Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Aug 15, 2016

Consumer confidence at odds with rising stock market

By Jeff Benjamin

The stock market has been rising but consumer confidence hasn't followed along during the past two years. In fact, executives of consumer companies say economic and political uncertainty is repressing consumer confidence. Millennials place so much trust in the power and promise of technology that they could turn away from traditional banks in favor of consumer-finance startups. Firms like Chime and Simple hope their apps will win over the younger Americans. Are you trained in programming languages such as SQL, JavaScript and Python? If you are, you're ahead of the game as a new survey says being able to code is a skill that more and more employers are seeking. American swimmer Ryan Lochte, whose success in the pool has been overshadowed by a much more successful Michael Phelps, just can't catch a break. Mr. Lochte on Saturday night was among a group of Team USA Olympic swimmers robbed at gunpoint in Rio. ... Read full post

Aug 12, 2016

Insider buying patterns say now is the time to sell

By Jeff Benjamin

If you're still seeing this frothy stock market as a keen buying opportunity, you might want to consider that most corporate insiders don't share those views. Insiders are selling. Hillary Clinton's full-throated pitch to promote middle-class prosperity is missing one key element: Corporate tax reform. Reforming corporate taxes is seen as among the best ways to get businesses to spend more and create more jobs. Nest egg? What nest egg, said two-thirds of Americans. Sadly, most folks can't come up with $1,000 to cover the cost of an emergency expense. For fans of marijuana, and marijuana investments, the bad news is, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration announced that it is not changing the federal legal status of pot. The good news is that the DEA is increasing the amount of pot available for medical research. Suddenly, one man's research becomes another man's recreation. Taking the good with the bad. ... Read full post

Aug 11, 2016

Rob Arnott says cheesy copy cats are hurting smart beta investing

By Jeff Benjamin

Rob Arnott, a pioneer of smart-beta investing, says the growing popularity of the investing style has gotten out of hand. Perhaps he longs for the good old days when almost nobody believed in smart beta. “There are a lot of dumb ideas masquerading as smart beta.” Jim Grant says investing in gold works because the global financial system is off its rocker. This is unfortunately what happens when central banks lose control of monetary policy. Corporate bond issuance shoots off the charts in early August. What's up with that? The wave of new debt issuance is in line with a sharp tightening of credit spreads. Somehow in this economy that has never really gotten off the ground since the financial crisis, layoff levels are at a two-year low. Don't tell the economists, but this has to do with the fact there are fewer people left to layoff. The economic recovery shows signs of aging. ... Read full post

Aug 10, 2016

Bond bears are starting to look smart

By Jeff Benjamin

After years of being so wrong, it looks like bond bears might finally be right. It's vindication time. Sizing up the Trump and Clinton tax plans. How do you like your taxes? High or higher? Take a gander at what $12.29 trillion worth of household debt looks like. It's mostly mortgages, but student loans are gaining steam. Congrats on making it to retirement, now here are the skills you'll need to make it in retirement. Learn to relax. ... Read full post

Aug 9, 2016

Nassim Taleb trots out another 'black swan' forecast

By Jeff Benjamin

Nassim Taleb calls for a market crash and much pain ahead. The creator of “black swan” theory says we can thank quantitative easing for the mess heading our way. The “uber-rich have benefitted, and nothing has been cured.” Barclays throws a wet blanket on everything. “Diminishing policy power.” Comparing active and passive REIT ETFs. Trading spreads matter. Heads up, college dropouts. The Feds still expect you to pay back those student loans. Of course, if we end up with “free college,” you can drop out and stick taxpayers with the bill. Just keep in mind that someday, you, too, will likely be a taxpayer. Following government logic, it would be better if people just graduated from college. ... Read full post

Aug 8, 2016

Finding safe yields above 5%

By Jeff Benjamin

There are still places to find safe yield above 5%. Truth is stranger than fiction. Take it from these fixed-income and dividend-stock pros. The crushing effects of low oil prices. Oil below $40 is hurting businesses from hotels to retailers. The ugly downside of a good jobs report. The problem is economic activity remains subdued. Here comes drone racing via ESPN. It was only a matter of time. The money is pouring in. ... Read full post

Aug 5, 2016

Reading between the lines of Friday's jobs report

By Jeff Benjamin

Depending on how much stock can be placed in any jobs report that fails to include all those people who have given up looking for work in this lackluster economic recovery, Friday's employment data might make you happy. July payrolls expected to show a return to normal. The Bank of England's big bust. The rate cut that didn't come as a major surprise to the markets. The real risk now is a Brexit boom, not a Brexit bust. The SEC has nabbed a Connecticut cardiologist for insider trading for selling shares ahead of negative news related to a blood-clot-regulating drug. “Not content with avoiding heavy losses” the doctor placed options trades to benefit from the stock's decline. Double that retirement savings with three basic moves. Avoid the enemies. ... Read full post

Aug 4, 2016

The Fed might have to give money directly to consumers

By Jeff Benjamin

After realizing that cutting interest rates to zero and then experimenting with multi-trillion-dollar quantitative easing programs don't work, the Fed might next try just putting money in consumers' hands. It's worth a shot, according to the folks at the world's largest hedge fund. “The world is not transpiring as most central bankers had expected.” The case being made for why SPDR S&P (SPY) is the most important ETF in the world. Cresting the $200 billion mark. Whichever way you decide to vote in November, chances are you'll be supporting a bigger deficit, and possibly hyperinflation. This is what the gold bugs have been waiting for. The hot voting bloc that both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should be trying to woo is cash-strapped millennials. Drowning in student loan debt. ... Read full post

Aug 3, 2016

When it comes to asset management, look for experience

By Jeff Benjamin

In the midst of this heated and unorthodox presidential election year, the issue of experience is front and center. But, it turns out, experience is also a factor that should be considered when it comes to financial advice and asset management. In some fields, more experience is just better. For those financial advisers who want to quit using actively-managed strategies but just can't seem to make the break, here's a 12-step program just for you. Index Funds: The Movie Just to clarify, the active-versus-passive management debate cannot really be clarified. You will be right – and wrong. When it comes to online retirement calculators, they are only as good as the data you feed them. One warning sign is limited inputs. ... Read full post

Aug 2, 2016

Dawn Bennett plays the victim, challenges SEC ruling

By Jeff Benjamin

Dawn Bennett, having been barred from the financial services industry and fined $4 million for her shady advisory practices, is now claiming the SEC sought her out as a high-profile disciplinary trophy. ”Why was I a target for something that for anybody else would have been small and miscellaneous?” Get used to cheap gas prices because the price of oil is down and going lower. The downward pressure of a rise in supply. As if it wasn't bad enough that active portfolio managers have been beat by blindfolded, dart-throwing chimpanzees, now a cat is outperforming active managers. A dog, I could understand. But a cat? Take with a grain of salt. The simple secrets of the millionaire next door. Think, shameless frugality. ... Read full post

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