Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Nov 9, 2015

Goldman Sachs benches its BRIC strategy

By Jeff Benjamin

Goldman's BRIC strategy hits the bricks as the once-popular acronym for Brazil, Russia, India and China loses 21% in five years. The assets are down 88% since the 2010 peak Don't make the mistake of ignoring the significance of a strong dollar as we head ever closer to the Fed's first interest rate hike in nearly 10 years. U.S. companies are painfully aware of the impact of a strong buck Credit Suisse bonuses are set to take a whopper of a hit this year. The culprit is a big write down Hedge funds strutted their stuff in October. Just when it looked like 2015 would be a wash for the asset class ... Read full post

Nov 6, 2015

Jobs report has the bond market on edge

By Jeff Benjamin

All eyes will be on the October jobs report this morning because it represents a major component of what the Federal Reserve will use to decide if December is the month for the first interest rate hike in more than nine years. This is a real nail-biter for the bond markets. There are a handful of specific things to watch for in the Friday morning report. There have been consequences from a decade of low interest rates, including an addiction to low interest rates. The Fed will be shaking up the status quo For a lot of hedge fund managers, the big paydays don't stop just because performance hasn't been so good. Nice work if you can get it The dark side of the DOL's fiduciary standard proposal could be fewer advisers to help investors manage their retirement accounts. Oops. Commissions are certainly not going away ... Read full post

Nov 5, 2015

Ex-Ameriprise adviser gets 7 years in the slammer for bilking clients

By Jeff Benjamin

Ex-Ameriprise adviser Susan Elizabeth Walker has been sentenced to more than seven years in prison for taking more than $1 million from client accounts. Many of her victims were seniors. The fraud first came to light in October 2012, and Ms. Walker has been barred by Finra from the brokerage industry since July 2013. Janet Yellen reminds the financial markets that she's still the boss, but the chatter about a December rate hike is still just smoke and mirrors. The Fed has missed it 2% inflation target for more than three years Traders edge slightly closer to believing a rate hike could come next month. The probability is up four points to 58% Bitcoin is enjoying its biggest price spike since 2013. Testing $500 territory ... Read full post

Nov 4, 2015

Chinese stocks go from a sell to a buy just like that

By Jeff Benjamin

Emerging-markets fund manager who darted out of Chinese stocks at the best possible time is now moving back in. 'We see two Chinas' Tough luck for the more than two million Americans who have been unemployed for more than six months. Not only are those folks expected to have a really hard time finding work, but that point underscores a feisty debate within the Federal Reserve about the true health of the nation's labor market. 'They are unlikely to be hired under any condition' It's that time of year again to start combing over client accounts for those pesky (and sometimes painful) capital gains distributions. The worst of both worlds Ohio sets a potential precedent by turning the legalized marijuana industry over to a select group of investors. Taking it from 'tie-dye to suit and tie' ... Read full post

Nov 3, 2015

The Fed's monetary policy is making income inequality even worse

By Jeff Benjamin

The numbers are in, and it turns out the $12.4 trillion worth of central bank asset purchases (otherwise known as quantitative easing) have only worsened the reality of income inequality. But at least the stock market is doing well, right? For every job created, companies spent $296,000 on buybacks Even the most bearish oil bears can't muster up enough courage to short oil at these levels. Uncertain about the timing Don't assume that just because corporate earnings involve math that the numbers will always add up the same way every time. Welcome to the world of creative accounting, where stock-based compensation is not always counted as an expense. Reporting a loss as a profit Some edgy start-ups boast ping-pong tables, nap rooms and beer. But that's nothing compared to the limits being pushed by true innovators of company perks. 18 weeks of fully-paid parental leave, 100% healthcare premium coverage, unlimited vacation ... Read full post

Nov 2, 2015

Brace for a wet blanket of energy-sector earnings

By Jeff Benjamin

Like a big wet blanket, energy-sector earnings reports are coming out in bunches this week and the expectations are not great. Energy companies are likely to be spoilers Charles Munger doubles down on his distaste for besieged drug maker Valeant. 'It's deeply wrong' Now that it's November, let's get serious about managing the 2015 tax bite. Holding on to more of your gains and income The end of China's one-child policy is not a reason to pile into baby formula stocks. Calm down ... Read full post

Oct 30, 2015

The Fed has lost all credibility with the bond market

By Jeff Benjamin

The bond market appears no longer interested in the Fed's taunting advances, flirts, and subtle hints of a looming rate hike next month, or the month after that, or someday, maybe, eventually. The Fed said it would assess whether to raise rates in December and nobody cares Deutsche Bank's new boss takes a big swipe at the bonus culture. That's gotta hurt. 'Inflexible compensation culture' The stock-buyback index is down, and that's not a good outlook for stocks. The last two times it looked like this was 2000 and 2007. This is one piece of the puzzle 'Tis the season to spend big bucks on Halloween. But the $6.9 billion that Americans are expected to spend on Halloween candy, costumes and fun this year is down from $7.4 billion last year. If you really feel like doing your part to help push that spooky spending figure over the top, you could spring for a $750 Jack-o-lantern. ... Read full post

Oct 29, 2015

With SEC poised to expand crowdfunding rules, it's time for advisers to get up to speed

By Jeff Benjamin

Investment crowdfunding is coming to the retail-investor marketplace and financial advisers who are not up to speed could be missing an opportunity to provide valuable guidance to their clients.“I think it's a really big thing,” said Doug Ellenoff, a securities lawyer at Ellenoff Grossman and Schole. “I have every belief that in five years if we do this responsibly, we'll be looking back at this like we looked back at the start of online trading.”The Securities and Exchange Commission's vote on a lingering piece of the 2012 JOBS Act, scheduled for Friday morning, is expected to give retail investors first-time access to private equity investing through a fast-growing network of crowdfunding platforms.Even though the JOBS Act — and thus crowdfunding — has been around for three years, advisers remain largely on the sidelines, focused instead on what to do with client portfolios when interest rates... Read full post

Oct 29, 2015

Cruz and Rubio come out on top after third Republican debate

By Jeff Benjamin

The third Republican debate was quite a change of pace. Report card: Cruz and Rubio shine at Battle of Boulder A budget deal is in the works but even if the SEC gets its full budget allocation, the number of advisers it examines will remain small. A best-case scenario doesn't amount to much Is that clarity we heard from the Federal Reserve? Fed puts December rate hike firmly on the agenda Speaking of the Fed, here's another asset bubble created from the central bank's low-rate policy (which is entering its seventh year, btw): Your 401(k). Household financial assets have far outstripped the growth of the economy since 2013 You can learn things from nearly everywhere. So in honor of the upcoming Star Wars movie, here are five leadership mistakes from Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. ... Read full post

Oct 28, 2015

Like it or not, the U.S. economy does better with a Democrat in the White House

By Jeff Benjamin

The economy has historically done better under a Democrat president. Why that is remains a mystery. Dumb luck, or just regular luck? If you're a follower of offbeat economic indicators, you should start worrying about a recession. It's not good news when companies start slowing down their investments in equipment The airlines can't win for losing. They use the lower cost of fuel to try and offer some lower fares, and Wall Street gives them the cold shoulder. Investors want more than just $18 billion in profits The priest who calls his hedge fund investing strategy a gift from God. The discovery of the good book: 'The Intelligent Investor,' by Benjamin Graham ... Read full post

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