-11-05 How to Help Clients Who Hate the Holidays by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I deal with a number of clients who are very wealthy but are miserable around the holidays. Some are older and don’t have family members who see them, others are miserly and don’t feel they should use their money for gifts for people they don’t like. The conversation actually comes up with many of them every year, and I want to be prepared this year. Any ideas or tips?

2013-11-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Several readers respond to Bob Veres’ article, Why Deficits Don’t Matter, which was published last week. A reader responds to Adam Apt’s article, Is Gold Overpriced?, which was published Oct. 15, and a reader responds to the commentary, Scrooge McDucks, by Bill Gross of PIMCO, which appeared Oct. 31.

2013-11-05 Skepticism Still Abounds by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities were mixed last week as the markets were broadly unchanged. The October FOMC statement was a bit more hawkish than expected, causing concern that the recent delay in tapering may have been too aggressive. Other worries appear to be tail risks surrounding a possible Fed liquidity trap and accompanying asset bubbles. Economic data were mixed as markets struggle with the trade-offs between recovery and policy normalization.

2013-11-05 Ex-US Property Bubble Peaking? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

For several years now, a common storyline on China was the immense overcapacity in the country’s housing market. A mixture of easy credit policies and officials’ explicit economic growth plans based on capital investment yielded construction on a massive scale across the countryside. So-called ghost towns emerged as the pace of building and the migration of rural citizens into these cities fell out of sync.

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

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

2013-11-05 Don't Miss This Golden Cross in Resources by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

While investors have been focusing on the strengthening U.S. market, we’ve also kept our eyes on other improving indicators happening in resources, Europe, and emerging markets. These places may not be as widely popular, but we believe investors can benefit greatly from taking a view that’s different from the ones observed by the majority.

2013-11-05 Fed in Holding Pattern, but for How Long? by Christopher Molumphy of Franklin Templeton

At its October 29-30 policy meeting, the US Federal Reserve (Fed) again put off the so-called “tapering” of its $85 billion-a-month asset purchase plan, now over a year old, until some future date. In an official statement released at the conclusion of the meeting, the Fed cited fiscal policy issues as restraining growth and said it will continue its quantitative easing program (known as “QE”) until the job market improves “substantially.”

2013-11-04 Steve Jobs Didn\'t Give a *!@% About the Debt Ceiling by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

A quick nod to Bloomberg columnist Caroline Baum from whom we lifted our title. Anything else you might have been (or will be) subjected to on the subject of how the government operates pales in materiality to the headline. And as miserable as our predicament seems to anyone over the age of 13, it really and truly is old and increasingly dull news. To wit, I present the following, highly curated list of quotes-please note the timeline.

2013-11-04 Sovereign Ambitions to Develop Infrastructure Benefit Emerging Asia's Utilities Sector by Raja Mukherji, Emily Au-Yeung of PIMCO

The scope for infrastructure development in emerging Asia is tremendous, and the utilities sector has potential to contribute to and benefit from that growth. In general, we have found that state-owned utilities benefit from a range of operational advantages, partly as a result of the government’s vested interest. PIMCO’s bottom-up research allows us to analyze evolving company- and sector-specific factors within the greater macroeconomic picture to identify the best investment ideas in Asia’s utilities sector.

2013-11-04 Mortgage REITs: Last Chance to Exit? by Keith Jurow of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

An online advertisement raises the following question often asked by your clients: Can you find me more income? In a nutshell, that is the dilemma facing high net worth investors.

2013-11-04 Leash the Dogma by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

It’s fascinating to hear central bankers talk about the economy, because in the span of a few seconds they can say so many things that simply aren’t supported by the evidence. For anyone planning to watch the confirmation hearings for the next Fed Chair, the evidence below is provided as something of a leash to restrain the attacking dogma.

2013-11-04 How I Explain Amazon's Stock Performance by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Amazon (AMZN) is a stock that seems to defy conventional wisdom about how a stock is, or should be, valued. Fundamental investors, like yours truly, recognize and respect the importance of the earnings and price relationship. Moreover, I will be so bold as to emphatically state that in the long run profitability (earnings) will be the primary determinant of a businesses’ fair value, any business. However, my bold statement is predicated on the longer run. In the short run it is often a truth that all bets are off.

2013-11-04 What Price for Growth? by Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

Cloud computing and social media are bringing a level of disruption and innovation not seen in the technology sector since the dot-com era. The troubling aspect is that valuations for many of these companies seem just as stretched as Internet stocks were back then. We think investors may be paying too much for the growth inherent in these companies.

2013-11-04 The Great Stall of China by Steve Cao, Mark Jason of Invesco Blog

While China is without question the growth driver and the outperformer among Asian emerging markets, it’s clear the country is transitioning toward slower growth because of demographic factors and domestic rebalancing. In our view, China is entering a multiyear period of slower growth, but we consider its future growth robust and sustainable when compared with overall global gross domestic product (GDP) growth -- albeit below the annualized pace of more than 10% China experienced from 2001 to 2010.

2013-11-02 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.

2013-11-01 4 Reasons Japan Could Continue to be the Land of the Rising Stock Market by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Japan has been the land of rising stocks this year -- Japanese equities are up nearly 40% year-to-date. Russ explains why he believes the market offers more upside potential and a near-term opportunity for tactical investors able to hedge the currency exposure.

2013-11-01 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ere is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1720.03.

2013-11-01 Where Do Profits Go from Here? Up. Here's Why. by Joseph Tanious, Anthony Wile of J.P. Morgan Funds

After record-setting earnings in the first two quarters of 2013, the S&P 500 is on track to hit another historic high in profits for 3Q13. If this occurs, the first three quarters of this year will have been the most profitable ever in the 56-year history of the S&P 500. Future earnings growth through margin expansion seems unlikely, as an improving labor market and higher interest rates will most likely squeeze margins. However, stable revenue growth, share buybacks and the additional use of debt financing should support modest earnings gains in the year ahead.

2013-11-01 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.5, up from last week’s 131.1. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 1.7, down from 2.0 last week.

2013-11-01 Emerging Markets Equity Commentary by Team of Thomas White International

Emerging market equity prices saw a robust recovery in September as investor concerns about slower capital inflows to these markets faded after the U.S. Federal Reserve unexpectedly decided to delay the tapering of bond purchases.

2013-11-01 Korea Raises Voice for Shareholders by Soo Chang Lee of Matthews Asia

Corporate governance practices in South Korea’s family-controlled conglomerates, known as chaebol, find their roots in a social contract that was implicit in the process of the country’s economic development under military dictatorship, which began in the early 1960s. Korea’s previously autocratic government initiated economic plans and wielded power in the private sector by assigning different areas of development to each of several chosen corporate families.

2013-10-31 Third Quarter Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital

Despite the recent shenanigans in Washington concerning funding the government and raising the debt ceiling, as well as the constant news coverage of the quantitative easing “taper” that the Federal Reserve may or may not begin, we are going to spare (at least for this quarter) both you and us another long discussion of these very real issues.

2013-10-31 Global Economic Outlook by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The United States avoided a fiscal accident after Congress struck a deal to end the partial government shutdown and bought time to resolve differences over the federal budget. Assuming political discord will not result in another standoff, the U.S. economy is projected to show steady and stronger growth in 2014 compared with 2013.

2013-10-31 A Rebound in Global Equities by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

With the U.S. economic expansion entering its fifth year and the global economic picture improving, it appears equities in Europe and Asia can still rise.

2013-10-31 Fed Outlook for the Short and Longer Run by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

One of the ironies of Ben Bernanke’s tenure is that he set out with a goal to improve Fed communication while in office. Immediately after his first meeting as chairman in March 2006, Bernanke set up a subcommittee tasked with facilitating debate around communication issuesincluding inflation targeting, post-meeting statements and minutes and public speeches by individual Fed officials.

2013-10-31 The Age of Experimentation (Global Economic Outlook for Fourth Quarter 2013) by Robert Scherfke of Hartford Funds

Macroanalyst Robert Scherfke, PhD discusses the progress global economies have made since 2008 and the challenges officials face as they normalize fiscal policies.

2013-10-31 The Pillars of Commodities Investing - Part Two by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

The world has become a smaller place and in no small part because of the internet. The internet has improved access to information and services to the individual as never before. But of course it I like a two-edged sword, while it has produced many benefits for society, at the same time it has increased some risks.

2013-10-30 The Thermometer of the Stock Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

As long-duration owners of common stock, we believe it is the wealth created by the businesses which causes the owners to prosper. We have also been participants in the US stock market since 1980 and are very aware of big swings in enthusiasm for owning common stocks. So we thought it would be helpful to share our opinion on the current temperature of the market. To take the temperature of the market we need to examine the thermometer readings.

2013-10-30 The S&P 500 Has Not Been Particularly Difficult to Beat by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

I know this statement is in direct conflict with the teachings of modern finance. Modern finance provides us with multiple studies that, if taken at face value, offer a pretty convincing case that the ability to earn better than average returns is a fool’s game. Yet, our human nature cannot accept being average.

2013-10-30 Fed Tapering Could Be Off The Table Until 2014 by Michael Materasso of Franklin Templeton

Sometimes, hindsight is insight. The mystery of why the Federal Reserve didn’t start pulling back or “tapering” its prolonged quantitative easing program at its September policy meeting seems more clear now that we’ve experienced the fallout from the fraying of US fiscal policy soon thereafter, including a 16-day government shutdown in October. Given that the Congressional agreement reached in October only funds the government through January 15 and extends the debt ceiling through February 7, more political grandstandingand economic consequencescould lie ahead.

2013-10-30 Getting Back into Value Equities by Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein

It finally feels like a great time to be a value investor again. After several challenging years, market conditions have become much more conducive to finding undervalued, controversial stocks with long-term payoff potential. Even after this year’s equity-market rally, we think the value rebound is just beginning.

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

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

2013-10-29 Can Financial Engineering Cure Cancer? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Securitization and the collateralized obligations it produced led to the financial crisis and the near-collapse of the financial markets. But financial engineering’s bad reputation could turn around. Andrew Lo, a professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of its Laboratory for Financial Engineering, thinks financial engineering can cure cancer.

2013-10-29 Puerto Rico: “Always the money owing” by Hildy and Stan Richelson (Article)

We have not recommended or purchased Puerto Rico bonds for 12 years. This is not because we thought that Puerto Rico would imminently default. Rather, we did not like the low ratings and the Commonwealth’s ubiquitous and growing debt. We view an investment in bonds as a way to control risk, not to make outsized returns.

2013-10-29 Six Tips for Better Communication by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

As an industry, we lack communication and people skills. Here are six tips to complement your technical and financial abilities with communication skills.

2013-10-29 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to Michael Edesess and Kwok Tsui’s article, How Many Monkeys Does it Take to Find a Successful Strategy?, which appeared last week.

2013-10-29 We Must Avoid Seeing the New Arctic through an Old World Lens by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

It would be easy to think those with a thirst for exploration were born too late - to assume that humanity has already reached every corner of the earth there is to discover. But one region - the Arctic - still contains uncharted mysteries.

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.

2013-10-28 Low-Volatility Strategies Challenge Conventional Ideas of Risk and Return by Joseph Becker of Invesco Blog

If asked to sum up in a single word their investing experience over the last 15 years, many investors would likely say, “volatile.”

2013-10-28 The Grand Superstition by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One thing that separates humans from animals is the ability to evaluate whether there is really any actual mechanistic link between cause and effect. When we stop looking for those links, and believe that one thing causes another because “it just does” we give up the benefits of human intelligence and exchange them for the reflexive impulses of lemmings, sheep, and pigeons.

2013-10-28 For Maximum Total Return Go for Growth by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Not all investors are the same. Therefore, not all investors share the same goals and objectives. Consequently, there are numerous strategies and investing methods available to choose from. Moreover, it also goes without saying that the investment strategy that’s right for me may not be right for you. For that reason, it’s imperative that each individual looks for the strategy that is right for their own individual goals, objectives, risk tolerances and status. By status, I’m referring to how many years you have left before retirement.

2013-10-28 The Markets in a Tug of War in the Short Run by Matt Lloyd of Advisors Asset Management

As the damage to sentiment that was brought about by the Washington “Drama Club,” a somewhat cautious number has come about. On October 21, 2013, the Wall Street Journal had an article detailing margin debt hitting new highs which counteracts some of the investor sentiment numbers that are detailed by several sources. To get a better understanding, we ran the margin debt as a percentage of corporate equities over the last 25 years.

2013-10-28 Jobs, Jobs, Jobs by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following an extended delay, investors were disappointed (sort of) to learn that the September payroll report was another dud. The headline figure was below expectations, but investors were largely comforted by knowing this likely extended QE3 further into the future.

2013-10-28 The Website is Fixable, Obamacare Isn't by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Since Obamacare made its debut, discussions have focused on Ted Cruz’ efforts to defund the law and the shockingly bad functionality of the Website itself. Fortunately for Obama, polling indicates that Senator Cruz has lost, at least for now, the battle for hearts and minds. The President has not been nearly so lucky on the technological front.

2013-10-26 Portfolio Turnover: What Industry “Experts'' Are Missing by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

Drawing conclusions about tax efficiency of a money manager or other investment vehicle based solely on trading turnover is shortsighted and can cause you to bypass some very good potential investments and investment strategies. Keep that in mind as year-end portfolio tax planning rolls around.

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.

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

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

2013-10-25 Environmental Awareness in Asia by In-Bok Song of Matthews Asia

I traveled to China in September, quite possibly one of the best times of the year to visit in terms of weather. The air quality in both Beijing and Shanghai was actually pleasant and was very different from how it seemed during my previous visits as well as from the typical accounts one usually hears of the notorious smog in China’s major cities. It made me think about growing up during the industrialization of my home country, South Korea.

2013-10-25 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.1, up from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.0, down from 2.7 (a downward revision from 2.8).

2013-10-25 Quarterly Review and Outlook by Van Hoisington, Lacy Hunt of Hoisington Investment Management

When an economy is excessively over-indebted and disinflationary factors have forced central banks to make overnight interest rates as close to zero as possible, central bank policy has repeatedly proved powerless to further move inflation or growth metrics. Four considerations suggest the Fed will continue to be unsuccessful in engineering stronger growth and higher inflation with their continuation of the current program of Large Scale Asset Purchases.

2013-10-24 Risk-On Returns by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

Ultra loose U.S. monetary policy continues pushing asset values higher at home and abroad. Seasonal factors should also provide a tailwind and lift asset prices across nearly every investment class.

2013-10-24 Trying to Stop a Bull Market Has Risks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

U.S. stocks have been on a tear. The S&P 500 Index has climbed a surprising 20 percent so far this year, as a global synchronized recovery takes shape and funds flow back to equities. As I often say, investors take risks when they try to stop a bull run, and plenty of data suggest you might regret taking that action this year.

2013-10-24 Africa's “Glass With Attitude” by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton

Africa has been an area of interest to our team, for many reasons. One might say Africa’s biggest asset is its youthful population. With a median age of under 20 in many countries today, that means a very high portion of Africa’s population is dependent on the adult workforce. Tomorrow, however, it means that the workforce will be massive, and the ratio of dependents to workers (the dependency ratio) could be among the lowest in the world. This huge and youthful population is a key rationale for our interest there.

2013-10-24 Putting Tax-Deferred Accounts to Best Use by Kathleen Fisher, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

The common wisdom about retirement planning is to fund tax-deferred vehicles such as 401(k) plans and IRAs to the maxand we agree. But how to put these accounts to best use is more complicated.

2013-10-24 Going Defensive? 3 Things to Consider First by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With the threat of a default merely pushed out a few months, many investors continue to allocate to so-called “defensive” investments. However, because going defensive is not a free lunch, Russ says it’s important for investors to consider three aspects of their potential defensive postures.

2013-10-23 The Right Investment Vehicle by Craig French of WBI Investments

Remember your first car? You probably had some good times in it passing your driver’s license exam, going to the prom, driving to your first job. You most likely have a different car now that you’re older one more suited to your current lifestyle and needs. I’ll bet your current car is a lot safer and more reliable than that first one. A car is a motor vehicle you use to reach your destination. Like a car, an investment portfolio is a vehicle you use to reach your clients investment goals.

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

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

2013-10-23 What a Yellen Fed Could Mean for Interest Rates by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

A major question among investors after Janet Yellen’s nomination for Fed Chair is whether she will be too soft on inflation. Part of Yellen’s dovish reputation stems from a debate among the FOMC in July 1996, in which she warned the committee about the risks of pushing inflation too low. With the passage of time, however, the views Yellen expressed at that meeting now come across as very sensible. Indeed, today they would be considered uncontroversial among most economists. In reality Yellen is closer to the Fed consensus on inflation than her reputation in markets would suggest.

2013-10-23 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The portfolio enjoyed another index-beating month with a gain of 0.9% versus 0.6%, so improving further the long term numbers. As noted in previous Bulletins, correlations between growth and equity market returns are low. Investors remain fixated otherwise, but some confusion is reasonable given that growth in earnings per share is also slowing. Yet strong equity markets can be justified by the Free Lunch Theory.

2013-10-23 Can Kicked Down the Road Once Again... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Donkeys 1, Elephants 0, Congress -535. The can was kicked down the road once again. We would all like to think that Congress will avoid another last minute battle in early 2014, but unfortunately we can’t put it past the current list of non-negotiators. The only thing that is certain in the future is that it will be many election cycles before a member of Congress makes it into the World Series of U.S. Presidential ballots.

2013-10-23 Positioning for Municipal Market Volatility by Joseph Deane, David Hammer, Sean McCarthy of PIMCO

We do not anticipate a significant increase in the frequency of municipal defaults, but there are pockets of credit stress in U.S. municipalities and territories, particularly those with unfunded pension obligations and unsustainable budget imbalances. Large concentrations of exposure to Puerto Rico within subsets of the municipal market will likely lead to an increase in spread volatility across other municipal sectors in the coming quarters.

2013-10-23 Economic & Capital Market Summary by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

It has been five years since the Financial Crisis wreaked havoc on the economy and capital markets. With equity markets trading near record highs and new issue corporate bonds coming to market regularly, the capital markets have largely recovered. However, we are concerned that the economic recovery is just an illusion that exists in spite of the efforts in Washington D.C. to kill it.

2013-10-23 Cirque du Ben by Liam Molloy, Charlie Mas of Galway Investment Strategy

The Cirque du Ben will soon be leaving town for good. Some have cheered while others have watched in horror waiting for the disaster, but all were treated to a high wire act unlike any other Fed chairman has ever performed. Fed chairmen are often defined by the consequences of the previous performer. Bernanke had a couple of tough acts to follow in Volcker and Greenspan. Volcker had to guide an economy out of stagflation while Greenspan presided over 9/11, two recessions, and a full market crash in 1987. By the end of his his show, Greenspan had an oversized influence on policy.

2013-10-22 Is Your Website Sending the Wrong Message? by Dan Richards (Article)

Presenting yourself in a credible and professional manner is always critical, but never more than in the early stages of interacting with prospects, when they are forming their initial impressions. That’s why your website is so important after all, it’s the first contact many prospects will have with you.

2013-10-22 Managing Old-School Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

One of our top advisors is still putting client notes into paper-based folders. He’s a senior guy who has an old-school work style. How can I make him understand he can’t be singled out and treated differently?

2013-10-22 How Many Monkeys Does it Take to Find a Successful Strategy? by Michael Edesess and Kwok L. Tsui (Article)

Give a monkey enough darts and she will eventually hit the bulls-eye on a dartboard. We wouldn’t dare consider that monkey an expert dart thrower, but investment professionals have been using essentially that same logic to assert that their strategies often called “smart betas” will outperform the market. New research exposes the faulty mathematics upon which such claims are based.

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

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

2013-10-22 Inching Closer by Sponsored Content from Janus Capital Group (Article)

How is the recent flooding in Colorado related to global economies and the financial crisis of 2008? Get a unique perspective from Colleen Denzler, CFA, Janus’ Global Head of Fixed Income Strategy, on how global economies are grappling to wean themselves off government support and grow their economies from within.

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 Earnings Season Hides in the Government Shadow by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Lost in all the discussion about Washington is the fact earnings season is in full swing.It is shaping up to be another interesting reporting season, on account of volatility in the markets and economy.So far, companies are beating expectations, but the broader trend is lower.

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 Boys Are Back in Town by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The boys are indeed back in town as Washington D.C. opened its doors for business as usual last week following a contentious debt ceiling debate and a 16-day shutdown of the government. This outcome had been anticipated in these letters for often-stated reasons, and just like when the ”fiscal cliff” was averted, I now expect the media to turn its focus to the next Armageddon.

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.

2013-10-22 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review - 3Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Economic activity in the Middle-East and North Africa (MENA) has been hindered by prolonged political unrest and civil strife. The region’s vulnerability has increased over the last two years due to mounting structural challenges. What’s more, widening fiscal deficits due to the economic slowdown and dwindling foreign currency reserves remain sources of concern, as noted by a World Bank report.

2013-10-21 Closed-End Fund Review by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

The third quarter was a challenging one for many categories of the closed-end fund marketplace.

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.

2013-10-21 Looking Past the Politics: What Does the Market Need to Grow? by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog

As the tone of the debt ceiling negotiations in Washington wavered over the past several days, equity markets rose and fell in kind. While lawmakers were able to come to a last-minute agreement to raise the debt ceiling and end the 16-day federal government shutdown, the key to putting the markets on a solid foundation for the longer term is for corporations to generate earnings growth through increased revenues.

2013-10-21 Fourth Quarter Investment Outlook by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

The macro theme of the fourth quarter and early 2014 is monetary reflation and global growth resynchronization. The Fed’s surprising decision to postpone tapering its QE program will likely encourage further risk-taking. In the meantime, we observe increasing signs of a synchronized improvement among the four important economies - the United States, Europe, Japan and China.

2013-10-21 Europe Turning a Corner? by Brandon Odenath of J.P. Morgan Funds

Since late last year, investors have seen periods of strong outperformance by assets from the most impacted parts of Europe, leaving many observers wondering if Europe is turning a corner. Intervention by the ECB and the ability of those liquidity injections to stop the bleeding in the economy has helped. The reduction of austerity and drag coming from fiscal policy should be the key to faster economic growth.

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 Just Like Yesterday by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, with help from Chetan Parikh, of India’s Capital Ideas Online, provides excerpts from and commentary on a 1971 speech by iconic investor David L. Babson. He begins by noting: "It is eerie how timely this speech, delivered 42 years ago, remains today."

2013-10-18 Connecting the DOTs: The Role of North America's Emerging Markets' in Achieving Energy Independence by John Devir of PIMCO

The midstream energy sector is likely to grow more quickly than the overall U.S. economy over the next several years, creating the potential for attractive investment opportunities. North Dakota, Oklahoma and Texas, or the “DOTs” for short, stand to disproportionally benefit from strong growth in onshore U.S. oil and gas shale development. PIMCO’s approach is to identify and invest in the companies, including pipeline operating companies, favorably positioned to benefit from prolific oil production.

2013-10-18 Despite Uncertainty, the Market Still Looks Strong by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

Although it was an ugly battle, on Thursday morning October 17 President Obama signed a bill that reopened the government into January 2014 and raised the debt ceiling until early February of next year.

2013-10-18 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down from last week’s 130.3 (revised from 130.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, dropped to 2.8, down from 3.6 (a downward revision from 3.9).

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 Trying To Beat The Market Is A Fool's Errand by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Proponents of indexing as the best investment strategy seemed to take great delight in reporting how the vast majority of professionally managed portfolios (mutual funds, separately managed accounts, hedge funds, ETFs, etc.) fail to outperform the S&P 500. Therefore, they argue, it is best not to even try. Investors should simply invest in index funds and forget about it.

2013-10-18 Trying to Stop a Bull Market Has Risks by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

U.S. stocks have been on a tear. The S&P 500 Index has climbed a surprising 20 percent so far this year, as a global synchronized recovery takes shape and funds flow back to equities. As I often say, investors take risks when they try to stop a bull run, and plenty of data suggest you might regret taking that action this year.

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

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

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

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

2013-10-17 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

2013-10-17 Yellen to the Rescue? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

While Democrats and Republicans fight with water pistols, the President may be readying a bazooka by nominating Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as Fed Chair. You may want to hold on to your wallet; let me explain.

2013-10-17 Scare Tactics by Jerry Wagner of Flexible Plan Investments

I thought that we still had two and a half weeks until Halloween. You’d never know it from the frightening tales from Washington, D.C. Just as the government shutdown was to have been a near world-ending event, the impending debt ceiling should be named Armageddon II.

2013-10-17 Global Brand Companies: Well Positioned to Deploy Incremental Capital at High Rates of Return by Jenny Hubbard of Diamond Hill Investments

Achieving an optimal balance between growth and return on invested capital is critically important to value creation. Many discretionary product companies attain this equilibrium for a short period of time, but fickle and geographically divergent consumer preferences make it challenging to sustain over the long-term.

2013-10-17 Politics Secondary to US Equity Fundamentals by Grant Bowers of Franklin Templeton

It’s easy to get caught up in the tense drama surrounding the government shutdown and the debt ceiling squabble between Congressional Republicans and Democrats, but Grant Bowers, portfolio manager of Franklin Growth Opportunities Fund, maintains that looking beyond the political posturing and focusing instead on US corporate fundamentals is his preferred approach. Read on for more from Bowers on how he views the issues at hand, and why, even in the face of another political showdown in the Capitol, he thinks the US still presents a strong investment case.

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.

2013-10-16 The Role of Gold in an Investment Portfolio by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

As stock markets gyrate with each new economic crisis in the U.S. and abroad, advisors are scrambling to find ways to protect against a precipitous market slide. Can you assure your clients that their portfolios have effective insurance against a severe jolt to the capital markets?

2013-10-16 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Since the end of September, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by almost $443 million. Assets in the two largest categories “Short Term Bond” and “Global Bond” fell by $61 million and $12.77 respectively. The “Foreign Bond” category also fell, by $19.38 million. The largest gain was in “Currency” active ETFs, which added an impressive $499.5 million in value due to flows into one fund.

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.

2013-10-16 Being Contrarian Could Lead to 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.

2013-10-15 Is Gold Overpriced? by Adam Jared Apt (Article)

New research, based on an econometric model of gold prices, has attempted to answer the question, “Is gold overpriced?”

2013-10-15 A Better Way to Measure Risk Tolerance by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

In building financial plans, asset-allocation recommendations must recognize the client’s ability to absorb risk. To aid in this assessment, advisors often use risk-tolerance questionnaires, but these tools have shortcomings. The evolving field of brain science can help to design better questionnaires.

2013-10-15 A Q3 client letter: Mike Tyson on Sticking to Your Plan by Dan Richards (Article)

Each quarter I post a template for a client letter, as a starting point for advisors who want to send clients an overview of the three months that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead.

2013-10-15 Why Customized Content Beats Canned Content by Neil Rhein (Article)

If you’re communicating syndicated (“canned”) content that is similar (or identical) to what every other advisor is saying, you’re just adding to the noise.

2013-10-15 Why You Need Video on Your Web Site by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We are upgrading our website, which is used mostly for clients now. We want to attract more prospects. I’ve been told that video is important, but the cost of adding this could be several thousand dollars per video. Will adding video give me an increased ROI? I don’t believe in this busy world that anyone watches this stuff.

2013-10-15 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Readers respond to Robert Huebscher’s article, The Futility of the Endowment Model, which appeared last week.

2013-10-15 The Science of Forensic Accounting by Sudarshan Murthy of Matthews Asia

The financial reporting of corporations in Asia is complex, and having a solid grasp of all the nuances involved in these accounting practices is critical when making investment decisions. This month Research Analyst Sudarshan Murthy, CFA, kicks off the first in a series of commentaries on the science of forensic accounting. This first issue focuses on “the numbers,” and examines what is considered in order to understand a company’s accounting decisions and the implications they can have on financial reports.

2013-10-15 6 Truths About D.C.'s Debt Debacle by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper highlights what every investor should know about the ongoing fiscal crisis in Washington and what to expect from Congress and the Fed.

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 Equity Market Review & Outlook by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

Equities generally performed well across the board in the third quarter. The S&P 500 Index’s solid 5.24% return built on strong gains from earlier in the year. The Index has returned more than 19% through September, surpassing expectations at the start of the year. Slow but steady economic growth in the US, support from the Federal Reserve (the Fed), and more recently, signs of potentially better growth in Europe and Asia have been important positive catalysts.

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 Short Horizon, Long Horizon by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

On all evidence, we’re far more inclined to view the position of stock prices as a temporary overextension of already extreme conditions than some durable change in the workings of the financial markets.

2013-10-14 A Look at “Stale Data” (Not Due to Gov't Shutdown) and Housing by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I am confident that some type of deal will be reached to avert a default. And, let’s keep in mind that, according to the CBO, the 10/17 deadline is really just a deadline to start making decisions about what to pay with the remaining $30 or so billion as they project another one or two weeks before the “day of reckoning” when there is only enough money to pay about 70% of the government’s bills which bills to pay.

2013-10-14 What Uncle Sam Taketh Away, You Can Give Back (and Get a Tax Deduction) by Kathleen Fisher, Tara Thompson Popernik of AllianceBernstein

The government shutdown, now in its second week, has temporarily stopped the flow of government funding for many worthy organizations and may strain the resources of others. Federal grant administration is being delayed. For example, the grant administration staff at the National Institutes of Health has been furloughed; that may stop or slow grants for medical research.

2013-10-14 Me and My Horse by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

This is not a story about getting back on the horse that throws you. It is about just staying on the horse. It is also a market story.

2013-10-14 Move Along, Market: It's Only a Gaper's Delay by Rick Golod of Invesco Blog

After several days of stalemate between the White House and Congress, House Republicans have offered a six-week debt ceiling extension conditional on negotiating a package of fiscal concessions. The debt ceiling offer is straightforward, but the shutdown would continue until the fiscal concessions are agreed on. While this may dampen the economy and equity market, at least in the short run, I believe long-term investors should stay put and be patient.

2013-10-12 A Special Note on Potential Government Debt Default by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We find it incredible that the government is, once again, on the verge of a default on US debt. Although we doubt that the US will actually default, it is unfathomable that elected officials would even consider such an event. Worse yet, some officials apparently believe that a default might benefit the US.

2013-10-12 Debt Ceiling Delusions by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The popular take on the current debt ceiling stand-off is that the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party has a delusional belief that it can hit the brakes on new debt creation without bringing on an economic catastrophe. While Republicans are indeed kidding themselves if they believe that their actions will not unleash deep economic turmoil, there are much deeper and more significant delusions on the other side of the aisle.

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.

2013-10-12 Sometimes They Ring a Bell by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Three items have come across my screen in the past month that, taken together, truly do signal a major turning point in how energy is discovered, transported, and transformed. And while we’ll start with a story that most of us are somewhat aware of, there is an even larger transformation happening that I think argues against the negative research that has come out in the last few years about the reduced potential for growth in the world economy.

2013-10-11 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.

2013-10-10 Can You Hear Me Now? by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

Under normal circumstances, I provide insight and analysis on the monthly jobs report at the beginning of each month. This month Washington politics has interrupted my routine with the partial government shutdown postponing several important data releases this week and pessimistically next week as well. Not only that but several agencies have completely shut down their websites denying access to already released data and historical databases, which is completely unnecessary.

2013-10-10 What Is Due Diligence? Here's How I Do It by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The lexicon of the financial world is full of phrases and jargon that are often tossed about without considering that there may be those who are not exactly familiar with the true meaning of the terms. It recently came to my attention that due diligence may be one of those idioms. In my own writings, I routinely recommend that readers conduct their own due diligence and/or comprehensive research. However, I recently had a reader ask me exactly what due diligence was and how to do it?

2013-10-10 The Fire Fueling Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Gold took quite a beating in September, bucking its seasonal average monthly return of 2.3 percent. The political battle between President Barack Obama and Congress, China’s Golden Week, and India’s gold import restrictions likely weighed on the metal.

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

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

2013-10-09 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?

2013-10-09 The Squeeze Play by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

Reductions in Treasury bill and commercial paper issuance compounded by developments on the demand side mean the “squeeze play” is on for many short-term portfolios. Investors should consider the potential for substantive changes to liquidity conditions as banks contend with increases in capital requirements due to updated Basel III regulations. Active management of short-term investments is important: Don’t rely on static regulatory frameworks or traditional indexes to determine a portfolio’s unique liquidity needs.

2013-10-09 Taper Time - Mining, That Is by Adam Bowe, Robert Mead of PIMCO

Recent data suggest that mining investment is tapering, with the sector detracting from real growth in the first half of 2013. We see three possible growth scenarios: a handoff to the corporate sector; no handoff, with demand continuing to slow; or a handoff to the highly levered household sector, which would create long-term risks. Until we see meaningful signs of a growth handoff from the mining sector to a new balance sheet that has the capacity to expand, our base case calls for sub-trend growth and low interest rates, supporting bond prices over the cyclical horizon.

2013-10-09 Gold Strategy Investor Letter, Q3 2013 by John Hathaway of Tocqueville Asset Management

We believe the gold market is set up for a major advance, but recognize that the timing of a turn has been elusive and frustrating. The longer current Fed policies remain in force, the greater the potential disruption to financial markets when it changes, most likely due to events yet unforeseen. Still, conventional economic commentary remains confident of Fed competence to unwind its balance sheet. When this confidence dissipates, as we expect, investment demand for gold will resurface in the most forceful manner.

2013-10-09 Fixed-Income Sector Report - High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook by Team of Guggenheim Partners

Fundamental factors underlying the corporate sector continue to underscore our constructive stance on leveraged credit, however, investors should prepare for heightened Q4 volatility amid shifting technical dynamics in the bank loan market.

2013-10-09 Getting Serious About Investing Responsibly by Luke Spajic, Josh Olazabal of PIMCO

To date, much of ESG-related investing has focused on negative screening, but we believe there is a better approach. This approach rests on three pillars: identifying and analyzing key ESG issues facing a given investment sector, engaging with the issuers of securities, and supporting the development of markets for ESG investments.

2013-10-09 Emerging Values by Cliff Stanton of Envestnet

The current valuations and fundamentals in Emerging Markets make for an attractive entry point, if you can stomach the increased volatility and risk associated with the asset class.

2013-10-08 The Futility of the Endowment Model by Robert Huebscher (Article)

In the past two decades, the so-called endowment model has been adopted by hundreds of endowments, foundations and advisors particularly those serving ultra-high-net-worth clients. By aggressively allocating to illiquid alternative asset classes, those investors hoped to duplicate the results of Yale and other top-tier institutions. New research exposes the futility of those efforts.

2013-10-08 When Your Succession Plan Is Derailed by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I hired a young guy in three years ago with the expectation I would give him ownership and have him eventually take over the business. I want to wind down and have been giving him a large percentage of my clients to manage. Lately he has been talking about moving back to where his wife’s parents live. He said he isn’t sure if this business is right for him. How do I get him to make a decision?

2013-10-08 The Market May Be Signaling a Return to a More Typical Recovery by Whitney George of The Royce Funds

Despite the Fed’s indecision about whether or not to taper, we see evidence that business activity is normalizing and the global economy is getting healthier. Co-CIO, Managing Director, and Portfolio Manager Whitney George talks about how economically sensitive sectors have begun to benefit from rising rates in the small-cap rally, how recent news coming out of China has affected certain portfolio investments, where he is currently seeing long-term opportunities, and stocks in which he has high confidence.

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 Maybe Mark Twain Said It Best... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

President Barack Obama and his top economic officials appear to be pushing for some market unrest to exert pressure on the GOP to throw in the towel. Asked in his CNBC interview Wednesday whether Wall Street is right to remain calm over the standoff, Mr. Obama replied: “No.”

2013-10-08 Absolute Return Letter: Heads or tails? by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees, Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Demographics captivate me. There are around 7.1 billion of us occupying planet earth today, going to 10 billion by 2050. I often think about how good old mother earth will cope with the additional 3 billion people we are projected to produce between now and 2050. More people translate into increased pressure on already scarce resources, but that is only part of the story and a story well covered by now.

2013-10-07 Auto Focus: Voluntary Plans Morphing to Mandatory? by Jon Vogler of Invesco

The American private retirement system has historically been voluntary. Employers first decide whether they’re going to sponsor a plan and then select the plan’s features. But over the last several years, focus has intensified on two criticisms of the voluntary system.

2013-10-07 Goose Bump Stuff... by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Scientific research and discovery has always been an important aspect of American life. This, in itself, should make us hopeful.

2013-10-07 A Decade of Low Volatility with High Dividends by Ryan Issakainen of First Trust Advisors

Over the past few years, both “low volatility” and “dividend” strategies have resonated with ETF investors, many of whom were seeking more conservative approaches by which to increase exposure to stocks. Adding further demand for these strategies is a growing body of evidence that suggests an association between both factors and improved risk-adjusted returns.

2013-10-07 The Real Cause of Bank Failures by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

My favorite section money and investment is a shell compared to what it was like 20 years. Still, many times there are gems to be read. In February 2013 under the section Heard On The Street was a piece written by David Reilly entitled Too Big to Fail Casts a Very Long Shadow and it put real fear in me.

2013-10-07 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.

2013-10-07 Ted Williams, Ford F-150\'s, and Market Valuations by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

In late 2008 Lehman Brothers had just collapsed, AIG needed help from the US government and markets around the world were in a tailspin. Today, five short years later, we find it strange how the strength of the stock market defies a climate of declining earnings. With another quarter of corporate results behind us, equities continue to rally despite corporate earnings offering no material support, with many companies actually talking down their future growth prospects.

2013-10-07 When Economic Data is Worse Than Useless by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Investors and analysts fall over themselves daily to analyze and interpret the latest data from regional Fed surveys (e.g. Philly Fed, Empire Manufacturing), purchasing managers indices (e.g. national manufacturing, national services, regional PMIs), and other economic measures (e.g. new unemployment claims, average weekly hours). The problem is that virtually all of these measures have become not only uncorrelated with subsequent economic outcomes, but negatively correlated with subsequent outcomes.

2013-10-07 Charles Wheelan’s Tips for Separating Economic Truth from Fiction by Jeff Briskin (Article)

The world of numerical obfuscation is a topic covered in an informative and surprisingly entertaining statistics primer’ by economist Charles Wheelan. In a recent conversation with Wheelan, we discussed his book and the lessons it offers to financial advisors, whose decision-making processes are influenced by the seemingly endless stream of economic and market data posted every day.

2013-10-05 Pinch Yourself. U.S. Stock Markets Have Grown 145% in Four-Plus Years by Ron Surz of PPCA

Thankfully, 2008 has become a distant memory. We’ve made back its 37% loss and a lot more. Things are good, but are they going to stay that way? We still face anemic economic growth, burgeoning debt, global social unrest and more. The S&P 500 has returned 145% in the past 55 months (4.5 years).

2013-10-05 The Road to a New Medical Order by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I will aim to dwell simply on the economic ramifications of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, as it exists today. We are changing the plumbing on 17.9% of the US GDP in profound ways. Many, if not most, of the changes are absolutely necessary.

2013-10-04 Nowhere to Hide: Navigating Rising Rate Risk in High-Yield Markets by Gibson Smith, Colleen Denzler of Janus Capital Group

Over the past few years, investors have flocked to high-yield credit, many believing it a good way to mitigate their interest rate risk as well as capture additional yield. However, they may not realize the level of rate risk that has followed them. High-yield indices, negatively correlated to five-year Treasury bond yields over the past 15 years, have been positively correlated for the past year.

2013-10-04 After Detroit: Rigorous Research and Credit Selection Is the Key to Investing in Municipal Bonds by David Hammer, Sean McCarthy of PIMCO

Detroit recently declared bankruptcy, setting off the largest municipal Chapter 9 proceeding in history. There has been and will continue to be a lot of noise in the media, underscoring challenges but also presenting opportunity for experienced investors. PIMCO has long favored special revenue essential service bonds over GO bonds. Detroit Water and Sewer bonds are payable by a pledge of and statutory lien on net revenues of the water or sewer system, and as such benefit from provisions in the federal bankruptcy code ensuring that the pledge is not affected by the petition.

2013-10-04 The New Normalization of Fed Policy by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

The Fed is sending a message that the unwinding of its extraordinary accommodation will be done with great care and patience, and will take time - a long time. In delaying a taper, not only did the Fed show markets it has little tolerance for any tightening of financial conditions, it also strengthened its forward guidance considerably. The Fed’s decision to delay a taper will likely relieve some of the upward pressure on longer-term interest rates.

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 The Debt Ceiling Drama is Heating Up by Team of Northern Trust

The debt ceiling drama is heating up. Threatening default is reckless, but long-term budget issues require attention. Measures of policy uncertainty show a link to economic performance

2013-10-04 What Is The Correct Discount Rate To Use? Part 2B by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

One of the most widely-accepted and utilized methods of valuing a business in today’s world of modern finance is discounted cash flow (DCF) analysis. Obviously, in order to calculate valuation, practitioners must rely on mathematical formulas. However, the challenge with utilizing mathematical formulas to determine the net present value (NPV) of a future stream of income is in determining the proper inputs. Consequently, the accuracy of our result is subject to the principle “garbage in garbage out.”

2013-10-04 Washington's Prolonged Saga and the Market's Reaction by Josh Timmons and Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

The federal government shutdown represents yet another self-inflicted wound to already modest growth. While the market seems to be mostly sanguine about the government shutdown, a breach of the debt ceiling which we feel is highly unlikely would be incredibly negative for financial markets.

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 Ten Other Things that Should be Shut Down by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

In order to avoid getting too P.O.’d (that’s either a slang term for angry or a pun on the Post Office, take your pick), I asked the Sungarden investment, operations and marketing teams to provide me with their opinions on what else to shut down. I combined their thoughtful work with my own thinking on the topic and here is our top 10 list.

