Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Sep 8, 2014

Where are the flows?

By Jeff Benjamin

How do you make sense of lackluster flows into equity funds amid the longest outperformance for U.S. stocks since the presidency of Richard Nixon? S&P 500 beating world doesn't spark flows This is Apple's big week but something's missing. 4 things that haven't been said about Apple Plus: A high bar for Apple's new products So long, and thanks for all the fish. Or something. Hertz shares jump after CEO resigns A long-standing, well known name in appliances waves goodbye. Electrolux takes on Whirlpool in U.S. with $3.3 billion GE Appliances buy Sir William Wallace must be smiling The pound is getting destroyed after Scotland poll stunner ... Read full post

Sep 5, 2014

Bond gurus say the rally is over

By Jeff Benjamin

Bond gurus speculate on the end of the bond rally. Tepper says it's over; Gundlach says it's range bound Hackers access Obamacare site and find nothing to steal. At least that's what the government is reporting. Someone 'accidently connected it to the Internet' The Fed wants to replace Libor as a benchmark for the interbank lending market. Trying to avoid a 'horrible mess' Another big study on alternative investments reminds us what we already know: Risk is high, so diversify. Institutional investors lead the way Kicking off football season with a makeshift NFL index. Why not. Team jerseys, beer, chicken wings ... Read full post

Sep 4, 2014

The four flavors of multialternatives have widely differing tastes

By Jeff Benjamin

With the equity markets appearing to layer on more risk with each passing day, it's not surprising that the category of mutual funds labeled multialternative would be gaining appeal as a reliable means of reducing risk.Trouble is, the funds making up the category are less homogenous than one might think, a situation that could lead to confusion among investors and financial advisers who are adding exposure to the growing universe of alternative strategies.Unlike some of the more generic fund categories, such as large-cap growth, the initial screens related to issues such as fees and performance can fall well short of standard expectations when it comes to researching multialternative mutual funds.Even Morningstar Inc., which tracks 122 multialternative funds, admits the category has become a kind of catch basin for some alternative strategies that don't fit anywhere else.Through the end of July, assets in the category have grown to... Read full post

Sep 4, 2014

Bringing back pooled 401(k) plans could derail a fund industry cash cow

By Jeff Benjamin

Revisiting the idea of pooled 401(k) plans: It's easier and cheaper. What's not to like? Getting back to the basics of smart retirement saving Jack Bogle gives the Fed only part of the credit for the bull market, and he worries that investors are embracing too much risk. 'Nice bump of confidence' The gimmick and the logic behind water ETFs. It's not about buying or betting on the price of the world's second-most precious resource for supporting life. The ultimate long-term play The list of billionaires calling for a market plunge continues to grow. 'It's very likely that something has to give' ... Read full post

Sep 3, 2014

Frustrated Fed calls out consumers for saving too much

By Jeff Benjamin

When all else fails, blame the consumer. Six years into one of the most aggressive monetary programs in U.S. history, the Fed is now pointing to consumer saving habits as the cause of the stubbornly-low inflation. Banks aren't the only ones sitting on piles of cash The SEC's money market fund reforms will introduce a new set of headaches for 401(k) plan sponsors. Dealing with a floating net asset value. When money market funds are deemed too risky for company retirement plans What if demand for goods and services never returns to pre-2008 levels? An honest assessment of what is keeping the U.S. economy down. The educational attainment of the U.S. workforce has plateaued Eric Cantor's move to Wall Street. What exactly is the boutique investment bank hoping to gain by hiring the former House majority leader? No wonder the electorate is so cynical Another argument for long-short equity investing. How the movement out of fixed income is... Read full post

Sep 2, 2014

Morgan Stanley bets big on stocks

By Jeff Benjamin

Morgan Stanley gets ultra-bullish, says the S&P's 200% climb off the bottom is just the beginning. S&P at 3,000 is possible Millennials are losing ground in retirement planning by living in the moment. Financial advisers have their work cut out for them. Young people can't imagine themselves as gray-haired and retired Detroit's historic bankruptcy trial starts today. Potentially setting precedent in the muni bond market. City tries to cut $12 billion in unsecured debt down to $5 billion Sifting through the MLP space for appropriate retirement portfolio products. Don't forget to ask yourself, why you are investing in MLPs. Start very slowly ... Read full post

Aug 29, 2014

Ignore the bond bubble at your own risk

By Jeff Benjamin

The case for reducing fixed income exposure gets more vivid by the day. Ignore the bond bubble at your own risk. Debt hits 250% of GDP The financial markets have not yet fully digested President Obama's admission yesterday that he has “no strategy” for dealing with the ISIS terror group. But the White House has already gone into spin mode to try and walk back the statement. 'We don't have a strategy yet.' PricewaterhouseCoopers is heading to court to defend charges it gave bad accounting advice leading up to the MF Global failure. $1 billion lawsuit Another view of income inequality. The economic recovery has not been good for most workers. The majority of people are getting poorer From a stock market perspective, this Labor Day looks a lot like Labor Day in 1929. And we all know what followed in 1929. The final Labor Day of the Roaring 20s was pivotal ... Read full post

Aug 28, 2014

Smart beta, by any other name, is still smart

By Jeff Benjamin

Smart beta, the marketing gimmick that is sweeping across the ETF space. And for good reason. Unable to kill smart beta, critics love to hate it When it comes to active portfolio management, most investors are giving up gains to fees. A bad deal for most investors Corporate inversions aren't the only way to get around the punishing U.S. tax code. Companies hold billions in offshore accounts. Unpatriotic or just smart business? Beneath the surface of a roaring stock market, most Americans are downright bummed out. Feeling a permanent drag on the economy Spoiler alert: Most of the 'good-cause' festivals touted as utopian havens of wonderment and joy are actually just big-money capitalist ventures. Entertainment disguised as alternative ... Read full post

Aug 27, 2014

Central bankers are pushing the whole world into stocks

By Jeff Benjamin

Global equity markets swell to a record $66 trillion on signals from central bankers that low-rates are the status quo. Investors look past mounting geopolitical risks If retirement benefits are your primary goal, consider working for an oil company, a law firm, or become an airline pilot. It helps to work someplace where the average salaries are high ... and here are the 10 industries with the best 401(k) plans The yield on Germany's 10-year bund has never been lower, and it is fading fast. Europe's relentless inflation decline. Yield-free risk Australia is becoming the new high-yield bandwagon for wealthy investors. Demand and supply. $1.4B worth of junk debt issued over the last 18 months, versus zero two years ago Listen up, bosses, here are some simple ways to avoid undervaluing your employee. Common sense can go a long way ... Read full post

Aug 26, 2014

Warren Buffett's tax fairness doublespeak

By Jeff Benjamin

Warren Buffett, Mr. “I pay lower taxes than my secretary,” is helping to finance Burger King's takeover of Tim Horton's. Not putting his money where his mouth is Canada shows Congress and the White House how business gets done. The only sensible way to stop corporate inversions is to lower and streamline corporate taxes In the Fed's perpetual hedge, it now looks like rates will stay put until the fourth quarter of next year. Janet Yellen's labor market obsession Regardless of the Fed's dovish mode, bond fund managers are shaking in their shoes over the notion of higher interest rates. Losing 3% of your money “just like that” A simple and scientifically-proven way to avoid drinking too much wine. No word yet on how to avoid drinking too much beer. Seeing the glass as half-full ... Read full post

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