Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Jul 21, 2015

Forget gold, oil could be on its way back to $100

By Jeff Benjamin

Gold might be suffering a historic drop but oil's been through that and may be coming out the other side. Oil guru says supply/demand will work in crude's favor. Not to beat a dead horse, but this commodity rout just gets uglier and uglier. Are we nearing peak commodity hatred? How well do you know donor advised funds? Here are five instances when donor-advised funds can lower taxes. One of the fund companies that ranked highest in adviser trust is getting bought for $4 billion by a couple private equity shops. These private equity guys are taking some interesting roads to get into the mutual fund biz. Plus, see which companies made the Top 10 list of fund companies most trusted by advisers. The new Cuban embassy in Washington is now open and the Cuban flag is flying in the lobby of the State Department but that doesn't mean Americans can flock to the island just 90 miles away from Key West, Fla. Nonetheless, now would be a good... Read full post

Jul 20, 2015

Time to rethink gold?

By Jeff Benjamin

Contrarians, listen up. Maybe it's time to look at gold. Janet Yellen's optimism about the U.S. economy is making gold speculators the least bullish on record. Speaking of contrarian, the following doesn't make any sense, does it? Despite recent highs, stock market valuations have actually fallen from recent peaks The debate over separating commercial and investment banking continues apace, with new legislation proposed that would reinstate the famous Glass-Steagall Act, which forced those two businesses apart. Some pundits get wrong the impact of Glass-Steagall on the financial crisis ... and potentially on the next one. Earnings season kicks into high gear this week, and Apple is the tech bellwether to watch. Apple iPhone sales expected to key tech-sector earnings growth Companies from McDonald's to Sears are being pushed to rethink their real estate holdings. Here's one surprising company that did. When was the last time you... Read full post

Jul 17, 2015

9 things companies do during earnings season that investors hate

By Jeff Benjamin

Nine things companies do during earnings season that can really rub investors the wrong way. I hate it when that happens. Making the numbers hard to find, then including too many numbers Private equity finds an end-run around regulators to keep the good times rolling. Smaller lenders get their day in the sun When it comes to managing Social Security benefits, don't forget to maximize the survivor benefits. Delay if you can Duping Obamacare is so easy it would be funny, if it weren't so scary. Auditors scam the healthcare site 11 out of 12 tries ... Read full post

Jul 16, 2015

You know investors are getting nervous when oil becomes a safe-haven play

By Jeff Benjamin

Oil stocks are starting to attract investors seeking safety, and that should be cause for concern. Big Oil becomes a proxy for a bond. Yikes. Fear not, says Robert Shiller, markets are a long, long way from being perfectly efficient. Financial singularity can't compete with basic human judgement The things you need to know about closed-end funds. Still unique and obscure investment vehicles Those nutty kids at the IRS are at it again. This time the game is pranking taxpayers with 8.8 million 'courtesy disconnects.' Or, what most folks call hanging up on somebody. Your tax dollars at work ... Read full post

Jul 15, 2015

Goldman pares down liquid alts, presses Morningstar to follow suit

By Jeff Benjamin

The evolution of the alternative-strategy mutual fund universe continues with an effort by Goldman Sachs Asset Management to reduce, redefine and generally re-categorize the way Morningstar Inc. has been cataloging these funds over the past half-dozen years.From certain angles, it might look like Goldman is trying to play in Morningstar's backyard, and that might be the case. But for financial advisers and investors, it should be seen as a step toward bringing more clarity to what is becoming a large and unwieldy heap of liquid alternative mutual funds.As part an analysis it calls the Liquid Alternative Investments Navigator, Goldman cut the total liquid-alt fund universe down to 326 funds from the 621 tracked by Morningstar through December.Along the lines of evaluating liquid alt funds on the same plane as hedge funds, Goldman also divided the funds into five simple categories, as opposed to Morningstar's 15 different categories. By... Read full post

Jul 15, 2015

Greece's latest problem is the IMF

By Jeff Benjamin

The IMF is throwing a wrench into the Greek bailout works. This doesn't look good. Setting off a political earthquake in Europe Could China be dragging the entire world into a recession? Morgan Stanley thinks so. 'The next global recession will be made by China.' The ultimate financial plan should be to make your last check bounce. Driving a Ferrari to your funeral You, too, can be the millionaire next door. You don't really have a choice, because these days everybody needs to save at least $1 million for retirement ... Read full post

Jul 14, 2015

The toughest job in financial advice: Teaching economics to a presidential contender

By Jeff Benjamin

When politics and economics collide, it is often the economics that gets bowled over for the sake of a pandering soundbite. Unless the economic advisers agree with the preconceived views of the candidates, the relationship will be testy and probably useless Just because Greece has reached an agreement on dealing with its mountain of debt is no reason to assume it still won't be ugly and messy. Mohamed El-Erian says the current deal is better than the alternative, but that doesn't mean it's a great deal for Greece. The good news for the U.S. oil industry is that the worst of the purge is probably over. The number of active rigs will keep falling for a little while longer The napkin-munching insider-trader, Frank Tamayo, has settled with the SEC. Even if you swallow the evidence, it's still against the rules ... Read full post

Jul 13, 2015

Stock buybacks come under fire from politicians

By Jeff Benjamin

There is a rising backlash from the record-level stock-buyback programs that politicians are pretending to understand. The usual suspects take their dislike of Wall Street to the people, hoping the people will skip past the details and join the bandwagon. Elizabeth Warren whips up the base with charges of 'stock manipulation' The best way for U.S. investors to buy the cream of the crop of Chinese equities. EMQQ Putting Greek austerity in perspective shows a badly broken system, which was managed even worse. The least sustainable tax-and-spend policies Obama's big trade deal looks like a boon for big pharma, while consumers will get stuck with big medical bills. Putting drug companies in the cat-bird seat ... Read full post

Jul 10, 2015

Short sales are stacking up and the bears are starting to show some teeth

By Jeff Benjamin

The market bears are getting bolder as they start to come out from a long hibernation, which doesn't really bode well for the bulls. Short sales have hit a post-financial crisis peak Putting Puerto Rico's debt load in perspective. On a per capita basis, it ain't even close. $67.3 billion, and climbing. Or more than 10 times the average debt per capita of the 50 U.S. states Only half-jokingly (we hope), German's finance minister offers the U.S. a trade of Greece for Puerto Rico. That Wolfgang Schauble is such a kidder As if China doesn't already have enough on its plate, it is now trying to corner the global gold market. They will have to get that plan past New York and London ... Read full post

Jul 9, 2015

China does everything wrong in efforts to reverse stock market slide

By Jeff Benjamin

China gets low marks for how it is trying to save its equity markets by preventing the sale of stocks. This is what happens when a communist government tries to operate free-market policies. 'It suggests desperation' Taking a fair-value approach to analyzing ETFs makes a lot of sense, even if it isn't something everyone is doing. What looks cheap Hindsight being 20-20, why not criticize Europe's whole single-currency effort? Unpacking the monetary question Navigating international travel in a world of Greece and China woes. Keep your bankers and creditors in the loop ... Read full post

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