2013-10-04 Introducing the Tortoise Economy by Sam Stewart of Wasatch Funds

All things considered, large U.S. companies that operate globally appear to be particularly attractive right now. Because many of these companies are generating significant portions of their sales outside the U.S., investors are effectively getting some international exposure with what I consider to be more-quantifiable risks.

2013-10-04 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.1, down from last week’s 132.9. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) to one decimal place, remains unchanged at 4.8% (with last week’s number revised downward from 4.9).

2013-10-03 More Heat Than Light by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Following their surprising decision to maintain the current pace of quantitative easing (QE), Fed officials provided more detailed reasoning last week in public remarks and interviews with media outlets. Unfortunately, the latest comments added more heat than light to the QE debate in our view. Much like Chairman Bernanke’s post-meeting press conference, officials expressed contradictory views on several major policy questions.

2013-10-03 Survival of the Fittest? by William Gross of PIMCO

I hate crows and my wife Sue hates bugs, but like most married couples we have learned to live with our differences. Crows eat bugs though, and bugs eat bugs, and that scientific observation sets the context for the next few paragraphs of this month’s Investment Outlook.

2013-10-03 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the Americas: A Slow-Moving Fed Benefits Economies on Both Continents by Mohit Mittal, Lupin Rahman, Ed Devlin of PIMCO

PIMCO expects the U.S. economy to grow 2.0%2.5% over the next year. However, a continued government shutdown would be a drag on growth. In Latin America, we see growth picking up to 3.0%3.5%, but the outlook varies by country. Mexico should fare well, but Brazil’s story is more mixed. In Canada, we believe the housing correction will be less severe than many are predicting, and we expect GDP to grow 1.5%2.0% over the cyclical horizon.

2013-10-02 The Death Knell of Global Synchronized Trade by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

At Smead Capital Management, we believe the interest on September 18th in emerging markets, oil and gold are the last gasps of a dying trend. Our discipline demands that you must avoid popular investments and completely avoid investments attached to a perceived “new era.” We argue that the international investment markets reaction to Bernanke’s reprieve on September 18th is proof of a vision we have of the future.

2013-10-02 Handing Down Your Legacy - A Special Gift For Readers by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

No one likes to talk about death. Many people put off planning for this contingency because it’s just not pleasant to think about. Additionally, most young people think that death is a long way off, so they have plenty of time to plan for it. But as we all know, accidents happen and no one knows exactly when their time will come.

2013-10-02 Odd, Another Opposite Reaction, Gold and Silver Trade Lower... by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Today’s government shutdown and the looming threat of negotiating over the debt ceiling should drive gold and silver higher. However, not unlike what we saw during the first week of the Sequestration in March, gold and silver have been sold off. Silver is holding better than gold against the onslaught having dropped only 2.56% while gold is down nearly 3%.

2013-10-02 And That\'s The Week That Was by Rob Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Move over Ben BernankeTed Cruz has the floor. (Somehow investors seem more interested when Dr. B speaks.) With politicos facing debates on debt ceilings and budget funding, few have confidence that they can act reasonably and with compromise (and the Cruz debacle did not help matters). Stocks fell over five consecutive days as portfolio managers set up positions for the next quarter. Labor and manufacturing releases highlight a hectic week on the economic calendar, but shenanigans from DC may steal the headlines.

2013-10-02 Quarterly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Many of us bear emotional scars from the excesses of a debt-driven, casino-like mid-2000 decade. The last recession was punctuated by lost jobs, lowering wages, diminishing portfolio valuations, putrid returns on cash savings, and a total decimation of confidence in the so-called “Titans” who drove the Wall Street bus during that period.

2013-10-02 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

Effective October 1st, the health exchanges are open for business and enrollment can occur over the next 90 days. It will be interesting to see just how many people feel compelled to sign up under the individual mandate. While the premiums are not inexpensive for most of the eligible people, many will receive tax credits to help offset the cost. Nonetheless, others will find it a significant burden to the budget, and there is great debate over just how this will affect the economy long-term.

2013-10-01 Bracing for a Beltway Bombshell by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

With Washington mired in a fiscal gridlock, investors need to be prepared for short-term volatility. But buying on the dip and boosting exposure to risk assets can keep their long-term goals from getting jammed up, says Kristina Hooper.

2013-10-01 Money Can Buy Happiness by Justin Kermond (Article)

Extensive research has shown that the act of buying life experiences and giving money away can make people happier than buying material items does.

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

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

2013-10-01 The Key Succession Issues for an Advisory Practice by Bob Veres (Article)

Succession planning has moved to the top of the practice management priority list for tens of thousands of advisory firms. As the average age of founder/advisors creeps ever closer to traditional retirement age, the profession is asking itself a lot of hard questions about how to keep these businesses alive and take care of clients after the founder retires.

2013-10-01 The Eight Principles of Value Investing by Scott Clemons and Michael Kim (Article)

In any environment, but especially one characterized by uncertainty, eight principles of investing are critical. These bedrock beliefs help guide our thinking at the levels of asset allocation, security selection and identification of the third-party managers we engage to help manage our clients’ assets.

2013-10-01 When Employees Can’t Get Along by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have two employees who do not like one another. I have talked with them to let them know how disruptive their behavior is. Should I fire one? Should I take sides? I’m a mother at home, but don’t feel like I need to be one in the office.

2013-10-01 Europe Pokes Its Head Out From the Shadows by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

With all the focus on affairs in the US, China and developing nations, Europe has largely been given a free pass in recent months. The lack of attention gave Europe the opportunity to fix some of its troubles, but challenges remain and are likely to surface in the weeks ahead.

2013-10-01 Putin's Gambit by Bill OGrady of Confluence Investment Management

Earlier this month, President Obama found himself in a very difficult position regarding Syria. An ill-advised comment about making the use of chemical weapons a “red line” forced a response when the weapons were clearly used in Syria. The administration began moving toward a military response. However, support for military operations was lacking both domestically and internationally. The clearest signal of this opposition was the British Parliament’s vote to prevent P.M. Cameron from authorizing military action in support of the expected U.S. military strike.

2013-10-01 The Most Predictable Economic Crisis? by Axel Merk of Merk Investments

Forget about a government shutdown. The quibbling over concessions to keep the government funded distracts from what might be the most predictable economic crisis. We have problems that may affect everything from the value of the U.S. dollar to investors’ savings, but also to national security.

2013-10-01 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewHere is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1687.17. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1681.55. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

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 The House at Main and Wall by Justin Speer of Invesco Blog

This four-part series tracks the recent US housing recovery and explains why investors should be both encouraged and cautious. Part 4 looks at pockets of investment opportunity on Main Street. Part 1 traced the recovery’s trajectory against the backdrop of the overall US economy. Part 2 examined affordability and interest rates, while Part 3 discussed why homebuilders’ stocks may potentially be overvalued.

2013-09-30 The Global Sea Change Continues by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

Most investors will readily admit the global credit bubble is deflating, yet continue to favor credit-based asset classes within their portfolios. Whereas many investors still believe that the emerging markets are a growth story, the data tell us that U.S. investors can find growth in their own backyard.

2013-09-30 Investing In Corporate Bonds: The Compelling Case For Active Management by Ed Devlin, Michael Kim of PIMCO

Passive investment returns in the Canadian corporate bond market have been unimpressive because of the way corporate bond indices are constructed and factors unique to the Canadian market. Unconstrained by these limitations, active managers with global reach may provide superior returns. The current environment presents an attractive opportunity for Canadian investors to implement a wide discretion, active approach to managing corporate bonds.

2013-09-30 Sitting Ducks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Stocks are a claim on a very long-term stream of future cash flows that will be distributed to shareholders over time, and P/E ratios are simply a shorthand. P/E ratios are useful only to the extent that the earnings measure being used is reasonably representative and informative about the long-term stream of cash flows what might be called a “sufficient statistic.”

2013-09-30 Investing in a Fairly Valued World by Herb Abramson, RJ Steinhoff, Randall Abramson, Anthony Visano, Jeff Sayer of Trapeze Asset Management

For several years we have been arguing that global equity markets are undervalued and represent the best investment alternative given growing corporate profits (S&P 500 Index earnings have nearly doubled in the last five years), a favorable monetary backdrop and a recovering economy.

2013-09-28 The Renminbi: Soon to Be a Reserve Currency? by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Contrary to the thinking of fretful dollar skeptics, my firm belief is that the US dollar is going to become even stronger and will at some point actually deserve to be the reserve currency of choice rather than merely the prettiest girl in the ugly contest the last currency standing, so to speak. But whether the Chinese RMB will become a reserve currency is an entirely different question.

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 What Makes Alternative Beta Smart? by Chris Brightman of Research Affiliates

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

2013-09-27 Global Destinations for Yield by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

While U.S. stocks are increasingly due for a consolidation, the outlook for global equities is improving. Now appears to be a good time for investors to increase allocations toward Asia and Europe.

2013-09-27 Decomposing Today's Record Profit Margins by Doug Ramsey of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

Again, the popular perception is that this cycle’s record margins stem from dramatic strides in corporate efficiency, driven in good part by the outsourcing of manufacturing/assembly operations to lower labor cost countries. But most margin expansion since the 1990s is attributable to a couple of other players -- specifically, the “Bond Bulls and the Bookkeepers” (we know, it sounds like a cheap romance novel).

2013-09-27 Like a Five-Year Game of Duck, Duck, Goose' by Will Nasgovitz of Heartland Advisors

As summer is trailing off here in Milwaukee, WI, my wife and I have been revisiting some classic children’s games with our young son and daughter. Most recently, the biggest hit has been “Duck, Duck, Goose.” And, it’s a real treat to watch the extreme anticipation in their faces as they wait for the goose to be called and the running to begin.

2013-09-27 How to Strengthen Your Portfolio Core by David Fabian of Fabian Capital Management

In strength training and investing, your core is everything. It’s the foundation or base from which you build upon to reach new levels of success. Without a solid core, you are doomed to underachieve because you don’t have the right balance needed to attain your goals. By starting from the ground up using concrete core holdings, you can add additional tactical positions from which to enhance your returns. That way you will have a well-rounded portfolio strategy that is easy to understand.

2013-09-27 Give Me Tapering... Just Not Yet by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Last week Federal Reserve (the Fed) officials surprised investors by choosing not to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) despite months of setup in their public comments. Instead, the latest iteration of the Fed’s bond buying strategy will continue at $85 billion per month. At this point our best guess is that the decision was a path of least resistance among a divided committee: there seemed to be a number of officials who were concerned about downside risks to growth from fiscal policy uncertainty and higher interest rates.

2013-09-27 Bridging the Gap: Global Listed Infrastructure by Wilson Magee of Franklin Templeton

Simply spreading your investments across a smattering of asset classes with the idea that diversification should automatically produce a positive result is an approach that’s maybe a little too similar to a roll of the dice. For investors hunting for classes to diversify into, Wilson Magee, Director of Global Real Estate and Infrastructure Securities, Franklin Templeton Real Asset Advisors, and co-manager of Franklin Global Listed Infrastructure Fund, has one word: infrastructure.

2013-09-27 Calculating A Stock's Fair Value Based On Future Growth Expectations: Part 2A by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

In part one of this two-part series I focused primarily on calculating the intrinsic value of a common stock based on an analysis and review of historical information and data. Although I strongly believe that there is much that investors can learn by studying the past, I even more strongly believe that since we can only invest in the future, that it is also implicit that we embrace a rational method of forecasting.

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.”

2013-09-27 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.9, up from last week’s 132.3 (revised down from 132.4). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.9% from last week’s 4.5%.

2013-09-27 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Merkel’s win is unlikely to lead to any changes in the Eurozone. Extra lift from exports is not guaranteed. Robust growth is a challenge in India, Brazil and Indonesia.

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

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

2013-09-25 Bernanke's Temporary Reprieve by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

There is no nice way to state this opinion: the end of Quantitative Easing and the ultimate allowance of the open market to set interest rates will create a grueling multi-decade bear market in US bond investments. Higher rates mean the re-pricing of existing bond instruments to lower prices and the principle risk of longer-dated maturities getting exposed. In 1983, I remember people losing approximately 15% of their market value in one year as Treasury interest rates rose from 11% to 14%, temporarily crushing owners of 25-year tax-free unit trusts.

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 Muni Market Resurgent by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

In light of the recent recovery in fixed income markets and the outperformance of the municipal bond market in particular, I thought I would send a note to provide a brief update since we last sent our market observations in July and August. As you may recall, we stated in the clearest terms that we felt the recent rise in interest rates provided an attractive entry point for municipal bond investors.

2013-09-25 Staff Toilets Not Working (A Gold Market Commentary) by Miguel Perez-Santalla of BullionVault

Picture of me 7For BullionVault I am the only employee outside of head office. But I am still on the all staff email. For which I am very grateful. I get to hear all the comings and goings of the employees as they often bring back treats from the different destinations where they have been on their vacations. I plan myself to bring something special to them when I go to London in December.

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

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

2013-09-25 How To Calculate The Intrinsic Value Of Your Common Stocks: Part 1 by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Every investor in common stocks is faced with the challenge of knowing when to buy, sell or hold. Additionally, this challenge will be approached differently by the true investor than it would by a speculator. But since I know very little about speculation (trading or market timing), this article will be focused on assisting true investors desirous of a sound and reliable method that they can trust and implement when attempting to make these important buy, sell or hold investing decisions.

2013-09-25 Thank You! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Thank you Franklin Templeton for allowing me to speak at your world headquarters in San Mateo, California last week. I had the privilege of meeting John Templeton on a number of occasions and it is heartwarming to see your organization carrying on with Sir John’s impeccable traditions. Thanks to all the portfolio managers (PMs) that met with me in the San Francisco Bay area, as we swapped ideas and renewed friendships.

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 Why Retirees Should Choose DIAs over SPIAs by Wade Pfau (Article)

Retirement portfolios can be constructed from a mix of asset classes, including stocks, bonds and annuities. In the past, I’ve shown that retirees achieve some of the best outcomes by allocating a portion of those assets to SPIAs. In this column, I extend my analysis to show that DIAs work even better than SPIAs, by providing more liquidity and better longevity protection at a lower cost.

2013-09-24 Four Ways to Attract Affluent Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Attracting HNW clients is all about credibility as a result, it’s typically lower key, takes longer and requires an upfront investment of time and effort to position yourself to interact with HNW prospects.

2013-09-24 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Financial markets have found out the answer to important questions in the last week. While there have alternatively been both positive and negative reactions, the net result is lower interest rates and higher stock prices.

2013-09-24 The U.S. Deficit Shrank, but Will It Come Back Bigger Than Ever? by Team of Knowledge@Wharton

The U.S. deficit has fallen to its lowest level since 2008. Experts weigh in on how this will affect upcoming budget negotiations.

2013-09-24 The Brazil Conundrum by Bill OGrady, Kaisa Stucke of Confluence Investment Management

The last decade has been exceptionally good for emerging markets. Never before have so many countries grown so rapidly, and at the same time. The average growth rate from 2003 to 2012 was 13.1% for emerging markets, while the long-term average stands at 5.0%. This growth rate was partly due to mean reversion after sluggish growth periods in the 80s and 90s, when the average growth rate for the group stood at 3.5%.

2013-09-24 Has the Fed Lost Its Credibility? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Any economics student will tell you central banks must achieve three things to effectively implement monetary policy: (1) independence; (2) credibility; and (3) transparency.For most of the Fed’s history, the first two characteristics were arguably well attained.However, the group was never well known for clarity into its thinking.

2013-09-24 The U.S. Economy: Poised for Growth? by Jeremy Boynton of Laureate Wealth Management

The Federal Reserve decided to delay the beginning of the end of quantitative easing (QE). The markets were very surprised by this as nearly all Fed watchers were expecting at least a small reduction in QE. In explaining its course of action, the Fed cited economic conditions that are currently too weak and/or fragile to begin removing QE. Ironically, the bond and stock markets rallied on this news.

2013-09-24 Lehman Five Years LaterLessons and Threats by Dean Curnutt of Macro Risk Advisors

The five-year anniversary of the Lehman bankruptcy and onset of financial crisis is here and so too is the raft of opinion pieces around what caused the meltdown and how it is different this time.In a recent interview with Charlie Rose, when asked about the risk of another 2008 event, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said, “The probability of it happening again in our lifetime is as close to zero as I could imagine.”

2013-09-23 Seeking Global Growth: Our Outlook for Credit by James Balfour of Loomis Sayles

Global business and credit cycles are nothing new to investors. The familiar sequence of recession, recovery, expansion and slowdown plays out over time, influencing interest rates, credit availability, business climate and capital markets. It’s a time-honored process, but in practice, no two business and credit cycle pairings are exactly alike. Business and credit cycles tend to be driven by specific but varying factors that accumulate until an economic “tipping point” is reached, after which the business and credit climates deteriorate.

2013-09-23 The Euro Tug-of-War by Thomas Kressin of PIMCO

Faced with lingering economic stagnation, record unemployment and continued political strife in the region, the common consensus for a depreciation of the euro seems only natural and very much required to counter the weak cyclical position of the eurozone. The rising current account surplus in combination with net long-term capital inflows point to a stronger euro that could stay with us for an extended period; such a development could potentially undermine the fragile social consensus to continue with the necessary structural and fiscal reforms.

2013-09-23 Enhanced Dividend for Income by Jim O'Shaugnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

It is axiomatic in the financial planning canon that investors searching for a steady source of income should rely heavily on bonds. Stocks are for capital appreciation and bonds for income. The practice is so ingrained, that I have not heard of many investors who would make the case for using an equity portfolio to generate income. Bonds also appeal to advisors because of their inherent principal protection advantage. As a bond owner, you are a creditor, not an owner.

2013-09-23 Credit Rating Agencies: Can They Get It Right? Part 3: Five Years After the Fall by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog

This three-part series takes a critical look at the growing role of credit rating agencies (CRAs) in the global financial system. This post reports on the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) debate about the role of CRAs in the international financial system. Part 1 focused on the involvement of CRAs in recent financial and economic crises in the US and Europe, while Part 2 described post-crises attempts to reform CRAs.

2013-09-23 Shake & Bake and Pension Woes, One Man's “Thoughts From the Frontline” by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I take a departure from form. After a few brief words around the Fed’s Shake and Bake maneuver and a very quick look at Food Stamp data, I return you to the capable hands of John Mauldin to dive into the Pension woes. We are honored that Mr. Mauldin based his work on DIVER’s data and some of our tools. If you decide to follow John’s advice around your city, let us know if we can help. Be sure to check out the “Data Released this Week” as our data team was hard at work.

2013-09-23 Loose and Looser by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Larry Summers took his name out of the hat and won’t be considered for the top spot at the Federal Reserve. And while nothing is a slam dunk, it looks very much like current Vice Chair Janet Yellen is going to get the call from President Obama to step up and replace Bernanke.

2013-09-23 Post Fed, Expect More Surprises by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

Kristina Hooper says investors should brace for more big market swingsand some fiscal curveballsin the wake of the FOMC’s decision not to taper in September. But the economy is throwing some good surprises our way too.

2013-09-23 Psychological Ether by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In my view, the problem with quantitative easing is that its entire effect relies on provoking risk-taking by those who would otherwise choose not to do so; that the FOMC has extended and amplified financial market distortions without regard to the rich valuations and dismal prospective returns that financial assets are most likely priced to achieve; and that this distortion of financial asset prices has precious little to do with the presumptive goal of Fed policy, which is greater job creation and economic activity.

2013-09-23 Aberdeen Global Investment Outlook: September 2013 by Mike Turner of Aberdeen Asset Management

The point of maximum policy accommodation may now be in sight: Markets volatile as investors forced to contemplate U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) exit strategy. Slowing growth in China is putting pressure on Asian and emerging markets to develop domestic led demand. This time really could be different for Japan - however reflating the economy was never going to be easy.

2013-09-21 Rich City, Poor City by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we will conclude our look at pension plans for the nonce with a 30,000-foot overview of the states and then take a deeper dive into one city: mine. This will give you at least one version of how to do your own homework about your own hometown. But fair warning, depending on your locale, you may need medical help or significant quantities of an adult beverage after you finish your research.

2013-09-21 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Global deleveraging has a long way to go. Fiscal drama and the economy. Funding for economic statistics needs to be enhanced

2013-09-21 This Will Not End Well by Robert Mark of Castle Investment Management

How do you justify higher equity valuations if profit margins are more likely to contract than expand and revenue growth is stalling? Why naturally you discount those future cash flows by a lower cost of capital! But to my eye, the Federal Reserve appears to be slowly losing control of the bond market interest rates are separating from the raw pressure of central bank interventions. We know why this will end badly, we just don’t know when.

2013-09-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.4, to one decimal place unchanged from last week’s 132.4 (revised down from 132.3). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.5% from last week’s 4.3%.

2013-09-21 India's Need for Labor Reform by Siddharth Bhargava of Matthews Asia

India has long been recognized as a country of vast potential. With over 1.2 billion people, it boasts nearly one-fifth of the world’s working age population. However, the country’s laws hark back to a period when India’s political philosophy was still rooted in socialisma time when the government ran its own factories. Such laws have failed to keep pace with the economic liberalization program that began in 1991.

2013-09-21 The Best, Brightest, and Least Productive? by Robert Shiller of Project Syndicate

In the US, 7.4% of total compensation of employees in 2012 went to people working in the finance and insurance industries. Whether or not that percentage is too high, the real issue is that the share is even higher among the most educated and accomplished people, whose activities may be economically useless, if not harmful.

2013-09-21 Fifty Shades of Gold by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Unlike many commodities, there are many shades to gold, such as the Love Trade’s buying gold for loved ones and the Fear Trade’s purchasing gold as a store of value. An additional “shade” investors need to be aware of is how the Fed interprets the recovery of the U.S. economy.

2013-09-20 Rising Interest Rates Must End Soon by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury bond has risen by more than 84 percent from May to early September, one of the most violent and rapid increases on record. This spike has caused severe convulsions in the bond market, leading many investors to wonder how long the torment can last.

2013-09-20 U.S. Commercial Real Estate: Will the Good Times Last? by Devin Chen of PIMCO

The CRE market has experienced a gradual recovery in asset pricing since the 2008 financial crisis. Despite the duration of the recovery, there continues to be dislocation in the CRE market that astute investors can capitalize on. We believe certain properties in non-major markets look attractive for acquisition, and have been acquiring residential land on an opportunistic basis.

2013-09-20 Q&A: Emerging Markets Powerhouses China and India by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Given their heft in the emerging markets world, China and India are among the countries I get asked most often about, particularly when they show market distress signals like economic slowing.This past week, the Templeton emerging markets team and I have been in China as part of a large research trip, doing further analysis on the market and key company prospects. I thought it would present a good opportunity to share a few of my answers to recent questions on both China and India.

2013-09-20 Companies Can Do More to Unlock Shareholder Value by Kurt Feuerman of AllianceBernstein

As the global recession and financial crisis move further back in the rearview mirror, companies have been more proactive about using their balance sheets in ways that enhance shareholder value. But we think they can do a lot more.

2013-09-20 Growth and Rising Stars by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

While developed market growth in several regions is picking up cyclically from low levels, overall global economic growth should remain subdued over the next several years. We believe credit spread tightening and rating upgrades are most likely for specific companies in industries and areas with strong growth. We see these "rising star" companies in the U.S. and European auto sector, the gaming, energy and chemical industries and in sectors tied to the U.S. housing market.

2013-09-20 Investment Bulletin: Emerging Markets Equity by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Since the start of the year to date, the portfolio has whupped the index by over 1,100 basis points, with a real gain against an index loss. Overall, the developed market (DM) index easily outperformed that for emerging markets (EM). This is expected to continue at the index level, partially because of weaker earnings growth and for political/social reasons. Analysts crank out studies on their companies, yet few look up from their spreadsheets to take a wider view encompassing politics and real people.

2013-09-20 Investment Bulletin: Global Income Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The Global Income equity strategy is unconstrained by geography, sector or stock, and is committed to achieving the target yield based on the opening NAV at the beginning of each financial year of 4.5%, payable in equal quarterly dividends with any excess paid out at the end of the year. It may only invest in companies with an historic dividend yield of at least 2.5% based on the price at the date of purchase. There is a bar on using derivatives or options to achieve the target yield and it must invest in a company on its merits rather than rotational dividend stripping.

2013-09-19 Intermodal Transportation: Finding Value in a Growing Segment of the Transportation Industry by Jason Downey of Diamond Hill Investments

As intrinsic value based investors, we view growth as a potential source of value for shareholders; however, we are careful not to overpay for it. Intermodal shipping is one of the fastest growing modes of domestic freight transportation, and also an area where we have found two companies trading below our estimates of their respective intrinsic values.

2013-09-19 A Closer Look at Earnings by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

To get a sense of whether forward estimates currently in place for the S&P 500 may be excessiveparticularly in light of an economic recovery that has at times moved in fits and startswe took a look at how earnings have historically related to weekly jobless claims figures.

2013-09-19 Time to Taper? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The Fed debate this year has largely revolved around a single question: When will the FOMC begin to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)? At the start of the year, most analysts thought that the committee would continue its bond buying program at full speed all year, and only taper its purchases in early 2014. However, we began to hear hints from Fed officials as earlier as January that they may stop short of consensus expectations.

2013-09-19 A Fine Balance in the Global Profits Cycle by Saumil Parikh of PIMCO

In the U.S., we expect growth to accelerate over the cyclical horizon, but to disappoint elevated consensus expectations. In Europe, we also expect growth to accelerate, but just barely, and also below consensus. In Japan, we expect growth to remain heavily reliant on aggressive fiscal and monetary policies. And in emerging markets, we expect a stabilization in growth assisted by central banks regaining control of currency and financial market conditions. The outlook for global corporate profits is a key measure of success in determining the handoff to self-sustaining growth going forward.

2013-09-18 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks rallied last week as military options in Syria no longer look likely given the disapproval of the American people and Congress. Additionally, this embarrassing agreement reached with Russia is an admission that the USA will not intervene.

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

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

2013-09-18 The End Times for Strategic Ambiguity by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Strategic ambiguity is defined as a condition where various parties say something similar but believe something entirely different. A good example of this is U.S. and Chinese policy toward Taiwan. Both nations say Taiwan is part of China. The U.S. believes that Taiwan’s democratic government should become the model for the mainland, whereas China believes Taiwan should be part of its nation as it is currently structured. Because both nations say the same thing, the policy difference is not publicly obvious and thus not a problem, at least as long as the ambiguity lasts.

2013-09-18 Is the Commodity Supercycle Dead? by Nicholas Johnson, Greg Sharenow of PIMCO

While commodity price appreciation won’t likely mirror the supercycle, this shouldn’t necessarily imply a negative view on commodity returns going forward. We believe commodity prices are at reasonable levels from a long-term valuation perspective. In addition, the roll yield from investing in commodities is the highest it’s been since 2005. The outlook for commodity returns today seems broadly consistent with historical returns, and commodities remain an important tool for hedging inflation risk.

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 Newsletter September 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

SAY IT ISN’T SO... Investment News headline “Ex-J.P. Morgan broker: Firm pushed house funds.” The story went on to report: “Claims reps didn’t get commission on trades of outside funds. A former J.P. Morgan broker has filed an arbitration claim alleging that the bank’s securities unit encouraged sales of proprietary funds by withholding commissions from brokers on trades of outside funds.

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

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

2013-09-17 The Fiduciary Pyramid: Demystifying the Fiduciary Landscape by Seaborn Hall (Article)

The term ’fiduciary’ is at once accessible, familiar and confusing. We hear it often and think that we know what it means. But do we? Consider this assertion: A fee-only registered investment adviser (RIA) is at the top of the fiduciary pyramid. Is this a valid, provable statement?

2013-09-17 Charles de Vaulx: “We Have Never Been as Cautiously Positioned” by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Charles de Vaulx is the chief investment officer and a portfolio manager at International Value Advisers. In this interview, he discusses his outlook for the market and the economy, and why his fund has never been as cautiously positioned as it is today.

2013-09-17 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, A New Tool to Calculate Long-Term Care Needs, which appeared last week.

2013-09-17 Gundlach Where to Expect the Next Crisis by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Unless there is a crisis, don’t expect a major decline in interest rates, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. And if such a crisis occurs, Gundlach warned, it will most likely take place in this emerging market.

2013-09-17 Investing for Real People by Sponsored content by Oppenheimer Funds (Article)

Investor goals are the same, but solutions have changed. Today, aiming to meet basic needs requires new solutions. Laser focus on investor goals will help uncover appropriate investment opportunities. Expanding the opportunity set beyond the usual suspects will be critical to long-term success.

2013-09-17 The Debate on DFA’s Research by Various (Article)

We received many responses to Michael Edesess’ article, Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed, which appeared last week. We provide the responses from individuals who disagreed with Edesess’ findings, followed by Edesess’ response and then by responses in agreement with his findings.

2013-09-17 Emerging Markets: Time to Buy? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Emerging markets have performed dismally over the past three years. The bellwether MSCI index has moved essentially sideways over that period while losing a whopping 40% of its value relative to the S&P 500. After such a severe underperformance, the sector is now beginning to show signs of improvement.

2013-09-17 High Yield Market Overview August 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, was down 0.62% for the month of August. Political uncertainties continue to weigh on investor sentiment, including a potential military response to Syria and the U.S. approaching the debt ceiling limit in mid-October. Uncertainty about Fed policy and who will be the next Chairman are also in the background.

2013-09-17 The Upside of Low Expectations by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

The stock market has benefited from a pessimistic outlook recentlyand so could the consumer, writes Kristina Hooper.

2013-09-17 Consumers Face An Economy at a Crossroads by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the Federal Reserve prepares to debate the merits of tapering its asset purchase program this week, a key area of the economy that will be closely analyzed by Bernanke and Co. is the health of the American consumer. There are tenuous signs that consumers are spending more, but attitudes towards the economic recovery are hardly encouraging. Consumers will find it difficult to stay the key cog of economic growth in the U.S., but at the very least, their participation in the recovery is imperative, and leaves much to be desired.

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.

2013-09-16 Baby Steps by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our view is that the Federal Reserve will taper its program of quantitative easing this week, in the range of a $10-15 billion reduction in the pace of monthly debt purchases. The Fed really has no “communication problem” about this the economic impact of further quantitative easing has had diminishing returns, and the economic drag from fiscal reductions has thus far been smaller than the Fed feared when it justified QEternity on the basis of those concerns last year.

2013-09-16 Europe's Fragile Recovery by Tucker Scott of Franklin Templeton Investments

Investors have tentatively begun to buy into the European recovery story, but remain fearful of the region’s fragility. A few bits of upbeat economic data recently have provided grounds for optimism, and the European Central Bank’s continued commitment to holding the Eurozone together has boosted confidence. Tucker Scott, portfolio manager forTempleton Foreign Fund, still sees a few economic roadblocks in Europe but also plenty of progress. He shares where he’s finding signs of strength and investment opportunities.

2013-09-16 Investing in Puerto Rico: What Investors Should Know by Stephanie Larosiliere of Invesco Blog

In recent quarters, investors have been on high alert about Puerto Rico’s ailing financial situation. The concern was sparked by the US territory’s ongoing recession, which has been characterized by high unemployment, $70 billion of total debt and a consecutive streak of annual budget deficits. Compounding investors’ fears were Detroit’s recent bankruptcy filing and June’s massive sell-off in the municipal bond market, which may have caused some weakness in Puerto Rico’s debt.

2013-09-16 Opportunities in Uncertainty by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen, Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Uncertainty and volatility are elevated, which we believe provides opportunities for investors.

2013-09-13 Pacific Basin Market Overview August 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Asian equity markets ended lower in August, chiefly due to concerns about currency weakness in India and Indonesia, while improved macroeconomic data from China contributed to this market’s outperformance. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan fell by 1.3% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 0.71% lower during the month. (All performance figures are based on MSCI indices in U.S. dollar terms with dividends included unless otherwise stated.)

2013-09-13 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 Start Bargain Hunting in Asian Stocks Again? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

If you compare the Asian stock market these days to prior years, it’s looking like “dj vu” all over again, says Credit Suisse.

2013-09-13 Invest In Stocks With A Margin of Safety To Reduce Risk And Enhance Returns by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Of all of the many sound investing principles that legendary teacher and investor Ben Graham put forward, he believed that his concept of “margin of safety” was the most important of all. This investment lesson was so deeply ingrained into the mind of Ben Graham’s most famous student, Warren Buffett, that he created his two most important rules of sound investing. Rule number one: Never lose money. Rule number two: Never forget rule number one. Clearly, both of these renowned sages understood the importance of minimizing risk, especially when investing in equities.

2013-09-13 September Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Year-to-date end-August the strategy performed well with a gain of 22.2% vs. 14.6% for the benchmark. During the month, the index “tumbled” 3.9%, partly out of fear of foreign military action in Syria and partly that central banks would cease printing money to hold down interest rates commonly known as tapering. Even so, the portfolio held up in August, with a much lesser 2.4% fall, thereby further widening outperformance over the index to 760 basis points so far in 2013.

2013-09-13 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 132.3, an increase from last week’s 131.5. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.1% from last week’s 3.9%.... At this point the company is still featuring a commentary posted at the end of July, Becoming Japan, which highlights the decline in GDP growth for Japan and seven other major economies, including the US.

2013-09-13 The View from Here - September 13, 2013: Five Years After by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

How much have we recovered from the global financial crisis?

2013-09-12 The Best Time to Own Cash: No Return is Better than a Negative Return by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about "the best time for an investor to own cash," which somewhat counter-intuitively, he believes is when that cash pays nothing.

2013-09-12 Unemployment, Participation and the Fed by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Despite a mediocre August jobs report, we still expect the Federal Reserve to announce a slowing of the pace of bond purchases when it meets next week. One reason for this view is that Fed officials care more about the level of the unemployment rate than the pace of job creation. We often write that monetary policy is about “gaps” not growth: the Fed is trying to reduce spare capacity in the economy, not bring about a rapid expansion per se.

2013-09-12 Opportunity Out of Uncertainty: Finding Investment Ideas in a Rising Market by Jay Kaplan of The Royce Funds

Portfolio Manager and Principal Jay Kaplan talks about investing in a slow-growth, high-price environment and discusses where we are in the current retail cycle, companies in which he has high confidence, and his experience with a long-term holding.

2013-09-12 2 Unresolved Issues Challenging the Case for European Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains the two key unresolved issues that are keeping his view of European stocks somewhat cautious, and he gives the next signposts to watch to gauge whether any near-term resolutions are likely.

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 Why DFA’s New Research is Flawed by Michael Edesess (Article)

DFA is a company with a laudable history, founded on solid principles and a valuable product concept. From its launch, the investment firm identified and filled a need at low cost to the client, based on elementary but sound theory and simple, compelling, transparent empirical research. It later increased its value to clients by pioneering passive trading strategies. I admire its founders and their accomplishments. But I am afraid the company has succumbed to a dreadful descent into scientism.

2013-09-10 A New Tool to Calculate Long-Term Care Needs by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Health-care crises can destroy retirement plans, yet advisors and clients often avoid discussing long-term care (LTC) insurance. Part of the reason aside from a natural reluctance to contemplate such tragedies is the lack of data needed to evaluate the LTC risk. That data deficiency can now be overcome, thanks to a pioneering product that provides customized projections for clients.

2013-09-10 Why Isn’t Our Practice Growing? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Our advisory firm has not grown much over the last five years. Except for death and divorces, we haven’t lost clients. But we haven’t obtained new assets. We have been to conferences and heard other advisors speak about their explosive growth, but I am dubious. Are advisory firms really growing so significantly or are we experiencing what most advisors have been over the last few years?

2013-09-10 The Party's Over. Why Own Commodities? by Jon Ruff, Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

Commodity prices soared during the first decade of this century. But now the party’s over: new sources of supply are coming on line just as demand from China is slowing, leading to expectations of price declines. So should investors shun commodity-related investments?

2013-09-10 Investor Anxiety + Uncertainty = More Volatility Ahead by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

As Russ expected, both equity and bond market volatility have risen in recent weeks. Russ explains why this rocky road is likely to continue, and he provides two ideas for potentially insulating portfolios amid volatility.

2013-09-10 The Suit? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Bernie Cornfeld, of IOS Fund fame, coined the phrase, “Do you really want to be rich?” At the time I was working as a stock broker, and writing investment strategy for E.F.Hutton, having penned in December 1974 that, “I recommend a gradual return to significant common stock accumulation” (I still have that report). I also learned that you have to evaluate the risks, because sometimes when you go after the “big bucks” you lose. Then you end up with small change!

2013-09-10 Raising the Bar on Target Date Due Diligence by Manning & Napier/Strategic Insight of Manning & Napier

Deeming whether target date fund investments are appropriate for a specific participant population is an arduous and imperfect task, made more complicated by a lack of full transparency. Fiduciaries should question whether the underlying securities of target date funds are appropriate to meet the retirement saving needs of plan participants. However, the question itself raises concern about what it would take to examine the funds in such detail.

2013-09-10 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.

2013-09-10 Taper Vs. No Taper - Let\'s Meet Somewhere In The Middle by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

Volatility in the US equity and bond markets has risen since Ben Bernanke and the rest of the Federal Reserve Board mentioned the possibility of tapering its bond purchase program - in other words, a potential end to the "free ride" the Fed has been giving investors. However, economic data is still weak and a reduction in economic stimulus by the Fed may harm the US economy.

2013-09-09 The Lesson of the Coming Decade by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Even if the S&P 500 Index goes nowhere over the coming decade - as historically reliable measures of valuation suggest - it will probably go nowhere in an interesting and volatile way, providing better value and opportunities that are well-supported by historical evidence. The challenge will be to maintain discipline even when frustration begs investors to abandon it.

2013-09-09 Reasons for Optimism in a Sloppy Third Quarter by Ron Sloan of Invesco Blog

Investors are anticipating the day that we transition from a market dominated by monetary stimulus to an earnings-driven market. The problem is that earnings aren’t cooperating yet. In my view, we’ve still got a sloppy third and maybe fourth quarter to get through, but I think 2014 will likely be a much better earnings market.

2013-09-09 The Shape of Things to Come by Kristina Hooper of Allianz Global Investors

With a week to go before the September FOMC meeting, there’s little that stands in the way of Fed tapering. Friday’s jobs report didn’t impress but it probably wasn’t bad enough to stop central bankers from pulling some punch, writes Kristina Hooper.

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

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

2013-09-09 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks finished higher last week, but August was a down month as worries about monetary policy including who will lead the Federal Reserve next year, along with the confusion surrounding the Obama administration’s Syria decisions have put a damper on things for now.

2013-09-09 Market Technicals Signal Trouble Ahead by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Bear market enthusiasts have so far been disappointed in September after the sudden market rally last week. With equities up more than 1% on the month, many bears pointed to the historically poor performance of equity markets during this month as a reason to remain cautious. Bear enthusiasts need not fear, as markets appear to be converging toward an inflection point right around the Fed meeting in the middle of the month.

2013-09-07 Unrealistic Expectations by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Two well-respected analysts of pension funds have produced reports this summer suggesting that pensions are now underfunded by more than $4 trillion and possibly more than $5 trillion. I would like to tell you that the underfunding is all the bad news, but when you probe deeper into the problems facing pension funds, it just gets worse.

2013-09-06 The Emerging Markets Debt Evolution by Giordano Lombardo of Pioneer Investments

My colleagues Mauro Ratto, Head of Emerging Markets, and Yerlan Syzdykov, Head of Emerging Markets Bond & High Yield, offered these thoughts on emerging markets.

2013-09-06 Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

The major US stock indexes fell once again last week, capping off the worst monthly performance of the S&P 500 in over a year. However, the index is only 4.69% below its all-time intraday high reached on August 2nd. While fear that the Fed would vote to start ending extraordinary stimulus measures at the next meeting late in September was the main reason cited for the decline, thin trading volume in August and especially the week before Labor day may have made led to increased volatility and price declines.

2013-09-06 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Last year ECRI switched focus to their version of the Big Four Economic Indicators that I routinely track. But when those failed last summer to "roll over" collectively (as ECRI claimed was happening), the company published a new set of indicators to support their recession call in a commentary entitled The U.S. Business Cycle in the Context of the Yo-Yo Years (PDF format). Subsequently the company took a new approach to its recession call in a publicly available commentary on the ECRI website: What Wealth Effect?.

2013-09-06 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Nonfarm Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I’ve now updated this commentary to include today’s release of the August Nonfarm Employment data. As the adjacent thumbnail illustrates, the trend in this indicator has been ever upward, but at a frustratingly slow pace. Today’s announcement of only 169K new jobs was below forecasts. Moreover, the nonfarm jobs number for July was revised downward from 188K to 172K and the June number was revised downward from 162K to 104K for a combined decline of 74K from last month’s report.

2013-09-06 Will Gold Follow Its Seasonal Pattern This Year? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

There are factors beyond Syria this week driving gold. That’s the Love Trade. This group gives gold as gifts for loved ones during important holidays and festivals. This is the time of the year that we are in the midst of right now. Historically, September has been gold’s best month of the year. Looking at more than four decades of monthly returns, the precious metal has seen its biggest increase this month, averaging 2.3 percent.

2013-09-05 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.

2013-09-05 Is China Past Its Manufacturing Prime? by Sammy Suzuki of AllianceBernstein

China has been an incredible export engine of manufactured goods over the past decade and the central player of the BRICs era. But mounting competition from other countries is gradually pulling production away from China. How should investors proceed?

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 The Vultures' Victory by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

The recent decision against Argentina by a United States appeals court threatens to upend global sovereign-debt markets. Indeed, a basic principle of modern capitalism that when debtors cannot pay back creditors, a fresh start is needed has been overturned.

