Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Jan 19, 2015

State of the Union spoiler alert: Obama plans to go after rich people

By Jeff Benjamin

State of the Union spoiler Alert: President Obama plans to go after rich people. More taxes on capital gains and inherited assets Global markets brace for ECB actions, while the central bankers ponder a hybrid approach to quantitative easing. 'The market is baying for action' Russia's economy that has lived by oil is now dying by oil. The country is facing a massive banking crisis Switzerland might have another trick up its sleeve. The franc remains 'greatly overvalued' ... Read full post

Jan 16, 2015

Falling oil prices are now officially costing jobs

By Jeff Benjamin

Oilfield job cuts are coming hard and fast as the U.S. oil boom sinks along with oil prices. Schlumberger cuts 9,000 workers An Ohio-based financial adviser has been indicted for a $5.5 million hedge fund Ponzi scheme involving 19 investors. Of the $7 million invested, the adviser allegedly lost $5.5 million While 2014 was the worst year for movie theaters since 1995, the question now is whether the list of Oscar nominees will provide any help for Hollywood-related stocks. Nominations have historically boosted ticket sales by 30% or more Has the stock market been so brutal in 2015 that it's now in value range? At least one market technician thinks so. The market has a tendency over the past 40 years to pull back during the first half of January, before launching the next rally ... Read full post

Jan 15, 2015

Fed confidence in the U.S. economy starts to wane

By Jeff Benjamin

The Fed's general and persistent optimism about the U.S. economy lets in a hint of concern over oil prices and consumer spending. Rate hikes? They'll keep us guessing. Optimism that the economy could shift to a somewhat higher gear Hats off to Fidelity Investments for making the stock selection process a little bit like picking a restaurant. Not sure I'll download the app, but I like the way they're thinking over at Fido. 'Obviously we want (investors) to do more research than that' A long and winding trail that pits a Franklin Resources billionaire against an early investor's heir. The 4,000 shares of stock became 2.5 million shares When it comes to the swelling ranks of the nearly 1,700 exchange traded funds, is ETF powerhouse BlackRock adding to or subtracting from the general confusion? It turns out the answer is, both. In 2014, BlackRock launched as many ETFs as it shut down ... Read full post

Jan 14, 2015

Managed futures funds shine anew, but mystery remains

By Jeff Benjamin

As market volatility spikes and correlation between various asset classes breaks down, managed futures strategies are enjoying their day in the sun once again.But whether financial advisers and investors will bite is an open question. The category has been in a funk since the 2008 financial crisis ended, when performance stalled after the strategies had generated returns in excess of 15% while just about every other asset class suffered double-digit losses.Represented at the retail investor level by 51 mutual funds with nearly $15 billion in total assets under management, the category is suddenly thriving on the recent volatility, while blaming the multiyear slump on various macroeconomic realities that are now starting to fall apart.On paper, a strong argument can be made for why these trend-following strategies — that can go both long and short stocks, bonds, commodities and currencies — will thrive in an environment of... Read full post

Jan 14, 2015

A case for getting bold on gold

By Jeff Benjamin

The case is being made for a 30% gold rally. Are investors ready to run back into precious metals? Gold has fallen 35% since hitting an all-time high in September 2011 Fresh chatter of a JPMorgan Chase breakup, and what it all means to investors. 'The drumbeat is starting up again on Wall Street' DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach calls 'em like he sees 'em in a 2015 outlook that favors gold but highlights plenty of risk from falling oil. 'It looks to me like the dollar is headed higher' Is it better to live in a state with no income tax, or is it just different? Seven states don't have an income tax ... Read full post

Jan 13, 2015

Repeal of Obamacare emerges as a market risk

By Jeff Benjamin

Never mind falling oil prices and brewing geopolitical risks, what about the stock market's reaction to a repeal of Obamacare? Health insurers would feel the pain Financial advisers are discovering inroads in the defined contribution plan arena. One size does not fit all Cheap oil exposes shale drillers' heavy debt loads. That's what investors should be watching now. 'We're in survivor mode' With Easter still more than two months away, Kraft Foods (KRFT) is scrambling to address the egg on its face following a controversial recipe tweak related to the renowned Cadbury Crème Egg. Some fans are whipped up over a decision to no longer use the signature Dairy Milk chocolate in the Crème Egg recipe ... Read full post

Jan 12, 2015

U.S. economy reclaims post as global growth engine

By Jeff Benjamin

The latest data show the U.S. economy can once again be described as the global growth engine. No word on how long it might take the Federal Reserve to recognize such data as significant enough to trigger an interest rate hike. The U.S. economy is expanding at its fastest pace since 2005 How a rosy jobs report pulled the stock market downward, and where to invest now. Tapping into positive correlation to the VIX Look out below. Goldman highlights 18 stocks with a lot of downside potential. Diamond Offshore Drilling (DO) has a 40% downside target price. Yikes. When it comes to financial advice, millennials turn most often to mom and dad. Beyond family, millennials are fairly cautious ... Read full post

Jan 9, 2015

Hedge fund employees enjoy the fruits of their labor

By Jeff Benjamin

Hedge fund employees enjoy the fruits of their labor, even if that labor didn't bear much fruit. Average compensation at $368k Pimco and JPMorgan add their seal of approval by jumping on the smart beta bandwagon. The fundamental-indexing category represents 20% of all new money moving into ETFs If cleaning up client portfolios is on your 2015 to-do list, make sure you know what to keep and what to discard. Morningstar's Christine Benz breaks it down The new Congress takes an early swipe at Obamacare by updating the definition of full-time employment. President Obama stands firm with his veto pen in hand ... Read full post

Jan 8, 2015

Nobody can accuse Bill Gross of not eating his own cooking

By Jeff Benjamin

Bill Gross' new Janus fund is wildly popular largely because of Bill Gross. Literally. Most of the money in the fund belongs to the Bond King. Much of the fledgling Janus Unconstrained Bond Fund's 9,100% asset growth since September is Gross' own money Before any kind of interest rate hike, the Fed must first ponder how to subtly suggest such intentions without triggering an overreaction by the stock market. 'Generally solid business conditions' The surging U.S. dollar looks poised for a reality check, and a lot of investors will be caught by surprise. The Fed is rooting for a weaker dollar The tax season rolls in with the latest wave of pain from Obamacare. 'It's going to be eye-opening for many taxpayers' Brace yourself for the most adorable retirement obstacle yet: Grandchildren. The increased role of grandparents in child care ... Read full post

Jan 7, 2015

Bond fund managers bravely approach beaten down energy debt

By Jeff Benjamin

Courageous bond fund managers are starting to gobble up the debt from beaten down energy companies. Junk-related energy issues down 7.4% last year Blaming oil for slowing home prices. Why not? Hot real estate markets and energy-intensive states collide Getting serious about 401(k) contributions in 2015. The top five k-plan trends Forget fretting over a choppy S&P 500, here are some companies planning to list for the first time in 2015. IPOs to watch in the wake of a banner 2014 ... Read full post

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