Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

May 11, 2015

Mountains of corporate cash drive stock buyback plans to a record high

By Jeff Benjamin

Stock buybacks hit an all-time high in April as companies continue to view repurchase plans as the best use of cash stockpiles. Even with weak first-quarter earnings, buyback programs are on track to surpass 2014 levels Reading between the lines of the Fed's evolving unemployment rate target. Underemployment matters. As unemployment has fallen from 10% in 2009 to 5.4% today, the Fed's target has dropped from 6% to 5.2% Billionaire investor Carl Icahn offers a backhanded and tardy endorsement of Barack Obama: “I wouldn't want him to be president again, but I don't think he's terrible.” 'So now I'm on the opposite side again, because everybody in the Hamptons hates his guts' The newest face of Atlantic City: Live to be 100 through hormone replacement, cryotherapy, and genetic medicine. The life-extension university ... Read full post

May 8, 2015

Good or bad, jobs report could roil the markets, investors

By Jeff Benjamin

Today is the day for the big jobs report everyone's been waiting for. Good or bad, the report could jolt markets. Is bitcoin back? A Bitcoin exchange gets its first stamp of approval from New York We can spend a day (OK, maybe half a day) debating whether equity valuations are high, but Fitbit filing for an IPO surely must be a sign. It's not quite, but still... ConvergEx chief market strategist Nicholas Colas always has something interesting to say. Check out his top offbeat econ indicator picks. Don't you wish the election cycle in the U.S. was just five weeks? U.K. conservatives to win most seats ... Read full post

May 7, 2015

Fed Chief Janet Yellen warns on stock valuations

By Jeff Benjamin

This is either a really good signal or a really bad one. Yellen says stock valuations 'quite high,' bond yields low. Of course the head of the Federal Reserve talking about valuations raises a bunch of other concerns too. Speaking of Fed chairs, remember Ben Bernanke? He's doing alright, thank you very much. Bernanke Inc. Just desserts? AdvisorHUB founder pleads guilty to federal tax evasion. We all know that Warren Buffett celebrated 50 years at Berkshire Hathaway last weekend with his capitalist Woodstock but there was another noteworthy anniversary too. Did you miss it? Buffett and Vanguard: Different paths to the same financial destination One of the most unpredictable elections in a generation comes down to the wire. Whither Britain? And here are three scenarios for financial markets in the wake of the election. ... Read full post

May 6, 2015

DoubleLine's Jeffrey Gundlach says Fed rate hike on hold

By Jeff Benjamin

Weak-ish economic reports of late have most prognosticators thinking September at the earliest for a rate hike from the Federal Reserve. DoubleLine's Jeff Gundlach, however, has another idea. If you bet on U.S. stocks over the last year, you probably did better than most billionaires. The Richest Did Get Richer, Just Not as Rich as U.S. Equities Most people — three-quarters of them — in the U.S. expect Social Security to contribute a big chunk to their retirement income. They'd better think again because this trend is not their friend. 3 out of 4 retirees receiving reduced Social Security benefits What were you doing last Saturday night? You wouldn't believe what this Merrill Lynch adviser was doing. ... Read full post

May 5, 2015

The ETF craze crosses a huge hurdle

By Jeff Benjamin

Hey maybe this ETF thing is for real. Over the last 12 months, investors pumped more money into exchange-traded funds than mutual funds for the first time ever. The ETF craze just crossed a huge hurdle Just to show you how colossal Pimco Total Return was, it took two years of redemptions for it to lose its rank as the world's largest bond fund. It's finally happened Vanguard Total Bond Market fund on top with $117.3 billion Helping clients get their retirement plans in shape can be long and arduous, so one way to approach it is to break it down into various components. Check out Morningstar's hierarchy for retirement savings. You wouldn't be alone if you never heard of Shepherd Kaplan. The $10B wealth manager for control freaks The big Sohn Investment Conference kicked off Monday in New York and plenty of big hitters were talking. Notes from the 2015 Ira Sohn Conference, Part I The Republican presidential field is getting more ... Read full post

May 4, 2015

Warren Buffett riding high in Omaha

By Jeff Benjamin

The 50th Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting with Warren Buffett at the helm is in the books. So how was it? Warren Buffett puts on a good show. Beyond the hype, the conglomerate reported first quarter earnings ahead of the shindig. Burger King and railroads were the first quarter stars. One last thing: Buffett says his company is not too big to fail. Things might be going well in Omaha, where Berkshire Hathaway is based, but what about the rest of the country? You'll have to wait til Friday to find out. Wall Street awaits pivotal jobs report for April Remember that letter that BlackRock chief Larry Fink sent to the 500 CEOs who run the companies that make up the S&P 500 telling them not to bow to activist investors? Well one of the activists just shot back. Not so fast, Larry. Is your contract up? Are you ready for a new smartphone (forget about smartwatches for the moment)? Ranked: The best smartphones in the world ... Read full post

May 1, 2015

Reading the tea leaves of exchange-traded funds

By Jeff Benjamin

It's always fun to look at fund flows to see where investors are moving their money. At this point, with the stock market on edge and rate hike in the wings, ETF flows can be particularly telling. How do U.S.-listed ETF flows relate to overall market direction? Here is perhaps another sign that we have recovered from the Great Recession. And this time, the rank-and-file are the beneficiaries. American employers are doing more to help their workers save for retirement Sure, it's a big sports weekend, what with the Kentucky Derby and the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight, but there's another spectacle looming large. Can you say Berkshirepalooza? Republicans in the House passed a spending bill with deep cuts to social programs. And an increase in military spending. Here we go again. Is that Yogi Berra? Deja vu all over again ... Read full post

Apr 30, 2015

The housing market steps up to provide a needed economic boost

By Jeff Benjamin

Home sales are springing into action right on schedule. Solid housing stands in contrast to the dismal first quarter GDP numbers Fed hems and haws its way to suggesting that a rate hike is still somehow on track for some point this year. But don't take that to the bank. The economic slowdown reflected 'transitory factors,' whatever that means Could the whopping $1.2 trillion worth of student debt cause the next market collapse? Hedge funder Bill Ackman sees a looming crisis Activist investing has reached the ETF space. Buying a piece of the boardroom drama on the cheap ... Read full post

Apr 29, 2015

The NFL gives up tax-exempt status that most folks didn't realize it had

By Jeff Benjamin

The multi-billion-dollar National Football League has generously opted to give up its tax-exempt status in a move that has everybody who isn't a professional football player asking, “The NFL has tax-exempt status?” Some estimates suggest the league's tax payments could reach $10 million a year A company you've never heard of found Twitter's earnings announcement before anyone else without breaking any laws. Tweeting Twitter's earnings ahead of the official announcement. Burn. Does your 401(k) plan measure up? ConocoPhillips, Boeing, Amgen, and Citigroup top the list Turns out the best way to get a picture of a presidential candidate is to just give the candidate money. That just seems wrong. 'There is no stone being left unturned looking for money' ... Read full post

Apr 28, 2015

Lessons to learn from the last Nasdaq bubble

By Jeff Benjamin

What we learned from the Nasdaq bubble. The last Nasdaq bubble, that is. Stop chasing crazy performance How high can the S&P fly before catching a 10% correction? It has already been more than three years without any such pullback. In the 'middle of the longest expansion ever' Art investing as a tax-management strategy. A financial tool for extending the value of your art holdings Mohamed El-Erian dishes on why he's loading up on cash. 'We are at risk of not validating the higher asset prices' ... Read full post

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