2013-09-04 Abe Wins - Does Japan Benefit? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Japanese seem willing to give Abe room to reform when he decides to act.

2013-09-04 4 Signposts To Watch for an Emerging Markets Turnaround by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

When will we see a significant and prolonged reversal in emerging markets (EM) stock performance? Russ says to watch for four signposts that could signify the EM underperformance tide is turning.

2013-09-04 In a Little While: Market\'s Not Out of the Woods Yet by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Since moving into the "pullback" camp in early August, the market has had a mini-correction and it may not be over. Sentiment and technical conditions have improved; as has the economic backdrop, but risks remain. Until we get past Syria, Fed tapering and the debt ceiling, volatility may remain elevated.

2013-09-03 The Hidden Risk in Gold by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Since their introduction a little over a decade ago, gold-backed exchange-traded funds (ETFs) have accumulated more than $500 billion in assets. Investors’ most common rationale for owning gold is that it acts as a hedge against financial instability or a sudden shock to the markets, such as the 9/11 attacks. But what if the flow of assets into gold ETFs plays a greater role in the price of gold than do investors’ fears of instability? Is gold the hedge investors believe it to be?

2013-09-03 The Impact of Severe Drawdowns on Safe Withdrawal Rates by Lloyd Nirenberg, Ph.D. (Article)

A Google search for “safe withdrawal rates” produces 30 million results, but none answers a question that is critical to advisors and investors: How would a sudden market downturn a “return shock” impair a retiree’s forecast withdrawals?

2013-09-03 How a Menu of Services Generates Revenue by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Very few advisors do as good a job as possible articulating their value proposition and the ways they can be of service to their clients. If clients purchase products or services from competitors, it may be because they are unaware of the full range of your offerings.

2013-09-03 Framing the Sales Component of the Advisory Profession by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I am a relatively new financial advisor, coming to this profession as a second career. I’m finding I spend so much time on sales my firm is so focused on selling that even when I have a new client, I don’t have the chance to work with them the way I would like. How can I tactfully tell my employer that I came to this profession for the investment side, not for the sales side?

2013-09-03 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

For those in college during the 60s the time of “sex, drugs, and rock ’n roll” it’s hard to believe that marijuana has become legal. It is currently legal in some form in about 20 states and more are considering it, at least for medical purposes. Even Florida has strong proponents for the medical use of marijuana. There are always people who are trying to take advantage of the situation and this is no exception.

2013-09-03 How to Find Value in Real Estate With “Risk On, Risk Off” Off Again by Walter Stabell, III of Invesco Blog

Recent trends, including falling stock correlations, have been strong indicators that the global economy is normalizing and the practice of “risk on, risk off” investing, in which investors enter and exit perceived riskier investments based on how they feel about the economy, is now off again after becoming a phenomenon in the post-financial crisis years.

2013-09-03 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 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewHere is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1670.09. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1632.97. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-09-03 Momentum in Europe by Janus Equity Investment Team of Janus Capital Group

We think now is a good time to be investing in Europe. European equity valuations are at the lowest level in more than 40 years, by some measures, and we are seeing green shoots in the region’s downtrodden economy. Meanwhile, European companies in several industries have right-sized their cost structures or refocused their businesses, setting them up to be more competitive on a global scale.

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 Beware the Dangerous Stretch for Yield by Ashish Shah of AllianceBernstein

The US Federal Reserve talked in early summer about tapering its quantitative easing plan and raising interest ratesin part to stop investors from chasing yield into the arms of riskier loans. In the high-yield market, however, the conversation had exactly the opposite effect.

2013-08-30 Survey Says... What? by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

During the past week, a survey caught my eye and dropped my jaw. It was published in Investment News, a leading online and print publication for the investment advisory industry last weekend. It covered a survey of individual investors by brokerage firm Edward Jones about the potential impact of rising interest rates on their investment portfolios. According to the article, written by award-winning columnist Jeff Benjamin, “two-thirds of the respondents don’t understand how rising rates will affect their investment portfolios.”

2013-08-30 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Global policy-makers increasingly at odds with one another. Foreign exchange reserves may hold key to stabilizing emerging markets. Geopolitics weigh heavily on energy markets.

2013-08-30 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, an increase from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 131.1). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.2% from last week’s 4.5%.

2013-08-29 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs increased by over $69 million. As in previous weeks, assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased, this time by almost $64.6 million. AUM in the “Foreign Bond” category fell by nearly $58 million both because of falling values for ETFs in the category and because redemption units in certain ETFs. The “Global Bond” category had another bad week, ending over $18.3 million below where it began.

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 Don\'t Buy Gold Below the 300-Day Moving Average by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

Though gold bullion appears to have made a cyclical bottom, its long-term trend remains highly damaged. From a behavioral perspective, the price of gold must surpass its 300-day moving average (currently near $1560) to prove that a secular bull market remains intact. Long-term investors should recognize that the breakdown of April 2013 raised serious questions that have yet to be resolved.

2013-08-29 Don't Lose Your Balance by Jeffrey Knight of Columbia Management

Last year in a white paper called “Engineering a better retirement portfolio”1, we demonstrated the long term benefits of investing with a balanced risk profile. Exhibit 1 shows the trailing Sharpe ratios reported in that paper for the S&P 500, a “traditional balanced” domestic 60/40 portfolio, and a “risk balanced” strategy invested to equalize the risk contribution from stocks, bonds and commodities. The message from that chart is clear: Better balance leads to more efficient portfolio performance over time.

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.

2013-08-29 Earnings: Just Good Enough by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Corporate profits aren’t exactly setting the world on fire, but the rate of growth should be sufficient to support further equity market gains.

2013-08-28 On Tapering, All Signs Point to “Maybe” by Scott Brown of Raymond James

Investors looking to the July 30-31 Fed policy meeting minutes for clear clues on future moves were left disappointed. Nearly all senior Fed officials expect that a reduction in the pace of asset sales is likely to be warranted by the end of the year. However, they appear evenly divided on whether that will be sooner (September) or later (December). The economic data remained mixed, suggesting that the decision will be a close call.

2013-08-28 Forrest Gump Stock Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

After watching "Forrest Gump" for about the thirtieth time recently, I realized that the US economy and US stock market share a great deal in common with Forrest. In this missive, we will be reminded of the journey of a true American folk hero and of the journey back from the abyss the US economy and stock market have made since early in 2009.

2013-08-28 US Interest Rates Will Continue to Rise by Martin Feldstein of Project Syndicate

The interest rate on ten-year US Treasury bonds has risen almost a full percentage point in the last six months, to 2.72%, implying a loss of nearly 10% in the price of the bond. And the recent rise in long-term rates is just the beginning of an increase that will punish investors who are seeking extra yield in long-term bonds.

2013-08-27 Why Bad Decisions Happen to Good People: An Introduction to Behavioral Finance by Scott Clemons (Article)

Cognitive biases frequently cause even skilled investors to make irrational decisions. Thankfully, irrationality is fairly predictable. Here are four behavioral biases that investors face and techniques for recognizing and overcoming them.

2013-08-27 Five Tips for Managing Stress by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

What are your tips for managing stress? Financial advisory work has become increasingly stressful and neither I nor my staff do a good job of managing it.

2013-08-27 Will Rate Rise Derail Housing Recovery? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As the Federal Reserve grapples with when and how to unwind quantitative easing, interest rates climbed more than a point since the end of 2012. This caused mortgage rates to increase to their highest levels in two years last week, with the average conforming 30-year loan jumping to 4.58% from 4.40% the week prior. Rising financing costs is presenting a headwind for one of the biggest bright spots in the US economy over the past 12 months.

2013-08-27 How Real is the Recovery in Commercial Real Estate? by Joel Beam, Ian Goltra of Forward Management

How Real Is the Recovery in Commercial Real Estate? A conversation with Joel Beam and Ian Goltra of Forward’s Real Estate Portfolio Management Team.

2013-08-27 Policy Uncertainty on the Rise by Libby Cantrill, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

Congress seems to be digging in and ramping up the rhetoric in advance of a possible government shutdown, a debt ceiling increase and a probable selection of a new Fed chair. We think it is likely policymakers will agree to a short-term deal to fund the government and avert a shutdown, and also cobble together a resolution on the debt ceiling, although neither is likely until the last minute. The Fed chair debate will likely continue to sway markets over the next few months, leading to greater uncertainty and greater market volatility.

2013-08-26 Could Clarity Confuse? The Industry Strikes Back by Jon Vogler of Invesco Blog

The intention of the Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to illustrate lifetime income streams on 401(k) statements is to clarify retirement income status for participants. But according to industry and trade groups, the requirement may have the opposite effect, creating more confusion than clarity.

2013-08-26 Inflation Update by Team of North Peak Asset Management

As can be seen in the schematic above, most portfolios are effectively a bet on a low inflation environment due to their heavy reliance on mainstream equities and fixed income securities. In order to protect a portfolio from the damage that inflation can inflict, asset classes that are sensitive to increases in inflation need to be incorporated into the asset mix. These include Inflation Linked Bonds (TIPS), Precious Metals, Global Natural Resource equities and Commodities.

2013-08-26 Chicago Post Script, Reported Data Errors (Really) and What is a “Geo Score”? by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Regular readers know I periodically suggest looking at alternative data points to gain a broader perspective. In this instance, something a little different. At the core of the DIVER platform is our database and we take data integrity very seriously. So much so that we periodically find errors in reported data. Many times, the source will correct the data as we notify them. Typically, when we find an error in a CAFR, the source will defer the correction until the next CAFR is released. In DIVER however, we will display the accurate values.

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.

2013-08-26 The Outlook Will Shift as Conditions Shift by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Though I expect that the present cycle will be completed by a market loss on the order of 40-55%, conditions can certainly emerge over the course of this cycle that could warrant a more constructive stance than we have presently, though possibly less extended than we’d like. The most likely constructive opportunity would emerge from a moderate retreat in market valuations, ideally to “oversold” conditions from an intermediate-term perspective, coupled with an early firming in measures of market internals.

2013-08-25 France: On the Edge of the Periphery by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Charles de Gaulle said that "France cannot be France without greatness." The current path that France is on will not take it to renewed greatness but rather to insolvency and turmoil. Is France destined to be grouped with its Mediterranean peripheral cousins, or to be seen as part of the solid North Atlantic core? The world is far better off with a great France, but France can achieve greatness only by its own actions.

2013-08-24 Hong Kong: A Gateway to Chinese Companies by Dilip Badlani of The Royce Funds

While many investors and businesses in Hong Kong are struggling with China’s slowed-growth policy, increased rates on commercial rentals, and government intervention to cool the residential property market, we at Royce are looking for opportunities in Hong Kong-listed companiesour primary entrance to gain access to Chinese companieswhose valuations are reflective of the macro challenges facing their economy.

2013-08-24 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.1, a decline from last week’s 131.2. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.5 from last week’s 4.7%.

2013-08-23 Economic Update: August 2013 by Lori Liffring, Michael Bridgeman, Gaylan Abood, Justin Anderson, Karen Benefiel of Cambridge Advisors

Stocks had another strong month in July with the large-cap S&P 500 index up 5.0% and the small-cap Russell 2000 up 7.0%. International stocks in developed markets were also 5.2% higher as measured by the MSCI EAFE index while emerging market stocks were up less than 1%. Bond prices stabilized during the month resulting in only a slight 0.1% gain.

2013-08-23 What Does an Improving Economy Mean for Stocks and Bonds? by Charlie Dreifus of The Royce Funds

With the economy improving, inflation tame, and a Federal Reserve meeting approaching in September, Portfolio Manager and Principal Charlie Dreifus believes that small-caps remain an attractive option within the equities market.

2013-08-23 Why We Still Like China by Philippe Brugere-Trelat, Andrew Sleeman of Franklin Templeton Investments

When China, the world’s second-largest economy and an engine of global growth, sneezes many other markets catch colds. A spike in the country’s short-term lending rate in June gave some investors the sniffles at least temporarily, while others have turned bearish on China amid concerns growth rates this year could be under the weather. However, many investors may be overlooking some powerful macro-economic long-term shifts taking place in the economy that could ultimately improve China’s bill of health.

2013-08-23 Utilities - Today's Best Bond Alternative by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

To refer to any stock or equity as an alternative to bonds or fixed income is sure to stir up the ire and consternation of many professional and individual investors alike who deem themselves prudent. Frankly, under normal circumstances I would tend to agree.

2013-08-23 Why it's Time to Reconsider European Equities by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Given recent signs that the eurozone economy is stabilizing, is it time to consider European equities again? Russ explains why his answer is a qualified yes.

2013-08-23 Switcheroo by Tony Crescenzi of PIMCO

What is priced into the bond market in terms of its outlook for the Federal Reserve? Does the increase in interest rates sufficiently reflect the market’s perceived policy shifts?

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 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

India: Broken promise or temporary hiccup? Bond markets appear unmoved by central bank guidance. Rising mortgage rates are taking some of the steam out of housing.

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 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Last week, total AUM in all active ETFs fell by over $60.5 million. AUM in the “Global Bond” category fell by nearly $89 million both because of falling values for ETFs in the category and redemptions in certain ETFs. The “Foreign Bond” category had another bad week, ending almost $36 million below where it began. As in previous weeks, assets in “Short Term Bond” active ETFs increased, this time by almost $36.5 million.

2013-08-22 Excess Cash in the Technology Sector: A Source of Underappreciated Value by Nate Palmer of Diamond Hill Investments

As analysts,we are constantly searching for opportunities to purchases hares of a business at a meaningful discount to our estimate of intrinsic value, or short shares of a business at a meaningful premium to our estimate of intrinsic value. While this premium or discount is often a function of our estimate of the value of the business’s future earnings power, it can also be the result of the current market price not properly reflecting the value of assets on a company’s balance sheet.

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

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

2013-08-21 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 Asia Brief: On Economic Evolution in Cambodia by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

Cambodia’s recent national Assembly elections offer hope that the country may be able to achieve a peaceful political transition in the coming years. The country’s political turmoil has held it back behind its neighbors, but tourism and gar- ment assembly are driving an acceleration in economic output growth. However, Cambodia is at risk from inflation through imported petroleum, and its youthful population will want to see improving GDP per capita feeding through into higher living standards, rather than a higher hydrocarbon bill.

2013-08-21 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 Target-Date Funds: Why Higher Equity Allocations Work by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Following the 2008 financial crisis, target-date funds (TDFs) were criticized for exposing investors nearing retirement to excessive equity allocations. Were those criticisms justified? How well do TDFs stack up against the venerable strategy of matching one’s bond allocation to one’s age? My research has yielded surprising answers to those questions and to the proper role of single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) alongside TDFs.

2013-08-20 Five Ways to Get Families to Talk About Finances by Dan Richards (Article)

Every financial advisor sees clients’ lack of communication with family members as a problem. Here are five ways one group of successful advisors is addressing this gap.

2013-08-20 Which Crowd? Mulling the Investment Wisdom of the Masses by Steven Grey (Article)

With every investment or trade, the profits that accrue with the passage of time eventually prove one party the wiser. But of what practical value is the notion of collective wisdom if investors can’t consistently identify the ’wise’ crowd before the fact?

2013-08-20 How Much Communication is Too Much? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

How much communication is too much? We meet with clients once per quarter and were surprised when one told us they didn’t need to see us so often. I think we need to stay in front of them.

2013-08-20 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, Envisioning the Planning Firm of the Future, which appeared last week. A reader responds to Dan Richards’ article, How to Fix the Flaws in Financial Planning, which appeared on July 30, and a reader responds to Bob Veres’ article, The Price You Pay for Poor Management, which appeared on July 23.

2013-08-20 Who Are You Going to Believe-These Non-GAAP Numbers or Your Lying Eyes? by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

Great performance in the short-run-either absolute or relative-is a mixed blessing. If an investor owns a portfolio of stocks that is embedding 30% undervaluation, and voila, finds himself up 30% (this is a hypothetical number for the purposes of this example but it’s not far from recent reality) in six months, without a concurrent upward improvement in underlying fundamentals, you have to be a regular on CNBC to expect another 30% return over the next six months.

2013-08-20 Change is Coming by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The summer months brought a period of calm to global markets and economies. Nearing the move to autumn, it is time to look ahead and see what resides on the horizon. Investors could be due for a renewed bout of volatility based on any number of events set to happen before year-end.

2013-08-20 The Speed of Fed Rate Hikes by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

For the last several months, talk of tapering has dominated the Fed debate. Although there remains some uncertainty around the detailssuch as how large the initial step might bemost observers now expect the Federal Reserve to begin slowing the pace of quantitative easing (QE) at the September 17-18 meeting. Attention is now turning to another major issue on next month’s agenda: the publication of Fed officials’ forecasts for the funds rate in 2016. The Fed rolls forward the Summary of Economic Projections (SEP) by one year each September.

2013-08-19 Chicago and Detroit A Guest Commentary by Joshua Laurito of Lumesis

A few weeks back, we brought you a guest commentary by Josh Laurito regarding the City of Detroit. His perspectives were well-received by our readers. This week, Josh is back by popular demand with some thoughts on his home town of Chicago. We believe there is great value in considering fresh perspectives from intelligent people that is precisely what Josh brings to the table.

2013-08-19 A Bear Market Is Here: In Bonds! by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

While it certainly hasn’t made the headlines that it should have, the bond market has been kicked in the teeth. After bottoming at 1.61% on May 1, the yield on the 10-year Treasury Note hit 2.84% on Friday, its highest level in two years the worst bear market move in bonds since the end of the 2008-09 financial panic.

2013-08-19 Equity Fatigue Continues with Headwinds from Bond Sell-off by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities finished lower for the second straight week as the S&P 500 declined 2.04%, narrowly escaping its worst week of the year. A specific catalyst behind the pullback was not identified by us or market analysts.

2013-08-19 What Triggers Would Make Japanese Equities Attractive? by Mark Jason of Invesco Blog

Through the second quarter of 2013, Japan remained Invesco International Growth Fund’s largest underweight versus the Custom International Growth Index because our EQV (earnings, quality and valuation) discipline criteria drive us toward high-quality companies at reasonable valuations, and those are scarce in Japan. Why? Because Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s success is being priced in, and overcoming two decades lost to stagnation is difficult.

2013-08-19 A Warning Regarding Broken Speculative Peaks by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

We presently observe what might best be called a “broken speculative peak” a strenuously overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising yield syndrome followed by a breakdown in market internals.

2013-08-19 What's the Point of Investing in Dreams? by Vadim Zlotnikov of AllianceBernstein

Is innovation dead or are we on the cusp of new technological revolutions? Without resolving this epic debate, we believe that market conditions today are conducive to investing in companies with disruptive potential, but it takes a sober approach to find big dreams that can deliver big returns.

2013-08-17 Signs of the Top by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The investment media seems obsessed with the question of whether the Fed will taper. The real question should be not about "tapering" but about credibility. What happens when fundamentals become the narrative as opposed to what the central bank is doing? What happens if the Federal Reserve throws a liquidity party and nobody comes? Today we look at some of the fundamentals. The market is in fact overvalued, but that doesn’t mean it can’t become more overvalued. Is this August 1987 or August 1999?

2013-08-16 Pacific Basin Market Overview July 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Asian markets ended higher in July after comments from Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke appeared to infer that the Fed’s asset purchase program would be extended for a while longer. In China, Premier Li Keqiang stated that China would meet its gross domestic product (GDP) growth target this year, which brought some cheer to the markets. The MSCI AC Asia Pacific Free Index including Japan gained 1.5% while the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex Japan Free Index closed 2.0% higher during the quarter.

2013-08-16 Preparing for Rising Interest Rates: Bond Ladder vs. Bond Fund Ladder by BMO Tax-Free Fixed Income Team of BMO Funds

The last few years have seen interest rates hold steady or drift lower, causing investors to be concerned about how their fixed income portfolios will be affected when rates eventually rise. The question is, how can investors protect themselves from rising rates while still earning income while they wait?

2013-08-16 Using Equities to Hedge Inflation? Tread With Care by Bob Greer, Raji Manasseh of PIMCO

Historically, broad equity returns have not intrinsically provided a good hedge against inflation. Three key attributes may help companies withstand inflationary environments - pricing power, supply side advantages and a willingness and ability to sustain dividend hikes at a rate faster than inflation. To realize equities’ long-term potential as a key source of portfolio returns, investors should consider enlisting active managers who select stocks with a view on inflation and its effect on specific companies.

2013-08-16 Fixed Income Investing In a Reality Star World by Kirk Moore of Columbia Management

Reality stars are famous for being famous. We should not begrudge them for recognizing an opportunity, seizing the momentum and exploiting it successfully. However, an approach that emphasizes form over substance can neither be consistent or highly repeatable.

2013-08-16 The Case for Global Dividends: Valuations and the Impact of Rising Rates by Ehren Stanhope of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

The S&P 500 Index has risen over 150 percent since March 9, 2009 in what could arguably be deemed the most hated equity rally of all time. The MSCI All Country World Index, one of the broadest global indices, has risen “just” 110 percent since its March 2009 nadir. Evidence indicates that United States (U.S.) investors have not participated in this rallya truly sad state of affairs. It is worthy of noting that over the last several years a number of well known market pundits have viscerally rejected the equity rally due to macroeconomic concerns.

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 The Telecommunications Services Sector Untethered and Poised to Grow by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Suffice it to say that the Telecommunications Services sector of today is not your grandfather’s Telecommunications Services sector. The explosion, and rapidly becoming ubiquitous implementation, of wireless technologies have been disruptive and game changing. As a result, the very nature of the established stalwarts within this industry have gone through an extraordinary metamorphosis.

2013-08-16 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

The speculation about Fed leadership has gone too far. Eurozone growth should be placed in perspective. The velocity of money may turn around soon.

2013-08-16 Attention Investors: Don't Fear Rising Rates; Fear Perpetually Low Rates by J.J. Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

This month’s Insight will take a look at the performance of bonds during two previous inflationary periods, the 1940s and the 1970s, and illustrate two very different total return experiences. Through these examples, we will show that bond investors-- and by extension, any investor with a traditional balanced portfolio, should not fear rising rates as much as they should fear perpetually low rates.

2013-08-16 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.2, a decline from last week’s 131.5 (a downward revision from 131.8). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) declined to 4.7 from last week’s 4.9%.

2013-08-15 High Yield Market Overview July 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II Constrained Index, was up 1.88% for the month of July. High yield recovered some of the sell-off experienced in May and June as Treasury yields stabilized and mutual fund and ETF (exchange traded fund) flows turned positive. The market’s rally occurred as rate fears subsided, which resulted in retail flows returning to the asset class.

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

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

2013-08-15 To Manage Rising Rates, Consider Benching Your Benchmark by Douglas Peebles, Michael Mon of AllianceBernstein

As we enter a period of rising rates, many bond investors are growing more aware of the risks of benchmark-oriented bond portfolios. It may be time to sit the benchmark down and consider more flexible, unconstrained approaches to fixed income.

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.

2013-08-14 Active ETF Market Share Update & Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Overall the total AUM in all active ETFs declined by $1.2 million last week, an insignificant amount for the $14.4 billion space. “Short Term Bond” increased by almost $29.3 million, while “Global Bond” fell by around $15.8 million. “Foreign Bond” had another bad week, ending almost $34 million lower than where it began, as did the “Currency” category which declined by more than $8.7 million.

2013-08-14 Why GDP Deserves Less Attention by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Before joining Columbia Management I worked for several years as an economist at a few of the large broker-dealers in New York. One of my primary functions was to maintain an ongoing estimate of growth in the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP)a so-called GDP “bean count.” Most investors use GDP as their primary summary measure of overall economic performance, so they are keenly interested in how incoming data are likely to impact the estimates. Our running tally of GDP growth for the current quarter was one of the most sought after pieces of research we produced.

2013-08-14 Focused Only on the US? Here's What You're Missing by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Many investors remain fixated on what’s happening in the United States -- and particularly on what the Federal Reserve will do -- but Russ explains why they shouldn’t lose sight of what’s happening abroad.

2013-08-14 How to Invest in Emerging Markets 3.0 by Sammy Suzuki of AllianceBernstein

It’s been 25 years since the emerging-market equities index was created, and much has changed. Today, we believe that emerging markets are on the cusp of a third phase that might compel investors to shift away from benchmarks and focus on absolute risk.

2013-08-14 Pause: Breather Needed Short-Term, But Longer-Term Still Looks Good by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

Sentiment has gotten a little frothy ahead of a typically-seasonally weak period, but valuation remains attractiveoh, and don’t fret low volume.

2013-08-14 What Role for Emerging Markets After the Sell-Off? by Ramin Toloui of PIMCO

While history suggests that the sell-off in emerging market bonds could ultimately offer attractive buying opportunities, it is important to anchor investment decisions firmly within a forward-looking economic and market outlook. Continuing vulnerabilities in global growth suggest there is fundamental value in EM bond yields at present valuations, as interest rate hikes priced into EM yield curves are unlikely to materialize in an environment of tentative growth.

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

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

2013-08-13 Asking for Referrals when Your Performance is Lagging by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

My firm is very focused on client referrals right now. We are supposed to ask for them at client meetings. Our investment performance has not been great we are behind our benchmarks. I think it is wrong to tell clients we have underperformed and then ask who they know that they could refer. Do you agree we should wait until our performance improves?

2013-08-13 Why Clients Don’t Give You Credit for Your Hard Work And What to do About it by Dan Richards (Article)

Advisors work incredibly hard, but clients take that effort for granted. How can advisors get credit for all they do for clients?

2013-08-13 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Wade Pfau’s article, Unlocking the Two Mysteries behind SPIAs, which appeared last week, and readers respond to the commentary, What’s Wrong With Indexes?, by Brian Evans of AdvisorShares, which was published on July 29.

2013-08-13 A Better Way to Measure Systemic Risk by Michael Edesess (Article)

The economics profession has faced harsh criticism since the financial crisis of 2007-09 not least from its own membersfor relying on mathematical models that failed to foresee the crisis and in some cases abetted its onset. Is the criticism justified, and what can be done about it?

2013-08-13 China Struggles to Fight the Trend by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Prior to the global financial crisis, decoupling’ was the word du jour. In the years since the crisis began, however, decoupling has vanished from the everyday lexicon. In recent weeks, the financial media noticed a new form of decoupling, one that shows improving growth prospects in the developed world but slower growth in developing economies. Rightly or otherwise, much of that slowdown is pinned on China and recent data continues to suggest a slower pace of growth than investors became accustomed to in prior decades.

2013-08-13 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stock prices declined modestly last week. A shrinking trade deficit caused 2nd quarter GDP estimates to increase (over 2% now annualized), thus renewing fears that the Federal Reserve would commence “tapering” at their September meeting.

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 Understanding Quality: The Crux of Long-Term Investing by Francis Gannon of The Royce Funds

While some experts believe that small-cap valuations are currently stretched, we see ample opportunities in what we think are high-quality smaller companies.

2013-08-12 Fight Over the Fed: Why So Ugly? by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog

When President Barack Obama let it slip in a June interview that Federal Reserve (Fed) Chairman Ben Bernanke had “already stayed a lot longer than he wanted or he was supposed to,” the quest for the next Fed chair was underway. But few anticipated it would devolve into a fairly brutal brawl - by economist standards - between two extremely competent and capable PhD candidates: Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen and former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who also served as Harvard’s president and chief White House economic advisor.

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

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

2013-08-12 Extreme Brevity of the Financial Memory by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The period of generally rich valuations since the late-1990’s (associated with overall market returns hardly better than Treasury bill returns since then) has created a tolerance for valuations that, in fact, have led to awful declines, and have required fresh recoveries to elevated valuations simply to provide meager peak-to-peak returns.

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.

2013-08-10 We Can't Take the Chance by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

What would it have been like to be a central banker in the midst of the crisis in 2008-09? You’d know that you won’t have the luxury of going back and making better decisions five years later. Instead, you have to act on the torrent of information that’s coming at you, and none of it is good. Major banks are literally collapsing, the interbank market is nonexistent and there is panic in the air. Perhaps you feel that panic in the pit of your stomach. This week we’ll perform a little thought experiment to see if we can extrapolate what is likely to happen in when the nex

2013-08-09 Futures Markets Signal Gold Ready to Erupt by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

With gold recouping some losses in its most recent trading sessions, many are asking whether or not the bottom has finally formed for the yellow metal. Most of these gains have been simply chalked up to short-covering and dovish remarks by Bernanke during the recent Federal Open Market Committee meetings; however, there are some key indicators for gold which are overshadowed by the media hubbub. Two of them in particular are important to understand, because they reveal a renewed investment demand for physical gold over paper gold or fiat currencies.

2013-08-09 Charts for the Beach by Richards Bernstein of Richards Bernstein Advisors

Our basic positions are now famous (or infamous). We continue to favor US assets and to shield our portfolios from the on-going and broad problems in the emerging markets. In the spirit of August, we forego significant text this month to present a series of charts that outline a few of the opportunities and risks we see in the global markets.

2013-08-09 A Generational Selling Opportunity for the U.S. Long Bond by Jim O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Because investors tend to extrapolate what their general experience in markets has been recently well into the future, it’s easy to see why investors are having a long-term love affair with bonds. Yet the data in this paper suggests that a crisis in long bonds is coming and, given this information, individual and institutional investors alike should reconsider the bond portion of their portfolios.

2013-08-09 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.8, essentially unchanged from last week’s 131.7 (a downward revision from 131.8). At the end of July the company posted a new commentary, Becoming Japan, which highlights the decline in GDP growth for Japan and seven other major economies, including the US. Also this week ECRI’s Lakshman Achuthan defended his company’s recession call on Bloomberg TV.

2013-08-08 Absolute Strategies Fund Portfolio Commentary by Jay Compson of Absolute Investment Advisers

In our last quarter commentary we posed a simple question: "Why does the economy need so much stimulus and quantitative easing for so little growth?" Over the last two years or so, we feel that we have identified and explained the structural issues and risks very clearly. But in the second quarter, the equity and credit markets may have done a better job offering investors a true glimpse of the realities facing global markets.

2013-08-08 Bond Wars by William Gross of PIMCO

Adaptation is tantamount to survival in the physical world. So argued Darwin, at least, and I am not one to argue with most science and its interpretation of natural laws. Adaptation has been critical as well for the survival of countries during wartime, incidents of which I am drawn to like a bear to honey, especially when they concern WWI. Stick with me for a few paragraphs on this the following is not likely to be boring and almost certainly should be instructive.

2013-08-08 What is Risk? by Chris Engelman of Cedar Hill Associates

There are no rewards from investing without some measure of risk. Risk management, a process for recognizing, assessing and prioritizing a variety of risks, is an essential part of managing a portfolio successfully. Cedar Hill takes a holistic approach to risk management by identifying each client’s objectives, preferences and constraints, then creating specific asset allocation and implementation strategies to minimize the effects of negative events.

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.

2013-08-08 Dcf Vs. Multiples by Kurt Havnaer of Jensen Investment Management

Valuing a stock is arguably one of the investment manager’s most difficult tasks. A variety of tools and methodologies exist to value equities, and the assumptions used in those are estimates of future unknowns. According to Aswath Damodaran, a valuation expert and finance professor at New York University, multiples are the most common method used by investors to value stocks.

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

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

2013-08-08 Looking Farther Down the Road by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

The stock market has continued to do very well over the summer months, reaching new, all-time highs and proving to even the most stubborn of skeptics that Great Recessions can become Great Recoveries for those with the appropriate time horizon. While our industry spends a great deal of time and effort focused on relative performance results compared to appropriate benchmarks, the greatest value any financial advisor or money manager can provide is usually addressed far less often; simply keeping you in the game.

2013-08-08 Is The Financial Crisis Over For Financial Stocks? by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The cause of the financial crisis of 2007 -2008, also known as the Great Recession of 2008, is attributed to many different theories. However, one of the most common theories is an easy money regulatory environment that led to an abundance of subprime loans, which in turn inflated real estate prices to bubble levels. Additionally, many blame the Financial sector, predominantly the money center banks, for exploiting the lax lending requirements with reckless and greedy behavior.

2013-08-08 The Role of Confidence by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital

The so-called wealth effect plays an important and well recognized part in the functioning of an economy. When assets appreciate in value, the owners translate their increased wealth into increased spending. While at first glance this is unsurprising, it should be noted that this is true even if the appreciation is unrealized, and thus the increased wealth exists solely on paper. The relationship can be stated as follows: the richer people feel, the more they spend. Changes in confidence have an impact on behavior similar to the wealth effect. That’s what this memo is about.

2013-08-07 Fear Capital Misallocation Not Market Cycles by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

A great deal of time and energy is spent trying to determine when the current bull market in stocks will end. We at Smead Capital Management make no effort to time the stock market because after 33 years in the investment business I’ve never found anyone who did it successfully. We do try to avoid capital misallocation and thought you might want to look at the history of the investment asset classes to see how periods of popularity lead to misery and periods of misery lead to above-average returns.

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.

2013-08-07 What\'s in the Vault? by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

Given that the demand for physical gold among private investors has remained strong throughout 2013, the significant price declines in recent months took many investors by surprise.

2013-08-07 Weekly Market Commentary by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

As I write this the S&P 500 futures are indicating a down open setting us up for possibly three down days in a row. If you watch the financial media someone will undoubtedly talk about how the sky is falling.

2013-08-07 Who has the Edge in Race to Head the Fed? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

One of the most common mistakes policy analysts make is what I like to call normative bias’allowing personal opinions to affect perceived odds of certain outcomes. Saying “The Fed is unlikely to introduce quantitative easing because it would lead to high inflation” is an example of normative bias. Fed officials do not think quantitative easing (QE) leads to high inflation, and whether you think it does has no bearing on the probability. Personal perceptions are irrelevant for policy analysisthe only things that matter are the perceptions of the decision maker.

2013-08-07 Thoughts on the Long/Short Space by Kurt Voldeng of AdvisorShares

This insight from Kurt Voldeng highlights performance in the long/short fund universe.

2013-08-06 Low Quality Jobs Recovery Continues in July by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In a busy week of economic data, investors ended the week on a mixed note.The government jobs report revealed a labor market experiencing steady if not unspectacular growth, as nonfarm payrolls came in below consensus estimates while the unemployment rate surprised to the upside.

2013-08-06 Unlocking the Two Mysteries behind SPIAs by Wade Pfau (Article)

Two mysteries confound planners who purchase single-premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) for their clients: Why does the present value of a SPIA often exceed its cost, and why do equity allocations appear to increase when a SPIA is purchased? Unlocking those mysteries requires advisors to use a different framework based on the household balance sheet for the withdrawal phase of retirement.

2013-08-06 How to Host Targeted Client Seminars by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We are embarking on a series of workshops targeted to different markets. We are focusing on a few dedicated areas. We use a certain investment philosophy. It really doesn’t matter whether the client is for example a retired doctor or a young career woman. We follow market movements and allocate based on client concerns and needs. In these workshops, how can we say that we change things for different market segments?

2013-08-06 Is China the New France? by Marianne Brunet (Article)

Imagine a country that grows its economy by greatly devaluing against the reserve currency to develop a strong export sector. As the country becomes a major world power, it accumulates massive amounts of the reserve currency, and fears grow that its actions could destabilize global markets. If you think that description sounds like China today, you’re right. But it also describes France in the 1920s. Lessons from that era are instructive for those seeking to forecast China’s long-term position in the world.

2013-08-06 Human Capital in the Digital Economy by Alan Winger (Article)

Human capital is a key asset that planners manage as they strive to maximize consumption throughout clients’ lives. Human capital, or lifetime income, often peaks in value early in their careers. Moreover, today’s digital economy means human capital is more volatile and less predictable than in the past, and that carries important implications for financial planners.

2013-08-06 We Shale Rise by Janus Equity Investment team of Janus Capital Group

The U.S. oil and gas boom largely underpinned the country’s economic recovery, but this is only the beginning. Don’t underestimate what cheap oil and natural gas means for the U.S. economy, or how long this advantage could last.

2013-08-06 The “Employment Situation” and A Look at Housing by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week, we start with a return to our “tidbits” and then insight and thoughts around the Employment Situation as reported on Friday and our take on that and related data. We also take a look at Homeownership data and wonder if the glass is half full or empty.

2013-08-06 China's Slowdown by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

Over the past three decades, China has seen its economy grow significantly.

2013-08-06 The ABCs of ABS: Identifying Opportunities in Asset-Backed Securities by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

In the search for yield, ABS offers an opportunity to generate higher returns through rigorous analysis, unaccompanied by additional credit or interest-rate risk.

2013-08-06 What Doesn\'t Kill Gold Makes it Stronger by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

I’ve been emphasizing for months that the current correction in the gold price is a result of speculative money fleeing the market and not any reflection of gold’s long-term fundamentals. Unfortunately, there is so much money to be made (and lost) by day trading that my cautions have once again fallen on deaf ears.

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

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

2013-08-05 Weak Job Growth? RX: Buy Stocks by Charles Lieberman (Article)

At dinner with friends on Saturday evening, I was asked if I’m still bullish. Another investment guy is now cautious, bordering on bearish. A discussion ensued. The case for being bearish remains weak and unconvincing, hardly even believable in my judgment. Much of the case seems to be driven by the notion that stocks have rallied a lot, so surely they must decline.

2013-08-05 The Minsky Bubble by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

In his classic treatise on speculation, Manias, Panics and Crashes (originally published in 1978), the late Charles Kindleberger laid out a pattern of events that has periodically occurred in financial markets throughout history. Drawing on the work of economist Hyman Minsky, the conditions he described are likely far more relevant at the present moment than investors may recognize.

2013-08-02 Avoiding Pricey Low Volatility Investing by Feifei Li of Research Affiliates

Low volatility investing reduces a portfolio’s exposure to the market factor in favor of other historically reliable sources of equity risk premium.But the alluring risk-adjusted performance characteristics of low volatility strategies have lately attracted serious investors, and many managers have developed products to meet the growing demand.Is it possible to preserve the benefits of low volatility investing when prices rise?Feifei Li, Head of Research, suggests implementation refinements that might make a difference.

2013-08-02 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1668.68. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1685.73. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-08-02 Building Market Intelligence by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

The US housing market can no longer be painted with one brush, as the housing recovery is playing out very differently across the country. Here are some anecdotes gleaned from our consulting team.

2013-08-02 The Fed's Outlook and Leadership in Flux by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Many observers blamed a lack of clarity from the Federal Reserve (the Fed) for the sharp increase in interest rates after the initial signals about tapering. As a result, in recent weeks Fed officials have tried to calm nerves by stressing that the decision to slow the pace of quantitative easing (QE)now expected to begin after the September FOMC meetingdoes not signal anything about the outlook for the funds rate or their broader policy goals. Unfortunately for the Fed, the policy outlook looks increasingly fluid again.

2013-08-02 A Biotech and Pharmaceutical RX by Evan McCulloch of Franklin Templeton Investments

When you visit your doctor or reach into your medicine cabinet for something to cure your ills, you probably don’t think much about the amount of science and innovation packed into that little pill. Evan McCulloch, portfolio manager of Franklin Biotechnology Discovery Fund, has his eye on products in the healthcare, biotechnology and pharmaceutical sectors that have the potential to change the world of medicine. He says new product cycles and therapies have made it a particularly exciting time for the sector, and potentially for investors.

2013-08-02 The Shariah Appeal by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

For some, the only guiding rule they have for investing is to grow their assets. For others, the rules are more complicated. Specifically in the Muslim world, demand has been growing for investments compliant with Islamic law (Sharia or Shariah) which adhere to a set of religious beliefs and principles. Considering the global Muslim population is expected to grow to 2.2 billion by 2030, representing more than a third of the world’s total population1, I expect rising demand for Shariah-compliant investment vehicles to continue.

2013-08-02 3 Reasons Silver Is Not the Same As Gold by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Many investors who remain cautious on gold wonder whether they should get their precious metal exposure through silver instead. In response, Russ explains why the two metals aren’t interchangeable.

2013-08-02 QE Why $85 Billion per Month? Why Not $170 or $42 -1/2 Billion? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Am I the only one who wondered how the Federal Reserve arrived at a figure of $85 billion as the amount of longer-maturity securities it planned to purchase per month in its third round of quantitative easing (QE)? Why not double that amount? Why not half that amount? How will the Fed know when it is time to “taper” its securities purchases? How will the Fed know by how much to taper? Inquiring minds want to know.

2013-08-02 Three Reasons Why Money Market Yields Are So Low by Craig Bloodworth of Invesco Blog

I’m often asked why money market yields are so low today - even lower than they were a few months ago. My response generally begins with overnight repurchase agreements, or repo, which impact the price of term securities in the money market space.

2013-08-01 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

Throughout the 1980’s, we heard talk from the investment community to “go global”, invest worldwide, perhaps driven by true globalization of corporate exchange and balance sheets, and perhaps also by the need by firms to create “new” products for their consumers to devour. Mutual funds, brokerages, and private equity companies alike saturated the media with product offerings from every corner of the globe and every possible market sector, including telecom, basic materials, energy and industrial development.

2013-08-01 Why Tinkering Too Much with Your Portfolio Won\'t Pay Off by Team of Knowledge@Wharton

When it comes to your investment portfolio, how much attention is too much -- and what constitutes too little? In a recent paper, Wharton finance professor Andrew B. Abel and two colleagues found that even when transaction costs are small, it makes more sense to act according to a schedule with surprisingly long intervals. Too much fussing, in other words, is counterproductive -- even if it’s cheap.

2013-08-01 July 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

Fixed income investors have enjoyed a steady move higher in bond prices over the past five years. Given the consistency with which bond values have increased, it is understandable if bond investors were surprised by the just over 0.60%, or 60 basis point rise in ten year Treasury yields and corresponding movement down in bond prices during the second quarter.

