Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Sep 29, 2014

Pimco fortifies to take on the old boss

By Jeff Benjamin

Gross and Ivascyn square off in an unconstrained bond fund battle. The Pimco saga gets more interesting by the day. Taking on the old boss Pimco's parent stock price drop equates to $400 billion in fund outflows, according to Morgan Stanley. Janus will only capture about $30 billion of the Pimco outflows. The investor exodus Equity markets stay on edge as civil unrest continues in Hong Kong. Waiting and watching Consider yourself warned on fixed indexed annuities. Look before you leap The short list of attractive upcoming ex-dividend dates. There is nothing stopping you from getting in ahead of the payday. APD, BGS, KIM, RTN Running the numbers of Roth IRAs for 50-somethings. Betting against future tax rates ... Read full post

Sep 26, 2014

Market ramps up for typical October wild ride

By Jeff Benjamin

Buckle in for a bumpy October, because signs point to a wild ride ahead. Volatility is back The Ray Rice video for Wall Street has arrived, says Michael Lewis. The secret Goldman Sachs tapes Warren Buffett is hating gold for all the wrong reasons. It's not just an object dug out of the ground The Alibaba bloom is already off the rose for some. Alibaba bears emerge to short 8.9 million shares ... Read full post

Sep 25, 2014

Don't overlook the housing recovery

Don't underestimate the housing recovery. Fund managers are loading up on select stocks. AWI, KBH, STWD Untangling Pimco's bond valuation mess. Sorry, folks, optimism is not an SEC-approved metric for pricing securities. It is boringly illegal Academics take a stab at fencing in high-frequency trading techniques. Expect it to work well in theory. Distinguishing market makers from traders The lousy economics of Obama's climate-change efforts. Chasing populous appeal with yet another 'defining issue of our time.' Getting real about this stuff Men, on average, are better retirement savers. Please don't shoot the messenger. It's not all about the income gap, but that's part of it ... Read full post

Sep 24, 2014

Yellen to the markets: Don't say you weren't warned

By Jeff Benjamin

The market gets a friendly heads-up from Janet Yellen as the Fed Chair warns rates could rise sooner rather than later. Hmmm, another twist on Fedspeak. Let's see how the market reacts to the buzz. The relative nature of a 'considerable time' The SEC is investigating the Pimco Total Return ETF (BOND) for possibly inflating asset prices. Were retail investors being misled? 'Pimco has been cooperating with the SEC' Across the board, 401(k) plans fall miserably short in terms of investment choices. Investors have little chance of getting ahead with most plans. Finding a plan with 10 equity asset classes is near impossible Getting to the heart of the corporate inversion debate: Just lower corporate taxes and move on. Turning it into a political issue is another failed strategy that doesn't help anyone except politicians riding a populist bandwagon. The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rates of any developed country ... Read full post

Sep 23, 2014

Market risk is ignored by invincible investors

The downside of a Fed-fueled bull market is that everyone feels like an investment genius. The real risk in this market is that investors are starting to believe their portfolios are invincible. Confusing brilliance with a bull market Mohamed El-Erian gets chatty and melancholy about his departure from Pimco. But he's still not dishing on his former boss, Bill Gross. 'Part-time work' is not in his vocabulary Nick Schorsch adds more muscle to his growing nontraded REIT empire by hiring former LPL exec Bill Dwyer. IN's Bruce Kelly breaks it down ahead of the pack. Shaking up the leadership Second-guessing the Calpers' decision to dump its hedge fund exposure. Despite the naysayers, the latest data show hedge funds are still alive and well. Even the much unloved fund of hedge funds sector has stopped hemorrhaging assets Big government becomes obsessed with corporate inversions, completely missing the point of why companies are relocating ... Read full post

