Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Jan 25, 2016

Oil gets its groove back, for now

By Jeff Benjamin

The price of oil has bounced off the bottom, but it's still a long way from a supply-demand balance. “I think panic took over common sense, and now we're starting to get a grip on reality.” Meanwhile, there's that strange new reality of oil trading in lock-step with stocks. Equity funds have seen $24 billion flow out the door since the start of the year. So much for buying and holding. Emerging-market stocks have taken a big hit. There are strange trades unfolding across the global financial markets. Losing their collective mind. How does Donald Trump navigate the complex tax code? By using every trick in the book. “I pay as little as possible.” ... Read full post

Jan 22, 2016

The world is increasing its focus on China's currency devaluation

By Jeff Benjamin

The weakening of China's currency is starting to take center stage. Keeping the yuan in perspective. Just because oil is cheap doesn't mean you can't make some money off that fall. Morgan Stanley CEO tells you how to make a killing in oil. The party is on for short sellers. On the heels of a great 2015, short sellers are already celebrating the riches of 2016. Does having an NFL team in your town provide any real benefit to the locals? Taking a look at the impact on housing prices. ... Read full post

Jan 21, 2016

Vanguard's John Bogle injects a sense of calm into the markets

By Jeff Benjamin

Vanguard's Jack Bogle tells investors to stay the course, but that doesn't mean the market is done falling. ”Don't do something, just stand there.” The challenge, of course, will be staying calm while so many other pundits are calling for a “full-scale contagion.” Are utility-sector stocks the place to find shelter in this stock market selloff? Dividend plays with moderate and steady earnings growth. The Donald makes his case for investing in gold, extending his record of being bullish on the precious metal. No one can successfully predict gold prices. What advisers can be saying to their clients this time of year. Don't overestimate risk tolerance. ... Read full post

Jan 20, 2016

Investors are fixated on the stock market's August lows

By Jeff Benjamin

Investors are now obsessed with the stock market's dreaded August bottom. Then what? Getting closer to that magic number. What you might want to know about Iran's oil coming to market. The global oil market could drown in over-supply. The hedge funds that are riding high on the global oil market's meltdown. Refinery stocks were a relative bright spot. The NFL's Donte Stallworth details what it's like having more money than you literally know what to do with. Nearly 80% of NFL players experience serious financial problems just a few years after retiring from the game. ... Read full post

Jan 19, 2016

Making the case for braving the stock market

By Jeff Benjamin

Whether it's called buying low or catching falling knives, it takes real guts to jump headlong into this stock market. But, historically, that's when the fortunes are made. Will there be gains tomorrow? Or any time soon? How and where to buy stocks when you believe the market is in cash mode. Unfortunately, dollar-cost-averaging isn't sexy. The pursuit of oil-market stability is within reach. The key is cooperation among the major producers. Meanwhile, there's the wild card of Iran production coming on line. Putting the likelihood of a U.S. recession at the highest levels since 2011. There is weakness, but probably not enough to bring the economy down. ... Read full post

Jan 15, 2016

Twitter and Snapchat shape up as potential robo-advice players

By Jeff Benjamin

Are Snapchat and Twitter the next players to enter the robo-advice game? Way to go after those techy millennial investors. With 100 million daily users to tap into, Snapchat leads the way among tech firms developing robo-advice offerings. Ted Cruz's ability to wriggle out from under the Goldman Sachs loan scandal will depend on his willingness to bow before a federal agency. Loans that went to Cruz personally, rather than the campaign. About that RBS credit analyst that has ruffled so many feathers with his “sell everything” call. It turns out he's been saying that for the past five years. Where would you be now if you listened to him back then? In 2010: “We cannot stress enough how strongly we believe that a cliff-edge may be around the corner…” How the ghost of Raj Rajaratnam continues to haunt the hedge fund space. The reverberations have extended all the way to the Wharton School. ... Read full post

Jan 14, 2016

Buckle in for cheap oil and keep buying that cheap gasoline

By Jeff Benjamin

Anyone who has put gas in their car recently can certainly relate to the immediate benefits of cheap oil. And since consumer spending represents about 70% of the U.S. economy, many of the big thinkers are leaning hard on the argument that lower fuel prices, and energy prices in general, are the best case for a strengthening economy.The cynic, however, might argue that oil prices could suddenly take off on a massive rally, effectively gobbling up all that extra consumer pocket change, and thereby stalling the already lackluster economic momentum.Well, hold your horses there, Mr. Skeptic, because while there is plenty to worry about on both the global and domestic fronts, spiking oil prices should not be among those fears. At least not anytime soon.That is the reality that investors and financial advisers will need to embrace, and learn to navigate, as so many signs point toward a stronger dollar, weak commodity prices, and trouble... Read full post

Jan 14, 2016

Goldman Sachs fires a shot at high-speed trading

By Jeff Benjamin

Goldman Sachs cuts loose on high-speed trading and an out-of-control market. Structural issues a go-go. What cheap oil is doing to stocks. Few wells are profitable at current oil prices, but companies have to keep on pumping to generate revenues. If you didn't already have a reason to avoid panicking as the markets get choppy, you do now. Tuning out the steady drumbeat of bearishness. Heads up millennials, big beer is aiming to tap into your thirst for refreshing malt beverages. It will take some crafty marketing ploys to sell beer to customers who hate the brewers. ... Read full post

Jan 13, 2016

Avenue Capital stops sharing fund flow data following junk-bond outflows

By Jeff Benjamin

Avenue Capital Management decided to deal with the outflows from its junk-bond fund by not reporting the outflows to Lipper and Morningstar. That should do the trick. Not following the standard, but voluntary, practice of reporting asset levels is very unusual. The junk-bond market is making a strong case for a recession this year. The current high-yield bond spread over Treasuries is halfway between historical averages and bad times. Mike Kitces gets all counterintuitive and thinky in dishing about the upside of illiquidity. Pretty good stuff. Greater risk doesn't always equal greater returns, but less liquidity might. At $1.5 billion, today's Powerball jackpot could place some lucky soul ahead of Berkshire's Charlie Munger and DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach on the Forbes rich list. Of course, that's before taxes. Flanked by Snapchat's Evan Spiegel and Ford Motor Co's Martha Ford. ... Read full post

Jan 12, 2016

Hillary Clinton ups the ante with new plans to tax the rich

By Jeff Benjamin

Hillary Clinton ups the ante on rival Bernie Sanders with a new “Fair Share Surcharge” to tax the wealthiest Americans. The 4% surcharge would raise $150 billion over 10 years. Pinning the plight of cheap oil not on a worldwide glut of the commodity, but on the stubborn strength of the U.S. dollar. It's a theory. Further dollar strength seems likely. If you're too young to remember Long-Term Capital Management, just know that when the giant hedge fund was imploding in the late 1990s it was dubbed 'Long-Gone Capital Management.' Looks like LTCM is getting the band back together. Neuberger Berman is going all in for the options business, betting that investors are looking for a little more juice in their returns. The asset manager has acquired the options investing team from Horizon Kinetics. “We do think that using options in portfolios is going to be a growth area.” ... Read full post

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