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 New GDP Revisions to Boost US Economy by 3% by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

At the end of April, I pointed out that the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) announced it would be making some significant revisions to the way it calculates Gross Domestic Product on July 31. It will revise economic growth for all years going back to 1929. This change is somewhat controversial in that it is expected to add up to 3% to total GDP in one fell swoop tomorrow morning. That’s about $1,500 worth of extra goods and services for every person in the US!

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

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

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

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

2013-07-30 How to Fix the Flaws in Financial Planning by Dan Richards (Article)

Four-in-five financial planning recommendations don’t lead to action, according to a Forbes column. Our industry needs a fundamental reappraisal of how to create plans that translate into action and positive outcomes.

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

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

2013-07-30 How to Change the Conversation with your Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Are we, as advisors, doing a disservice to our clients if we simply focus on answering financially related questions?

2013-07-30 Detroit A Guest Commentary and Noise from DC by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week I bring you a guest commentary from a friend and colleague, Josh Laurito. His blog post, “Why Detroit’s Bankruptcy is a Bigger Deal Than You Think” may rankle a few of you and cause others to challenge Josh’s points. That is what he does so well he thinks outside of the box and offers context not necessarily shared by folks who are all munis, all the time. It is precisely these reasons that I encourage you to read on. In my years of knowing Josh, I have always found his thinking and approach to be insightful and, at times, a bit different.

2013-07-30 Earnings Take a Back Seat to Policy by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Although it was a quiet week on the economic front, there were a few notable indicators to digest.

2013-07-30 Economic & Capital Market Summary by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

We are approaching the five year anniversary of the beginning of the Financial Crisis. By this time in 2008 we had already experienced the complete seizure of the Auction Rate Preferred securities market and the takeover of Bear Stearns by JP Morgan Chase. In August of 2008, we would see the collapse of Lehman Brothers and the government takeover of AIG. We stand here today, shoulders slumped, and heads bowed mourning the lack of real progress in addressing the structural problems that are impeding sustained economic growth and private credit expansion.

2013-07-30 FPA Crescent: Steve Romick\'s Quarterly Commentary by Steven Romick of FPA Funds

FPA Crescent Fund has released its quarterly commentary examining the state of the fund and its investments as well as an outlook on the greater economy. Portfolio manager Steve Romick feels that the economic “recovery has been disappointing and largely engineered by central bank policy” and worries “that low interest rates and novel and theoretical Fed policy could lead to unintended consequences.”

2013-07-30 As Finances Mend, Will Consumers Spend? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Federal Reserve recently released first quarter data on household finances. These show continued and welcome improvement. Stronger balance sheets reflect improved real estate prices, rising stock prices, and continued higher rates of household saving.

2013-07-30 Pennies from Heaven, Irrationality, and “Dys-information” by Chris Richey of Neosho Capital

If QE4 holds to course, ending, not just tapering, sometime in mid-2014, the U.S. will have spent 4+ years out of the past 6 living on monetary stimulus, all the while continuing to pile up ever more claims against future prosperity.

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.

2013-07-29 Baked in the Cake by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Once the risk premium is beaten out of stocks, there is no way out, and nothing that can be done about it. Poor subsequent returns, market losses, and the associated destruction of financial security (at least for the bag-holders) are already baked in the cake. This should have been the lesson gleaned from the period since 2000, but because it remains unlearned, it will also become the lesson of the coming decade.

2013-07-29 Why China Has Become a Value Play by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why it’s time for investors to change how they think about China, and he explains why there’s a strong case for viewing the Chinese market as a value -- rather than a growth -- play.

2013-07-29 What's Wrong With Indexes? by Brian Evans, Madrona of AdvisorShares

It has been more than 35 years since the first broad market index funds debuted. At the time, they were a cutting edge strategy for core equity allocation. Today, index funds are a major part of 401(k) and other retirement plans, particularly ones tracking the Standard & Poor’s 500. But they have deep flaws.

2013-07-29 Detroit Bankruptcy Not Indicative of Credit Trends by Mary Jane Minier and Matt Nichols of Invesco Blog

Detroit filed for bankruptcy on July 18, making it the largest municipality to file for bankruptcy, as well as the first time a state’s largest city has filed. While this is a historic event, it’s definitely not unexpected - Detroit’s declining finances date back to the 1960s. A 50-year trend is a pretty telling metric.

2013-07-26 The View From Here by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Despite the advance of college savings accounts, many families are ill-prepared to pay for school.

2013-07-26 Economic Value Approach to ROIC May Unearth Hidden Value by Team of Jacob Funds

Equity mutual fund managers employ a wide variety of investing approaches in an attempt to outperform the market, but very few stand out from the crowd. The approaches that do work over the long term tend to be very distinctive, focusing consistently on a specific methodology that is executed regardless of the market environment.

2013-07-26 For A Healthier Portfolio - Look Here by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Health Care sector is comprised of many diverse companies, as can be seen from the list of subsectors provided below. Historically the Health Care sector has been comprised of a significant number of companies with above-average growth rates of earnings. Consequently, a majority of the companies comprising the Health Care sector could be thought of as growth stocks over dividend growth stocks.

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.

2013-07-26 Is Europe Ready to Take Off? by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

After the U.S.’s huge run, is it possible the country will be handing off the baton across the Atlantic for the next leg of the relay race? Here are a few areas of strength that could send European stocks higher.

2013-07-26 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Income inequality is rising, but it’s not clear what to do about it. Brazil’s struggles come at a delicate time. Detroit’s road to bankruptcy does not set a path for others to follow.

2013-07-26 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, up slightly from last week’s 130.2. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) remains unchanged at 4.5%.

2013-07-26 Investing In Bonds When Rates Are Rising by Tom Dalpiaz of Advisors Asset Management

How can investors “stay in the bond game” during these difficult rising rate environments? Here are some suggestions.

2013-07-25 Summer Quarterly Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

Recently the Fed indicated it may begin returning control over market pricing and interest rates to Adam Smith’s invisible hand... and borderline chaos erupted. The episode began mid-day May 22nd as Congress questioned Fed Chairman Bernanke and suddenly the cat was out of the bag and a paradigm shift ensued. Bond funds suffered some of their largest weekly redemptions on record. Rates spiked and markets swooned around the world through late June as investors assumed the worst.

2013-07-25 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 No Bargains in the Consumer Discretionary Aisle by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ has long advocated that investors remain cautious on consumer discretionary stocks. After last week’s weak economic data, he updates the case for this call.

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 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.

2013-07-24 Bursting of the Bond Bubble by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

Our April newsletter focused on the extreme overvaluation in the bond market. I argued that money market funds (or cash) were likely to outperform bonds and bond funds over the next decade. In May I applied the same logic to US stock prices and the inherent fallacy in the prevailing TINA (“there is no alternative” to stocks) hypothesis. Although stocks are likely to outperform bonds over the next decade, both asset classes remain seriously overvalued. In a world of overvalued assets, zero return looks much better than large potential losses even when that means foregoing transitory

2013-07-23 Getting Past “Blah, Blah, Blah” When Talking to Prospects by Dan Richards (Article)

We’ve all had our eyes glaze over listening to someone who knows their topic well but goes on too long and gets into too much detail. A recent conversation at a backyard barbeque outlined how two successful advisors fell victim to the “blah, blah, blah” effect, but a third was able to clearly articulate her value and differentiate herself.

2013-07-23 Fantasy versus Factors by Michael Nairne (Article)

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

2013-07-23 Taper Protection: Where to Go when Rates Rise by Casey Frazier, CFA (Article)

I have fielded a number of questions from advisors about the effects of rising interest rates on real estate values. The negative effect of rising rates is predictable for fixed incomes, but real estate returns vary and are dependent on a number of factors. I will start with a historical analysis that demonstrates the strength of real estate returns during periods of rising rates. Then I’ll outline the factors that drive changes in real estate values in a rising-interest-rate environment.

2013-07-23 Choosing Between Your Clients and Your Employees by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have a client who has always been difficult, but lately is becoming impossible. She is one of our largest clients, but her belligerent and belittling attitude has some of my best people threatening to quit. Some clients think that just because they have a lot of money they can get away with anything. I need to protect my staff but I also don’t want to lose the income from this client. Is there a way to do both?

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.

2013-07-23 Time to Kick the “Ick” Factor for Energy and Materials by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Basic materials have been the “biggest loser” of an asset class for 2012 as well as thus far in 2013. Everything tangible, from gold and copper to coal and steel, has acquired an “ick” factor that makes the asset class nearly uninvestable. Shares of companies in these categories are trading at values not seen since 2009 market lows. We are beginning to see some very important developments that might make the group more palatable. In fact, we believe that metals, mining and energy could again become Wall Street darlings.

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 Dear Bernanke - You Can\'t Have Your Cake And Eat It Too by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

The U.S. stock market continues its euphoric rise into record territory despite continuing weakness in economic data. Recent comments from Federal Reserve Board Chair, Ben Bernanke, indicating that the Fed does not have a predetermined plan to stop its stimulus plan has investors increasing their allocations to equities.

2013-07-23 Will Buffett Be Right on Wells Fargo? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

A long time friend once said, "Bill, on the stocks that worked it didn’t make any difference what you paid!" What he was referring to were the stocks which rose to many times your original purchase price and the investors who participated over the long run in the shares ended up happy and wealthier. Is Wells Fargo (WFC) one of those companies and will Warren Buffett’s recent purchases get vindicated? As we enter the second half of 2013, this is a great discussion point for long-duration common stock investors in a market which has been strong since September of 2011.

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 Don\'t Follow the Yellow Brick Road by David Lieberman (Article)

Gold has been in a broad sell off, falling from a high of about $1,900 an ounce to about $1,250 an ounce within a year. However, gold remains incredibly difficult to properly value, and is something that we suggest that clients avoid. Here’s why.

2013-07-22 More Plow Horse in Q2 by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Forecasting economic growth for the second quarter of the year is always precarious. The reason is that the initial report on the second quarter is when the government goes back and makes revisions to GDP for the past several years. This time around, it’s particularly iffy because the government for the very first time is going to start accounting in GDP for the value of R&D spending by companies.

2013-07-22 The Road to Easy Street by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The most important part of every studied investment discipline is the diligence to follow it even at points where it is frustrating to do so.

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.

2013-07-22 4 Reasons to Consider Investing in Frontier Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

At a time when investors are worried about Chinese banks and Brazilian riots, investing in the riskiest areas of the emerging world seems counterintuitive. But according to Russ, there are four reasons why many investors should consider having a small allocation to frontier markets.

2013-07-20 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 European Equities: Beyond the Headlines by Philippe Brugere-Trelat of Franklin Templeton Investments

It’s fairly easy for investors to find reasons to shun European equities. While struggles in some Eurozone “periphery” countries continue to make eye-catching headlines, the broader story of Europe is far less fatalistic, according to Mutual Series Executive Vice President Philippe Brugere-Trelat, who manages the Mutual European Fund, Mutual Global Discovery Fund and Mutual International Fund. When it comes to Europe, he says one shouldn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater, so to speak.

2013-07-19 Is Inflation Really Gone Forever? by Jon Ruff of AllianceBernstein

Recent movements in asset prices suggest that markets have forsaken any possibility of an inflation outbreak in the next decade. We believe that view is far too sanguine.

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 Are Blue-Chip Consumer Staples Worth Today's Premium Valuations? by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Consumer Staples sector consists of companies that provide essential products. In other words, Consumer Staples are products that people cannot or are unwilling to do without. As a result of the essential nature of Consumer Staples, there are several attributes that distinguish this sector from most others. First of all, the essential nature of the products that Consumer Staples’ companies produce, are for the most part, non-cyclical. Second, Consumer Staples tend to be very insensitive to economic cycles.

2013-07-19 Egypt: Stating the Obvious by Michelle Shwarzman of Invesco Blog

Although the outcome may have been viewed as a surprise by many, the ongoing economic malaise that partially fueled the revolt against and eventual ouster of Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, was not.

2013-07-19 Opportunity in Europe by Team of Neuberger Berman

A striking feature of this year’s global stock market rally is that international markets have significantly trailed U.S. stocks. Nevertheless, Neuberger Berman’s Asset Allocation Committee (AAC) recently made the contrarian call of upgrading its view for international developed markets, particularly Europe. In this Strategic Spotlight, we provide an update on the European economy and lay out some reasons for optimism despite the dour growth outlook.

2013-07-19 Risk Tolerance: Defining a Misunderstood Term by Robert Isbitts of Sungarden Investment Research

First, let’s be clear: “Risk” is the possibility that you will need money but don’t have it, either because your portfolio’s value plunged, because your investments don’t have near-term liquidity, or both. What freaks investors out in the here-and-now is VOLATILITY. Yet many traditional approaches to building a portfolio don’t really account for this, other than a token survey question or two when the client is first starting to invest.

2013-07-19 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.2, up slightly from last week’s 130.1 (revised from 130.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 4.5% from 4.3% last week (revised from 4.6%).

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.

2013-07-18 Closed-end Fund Review by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

Following a quarter in which the average closed-end fund was up 4.31%, the universe of 595 funds was lower by 5.60% on a share price total return basis during the second quarter (both figures from Morningstar). For many funds, most of the weakness occurred during the month of June (when the average fund was lower by 6.09% on a share price total return basis, according to Morningstar).

2013-07-18 What's Next for the U.S. Dollar? by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management

Global government bonds have performed poorly so far this year. Year to date through July 13, the Barclays Global Treasury Index, which covers 30 investment grade domestic government bond markets, is down 5.5% in unhedged U.S. dollar terms. The same index hedged back to U.S. dollars is down 0.6% year to date. This difference in returns highlights a key point.

2013-07-18 Powerful Case for Silver by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

I am a well-known "gold bug" because of my strongly voiced opinion that gold has been one of the best assets for protecting yourself from the US dollar’s prolonged decline.

2013-07-17 Are Earnings Set to Disappoint? by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

With earnings season upon us, it’s time to review market valuation from a trailing and forward perspective. Based on S&P’s forward operating earnings out to 2014, the market is reasonably valued at 13.6x. But this requires sharp EPS projections as detailed below.

2013-07-17 Second Quarter 2013 Newsletter by Steve Wenstrup, Jim Tillar of Tillar-Wenstrup

We wrote after the strong first quarter to expect volatility to increase with stocks remaining the preferred asset class and that is largely what happened in the second quarter. Almost all risk assets wobbled after the Federal Reserve (Fed) hinted at a possible tapering of quantitative easing later this year. Regardless, most domestic stocks did well in the quarter.

2013-07-17 Canadian Secular View: Into Darkness? by Ed Devlin of PIMCO

Many investors are buying Canadian federal government bonds, shorting Canadian bank stocks and selling Canadian dollars in anticipation of a prolonged downturn. While significant risks are clearly facing the Canadian economy, our baseline forecast does not justify positioning our portfolios for a prolonged Canadian downturn.

2013-07-16 Nassim Nicholas Taleb: To Prevail in an Uncertain World, Get Convex by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

Investment professionals know the value of a convex bond it gains more from falling rates than it loses from rising ones. According to Nassim Nicholas Taleb, people and institutions can and should position themselves to be convex. Indeed, they should be antifragile ready to gain from disorder or uncertainty.

2013-07-16 Letters to the Editor by Advisor Perspectives (Article)

A reader responds to the ongoing exchange of letters regarding socially responsible investing, and a reader responds to Joe Tomlinson’s article, Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown, which appeared last week.

2013-07-16 Dealing with Over-needy Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have too many clients who are needy and require a lot of personalized service. I know we can expect to spend 80% of our time servicing 20% of our clients, but the 80% seem to demand more and more and more from us.

2013-07-16 Herbert Huebscher (1926-2013) by Robert Huebscher (Article)

My dad passed away on July 8. My eulogy is below.

2013-07-16 Hedge Funds Can Advertise...But Should They? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

In April 2012, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act was signed into law. The legislation eased a number of regulatory burdens on small businesses and private industry in a bid to boost job growth. The bill made additional headlines for lifting an 80-year ban on solicitation for private placements, the restriction that prevented hedge funds from advertising their wares to the general public.

2013-07-16 High Yield Market Overview June 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II Constrained Index (the “Index”), was down 2.64% for the month of June. Yields moved sharply higher during the month as the high yield market experienced record retail outflows, quickly adjusting expectations around the Treasury market, and increased equity price volatility. Volatility spiked after a more hawkish message emanated from the Fed after the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting on June 19th.

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 Investment Bulletin: Emerging Markets Equity by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

For the half year to end June the index was buffeted, falling 3.1%. In contrast, the portfolio managed a gain of 8.3%, more than 1,000 basis points better. During the month of June, the Emerging Market index was whacked by 6.4%; the portfolio’s value also fell, but by a lesser 6.2%. The relative year-to-date and longer term falls in some of the regional indices have been grim (Chart 1, p.4): for example, in the first six months of 2013, EM equities underperformed those in developed markets on a total return basis by 16%, and by 14% over the last 12 months.

2013-07-15 A Pivotal Point in the Markets by Meggan Walsh of Invesco Blog

Because the market is a forward-discounting mechanism, it’s not unusual for it to have led the economic recovery over the last four years. Today, I believe the market has already discounted a decent economy over the intermediate term and is approximately fairly valued. But that’s not the whole story.

2013-07-15 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.

2013-07-15 Detroit, Addicted to Fed $$ by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Last week, I left you with a hint that the July 8 commentary was to be a collector’s edition. After reading this week’s you will know why (hint: it is in the title). I start this week with a guest commentary from Kate McDonough who takes a look at the Detroit Emergency Manager’s Proposal for Creditors. I then take a look at just how reliant we are on the Federal Government for revenue (beyond what the Federal Reserve is doing).

2013-07-15 Rock-A-Bye Baby by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

I’ve always thought that singing “Rock-a-bye baby” offers a bizarre lesson to our young, encouraging them to be lulled gently to sleep by describing a scene that should have them wide-eyed with terror.

2013-07-15 Last Call to Take Advantage of Ultralow Rates for GRATs? by Tara Thompson Popernik, Stephen Schilling of AllianceBernstein

US investors interested in establishing a “zeroed-out” Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) would benefit from completing their transactions before rising interest rates diminish its potential valuepreferably before the end of July.

2013-07-15 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

After weeks of naysaying and fear-mongering about the Fed, investors finally embraced news from Bernanke and friends and equities moved back into record-setting territory. While most accept the fact that the Fed has entered the “beginning-of-the-end” of its bond-buying stimuli, the minutes from the latest policy meeting and a few “comforting” comments from Dr. B. himself helped calm the masses that the program would not end “yesterday.”

2013-07-13 The Bang! Moment Shock by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we resume our musings about Cyprus, to see what that tiny island can teach us about our own personal need to engage in ongoing critical analysis of our lives and investment portfolios. Cyprus is not Greece or France or Spain or Japan or the US or (pick a country). I get that. No two situations are the same, but there may be a rhyme or two here that is instructive.

2013-07-12 Welcome Back Greece to the High-Potential World of Emerging Markets by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

In June, major international equity index provider MSCI confirmed Greece’s sojourn among the ranks of “developed markets” would end later this year as it will become the first-ever country to lose its “developed market” status in the MSCI universe. Interestingly, Greece was classified as emerging when I started with the Templeton Emerging Markets Group in 1987, and while the recent news might conjure up images of a significant turn for the worse for the country’s economic fortunes, MSCI’s explanation for Greece’s reclassification was actually mor

2013-07-12 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI posts its proprietary indicators on a one-week delayed basis to the general public, but last year the company switched its focus to a version of the Big Four Economic Indicators I’ve been tracking for the past year. In recent months, however, those indicators have slipped below the fold, replaced by the mixed bag of whatever Indicator du Jour might look recessionary, as in the "Yo-Yo Years" commentary.

2013-07-12 Making Sense of the Bond Market by Phelps McIlvaine of Saturna Capital

The great challenge for investors and advisers today is to forecast where interest rates and bond prices will be once the influence of radical central bank intervention dissipates. Measures of inflation expectations are declining, and deflation remains the dominant influence on interest rates. In assessing whether to trim bond allocations, it is important to revisit the reasons for selecting a particular asset allocation before modifying or abandoning it.

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.

2013-07-12 Calming Downand Changing Focus by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Markets are calming and investors seem to be focusing on fundamentals againa nice change from recent history. The bar is relatively low for earnings season but focus will be on the commentary surrounding releases. We believe more sideways movement in both US equities and Treasury yields could prevail over the next couple of months, with summer months muting action; but remain optimistic about stocks longer-term. Likewise, Japan could tread water until new elections are held, but we believe the eurozone provides opportunities that should be looked into at the expense of investments in China.

2013-07-11 TIPS Get Hammered in the 2013 Second Quarter by Stephen Percoco of Lark Research, Inc.

The beginning of the return to normalized interest rates took a big toll on straight Treasury securities in the 2013 second quarter, but TIPS got hit even harder. For the quarter, the average TIPS security lost 6.6%, worse than the average loss of 3.0% on comparable maturity Treasurys and by far the worst losses seen in the TIPS market since the 2008 financial crisis.

2013-07-11 The Taper by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

If SNL’s Emily Litella worked on Wall Street, she’d probably be asking “What’s all this hubbub about the Fed’s tapir? After all, it’s a fine animal that never hurt anyone on Wall Street.” It would then be pointed out to her that the word was “taper” and not “tapir”. She would politely end her commentary with her famous “Never mind.”

2013-07-10 A Five Question Portfolio Check Up by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

If the stock or bond market has another panic attack and drops 25% to 50% in the next 1, 2 or 3 years, would this decline make you unable to pay off your mortgage, pay for college, or whatever else you planned on doing? If the stock or bond market has another panic attack and drops 25% to 50% in the next 1, 2 or 3 years, would this decline cause you to: panic, sell everything you own, or worse, jump off a bridge? Do you know what you own? How important is the result of your portfolio entrusted to us in light of your entire financial well being?

2013-07-10 Rising Rate: Challenge and Opportunity by Gibson Smith, Lindsay Bernum of Janus Capital Group

While the prospect of rising interest rates generally strikes fear into the hearts of fixed income investors, it’s important to remember that periods of rising rates are normal and can create opportunities for active bond managers. Since 1970 there have been 21 periods in which interest rates rose significantly. While each has had its own unique characteristics, over the past 20 years equities have rallied during these periods, which has tended to support corporate credit markets.

2013-07-10 Employer Mandate: A Pharma Bump in the Road by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

As long-duration value investors, we at Smead Capital Management have been very attracted to the conservative accounting, shareholder friendly dividends/buybacks and bright pipeline futures of major pharmaceutical/biotech companies like Merck (MRK), Pfizer (PFE) and Amgen (AMGN). Lately, there has been weakness in these shares and we’d like to review our best theory for recent fears and price weakness, while reviewing the merit of these high quality shares.

2013-07-10 Are You Financially Literate? Take the Test! by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

For over a decade, numerous studies have found that most Americans are lacking in their basic knowledge regarding finance and investments. I first reported on this back in 2003 and have done so every few years since then. Unfortunately, things have not gotten better over the years, despite the fact that we went through a major financial crisis in 2008-2009.

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 Remember Earnings? by Tom West of Columbia Management

With the ebbing of the quantitative easing taper debate, can we go back to our regularly scheduled programming of earnings driving the stocks? If so, where do we stand? There are certainly some areas where we think estimates are a little high and some where they are too low. But in order to get a better picture of earnings expectations and what is priced in, we need to look at both the earnings and the PE (price-to-earnings) ratio the market has placed on those earnings.

2013-07-10 Safeguarding Leveraged Credit Portfolios Amid Heightened Interest-Rate Volatility by Team of Guggenheim Partners

While rapidly deteriorating credit quality and excessive market leverage were the chief culprits behind the end of the previous credit rally in 2007, neither factor is currently a significant concern in the leveraged credit market. Interest-rate risk, specifically the market’s uncertainty regarding future monetary policy, precipitated the recent market sell-off and will likely continue to shape the performance of high yield bonds and bank loans in the near term.

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 Beware Of The Valuations On The Best Consumer Discretionary Dividend Growth Stocks by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Consumer Discretionary sector consists of businesses that sell nonessential, and therefore, discretionary goods and services. Companies in this sector include retailers, media companies, consumer services companies, consumer durables and apparel companies, automobiles and components companies. Since so much of what this sector offers is discretionary items, companies in the sector tend to do best when the economy is strongest. Unfortunately, as we will soon see, so do the prices of their stocks tend to perform best when the market is performing best.

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 Retirement Portfolios: Fears over Rising Rates are Overblown by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The second quarter saw increases in interest rates, losses in every category of bonds and investors abandoning fixed-income markets. The distress has been particularly acute among retirement investors who considered bond funds to be safe. But are fears of bond losses overblown? I will make the case that the rise in interest rates is actually good for retirement portfolios. To see this, one has to look beyond the quarterly statement losses and focus on overall retirement outcomes.

2013-07-09 A Mid-Year Letter to Clients: A Positive Outlook on America by Dan Richards (Article)

Each quarter I’ve posted templates to serve as a starting point for advisors looking to send clients an overview of the three months that just ended and the outlook for the period ahead. This quarter’s letter focuses on why the U.S. is expected to be the leader among global economies.

2013-07-09 Business Building for Advisors by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I have received so many questions related to sales skills and business building that I will offer some basic tips for readers who want to energize their sales process and grow their firms. It’s no surprise that most advisors don’t sell naturally and in most cases think of selling as unpleasant. ’I want to clients to refer on their own I don’t want to sell them on doing so,’ is a refrain I hear over and over again.

2013-07-09 U.S. Stocks Continue to Dominate What’s Next? by Ron Surz (Article)

U.S. stocks earned 2.5% in the second quarter, bringing the year-to-date return up to a lofty 14%. By contrast, the EAFE index lost 1% in the quarter, bringing its year-to-date return down to 4%. In fact, as shown in the following graph, no other asset class comes even close to the return on U.S. stocks so far this year.

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 Widening the Search for Income: Beyond Traditional Bonds by Team of Forward Management

Multisector bond market strategies may provide an opportunity to capitalize on differences in relative value. A more refined and global approach may generate yield with dividend-paying stocks. Emerging market (EM) corporate bonds feature attractive fundamentals and have increased in popularity as an asset class.

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.

2013-07-08 Deflationary Boom? by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Taken together, the financial markets have priced a wide range of assets on the assumption that the U.S. is on the verge of a deflationary boom. Most likely, part of this scenario is wrong.

2013-07-08 Emerging Markets Debt Remains Fundamentally Strong by Claudia Calich, Jack Deino of Invesco Blog

June’s massive bond sell-off, prompted by fears that the Federal Reserve would wind down its bond-buying program, has had a negative trickle-down effect on emerging market debt-dedicated assets, which were hit hard as part of the record $14.45 billion in outflows seen in the overall bond market for the week ending June 12.

2013-07-05 Why Oil Has Proven Resilient by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Crude oil has proven more resilient and less volatile this year (depending on which benchmark you use, it is either up or down in the single digits) than most other commodities. There are three main factors behind this.

2013-07-05 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.4, down slightly from last week’s 130.6. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) fell to 5.3% from 5.8% last week.

2013-07-03 AdvisorShares Weekly Market Review by AdvisorShares Research of AdvisorShares

Markets went higher last week after central bankers around the world reassured investors that they would not kill the economic recovery with higher interest rates. More volatile small and mid-cap stock indices performed even better than the S&P 500.

2013-07-03 Investment Bulletin: Emerging Markets Equity by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The portfolio performed very well in May, taking the year to date net gain to 15.0%, vs. 3.5% for the index. There were two causes for the good numbers: stock selection i.e. ignoring index weightings - and the avoidance of countries with deteriorating balance of payments and budget deficits, and with high government debt to GDP ratios, such as Hungary, Poland, India, Turkey and South Africa.

2013-07-03 “Taper Tantrum” Grips Muni Market by Rafael Costas of Franklin Templeton Investments

The markets have been in fits since mid-May, when Federal Ben Bernanke planted the seed that the central bank’s prolonged asset buying program would start winding down. Many investors were gripped with irrational panic, a so-called “taper tantrum” that roiled equity and fixed income markets. Rafael Costas, senior vice president and co-director of our municipal bond department, believes the early summer swoon sweeping the muni markets is unfounded and should be temporary, but the core reason for investing in the sector remains solid: long-term tax-free income potential.

2013-07-03 Will the Recent Rise in Interest Rates Shut Down Household Spending? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

Not likely. Today, June 27, the yield on the Treasury 10-year security closed at 2.47% according to the Bloomberg public (i.e., free) website. According to the Fed, this security closed at 1.66% on May 1. All else the same, household borrowing and spending would be stronger had this interest rate not risen by 81 basis points in the space of about two months. But it is doubtful that the recent rise in bond yields of many stripes will shut down consumer borrowing and spending.

2013-07-02 Avoiding the Interest Rate Freight Train with Individual Bonds by Stephen J. Huxley, Jeremy Fletcher and Brent Burns (Article)

For bond funds, rising rates mean that total return has to fight losses on the underlying portfolio. As a fund’s net asset value (NAV) declines, coupon interest may not be enough to overcome the price loss. Making the same fixed-income allocation to high-quality individual bonds instead and holding them to maturity is a superior strategy when rates rise.

2013-07-02 The Practical Application of Behavioral Finance by Mitchell D. Eichen and John M. Longo (Article)

From the Dot-Com bubble onward, traditional investment models have repeatedly disappointed those who relied on them. When compared to mathematically based models, behavioral finance provides a superior foundation. Here is an alternative investment paradigm, grounded in behavioral finance, that is practical and effective over time periods that are relevant for a significant portion of investors.

2013-07-02 When the Boss’ Daughter Gets in the Way by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have a situation where our founder’s daughter is now involved in the business. She is aggressive, nasty and condescending to the people who work here. She likes me so I haven’t had a problem. But I see how she treats others. It’s a small advisory firm and she is creating a toxic climate. The worst part is that the clients, for the most part, don’t like her either. I tried to broach this with our founder in a nice way but he thinks she walks on water. I am afraid we are going to lose staff and clients if we don’t address this issue.

2013-07-02 Bullish on Quality and Active Management Over the Long Term by Chuck Royce of The Royce Funds

While solid on an absolute basis, quality stocksas measured by returns on invested capitalhave lagged their lower-quality peers. Chuck Royce explains why shifts in Fed policy should help to complete a reversal that’s already begun.

2013-07-02 The 2013 Mid-Year Geopolitical Update by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

At mid-year, we customarily publish our geopolitical outlook for the second half of the year. This list is not designed to be exhaustive. As is often the case, a myriad of potential problems in the world could become issues in the second half of the year. The lineup listed below details, in our opinion, the issues most likely to have the greatest impact on the world. However, we do recognize the potential for surprises which we will discuss throughout the year in upcoming weekly reports.

2013-07-02 Second Quarter Market Commentary by Mark Oelschlager of Oak Associates

The market posted another positive quarter, with the S&P 500 returning almost 3%. In recent years, Q2 has witnessed a “growth problem,” in which softening economic data prompted investors to sell stocks. But this year that did not happen, as the data actually improved. While new job creation is less than some would like to see, there has been a clear acceleration over the past six months.

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

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

2013-07-02 Investors Gear Up for Earnings Post-Taper by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following a few weeks of FOMC-induced turmoil, investors are looking forward to getting back to the fundamentals.Second quarter earnings season are set to kick off July 8 with Alcoa, in what will mark an important reporting period for financial markets.Given the now much telegraphed intentions of the Fed, investors are scrutinizing whether the US economy and corporate sector is ready to stand on its own feet.

2013-07-02 Let\'s Barbecue It... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Equity investors finished June with the first down month in 8 for the S&P500. Bond investors took a Tommy Boy two by four across the face. And yes, it did leave a mark. Two months ago the "Great Rotation" from bonds to equities was nowhere to be seen. Today the panic out of fixed income funds is happening at the highest levels seen since 2008. As we noted last week, inflection points in major rotations are volatile, scary, and unpleasant. This helps to explain the seven 100 basis point moves in the S&P500 in the month of June, which marks the most volatility in 12 months.

2013-07-02 Stay the Course as Mixed Signals Move Markets by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Traders stampeded out of gold, emerging markets and bonds this month, setting record monthly outflows in June. Ever since the Federal Reserve hinted in May that signs of a stronger economy could allow for a slowdown of stimulus, markets have protested the news.

2013-07-02 Finding Value In The Materials Sector Is A Material Thing by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This is the third in a series of articles designed to find value in today’s stock market environment. However, it is the second of 10 articles covering the 10 major general sectors. In my first article, I laid the foundation that represents the two primary underlying ideas supporting the need to publish such a treatise. First and foremost, that it is not a stock market; rather it is a market of stocks. Second, that regardless of the level of the general market, there will always be overvalued, undervalued and fairly valued individual stocks to be found.

2013-07-01 \"This Country is Different\" by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Cyprus is a very small country, some 800,000 people. Among the leadership, everyone knows everyone. There is much to admire, as we will see. But Cyprus has had a gut-wrenching crisis, proportionately more dire than any in other European countries recently; and precedents are being established here for how future problems will be dealt with in the Eurozone and elsewhere.

2013-07-01 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1618.77. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1606.28. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-07-01 The Golden Cycle by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The New York Times had the definitive take on the vicious sell off in gold. To summarize one of their articles: Two years ago gold bugs ran wild as the price of gold rose nearly six times. But since cresting two years ago it has steadily declined, almost by half, putting the gold bugs in flight. The most recent advisory from a leading Wall Street firm suggests that the price will continue to drift downward, and may ultimately settle 40% below current levels.

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 Traveling in Turkey by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

In recent weeks, protests in Turkey have made headline news, with the instability transferring to the local stock market. Since the riots began around June 3, the Borsa Istanbul Stock Exchange National 100 Index has declined 11.9 percent.

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 Inflation Lags Monetary Expansion: Prepare to be Swindled by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

In May 1977, the consumer price index (CPI), which measures a basket of consumer goods in the U.S. economy, had risen 6.7% from the year before. The indexes had doubled over the previous 15 years, and by 1977 investors were fully aware that the rate of change was increasingi.e. the inflation rate was spiraling higher. By then, this inflationary awareness had worked its way into every corner of the financial markets, as commodities, gold and interest rates rose, and the stock market remained in a deep funk.

2013-06-28 The New, Old Normal by Liz Ann Sonders, Brad Sorensen and Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

We believe the recent volatility will be relatively short lived and provides an opportunity for investors who need to adjust their portfolios to do sowith long-term goals in mind. The risks associated with fixed income have been illustrated over the past couple of weeks and rising yields have caused equity volatility and a pullback. But we remain optimistic about US equities as well as developed international markets; particularly relative to emerging markets.

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 Monetary Exit Strategy: Removing The Doubt by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

In the press conference following last weeks FOMC meeting, Federal Reserve (the Fed) Chairman Bernanke said that the committee was “puzzled” by the sharp rise in bond yields over the last two months, and that the increase “seems larger than can be explained by a changing view of monetary policy.” We would argue, in contrast, that the recent increase in bond yields has been almost entirely about a changing view of monetary policy.

2013-06-27 Currency Wars: A Case for the U.S. Dollar by Gibson Smith, Chris Diaz of Janus Capital Group

In recent years, the U.S. dollar has tended to lose value when the global economy improves, as investors are more willing to take risks. We believe that pattern has changed and that the U.S. dollar will outperform the Japanese yen, the euro and the British pound over the medium term, even if the global economy continues to improve. In our view, current conditions justify a material deviation in currency exposure compared with certain global fixed income benchmarks, such as the Barclays Global Aggregate Bond Index.

2013-06-27 Turmoil Shouldn't Derail Turkey by Carlos von Hardenberg of Franklin Templeton Investments

In 2012, Turkey’s stock market rose more than 50%, posting one of the strongest performances of any global equity market last year. However, recent news of protests sweeping the nation has started scaring off some investors, at least in the short term. We consider turmoil to often be a natural part of change and development, and these short-term political disturbances likely won’t be the last. I’ve invited my colleague Carlos von Hardenberg, Managing Director, Turkey, based in Istanbul, to share some local insight.

2013-06-27 Is There Life After BRICs for Emerging Market Investors? by Sammy Suzuki of AllianceBernstein

For more than a decade, Brazil, Russia, India and China have dominated the landscape in emerging markets. But as the BRICs-driven commodities boom wanes, investors may need to rethink their approach.

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 June 2013 Float Shrink Review by TrimTabs Asset Management of AdvisorShares

Sharing some commentary from our friends at TrimTabs, which summarizes a few changes in the investment landscape that may give you an indication of what to expect following May’s “sell in May and go away” trading adage. TrimTabs research focuses on fund flows and float shrink. They believe the market is heavily influenced by what people and institutions are doing with their dollars. You can read more about the research behind float shrink at AdvisorShares.com.

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.

2013-06-26 Sock Puppet Kabuki; Nikkei Today Parallels Dot-Com Bust by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

The Japanese stereotype of excessive courtesy is being confirmed by the actions of prime minster Shinzo Abe who is giving the world a free and timely lesson on the dangers of overly accommodative monetary policy. Whether or not we benefit from the tutorial (Japan will surely not) depends on our ability to understand what is currently happening there.

2013-06-26 Trampled By the Crowd? Logic Briefly Abandoned Creates Opportunity by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

The past two week slide in asset prices has caused a resurgence of doomsday pundits warning of impending calamity. The negative interpretation of Fed Chairman Bernanke’s comments regarding the U.S.economy’s future upgraded prospects is simply not logical. A careful review of what Bernanke said at his press conference was entirely consistent with what the Fed has said and done in the past.

2013-06-25 The Great Debate on Inequality: Stiglitz versus Krugman by Michael Edesess (Article)

Economics Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz is the chief alarmist warning that income and wealth inequality in the U.S. is a very serious threat to the economy. So it comes as a surprise that his fellow Nobelist Paul Krugman Stiglitz’s intellectual comrade-in-arms disagrees with him. Their disagreement goes to the heart of today’s economic problem.

2013-06-25 Strategies for the Retirement Red Zone by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The retirement red zone is the critical years immediately before and after retirement, when financial plans are highly vulnerable to adverse market movements. In many previous articles, I have examined strategies to reduce risk after retirement, but here I will focus on the decade before retirement. I’ll compare strategies that rely on traditional stock-bond portfolios with those using various types of annuity products.

2013-06-25 The Price Your Clients Pay for Using Safe Withdrawal Rates by David B. Loeper (Article)

Safe-withdrawal rates (SWRs) are perhaps the most extensively studied topic in financial planning literature. But applying a single SWR-driven methodology to all clients neglects their unique and individual needs. A better approach is for advisors to assist clients in defining their ideal and acceptable goals and the relative priorities among them. Then they can demonstrate through Monte Carlo simulation the likelihood of the recommended plan becoming over- or under-funded relative to those goals.

2013-06-25 Measuring the ROI of Advisor Marketing by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Our practice has grown by word-of-mouth. A couple of my advisors want me to advertise and spend on expensive marketing programs. No one can show me the ROI for this. Is aggressive marketing a predictable way for advisors to get new clients? I just don’t see someone answering an ad who has $2 million (our minimum) to invest.

2013-06-25 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Adam Apt responds in the latest exchange of letters on the topic of socially responsible investing. A reader responds to Geoff Considine’s article, A Better Alternative to Cap-Weighted Bond Indices, which appeared June 11. A reader responds to Wade Pfau’s article, Retirement Income Designations Which Should You Choose?, which appeared last week.

2013-06-25 Back to Normal by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Market behavior especially since Fed Chair Ben Bernanke mentioned QE tapering has been relatively dramatic. Not unprecedented, but dramatic. By contrast, the reaction of the punditry has been way over the top.

2013-06-25 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

All markets came under pressure last week (and this morning) over the dual concerns of a slowing global economy coupled with the Federal Reserve’s suggestion that things are improving and thus “tapering” might start by the end of the year.

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?

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

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

2013-06-25 Stay the Course by Douglas Hodge of PIMCO

It is that time of the year again. As school schedules give way to summer vacations, many families will be packing up the SUV to head to one of this nation’s amazing national parks. Years ago, my young family traveled to Yellowstone National Park, home of Yogi Bear and Old Faithful. The requisite float trip down the Snake River was arranged and a good time was had by all a bit of spray but nothing too jarring. Only days later, I returned to the Snake River and had the ride of a lifetime.

2013-06-25 Reframing Expectations by Aaron Reynolds of Baird Advisors

Even facing headwinds, bonds still serve important roles in a portfolio, including diversification and downside protection potential. As the heavy burden of total return falls on interest income, investors are being pulled toward higher-yield, higher-risk bond types. Investors can still benefit from the segmented bond market and the various strategies that are available. Expectations need to be reframed given the current environment of low yields and potential interest rate increases.

2013-06-25 Canadian National Railway Co: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of Canadian National Railway Co (CNI) through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool.Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort.Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-06-25 Rates, Dividends and The Laws of Gravity by Don Taylor of Franklin Templeton Investments

The laws of gravity may dictate that what goes up must come down, but interest rates seem to have their own converse course of action what goes down eventually will go up. Although it seems like interest rates can stay stuck in low gear for years, (decades even, in the case of Japan) eventually they will creep higher, and talk is heating up about the timing and magnitude of such creep in the US. As the portfolio manager of Franklin Rising Dividends Fund, Don Taylor was quick to comment that higher interest rates don’t mean all dividend-paying stocks are doomed.