Sep 22, 2014

Distinguishing financial planner from investment adviser

By Jeff Benjamin

What's the difference between a financial planner and an investment adviser? At least three things. You say tomato, I say financial adviser Gold looks more tarnished by the day. Is this the time to jump in or cut losses? The ongoing gold argument As the Russell 2000 nears 'death cross' territory, technical analysts are prepping the pull the trigger on short positions. Meanwhile, the debate heats up over whether anything, short of a rate hike, can derail this stock market. 'Not a clear-cut bearish signal' Where and how to buy stocks when companies are buying back shares at a record clip. Is this only a short-term strategy? If banks take a hit in a rising-interest-rate cycle, there are some ETF strategies that can navigate a clearer path to investing in certain financial stocks. Taking advantage of the trend Another unpleasant tax surprise from Obamacare. When estimating your income, you should have estimated better. Health insurance... Read full post

Sep 19, 2014

What Scotland's 'no' vote means for markets

By Jeff Benjamin

The Scots stick with England and the markets are breathing a sigh of relief. Voting 'no' was the less-risky choice Alibaba IPO prices at $68, but the real test will be whether retail investors have even been paying attention to the record-setting public offering and care enough to jump on board. Raising $21.8B It is getting harder to tell the 'dumb money' from the 'smart money' on Wall Street, because everyone is moving in the same direction. The new mantra: cut costs and simplify Gold heads toward its third consecutive weekly loss. The flipside of a strong dollar Retirement savings gap continues to widen, proving that even a strong stock market can't hide the real woes holding down the U.S. economy. The rich get richer ... Read full post

Sep 18, 2014

Liquid alts are a threat to hedge funds as we've known them

By Jeff Benjamin

Despite chatter to the contrary, it is way too early to start forecasting the extinction of the $2.8 trillion hedge fund industry. Those ridiculous fees, however, could be headed for the endangered species list. It is difficult to feel sorry for any industry that gets away with charging a 20% performance fee on top of a 2% management fee, so it makes a certain amount of sense that there would be so much piling on after the country's largest pension fund decided to boot hedge funds from its $298 billion portfolio. The announcement by the California Public Employees' Retirement System, commonly known as Calpers, could be logically interpreted as adding more momentum to the fast-growing category of alternative-strategy mutual funds. The so-called liquid alternatives universe has swelled to 465 mutual funds and more than $160 billion under management, according to Morningstar Inc. That compares 217 liquid alt funds and $37.7 billion at the ... Read full post

Sep 18, 2014

Equity markets poised for day two of Fed's no-news rally

By Jeff Benjamin

Stocks are poised for a next-day rally on the Fed's no-news-is-good-news announcement. Status quo is good for stocks, for now. The stock market stays drunk on low rates and a scary-big Fed balance sheet The Fed trips up gold prices, but there's new hope that a 'yes' vote in Scotland could boost the price of the precious metal. A bearish view from Barclays As Scotland votes on independence, here's the nitty-gritty on what it's all about. Just in case you haven't been keeping up. Letting 16-year-olds vote on whether Scotland should sever a 307-year-old union with England How independence could affect Scottish stocks like Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) and Lloyds (LYG). Independence could drive companies to relocate their headquarters ... Read full post

Sep 17, 2014

Bill Gross rides derivatives around Fed policy

By Jeff Benjamin

Bill Gross adopts a derivatives strategy to navigate Fed policy. The Bond King's new normal boils down to levering up the Pimco Total Return Fund. Still trailing 57% of his peers year-to-date The Fed's tightening cycle looks to be a bumpy ride for investors. We are so deep into uncharted waters with the Fed lugging around its $4.4 trillion accidental bond portfolio that it is hard to imagine any economist really knows what will come next. There is no clean exit Justifying Calpers' decision to exit hedge funds based on poor performance and high fees might be closing the book too early on hedge funds. Analysts and commentators seem to miss the point that these hedging strategies are lagging during one of history's more resilient equity market runs. Timing is everything How the Calpers' move out of hedge funds could ripple across the asset management industry. The reaction to the reaction. Looking behind the curtain of those high-fee... Read full post

Older »