Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

12:01 am EST

A better way to get China exposure

By Jeff Benjamin

If you're brave enough to wade into China stocks, here's something you ought to consider. This ETF invests in Chinese companies listed in the U.S. Brilliant! Repeat after me: Taking 401(k) loans out is a bad, bad idea. Here are three more reasons why. Picking apart those mutual fund fees can be maddening but it's probably worth the effort. Why should current fund shareholders pay to get new shareholders? Looking for a hedge, something uncorrelated to stocks and bonds? Movie posters are among a slew of alternative investments that are outperforming traditional assets. Just because Greece isn't in the headlines so much anymore doesn't mean its problems have been solved. Negotiations have started on a third bailout package. ... Read full post

Jul 27, 2015

It's all about the economy

By Jeff Benjamin

All eyes are on the economy as September, and a possible Fed rate hike, inch closer. Here's some economic data to get excited about. When you're doing estate plans, don't forget your single clients. In some cases, a single person may need to do things differently and the consequences of not having a well-coordinated plan can create real problems. One sure thing about Hillary Clinton's capital gains tax plan is that it complicates filing by five times the complexity of today. Here's a breakdown of how it would work UBS has been making a lot of headlines lately and not necessarily for all the right reasons. But a 25% jump in earnings might help. Argentina takes a new tack in its long battle with hedge funds over debt. Forget Angry Birds. This video game takes aim at angry investors ... Read full post

Jul 24, 2015

The market's zero-to-hero story

By Jeff Benjamin

Financials are in the right place at the right time. Finally. A “zero-to-hero” story that has been years in the making Those Puerto Rican funds might just be more trouble than they're worth. UBS is swallowing a tough pill. The specter of rising rates is causing havoc in one corner of the ETF world. Dividend ETFs are on fire, and not in a good way. The debate over lowering clients' equity exposure as they approach then enter retirement is far from over. The best answer is: "It depends." If you are a Chuck Taylor fan, hope you're OK with change. After a billion sore feet, Converse wants Chucks to feel like Nikes ... Read full post

Jul 23, 2015

Janet Yellen, Fed ready to raise rates in September and here's why

By Jeff Benjamin

Say what you will about the economy but Janet Yellen and the Fed are going to raise rates in September and here's why. Can you say "wiggle room"? Evangelist or apologist? John McCormick has been on a mission for the past five years: bring hedge funds to the masses. So you invest in ETFs and you're not paying attention to earnings? Think again. Why earnings season should matter to ETF investors The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has struck again and this time it's a big one. Here are seven of Citi's alleged card tricks This is probably a Trivial Pursuit question, or maybe a Jeopardy! answer. The little bank where candidates stash their cash ... Read full post

Jul 22, 2015

Tech stock rally knocked cold

By Jeff Benjamin

Buckle in because the ride is going to get bumpy after big earnings misses from Apple to Microsoft. “There's general earnings weakness across the board for the S&P.” But don't worry too much... The slow pace of the economic recovery will keep the bull running for years. Among the many ways to help clients squeeze the most out of their Social Security is one you may have overlooked because it's so simple. Social Security statements might be getting a makeover. It seems as if there's a big corporate computer hack a day, which is bad enough. It's even worse when companies get slammed by the federal government for failing to protect customer data. Because, you know, we like to have options. The Republican field for the race to the White House is up to 16. ... Read full post

Jul 21, 2015

Forget gold, oil could be on its way back to $100

By Jeff Benjamin

Gold might be suffering a historic drop but oil's been through that and may be coming out the other side. Oil guru says supply/demand will work in crude's favor. Not to beat a dead horse, but this commodity rout just gets uglier and uglier. Are we nearing peak commodity hatred? How well do you know donor advised funds? Here are five instances when donor-advised funds can lower taxes. One of the fund companies that ranked highest in adviser trust is getting bought for $4 billion by a couple private equity shops. These private equity guys are taking some interesting roads to get into the mutual fund biz. Plus, see which companies made the Top 10 list of fund companies most trusted by advisers. The new Cuban embassy in Washington is now open and the Cuban flag is flying in the lobby of the State Department but that doesn't mean Americans can flock to the island just 90 miles away from Key West, Fla. Nonetheless, now would be a good... Read full post

Jul 20, 2015

Time to rethink gold?

By Jeff Benjamin

Contrarians, listen up. Maybe it's time to look at gold. Janet Yellen's optimism about the U.S. economy is making gold speculators the least bullish on record. Speaking of contrarian, the following doesn't make any sense, does it? Despite recent highs, stock market valuations have actually fallen from recent peaks The debate over separating commercial and investment banking continues apace, with new legislation proposed that would reinstate the famous Glass-Steagall Act, which forced those two businesses apart. Some pundits get wrong the impact of Glass-Steagall on the financial crisis ... and potentially on the next one. Earnings season kicks into high gear this week, and Apple is the tech bellwether to watch. Apple iPhone sales expected to key tech-sector earnings growth Companies from McDonald's to Sears are being pushed to rethink their real estate holdings. Here's one surprising company that did. When was the last time you... Read full post

Jul 17, 2015

9 things companies do during earnings season that investors hate

By Jeff Benjamin

Nine things companies do during earnings season that can really rub investors the wrong way. I hate it when that happens. Making the numbers hard to find, then including too many numbers Private equity finds an end-run around regulators to keep the good times rolling. Smaller lenders get their day in the sun When it comes to managing Social Security benefits, don't forget to maximize the survivor benefits. Delay if you can Duping Obamacare is so easy it would be funny, if it weren't so scary. Auditors scam the healthcare site 11 out of 12 tries ... Read full post

Jul 16, 2015

You know investors are getting nervous when oil becomes a safe-haven play

By Jeff Benjamin

Oil stocks are starting to attract investors seeking safety, and that should be cause for concern. Big Oil becomes a proxy for a bond. Yikes. Fear not, says Robert Shiller, markets are a long, long way from being perfectly efficient. Financial singularity can't compete with basic human judgement The things you need to know about closed-end funds. Still unique and obscure investment vehicles Those nutty kids at the IRS are at it again. This time the game is pranking taxpayers with 8.8 million 'courtesy disconnects.' Or, what most folks call hanging up on somebody. Your tax dollars at work ... Read full post

Jul 15, 2015

Goldman pares down liquid alts, presses Morningstar to follow suit

By Jeff Benjamin

The evolution of the alternative-strategy mutual fund universe continues with an effort by Goldman Sachs Asset Management to reduce, redefine and generally re-categorize the way Morningstar Inc. has been cataloging these funds over the past half-dozen years.From certain angles, it might look like Goldman is trying to play in Morningstar's backyard, and that might be the case. But for financial advisers and investors, it should be seen as a step toward bringing more clarity to what is becoming a large and unwieldy heap of liquid alternative mutual funds.As part an analysis it calls the Liquid Alternative Investments Navigator, Goldman cut the total liquid-alt fund universe down to 326 funds from the 621 tracked by Morningstar through December.Along the lines of evaluating liquid alt funds on the same plane as hedge funds, Goldman also divided the funds into five simple categories, as opposed to Morningstar's 15 different categories. By... Read full post

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