Good Calls and Bad Calls of Covered Calls

Generally investors use covered calls to earn extra income from investments they think might not have much upside potential.  For example, if a CEO has a very large stock holding in his or her company but doubts the stock price will increase (or decrease much), writing (selling) options on the stock to collect a premium Read more […]

Inside the S&P 500: Dividends Reinvested

Slightly more than 400 of the 500 companies included in the S&P 500 pay dividends.  At the current rate, these dividends will be a bit over 2% of the value of the index.  In a strong market like the one enjoyed in the last 12 months when the index price rose over 20%, an extra Read more […]

SEC Takes a Troubling Step Back from Transparency

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently issued exemptive orders to three new exchange-traded funds – essentially granting approval to allow these funds to proceed to market – that dramatically liberalize the operations of “self-indexers”. Such firms not only manage the ETF, they (or an affiliated entity) also maintain the index on which that product is Read more […]

Inside the S&P 500: What Made it Rise… or Fall?

The first question asked as the market closes is why did it go up? Or, if the results were less appealing, why did it fall?  Either way the usual answer of more buyers than sellers is no answer at all.  The real question is what sectors pushed the market higher or which stocks sent it Read more […]

Index Rehab: Is Backwardation Back In-Style?

My colleague, David Blitzer, is discussing index construction in his blog series “Inside the S&P 500”, and so far has reviewed selecting stocks and the float adjustment. While the index construction principles of transparency, liquidity, and systematic rules-based methodologies are widely similar between equities, commodities and other asset classes, there are details that distinguish the asset Read more […]

Sell in May and go away. You’re sure?

We’re all familiar with that old adage.  The theory says that trading slows during the summer months, markets can be a bit more turbulent and you’re better off closing out your positions, getting to the beach and enjoying your Pimm’s Cup in relative peace. But as my colleague Craig Lazzara pointed in his recent post, Read more […]

Paying Too Much at the Pump?!

Why are gas prices so high? I know I’m not alone as “a commodity lady” wondering this as I pull out my credit card to pay at the pump. (Which is not often since I ride my bicycle to work most days) Gasoline prices typically rise in the summer because more people travel to take Read more […]

That Was Easy

If every month were like July, equity investors would have an easy life.  The most striking thing about July’s U.S. equity market performance was how consistently good it turned out to be.  The S&P 500 was up +5.09%, with the Mid Cap 400 ahead of that pace (+6.20%) and the Small Cap 600 further ahead Read more […]

Shorter Municipal Bonds Hang In There While Long Municipal Bonds Suffer

Fund outflows in the municipal bond asset class, in part driven by the Detroit bankruptcy, pushed municipal bond performance down in July according to the S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index. Particularly hard hit was Puerto Rico.  The S&P Municipal Bond Puerto Rico Index was down over 4.1% in July (down 6.61% YTD). State specific Read more […]

Despite strong double-digit gains in the equity markets last year, S&P 500 issues posted record pension and OPEB underfunding in 2012

Despite strong double-digit gains in the equity markets last year, S&P 500 issues posted record pension and OPEB underfunding in 2012. The double-digit equity gains of 2012 were no match for the artificially low interest rates which vaulted pension liabilities into record underfunding territory. Companies have only 77 cents for each dollar they owe in Read more […]