2013-06-25 Quality Can Deliver in Times of Rising Rates by Chris Marx, Kent Hargis of AllianceBernstein

As talk of an early Fed “tapering” triggered a sell-off in bonds, safe-haven equities have also suffered. Can low-volatility strategies survive rising rates and an unraveling of the safety trade, in which investors rushed headlong into safe assets no matter the cost? We say, yesbut you’ll need an active approach to navigate the near-term pitfalls.

2013-06-24 And That\'s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

What is the Fed actually saying? The economy is recovering; the labor market is improving; short-term interest rates should remain low until at least 2015; the bond buying program will continue in its current form; any “winding down” (tapering) of purchases will be contingent on steady growth; the policymakers would be prepared to ramp up buying if conditions warrant. What have many investors been hearing/thinking?

2013-06-24 Market Internals Suggest a Shift to Risk-Aversion by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Our primary attention here is on market internals. If they improve, I expect that we’ll adopt at least a moderately constructive view. Presently, however, my impression is that investors have shifted from risk-seeking to risk-aversion. This shift is not because of a hawkish Fed, but in spite of a dovish one - something more appears to be going on. It’s tempting to wait until a stronger and more specific “catalyst” emerges, but the financial markets have demonstrated repeatedly over time that market losses come first, and the catalyst becomes evident afterward.

2013-06-24 The Case for Rotating into (Select) Cyclical Sectors by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Although defensive sectors are back to outperforming cyclical sectors amid June’s market volatility, Russ still believes there’s a strong case for preferring cyclicals or at least select cyclicals

2013-06-24 Despite Interest Rate Concerns, Muni Volatility May Offer an Entry Point by Jack Tierney of Invesco Blog

As we approach the midway point of 2013, the capital markets have many concerns: the potential end of quantitative easing (QE3), the slow rate of economic growth, the stubbornly high unemployment rate and the sorry state of affairs in both federal and state government finances. I won’t speculate on the eventual outcome of these issues, especially where politics is concerned. But I do think it’s valuable to look past the market’s fear and search for areas where smart investors can take clear-eyed action and benefit in uncertain conditions.

2013-06-24 On the Radar: Let\'s Get Fiscal by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

This is the second in a three-part series on longer-term issues that could either sustain or stall the current equity rally once stock prices fully capture their current, still-attractive values. The first in this series took up the prospective policy change by the Federal Reserve. This discussion considers future fiscal developments.

2013-06-24 The Fed Unintentionally Lays an Egg by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities declined last week as the S&P 500 ended down 2.09%.1 The S&P suffered the first back-to-back one-day declines of more than 1% since last November. Global equities and bonds were also hit hard, with large sell-offs in emerging market assets, commodities and commodity currencies. Concerns about the fallout from dampened Fed policy accommodation are driving the weakness.

2013-06-21 Asia Brief: China's Energy Demand by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

China has the world’s largest unconventional gas reserves, but these so far remain untapped despite its growing demand for energy. China is now trying to follow the example of the US, and the government has set aggressive targets for unconventional gas production. As the demand for transportation fuels grow over the next decade, this gas could be a major contributor to meeting that need.

2013-06-21 Outlook for the Global Bond Market by Nic Pifer of Columbia Management

The global economy continues to expand, but seems stuck on a moderate, below-trend trajectory. Lately, the story seems to be more about a growth rotation across regions than a clear-cut acceleration or deceleration at the global level. Looking to 2014, however, we still expect the global economy to accelerate to a more trend-like pace.

2013-06-21 The Fear Factor in US Equities by Grant Bowers of Franklin Templeton Investments

Fear is a powerful motivator. Whether it’s a saber-toothed tiger or investment risks, it’s hard to stay calm when confronted with a perceived threat. Fear of a 2008 2009 downturn repeat, even in spite of strong performance in the US equity market in the first half of the year, has kept many investors sidelined. Grant Bowers believes fear itself could be the biggest issue holding back many investors right now, noting that in his view, short-term volatility aside, the recent US market rally is based on supportive fundamentals which he thinks should have staying power.

2013-06-21 Finding Great Value In The Energy Sector by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This will be the second in a series of articles designed to find value in today’s stock market environment. However, it will be the first of 10 articles covering the 10 major general sectors. In my first article, I laid the foundation that represents the two primary underlying ideas supporting the need to publish such a treatise. First and foremost, that it is not a stock market; rather it is a market of stocks. Second, that regardless of the level of the general market, there will always be overvalued, undervalued and fairly valued individual stocks to be found.

2013-06-21 ECRI Recession Watch: Weekly Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Ultimately my opinion remains unchanged: The ECRI’s credibility depends on major downward revisions to the key economic indicators -- especially the July annual revisions to GDP -- that will be sufficient to validate their early recession call. Of course, the July revisions will be quite controversial this year, with some major accounting changes and revisions in annual GDP back to 1929. So if we don’t get the downward revisions to support ECRI, they can always question the accounting changes in the revision process.

2013-06-21 Weekly Economic Commentary by Team of Northern Trust

Today, the relative health of banks around the world goes a long way toward explaining differences in economic fortunes. As policy-makers seek ways to improve growth, addressing structural issues in their financial systems may be more effective than monetary or fiscal stimulus.

2013-06-21 Austerity is a Four-Letter French Word by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The France that I see as I look out from the bullet train today is far different from the France I see when I survey the economic data. Going from Marseilles to Paris, the countryside is magnificent. The farms are laid out as if by a landscape artist this is not the hurly-burly no-nonsense look of the Texas landscape. The mountains and forests that we glide through are glorious. It is a weekend of special music all over France, and last night in Marseilles the stages were alive and the crowds out in force.

2013-06-20 Fed Slightly More Optimistic by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

The Federal Reserve made only slight changes to the text of its statement, but those it did make signal slightly more optimism. It said labor market conditions show “further improvement,” rather than “some improvement” and sees “diminished” downside risks for the broader economy.

2013-06-20 Why Wellness Matters: The Real Cost to Employers of Unhealthy Employee Behaviors by Team of Manning & Napier

It is no secret that health care costs have ranked among the top concerns of employers for much of the last decade. There is good reason for this concern, as health care costs have outpaced inflation for years, and employers often bear the brunt of these costs for their employees and dependents. Employers looking for ways to stem the tide of runaway health plan expenses should investigate wellness programs designed to impact the source of the costs unhealthy behaviors.

2013-06-20 Searching for Super Small-Cap Companies Through the Macro Noise by Chris Clark of The Royce Funds

While market pundits tell us to worry about everything from currency concerns and environmental challenges to the ongoing threat of nuclear assault and resource depletion, these ominous obstacles and the endless possibilities of their potential fallout have a tendency to draw attention away from what we believe really matters: the companies that have the ability to survive, adapt, and grow stronger in the wake of uncertainty.

2013-06-19 Floating-Rate Notes: A New Frontier in Treasury Investing by Paul Reisz, David Linton, Mark Romano of PIMCO

For investors, Treasury floating-rate notes (FRNs) will likely offer a hedge against rising rates and a yield pickup over a T-bill. For the Treasury, FRNs could help reduce the risk that an auction could fail to attract customer interest, and also help diversify its investor base. PIMCO will evaluate the merits of these securities based on our macroeconomic top-down view and valuation-focused bottom-up analysis.

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

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

2013-06-19 Emerging Markets: Reasons for Optimism by Team of Janus Capital Group

Emerging market equities are lagging developed markets this year. However, the underperformance creates an opportunity in our view, and does little to change our long-term outlook for emerging markets, where we believe some of the strongest growth opportunities lie.

2013-06-19 Efficient Pension Investing by Jared Gross of PIMCO

Adapting the Sharpe ratio to pension portfolios can help plan sponsors choose among a multitude of investment options designed to achieve the same goal. In our experience, the most significant efficiency gains have come from shifting from intermediate bonds to long-term bonds and introducing lower-volatility substitutes to equities.

2013-06-19 Changes in our Asset Allocation by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

We believe that valuations in publicly traded securities are stretched, and, although we have seen a move higher in interest rates and stocks have sold off from their high levels, investors are faced with choices that offer generally lower expected returns based on historic measures of return. Today, with the S&P 500 hitting 1650 and the yield on the 10 year US Treasury Note moving abruptly from 1.70% to 2.15%, there are generally two schools of thought on the minds of investors.

2013-06-19 Weekly Market Review Notes by Team of Tuttle Tactical Management

The near term is going to be all about the Fed and what they say about tapering their bond buying. In anticipation the market has rallied from the low it set on June 5th. Markets were oversold but they also seem to be interpreting the Fed’s message as QE is somewhat irrelevant because they will maintain a zero interest rate policy until the unemployment rate hits 6.5%, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. It also looks like the market doesn’t mind talk about Ben Bernanke leaving in January as he would probably be replaced by Janet Yellin who seems to espouse all the same

2013-06-19 Managing Equity Risk: Some Rules for the Road by Kurt Feuerman of AllianceBernstein

Under the surface of May’s strong equity returns were major shifts in sector leadership, notably a rotation from defensive to traditional cyclical sectors. Given the market’s tendency to change gears, it helps to be flexible in managing portfolio risk. In fact, it should be a daily exercise.

2013-06-19 3 Reasons to Consider Spanish Stocks by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While Europe is not out of the woods yet, Russ is less concerned about the Spanish market.

2013-06-19 The Game of Risk by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Ten years ago the COMP was changing hands around 5132. It is now trading at 3423 for a 13-year loss of some 33.3%. Meanwhile, over that same timeframe, the earnings of the S&P 500 are up 83%, nominal GDP is better by some 57.6%, and interest rates are substantially below where they were back then. If you are a college professor such statistics do not “foot” with your teachings because professors tend to believe stock returns are all about earnings and interest rates. I concur, but would add the caveat, “That is if you live long enough.”

2013-06-18 GMO’s Montier on Why to Hold Cash by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Central bank policies have distorted markets to such a degree that investors are devoid of any buy-and-hold asset classes, according to James Montier. But according to Richard Bernstein, the flood of liquidity unleashed through quantitative easing (QE) now offers investors compelling opportunities.

2013-06-18 Help Clients Fill the Income Void by Sponsored Content from Legg Mason Global Income Survey (Article)

Affluent investors all over the world just aren’t getting what they want from their income investments, according to Legg Mason’s recently released Global Income Survey. Yet there is good news: most say they want to become more knowledgeable about income investing, and they’re eager for financial professionals to point out fresh opportunities.

2013-06-18 What Advisors Need to Know about Health-Care Planning by Dinesh Sharma (Article)

Guiding clients through the maze of the health-care choices retirees face is a way advisors can provide meaningful value. Here’s an overview of the Medicare and Medicaid programs to help advisors understand the key economic considerations that will impact their clients.

2013-06-18 Cash, Profits and Misplaced Priorities by Steven Grey (Article)

It’s a not-so-veiled threat that is all too familiar to most investment fund managers: “We’re not paying you to be in cash.” But why is it that so many investors fear cash more than losses?

2013-06-18 Getting Your Team to Communicate Your “Story” by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We recently rebranded our firm and made a large investment in how we communicate our value proposition “our story.” We want to teach our staff how to tell the story in a similar fashion, but allow each person the chance to tell it their own way. How do we accomplish this?

2013-06-18 American Eagle Outfitters Inc: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of American Eagle Outfitters Inc through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool. Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort. Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-06-18 High Yield Market Overview May 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The high yield market, as measured by the Bank of America Merrill Lynch High Yield Master II Constrained Index (the “Index”), was down 0.53% for the month of May, as fears of eventual Fed tapering dominated investor sentiment and put upward pressure on Treasury yields. The end result was the most substantial setback in a year for the high yield market. Despite the fears of rising rates, mildly improving economic conditions, healthy corporate earnings/balance sheets, and reduced tail risks and stagnant global growth/low inflation continue to benefit the high yield market.

2013-06-18 Newsletter June 2013 by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

Do you remember hiding under the sheets listening to radio when your parents thought you were asleep? If so, I have an unbelievable collection of all the old-time radio shows we listened to when we were kids, if you have about six months’ spare time. Find your favorite, click on it, and it lists literally hundreds of episodes you can re-live.

2013-06-18 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 Sector Distortions Can Be Costly in Passive Investing by Joseph Paul, Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein

Passive investing strategies that emulate an index have become increasingly popular. But passive investing can go awry when sector concentrations leave investors exposed to unintended risks.

2013-06-17 The Price of Distortion by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Corporate profits have benefited in recent years from enormous fiscal distortions that have bloated margins 70% above their historical norms. Stock prices have benefited in recent years from enormous monetary distortions that have suppressed interest rates and encouraged investors to “reach for yield.” Combining those effects, investors have been encouraged to chase stocks, placing elevated price/earnings multiples on already elevated earnings. Investors who value stocks on the basis of these distortions are likely to discover in hindsight that they have paid a very dear price.

2013-06-17 Anecdotal Insights into the Housing Market by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The current obsession is over when the Fed will begin to withdraw some of its quantitative easing policy and how this will affect markets. This is adding some volatility back into the markets, even though this change in policy has been expected for a long time. Since Fed policy is likely to change only gradually and will do little to tip the valuation balance between stocks and bonds for quite some time, we see little reason to temper our fundamentally bullish stance towards stocks and bearish view of bonds.

2013-06-17 Keynesian Model Blew It Again by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

If there’s one economic conclusion we can make from recent data, it’s that the Keynesian model has failed - again.

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.

2013-06-17 On the Radar: Bernanke\'s Balancing Act by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

A recent analysis in this space made the case for equities. Pointing to the continued flood of liquidity from the Federal Reserve and still-attractive stock valuations, I argued that the rally would continue, despite the subpar economic recovery and continued policy muddles in Washington and Europe. In this column, I will take up one of those fundamental, longer-term considerations: Fed policy. The columns that follow will discuss two other major issues: fiscal policy and energy.

2013-06-15 Economists Are (Still) Clueless by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

The economic forecasts of mainstream economists are quite positive, if not enirely optimistic, reflecting the current data. Should we not take heart from that? Alas, no. This week we look at some of our recent musings on that topic, triggered by a letter from a very serious economist who took umbrage when I wrote disparagingly about economists and forecasting a couple months ago.

2013-06-14 A Move Away from Defense by Ted Baszler of Heartland Advisors

It may seem a little counterintuitive, but as stocks have rallied to new highs since 2009, defensive sectors have led the way. This outperformance has been reflected in the relatively high forward price/earnings multiples among staid sectors like Utilities, Health Care, Telecom, and Consumer Staples.

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 Looking for Growth? Go Small and Global by Liliana Castillo Dearth, Bruce Aronow of AllianceBernstein

In the hunt for growth in today’s low-growth world, up-and-coming small- and mid-sized companies are a good place to start. But you need to look everywhere, from Indiana to Indonesia.

2013-06-14 Searching For Value And Finding It In Today's Market - Sector By Sector by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

“I think the market is overvalued now,” is a common refrain that I’m hearing from most of the individual investors I have recently been coming in contact with. Consequently, many of these same investors are also currently eschewing investing in common stocks because of that fear. Although I do not agree that the market is currently overvalued, I believe I understand why so many people think it is. Individual investors currently believe the market is overvalued because of two common fallacies that at first blush appear to be logical.

2013-06-14 The Sustainability of Managed Futures Returns by Robert Keck of 6800 Capital

Many investors have begun to question the efficacy of an investment in managed futures given the most recent two years of negative performance for the industry as a whole at a time when U.S. equity prices have been achieving multi‐year highs. The concern is not so much the magnitude of the losses incurred by the managed futures industry during this period; in many cases they are relatively small in comparison to the size of the drawdowns experienced by many other asset classes such as equities, real estate, fixed income, etc., during peak periods of market stress.

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 Global Small Cap Investing: Unconstrained Opportunities by Blake Pontius of William Blair

Equity asset allocations have become more global in recent years as investors have sought to reduce the long standing home country bias in their portfolios. Further propelling this trend has been the growing aversion to traditional asset class structures and indeed, conventional asset class definitions, in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global fi nancial crisis. Against this backdrop, global equity strategies have continued to garner asset fl ows in Europe and have slowly begun to gain traction in the U.S. after years of tepid demand.

2013-06-14 A Sweet Find on an African Adventure by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The heart of Africa has been beating strong in recent years due to elevated commodity prices and resilient domestic demand, despite the global economic slowdown. Among the sub-Saharan African countries, Sierra Leone was the fastest growing country last year, according to the World Bank. Its economy experienced growth that is as rare today as Fancy Red diamonds. GDP increased a whopping 18 percent.

2013-06-14 ECRI Recession Watch: New Update by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 131.3, up slightly from last week’s 131.0 (revised from 130.9). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) rose to 6.6% from 6.4% last week (revised from 6.3%).... Two weeks ago the company took a new approach to its recession call in its most recent publicly available commentary on the ECRI website: What Wealth Effect? More...

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.

2013-06-13 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 Curtiss-Wright Corp: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Curtiss-Wright Corp (CW) is an innovative engineering company that provides highly engineered, critical function products, systems and services in the areas of flow control, motion control and surface treatment technologies to the defense, energy and commercial/industrial markets. The legacy company of Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers, Curtiss-Wright has a long tradition of design and manufacturing innovation and prides itself on long-standing customer relationships.

2013-06-12 Who Is Your Daddy and What Does He Do? by Cole Smead of Smead Capital Management

In the 1990 movie Kindergarten Cop, Arnold Schwarzenegger portrayed a police officer who goes undercover as John Kimble, a kindergarten teacher in Astoria, OR. Early in the movie, Mr. Kimble tells his class they are going to play a game called “Who is your daddy and what does he do?” After a myriad of answers, one of the children asks him if his ensuing headache is a tumor. Kimble replies “It’s not a tumor.” We at Smead Capital Management believe this was not only one of the more comical moments of Kindergarten Cop, but also a great question to ponder in today&rs

2013-06-12 What the NHL Playoffs Can Teach Investors by Jeff Knight of Columbia Management

The National Hockey League playoffs are marvelous to watch. The league’s best teams play their best hockey with every game more meaningful than those played during the regular season. Playoff games feel much more strategic, and one key aspect of playoff strategy is the importance of playing with the lead. In fact, of the 53 playoff games this season that went to the third period with one team ahead, 43 of those, or 81%, finished in favor of the team that was winning after two periods*. NHL playoff teams know how to protect a lead once they have it.

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 Gundlach Don’t Sell Your Bonds by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Don’t sell your bonds just yet, according to Jeffrey Gundlach. Global economic growth is slowing, he said, and the U.S. will be competing for a larger slice of a shrinking worldwide pie. A weaker economy dims the prospects for higher interest rates. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield currently 2.08% will be 1.70% by the end of the year, according to Gundlach, providing profits for holders of long-term bonds.

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

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

2013-06-11 Best Practices for Business Development by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We recently hired a salesperson to find new opportunities for our advisory firm. It’s not working out very well. My advisors don’t want to work with him because the commission I have proposed would take away from their pocketbook. How should we successfully integrate a salesperson?

2013-06-11 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A number of readers responded to Adam Kanzer’s article, Exposing False Claims about Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared last week. Kanzer’s article was in response to Adam Apt’s article, Measuring the Cost of Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared the week before. Several readers responded to other articles as well.

2013-06-11 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

The last few weeks have seen volatility emerge as concerns about the Fed’s policy of quantitative easing and the timing of changing it have taken center stage.

2013-06-11 May Flowers Bring Best Equity Market Since 1997 as Bonds Wilt by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

The S&P 500 has opened 2013 with its best year-through-May return since 1997. U.S. Treasury prices, in contrast, plunged last month on talks of Fed “tapering”. Don’t expect the reflation in bond yields to continue in the near term, as the Fed continues to struggle in its current war against deflation. Fundamental business activity not quantitative easing is the wellspring of sustained economic growth, creating lasting sales and profits. For investors, the two biggest self-defeating fears continue to be 1) the fear of buying equities and 2) the fear of buying bonds.

2013-06-11 Risk Parity - New Thinking or New Packaging? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Ever since Harry Markowitz brought forth the notion of mean-variance optimization in 1952, academics and practitioners alike have sought ways to build more robust asset allocation methodologies. Recently, the most talked about approach in the institutional world is risk parity, which seeks to focus on risk as its primary input. Risk parity is intuitively appealing, but suffers many pitfalls that investors need to consider.

2013-06-11 Managing the Odds: Overcoming Exit Strategy Biases with Tail Risk Hedging by Vineer Bhansali of PIMCO

Rather than making an exclusive choice we believe that rebalancing, options purchase and diversification should all be considered on the same footing. Is it better to dynamically de-risk if markets begin to fall to lock in gains, or is it better to purchase explicit tail hedges? Our tendency, as humans, to be time-inconsistent, with behavior changing as the situation changes, makes dynamic rebalancing prone to behavioral biases. At pricing levels of low option premia the purchase of options to prevent time-inconsistent behavior seems like a judicious decision.

2013-06-11 Crushing the Middle Class by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

Like a carefully memorized religious incantation, politicians and central bankers continually stress how their stimulus policies are designed to promote the interests and prosperity of the middle class. Cynical observers may note that this brave political stance may have something to do with gaining the support of the vast majority of voters who identify themselves as "middle class." However, the cumulative effect of their economic programs has achieved the opposite.

2013-06-11 And Like Clockwork... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

And like clockwork, stocks bounced both from their very short term oversold point and off the 50 day moving average on Wednesday...

2013-06-11 How Asia's Growth Transitions and Policy Experiments Are Shaping the Global Outlook by Ramin Toloui, Tomoya Masanao, Robert Mead of PIMCO

Our view is that Chinese GDP growth will downshift, averaging 6%-7.5% for the next five years as net exports and investment are reaching their limits. In Asia, Japan is perhaps the economy closest to the “T-junction” described in PIMCO’s global secular outlook: The destination of Japan’s journey looks increasingly uncertain, with multiple potential outcomes that could stabilize or destabilize the global economy and markets.

2013-06-11 The Root System by Michael Kayes of Willingdon Wealth Management

Last week my beloved peach tree inexplicably toppled over, destroying what was certain to be a bountiful crop. It was a favorite hobby of mine, to spend hours pruning, thinning, fertilizing, and spraying the height-challenged tree in order to produce a couple bushels of scrumptious peaches in early July. Yet this year I goofed. My plan for growth was flawed in that I failed to diagnose an infestation of peach borer which was weakening the root system. Once the internal strength of the tree was compromised, the tree was doomed.

2013-06-10 Emerging Market Opportunities by Patrick OShaughnessy, Ashvin Viswanathan of OShaughnessy Asset Management

Emerging market equities present both unique opportunities and also unique risks. Unlike more mature economies, emerging markets’ economies have the potential for impressive growth rates. But emerging markets also have the potential for damaging socio-economic and political instability. Equity returns in these countries are often impressive, but to earn these returns investors must deal with considerably higher volatility than in the developed equity markets.

2013-06-10 Worry de Jour by Charles Lieberman (Article)

The current obsession is over when the Fed will begin to withdraw some of its quantitative easing policy and how this will affect markets. This is adding some volatility back into the markets, even though this change in policy has been expected for a long time. Since Fed policy is likely to change only gradually and will do little to tip the valuation balance between stocks and bonds for quite some time, we see little reason to temper our fundamentally bullish stance towards stocks and bearish view of bonds.

2013-06-10 2009 vs. 2013 by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.

2013-06-10 Growth in “GDP”, A Quick Look at Droughts (Yes, Drought) and Pension Data by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

I’m simply not going to take the bait and respond to the Employment Situation report. Regular readers know my thoughts around this monthly report that garners way too much attention (take a look back at the May 6 commentary and others around employment data). This week I focus on how and where State economies are growing, remind you of the availability of some critical data points and pass on some observations and opportunities around Pension data.

2013-06-10 Emerging Markets Mid-Year Pulse Check by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Global economic growth hasn’t been terribly inspiring so far in the first half of the year, but many investors have nevertheless been inspired to pour more assets into the equity markets, some of which have surged to record highs. As we hit the mid-year point, now seems like a good time to take a pulse check of emerging markets and assess our prognosis.

2013-06-10 DC Solutions: Adding Global Bonds to Target-Date Funds by Alison Martier, Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

Within US defined contribution (DC) target-date funds (TDFs), whether we’re considering customized TDFs for larger plans or packaged solutions for smaller plans, our research shows that having a bond allocation that is not US-centric can lead to better outcomes and enhance the effectiveness of the glide path.

2013-06-08 Banzai! Banzai! Banzai! by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

In practice it may be harder for Japan to grow and generate inflation than it might be for other major nations. Today we’ll focus on Japanese demographics. While the letter is full of graphs and charts, it does not paint a pretty picture. The forces of deflation will not go gently into that good night.

2013-06-07 Portfolio Comfort in Stock Splits by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We have noticed that there has been a dearth of stock splits among the S&P 500 index companies in the last 5 years. Our observation is that the natural habitat for stock splits is normally a multiple-year market upswing and numerous stocks trading over $60 per share. What does the history of stock splits tell us about where we are in the long-term stock market cycle for the S&P 500 index? Who will the marginal buyer of common stocks be in the near term and what do stock splits teach us about who the marginal buyer is?

2013-06-07 Affordable Care Act Roll-Out: Are “Train Wreck” Fears Justified? by Harlan Sonderling of Columbia Management

Expect to see a large U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) advertising and public relations program this summer ahead of the October 1 federal and state health insurance exchanges open enrollment, one of the key features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Administration, Congress and the nation have much riding on successful implementation of the law and the participation of newly-insured individuals.

2013-06-07 Liquidity Markets Likely to Evolve Under Proposed Money Market Reforms by Jerome Schneider of PIMCO

We view the SEC’s proposed regulations on money market funds as a pivot point for cash and liquidity management. If the first proposal is adopted, prime institutional money market funds would convert to a floating net asset value share price. That conversion would likely cause some volatility in pricing. As we do not expect yields to increase in the near-to-medium term, in our view the risk-reward tradeoff would not be as attractive for investors.

2013-06-07 Never on a Friday by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Over the past 10 years there have been many Hindenburg Omens triggered, but to my knowledge only one of them has actually worked (The Wall Street Journal 8/23/2010 article states the accuracy is only 25%, looking at the period from 1985). Actually, the last Hindenburg signal (December 2012) proved to be an exceptionally good point to buy stocks. I expect this “Omen” will prove to be yet another false signal because the McClellan Oscillator is just about as oversold as it ever gets.

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.

2013-06-07 Own These World's Leading Brands And Never Fear A Recession Again by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

If you were to take the essence of most people’s beliefs and understanding about investing in common stocks, or the stock market for that matter, and turn it into a movie, I believe it would have to be labeled under the category science fiction. In other words, in my experience, most of what people believe about common stocks or the stock market is predicated more on opinion than on fact. But even more importantly, it is predicated on opinions that are driven by strong emotional responses.

2013-06-07 3 Reasons Not to Turn Away from Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Is it time to abandon underperforming emerging markets in favor of bets closer to home? Clearly “no,” says Russ and he explains why.

2013-06-07 Is College Overrated? by Vivek Tanneeru of Matthews Asia

Obtaining a college degree in Asia, like elsewhere in the world, is a middle class dream. It is often considered a ticket to increased employment opportunity. But recently there has been some evidence to suggest that this is not always the case.

2013-06-07 Why Don't Investors Understand Emerging Markets? by Tassos Stassopoulos of AllianceBernstein

Big is not necessarily beautiful when it comes to forecasting emerging markets. In fact, the kind of big numbers that are often bandied around can actually make it harder for investors to understand what’s really going on. We think there is a better way.

2013-06-07 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The change at the top of the Bank of England comes at a delicate time. The May U.S. employment report will not sway the Fed either way. Eurozone and China PMI reports - interpret with caution.

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 The Risk of Government Policies and the Rationing of Retirement by Jason Hsu of Research Affiliates

In late April, a group of leading economists and investment practitioners assembled in La Jolla, California, for Research Affiliates’ 2013 Advisory Panel. Our theme this year touched on two topics that have been front-and-center in recent public debates: the risk of government intervention and the potential rationing of retirement.

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.

2013-06-06 The Wisdom of Crowds by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

Are markets efficient? This is a debate that has been on-going for decades. In one corner you have the proponents of the Efficient Markets Hypothesis. In their world alpha does not exist, or at the very least it is not sustainable. In the other corner you have the supporters of behavioural finance who see investors as being mostly irrational and suffering from all sorts of behavioural biases which create alpha opportunities galore. Out of this long lasting stand-off a new paradigm is emerging called the Adaptive Markets Hypothesis which aims to reconcile the two.

2013-06-06 More Than a Feeling by Team of AdvisorShares

Tangible signs of fundamental weakness are appearing everywhere, yet financial market participants are simply choosing to ignore these signs. There remains a significant disconnect between the real economy and financial markets. Read this paper by Peritus Asset Management to learn how to navigate the weak fundamental picture in what they believe to be the beginning of a 15-20 year positive technical backdrop, which will put yield generating assets, such as high yield bonds, in the sweet spot.

2013-06-06 Inflation Is Still the Lesser Evil by Kenneth Rogoff of Project Syndicate

The world’s major central banks continue to express concern about inflationary spillover from their recession-fighting efforts. That is a mistake: given the political, social, and economic risks of continued slow growth, policymakers should encourage a sustained burst of moderate inflation.

2013-06-06 June Economic Update by Justin Anderson of Cambridge Advisors

Stocks sold off on the last day of the month but still managed to finish higher in May with the large-cap S&P 500 index up 2.2% and the small-cap Russell 2000 up 4.0%. International stocks finished the month lower with the MSCI EAFE index down -2.9%. Bond prices came under significant pressure as yields rose after Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke hinted that Quantitative Easing may be tapered off sooner than the market expected. The 10-Year US Treasury Yield rose sharply to end the month at 2.16%.

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 Broader Use of Bail-Ins Could Spur a Revival of Asset-Backed Securities in Europe by Felix Blomenkamp of PIMCO

We believe ABS issuance will likely increase in Europe as eurozone developments and possible future bail-ins potentially result in higher risk premiums and funding costs for European banks. Although regulators are playing catch-up, capital markets are making room for a more credit-intensive product, helping to lead the way for a resurgence in ABS. Due to concerns over the security of bank deposits, investors may look to the ABS sector, which offers collateralized bonds that are free of bail-in risk.

2013-06-05 Driving with the Doors Off, Part II by Doug MacKay, Bill Hoover, Mike Czekaj of Broadleaf Partners

About ten months ago, I wrote about my new bulldozer-yellow Jeep Wrangler, comparing the sensation of Driving with the Doors Off to investing in the New Normal, or as I like to call it, a “slow growth for as far as the eyes can see” environment. While the pavement had always been a mere twelve inches beneath my feet, Driving with The Doors Off made the experience far more real, far more alive, and far more aware of the risks that had always been there. In the New Normal it feels like we are always and everywhere just one small pothole away from the next economic disaster.

2013-06-05 Harleys and Leather Jackets by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

We are just about done with Proxy Season and with summer in full swing, there is nothing more that we would like to do than kick back and indulge in the 75 pages of shame, greed, ignorance, and political correctness-with only the occasional bright light of shareholder friendly corporate governance-that make up SEC Form 14A, aka the Proxy Statement. I would postulate that this document remains an underrated and under-read part of the investment puzzle as it is the factual record of management’s incentives.

2013-06-05 26 Years of Wealth Effect: Equity Valuation in the Greenspan/Bernanke Era by Mark Ungewitter of Charter Trust Company

I recently observed that P/E multiples are becoming stretched versus historic experience. Historically rich valuations, however, should be viewed in context of today’s highly supportive monetary environment.

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 Vincent Reinhart on Debt and Growth in the U.S. and Japan by Robert Huebscher (Article)

High debt levels translate to slower growth, according to Vincent Reinhart. That conclusion will be disheartening to those who jumped on the errors several University of Massachusetts scholars found last month in Carmen Reinhart (Vincent’s wife) and Ken Rogoff’s research. But Vincent Reinhart is the author, along with his wife and Rogoff, of a study published in 2012 that documented the degree to which high debt-to-GDP levels correlate with slower economic growth in developed countries.

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

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

2013-06-04 When You Have to Fire an Employee by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I have to fire an investment advisor working for me. There have been some complaints from clients and employees that I can’t ignore any longer. But there are clients who really like this guy. They won’t be happy about this change. What do I do to ensure I don’t lose these clients?

2013-06-04 Your Value Proposition: A Precursor to the Elevator Pitch by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

Every business should stand on four legs: values, a mission statement, a vision statement and a value proposition. This fourth item, a value proposition, must provide concrete data about your organization, why it exists and who you serve.

2013-06-04 The Role of Cash in Multi-Asset Portfolios by Ashish Tiwari, Andrew Spottiswoode of PIMCO

Determining the optimal allocation to cash is as challenging as ever in today’s unusually uncertain markets. When allocating to cash, investors should consider a multi-dimensional framework to assess the liquidity of the underlying cash instruments. In our view, the most attractive risk-adjusted opportunities for cash investors lie just outside the traditional money market space.

2013-06-04 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!

2013-06-04 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 Stocks: How Long Will the Bull Run? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Conditions appear favorable for the next 12 to 24 months. What could change the market’s prospects in the longer term? Here’s a look.

2013-06-04 Finding Healthy Stocks in Europe's Troubled Landscape by Tawhid Ali of AllianceBernstein

European equity markets continue to face severe stress as the continent struggles to contain fallout from the sovereign-debt crisis. Yet this seemingly toxic environment is creating some exceptional investment opportunities in relatively healthy companies that can control their own destinies.

2013-06-04 The Beginning of the End (for Bonds) by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Attention has been focused on the stock market, because of its relentless surge to new highs, but the decline in bond prices is also worthy of note. Bond prices declined more in May than in any prior single month in nine years. Moreover, bond prices are likely to continue getting clobbered as interest rates revert to normal, even as individual investors have more exposure to bonds than ever before. The decline experienced so far is just the beginning. Investors who fled to bonds seeking safe investments are bound to be severely disappointed.

2013-06-03 Defense and Selective Offense by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

Given the market’s newfound risk appetite for credit and less attractive valuations, we are taking advantage of global credit market liquidity in an effort to reduce our overall risk posture. In our selective offense approach, we continue to favor U.S. housing and housing-related areas, in addition to select investments in the energy, pipeline, specialty finance, gaming, hospitals, and airline and auto industries, given the more positive fundamental outlook for these sectors.

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 A Taste of What Tapering Might Mean by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

A week on from the sparks of the FOMC minutes and we can see how the market handles the subtler parts of Fed communication. Not well. Most of the dove camp talked about adjusting purchases up or down depending on economic conditions (all very reasonable and consistent) but stressed there was really nothing in the data for change. The hawk that counts, Bullard of the St. Louis Fed, even called for continued QE given low inflation. So the “employment is too low, continue” and "inflation is too low, continue” camps agree.

2013-06-03 Does Sector Shift Spell A Continued Rally? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Unlike most robust equity rallies, however, 2013 performance was initially led by traditionally defensive sectors, such as health care, utilities, and consumer staples. Through the first quarter, those three sectors posted an average return of 14.5%, while traditional cyclicals averaged just 9%. While some speculated this trend was due to investors’ reach for yield amid a frothy fixed income environment, the magnitude of this sector leadership (in an up move) was certainly unusual.

2013-06-03 Following the Fed to 50% Flops by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

One of the most strongly held beliefs of investors here is the notion that it is inappropriate to “Fight the Fed” reflecting the view that Federal Reserve easing is sufficient to keep stocks not only elevated, but rising. What’s baffling about this is that the last two 50% market declines both the 2001-2002 plunge and the 2008-2009 plunge occurred in environments of aggressive, persistent Federal Reserve easing.

2013-06-03 Getting Better Returns from Dividend Stocks - Look for Growth by Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup

While some investors have begun to return to US Equity (funds) there is still a large amount of money on the sidelines. End of year 2012 data shows investors have trillions in money markets and savings accounts. While there is no guarantee all that money will make its way back into the market the matriculation has begun.

2013-06-03 Qualcomm Inc: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of Qualcomm Inc through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool. Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort. Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-06-01 After the Gold Rush by Nouriel Roubini of Project Syndicate

The run-up in gold prices in recent years from $800 per ounce in early 2009 to above $1,900 in the fall of 2011 had all the features of a bubble. And now, like all asset-price surges that are divorced from the fundamentals of supply and demand, the gold bubble is deflating.

2013-06-01 Central Bankers Gone Wild by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

For the last two weeks we have focused on the problems facing Japan, and such is the importance of Japan to the world economy that this week we will once again turn to the Land of the Rising Sun. I will try to summarize the situation facing the Japanese. This is critical to understand, because they are determined to share their problems with the world, and we will have no choice but to deal with them. Japan is going to affect your economy and your investments, no matter where you live; Japan is that important.

2013-05-31 This Is What Real Bubbles Look Like by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

With the stock market currently doing so well, numerous articles are popping up playing the bubble card. Personally, I don’t believe we are anywhere near bubble levels for equities, at least in the general sense. I do think there are certain stocks that are currently overvalued, but very few that I would describe as dangerously so. To me, the true definition of a bubble is when prices have become so ludicrously high, that the dangers of a catastrophic loss large enough to be considered almost permanent become imminent or at least quite obvious.

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 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 Japan: Gauging the Stimulus Response by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The Japanese patient seems to be responding well to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s attentions. Equities have rallied strongly. The yen, as the government desires, has retreated from export-crushing highs. The economy has shown signs of a genuine cyclical pickup. The good news has buoyed spirits in Japan. It will likely continue for a while longer, too. But the picture for the country is not yet all joy, because Abe’s policies fail to address the country’s significant, longer-term, fundamental problems.

2013-05-31 Taking a Bite of Values by Peter Langerman of Franklin Templeton Investments

In the midst of a spring stock market surge sweeping some spots on the global mapnotably the USsome investors have been left scratching their heads, wondering just what it is that the equity market is celebrating. True, the US economy has been improving in some areas, but is it enough to justify the hooplaand keep the market from back-sliding at the first hint of trouble? And, are there any values to be had in this environment? Peter Langerman believes much of today’s US market euphoria is actually rational because it’s based on improving fundamentals, and yes, there are values to

2013-05-31 The American Consumer is Not Okay by Stephen Roach of Project Syndicate

The spin-doctors are hard at work arguing that falling unemployment, rising home values, and record stock prices mean that the American consumer the major drag on the economy in the post-crisis period is finally back. The facts say otherwise.

2013-05-31 The Great Reflation by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

This week economists, investors and politicians were treated to some of the "best" home price data since the frothy days of 2006 when home loans were given out like cotton candy and condo flipping was a national pastime. The Case-Shiller 20 City Composite Home price index was up a startling 10.9% for the 12 month period ending in March. Prices in all 20 cities were up, with some (Las Vegas, Phoenix, and San Francisco) notching gains of more than 20%. Meanwhile the National Association of Realtors announced that April pending home sales volume reached the highest level in nearly three years.

2013-05-31 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I’ve now updated this commentary to include April Real Personal Income less Transfer Payments. As I’ve discussed before, the adjacent thumbnail shows the major spike in incomes triggered by pulling early 2013 income forward in November and December (bonuses, dividends, etc.) to manage the tax risks of the Fiscal Cliff. At this point we’ve recovered from the post-strategy dip, so the trend going forward will give a more realistic sense of where this indicator is heading.

2013-05-31 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Is central bank communication clarifying or confusing? The European Central Bank should focus its efforts on small business lending. A look beneath the surface of housing proves revealing.

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 UK Secular Outlook - Morphing into the Carney Era by Mike Amey of PIMCO

The UK remains in a “stable disequilibrium”, one that needs to either transform into growing economy with narrowing income differentials or risk a more aggressive policy response. Financial repression, protection of real purchasing power, tail risks of accelerated currency weakness and price sensitivity will likely dominate UK markets over the secular horizon. Investors may consider progressively reducing exposure to assets susceptible to tail risks. Higher quality short-dated income-generating, inflation-hedging and non-sterling assets remain attractive.

2013-05-30 Understanding Gold Market Dynamics by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

To an extent that reveals a thorough misunderstanding of the market forces, the financial media has failed to consider the different motivations and beliefs that drive the different types of investors who are active in the gold market. By treating the gold market as if it were comprised of just one type of investor, analysts have drawn false conclusions about the recent volatility.

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.

2013-05-30 Are We There Yet? by Vitaliy Katsenelson of Investment Management Associates

I started writing my first book, Active Value Investing: Making Money in Range-Bound Markets, in 2005; finished it in 2007; and published the second, an abridged version of the first (The Little Book of Sideways Markets), in 2010. In both books I made the case that there is a very high probability that we are in the midst of a secular sideways market a market that goes up and down, with a lot of cyclical volatility, but ends up going nowhere for a long time.

2013-05-30 Global DC Plans: Similar Destinations, Distinctly Different Paths by Stacy Schaus, William G. S. Allport, Justin Blesy of PIMCO

DC plans in in the U.S., Australia and the U.K. may benefit from better aligning asset allocation defaults to workers’ needed outcome: purchasing power in retirement. Focusing on needed outcomes would suggest a higher allocation to real assets, earlier de-risking and consideration of tail risk hedging.

2013-05-30 Reflation in the Balance by Richard Clarida of PIMCO

Four of the world’s major central banks are now “all in” when it comes to ballooning their balance sheets in correlated, if not coordinated, efforts to achieve escape velocity in their economies. In accounting for the impact of quantitative easing on two key balance sheets, we are able to interpret, monitor and calibrate the programs currently in place. This in turn can help us prepare portfolios if or when sentiments and inflation expectations shift.

2013-05-30 Has the Fat Lady Started to Sing on the Housing Market? by Martin Pring of Pring Turner Capital Group

As decision makers we are continually looking for clues from economic activity in order to adjust portfolios. The beauty of following business cycle sequences is the value from anticipating financial market leadership changes. A major beneficiary of this four year old business recovery has been housing and housing related stocks.

