Stocks and Fed Fears

Only a month ago the market was in love with the Fed and Ben Bernanke was a hero for helping the market move from 1350 in November to about 1670 in May.  Now the central bank is a villain as the yield on 10 year treasuries tops 2%. Interest rates have risen in the last Read more […]

A safer bet?

http://www.pensionsage.com/pa/a-safer-bet.php Read the article in PensionsAge by Peter Carvill, looking at the shifting commodities landscape. In recent decades, investment by pension funds into commodities has been seen as something approaching what may be described as a way to counter-balance the risks from traditional stocks and bonds. As The Role of Commodities in an Institutional Portfolio states: Read more […]

Low Volatility: Success or Failure?

One of the consequences of May’s shift in leadership of the U.S. equity market from defensive to cyclical sectors has been the underperformance of most (if not all) low volatility strategies. Does this mean, as some commentators have suggested (e.g. see http://www.indexuniverse.com/hot-topics/18860-when-low-volatilitty-bites-back.html?showall=&fullart=1&start=4), that low volatility strategies “failed?” Making a judgment of success or failure, about Read more […]

The Other Shoe?

One of the striking things about May’s U.S. equity performance was that although the market continued the strength it had shown between January through April, it was strong in a different way. http://us.spindices.com/documents/commentary/dashboard-us-20130531.pdf For example, the best-performing sector in the first four months of the year was Utilities (up 19.74%); in May the Utilities sector Read more […]

Thinking About P/E Ratios

The chart below is  a scatter diagram comparing the P/E ratio to the price return on the S&P 500 over the next ten years.  P/E is defined as each month’s level of the S&P 500 divided by the earnings per share on the 500 over the trailing 12 months. Both the P/E and the index Read more […]

S&P Dow Jones Fixed-Income Commentary: Mixed Signals as Rates Rise

Chairman Ben Bernanke has tried to be cautious in scripting a message to the markets, but recent communications out of the Federal Reserve have been mixed.  With seven members of the Board representing 12 districts and past members all speaking to the press, the message can get convoluted at times.  The planning and timing to Read more […]

Bubbles, Corrections, the Fed and Summer Heat

There is a growing debate among economists, journalist and bloggers over whether the Fed’s QE3 is creating a bubble in the stock market. (See Krugman, Gillian Tett or Felix Salmon among others) fueled by the market’s gains since the start of the year and the usual worries that disaster will strike during the summer break at the Read more […]

High Yield Munis Still Cheaper Than Corporate Junk

U.S. Municipal Bonds: (Data as of May 16,2013) Corporate junk bond yields have risen as mutual funds have seen outflows. Meanwhile, municipal high yield bonds have held their own. A rare twist in the markets may be ending as a result: yields of tax free high yield municipal bonds are 34bps higher (Yield to Worst) Read more […]

Mid-Month Issuer Review of the S&P U.S. Issued High Yield Corporate Bond Index

The index is up 0.42% month-to-date.  Here is a performance review of the top & bottom 10 issues within the index. Top 10 Issues May has been a good month for MBIA so far.  The insurer settled a 2008 legal dispute with Bank of America concerning bad mortgage debt.  The $1.7 billion settlement later led Read more […]

Buddy, Can You Spare Some Yield?

It doesn’t take more than a passing glance at a business publication or televised market update to know that one of the top business stories is the current low interest rate regime.  U.S. Treasury bills are being auctioned, and are trading, at or near zero yields.  The yield-to-worst on the S&P/BGCantor 0-3 Month U.S. Treasury Read more […]