Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Jul 11, 2014

Carl Icahn advises caution in the equity markets

By Jeff Benjamin

Carl Icahn used yesterday's market reaction to Portugal's banking crisis to remind investors that stocks are in risky territory. When the billionaires get nervous, take notice. 'I'm very selective about companies I purchase' Low-volatility and rate risk have the markets on edge. Market complacency is rarely a good sign. A boon for non-traditional bond funds The Fed-fueled stock market bubble is not a bad thing and it's not a bubble, according to this guy. Hmm. 'No sign the Fed caused an irrational rise in prices' Advice for advisers regarding political donations. The SEC is watching for “pay-to-play” conflicts. Compliance trip wires Gold looks golden, but still can't seem to erase the blemish of the bubble that burst in 2012. Skepticism surrounding gold is bullish Solar energy stocks were hot properties during the second quarter as about half the stocks in the Guggenheim Solar ETF saw spikes in institutional investing.... Read full post

Jul 10, 2014

Volatility looks cheap and risky

By Jeff Benjamin

Volatility looks like the last cheap asset class. This could be a really good opportunity, or a really bad sign, or both. Its lowest level since 2007 Barclays bets on women with an index and exchange-traded note that offers concentrated exposure to female leadership. Following in the footsteps of Sallie Krawcheck With higher interest rates on the horizon bond fund managers are quietly bracing for the worst. Favoring more liquid assets, like stocks The real and serious risks of a population saddled with $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. So far, nobody wants to talk about what's driving the cost of higher education, just how to avoid paying the bills. The runaway cost of college tuition Potato salad entrepreneur learns there is no free lunch as $70,000 in funding pledges triggers a $20,000 tax bill. The tax man cometh ... Read full post

Jul 9, 2014

The financial fallout from Germany's World Cup rout of Brazil

By Jeff Benjamin

The economic and political ripple effects of Germany's soccer team trouncing Brazil, 7-1. When a soccer-crazed country feels blue nobody wins. Brazilians blame the country's president for the loss. The SEC's high-speed trader plan gets a warm reception from exchanges and large money managers. Welcome to the latest congressional reaction to a book. 'Urgent and thorough attention' Investment lessons to be learned from a crumbling cupcake chain. The rapid fall of Crumbs is a cautionary tale for anyone trying to chase trendy investments. The trouble started just a month after the IPO Dividends are high and going higher. Some opportunities to buy-in ahead of the ex-dividend dates. A record 1,078 companies raised dividends in the first quarter ... Read full post

Jul 8, 2014

Investors bracing for a wild second half of 2014

By Jeff Benjamin

Bracing for the second half of the year. The headwinds are real and plentiful. Renewed concerns about the U.S. consumer Some public companies are starting to tweak their bylaws to deter shareholder litigation. It's still not clear if the bylaw changes can withstand scrutiny in court. You lose the lawsuit, you pay the legal fees Morningstar settles software piracy case out of court, so we'll never know who did what. There will be no trial JPMorgan jumps into the ETF space with its own smart-beta strategy. Designed as a core equity holding The case for beer stocks this summer. It's hot out, have another beer. Invest responsibly ... Read full post

Jul 7, 2014

Dollar rides high on hope into earnings season

By Jeff Benjamin

The U.S. dollar drives toward earnings season on a five-day run, marking its longest streak since October. The key is whether earnings will justify stocks at these record levels. Second-quarter earnings outlook at 6.2% Goldman Sachs predicts a Fed rate hike in the third quarter of next year rather than the first quarter of 2016. It's all about the job market, inflation and financial conditions Raining on the GDP parade. A fun read on global economics, if you're into that sort of thing. Seeing GDP for what it really is, a measure of flow, not stock Mohamed El-Erian reads the Fed tea leaves and sees more tolerating of financial excesses. Janet Yellen keeps her fingers crossed that everything will work out Librarian goes old school and just reads books for investing advice. She retired early. Selling at the top in 2008 ... Read full post

