Jeff Benjamin

Investment Insights: The Blogblog

Jeff Benjamin breaks down the game for advisers and clients.

Jul 17, 2014

Obama pushes tighter border rules for U.S. companies trying to exit for tax purposes

By Jeff Benjamin

Obama seeks tighter border restrictions to stop U.S. companies from locating overseas for tax purposes. Ironic. A sharply worded letter by congressional tax code writers Stocks that could be hurt by Obama's crackdown on corporations trying to avoid the 35% tax on profits. 50 large companies have reincorporated overseas over the past 10 years Like a hot stock, the asset management industry is all about market upside, but organic growth is rare. A bear market could cause a true reckoning for some asset managers A simple and prudent guide to investing in a start-up business. Five steps to avoid getting burned. 80% of small businesses fail As Hillary Clinton continues to pretend she doesn't know if she will run for president, her party is already on board. Everybody else outside her party? Not so much. Bad news for Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren ... Read full post

Jul 16, 2014

CEO cussing is now a gosh darn market indicator

By Jeff Benjamin

When CEOs start using more profanity it might be a sign that the market is going to heck in a hand basket. Some gosh darn interesting research. The potty mouth indicator Investor optimism is becoming an old story, but the implications are still very fresh. Something to worry about Portfolio-manager bullishness has a lot of funds positioned for a second-half market rally. 69% expect the economy to improve over the next year Yellen speak: A tepid thumbs up while expressing disappointment. Oh boy. 'There's no formula and there's no mechanical answer that I can give you about when the first rate increase will occur.' Laddered bond strategies catch the critical eye of an active bond fund manager. A few points to ponder. Taking on risk that should be actively managed ... Read full post

Jul 15, 2014

Markets climb in stride with pessimism

By Jeff Benjamin

When stocks and pessimism rise as one it is time to start applying the dreaded 'bubble' word. Bizarro market Get used to an extremely accommodative Fed policy from a chairwoman who believes 'we can help to make the world a better place.' The economy is still facing headwinds Ernst & Young settles lobbying suit for a cool $4 million. 'We regret these instances that arose many years ago' The dirty details on how Citigroup's big settlement landed at $7 billion. A brisk email exchange and bad negotiating skills. The government wanted $12 billion, plus 'consumer relief' Turns out the Fed's quantitative easing experiment had almost no impact on unemployment. But thanks for creating $5 trillion worth of new money. QE experiment trims unemployment by a scant 0.13% ... Read full post

Jul 14, 2014

Markets brace for the Fed's big talk about normalization

By Jeff Benjamin

Bracing for a Yellen-focussed week ahead. Fed chair is slated for two days of testimony to chart a path toward normalization, whatever that is. Testing the health of the U.S. economy Like clockwork, individual investors charge into the equity markets just as the professionals start to retreat. 'Stocks will pause or set back a little' A simple and smart way to hedge some risk of the pricey U.S. equity market: Go global. And don't forget about the emerging markets Citigroup is the stock to watch today with earnings coming in the wake of a $7 billion fine and settlement related to shoddy mortgage practices. $2.5B in consumer relief, and the government takes $4.5B for its trouble Bizarre World Cup moments, which is probably a redundant statement. Futbol via Twitter ... Read full post

Jul 11, 2014

Something to fear: fear itself

By Jeff Benjamin

In the world of financial market push-me-pull-you, there is nothing quite like the counterintuitive reality of market volatility, which is currently lower than it has been in years.Commonly dubbed the “fear index”, the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX) is languishing near its lowest point since 2007.If fear, as measured by volatility, is low, that's a good thing, right?Sort of.Nobody wants to be reminded of what followed the 2007 volatility trough, but it sounds a lot like “financial crisis.”That doesn't necessarily mean the markets are headed down the same path this time around, but it does say a lot about investor complacency and valuation levels across virtually every asset class.“Investors' senses should be heightened when volatility is low, because, like the weather, if you stick around long enough it will change,” said Mark Travis, president of Intrepid Capital Funds.For... Read full post

