Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Nov 21, 2014

The economic immigration issue President Obama isn't ready to talk about

By Jeff Benjamin

The economics of immigration that President Barack Obama isn't ready to talk about. Addressing the fate of those already living in the U.S. without citizenship. The White House picks and chooses from academia. Making the cut on Morgan Stanley's wealth management team takes extreme riddle skills. "The client is always right. Describe three examples of when the client is wrong." Baby, it's cold outside, so let's cozy up to some commodities that will benefit from the frigid weather. Natural gas futures are up 27% from their October low. If you don't think Wall Street culture promotes dishonesty, you're probably not being honest, according to the University of Zurich. "Social norms in the banking sector tend to be more lenient toward dishonest behavior." ... Read full post

Nov 20, 2014

Why the IRS is toothless in the fight against supersized IRAs

By Jeff Benjamin

Government Accountability Office solves the riddle of the multimillion-dollar IRA. Turns out the IRS is toothless in the fight because of endless legal disputes over asset values. Filling retirement accounts with stock that isn't publicly traded. Some oil stocks are riding high following the Senate's pretend vote on the Keystone pipeline. Is this a great country, or what? GLF, PSX, RDC Despite the advantages, almost nobody delays taking their Social Security benefits. Just 3% wait till they're 70 years old. The "1099 economy" of contract workers has taken a bit of a hit because of a lawsuit filed by some strippers in New York. The ultimate fallout spreads all the way to Silicon Valley. In case you thought "performance fees" applied only to hedge funds. ... Read full post

Nov 19, 2014

Alan Greenspan dishes on fear and inertia

By Jeff Benjamin

Alan Greenspan elaborates about fear and greed, but mostly about fear. 'While all bubbles burst, only those supported by significant leverage are truly economically disruptive' Japan's QE presents new round of investment opportunities. Here we go again. Being rewarded for not fighting the Fed Russian economy is quaking over the falling price of oil. 'Recession is inevitable in 2015 if situation worsens' Longshoremen contract bickering presents the surprise bonus of less-expensive Christmas trees this season. Appealing to Obama to save Christmas (trees) ... Read full post

Nov 18, 2014

Federal Reserve's next move might not be until 2016

By Jeff Benjamin

Surprise, surprise. The latest data from the Fed show that it might be 2016 before that stubborn 2% inflation target is met, meaning the first rate hike could be pushed off even further. Issues facing Fed officials What's scarier than rising interest rates? One possibility is complete stagnation. It could actually happen. 'There's not much for an investor to get excited about' Timber investing can be a great portfolio diversifier, but you have to be able to see the forest for the trees. BCC, RYN, PCL Goldman hedge fund bets wrong on interest rates and loses 5.6% in October. Waiting for monetary policy to catch up ... Read full post

Nov 17, 2014

Financial scams hit a new low via adviser's Ponzi scheme on his mom

By Jeff Benjamin

Financial adviser pulls a Ponzi scheme on his own mother, along with other relatives. Even Madoff didn't go that low. 'He was really preying on the most unsophisticated and sympathetic people you could imagine' JPMorgan settles with mineral-rights owners who accused the bank of cutting sweetheart deals with oil company clients. Denying claims of self-dealing How to become a 'financial catch.' Step one, living within your means is sexy. Big savers beats a big income Leaning on high-dividend stocks will go a long way toward building a portfolio to make Warren Buffett jealous. Three ways to get it done with dividend stocks ... Read full post

Nov 14, 2014

Financial advisers take note: Smart money is already hedging against inflation

By Jeff Benjamin

Just because inflation is still a mere blip on the economic radar screen is no reason to ignore the potential threat to investment portfolios. That's the message institutional investors are delivering.Maybe it's time for financial advisers to start following suit.Quietly, but diligently, institutional-class investors representing multibillion-dollar pensions, endowments and foundations have been building “inflation buckets” loaded with various real assets that are designed to hold up against the negative effects of inflation.The most popular reason institutions invest in real assets is still for the typical alternative-investment characteristics, including portfolio diversification. But increasingly, especially considering the Federal Reserve's monetary policy and tilt toward raising interest rates, institutional investors are embracing real assets as an inflation hedge. (More: Worried about the end of easing? The effects... Read full post

