Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Aug 15, 2014

Fed watchers are spinning over Janet Yellen's mixed messages

By Jeff Benjamin

The Fed's paradox: Seeing the U.S. job market as both half full and half empty. Janet Yellen is definitely either ahead of the curve or behind it Hedge funder, John Paulson, sticks to his gold-bull guns. Four straight quarters in the gold ETF The gold rush continues, as the precious metal is headed toward a second weekly gain as a safe-haven play. Firmly above $1,300 an ounce The U.S. stock market might be shrugging off the geopolitical unrest, but Russian mutual funds are being hit with withdrawals. July's outflows were four times higher than June's outflows TSA cracks down on baggage handlers with sticky fingers. Thieves are drawn to expensive-looking luggage ... Read full post

Aug 14, 2014

Hedge funds jumping into Puerto Rico muni bonds

By Jeff Benjamin

When your palm reader and your financial adviser give the same advice, it is time to fire one of them. Field testing a cartoonist's jab at financial pros Hedge funds are buying up Puerto Rico muni bonds as mutual fund managers back away. Hedge funds now own $16 billion of the $65 billion market Germany's 10-year bond yield falls below 1% for the first time ever, making the U.S. Treasuries look snappy at 2.4%. Hitting the wall President Obama's corporate inversion rhetoric is coming back to haunt him, as his fundraising exposes the hypocrisy of it all. Taking money from “unpatriotic” donors Whatever is driving down the price of deep-water drilling stocks, it is starting to look like a bargain for income investors. DO, ESV, HP, NBR, NE, RIG, PTEN, SDRL The recession has been over for years, but most Americans never got the memo. A quarter of Americans have no savings, among the signs of a lousy economic recovery ... Read full post

Aug 13, 2014

Bill Gross disciple takes down the 'Bond King'

By Jeff Benjamin

Bill Gross gets beaten at his own game, as a former disciple takes down the bond king. The student becomes the master The SEC is homing in on alternative-strategy mutual funds, with BlackRock and AQR Capital in its sights. Kicking off regulatory scrutiny As President Obama campaigns against corporate inversions his wealthy donors are quietly moving corporate headquarters offshore. If you like your foreign corporate headquarters, you can keep it. Awkward moments on the fund-raising trail Advisers beware: Corporate inversions can lead to tax-bill surprises for clients. Trickle down taxes Cheap pharma stocks are being gobbled up by money managers. ALIM, CRME, DEPO, HZNP, OREX, POZN The first-ever female winner of math's 'Nobel' prize. Stanford prof Maryam Mirzakhani takes home the Fields Medal ... Read full post

Aug 12, 2014

Stock and real estate bubbles on a collision course

By Jeff Benjamin

The price of gold remains stuck in tug-o-war between geopolitical strife and Fed monetary policy. Opposing forces are holding the precious metal at $1,300 an ounce. Caught between Iraq and a hard place Stock and real estate markets are shaping up to be bubbles on a collision course. History repeats. This time it's different, maybe PIMCO's Bill Gross trimmed his exposure to Treasuries in July, citing lackluster wage growth. Increased exposure to non-U.S. developed debt As the U.S. and Russia lay on the sanctions, the iconic Russian vodka is exposed for not living up to its reputation. None of the five best-selling vodka brands are produced in Russia A touching tribute to Robin Williams in the form of a 'thank you' note. 'None of us are alone' ... Read full post

Aug 11, 2014

What last week's junk bond selloff means for stocks

By Jeff Benjamin

Why last week's junk bond selloff could be a sign of trouble for stocks. Antiquated trading system exposes risks Morningstar advises going back to the basics with bond funds, points out some weaknesses in popular nontraditional bond funds. Bank loan funds are not money market funds Republican pols sue the SEC to overturn pay-to-play rule on investment adviser political donations. Accusing the SEC of violating the Administrative Procedures Act When the Fed finally decides to start hiking rates, the impact will be felt across the entire economy. Tuned in to the Fed's upcoming Jackson Hole conference A third of Americans have nothing saved for retirement. Zip. Zero. Nada. They plan to just keep working ... Read full post