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?”

2013-05-29 Ball Corp: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

Ball Corp (BLL) is a supplier of high quality packaging for beverage, food and household products customers, and of aerospace and other technologies and services, primarily for the U.S. government.

2013-05-29 Investors Shun Stocks But Cling To Bonds - Why? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

he Halberts are out of town celebrating our son’s graduation from college on the sunny beaches of southern Florida. In place of my usual writing, I have chosen to reprint an excellent article from The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Zweig on investor behavior. The WSJ writer keys in on a new investor survey from Blackwater, Inc., one of the largest money management firms in the world (almost $4 trillion in customer assets). Blackwater surveyed investors that have at least $50,000 in investable assets. The findings are almost sure to surprise you.

2013-05-29 April 2013 Market Commentary by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

Interest rates rose modestly during the first quarter as ten year Treasury yields increased by approximately 0.10% or 10 basis points. Seasonal tax-time municipal bond liquidations, together with a heavier primary calendar, weighed heavily on the market causing municipal bond yields to underperform on a relative basis. In our recent market opinion we thoroughly discussed our view that the relative cheapening of municipal bonds presented investors with and attractive entry point as we expect technical conditions to improve as we move into the summer months.

2013-05-29 Is the Fed in the Home Stretch? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Global equity markets stammered through a choppy environment last week following increased fears that certain central banks were considering the possibility of pulling stimulus sooner than anticipated. Markets have long been dependent on central banks, but the notion that policymakers could head for the exits leaves investors unsure how to react.

2013-05-29 Outlook on the Japanese Equity Market by Team of Nomura Asset Management

The Nikkei Stock Average closed 128 points higher, or 0.9%, to close the week at 14,612 following the dramatic 7.3% sell-off on Thursday, May 23, 2013. The Tokyo Stock Price Index (TOPIX) also added 6 points, or 0.5%, to 1,194, following a 6.9% sell-off on Thursday, May 23rd.

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

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

2013-05-28 Economic Climate Change & the Long-Term View on Yields by Sponsored Content from Loomis Sayles (Article)

Will rates rise? It’s a logical question. US Treasury yields have been in a secular downward trend since the 1980s and almost frozen at historic lows for the last several months. While recent cyclical improvements suggest the US economy is heating up, we do not expect interest rates to start soaring to record highs. The interest rate environment will eventually undergo climate change, but the process will be gradual. There are secular headwinds cooling rates, and we expect them to persist for years to come.

2013-05-28 State and Local Pensions: What Now? by John Minahan (Article)

Alicia Munnell’s book, State and Local Pensions: What Now? is a comprehensive introduction to public pension funds for the newcomer and a useful reference for seasoned professionals. Munnell stakes out a position on an important debate between economists and actuaries regarding liability valuation, and develops a background narrative portraying economists as impulsive, argumentative and clueless.

2013-05-28 Solving the Public Pension Plan Funding Crisis by John T. Hausladen (Article)

Current proposals to address public pension underfunding will not provide any significant relief because of the continued assumption of investment and longevity risk by plan sponsors. I propose a combination of liability-driven investing and a risk-transfer mechanism to gradually eliminate plan liabilities.

2013-05-28 When Your Coworkers Don’t Measure Up by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I work in a large financial organization. I’m frustrated that many of my coworkers don’t pull their weight. I work hard and am very committed, but those around me run out the door at 5 p.m. I want to talk to those in charge, but I am not sure how to go about doing it.

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

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

2013-05-28 The Puzzle Is Complex: Education Funding, Assessed Values and Housing Prices by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

While many look to Memorial Day as the official beginning of summer, we hope all took time to reflect on the true meaning of Memorial Day as a time to thank, recognize and remember those that have, are and stand ready to defend our country and all we stand for. I, for one, am incredibly grateful to the men and women that serve our country and put their lives on the line to defend our freedom, democracy and way of life.

2013-05-28 Corrections Remain Modest by Charles Lieberman (Article)

Many investors are waiting for the proverbial market correction, so they have an opportunity to get into the market rally. Many investors are holding back because they don’t want to buy at a market top after such a major run. This approach has been a disaster, since the market has given them no such buying windows so far. A correction must eventually occur of course, but quite possibly only from higher levels. Stocks remain the place to be.

2013-05-28 Forward-Looking Broad-Market Investing by Team of AdvisorShares

The following is a research study that provides compelling data on a more efficient way to invest in broad markets. Many people have called the equity market of the last 10 years the “lost decade” due to its lack of net change. Madrona Funds research shows that it would have been possible to have profited by over 200% over the last decade by using their forward looking methodology, which is based on future expected earnings, not past performance.

2013-05-28 Rock, Paper, Scissors by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

There’s a sort of rock-paper-scissors relationship to financial indicators. Trend following factors typically trump valuations alone, while overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndromes trump trend-following and monetary considerations. Monetary factors tend to be most effective as confirmation of other measures, particularly of trend-following factors, but only in the absence of overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndromes.

2013-05-28 You Now Have All of Our Attention by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Mr. Bernanke’s opening statement was just what the market wanted to hear... "Premature tightening of monetary policy could lead interest rates to rise temporarily but would also carry a substantial risk of slowing or ending this economic recovery and causing inflation to fall further".

2013-05-28 Declaration of Not-So-Much Dependence by Brad Evans of Heartland Advisors

There’s been much discussion lately of how alternative energy sources like wind and solar power could lower the U.S.’s dependence on foreign oil. What’s often overlooked, though, is just how much this country is already meeting its energy needs with domestically produced oil and natural gas.

2013-05-25 The Mother of All Painted-In Corners by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Japan has painted itself into the mother all corners. There will be no clean or easy exit. There is going to be massive economic pain as they the Japanese try and find a way out of their problems, and sadly, the pain will not be confined to Japan. This will be the true test of the theories of neo-Keynesianism writ large. Japan is going to print and monetize and spend more than almost any observer can currently imagine. You like what Paul Krugman prescribes? You think he makes sense? You (we all!) are going to be participants in a real-world experiment on how that works out.

2013-05-24 Focus on What You Know and Can Control: Be Aware of Unexpected Risks in Bonds by Warren Pierson of Baird Advisors

While corporate bonds have seen improvement in credit fundamentals, similar improvement has not taken place for municipal bonds. Ongoing challenges in municipal credit could have a meaningful negative effect on municipal bonds. Many callable bonds with longer maturities face significant extension risk with an upward movement in interest rates. Durations currently pegged to shorter call dates could extend as issuers are less likely to call in bonds prior to maturity as interest rates rise. As callable bonds get re-priced to longer maturity dates, the resulting price declines could be profound.

2013-05-24 Recession Watch: ECRIs Weekly Leading Indicator Up Slightly by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

TheWeekly Leading Index(WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is at 130.6, up slightly from last weeks 130.1 (a downward revision from 130.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) dropped to 6.8% from 7.0% last week.

2013-05-24 The Biggest Loser Wins by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific

While the world’s economies jockey one another for the lead in the currency devaluation derby, it’s worth considering the value of the prize they are seeking. They believe a weak currency opens the door to trade dominance, by allowing manufacturers to undercut foreign rivals, and to economic growth, by fighting deflation. On the other side of the coin, they believe a strong currency is an economic albatross that leads to stagnation. But the demonstrable effects of currency strength and weakness reveal the emptiness of their theory.

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 Bifurcation Blues by Herbert and Randall Abramson of Trapeze Asset Management

Bifurcation. A very technical sounding word. It merely means “a division into two parts”, which is what we are witnessing in many areas related to investment, both macro and micro. And it is exhibiting to value investors those areas to avoid and the most attractive to embrace. And giving rise to a wide range of disparate opinions among economic and investment professionals as to what outcomes are likely. Needless to say, we have our own strong views.

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.

2013-05-23 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

All in all, one’s track record of success, or defeat, is defined by the consistency of one’s methodology and the frequency of positive pulsebeats one can amass over a specific duration.

2013-05-23 Investing in Gold: Does It Stack Up? by Team of Knowledge@Wharton

Gold has a timeless allure -- especially if you worry about stock market volatility, inflation, a decay of ordinary currency or the collapse of civilization. Yet not everyone agrees that gold offers the safe haven its promoters describe. How reliable can demand be for a commodity that very few people actually need? What is the proper role for gold in an investment portfolio? Why has its price been falling?

2013-05-23 Does Behavioral Investing Make Sense Anymore? by Kevin Simms, Joseph Paul of AllianceBernstein

Value investing has faced a crisis of confidence after five tough years. Here’s why we think the behavioral investing principles that underpin the discipline are more relevant than ever.

2013-05-22 If You Didn\'t Buy That Powerball Ticket... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

So onward and upward. What signals should Bulls be on the lookout for? Change in breadth (Up v. Down Volumes, Advancers v. Decliners), Signs of distribution (Sharp down days accompanied by large % increases in trading volumes), Change in leadership away from RISKON sectors (don’t want SmallCaps, Financials, Industrials, Transports or Housing to lag)...

2013-05-22 Is There Value in Today's Stock Market by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Due to the recent strength in the US stock market, we thought it would be helpful to followers of Smead Capital Management to understand the history of our core investment beliefs and where our portfolio is in relation to those core beliefs. A review of the ongoing tension between valuation mattering dearly and the enormous benefits of long-term business ownership is especially interesting after a significant upward move in the stock market. How do you keep turnover and trading expense low, while maintaining a meaningful margin of safety?

2013-05-22 Cyprus and the Eurozone...Still Stuck in the Middle by Gregory Hahn of Winthrop Capital Management

The debt crisis in the Eurozone turned another chapter as Cyprus finally reached the point of requiring a bailout from the European Union. The wisdom of Gerry Rafferty’s hit song “Stuck in the Middle with You” which was written in 1973, rings true today as we watch the EU and the European Central Bank navigate the mess in Europe. With each attempt at containment, there appears some plot twist, the proposed Cyprus bank bailout is no exception. While the bailout of Cyprus and its banks is not large in size, only 10 billion, relative to the Cyprus economy, it is significant.

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.

2013-05-22 Malaysia's Post-Election Investment Outlook by Scott Klimo of Saturna Capital

Earlier this year we identified ASEAN as the most attractive region within the emerging markets universe. That prediction has proved accurate. Market indices (USD returns) year-to-date through April in the Philippines, Thailand, and Indonesia are 23%, 22%, and 16%, respectively. Singapore (which we do not consider an emerging market) gained 6%, while Malaysia rose only 3.9%. So what’s the outlook for Malaysia?

2013-05-22 How to Turn the ECB Straggler into a Central Bank Pacemaker by Myles Bradshaw of PIMCO

In our opinion, the ECB will be most effective if it can design a programme that helps banks deleverage more quickly to stimulate growth in the real economy. To have a meaningful impact on Europe’s broken transmission mechanism, any ECB programme needs to not only lower the cost of credit, but also be regionally tailored or big enough to be effective. Long-term investors should remain focused on the quality of issuers’ balance sheets rather than simply taking more risk because of lower prospective returns.

2013-05-22 Where is inflation headed? What will it mean for investors? by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

Slow economic growth and long-term headwinds should keep inflation contained. Low inflation should help support equity markets and high yield bonds, but may be a negative for gold prices. The inflation environment should also help prevent interest rates from rising too fast.

2013-05-22 Is Japan's Economic Rebound For Real? by Daisuke Nomoto of Columbia Management

The two phrases “Abenomics” and the “BOJ’s Shock and Awe Monetary Easing” are all over the headlines about Japan. Prime Minister Abe unveiled his economic policy late last year calling for a 3% annual nominal gross domestic product (GDP) growth target and an aggressive monetary easing by the BOJ (The Bank of Japan) to achieve 2% inflation. The BOJ unleashed the world’s most intense burst of monetary stimulus last month promising to double the monetary base to 270 trillion yen ($2.7 trillion) by the end of 2014 to defeat deflation.

2013-05-22 The Benefits of Diversifying the Funding of a Gold Position by Team of AdvisorShares

The recent sell off in gold has sharpened the focus of even the most committed gold bugs, and has highlighted one of the key risks that many investors face when they access the gold market. Do you purchase Gold in dollar terms or something else? How do you look at Gold, as a currency or something else? For the purposes of this analysis, Treesdale Partners took a look at a gold transaction in foreign exchange terms.

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

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

2013-05-21 Do Annuities Reduce Bequest Values? by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

The widely held view that annuities reduce bequest values is too narrow. Adjustments can be made in retirement portfolios to reduce retirement risk without sacrificing the value of one’s bequest. Here’s how retirees can purchase annuities, adjust allocations in remaining assets and achieve improved retirement outcomes.

2013-05-21 How Responding to Client Requests is Like Returning a Sweater to Sears by Dan Richards (Article)

A source of frustration for many advisors is the amount of time that’s consumed by mundane administrative requests things that clients don’t value and chew up a ton of time. But there is a way to take the time spent on routine matters and turn it into something that clients see as delivering quantifiable value. A veteran advisor told me how he did exactly that and enhanced relationships with the accountants for key clients in the process.

2013-05-21 Five Tips for Winning in the “Trust and Value” Economy by Meridith Elliott Powell (Article)

In this our economy, the consumer is in control. What advisors sell is a luxury, and an advisor’s competitive advantage is how he or she sells it. Success depends on your ability to build and expand relationships in what I call the “trust and value” economy.

2013-05-21 Does Your Firm Need a COO? by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I run a 15-person firm. A consultant come and prepared a growth plan for our future. The number-one recommendation was that I create a role for a chief operating officer and hire this person. But I don’t see how a COO helps a firm that is as small as mine. This seems the solution for a firm of 50 or above, and I can’t afford a high-paid individual repeating what I already do.

2013-05-21 (Yawn)...As Equities Advance Another 2% by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities advanced again last week, with the S&P 500 increasing 2.1%. Global stocks are reaching new highs in this cycle and the U.S. market is at an all-time high. Bonds were hurt in the move, dragging credit down, while commodities fell slightly on weaker manufacturing data. The unrelenting equity rally and an environment without positive news about earnings and the economy is making many investors uncomfortable.

2013-05-21 Developed Europe: Regional Economic Review 1Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

After withdrawing into the background in late 2012, the Euro-zone sovereign debt crisis resurfaced in the first quarter with the Italian elections and Cyprus’ banking crisis. In late February, Italy’s national elections resulted in a fractured mandate, and Italians voted out the incumbent, the main architect of the country’s austerity and reforms agenda.

2013-05-21 Why the Lack of Inflation Is a Problem by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Given the outsized role central banks are playing in today’s financial markets, inflation watching has taken on increased significance.It is widely assumed that continued easy money policies are only possible as long as price increases remain under control.At the same time, for a global economy trying to escape an extended period of weak growth and burdensome debt loads, low inflation is a double-edged sword.

2013-05-21 Capitalism and Democracy by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

In the Italian elections, the party that showed the strongest results was the Five Star Movement, led by the comedian Beppe Grillo. Despite this strong showing, the party failed to form a government and refused to participate in any coalitions. This decision not to participate in the political process has been exhibited by other protest groups, such as Occupy Wall Street, the Israeli Tent Movement, and the Spanish “Indignant” movement.

2013-05-21 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, was up 1.86% for the month of April, as the high yield market continued to benefit from stable U.S. economic growth and steady asset reflation driven by the Federal Reserve and global central banks.

2013-05-21 As Energy Demand Outpaces Supply, Asia Looks Overseas to Refuel by Raja Mukherji, Taosha Wang of PIMCO

Many Asian countries are encountering growing energy shortages due to declining indigenous resources and domestic consumption growth. Oil companies in Asia frequently engage in overseas acquisitions. In many cases, these transactions help enlarge reserve base, access technological know-hows and enhance corporate profitability. Strong sovereign support is a key investment thesis in the Asian oil and gas sector. Through our bottom-up analysis, we are finding numerous investment opportunities.

2013-05-21 Are Equity Investors Pushing the Gas Pedal Too Hard? by Norman Boersma of Franklin Templeton Investments

Whatever previous reticence investors may have had about equities last year seems to have evaporated and, with remarkable speed, turned into fear over having missed the equity rally. Some major market averages have accelerated at a pace some say is reckless, so as we head toward the mid-point of the year, Norm Boersma, CFA, chief investment officer of Templeton Global Equity Group, takes a look at reasons investors might continue to push the gas pedalor tap the brakes.

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.

2013-05-21 Putting Cash to Work: 3 Ways to Enter the Market Today by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With global equities up more than 25% since their bottom last June, many investors are wondering: “Is it too late to move cash from the sidelines to stocks?” No, says Russ, and he offers three ideas for where find value today.

2013-05-21 General Electric Looks Like It's Becoming The Shareholder-Friendly Company It Once Was by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

General Electric (GE) was once revered as one of the bluest of all blue-chip companies in the world. During its glory days, GE was respected as an industrial conglomerate that manufactured some of the world’s best jet engines, locomotives, appliances and even the highly regarded General Electric light bulb. However, as best I can determine, the roots of General Electric’s ultimate demise were established in 1930 when the company, responding to the great depression, formed GE Finance in order to help their customers finance GE appliances over time.

2013-05-20 Global Real Estate Is Hot Again, but Where Are the Best Opportunities? by Joe Rodriguez of Invesco

In this low interest rate environment, yield-hungry investors have been moving out of bonds, and many are opting for real estate investment opportunities. Combine that with a structural undersupply of institutional quality real estate in many key cities across the globe, and an attractive case for investment starts to emerge. Here’s where we see the most attractive and promising opportunities by region this year.

2013-05-20 Abenomics for Europe by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The devaluation of the Japanese yen may lead EU policymakers to implement measures that will help the economic situation in the single currency zone.

2013-05-20 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

When the President put forth his proposed budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year which begins October 1st, he went out of his way to offer an olive branch to the Republicans on entitlement programs - especially Social Security and Medicare. The President proposed changing the cost of living adjustments in such a way that, over time, there would be significant savings to the government, but of course, take the money away from the recipients.

2013-05-20 A European Vacation from Austerity? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Recession-wracked governments in the eurozone are rethinking fiscal constraints.

2013-05-20 Not in Kansas Anymore by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Knowing where you are doesn’t mean that you’re leaving, but you should still know where you are.

2013-05-20 Alpha, Beta! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

I had a somewhat lengthy conversation with Rich Bernstein last Friday. I have been on TV with Rich over the years, but have never really had a one-on-one talk with him. Recall that Richard Bernstein was the Chief U.S. Strategist at Merrill Lynch for years before becoming the eponymous captain of Richard Bernstein Advisors (RBA). I was speaking with Rich because I have developed an interest in a few of the funds he manages for various entities. Rich began by stating he is extremely bullish, believing we are in one of the biggest “bull markets” ever.

2013-05-20 Still Bullish by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Like Rip Van Winkle, imagine you went to sleep on October 9, 2007 and didn’t wake up until yesterday. On 10/9/2007, equities were at record highs: 14,165 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and 1,565 for the S&P 500.

2013-05-18 All Japan, All the Time by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

This week we again focus on Japan. Their stock market has been on a tear, and their economy grew 3.5% last quarter. Is Abenomics really the answer to all their problems? Is it just a matter of turning the monetary dial a little higher and voila, there is growth? Why doesn’t everyone try that? And what would happen if they did?

2013-05-17 Making the Most of Equity Allocations by Andrew Pyne, Sabrina Callin of PIMCO

We believe slowing global growth and deleveraging are likely to result in lower long-term returns for equities. Traditional approaches to building equity portfolios may not be enough for investors to meet their return goals. We have found three complementary ways investors can enhance equity return potential: fundamental indexes, index-plus strategies and high active share stock selection approaches.

2013-05-17 4 Reasons to Still Hold High Yield by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

With high yield spreads historically tight and prices at all-time highs, some market watchers are wondering whether it’s time to jump off the high-yield bandwagon. Russ weighs in and explains why this asset class is still worth holding.

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.

2013-05-17 A Matter of Perspective by Robert Horrocks of Matthews Asia

A Hong Kong investor once told me that he considered Asia’s capital markets to be like breaking waves; their rhythms often violent, but ultimately, they make a steady progression up the shore. It has often been noted that many Asia investors play these short-term rhythms. But ultimately the tide does come in and there is room for the long-term investor.

2013-05-17 Opportunistic Investing: Making the Most of Your Cash in Today's Market by Chris Engelman of Cedar Hill Associates

With the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index rising more than 20% since last June, some people are reluctant to invest now, fearful that stocks are poised to tumble again. By focusing on their long-term investment objectives rather than short-term market fluctuations, however, investors can plan for a sound financial future. Here, Cedar Hill Managing Director Chris Engelman offers strategies for building a portfolio that helps to limit market risks and increases the likelihood of achieving your long-term goals.

2013-05-17 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Declines by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 19 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-05-17 Finding Opportunity Far and Near by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Would it surprise you to learn that a vast majority of equity valuation models state that stocks should head much higher over the next five years?

2013-05-16 Searching For a New Investment Paradigm by Philip Lawton of Research Affiliates

Investment management is supposed to be built on brilliant minds’ novel insights and innovative approachesor so our training and traditions have led us to believe. We celebrate our best investors, such as Warren Buffett, Peter Lynch, and Bill Gross, and our best financial theories, such as modern portfolio theory (MPT) and the efficient markets hypothesis (EMH).

2013-05-16 The Truth about April's Budget Surplus by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

The Truth about April’s Budget Surplus Columbia Management By Marie Schofield May 16, 2013 Washington finally had some good news to report, specifically on the budget deficit. The Treasury reported a $113 billion surplus, the biggest in five years. April is a critical month for the budget because of tax filing and payment deadlines. While some attribute the surplus to reduced outlays on sequestration, it was mainly due to growing revenues courtesy of a build in individual and corporate tax receipts.

2013-05-16 Saving for College: A Family Affair by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

The language of personal finance isn’t especially racy, but “debt” certainly has taken on the negative tone of other “four-letter words.” Even so, with college costs on the rise and many parents feeling especially pinched in this challenging economic environment, student loans rather than college savings have become the solution for many.

2013-05-16 Hold Your Houses: The Housing Recovery May Take Longer Than You Think To Reach Consumers by Joshua Anderson, Emmanuel S. Sharef, Grover Burthey of PIMCO

New residential construction needs to double from 2012 levels to meet long-run stable demand, and the pace of that increase is critical. Consumer credit growth is hindered by strict lending standards, continued deleveraging and limits to mortgage equity withdrawal. As a result, the balance of mortgage debt is unlikely to meaningfully increase in the next 12-18 months, delaying a return of the virtuous consumer cycle.

2013-05-16 The Dow Hits All-Time Highs, But The Truth Is It Remains Cheaply Valued by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

The Dow Jones industrial average sits above 15,000, an all-time high. But don’t be fooled, this doesn’t mean that stocks are expensive. I understand that it seems logical to assume that

2013-05-16 Everybody Wants Some: Central Banks and Bond Funds Step up Buying of Stocks by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

The stock market has broken out of its "triple top" formation, which started in 2000, yet remains reasonably valued. Supply within the stock market has been dwindling thanks to near-record company buybacks. Demand for stocks is coming from some seemingly unlikely sources: global central banks and bond mutual funds.

2013-05-16 Where Are the Bears? Evidence vs. Anecdotes in Assessing Market Sentiment Over a Full Market Cycle by JJ Abodeely of Sitka Pacific Capital Management

Imagine the stock market as a national park with just three kinds of animals: bulls, bears, and pigs. The saying “bulls make money, bears make money, pigs get slaughtered” conveys the idea that one can be bullish or bearish and be successful depending on the market environment, whereas greedy pigs are almost always set up for catastrophe.

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 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks moved higher again last week as the data continues to reflect an economy that continues to trudge along to the consternation of many.

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 Is Japan\'s Sun Rising Again? by Kenichi Amaki of Matthews Asia

Japan’s stock market continues to rise while its currency heads in the other direction. Its new leaders, now enjoying high approval ratings, are battling deflation and trying to jump-start its economy with a new determination. This month Kenichi Amaki takes a look at what, if anything, is different this time.

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 How to Take Advantage of the Great (Sector) Rotation by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

The real Great Rotation may just be a shift to cyclical sectors from defensive ones rather than a move to bonds from stocks. Russ explains and offers 3 ways to play this rotation.

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 Is Kyle Bass Wrong About Japan? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

It’s standard practice for short sellers to kick dirt on their targets, and Kyle Bass is doing just that by asserting that Japan’s economy is on the verge of a financial crisis. In a talk on May 3, he said that Japan’s demise is imminent. So far, though, Bass has been wrong and he has his detractors, who are far less certain of Japan’s destiny.

2013-05-14 Framing the Referral Discussion by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Last week, I was training a group of very successful Florida-based advisors who brought up what is a common issue with regard to client referrals. Even the best advisors, with the most satisfied clients, offering the highest levels of service often struggle with obtaining referrals.

2013-05-14 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, Niall Ferguson: Four Reasons Why the U.S. is Failing, which appeared last week.

2013-05-14 Guide to Working with Monetary Napalm by Scott Colyer of Advisors Asset Management

Napalm is a highly incendiary form of jellied fuel. It was used extensively in the Vietnam War to quickly ignite massive fires over large areas of land. In the world of financial incendiaries, the Fed’s overwhelming monetary stimulus has ignited asset prices in the United States with the force and effectiveness of napalm. Is the fire short lived? Are the gains in asset prices temporary or can they be believed? Are the housing and stock markets on fire just because of the Fed’s quantitative easing (QE) or could there be a much more fundamental reason?

2013-05-14 It\'s Not That Bad Out There by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Certain things, like the sun rising, or the tides shifting, can be counted on. It’s also true that when government shrinks as a share of GDP, things start to pick up.

2013-05-14 Housing Finally Breaks Free by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Housing, which for so many years represented everything bad about the credit crisis, is finally beginning to have its day back in the sun. Trends in housing markets around the country are improving, to the benefit of the overall economy. It appears that trend is set to continue.

2013-05-14 Cyclical and Emerging Market Strength May Be Pointing to Better Growth by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week U.S. equities advanced as the S&P 500 increased by 1.3%. We have been amazed bythe market’s ability to continue to rally in an environment in which sales growth has been anemic and earnings gains have been largely based on companies’ abilities to manage margins and utilize financial engineering.

2013-05-14 Who is Henry Singleton? by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

The year was 1974 and Teledyne (TDY/$77.56/Outperform), on a split-adjusted basis, was trading at about $0.05 per share. By 1986 it was changing hands around $75 per share. Unfortunately, back in 1974 I didn’t have enough money to buy more than 10 shares, having lived through the devastating bear market of 1973 1974 where the D-J Industrial Average (INDU/15118.49) lost 47% of its value.

2013-05-14 New Normal ... Morphing by Mohamed El-Erian of PIMCO

The New Normal has morphed to include consequential elements of a "stable disequilibrium." In the midst of notable multi-speed dynamics, the global economy as a whole is muddling along a road that will give way over the next three to five years to one of two stark alternatives: either sustainable global growth, institutional and political renewal in the West and safe deleveraging; or growth shortfalls that cause financial instability, fuel greater social tensions, accentuate political dysfunctions and complicate debt traps.

2013-05-13 Skills, Education, and Employment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

It is graduation time, and this morning finds me swimming in a sea of fresh young faces as a young friend graduates, along with a thousand classmates. But to what? I concluded my final formal education efforts in late 1974, in the midst of a stagflationary recession, so it was not the best of times to be looking for work. It turned out that I had a far different future ahead of me than I envisioned then. But I would trade places with any of those kids who graduated today, as my vision of the next 40 years is actually very optimistic.

2013-05-13 Investment Bulletin: Global Equity Strategy by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Equity markets remained strong and the portfolio continued to outperform well, with a monthly gain of 3.2% vs 0.6% for the index. After two decades of policy torpor, Japan’s government has rapidly adopted a trio of policies to kick start the economy: monetary and fiscal stimulus, plus a weak yen. This is shock and awe’ relative to GDP, being far greater than any experiment in any developed country since the Second World War.

2013-05-13 Closing Arguments: Nothing Further, Your Honor by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Nothing further, your honor. I am resting my case.

2013-05-13 The Cash Conundrum by Ric Dillon of Diamond Hill Investments

In an effort to keep interest rates low, the Federal Reserve, along with other global central banks, is flooding the financial markets with liquidity. This additional liquidity is pushing prices for most financial and real assets higher. At some point, the Fed’s policy of easing will end and in some ways will be reversed. Purchases of government-backed securities may end this year (QE3); however, the Fed has signaled that the near zero interest rate policy for Fed Funds is likely to continue into 2015.

2013-05-13 Americas: Regional Economic Review 1Q 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Weaker global demand and prices for energy and commodities, as well as softer than expected domestic consumption have restricted the growth outlook for most economies in the Americas region during the first three months of the year. Fewer monthly job additions in the U.S. have dented consumer confidence, and growth for the current year is now forecast to be moderately lower than earlier expectations.

2013-05-11 Three Reasons to Buy Gold Equities Today by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

A strong stomach and a tremendous amount of patience are required for gold stock investors these days, as miners have been exhibiting their typical volatility pattern. That’s why I often say to anticipate before you participate, because gold stocks are historically twice as volatile as U.S. stocks. As of March 31, 2013, using 10-year data, the NYSE Arca Gold BUGS Index (HUI) had a rolling one-year standard deviation of nearly 35 percent. The S&P 500’s was just under 15 percent.

2013-05-10 A Tale of Two Markets: Equity Bulls and Bond Bears by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

Surging equity markets absent an accompanying rate rally is a red flag, as Treasury yields remain well below “normal”. While investors’ renewed enthusiasm for equities is warranted, they must be careful to avoid the “folly of gaming diversification”. Corporate earnings have impressed, though revenue has struggled due in part to a moribund Europe. Divergent markets mean investors should stay broadly diversified in equities and real bonds not near-cash and ever alert to the fundamentals.

2013-05-10 The Importance of Being Different by Francois Sicart of Tocqueville Asset Management

In his latest essay, Francois Sicart, Founder and Chairman of Tocqueville Asset Management, writes about how superior investment managers outperform their market benchmarks -- by taking advantage of volatility, among other things -- as well as how to properly evaluate investment performance.

2013-05-10 DICK's Sporting Goods Inc: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of DICK’s Sporting Goods Inc through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool. Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort. Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-05-10 2013 US Financial Markets: Part 2 - The TINA Hypothesis by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

Contrary to the “Bernanke Illusion” (money market funds are a zero return investment), history indicates that money market funds are likely to provide investors with returns approximating inflation over the next decade. As I pointed out in our last letter, the markets are pricing in inflation levels significantly higher than the prospective total returns of 10 year TBonds. The small additional return achieved by corporate bonds or US stocks (at current prices) is unlikely to compensate a buy and hold investor with sufficient gains to justify the interim risks.

2013-05-10 Weekly Research Briefing by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

This week’s focus was squarely on central bank policy decisions and the U.S. April payrolls data. Mid-week the FOMC reinforced the "Bernanke put" by stating explicitly that quantitative easing can be increased if conditions worsen.

2013-05-10 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Continues to Show Improvement by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 19 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-05-10 Symptoms Don\'t Lie by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

A good doctor will not simply make a diagnosis based on measurements. The symptoms and complaints expressed by the patient are at least as important in making a determination as the data provided by diagnostic tools. When the data says one thing and the symptoms continuously say another, it makes sense to question the reliability of the instruments. This would be particularly true if the instruments are furnished by a party with a stake in a favorable diagnosis, say an insurance company on the hook for treatment costs. The same holds true for the U.S. economy.

2013-05-10 Countries Should Be Careful Not to Overstimulate Their Housing Markets by Team of Northern Trust

Countries should be careful not to overstimulate their housing markets. Credit extension is improving, but remains modest.

2013-05-10 3 Reasons to Explore the Frontier by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Though frontier markets have outperformed developed and emerging markets so far this year, it’s not too late to explore the frontier. Russ offers three reasons to consider having a small strategic allocation to “pre-emerging” world equities.

2013-05-09 China's Building, but Will They Come? Ghost Cities by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Some of you may have heard or read about the current state of the real estate market in China, often covered in a sensationalistic way, with talk of “ghost cities” and “bubbles” ready to burst and so forth. These types of reports can cause quite a jolt in the market, which is what we saw happen, probably not coincidentally, after a popular US television newsmagazine aired a somewhat negative report in March. But as I’ve said many times before, there’s often more to a story; important parts can end up on the cutting room floor.

2013-05-09 Equity Market Distortions Create Big Payback Potential by Joseph Paul, Kevin Simms of AllianceBernstein

Even after this year’s equities rally, market imbalances created by the financial crisis in 2008 have not disappeared. When these distortions unwind, we expect deep value stocks to rapidly recover.

2013-05-09 BlackRock Inc: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of BlackRock Inc through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool. Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort. Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-05-09 The Effect of Negative Interest Rates in Europe by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

In his press conference last week, European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi signaled that policymakers may be more open to a cut in the central bank’s deposit rate. Although Mr. Draghi acknowledged this move could have negative side effects, he added “we will be able to deal with the negative consequences we will look at this with an open mind.” Several major central banks considered negative deposit facility rates during and after the financial crisis, but so far, all have determined that the idea did not pass the cost/benefit test.

2013-05-08 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.

2013-05-08 Are Investors Breathing a Sigh of Relief? by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

Last week U.S. equities delivered another gain as the S&P 500 increased by 2.0%.1 On Friday, the U.S. jobs report offered relief from fears of an accelerating weakness caused by prior softness during this time in each of the last three years. However, the full set of economic data for the week supports our view of a slower second quarter in a post-sequestration environment.

2013-05-08 US Economy Should be \"Good Enough\" for Stocks by Russ Koesterich of BlackRock Investment Management

The April employment report confirms that the US is on a slow-but-positive course of economic growth. This environment should be conducive to further gains in equity prices. Europe, in contrast, continues to struggle and investors should approach that region with caution.

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

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

2013-05-08 Screaming “Bear Market Rally\" by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

In the summer of 2009, I was a regular guest on CNBC shows like “Larry Kudlow”. We believe we were invited to participate in those panel discussions because we were the token “bull” in the conversation and I am obnoxious enough to state my piece against significant mental and verbal opposition. The US stock market had bottomed in March of 2009 and rallied explosively into the late spring and early summer. What reminded me of this is the news coverage and expert reaction to the recent collapse in commodity prices, especially gold and corn.

2013-05-08 Absolute Return Letter: In the Long Run We Are All in Trouble by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

In the long run we are all dead, said Keynes. Maybe so, but we could be in trouble long before then. Investors appear preoccupied with central bank policy. We argue that investors are quite right in keeping their eye on the ball but, to us, it looks as if they are focusing on the wrong ball. The real worries for the long term are demographics and negative real interest rates and the effect these factors may have on equity returns.

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

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

2013-05-07 Mutual Fund Companies Need to Prepare for a Changing Environment Fund Industry Turbulence Ahead by Paul Franchi (Article)

The mutual fund industry grew explosively from the 1980s on a rare tonic of a low-inflation credit expansion powered indirectly by international trade flows. That run reached a peak in 2008 when the application of quantitative easing (QE) served to prevent industry collapse with a softer form of transition, which continues today but must end when inflation returns.

2013-05-07 Establishing the Matriarch of the Family Legacy by Kristan Wojnar (Article)

Advisors see data about the opportunity of female clients and the wealth women control, but they don’t know how to differentiate themselves when working with affluent women. Here’s one tested way to achieve that goal.

2013-05-07 Eight Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Your Boss The Art of Managing Up by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Many advisors with whom I work want their employees to work with them more effectively what I call “managing up.” Advisors are often at a loss as to how to motivate staff and get them to jump on board with new initiatives and those problems can be addressed by helping your charges improve their working relationship with you.

2013-05-07 Weekly Market Commentary by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

The agonizing process of building momentum from a bear market economy has initiated a number of trends that remind us that time can be either an ally or foe. Inconsistent in its nature, a market’s response from dire lows is not always a pleasure to watch.

2013-05-07 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Financial markets got the news they wanted last week as Europe cut interest rates, while here at home the Federal Reserve hinted they might do even more when it comes to money printing. To top it off, Friday’s employment report showed improvement from March although the details caused most to discount the excitement.

2013-05-07 Deere & Co: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of Deere & Co through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool. Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort. Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-05-07 Central Banks Steal the Spotlight Once Again by Chris Maxey, Brian Payne of Fortigent

Central banks around the world continue to provide increased stimulus to their respective economies. Increased conviction over pro-stimulus policies comes in light of recent flaws found in the Reinhart, Rogoff January 2010 paper, which suggested that government debt of more than 90% of GDP is detrimental to economic growth. The latest week brought another round of news in the world of central banking, although it seems the number of options left on the table is running short. What central bankers hope for now is that economies will finally enter recovery mode.

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 Attractive Dividends? Earnings Growth? A Way to Get Both by Team of Lord Abbett

International equities provide broader opportunities for combining appealing divided yields and earnings growth.

2013-05-07 Syria and the Red Line by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On Thursday, April 25, Secretary of Defense Hagel acknowledged that evidence that chemical weapons exposure occurred in Syria was probably accurate. This news dominated the Sunday talk shows, mostly because President Obama had indicated that Syrian military use of chemical weapons would be a “game changer” and a “red line” that would trigger a U.S. and international response. Now that it appears that somehow chemical weapons exposure did occur, the world awaits to see what exactly the president meant by a “response.”

2013-05-07 Global Bonds: A Flexible Solution for an Uncertain Market by Olivia Albrecht, Michael Story of PIMCO

The recent rallies in both safe-haven and risk assets have left many investors in a quandary. We believe alpha, or above-market return, will have to play a greater role for investors seeking to meet return targets. In our view, the current environment affords many opportunities for generating alpha.

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.

2013-05-07 Quarterly Letter by Team of Grey Owl Capital Management

In his April 2013 commentary, PIMCO’s Bill Gross wrote, “PIMCO’s epoch1, Berkshire Hathaway’s epoch, Peter Lynch’s epoch, all occurred or have occurred within an epoch of credit expansion What if an epoch changes? What if perpetual credit expansion and its fertilization of asset prices and returns are substantially altered? What if a future epoch favors lower than index carry or continual bouts of 2008 Lehmanesque volatility ?”

2013-05-06 Lives versus Profits by Joseph Stiglitz of Project Syndicate

The US Supreme Court recently began deliberations in a case that will determine whether human genes may be patented. But we already know that permitting gene patents results in inefficiencies including monopoly profits and a failure to maximize the use of knowledge that impede the pace of innovation.

2013-05-06 Aligning Market Exposure With the Expected Return/Risk Profile by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Some risks and market conditions are more rewarding than others. My objectives for this week’s comment are very specific. First, to demonstrate using a very simple model that investment returns do indeed vary systematically with market conditions. Second, to demonstrate that overvalued, overbought, overbullish conditions have historically dominated trend-following measures when they have emerged. Third, to demonstrate the impact of accepting investment exposure in proportion to the return/risk profile that is associated with a given set of market conditions.

2013-05-06 Dispelling Dollar Doubts by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Will the U.S. dollar, almighty no longer, be supplanted as the world’s reserve currency? Not anytime soon.

2013-05-06 That Was the Week That Was by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Informally the TV show, “That Was The Week That Was,” is referred to as TW3and was a satirical comedy program first aired in the early 1960s. The program was considered a lampooning of the establishment. At the time it was considered a radical departure from legitimate television, but it set the stage for many more such radical departures. I revisit TW3 this morning because I have had so many requests for a formal repartee of a number of last week’s Morning Tacks woven into a more formal strategy letter.

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.

2013-05-04 The QE Sandpile by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Sell in May and go away? What about "risk off?" And ever more QE? Today’s letter is a quick note and a reprise of a popular letter from yesteryear (with a bit of new slant), as I am at my conference in Carlsbad.

2013-05-03 Oracle Corp: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

A quick glance at the historical earnings and price correlated FAST Graphs on Oracle Corp shows a picture of undervaluation based upon the historical earnings growth rate of 18.5% and a current P/E of 13.7. Analysts are forecasting the earnings growth to continue at about 10%, and when you look at the forecasting graph below, the stock appears undervalued (it’s inside of the value corridor of the five orange lines - based on future growth).

2013-05-03 Pring Turner Approach to Business Cycle Investing by Team of AdvisorShares

Like the seasons of the year, the environment for bonds, stocks, and commodities progress in a repeatable and sequential fashion. A gardener understands it is difficult to plant in the winter because nothing grows. The same is true for the financial seasons in the business cycle, where investors can use knowledge of the sequence to create a financial market roadmap. This paper from Pring Turner Capital Group, one of our valued sub-advisors, takes you through the six-stages of the business cycle.

2013-05-03 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Nonfarm Employment by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I’ve now updated this commentary to include April Nonfarm Employment, which included the prior month revision. As the adjacent thumbnail illustrates, this indicator has trended upward in a relatively smooth trajectory over the past 13 months.

2013-05-03 Job Creation May Be More Robust Than Official Statistics Suggest. by Team of Northern Trust

Job creation may be more robust than official statistics suggest; U.S. employment situation; Central bank meetings

2013-05-02 Nu Skin Enterprises: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

This article will reveal the business prospects of Nu Skin Enterprises through the lens of FAST Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool. Therefore, it is offered as the first step before a more comprehensive research effort. Our objective is to provide companies that have excellent historical records and appear reasonably priced based on past, present and future data and expectations.

2013-05-02 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1,570.70. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1,597.57. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-05-02 The Great Gold Redemption by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

The most puzzling part of the investment business is seeing how the vast and largely economically illiterate masses interpret any given piece of news. Take the recent gold selloff: many large players were motivated to sell by news that Cyprus will have to liquidate its gold stockpiles to pay off acute debt obligations. But just a moment’s reflection shows this reaction to be knee-jerk. The real story behind Cyprus’ deal has much more profound ramifications - and they are positive for gold.