Jul 3, 2014

Job growth accelerates, pushing unemployment rate to a six-year low

Today's Breakfast with Benjamin by Trevor Hunnicutt U.S. job growth accelerated in June, pushing the unemployment rate to a six-year low of 6.1%.U.S. job growth surges, unemployment rate falls to 6.1 percent. U.S. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen resisted pressure to raise interest rates in a speech Wednesday despite "pockets of increased risk-taking" in the financial system. Yellen says financial instability shouldn't prompt rate change. The European Central Bank is also leaving interest rates in tact, a month after a radical step that created a negative interest rate for deposits held there. E.C.B. holds interest rates steady A lot of people missed the returns of core bond holdings by choosing shorter duration funds, argues adviser and index-investing proponent Rick Ferri. The risk of short-term bond funds Fidelity Investments is closing off mutual fund investments to overseas brokerage clients after July 31. The Boston-based... Read full post

Jul 2, 2014

Most investors missed the Dow's early fireworks

Today's Breakfast with Benjamin by Mason Braswell The Dow hit new highs, but did you miss the ride? Dow flirts with 17,000, but most people missed the ride. In the latest gender discrimination suit to plague Wall Street, two former Goldman Sachs employees have asked for a class action, accusing the firm of mocking women. Goldman 'boys club' accused of mocking women as 'bimbos' and 'party girls' JPMorgan Chase chief Jamie Dimon said he'll start treatment for throat cancer, raising new questions about succession plans at the biggest U.S. bank. JPMorgan investors show support for Dimon in cancer fight Online retirement calculators can account for inflation, taxes and potential economic factors, but they leave out one big question mark. Online retirement calculators don't calculate this After pleading guilty to processing almost $9 billion in banned transactions for countries including Iran, BNP Paribas SA is asking the Labor Department... Read full post

Jul 1, 2014

What the stock market's first half tells us about the second

Today's Breakfast with Benjamin by Mason Braswell What, if anything, the stock market's first half tells us about the second. Slicing and dicing the numbers. Big deal: M&A activity reached a seven-year record high thanks to some blockbuster deals, including AT&T's $48.5 billion offer for DirecTV, Comcast's $45 billion offer for Time Warner, and Facebook's $19 billion deal for WhatsApp. Mergers hit a 7-year high, propelled by a series of blockbuster deals. After saying he was "proud of our Illinois heritage," Walgreen's chief executive is now considering moving its headquarters to Switzerland, as it looks to lower its tax bill. At Walgreen, renouncing corporate citizenship. Time to dump your money manager? 74% of stock pickers lag behind the S&P, according to a video from Yahoo! News. A former chief executive of one of the country's largest pension funds plans to cop to allegations of influence-peddling back in 2009 and 2010, according ... Read full post

Jun 30, 2014

The value of Twitter

By Jeff Benjamin

Just when you thought there was just too much noise in the twitterverse something happens to renew your faith. Josh Brown has the story. Behold the awesome power of financial Twitter Do you like where you work? J.D. Power's annual survey of advisers' job satisfaction is out. See where your firm ranks. Indie reps happier at work than employee advisers: J.D. Power Halfway through the year and it's a good time to check out performance. 10 biggest S&P 500 winners and losers for 2014 In case you didn't know it, cost matters to investors even when they're looking at exchange-traded funds. BlackRock ETFs near $1 trillion as it loses market share to Vanguard Here's a recipe for volatility. Short week, jobs data may bring back swings With all the troubles at General Motors, what better time to re-enter the U.S. car market? Alfa Romeo returns to America... at last ... Read full post

Jun 27, 2014

The grim reality of inflation without wage growth

By Jeff Benjamin

Inflation finally starts to show up, but wage growth remains flat. A crucial missing piece of the Fed's monetary scheme. 'It doesn't add up' Bracing for the fallout of uncharted Fed monetary policy. All bets and hopes are that the Fed can control inflation once it starts to gain steam Low wage growth sets the stage for weak consumer spending, and so on. Consumer stocks poised to take a hit. Profits at risk in the consumer goods category Taking a closer look at Treasury yields. The 10-year Treasury yield is down 15% this year suggesting a chance to position for more volatility. The 10-year yield was under 2% just 33 months ago Silver outshines gold in June and this run still has legs. 'Cheap and undervalued' How to live to be 100, according to those who have already done it. Step one, be less grumpy ... Read full post

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