Aug 8, 2014

Past performance rules for unrated Gundlach fund

By Jeff Benjamin

Star bond fund manager Jeffrey Gundlach's celebrated ride on his solid recent performance stands out as the latest example of past performance trumping all else in the mutual fund industry.The $34 billion DoubleLine Total Return Bond Fund (DBLTX) has been raking in assets and outperforming its mortgage-backed-security strategy peers, even though Morningstar Inc. has sent up its rarest of red flags by deeming the fund “not ratable.”There is some odd history and a bit of childish bickering behind the “not ratable” status, which Morningstar applied last month after DoubleLine Capital refused to respond to inquiries from a Morningstar analyst. But by dropping the fund's neutral rating, which it has had since the analysts' ratings were rolled out in 2011, the DoubleLine fund stands out as the only U.S. mutual fund to be labeled not ratable.“They declined to do the interview, or to provide any of the information ... Read full post

Aug 8, 2014

Global markets collide with geopolitics as Obama orders airstrikes in Iraq

By Jeff Benjamin

The markets are moving on Obama's decision to resume U.S. military action in Iraq. Geopolitics hit home, and the markets take notice. Raising concerns of another drawn-out conflict Gold prices jump and investors take early cover as global conflicts spread, virtually unchecked. The 'perfect storm' for gold prices Sen. Levin remains committed to sticking it to Wall Street on his way out the door. Goldman and JPMorgan in the crosshairs When mutual fund managers fail to diversify, investors lose. This is not what most fund investors are paying for. A 63.4% weighting in Puerto Rico bonds Which TV office suits your style? Something to take your mind off the markets today. Being happy on a work day ... Read full post

Aug 7, 2014

Dilbert creator cracks wise on financial advisers

By Jeff Benjamin

Goldman forecasts a divergence for stocks and bonds, assuming the Fed starts to do its job, hopefully sometime next year. Stocks will see 4% annualized gains, bonds see 1% annualized lossesDilbert creator, Scott Adams, calls out financial advisers, claiming their services are proven to be harmful to your wealth. The cartoonist gets all mathy and stuff. Getting rid of professional advice should send stocks higher Putin to Obama: I'll see your sanctions and raise you. Your move, Mr. President. New challenges for the West Trend toward cash hoarding has spread to the U.S. Treasury. Apparently, a $5 trillion bond portfolio just isn't enough of a cushion for government. Saving for a rainy day Boom-era home-equity loans teeter on the brink of default in another example of how to live beyond your means. Payment increases are coming Did the flood of IPOs spark last week's market selloff? It's a theory. $12.5 billion in new shares dumped into... Read full post

Aug 6, 2014

Barack Obama's attempt to both embrace and shun the financial markets

By Jeff Benjamin

Obama's conundrum: Opposing the same trickle-down economics that the U.S. economy has been riding for five years. You didn't build that. Bragging about gains in a stock market that is still controlled by just 20% of the population Increased stock market volatility strips away the illusion of safety, sending nervous investors to the sidelines. Giving back the gains of 2014 Note to trend-followers: Crowdfunding is not that revolutionary, but it is a streamlined version of traditional banking. Riding the wave of innumerable and anonymous banking Building your own hedge fund just got a little easier with a new cut-and-paste platform. Closely correlated performance goals Three years after the S&P's U.S. downgrade, the 10-year Treasury yield is down just 4 basis points. When AA+ became the new AAA As Americans invent new ways to pig out on bacon, the price spikes to a 34-year high. Soaring at almost twice the rate of inflation. Declaring... Read full post

Aug 5, 2014

Investing lessons from Lebron James

By Jeff Benjamin

What bond investors can learn from LeBron James' career moves. Focusing on higher payouts ahead The latest case for gold means the Fed is getting it all wrong, and that isn't good. The Fed might be dangerously behind the curve The outlook for commodities gets rosier as geopolitical unrest builds. 'War is not good for anything except real assets' Betting on women as an investment strategy. Of course, it's a marketing gimmick, but it also might work. Glass ceiling meets glass cliff Investing in what you know and what you love doesn't work if you love golf. Golf stocks to sell ... Read full post

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