Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

6:45 am EST

Sallie Krawcheck dishes on being downsized

By Jeff Benjamin

Sallie Krawcheck says the economy is evolving at such a rapid pace that producing great results isn't doesn't equal job security. She knows a thing or two about job security. That point when you realize the company is going in a different direction. The mighty U.S. dollar, which has gained nearly 10% this year, will be mightily tested this week. Currency traders are on the edge of their seats. 'There's really a mishmash of event risks to watch for.' Kicking off Cyber Monday, in the wake of a ho-hum Black Friday, the financial markets are expected to be more edgy than usual this week. Pray for good employment data. A weak holiday shopping season could be the straw that broke the U.S. economy's back. The best way to manage student loan debt might surprise you. Sometimes consolidating the debt or even paying it off in a lump sum isn't the best financial strategy. The pros and cons. ... Read full post

Nov 25, 2015

As robo-advice spreads, so should the caution warnings

By Jeff Benjamin

As robo-advisers flood the zone, investors (and human financial advisers) should continue to proceed with caution. Handing your retirement savings over to a robot. Some sage advice to get you through your next industry conference adventure. Make new friends, but try not to become a stalker during the cocktail reception. Presidential candidates can huff and puff and pander until they're blue in the face, but that won't be enough to stop the Pfizer-Allergan deal. If Washington really wants to stop corporate inversions they could start by lowering corporate taxes. It will take an act of Congress. For more proof that the inflation is virtually absent from the struggling U.S. economy, the cost of a Thanksgiving dinner for 10 people will cost just 70 cents more than the same meal cost last year. Make that your expression of gratitude when you're asked to explain what you're thankful for this year. Adjusted for inflation, the cost is... Read full post

Nov 24, 2015

Mutual fund outflows add to the pain of capital gains distributions

By Jeff Benjamin

It's that time of year again, when turkeys get stuffed, halls get decked and mutual fund investors get hit with year-end capital gains distributions.For investors and financial advisers, it is a frustration as old as the actively managed mutual fund, and every year it seems to hammer another nail in the coffin of active funds.Even without selling shares of a mutual fund, investors can incur capital gains taxes triggered by security sales within the fund. And those security sales are often driven by net outflows from the fund, which leaves fewer investors to absorb the capital gains distributions.Add to that the reality that net outflows often are sparked by poor performance, and the double whammy of capital gains distributions can become a triple whammy, or worse.By way of a positive spin, Morningstar Inc.'s director of personal finance, Christine Benz, said it can be viewed as “prepaying your tax bill,” which isn't a great ... Read full post

Nov 24, 2015

SEC taking deep dive into role of ETFs in Aug. 24 market drop

By Jeff Benjamin

The role of exchange-traded funds in the market chaos that erupted on Aug. 24 remains a big focus at the SEC. Good or bad? Chairwoman Mary Jo White: 'You'll see us boring into that.' Inflation, inflation, inflation. It's in the headlines but it's also like waiting for Godot This Fed governor is worried about too-low inflation. And here's what Goldman Sachs is forecasting for rate hikes next year. News on the commodities front isn't getting any better and if you're invested in commodities, you could be in for a long slog. Two years to go to match the average commodities slide over the last 50 years. Looking for ways to boost your stock portfolio performance? But market timing is bad, isn't it? What part of the country do you hail from? Here's what your part of America eats on Thanksgiving. ... Read full post

Nov 23, 2015

S&P's global financial literacy test is out

By Jeff Benjamin

Would you pass the global financial literacy test? When you go out to dinner with a Norwegian, a Swede or a Dane, let them calculate the tip. With AIG Advisor Group reportedly on the block, the question is who's kicking the tires? Return of a Greenberg? The crowdfunding gates are open. Wide open. The SEC last week qualified a $25M offering for equity shares of an automotive startup. In the war against terror, maybe it's time to bring back an old idea that perhaps was ahead of its time. Preventing terrorism through markets After the worst outbreak of bird flu in the U.S. last summer you wouldn't be crazy thinking turkey prices are up this year. Poultry farmers are in recovery mode but there's no shortage of turkeys. ... Read full post

Nov 20, 2015

How to avoid becoming a tax scam victim

By Jeff Benjamin

After the IRS' big data breach, you might want to file this under 'do as I say, not as I do.' But give the agency credit for trying. The IRS' 7 steps to avoid becoming a tax-scam victim. Does the strong debut for mobile payments company Square Thursday on the New York Stock Exchange mean anything for tech or the broader market? Dispelling some of the gloom. It's not quite 'if you can't beat 'em, join 'em,' but it's not too far off. Financial giants such as JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, BlackRock and Bank of America have hired former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau officials. Economic growth is spotty and third quarter earnings reports are Exhibit A. How's a growth fund manager cope? If you live in the Fort Worth, Texas, area, get ready for a Schwab invasion. The financial services giant is expanding to North Texas with a new operations center that will house hundreds of workers. ... Read full post

Nov 19, 2015

December looking more likely for Fed rate hike

By Jeff Benjamin

Ground Control to Major Yellen. Commencing countdown, engines on. October Fed minutes stress potential for December liftoff. Speaking of rising rates, have you checked out your bond fund lineup recently? Now's not a bad time to see what you're holding. Here are some of Morningstar's favorite bond funds. Has the New York Stock Exchange figured out how to prevent another crazy day like Aug. 24, when stocks dropped like a rock off the open only to reverse course and bounce back? Say goodbye to the 'land mine' of stop orders. The march of firms closing down underperforming funds continues. Yesterday Pimco, today BlackRock BlackRock winds down global macro hedge fund after losses. Reality reaches California. CalPERS approves plan to gradually reduce assumed rate of return to 6.5%. ... Read full post

Nov 18, 2015

Pimco loses another crown, this one for emerging markets bonds

By Jeff Benjamin

Pimco loses another crown. It's hard to survive a 62% drop in assets. Don't go too crazy cheering when a company you own announces a big stock buyback. It might boost the share price but there is — there always is — a down side The cannibalized company The Paris attacks were despicable but investors took them in stride. Here's a way to fight terrorism with your wallet. See what's inside some aerospace and defense exchange-traded funds and mutual funds. You can stop racking up frequent flier miles because they're basically useless. They're not miles. They're points, and they're really about ticket prices. ... Read full post

Nov 17, 2015

Gold goes on a safe-haven rally in the wake of Paris attacks

By Jeff Benjamin

Gold jumps on a safe-haven rally, even as riskier assets like stocks find their own reason to rally. Gold futures rose more than 1% Hillary's big Wall Street backers come to her rescue after the Democratic candidate channels 9/11 to score political points. Claiming a good relationship with Wall Street because of terrorism, or something like that Active vs. passive banter and “the biggest rip off in fund management.” One nasty surprise in the middle Take a gander at the colorful neon turkeys in Connecticut, just don't ask how they got that way. 'We just leave it to the kids' imagination' ... Read full post

Nov 16, 2015

Financial markets brace for fallout from the Paris terror attacks

By Jeff Benjamin

The financial markets are likely to be swept up in the immediate unrest following Friday's terror attacks in Paris. Pushing the markets in a direction they are already heading, toward reduced risk The Paris terror attacks could rock global financial markets, but that should not impact the Fed's decision on interest rates next month, according DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach. 'These markets are falling apart' Gold hits the skids with four straight weeks of losses and heading toward the first losing month since July. But it's too early to tell if renewed terrorism fears will turn the precious metal around.Outflows from gold ETFs hit $1.12 billion over the first two weeks of November Ernst & Young could take a $25 million hit related to lax auditing of Bernie Madoff accounts. A rare negligence case ... Read full post

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