Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Sep 13, 2016

Donald Trump tries to shame the Fed into raising rates

By Jeff Benjamin

In his campaign to become the next president of the United States, Donald Trump is pushing the envelope in his attempted influence over monetary policy. Trying to shame Fed Chair Janet Yellen. Too much Fed speak is now rattling the bond market. Short-dated Treasurys quickly reversed course. There are plenty of reasons why Hillary Clinton's health could upend the financial markets. She's fallen and she can't get up. The illegal immigrant working at Goldman Sachs. “I realized I had a powerful story to tell about immigrants.” ... Read full post

Sep 12, 2016

Time to embrace the idea of a nasty market correction

By Jeff Benjamin

The upside of a serious market correction. It might be exactly what we need right now. A quick and nasty correction is best for bulls. The general sense is that the stock market volatility is just getting started. Buckling in for a bumpy ride. If investors are supposed to be so nervous, why isn't that being reflected in bond yields? No fear as investors get complacent. To really ramp up productivity, don't ignore the potential of a mid-day nap. It starts with adjusting attitudes and changing corporate culture. ... Read full post

Sep 9, 2016

Time to start navigating that minefield of mutual fund capital gains

By Jeff Benjamin

Heading into capital gains distribution season for mutual funds, there are some potential pitfalls worth noting for financial advisers. Don't assume a fund will always be tax friendly. The muni-bond lovefest continues. Investors are pouring money into muni ETFs. More than 75% of inflows have gone into ETFs with durations between 4 and 8. The insatiable thirst for yield is sending some investors toward fine wines. “The wine market looked underpriced overall after four consecutive years of going down.” If you're frustrated dealing with certain high-maintenance clients or colleagues, just be glad you're not responsible for decking out the dressing rooms for famous entertainers. Madonna needs a personal chef, Beyoncé wants baked chicken, and Eminem requires six Lunchable snacks. ... Read full post

Sep 8, 2016

Fed finds more reasons to keep sitting on its hands

By Jeff Benjamin

The Fed's latest reason for not raising interest rates is that only highly-skilled workers are getting raises. Also, U.S. job openings surged to a record high in July. There might be times when you want to curse during communications with clients, but that doesn't mean it's okay to do so. Heavy words, indeed. There is a point where delaying retirement and just working like crazy to save for retirement stops making sense. If you're ready to retire, and you want out, don't be sheepish about it. Getting rid of all bills larger than $10 is not a terrible idea. The benefits of phasing out paper currency. ... Read full post

Sep 7, 2016

Fidelity presents five scenarios for stocks

By Jeff Benjamin

Fidelity lays out five scenarios for stocks. The most likely? More of the same. We lost a mutual fund pioneer last month. (He was also a star athlete, a soldier and a philanthropist.) John Rekenthaler salutes Ab Nicholas. Europe's banks are turning Japanese. The Financial Times really thinks so. Would you like to be rich? Do you feel lucky? Because luck has a lot to do with it. ... Read full post

Sep 6, 2016

Pimco dismisses Bill Gross' claim a September rate hike is coming

By Jeff Benjamin

Bill Gross claims a September rate hike is a go. But his former firm Pimco says, “Not so fast.” It's quiet. Very quiet. Stock volatility is so low you might be thinking about investing in a volatility ETF. But the play isn't as simple as it sounds. Things are getting weirder in finance these days: Mortgages in Denmark with negative rates, for example, or the Bank of Japan's plans to buy six trillion yen worth of exchange traded funds. Echoes of 2008? And they used to laugh at USA TODAY: The New York Times publishes the best one-word story ever. ... Read full post

Sep 2, 2016

Investors gobbled up risk assets in August

By Jeff Benjamin

Investors showed a voracious appetite for risk in August. Last month's net flows into U.S.-listed ETFs topped $28 billion. The Fed's next big idea: Renaming zero interest rates as moderately low. That should do the trick. A genuine conundrum for the FOMC. Take some career advice from successful Wall Street women. Asking yourself: “Why not me? Why can't I be the person in charge of this or that?” Spending the summer spending instead of saving. What was learned versus what was lost. Summer's over. Time to get back to reality. ... Read full post

Sep 1, 2016

The markets are tilting toward Hillary Clinton for president

By Jeff Benjamin

Forget all the debates and the actual voting, because the stock market has already decided Hillary Clinton will be our next President. If the research is sound, investors might be expecting another Democrat in the White House. The not-so mind-boggling logic behind accepting a negative yield on a bond. Betting that yields could fall even further. Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank entertained a merger. The courtship that might have been. The odds of Colin Kaepernick standing for the national anthem are now only slightly better than the odds of his team, the San Francisco 49ers, winning more than two games this season. But, hey, at least he's taking a stand, er, a seat. Will the threat of losing that big paycheck alter the quarterback's principles? ... Read full post

Aug 31, 2016

EU tells Ireland to collect $14.5 billion in taxes from Apple. Good luck with that

By Jeff Benjamin

The European Union says Ireland must collect $14.5 billion in taxes from Apple, which currently sits on about $215 billion in cash — more than the market capitalization of 490 companies in the Standard & Poor's 500. The EU's demand is likely to be contested in court for a long time. What's the problem with tactical allocation funds? They're supposed to change their asset mix according to market conditions. And they do. They also stink at it, says Morningstar's John Rekenthaler. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's list of problem banks shrunk to 147 from 165 in the second quarter. It's the smallest number of problem banks in more than seven years, and down significantly from its peak of 888 in 2011. Cry me a river, Aetna. Retreating carriers whine that exchanges bruised their bottom lines; meanwhile, their profits are off the charts, thanks to ... Obamacare. ... Read full post

Aug 30, 2016

Lower-paying industries driving wage pressure on Fed

By Jeff Benjamin

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen referred to increasing wage pressures as justification for raising interest rates this year. And who are the folks getting those raises? Mostly people at the low end of the wage scale. Speaking of a hot topic in employment, most jobs in the coal industry disappeared a long time ago. The industry in Virginia peaked in 1982. You can always get lots of readers with an outrageous thesis, such as “Is Passive Investing Worse than Marxism? Lots of reaction to this particular bit of pearl clutching. You can read some here. Be wild. Be free. Meet a billionaire or two in the middle of the desert. Burning Man is underway. Bring sunscreen and be willing to barter. ... Read full post

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