2013-05-02 A Case for Owning Commodities When No One Else Is by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Sometimes following where money is being invested is a solid course of action to gain alpha; other times, a better opportunity lies in going the opposite direction, i.e., thinking contrarian.

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 US Economy to Get a Hollywood Makeover by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

You may have heard that the government is going to make some major changes in how our Gross Domestic Product is calculated later this year. Your first thought might be that this is no big deal. However, I will argue today that it is a very big deal, the biggest in a decade, and you need to know why. So I hope you read what follows with more than a passing interest.

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

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

2013-05-01 Looking at Leverage Outside the Box by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

Yield-seeking investors have been boxed in by the near-zero US rate environment, and it seems like there are few ways out. But for those willing to set aside preconceived ideas about the word “leverage,” the lesser-known leveraged loans category may be an alternative to consider in the credit space. Mark Boyadjian, senior vice president and director of our Franklin Floating Rate Debt Group, spoke to us recently about what these often-misunderstood vehicles are and what yield-seeking investors need to know before they take the plunge.

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

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

2013-04-30 The Best Solution for Protecting Retirement Portfolios: Put and Call Options versus GLWBs by Joe Tomlinson (Article)

Retirees cannot be exposed to severe or even modest market losses. They need to protect their savings in a cost-effective manner. I will compare the projected outcomes for two types of strategies: options, which can reduce volatility, and products that guarantee lifetime income, such as variable annuities with guaranteed lifetime withdrawal benefits.

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

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

2013-04-30 Is the U.S. Housing Recovery Built to Last? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

The sector’s comeback will continue, but the pace will likely moderate. Here’s why.

2013-04-30 The U.S. Economy A Gain in GDP? by Marie Schofield of Columbia Management

The advance estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis last Friday showed that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 2.5% in the first quarter, below expectations of an increase of 3.0%. Despite the decent first quarter advance, year-over-year gains in nominal and real GDP are largely unchanged from the prior quarter at 3.4% and 1.8%, respectively. While growth rates at this slow pace in these measures have typically heralded recessions, they appear stable but also underscore a critical problemthe failure to generate escape velocity.

2013-04-30 Best Practices for Following Up After a Prospecting Event by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Based on your experience, what are the best practices for following up with prospects after an event that my firm sponsors?

2013-04-30 Stockman to America: Sinners, Repent! by Laurence B. Siegel (Article)

In a massive volume that melds economic history and social criticism, the former Reagan administration budget director David Stockman has documented countless ways in which America went astray over the last century. Most notably, he decried the corruption of free-market capitalism by those seeking effortless profits at the public’s expense. This is the source of his book’s title, The Great Deformation.

2013-04-30 Is May Really the Time to Go Away? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

As investors near the witching hour of May, the oft-asked question once again comes to the foreground is it best to sell in May and walk away? This year could prove the exception to recent history, but a number of trends are beginning to take shape inside the market’s inner workings.

2013-04-30 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

With the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, a lot of people felt that things were set as it related to estate taxes. Apparently everyone believed that except the President, who has proposed several changes to estate tax law in his fiscal 2014 budget.

2013-04-30 Beyond Gold: 4 Reasons to Think Energy by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While the sell-off in gold has dominated headlines lately, another commodity oil has also experienced price declines in recent months. But despite crude’s drop, Russ is still a fan of energy stocks for four reasons.

2013-04-30 Zebras?! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

We saw many “outside zebras” gorging themselves on stocks in late 2007 as the D-J Industrial Average (DJIA) made a new all-time high and then registered a Dow Theory “sell signal” in November 2007. Subsequently, those outside zebras ended up as “lion lunch” when the senior index shed an eye-popping 53% over the ensuing 17 months.

2013-04-29 Economic Slowdown Has Not Weakened Share Prices by Bob Doll of Nuveen Asset Management

U.S. equities rebounded last week as the S&P 500 increased by nearly 1.8%,1 despite continued weak economic data. We believe recent data is not yet weak enough to change forecasts. The relative stability of data and forecasts - supported by stimulative monetary policies, an improving U.S. housing market and fading political polarization in the U.S. and Europe - sends a message of reasonably low volatility and manageable downside risks.

2013-04-29 When Rich Valuations Meet Poor Economic Data by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Given the full set of market conditions that we observe, including the persistent overvalued, overbought, overbullish syndrome that has developed in recent months, our concerns about stocks are not dependent on the direction of the economy over the coming quarters. An economic downturn would simply add immediacy to those concerns.

2013-04-27 The Cashless Society by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

A cashless future might be farther off than we either fear or hope. Not only is it farther away than some think, we are actually seeing an increase in the use of cash all over the world (and this is not just a US phenomenon). We will look at some interesting factoids that make for thought-provoking discussions, but when we couple them with research on the rise of the unreported economy (aka the underground economy) and the number of people who get some form of government assistance, we may find problematic consequences resulting from hidden incentives that work in unintended ways.

2013-04-26 Coach Inc: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

A quick glance at the historical earnings and price correlated FAST Graphs on Coach Inc shows a picture of undervaluation based upon the historical earnings growth rate of 27.3% and a current P/E of 13.7.Analysts are forecasting the earnings growth to continue at about 13.5%, and when you look at the forecasting graph below, the stock appearsundervalued (it’s inside of the value corridor of the five orange lines - based on future growth).

2013-04-26 The Return of the Asian Tigers: Guinness Atkinson Asset Management Asia Brief by Edmund Harriss, James Weir of Guinness Atkinson Asset Management

Often overlooked by international investors, South East Asia encompasses some of the world’s best performing equity markets in recent years, putting the more established emerging markets in the shade. This performance is backed by good economic results and the favourable demographics of some of these countries, with youthful populations ready to improve productivity and increase consumption. One catalyst for future growth is the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) free trade area, which will bring down trade barriers between the South East Asian nations.

2013-04-26 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Rises Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-26 The Race of Our Lives by Jeremy Grantham of GMO

Our global economy, reckless in its use of all resources and natural systems, shows many of the indicators of potential failure that brought down so many civilizations before ours. By sheer luck, though, ours has two features that might just save our bacon: declining fertility rates and progress in alternative energy. Our survival might well depend on doing everything we can to encourage their progress. Vested interests, though, defend the status quo effectively and the majority much prefers optimistic propaganda to uncomfortable truth and wishful thinking rather than tough action.

2013-04-26 A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Equilibrium by Ben Inker of GMO

The bedrock of GMO’s investment philosophy is reversion to the mean. We believe that capitalism should cause the return on capital to be in line with the cost of capital, and that assets that embody similar risks should offer similar long-term returns. These beliefs, in turn, guide our assumptions that equities should trade at replacement cost, that the long-term return to equities should be approximately the same as their normalized earnings yield, and that assets without long return histories should have similar valuations and equilibrium returns as related assets with longer histories

2013-04-26 Many Of My Dividend Growth Stocks Have Become Overvalued, What Do I Do Now? by Chuck Carnevale of F.A.S.T. Graphs

To me, there’s almost nothing better than finding a great company that I truly want to own at a fair valuation, or better yet, undervalued. In the long run, it has been my experience that this usually leads to outsized future returns, especially if you buy stocks when they are undervalued at the time. But there is quite often a side effect that can prove very disconcerting. Once an undervalued stock starts moving to the upside, momentum will often carry it above what prudent fair valuation would dictate.

2013-04-26 The Yin and the Yang of Commodity Price Trends by Team of Northern Trust

In recent weeks, financial press headlines have centered on the sharp drop in the price of gold. Of greater importance, however, are the significant price declines of oil, wheat, corn and copper. The S&P Goldman Sachs Commodity Index is down 6.1% year-to-date after a nearly steady reading in 2012 and gains exceeding 20% in both 2010 and 2011. It is essential to recognize the different nuances buried in these commodities’ price trends. First we will focus on the implications of declining commodity price trends and then discuss gold specifically in more depth.

2013-04-25 CASSHing-Out by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ explains why he’s no longer advocating the concept of investing in certain smaller developed countries known as the CASSH countries.

2013-04-25 Murkier Prospects for Merkel by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

An anxious German electorate may make it harder for the chancellor to continue her pro-cooperation approach to Europe’s fiscal crisis.

2013-04-25 The End of “Expansionary Austerity?” by Scott Brown of Raymond James

A few years ago, an economic paper by Harvard professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff helped fuel the push for austerity. It was met with some criticism from economists, but was widely embraced by the press and by politicians on both sides of the Atlantic. The study has now been demonstrated to have had serious flaws, but will those in power fold? Or will they double down on bad economic policy?

2013-04-25 Surf's Up! by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

Last month I was reminded of “Surf’s Up!” while rereading said report from my departed friend Stan Salvigsen of Comstock Partners fame. While that is the organization Stan, Michael Aronstein, and Charles Minter formed in the late 1980s, Stan’s investment career actually began in 1964 as an analyst with the Value Line Investment Survey. Subsequently, he was an equity strategist at a succession of firms, including Dreyfus, Oppenheimer, C. J. Lawrence, and Merrill Lynch.

2013-04-25 Closed-End Fund Review by Jeff Margolin of First Trust Advisors

The first quarter of 2013 was a solid quarter for many closed-end funds, with the average fund up 4.31% on a share price total return basis, according to Morningstar. As you would expect, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rocketing 11.25% in the quarter, which represented the best first quarter for the index since 1998, and with the Standard and Poor’s 500 up 10.03%, domestic equity funds were up on average 11.80% during the quarter on a share price total return basis.

2013-04-25 Like Air Out of An Untied Balloon... by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Earnings hit the market like a ton of bricks this week. It wasn’t that the reported numbers were a disaster, but that the new data points did not change the trajectory of the current buying and selling patterns. Investors rewarded the defensive earners (bought more Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson, and Microsoft) and sold their shares in more cyclical stocks (Industrials, Semis, and Oil Services). Financial stocks survived the week, but few owners went home Friday feeling better about their bank names than at the start of the week.

2013-04-25 Value Investing and the Philosopher's Stone by Kevin Simms, Joseph Paul of AllianceBernstein

When J.K. Rowling finished her first manuscript of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in 1995, she submitted it to 12 publishers, who all rejected the book. In time, those publishers would regret missing the chance to back an unknown author who would later take the world by storm. Like the publishers who passed over Harry Potter, we believe that many investors today risk missing a historic opportunity to invest against the grain in attractively valued stocks across the globe.

2013-04-25 Safe Harbor Is Safe for Secure Lifetime Income Default Investments by Daniel Notto of AllianceBernstein

The new frontier in US defined contribution (DC) plans involves qualified default investment alternatives (QDIAs) with a secure lifetime income component. Will such vehicles retain their safe-harbor protections? Yes.

2013-04-25 Q1 2013 Market Commentary by John Prichard of Knightsbridge Asset Management

The country now in the news is tiny Cyprus, which received a bailout for its banks from the European Union (EU), but only after agreeing to steep losses for those banks’ large depositors. Hitting up bank deposits represents a new dimension to the European debt crisis and illustrates how in a crisis, leaders can and often will resort to whatever means are necessary. When the Cypriots first requested a bailout from the EU and were told their depositors had to suffer, they balked and said that was unacceptable...

2013-04-25 Living in Lake Wobegon by Jim Goff of Janus Capital Group

Are we normal? For many quarters, I have counseled investors that we are going through extreme market conditions and that patience was the best strategy. As the panic fades in the rear-view mirror and the road ahead looks less bumpy, I stand by the advice. But I don’t need to repeat it.

2013-04-24 The 5% Problem: Double Jeopardy for Traditional Bond Investors by Nathan Rowader of Forward Management

Investors have suffered with low yields, but profited from rising bond values during the 30-year bull market for bonds. We believe the bond market is moving into a bearish phase, putting the value of existing bond holdings at risk. A variety of income-producing options are available for those who want to diversify bond portfolios and seek better yields. Historical analysis shows that a diversified portfolio would have outperformed traditional bonds during the last bear bond market and in periods of rising interest rates.

2013-04-24 The Road To Omaha by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

We have been discussing keys to the investment success of Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway as we approach the 2013 annual meeting. In this week’s edition, we are considering a company which might make a good “elephant” for Berkshire to buy.

2013-04-24 Europe's Sovereign Debt Problem: A Call for a Clear Destination by Andrew Bosomworth, John Henning Fock of PIMCO

Without political commitment to a common fiscal destination, the long-term instability and market distortions within Europe’s capital markets are likely to intensify. To preserve the euro, the eurozone must develop federal fiscal policies that tackle significant economic, cultural and societal differences and define a credible roadmap to achieving structural reforms, a banking union, political union and fiscal union. Historical precedents in Europe may help guide the way.

2013-04-24 What's Behind China's Economic Slowdown? by Weili Huang of Columbia Management

China’s economy grew by 7.7% year over year (yoy) in the first quarter of 2013, against the market expectation of 8.0% yoy and a prior quarter’s 7.9% yoy. Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 1.6% quarter on quarter (qoq), with an annualized growth rate of 6.6%, a step down from the 2.0% qoq and 8.2% annualized growth seen in 4Q 2012.

2013-04-24 Growth From the Ground up in Iskandar by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

Our emerging markets team isn’t too keen on following crowds. Part and parcel of Templeton’s contrarian approach is traveling to places others aren’t, and thinking about the long-term potential in specific industries and companies that may not be on others’ radar screens. One place we’ve had our eye on for several years now is Iskandar, Malaysia, which has recently been attracting more investor attention. I think it could be viewed as an example of the potential we see in Southeast Asia.

2013-04-23 The New Challenges to Reinhart and Rogoff by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Advocates for debt reduction and austerity have had no more authoritative sources than Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff. But last week, these two professors had to defend claims that errors in their research ranging from a typo in a spreadsheet to the failure to include data from New Zealand invalidated their much-acclaimed findings.

2013-04-23 Looking Back at Peak Oil: The Coming Crisis in Energy Supplies by Richard E Vodra, JD, CFP (Article)

Peak Oil the maximum sustainable rate of global oil production happened in 2012. That’s one of the main conclusions of a new report, Fossil and Nuclear Fuels The Supply Outlook, released in March 2013 by the Energy Watch Group. This event will have profound long-term implications for how advisors should manage clients’ portfolios, and how clients should plan their future expenses.

2013-04-23 Venerated Voices Q1 2013 by Advisor Perspectives (Article)

Advisor Perspectives, a leading publisher serving financial advisors and the financial advisory community, has published its Venerated Voices awards for articles published in Q1 2013.

2013-04-23 Enforcing an Office Dress Code by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Is it too much to ask of my staff members to be dressed well when clients come into our office? I may be old school but the disregard for professionalism is annoying to me.

2013-04-23 Create Mission and Vision Statements That Drive Your Business by Teresa Riccobuono (Article)

We often hear that advisors should create mission and vision statements for their businesses. I agree, but with one caveat.

2013-04-23 Middle East/Africa: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International

According to a World Bank (WB) report, global growth in 2013 will remain sluggish as economic recovery in the developed nations is likely to be slow. Lower business and consumer confidence, government spending cuts, as well as high rates of unemployment may delay the recovery, the report says. The report has also noted that developing nations may experience slower growth due to structural and monetary policy challenges.

2013-04-23 Federal Funds, Interest Rates and Defaults and Bankruptcies by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we focus on Federal Funds delivered to the States and consider some interesting data points to contemplate as folks pretend to get a bit more serious about addressing fiscal issues at the National level. We move on to an interesting and surprising quote on rates and then a look at some facts and figures around bankruptcies and defaults.

2013-04-23 Enhancing Credit Returns in 2013 by Andreas Berndt, Ryan Blute of PIMCO

While credit achieved exceptional returns in 2012, achieving such returns in 2013 will be challenging in light of less upside potential and limited spread compression. Challenged by continued loose central bank monetary policies, alpha generation plays an increasingly significant role in seeking attractive total returns within credit portfolios. Encouraging investors to provide managers with a variety of innovative approaches and flexibility may enhance the return potential of a European corporate bond portfolio without materially changing overall credit or interest rate risks.

2013-04-23 Ugly Week All Around Bombings, Explosions and Selloffs by John Buckingham of AFAM

It was a miserable week, what with the Boston bombings, lockdown and shootout, the horrific fertilizer plant explosion in Texas and the ricin-laden letters sent to elected officials providing vivid reminders that we still live in a dangerous world. True, the week ended about as well as it could as Friday night’s incredible drama in Watertown brought some closure in Boston and the come-from-behind victory for the Red Sox on Saturday was right out of Hollywooda three-run go-ahead home run after Neil Diamond leads Fenway Park in a rendition of Sweet Caroline!

2013-04-23 Q1 Earnings Leave Much To Be Desired by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Following the strongest first quarter in 15 years, it is not surprising to see equity markets faltering in April. Last week’s decline of 2.1%, however, may reflect deeper concerns about corporate fundamentals amid a mixed earnings season.

2013-04-23 Dividend Growth and Stock Returns by Peter Nielsen of Saturna Capital

The compounding impacts of dividends have historically been significant in terms of market returns for long-term investors. The importance of these cash flows to investor returns can be seen across countries and industries.

2013-04-22 Strategy for a Second Gear Economy by David Kelly of J.P. Morgan Funds

American investors could be forgiven for feeling just a little confused. One week after the stock market posted its strongest first-quarter gains since 1998, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced the weakest monthly job growth in nine months. Real GDP growth was just 0.4% in the fourth quarter but appears to have been much stronger in the first. So is the economy getting stronger or weaker, how is the Federal Reserve likely to react to it and what, if anything, should investors do about it?

2013-04-22 Gold Market Free Fall: Time to Jump Ship? by Walter Stabell III of Invesco

The gradual fall of the gold market intensified this week as investors reacted to signals that the US Federal Reserve would wind down its stimulus bond-buying programs as well as reports that the Cyprus government could sell its gold reserves to fund the country’s debts.

2013-04-22 “Covenant-Lite” Loans: Credit Quality Is Still the Dominant Factor by John Bell, Kevin Perry of Loomis Sayles

As portfolio managers for bank loan products at Loomis Sayles, we are often asked about “covenant-lite” bank loans, and in particular whether they represent a dangerous trend that suggests loans are overheated and should be avoided. This paper describes our views on what covenant-lite loans are and are not; it is based more on reasoning and experience than proof, because covenant-lite loans have not been offered over a long enough period to establish a meaningful fact pattern.

2013-04-22 Emerging Europe: Regional Economic Review by Team of Thomas White International

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) was established in 1992 to help Russia and former communist states such as Poland, Hungary, and Czech Republic among others in their transition to market-based economies. In its January forecast, the London-headquartered bank sounded optimistic over the economic prospects of most of the countries covered in this review, which also include Turkey.

2013-04-22 Is There a Silver Lining to the Gold Price Plunge? by Jon Ruff of AllianceBernstein

It’s been a volatile week for gold prices, which tumbled by the most in 30 years. Although gold is still not obviously undervalued, we think the recent market moves make stock prices of gold miners look attractive when compared with prices of the precious metal.

2013-04-22 The Endgame is Forced Liquidation by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

Rule o’ Thumb: When the cover of a major financial magazine features a cartoon of a bull leaping through the air on a pogo stick, it’s probably about time to cash in the chips.

2013-04-20 Austerity is a Consequence, not a Punishment by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Austerity is a consequence, not a punishment. A country loses access to cheap borrowed money as a consequence of running up too much debt and losing the confidence of lenders that the debt can be repaid. Lenders don’t sit around in clubs and discuss how to “punish” a country by requiring austerity; they simply decide not to lend. Austerity is a result of a country’s trying to entice lenders into believing that the country will change and make an effort to restore confidence.

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

Every so often we write an Investment Outlook with conclusions that prove to be both accurate and worth repeating. Such is the case with our prior outlook issued in January 2013. In it we stated that “At the risk of sounding complacent, we believe that the fundamental trends that produced such favorable results in 2012 are still in place and should support another good year in 2013. We are not blind to the challenges and uncertainties that still face us, nor do we believe that the year ahead will be devoid of volatility.

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 Archer Daniels Midland Co: Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

For more than a century, the people of Archer Daniels Midland Company (ADM) have transformed crops into products that serve vital needs. Today, 30,000 ADM employees around the globe convert oilseeds, corn, wheat and cocoa into products for food, animal feed, industrial and energy uses. This article will reveal the business prospects of Archer Daniels Midland Co through the lens of F.A.S.T. Graphs fundamentals analyzer software tool.

2013-04-19 Global Economic Overview - March 2013 by Team of Thomas White International

Global economic trends turned softer during the month of March as indicators from Europe showed further declines and U.S. consumer sentiment moderated on labor market uncertainties, government spending cuts, and tax increases. Continuing weakness in European demand has somewhat dulled the export outlook for emerging economies, while government policies to prevent excessive asset price inflation have led to concerns about domestic consumption growth in these countries.

2013-04-19 Weekly Commentary & Outlook by Tom McIntyre of McIntyre, Freedman & Flynn

Stocks moved up nicely last week despite poor economic data and a huge decline in precious metals and other commodities.

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.

2013-04-19 CSX Corp Fundamental Stock Research Analysis by Team of F.A.S.T. Graphs

A quick glance at the historical earnings and price correlated FAST Graphs on CSX Corp shows a picture of undervaluation based upon the historical earnings growth rate of 21.2% and a current P/E of 13.5. Analysts are forecasting the earnings growth to continue at about 12.5%, and when you look at the forecasting graph below, the stock appears undervalued (it’s inside of the value corridor of the five orange lines - based on future growth).

2013-04-19 Recession Watch: ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Rises by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-19 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

The world’s public debt is much larger than it may appear. The lines have been drawn in the U.S. budget debate. Rates of disability are affecting labor force participation.

2013-04-19 Are Gold Stocks Oversold? by Steve Land of Franklin Templeton

Gold bugs have been bugging out over a sharp decline in the price of gold, which hit a two-year low in April. Many gold-related stocks felt the sting. We think gold-related stocks could be oversold, and that there are still compelling reasons to own them.

2013-04-19 Gold Buyers Get Physical As Coin and Jewelry Sales Surge by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Even with the gold price dropping, why are gold coins selling at a premium? It’s Economics 101: The coin supply is limited and the demand is high. This buying trend isn’t only occurring in the U.S. In Bangkok, Thailand, for example, crowds of buyers were filling stores, eagerly waiting in multiple lines to purchase gold jewelry and coins.

2013-04-18 The Lure of Hedge Funds by John West of Research Affiliates

Investors often buy what they think is exciting, sophisticated, and complex with the embedded assumption that all of these attributes will lead to greater returns. We see this today where we witness the continued explosive growth of hedge funds. But, a careful examination of the data reveals that these fancy lures fail to hook as much in excess, after-fee returns as more time tested strategies.

2013-04-18 Emerging Markets Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

The benefits of focusing on attractively priced, well managed and growing businesses, irrespective of their inclusion in an index, continued to aid fund performance. Thus it was virtually flat in March, capping a strong quarter in absolute and relative terms with a gain of over 10%, again beating the 5% gain by the index. These - achieved through a combination of a valuation discipline that sets the entry and exit prices and the focus on quality businesses. Not surprisingly, stock selection has been a consistent factor behind the outperformance, both this year and previously.

2013-04-18 Reversing Quantitative Easing by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

The Fed is likely to lag the markets, as they do in most cycles. The markets will probably anticipate the Fed reversing QE. The Fed will surprise few investors. The Fed should reverse QE in a yield curve-neutral way, in our view. Steepening the curve risks perversely stimulating the economy by making carry trades and loan spreads more profitable. This cycle will probably end as do most cycles. The Fed will be behind the curve, play catch-up, tighten too much, invert the curve, and cause a recession. That end result, however, is probably quite far in the future.

2013-04-17 S&P 500 Index Is It Really a Broad Market Index? by Stephen Hammers, Daniel Banaszak of Compass EMP Funds

The S&P 500 is one of the most widely-followed market indexes across the globe with over 1 trillion U.S. dollars in assets tracking its performance. Despite its widespread acceptance, it contains some inefficiencies One of the chief inefficiencies, and the main focus of this commentary, is in how weights are assigned to members in the index as a market capitalization-weighted index.

2013-04-17 Hyperactive Monetary Policy: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly by Lupin Rahman, Mohit Mittal, Josh Thimons of PIMCO

Hyperactive monetary policy (HMP) is in full force as fiscal policy retreats. The benefits of HMP outweigh the costs for now. Despite cyclical growth, we will likely not achieve escape velocity and eventually the costs will likely overtake the benefits.

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 Present and Emerging Risks to the Gold Trade by Amit Bhartia, Matt Seto of GMO

The notion of gold as a hedge against systemic risks is flawed. We believe that the concept of gold’s role as an insurance policy needs to be narrowed significantly.

2013-04-17 Is the Fed Eyeing an Earlier End to QE? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

Until September of last year, the Federal Reserve structured each of its bond buying programs in the same way: it announced a fixed amount of purchases and a specific target end date. This changed with the latest quantitative easing (QE) program launched last year. This time, instead of stating a specific dollar amount of purchases, Fed officials left the program open-ended: QE would continue as long as needed to ensure a stronger recovery in the labor market.

2013-04-17 What\'s Driving Emerging Markets? by James McDonald, Daniel Phillips, Phillip Grant of Northern Trust

Emerging market (EM) equities have historically outperformed as the global economy gained momentum, as shown in Exhibit 1. After a great catch-up rally in the second half of 2012, the stocks finished the year as global outperformers only to lose that momentum in the first quarter of 2013. What is behind the recent underperformance, and what does it say about the outlook? Our research points to a number of contributors to the recent weakness.

2013-04-16 Michael Pettis - Can China Save Itself? by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Most analysts predict China’s growth will slow; they disagree only as to the depth and timing of its eventual recession. A rare exception to that group is Michael Pettis. Pettis, who describes himself as a skeptic, believes China can rebalance its economy.

2013-04-16 Why Landing Clients is Like Dating and Seven Other Rules for Prospecting by Dan Richards (Article)

In the last 10 years, the dynamics of acquiring clients has fundamentally changed. Today’s article outlines eight new rules for prospecting; among them why gravity no longer moves prospects through a funnel and the need for a communications catalyst as a result.

2013-04-16 Making the Numbers by Steven Grey (Article)

Among the innumerable clichs littering the financial pages, few are as perversely ironic as the phrase “making the number.” Anyone unfamiliar with investing would almost automatically take this as an explicit warning: ’Beware! These numbers are made.’ And yet the same declaration is almost universally received by the investment community as reassurance. It’s a twisted, dangerous dynamic that only reinforces careless reliance on the most potentially manipulated of all available financial information.

2013-04-16 Dealing with an Obnoxious Wholesaler by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

We have a wholesaler who calls on our office. He is completely and utterly obnoxious. I understand they are supposed to sell but he is over the top. I don’t like to be pushed into things. Is there a right way to tell a salesperson like this to back off?

2013-04-16 Letter to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Robert Huebscher’s article, The Downside to Socially Responsible Investing, which appeared on November 13, 2012.

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 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, was up 1.03% for the month of March, as the high yield market continued to benefit from stable U.S. economic growth and steady asset reflation driven by the Fed and global central banks.

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.

2013-04-16 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.

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

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

2013-04-16 2013 US Financial Markets by Clyde Kendzierski of Financial Solutions Group

In the fall of 2012 the S&P 500 came close to our forecast high (S&P- 1500) Last year we suggested that not only was the S&P likely to reach 1500, but also speculated that renewed bullish sentiment could take us back to the old highs of 1565. When the S&P touched 1563 a couple weeks ago, I started getting client calls complimenting my prescient forecast.

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

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

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

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

2013-04-15 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

There may still be people rushing to the Post Office this afternoon or evening to get tax returns in the mailbox. Of course, many others will file for an extension. The first extension is for six months and is automatic. However, when you file your extension, you have to send in the money you think you will owe and file form 4868. If you don’t file an extension, there is a 5% per month late filing fee. An underpayment could also be charged interest, and if the amount is significantly under what is owed there could be penalties as well.

2013-04-15 Keynes And Retail Sales by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

No, just because retail sales fell 0.4% in March does not mean Keynes was right. Sequestration did not cause the decline. Nor did the end of the temporary 2% payroll tax cut, back in January, cause it either.

2013-04-15 Increasingly Immediate Impulses to Buy the Dip (or, How to Blow a Bubble) by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

A tendency toward increasingly immediate attempts by investors to buy every dip in the market reflects a broadening consensus among investors that there is no direction other than up, and that any correction, however, small, is a buying opportunity. As investors clamor to buy ever smaller dips at increasing frequency, the slope of the market’s advance becomes diagonal or parabolic. This is one of the warning signs of a bubble.

2013-04-12 ECRI\'s Weekly Leading Indicator Shows a Small Improvement by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) is now at 130.1, up from 129.1 last week (revised from 129.2). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) remains unchanged at 6.2%.

2013-04-12 Housing Bubble II? by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

It might seem like the housing bubble just burst, but as the housing market stages a comeback, investors are asking if we’re already facing another bubble. Russ explains why home prices aren’t in a bubble but home builder stock valuations may be.

2013-04-12 The Great Secret by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

When I was a young boy, I remember my father coming home looking very ashen from a visit with a dear friend dying in the hospital. His name was Dell Zink and he was one of my father’s closest friends. Mr. Z, as we kids affectionately called him, was a very religious man; a man who was regarded by his friends as intelligent and philosophical.

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

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

2013-04-12 How a Landslide Shifts Copper Supply by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The U.S. mining industry was dealt a devastating blow as Kennecott Utah Copper’s Bingham Canyon Mine experienced a pit wall failure causing a massive landslide with rocks and dirt covering the bottom of the mine pit. It’s a miracle no one was hurt due to the vigilance of its owner, Rio Tinto. The landslide is just one example of how quickly and unexpectedly the supply and demand factors facing the red metal can shift, which underscores the need for nimble active management.

2013-04-12 Assume a Perfect World by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

Waiting for our forecasts to be wrong before we adopt a yet another “solution” based on a temporary fix of yet another forecast that turned out to be wrong is no way to run a railroad, unless you want your train running off a cliff. I applaud the recent attempts in DC to come to a solution on the deficits and budget, but where are the leaders who want to get real with those forecasts?

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

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

2013-04-11 Stockton is Bankrupt: Now What? by James Dearborn of Columbia Management

Although we have no exposure to Stockton, California debt, we thought it would be useful to comment on the city’s financial plight in the wake of the recent bankruptcy court ruling allowing the city to file a “plan of adjustment” or the equivalent of Chapter 11 reorganization. We, and other municipal bond participants, will be watching this process closely to see how the court treats various creditors.

2013-04-11 The Bright Lights of Big Oil by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Texas has seen incredible changes in oil production because of advancements in shale technology. From one 200-mile view at night, you can easily spot the urban areas of Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and Austin, but the strip just south of the Alamo City and U.S. Global Investors’ headquarters illuminates something else entirely: the bright lights of big oil generated by the Eagle Ford shale formation.

2013-04-10 Surprising Surge!! by Jim Tillar, Steve Wenstrup of Tillar-Wenstrup

Momentum from 2012’s surprisingly strong performance continued into the first quarter of 2013 with stocks rising sharply. Our portfolios did well but lagged behind our benchmarks in the quarter. Taking a little longer view, over the trailing 12 and 36 months we mostly matched the double-digit gains of our benchmarks, which we are very pleased with since we usually underperform during strong market advances. So far this year small- & mid-capitalization, value, and domestic stocks were the market leaders, while international, growth, commodity stocks and Apple were laggards.

2013-04-10 Looking for Warm Milk and a Blanket by Blaine Rollins of 361 Capital

Conspiracy theory economists would say that the Government fudged the data weaker so that it could help sell $60-70 billion in U.S. debt this week. Whatever the outcome, last week we had a perfect storm of high expectations for the data + very below average March weather + the payroll tax hike impact + the upcoming sequester worry. Economic data will move violently from month to month, but unfortunately last week, it was mostly in the WEAKER THAN EXPECTED direction and investors did not hesitate to bring pain on risk assets.

2013-04-10 High Yield and Bank Loan Outlook by Team of Guggenheim Partners

While leveraged credit is far from the bargain it was four years ago, discussions of a bubble are premature at this point. Although we have entered the advanced stages of the rally, historical precedent and the continuation of accommodative monetary policy suggest that spreads, particularly those of lower-rated bonds and bank loans, may tighten materially from current levels.

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

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

2013-04-10 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.

2013-04-09 Four Bold Innovations that will Revolutionize Financial Planning by Bob Veres (Article)

What it would be like for an advisor in the 1980s to be magically transported to our 21st century? The changes would be dazzling: the Internet and social media, exchange-traded funds and Morningstar data, Skype conferences and the virtual cloud, plus a few million mobile device apps that do everything but vacuum your house.

2013-04-09 John Hussman Why Prospective Returns Are Low by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Monetary and fiscal policies have driven our economy into an unstable equilibrium, pushing investors into higher-yielding securities, according to John Hussman. But those higher yields are illusory, he said, because corporate profit margins are too high to be sustainable.

2013-04-09 The Myth of the Casually Competent Investor by Steven Grey (Article)

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”- Verbal Kint, The Usual Suspects. Under certain circumstances, a myth becomes so embedded in the popular mindset that it transcends the illusion of truth and assumes the gravity of gospel. The capital markets at the heart of the American economy rely on just such a fallacy: The Myth of the Casually Competent Investor.

2013-04-09 Four Steps to Becoming the Primary Advisor for Top Clients by Dan Richards (Article)

Recently, an advisor who had successfully persuaded an investor with many millions of dollars to open an account asked me how to turn this foothold into a larger share of this client’s assets.

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

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

2013-04-09 Tips for Building a Compelling Web Site by Wendy Cook (Article)

Is your current website still living in the “online brochure” days or even non-existent? Don’t dwell on what’s been holding you up. Let’s move your site and you along with it into the 21st century.

2013-04-09 The “Big Lie” of COI Referrals by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

Several weeks ago I responded to an advisor’s question about increasing center-of-influence (COI) referrals. The advisor was frustrated that seemingly good relationships with COIs were not translating into more referrals. I received a response to that column from Scott Johnson, director of sales and marketing for My Perfect Client, a provider of training programs for financial advisors. Scott shared some interesting insights about his approach to COI referrals and I thought readers could benefit from these ideas.

2013-04-09 MLPs: Winning Streak Broken, Growth Story Intact by Sponsored Content from Legg Mason ClearBridge
by Chris Eades, Portfolio Manager (Article)

After an off year clouded by investors’ concerns about future tax policy, ClearBridge’s outlook for MLPs is again brightening. Oil and natural gas production are both ahead of estimates and the resulting infrastructure build-out is continuing.

2013-04-09 Labor Markets Stumble in March by Ryan Davis, Chris Maxey of Fortigent

In an unexpected development, labor markets fell flat during March. Following several months of healthy job growth, the economy was only able to muster 88,000 new jobs in March, well below economists’ expectations for nearly 200,000 jobs.

2013-04-09 Bond Market Review & Outlook by Thomas Fahey of Loomis Sayles

The first quarter of 2013 turned out pretty much as expected: a low volatility environment with the level of bond yields and credit spreads relatively stable. At some point, we have to be happy with earning a yield on our fixed income investments. The last several years have been a major bond bull market, particularly 2012, but with yields at low levels, there is not much room left for bond price appreciation and we should be comfortable with earning our yield and carry.

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 A Continuing Case for Dividends by Richard Skaggs of Loomis Sayles

The investment case for dividend-paying stocks is as strong as ever. Many dividend-paying stocks continue to boast yields comparable to or higher than US Treasurys, and the case for dividend growth in the years ahead remains favorable. Dividends have a long history as a significant component of total return, and investors will likely continue to press for rising payouts since corporate balance sheets are flush with cash. What should investors consider as they survey the universe of dividend-paying companies?

2013-04-08 The Theology of Inflation by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

We begin this week with a simple pop quiz. Is inflation good or bad? Answer quickly. I’m sorry your answer is wrong. Or rather, we can’t know if your answer is right or wrong because we are not sure what is meant by the question. We may think we know and we may be right but we can’t be sure, because the word inflation has different meanings for different people in different places and different times. In fact, even the same people in the same place and time can’t agree on a precise definition.

2013-04-08 Good Start to 2013. Domestic Stocks Earn 11% In First Quarter. by Ron Surz of PPCA

2013 stock markets started like 2012 stock markets with a bang. U.S. stock markets kicked off 2013 with a very good 10.7% return. Also like 2012’s first quarter, foreign markets didn’t fare as well, earning only 3.5% in the quarter. If we merely hold onto these gains for the remainder of the year we’ll do fine.

2013-04-08 Taking Distortion at Face Value by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The U.S. stock market presently reflects two unstable features. One is that extraordinary monetary policy specifically quantitative easing has created an ocean of zero-interest money that someone has to hold at each point in time, and that provokes a speculative reach for yield. The other is that extraordinary fiscal policy, coupled with household savings near record lows, have joined to elevate profit margins more than 70% above their historical norm, as the deficit of one sector has to emerge as the surplus of another.

2013-04-08 Europe Stumbles to a Cyprus Solution by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

After several late-night meetings and considerable angst, the members of the eurozone have settled on something for Cyprus that looks very much like a typical bankruptcy. It is comical in a way that people worked so hard to arrive at an already widely known, well-established process. Still, this result may have value. Because Europe through these four years of crisis has strived to tailor settlements for each new challenge, it has always left people in doubt about each outcome, particularly where the pain would fall.

2013-04-08 Can Something Good Be Cheap Too? by Charles Lahr of PIMCO

Over the last eight years, the least volatile components of the MSCI World Index tended to have lower valuations, higher profit margins and higher dividend yields. This anomaly, which appears to be among the most persistent in all of equity space, is rooted in speculative human behavior such as the “lottery ticket phenomenon.”

2013-04-05 PIMCO Cyclical Outlook for the U.S.: Back From the Brink by Josh Thimons of PIMCO

We expect the largest contributors to U.S. growth this year will be housing and related industries, increases in capital expenditures (albeit from very depressed levels), certain manufacturing sectors, such as the auto industry, and the energy sector. We see roughly 1.7 percentage points of drag on GDP coming out of Washington far less than the four to five percentage points of potential drag had there been no fiscal cliff resolution. We believe the Fed will continue with hyperactive monetary policy, which we now call “QE Infinity,” that does not have an explicit end date or progr

2013-04-05 Ask Russ: All About Emerging Markets by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Russ answers more client and reader questions this time about emerging market equities and debt.

2013-04-05 ECRI\'s Recession Indicators Decline from the Previous Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Today ECRI has added a new headline on the website, Employment Growth Hits New Low, based on data from today’s jobs report. Essentially ECRI is sticking to its call that a recession began in mid-2012, although the company now calls it a "mild" recession, which is quite a shift from their original stance 18 months ago: "...if you think this is a bad economy, you haven’t seen anything yet."

2013-04-05 This Week's Central Bank Meetings Revealed a Range of Behavior by Team of Northern Trust

This week’s central bank meeting revealed a range of behavior. The U.S. employment report fell well short of expectations. Does China have a property bubble?

2013-04-05 Eye of the Beholder: Dissecting the Variety of Price-Earnings Ratios by Liz Ann Sonders of Charles Schwab

There are many ways to value the stock market. Here, a look at several popular metrics, along with my view on the attractiveness of stocks.

2013-04-04 The Road To Omaha: Valuation Matters Dearly by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Valuation is the topic that will begin a month-long series we’re calling, “The Road to Omaha.” In the next five weeks as we build to the Berkshire Hathaway annual shareholder meeting, we will present a picture of Mr. Warren Buffet and his investments through the Smead Capital Management lens. There is one central fact on which Warren Buffett, efficient market theorists, and Smead Capital Management agreevaluation matters dearly.

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 When Does The Great Recession Become the Great Rotation? by Gene Tannuzzo of Columbia Management

Given the strong flows into the bond market over the past few years, many pundits have pondered the beginning of the “Great Rotation” when bond investors begin to move money into the equity market. Investors fear that this shift could cause losses in bond funds as investors flee. Indeed since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, investors have plowed into bond funds as an alternative to equity volatility.

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 Spring Economic Commentary by Larry Maddox of Horizon Advisors

The Fiscal Cliff We loudly went over the cliff and received a largely quiet and unexpected market reaction? Risk of rising interest rates After a 30 year period of declining interest rates, caution is in order. Our thoughts on portfolio fixed income positioning. The heightened awareness of uncertainty Despite lingering uncertainty investors should be committed to long term well diversified porftolios.

2013-04-03 F.I.R.S.T.: Made in the U.S.A. by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Not just the preamble for the “machine-wash-in-cold-water-and-eat-celery-only” instructions on the inside of your skinny jeans, “Made in the U.S.A.” is a brand in vogue these days as the Stars and Stripes looks to dawn a manufacturing renaissance to go with that snazzy new housing recovery everyone’s been talking about.

2013-04-03 A Man in the Mirror by Bill Gross of PIMCO

Am I a great investor? No, not yet. To paraphrase Ernest Hemingway’s “Jake” in The Sun Also Rises, “wouldn’t it be pretty to think so?” But the thinking so and the reality are often miles apart. When looking in the mirror, the average human sees a six-plus or a seven reflection on a scale of one to ten. The big nose or weak chin is masked by brighter eyes or near picture perfect teeth. And when the public is consulted, the vocal compliments as opposed to the near silent/ whispered critiques are taken as a supermajority vote for good looks.