Jul 11, 2014

Carl Icahn advises caution in the equity markets

By Jeff Benjamin

Carl Icahn used yesterday's market reaction to Portugal's banking crisis to remind investors that stocks are in risky territory. When the billionaires get nervous, take notice. 'I'm very selective about companies I purchase' Low-volatility and rate risk have the markets on edge. Market complacency is rarely a good sign. A boon for non-traditional bond funds The Fed-fueled stock market bubble is not a bad thing and it's not a bubble, according to this guy. Hmm. 'No sign the Fed caused an irrational rise in prices' Advice for advisers regarding political donations. The SEC is watching for “pay-to-play” conflicts. Compliance trip wires Gold looks golden, but still can't seem to erase the blemish of the bubble that burst in 2012. Skepticism surrounding gold is bullish Solar energy stocks were hot properties during the second quarter as about half the stocks in the Guggenheim Solar ETF saw spikes in institutional investing.... Read full post

Jul 10, 2014

Volatility looks cheap and risky

By Jeff Benjamin

Volatility looks like the last cheap asset class. This could be a really good opportunity, or a really bad sign, or both. Its lowest level since 2007 Barclays bets on women with an index and exchange-traded note that offers concentrated exposure to female leadership. Following in the footsteps of Sallie Krawcheck With higher interest rates on the horizon bond fund managers are quietly bracing for the worst. Favoring more liquid assets, like stocks The real and serious risks of a population saddled with $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. So far, nobody wants to talk about what's driving the cost of higher education, just how to avoid paying the bills. The runaway cost of college tuition Potato salad entrepreneur learns there is no free lunch as $70,000 in funding pledges triggers a $20,000 tax bill. The tax man cometh ... Read full post

Jul 9, 2014

The financial fallout from Germany's World Cup rout of Brazil

By Jeff Benjamin

The economic and political ripple effects of Germany's soccer team trouncing Brazil, 7-1. When a soccer-crazed country feels blue nobody wins. Brazilians blame the country's president for the loss. The SEC's high-speed trader plan gets a warm reception from exchanges and large money managers. Welcome to the latest congressional reaction to a book. 'Urgent and thorough attention' Investment lessons to be learned from a crumbling cupcake chain. The rapid fall of Crumbs is a cautionary tale for anyone trying to chase trendy investments. The trouble started just a month after the IPO Dividends are high and going higher. Some opportunities to buy-in ahead of the ex-dividend dates. A record 1,078 companies raised dividends in the first quarter ... Read full post

Jul 8, 2014

Investors bracing for a wild second half of 2014

By Jeff Benjamin

Bracing for the second half of the year. The headwinds are real and plentiful. Renewed concerns about the U.S. consumer Some public companies are starting to tweak their bylaws to deter shareholder litigation. It's still not clear if the bylaw changes can withstand scrutiny in court. You lose the lawsuit, you pay the legal fees Morningstar settles software piracy case out of court, so we'll never know who did what. There will be no trial JPMorgan jumps into the ETF space with its own smart-beta strategy. Designed as a core equity holding The case for beer stocks this summer. It's hot out, have another beer. Invest responsibly ... Read full post

Jul 7, 2014

Dollar rides high on hope into earnings season

By Jeff Benjamin

The U.S. dollar drives toward earnings season on a five-day run, marking its longest streak since October. The key is whether earnings will justify stocks at these record levels. Second-quarter earnings outlook at 6.2% Goldman Sachs predicts a Fed rate hike in the third quarter of next year rather than the first quarter of 2016. It's all about the job market, inflation and financial conditions Raining on the GDP parade. A fun read on global economics, if you're into that sort of thing. Seeing GDP for what it really is, a measure of flow, not stock Mohamed El-Erian reads the Fed tea leaves and sees more tolerating of financial excesses. Janet Yellen keeps her fingers crossed that everything will work out Librarian goes old school and just reads books for investing advice. She retired early. Selling at the top in 2008 ... Read full post

« Newer Older »