Nov 14, 2014

Prolific U.S. oil production raises questions about a new tipping point

By Jeff Benjamin

U.S. oil production has reached its highest level since 1986, and oil is down to below $75 a barrel. It feels good now, but there are downsides to cheap oil, and the U.S. doesn't control the price. U.S. on tap to be the world's largest oil produce.r Rethinking long-term care insurance. The hard-sell that made it so popular is now coming face to face with real-life scenarios that show LTC shouldn't be a top priority. Looking at monthly instead of annual data changes everything The high price of putting off saving for retirement. Start saving, or die trying. 'There's no lost-and-found for retirement savings' Putin turns out to be a secret gold bug. He must know something. Russia accounted for 59% of net gold purchases by central banks in the third quarte.r It is a safe bet you'll be getting a raise next year. At least a safer bet than it was last year. The bad news is, you're still making less money than you were before the financial... Read full post

Nov 13, 2014

Aspiration's liquid-alts fund takes anti-Wall Street vibe, robo-advice to the next level

By Jeff Benjamin

If nothing else, the founders of Aspiration Partners, a new online asset management platform, got the name right.The Los Angeles-based operation, which launched Tuesday, appears to be throwing everything at the wall to see what might stick.It begins by touting a yet-to-be-launched mutual fund, Aspiration Flagship (ASPFX), that encompasses virtually every hot-button issue in the asset management space. Here's what you need to know about the fund, pieces of which some media outlets have already seized upon: • The fund, which has been seeded with a few million dollars, is being subadvised by Emerald Asset Management to provide exposure to hedge fund strategies.• Investors are able to set their own fee structure, even if that means electing to pay no fee at all.• Ten percent of all the fees collected by Aspiration are being donated to charity.And it's all being offered online to give it that flashy and somewhat... Read full post

Nov 13, 2014

Morningstar's latest Pimco remarks spark catty comments

By Jeff Benjamin

Morningstar's in-house panel chats up its outlook for Pimco, but the best part is the string of catty comments beneath the video. Seems there might be some cloaked DoubleLine fans fueling the chatter. "Gundlach and the investing public have successfully ignored your ratings," says The 62 Dawg Detroit and Stockton have each emerged from bankruptcy following some rough justice that should be a lesson for the muni-bond market. No guarantees for bond investors It would be easy to get sucked in by the stock market's latest winning streak, but that doesn't mean you have to. The rate of ascent seems unsustainable. Could gay marriage be a boon for some insurance company stocks? It makes a certain amount of sense, at least on paper. AET, CI, WLP BuzzFeed's attempted swipe at a new liquid-alternatives fund missed the fact that 'middle-class' investors already have access to hedge fund strategies via nearly 500 mutual funds. And, please tell me... Read full post

Nov 12, 2014

Strong dollar makes a strong case for currency-hedged ETFs

By Jeff Benjamin

Currency-hedged ETFs are giving dollar bulls something to cheer about. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. Betting big on the dollar's surge It's not too early to think about the potential winners and losers in the net-neutrality debate. CMCSA, VZ, GOOG, NFLX Goldman Sachs is going to be tossing some bones to select employees that will be earning stripes as partnership managing directors. The title is cool, and the perks aren't bad, either Democrats are suddenly starting to warm to the idea of the Keystone XL pipeline. What a difference an election makes. Mary Landrieu's last-ditch effort Timothy Geithner meets his own stress test as leaked documents show he didn't always speak kindly of his European counterparts. 'I completely underweighted the possibility that they would flail around for three years.' ... Read full post

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