2013-04-03 Learning from Douglas H. Bellemore One Great Teacher and Investment Counselor by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

Sometimes, I think those of us in the investment business strive to obtain the abilities of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock. Spock, the half-human half-Vulcan, learned to ignore the human emotions buried inside his self and use logic in order to solve the problems before him. Just think, what great investors we could be if we could simply control our human nature. As a Vulcan, we could construct an investment portfolio that would produce higher returns than any human could produce.

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

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

2013-04-02 The Most Important Practice Management Challenge by Bob Veres (Article)

The future of the advisory business is all about people, according to Philip Palaveev. No matter what happens with consolidation and pricing, he says, no matter what role technology plays, the most successful firms of the future will be those which excel at retaining, motivating and organizing their people.

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.

2013-04-02 When the Boss is the Bottleneck by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I have a thriving practice and am very proud of the way it has grown. I have reached a point where everything has to come through me. Every decision, new idea and project needs my attention or response. I have a competent staff, but I don’t have someone to whom I can delegate.

2013-04-02 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Click to viewHere is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor’s "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1,550.83. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1,569.19. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor’s latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-04-02 Is the Vix Still an Adequate Measure of Risk? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The 30-day implied volatility index for the S&P 500 calculated by the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE), known as VIX, has long been used as an indicator of market sentiment. Commonly referred to as the “fear index,” the VIX often portends periods of stress in equity markets, as options traders price in higher volatility in the future. The shape of the VIX futures curve, in particular, has historically been used as an indicator of future volatility levels.

2013-04-02 Chuck Royce on 1Q 2013: Conditions Remain Favorable for Equities by Team of The Royce Funds

In stark contrast to what we saw in 2010, 2011, and most of the first half of 2012, the market tuned out a lot of seemingly ominous political news and enjoyed a strong first quarter.

2013-04-02 Cypriots In The Streets by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Precious Metals

The news of the month comes from the large Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where Keynesian economic planning left the economy facing complete bankruptcy. The result was an unprecedented step forward in the financial collapse of the West: direct forfeiture of bank deposits. Despite official protestations to the contrary, this fallout will spread to a bank near you.

2013-04-02 New Market Records, Quarterly Review, And What\'s Next by John Rothe of Riverbend Investment Management

Last week, after gyrating for the past month, the S&P 500 was finally able to close in record territory. However, investors may not be feeling the joy in their pocketbooks just yet; when inflation is factored in, it becomes clear that the US stock market is still in the extended cyclical bear cycle which started in 2000.

2013-04-01 Buffett\'s Advice for Apple Inc. by Sean Bonner, William Bonner Jr. of Carne Capital

During a recent interview on February, 27th on CNBC Warren Buffett described a phone call he got from the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Mr. Buffett gave this account, "It was an interesting conversation because I hadn’t talked to him in a long time. He said, ’We’ve got all this cash. What should we do with it?’ So we went over the alternatives. It was kind of interesting." Mr. Buffett often comments in his annual letters about the options for deploying cash and he did again in this interview.

2013-04-01 Again and Again. by Scotty George of du Pasquier Asset Management

My work has always been predicated upon using quantitative modifiers to enhance portfolio value through greater efficiency of information processing and the creation of momentum-driven asset allocation models. But because so many investors quizzically suffer from a herd mentality, they find it difficult to digest common sense solutions to diffuse problems. And yet, our methodology and its consistent point of view has enabled clients to benefit without compromising investment expectations.

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?

2013-04-01 The Discipline of Buy and Sell Decisions by Mark Mobius of Franklin Templeton Investments

The thought of giving up a once-treasured possession can be an emotional exercise for anyone, even if the object of affection has outlived its use. As investors, we can find it difficult to sell a once-favored holding even more difficult than the decision to purchase it. But sometimes, you just have to let go.

2013-04-01 We Should Already Have Learned How This Will End by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The bear market losses that complete each market cycle have different catalysts. Some feature recession, some feature inflation, some feature credit events, but nearly all feature a spike in risk premiums from levels that have become both low and complacent. That’s the underlying risk that overvalued, overbought, overbullish, rising-yield conditions have reliably identified over time.

2013-04-01 Plan Sponsors and Participants Need HELP by Jon Vogler of Invesco

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP Committee) held a hearing titled “Pension Savings: Are Workers Saving Enough for Retirement?” on Jan. 31, 2013. Witnesses shared successful initiatives and highlighted areas that need improvement to help workers achieve a financially secure retirement.

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

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

2013-03-29 ECRI Recession Indicator: Unchanged from Last Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) to one decimal place is unchanged from last week. It is now at 129.7, the same as last week’s downward revision from 129.8. The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) has risen fractionally to 6.6%, up from last week’s 6.3%. Those of us who regularly follow ECRI’s publicly available data and commentaries understand that there is no logical connection between ECRI’s proprietary indicators and their "pronounced, pervasive and persistent" recession call of September 2011.

2013-03-29 Learnings From the Cyprus Saga by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

There are important differences between the situation in Cyprus and the challenges other southern European nations face that should limit the transfer of financial trauma. The hope remains that the ECB’s promise to do whatever it takes to solve the sovereign debt crisis will ultimately settle markets. But access to certain types of ECB support requires reaching agreement on restructuring with the same European officials who have handled the situation in Cyprus so maladroitly.

2013-03-28 On the Fed, the Keystone Pipeline & the War On Jobs by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

The Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) met as scheduled last Tuesday and Wednesday to review monetary policy and its massive “quantitative easing” effort. The official policy statement released at the end of the meeting on Wednesday was little changed from those in previous months.

2013-03-28 Emerging Markets Investment Bulletin by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

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.

2013-03-28 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.

2013-03-28 2 Factors Keeping a Lid on Interest Rates by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Investors have been expecting interest rates to rise, but with the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond back below 2%, Russ explains two structural factors that are slowing the rate rise.

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 Call Him Ishmael by Jeffrey Bronchick of Cove Street Capital

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

2013-03-27 What Happened to That Export-Led Recovery? by Mike Amey of PIMCO

With nearly 50% of the UK’s total exports going to Europe, an economic area constantly flirting with its own recession, it is no surprise to see that UK trade performance has been challenged.As the US continues to re-heal, and trade becomes more geographically diversified, we should see exports start to grow once more, albeit off a modest base. The easing in sterling is undoubtedly welcome and will improve prospects for exports, but it is unlikely to be a “game changer”.

2013-03-27 You Can't Be Serious by John Mauldin of Millennium Wave Advisors

I admit to being surprised by Cyprus. Oh, not the banking crisis or the sovereign debt crisis or the fact that its banks were eight times larger than the country itself or even the fact that the banks were bloated with Greek debt that had been written down. I wrote about all that a long time ago. What surprised me was that all the above was apparently a surprise to European leaders.

2013-03-27 SMID-Caps: To Know Them Is to Love Them by Bruce Aronow, James MacGregor of AllianceBernstein

It’s an opportunity born of neglect. Small-cap stocks have historically been the star performers of equities, handily outpacing large-cap stocks. And because they can get lost so easily in the grand sweep of the markets, small companies are often misunderstood and mispriced. That makes them great sources of alpha potential, especially for investors who take the time to get to know them well.

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

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

2013-03-27 Why Not a Quantitative Target for Quantitative Easing? by Paul Kasriel of Econtrarian, LLC

When I should have been practicing my bass guitar in preparation for my band class Thursday evening, I, instead, watched the first few minutes of Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke’s post-FOMC press conference. A number of press inquiries were related to adding specificity to the FOMC’s criteria for modifying its current $85 billion per-month purchases of securities. In the short time that I watched the press conference, Chairman Bernanke did not seem to satisfy the press on this issue.

2013-03-26 How to Invest Like Buffett by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Listen to Jim Cramer or his cohorts on CNBC and you’ll hear statements like, “Don’t settle for the mediocre returns of a market index!” and “It’s not that hard for investors to pick stocks that will beat the market!” Unless you possess the skills of Warren Buffett, that’s not true. But in the book Think, Act and Invest Like Warren Buffett, Larry Swedroe says you indeed can invest like Buffett just not by stock-picking.

2013-03-26 A Cry for Help from Income Investors by Legg Mason Global Income Survey (Article)

Confronted with the stark realities of income investing now, affluent investors all over the world are rethinking their approach, notes Legg Mason’s just-released Global Income Survey. Yet the Survey also found income investors hungry for more knowledge and ideas -- creating opportunities for savvy financial advisors.

2013-03-26 How to Communicate Your Account Minimum by Dan Richards (Article)

Over the past decade, there’s been increasing pressure on advisors to establish a minimum account size for new clients. The challenge is how to communicate that should you be direct and upfront, or subtle and indirect?

2013-03-26 Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Justin Kermond (Article)

How do you create something so contagious that people can’t stop talking about it? A little-known appliance company did just that with a video of its president grinding up Justin Bieber CDs in a blender. Every advisor hopes to achieve that same contagion with social-media marketing: a presence that “goes viral” and attracts scores of retail investors.

2013-03-26 When Employees Get Too Friendly with Clients by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

One of my employees has become overly friendly with one of our larger clients. This concerns me because I know when people are friendly they can share too much information, or if the relationship turns sour we might lose the client or the employee. I value this employee but if I let her go, the client could pull their $5 million account. What advice do you have?

2013-03-26 Currencies in a Race to Debase by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Since the start of the year, investors have seen rapid shifts of sentiment in currency markets. The debasement that for so long was assumed to be a purely Western phenomenon is beginning to impact countries globally, driving changes in expected returns and growth prospects.

2013-03-26 Reacting to All Time Highs by Jeff Knight of Columbia Management

The financial press has been all a-flutter, of late, with talk of new highs across U.S. stock markets. Indeed, the Dow Jones Industrial Average set a new all time closing high in March. Meanwhile, the S&P 500, as of this writing, sits less than one percent below its all time high. The surge in these well known market bellwethers in recent months feels good, and no doubt tempts investors to bask in their portfolio gains, and to ease back in their fussing over the nuances of investment strategy.

2013-03-26 The Stimulus Trap by Peter Schiff of Euro Pacific Capital

For years we have been warned by Keynesian economists to fear the so-called "liquidity trap," an economic cul-de-sac that can suck down an economy like a tar pit swallowing a mastodon. They argue that economies grow because banks lend and consumers spend. But a "liquidity trap," they argue, convinces consumers not to consume and businesses not to borrow. The resulting combination of slack demand and falling prices creates a pernicious cycle that cannot be overcome by the ordinary forces that create growth, like savings or investment.

2013-03-25 Congress Avoids a Government Shutdown; Up Next, the Debt Limit by Andy Friedman of The Washington Update

Congress cleared another hurdle last week, passing a bill (a “continuing resolution”) to keep the federal government operating for six months past its current funding deadline of March 27.

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 Voyager by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

According to Wikipedia, the Voyager 1 spacecraft is a 1,590 pound space probe launched by NASA on September 5, 1977 to study our solar system and interstellar space. Operating for more than 35 years, the spacecraft receives commands and transmits data back to the Deep Space Network. At a distance of more than 11 billion miles it is the farthest human-made object from Earth and is traveling in a previously unknown region of space. Similarly, the D-J Industrial Average is traveling in a previously unknown region of space as it boldly goes where no man has been before.

2013-03-25 Housing Recovery Still Young by Brian Wesbury, Bob Stein of First Trust Advisors

Into early 2012, conventional wisdom argued that the odds of a robust housing recovery were lower than the odds of New Mexico and Georgetown losing to Harvard and Florida GC.

2013-03-25 Still Bullish by Richard Golod of Invesco

Global equities (as measured by the MSCI All Country World Index) fell modestly in February amid reignited fears about the euro’s future, signs of distress in China’s economy and the looming sequester deadline in the US. Nevertheless, I believe the US, Japan and emerging markets may offer compelling opportunities, while Europe requires a more selective approach.

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.

2013-03-22 Power of Positive Screening: Pursuing Strength of Social and Financial Returns by Chat Reynders, Patrick McVeigh of Reynders, McVeigh Capital Management

Market volatility and sweeping changes to mainstream views of investing are catalyzing acceptance of tactics that combine fundamentals with a progressive outlook on social issues. Positive screening brings balanced companies to the fore of the investment landscape: this practice isolates sound equities that demonstrate strength of balance sheet, dependability of management, and a commitment to act as part of a global community focused on positive change.

2013-03-22 Is Plan B for Cyprus an Exit from the Euro? by Michelle Gibley of Charles Schwab

Having rejected an initial bailout package that would have imposed a levy on bank deposits, Cyprus now faces some difficult choices in exchange for continued emergency bank funding.

2013-03-22 US Stocks: Third Time’s the Charm by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

At 1550, the S&P 500 has regained the peak it reached in March of 2000 (when the tech bubble burst) and again in October of 2007 (before the credit crunch hit). But we think the third time’s the charm: We think the stock market still has room to rise because equities are now more attractively valued and of higher quality than they were at previous peaks.

2013-03-22 Deep Value Diving in the Eurozone by Katrina Dudley of Franklin Templeton Investments

Greece’s tale of financial woe may well go down as a modern Greek tragedy, with people in power falling prey to a tragic flaw which brings about their catastrophic reversal of fortune. It’s all quite dramatic and dire, but if the real life Greek financial system stays true to the classical formula, the conclusion means recognition of that tragic flaw and potential course correction. For those hardy and/or contrarian souls who suspect opportunity may be sprouting from Greece’s great mess, this would be good news.

2013-03-22 The Importance of Women Leaders: From Margaret Thatcher to Sheryl Sandberg to Park Geun-hye by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

I have always admired former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, whose strong leadership and perseverance made her one of the most influential and respected political figures in recent history. She once said of her ability to persevere that she has the “woman’s ability to stick to a job and get on with it when everyone else walks off and leaves it.”

2013-03-22 ECRI’s "Recession" Indicators: Unchanged from Last Week by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The only new ECRI-related news since last Friday’s update is a CBS Moneywatch commentary, Can the stock market rise while the economy stalls? ECRI liked the commentary well enough to reprint it on the company’s website. It basically reiterates Achuthan’s point in the "Yo-Yo Years" essay that it’s possible for the market to rise during a recession, citing three such instances (of the 15 recessions) since the Roaring Twenties.

2013-03-22 The Success of Central Bank Policy Is Not Measured By The Revenue It Generates by Team of Northern Trust

The success of central bank policy is not measured by the revenue it generates. Cyprus is a small country that could cast a long shadow. The U.S. dollar’s fortune is changing

2013-03-22 In Gold We Trust by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

Poorly thought out government policies hurt the formation of capital and destroy people’s trust in paper money. Leaders may have good intentions, but some of their actions show disrespect for private property and individualism. This only reemphasizes gold as an important asset class.

2013-03-21 Goldilocks Roars by Team of Bedlam Asset Management

Equity markets are producing supra-normal returns. To March 18th, the portfolio is up over 15% year-to-date, over 100 basis points ahead of the index. Many investors would be happy with such a gain over a full year rather than a mere twelve weeks, so are puzzled, the more so as respected pundits agree that the data makes for easy stories of rampant inflation, collapsing government credit and a prolonged global recession. Equity markets, however, are stubbornly refusing to follow the script.

2013-03-21 PMI What Does It Really Tell Us? by Adam Peck of Heartland Advisors

Recently we’ve been seeing positive readings from the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), news that may seem as though it would be good for all stocks. In fact, though, a look at the performance of the S&P 500 and the PMI since 1995 shows that this is not necessarily the case.

2013-03-20 Playing with Fire in Cyprus by Fred Copper of Columbia Management

Early Saturday morning, after 10 hours of negotiations, it was announced that Euro Area (EA) finance ministers had agreed upon a bailout package for the government and banking system of Cyprus. The total financing needs of Cyprus are 17 billion euros ($22 billion), which equates to approximately 100% of Cypriot gross domestic product (GDP), making this by far the largest bailout relative to the size of the economy yet in the EA.

2013-03-20 Global Real Estate StocksTime to Get Out? by Eric Franco of AllianceBernstein

Real estate stocks have now rebounded from the crash during the global financial crisis. But we think valuations are still reasonable, especially as property fundamentals continue to improve in key markets.

2013-03-20 Municipal Market Presents Attractive Entry Point by Andrew Clinton of Clinton Investment Management

Ten year Treasury yields, as recently as last week, were as high as 2.06% which compares to ten year Treasuries yields of 1.75% as of 12/31/12. As Treasury yields have drifted higher, due in part to heavier Treasury issuance and a perceived decline in market risk/volatility, municipal bond yields have risen in sympathy with Treasury yields. Having said that, at the time of the writing of this note, Treasury yields are once again lower and are now below 1.90%.

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

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

2013-03-19 Five Steps to Demonstrate Your Value Today by Dan Richards (Article)

Of the broad trends facing the financial service industry, the most powerful will be greater transparency. It will force everyone and advisors in particular to clearly demonstrate the value they provide. How advisors respond to this shift to a value-driven world will determine whether they succeed or fail.

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 Paul Matlack from Delaware Investments on the Direction of the Bond Market by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Paul Matlack is senior vice president, senior portfolio manager and fixed income strategist for Delaware Investments. His firm oversees $145 billion in fixed-income strategies, and in this interview Matlack discusses his outlook for the economy and the bond market, and how advisors should be positioning client portfolios.

2013-03-19 Cutting Through Financial Jargon by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

One of our portfolio managers is embarrassing in meetings with clients. He insists on using complicated terms, doesn’t listen to what the client is saying and barges through with frightening concepts even though the client isn’t interested.

2013-03-19 The Eurozone Crisis: Time for a Reset by Giles Conway-Gordon of Cogo Wolf Asset Management

The crisis in the Eurozone (EZ) has reached a dangerously unstable condition, politically, socially, financially and economically. Without a return to growth in the peripheral economies a disorderly outcome is becoming probable as the debtor countries approach the 100% debt-to-GDP default horizon. They will not return to growth while they share a currency with Germany. It is time for a reset.

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

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

2013-03-19 The Outlook for Equities by Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital Management

It doesn’t take much to get me started on a memo. In this case one sentence was enough, in an article from the February 4 online edition of Pensions & Investments, as described by FierceFinance on February 28: “The long-term equity risk premium is typically between 4.5% and 5%.”

2013-03-19 Why Are Emerging Markets Struggling in 2013? by Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Despite one of the sharpest rallies in US equities in recent memory, emerging market equities have been left curiously behind in 2013. Through last Friday, the market segment was down 1.0%, compared to an S&P 500 index that was up 10.0%. This seems to violate the regime that investors have gotten used to over the past 10 years, whereby the emerging markets equity index served as a high beta proxy for the US equity market.

2013-03-19 Keeping Up With Changes In Emerging Market ETFs by Jun Zhu of Leuthold Weeden Capital Management

In this report, we highlight benchmark changes in a major player, a potential substitute (with cheaper fees) for another major player, a new player with an innovative weighting scheme and provide an overview of the Emerging Market ETF space available to investors.

2013-03-19 Adios Hugo by Bill O'Grady of Confluence Investment Management

On the afternoon of March 5, the vice president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, announced that President Hugo Chavez, who had led the country since 1999, had died. His death did not come as a great surprise. He had been suffering from cancer for nearly two years. Last year, declaring himself “cured,” he ran for president and won a third term handily. However, by December, he needed additional treatment in Cuba. As he prepared for what proved to be the final round of therapy, he appointed Maduro as the leader of Venezuela in his absence.

2013-03-19 Gambler’s Fallacy by Jeffrey Saut of Raymond James

“My luck has gotta change” is a famous lament that has buried many a player on the crap tables. But as shown in the aforementioned “coin toss” quote, “The outcomes in different tosses are statistically independent and the probability of any outcome is still 50%.” While that’s true in gambling, it is not so true in the stock market. The fact is, there are certain historic precedents in the stock market that can tilt the odds of success decidedly in your favor.

2013-03-19 Things Could Get Bumpy But Hang in There? by Christian Thwaites of Sentinel Investments

The quality of the Fed’s Flow of Funds data is about as comprehensive a balance sheet assessment of corporate and private America as you could wish for. It’s also great for looking at trends rather than the hot spots over which the market frets. Here are some of the findings:

2013-03-19 The Dow Marches On by Gene Peroni of Advisors Asset Management

The stock market has demonstrated tireless resiliency in the face of challenging headline news and geopolitical events since its bottom in March 2009. Now, some four years later, the burden of some of these once gripping issues has been lifted.

2013-03-18 And That’s the Week That Was by Ron Brounes of Brounes & Associates

Move over Dow Jones, here comes the S&P. What few thought possible a year ago is coming to fruition as the major indexes continue to push toward record territory. The S&P 500 is close (but no cigar) to besting its personal high set in late 2007, before this whole banking mess emerged and sent equities into a tailspin. Confident investors seemed to be overlooking the numerous concerns (budget/sequester, payroll taxes, Europe, China) so they can participate in the record run.

2013-03-18 Conflicting Data and Market and Credit Risk by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

Conflicting data and information is everywhere. The equity markets make new highs, the talking heads on the various business shows talk of the new bull run, unemployment is down and a recent article in Barron’s highlights the fact that “State tax revenues have increased for 11 quarters running fueled by a recovery in home prices” (citing BlackRock). Others challenge the recently released employment numbers saying the headlines do not tell the whole story and, once the Fed steps back and the inevitable budget cuts (less increases) come, the economy’s true status will b

2013-03-18 Finding the Sweet Spot by Mark Kiesel of PIMCO

Where is the investment “sweet spot” in today’s global financial markets? The uneven global growth outlook means there are opportunities and risks for both credit and equity investors.

2013-03-18 Investment, Speculation, Valuation, and Tinker Bell by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The most important questions investors should be asking are these: what do they know that can be demonstrated to be true; and what do they believe that can be demonstrated to be untrue. It is best to make these distinctions deliberately, lest the financial markets clarify these distinctions for investors later, against investors’ will, and at great cost.

2013-03-18 Don’t Forget About Emerging Market Equities by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

While emerging market stocks are underperforming US stocks, Russ explains why longer-term investors may want to give EM markets another look.

2013-03-18 Currencies: A 1970s Flashback? by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

Four decades ago, a currency war and significant Fed easing were followed by a bout of high inflation. Now investors are worried that history could repeat itself.

2013-03-18 In-Plan Roth 401(k) Conversions Part 2 by Jon Vogler of Invesco

In Part 1, I cited a recent Aon Hewitt survey indicating many employers are considering adding a Roth option to their retirement plans. In this second part, I’ll explore who might want to consider taking advantage of this conversion opportunity.

2013-03-18 5 Reasons to Still Like (but not Love) Stocks by David Kelly of JP Morgan Funds

While investors have been justifiably worried that the combination of the big tax hikes of January and the Sequester in March could lead to an economic slump, so far the numbers are reassuring.

2013-03-15 Waiting on Weakness? by Mike Boyle of Advisors Asset Management

On Tuesday, March 5, The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) set a new record close at a level of 14,253.8 (old record of 14,164.5 was set on 10/09/07). Since then it has gone on to set four more consecutive record-closing highs. The S&P 500, at a closing level of 1556.2 on 3/11/13, is still about nine points shy of its record high of 1565.2 (also set on 10/09/07), but it is up seven days in a row and the odds of that occurring are about 1.17%.

2013-03-15 Washington May Be Ready to Take a Break From the Brink by Josh Thimons, Libby Cantrill of PIMCO

With Washington’s dysfunction not in the forefront, the economy could be more unencumbered to grow, with markets trending in a similar direction. The Fed’s proactive policies should continue to favor overweight positions in the five-year through 10-year part of the Treasury yield curve and support interest-rate-sensitive sectors of the economy most notably housing. In the longer term, however, we would advise investors to be cautious: Without meaningful long-term structural deficit reform, real growth will inevitably lag in the U.S.

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 ECRI’s Recession Call: Proprietary Indicators Still Not Cooperating by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The Weekly Leading Index (WLI) of the Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) rose in today’s update. It is now at 129.9 versus the previous week’s 129.5 (revised upward from 129.3). The WLI annualized growth indicator (WLIg) has eased, now at 6.3, down from last week’s 6.4 (an upward revision from 6.2).

2013-03-15 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production and Real Retail Sales by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

With the exception of Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments (e.g., Social Security, Supplementary Security Income, workers compensation, etc.), the Big Four continue to show expansion. The seemingly bizarre income data is the result of the end-of-year strategy of early bonuses and moving forward of 2013 income to avoid higher taxes. We’ve seen this situation before in the 1990s. The PI anomaly is the reason the average for the Big Four (the gray line above) has shows contraction for the past two months.

2013-03-15 Weekly Economic Commentary by Carl Tannenbaum of Northern Trust

Despite exceptionally easy monetary policy, inflation risk remains low. Record stock market levels are boosting consumer spending. U.S. capital spending is poised to be a bright spot this year.

2013-03-14 Excess Liquidity Finds a Home by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

U.S. home prices appear likely to continue to rise as the Federal Reserve injects more liquidity into the system. Given housing’s unique characteristics, this will have positive effects for consumption and growth.

2013-03-14 Newsletter by Harold Evensky of Evensky & Katz

In the latest edition of his client newsletter, Harold Evensky highlights a number of interesting bits of news, including a must-see destination for your friends, your kids and your grandkids, some advice from Warren Buffett, a tip from Albert Einstein and the latest data on hedge fund performance.

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 What's Your Advantage? by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

In the March 9, 2013 issue of Barron’s, writer Jonathon Laing wrote an excellent piece about Howard Marks. This article provides the base from which we can discuss the main components of investment portfolio composition. These components are information, analysis of information, and decisions made from information and analysis. In doing so, we will bring to light why we believe today’s best opportunity is in long-duration common stock investing.

2013-03-13 Who Cares if There's a High-Yield Bond Bubble? by Gary Halbert of Halbert Wealth Management

High-yield bonds, or "junk bonds" as they are widely known, have received a lot of attention in recent months. Is there a high-yield bond bubble? Certainly a ton of new money has gone into high-yield bond funds over the last few years. Millions of Americans who would have never considered high-yield bonds have bought in due to near zero returns on traditional savings vehicles.

2013-03-13 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 Feared Copper "Flood" More Likely a Trickle by Jon Ruff of AllianceBernstein

Investors have turned bearish on commodities, particularly in the case of copper, where recent talk of a looming surge in new supply has sparked fears of a price rout. We’re skeptical about the copper supply-glut story and don’t think what’s happening in copper is a "canary in the coal mine" for the rest of the metals markets.

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 Client Communication beyond the Newsletter by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

You have written about the importance of communicating with clients in a variety of ways. What are some examples of things that work best, other than the standard newsletter?

2013-03-12 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

Two readers respond to Joe Tomlinson's article, Can Advisors Add Value Through Fund Selection?, which appeared on February 26, and a reader responds to Wade Pfau's article, Breaking Free from the Safe Withdrawal Rate Paradigm: Extending the Efficient Frontier for Retirement Income, which appeared last week.

2013-03-12 Bill Ackman on What Makes a Great Investment by John Heins (Article)

In addition to commenting on his high-profile current investments, Pershing Square Capital's Bill Ackman in a recent interview with Value Investor Insight describes the general company traits he looks for in both active and passive investments, why a high public profile is an important element of his strategy, whether his thesis on J.C. Penney has evolved, what lessons he's learned from a few prominent mistakes, and why his short conviction on Herbalife is as high as ever.

2013-03-12 Gundlach: Investors are asking the Wrong Question by Robert Huebscher (Article)

If you're trying to assess the Federal Reserve's so-called exit strategy from quantitative easing, then you're asking the wrong question, according to Doubleline's Jeffrey Gundlach. Quantitative easing is a permanent policy tool, he said, and investors should be asking what that means for their investment strategy.

2013-03-12 Finally, a Jobs Report Worth Reading by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

Surprisingly, the February employment report showed a labor market growing at a reasonably healthy rate. Concerns that the sequester would spill into the broader economy have yet to materialize and if recent trends hold, the economy may finally be approaching a point of robust and sustainable job growth.

2013-03-12 Pacific Basin Market Overview February 2013 by Team of Nomura Asset Management

Monthly returns for February 2013 were somewhat mixed, but the Pacific Basin regional markets generally ended in positive territory this month. Outside of Asia, political instability in Italy and concerns that the Federal Reserve might begin to scale back its monetary stimulus in the U.S. led to weaker investor sentiment. Economic data from China was weak, largely due to the effect of the Chinese New Year.

2013-03-12 U.S. Dominates World Markets for the Trifecta by Douglas Cote of ING Investment Management

While large-cap indices get all the headlines, mid and small caps have continued to excel. Frontier markets have picked up the slack as major emerging markets stumble. Global risks persist, though U.S. fundamentals appear solid. The move toward U.S. energy independence should soon result in a trade surplus, boosting GDP.

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 Two Myths and a Legend by John Hussman of Hussman Funds

The present market euphoria appears to be driven by two myths and a legend. Make no mistake. When investors cannot possibly think of any reason why stocks could decline, and are convinced that universally recognized factors are sufficient to drive prices perpetually higher, euphoria is the proper term.

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.

2013-03-08 Our Five Year Forecast by Kendall Anderson of Anderson Griggs

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

2013-03-08 The Hustle of Hong Kong by Colin Dishington of Matthews Asia

The strength of the retail environment in Hong Kong has been well documented, but the scale of shopping malls sprawling through large parts of the city is somewhat staggering. In the more central districts, product offerings tend to cater to the high-end crowd with luxury international brands apparent on every street corner.

2013-03-08 ECRI "Recession" Update: Lakshman Achuthan Stands his Ground by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

The big news this week is the ECRI's Chief Operating Officer and spokesman, Lakshman Achuthan, returned to the media circuit with interviews yesterday on Bloomberg, CNBC and Yahoo's Daily Ticker. In addition, ECRI has published a new commentary available to the general public.

2013-03-08 How Cash Could Point to More Upside for U.S. Stocks by Adam Peck of Heartland Advisors

Investors remain concerned about dwindling bond yields but still aren't rushing headlong into stocks, notwithstanding their recent market highs. We thought it might be interesting to take a look at the difference between the cash earnings yield of U.S. stocks (as represented by the MSCI U.S. Stock Index) and the yield being paid by intermediate-term investment grade corporate bonds. In looking at historical data, cash earnings yield can be a good proxy for free cash flows and an indicator of a company's financial strength.

2013-03-08 Spasmodic Stupidity: The Wile E. Coyote Congress by Cliff Draughn of Excelsia Investment Advisors

I predict the Ides of March will find us in a continued sequestration, and Congress will use the time between now and the debt ceiling deadline on March 27th to debate the merits of true tax reform as opposed to governing by crisis. In the end, though, the reform conversation will revert to governance by crisis, with another stop-gap measure to avoid government shutdown during Holy Week and Easter, which will tide us over to the elections of 2014. Do you expect any different?

2013-03-08 How to Keep Calm and Invest On by Frank Holmes of U.S. Global Investors

The market noise of today will not be going away. However, investors can gain confidence in the following wisdom of the crowd. As famous investor Benjamin Graham said, "The individual investor should act consistently as an investor and not as a speculator. Keep calm and invest on.

2013-03-07 Gentlemen, Start Your Presses by John Browne of Euro Pacific Capital

In his Congressional testimony last week in Washington, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke took time to downplay the significance of the few dissenting voices on the Fed's Open Market Committee (FOMC). Those statements, combined with an even more dovish statement by Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen earlier this week, clearly reaffirm the Fed's indefinite commitment to $85 billion of monthly quantitative easing.

2013-03-07 When Will the Music Stop? by Scott Minerd of Guggenheim Partners

The investment environment is in transition, with uncertainty around policy moves contributing an increasing amount of uncertainty for asset prices.

2013-03-07 Guanxi, Mianzi, and Business: The Impact of Culture on Corporate Governance in China by David Smith of Aberdeen Asset Management

There are two key cultural and sociological issues of particular importance when evaluating Chinese companies: guanxi (relationships and networks) and mianzi (face). When analyzing the potential of a Chinese company, it's important to understand how guanzi and mianzi affect transactions, board composition and deliberations, and shareholder engagement, among other issues.

2013-03-07 80's Bull Redux by Richard Bernstein of Richard Bernstein Advisors

We have thought for some time that the current bull market might be one of the strongest of our careers, and could potentially rival the 1980s bull market. Although this current cycles construction is quite different from the 1980s bull market, there are many aspects of this market that are curiously similar.

2013-03-07 Animal Spirits: F.I.R.S.T. by Christine Hurtsellers, Matt Toms, Mike Mata of ING Investment Management

Call it what you will a dog-eat-dog world in which you're wearing Milk-Bone underwear or an example of capitalism at its finest an M&A cycle is heating up. This activity may be signaling the rebirth of what British economist John Maynard Keynes originally referred to as "animal spirits", much to the delight of fictional corporate barbarian Gordon Gekko and his real-life analogues, who require little prompting to act on Keynes "spontaneous urge to action".

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.

2013-03-07 New Highs by Team of Janus Capital Group

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at a new record high the first week of March, breaking its previous closing high reached in October of 2007. The new record is symbolic more than anything else, but it still has some positive implications for equity markets.

2013-03-07 Three Dimensions of Discipline by Team of Franklin Templeton Investments

As New Year's resolutions fade into guilty memories, it's a bitter reminder that maintaining discipline, in life and investing, is just plain hard. Despite best intentions, bear markets can tempt investors to sell everything, while bull markets can whip people into a buying frenzy, both courses of action that rarely end happily.

2013-03-06 A New Yen for Japan by Team of Janus Capital Group

In Japan, a little inflation could go quite a long way. After stepping down six years ago, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned in November with a platform promising to put an end to the deflationary cycles that have plagued Japan for decades.

2013-03-06 Smooth Returns by Bill Smead of Smead Capital Management

Harry Markopolos was working for a hedge fund of funds and attempting to put a portfolio together that would "smooth" long-term returns. In the process of marketing what his company was doing, he ran into a client who already had a money manager doing that for him. The money manager the client used was Bernie Madoff. When Markopolous looked at the long-term track record of Madoff's client, he instantly knew that it was mathematically impossible to have a return that high with as little year-to-year variance in the return. We at Smead Capital Management would like to ask a few questions.

2013-03-06 Combining the Best of Passive and Active Investing by Patrick O'Shaughnessy of O'Shaughnessy Asset Management

Should investors pay higher fees to active managers in an attempt to beat the market? Or should they instead buy cheap passive index funds or exchange-traded funds (ETFs) thereby surrendering to the compelling long-term evidence that successful money managers are few and far between and very difficult to identify. It is an important and ongoing debate because the choice between the passive or active approach to investing can have a huge impact on long-term results.

2013-03-06 Liquidity Tiering for Higher Yields in the Tax-Free Market by Duane McAllister, John Bortizke of BMO Global Asset Management

In today's low-yield environment, investors need a fresh approach to managing their portfolios for higher income. Liquidity tiering provides a framework that can help you achieve both principal stability and yields sufficient to meet your goals.

2013-03-05 Breaking Free from the Safe Withdrawal Rate Paradigm: Extending the Efficient Frontier for Retiremen by Wade Pfau (Article)

The traditional safe withdrawal rate approach that relies on a portfolio of only stocks and bonds produces among the worst possible outcomes for meeting spending needs and preserving financial assets for other uses. My research demonstrates there is a better approach.

2013-03-05 What Economists can Learn from Downton Abbey by Robert Huebscher (Article)

Economists warn that the U.S. economy could be heading toward one of two catastrophes: the two-decade long stagnation that has befallen Japan, or the hyperinflation that struck Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic. Such cautionary tales alert policymakers to the failed efforts of their predecessors. But the most relevant comparison is rarely cited to Great Britain in the 1920s, as depicted in the highly popular PBS series Downton Abbey.

2013-03-05 Selecting Truly Active Equity Funds by C. Thomas Howard, PhD (Article)

In a recent Advisor Perspectives article, Joe Tomlinson reported evidence showing that 401(k) plan sponsors add value in selecting funds, but their risk-adjusted alpha is not enough to beat a comparable index portfolio. Tomlinson then pointed out the need for additional research to help advisors improve upon the fund selection process. As a step in this direction, I will report on research conducted by my firm and other academics.

2013-03-05 Youre The Cream of the Crop: Key Findings from the 2012 Advisor Perspectives Reader Survey by Jeff Briskin (Article)

Experienced. Results oriented. Focused on serving the needs of individuals and families. Confident in your abilities. Eager to expand your knowledge. If this sounds like you, you're not alone. These are the traits that stand out among Advisor Perspectives readers, based on the findings of our 2012 Reader Survey.

2013-03-05 Increasing Center-of-Influence Referrals by Beverly Flaxington (Article)

I'm frustrated by the lack of success my advisors are having with centers-of-influence (COIs). I know all of the supposed tips but nothing works in practice. I was led to believe that if we follow the right process we will get referrals from them. It doesn't work this way. Do you have any ideas for increasing COI referrals?

2013-03-05 Letters to the Editor by Various (Article)

A reader responds to Bob Veres' article, Comparing Advisors to Jim Cramer: Measuring your Professional Alpha , which appeared on February 5, and a reader responds to Robert Huebscher's article, Five Ways to Improve Your Investing Decision Making, which appeared last week.

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.

2013-03-05 Is Now the Time to Diversify? by Chris Maxey, Ryan Davis of Fortigent

The use of global diversification in constructing client portfolios has come under fire in recent years due to the underperformance of many risk assets. Traditionalists who stuck to their familiar S&P 500 and BarCap Aggregate Bond index blends generally outperformed their diversified peers in 2011 and 2012, as historic risk premiums failed to materialize and various alternative investment strategies faced headwinds.

2013-03-05 Is the Stock Market Cheap? by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

Here is a new update of a popular market valuation method using the most recent Standard & Poor's "as reported" earnings and earnings estimates and the index monthly averages of daily closes for the past month, which is 1,512.31. The ratios in parentheses use the monthly close of 1,514.68. For the earnings, see the table below created from Standard & Poor's latest earnings spreadsheet.

2013-03-05 Absolute Return Letter: Expect the Unexpected by Niels Jensen, Nick Rees,Tricia Ward of Absolute Return Partners

With real interest rates being negative in many countries we expect low returns on both equities and bonds going forward. Many investors have responded to that by allocating more and more of their assets to passive strategies such as ETFs. We believe it is the wrong approach for this type of environment.

2013-03-05 The Sequester: A Second Quarter Worry by Russ Koesterich of iShares Blog

Now that March 1 has come and gone, what will the sequester mean for the US economy and markets? Maybe not much in the near term, but Russ explains why the second quarter will be a different story.

2013-03-05 Currencies: The Winds of War by Milton Ezrati of Lord Abbett

In this conflict, the collateral damage could include asset bubbles and accelerating inflation.

2013-03-04 Federal Government Employment, Tax Exemption and the Drought by Gregg Bienstock of Lumesis

This week we focus very briefly on the sequester and Federal government employment and then revisit a subject that has faded but has the potential to reappear this Spring and Summer (the drought) and conclude with a quick look at housing prices. Well, as expected (how awful that this is what I've come to expect from our elected officials), the can was kicked down the road.

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 Health Care Reform: A Q&A With Our Municipal Bond Experts by Shari Sikes, Art Schloss of Invesco

Health care reform took center stage in the last year as the Supreme Court upheld the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), affirming the constitutionality of portions of the law. The decision made it possible for major health care reform to proceed. This January, health care spending again was at the forefront during the fiscal cliff debate as a means to reduce government spending. Health care is poised to remain at the center of this discussion until a federal budget deal is reached.

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 What Are The FOMC Minutes Telling Us? by Zach Pandl of Columbia Management

The release of the minutes of the January Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve (Fed) caused a tremor in the bedrock of investor euphoria last week. The minutes confirmed that the cost/benefit analysis of quantitative easing (QE) is at center of policy debate right now. However, the minutes did not provide a definitive signal that the program may be cut short. In particular, it is not clear where Chairman Bernanke and Vice Chair Yellen stand. I believe the level of debate slightly raises the odds that QE will end this year.

2013-03-01 Front Running the Fed by John Burns of John Burns Real Estate Consulting

We are very bullish on housing, and already thinking through the impact that 3.5% mortgage rates can have if prices rise substantially due to the interest rate stimulus. The Fed has put 34% more purchasing power into the pockets of homeowners, and investors are taking advantage.

2013-03-01 ProVise Bullets by Ray Ferrara of ProVise Management Group

With the battle over sequestration going on in Washington, the President has made it clear he wants to raise more revenue. Just what does he have in mind? First, he would like to limit itemized deductions beginning at the 28% tax bracket. This means that taxpayers in the top three brackets would lose some of the benefit of their itemized deductions. Of course, these deductions have a phase out, so the effect may not be as great as is perceived.

2013-03-01 Is It Time to Get Back into Stocksor Too Late? by Seth Masters of AllianceBernstein

After five years of fleeing stocks for the perceived safety of bonds, US mutual fund investors became net buyers of stock funds in January. While some see the return of the retail investor as a negative indicator for stocks, we say, "Better late than never."

2013-03-01 ECRI "Recession" Update: Proprietary Indicators Slip Again by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

ECRI adamantly denied that the sharp decline of their indicators in 2010 marked the beginning of a recession. But in 2011, when their proprietary indicators were at levels higher than 2010, they made their recession call with stunning confidence bordering on arrogance.

2013-03-01 The Big Four Economic Indicators: Real Personal Income Less Transfer Payments by Doug Short of Advisor Perspectives (dshort.com)

I've now updated this commentary to include the January Personal Income data, the red line in the chart below. As expected, the January brought the inevitable reversal of the dramatic advance in the November and December data, which was a result of moving income forward to manage the tax risk in anticipation of the Fiscal Cliff. The -4.7% decline in January essentially cancels the 1.4% rise in November and 3% rise in December.

2013-03-01 There Are More Sellers Than Buyers in the World Economy. by Team of Northern Trust

There are more sellers than buyers in the world economy. The recent Italian election may