Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

7:54 am EST

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

Sep 16, 2014

A user's guide to this week's "Fedspeak"

By Jeff Benjamin

Calpers sends hedge funds out to pasture in a move that could represent a wake-up call to the alternatives space. A decision based on high fees What to watch for, and what to worry about, in the Fed's next public statements. A user's guide to fretting over Fedspeak. The market hangs on Yellen's every word The happy and encouraging math behind investing in stocks that are about to split. Apple Inc. has gained 36% since it announced plans for a 7-to-1 split A rebound for reverse mortgages. As housing prices come back, more aging Baby Boomers tap into the last-ditch lifeline to fund retirement. Tighter regulatory scrutiny Beer stocks are getting frothy amid increased merger talks between Anheuser-Bush and Miller. Most expensive price-to-earnings ratios in 10 years ... Read full post

Sep 15, 2014

Markets wait on the Fed's next move

By Jeff Benjamin

The market waits for the Fed to pull the trigger on rates, which appears to be the only thing investors care about these days. Reading into the phrase 'considerable time' Try the ETF route for a piece of the celebrated Alibaba IPO. Biggest public stock offering in history As the S&P 500 charges forward, the Nasdaq starts to crumble, showing trouble for equities. Almost half of Nasdaq stocks are in bear market territory Hedge funds are riding high on strong performance and big inflows in a sign that institutional investors are taking some risk off the table. Performance enhanced by hot stock markets The second quarter was huge for annuity sales, and the industry appears to have a lot of momentum on its side. Most products saw double-digit sales increases ... Read full post

Sep 12, 2014

Should you follow Bill?

By Jeff Benjamin

Bill Gross has been cutting his position in bonds. Should you do the same? Bill Gross is selling bonds, but here's why maybe you shouldn't. Finra might have found its replacement for retiring arbitration chief Linda Fienberg. Wall Street watchdog to pick insider as arbitration head - sources If you were wondering why there was such a muted reaction to President Obama's speech in the markets, adviser Paul Schatz has an idea. Bet these investors didn't have an adviser. Eight charged in $290M pump-and-dump plot Here's where at least some investors are going for return. Investors boost hedge fund holdings in August Wall Street firm Cantor Fitzgerald has a great way to commemorate Sept. 11. Charity day, during which celebrities help the firm that lost the most on 9/11 give back. ... Read full post

Sep 11, 2014

The recovery's winners

By Jeff Benjamin

The recovery has been a good time to be youngish. Only Gen Xers have gotten richer since the recession Here's how far investors have gone to bolster returns. Bond investors turn to leverage in low-yield desperation It's not too early to start thinking about next week. Fed's rate guidance on chopping block, new exit plan nears How much did Charlie Munger contribute to partner Warren Buffett's success? Munger hosts groupies, mocks Wall Street, praises Buffett You don't see this very often ... Private equity exec gets super candid about his best and worst deals And finally, remembering Sept. 11. By any definition, 9/11 was an 'act of war' ... Read full post

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