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 […]

Inside the S&P 500: Float adjustment

Most stock indices where the weight of each stock depends on its market value are “float adjusted” meaning that the index only counts those shares that are available to investors and excludes closely held shares or shares held by governments or other companies. The S&P 500 moved to float adjustment in in 2004-2005.  Initially many Read more […]

What Municipalities are Higher Risk?

Data as of July 25, 2013 What Municipalities are Higher Risk? The bankruptcy of the City of Detroit has raised questions about what other municipalities might be the next to focus on.  In general, bonds with higher yields are riskier than bonds with lower yields.  Using bond yields as the sole variable, the following general Read more […]

THE Golden Question?

What is your long term outlook for gold and where do you see prices moving in the months ahead? This is one of the questions I was recently asked in a Reuters CCTV2 interview.  While we are not in the business of forecasting, we are in the indexing business where we measure markets – and Read more […]

Does Past Performance Matter?

The phrase “past performance is not a guarantee of future results” has never rung more true for active mutual funds.  Our semi-annual publication, the Persistence Scorecard, takes a look at the performance of top quartile active funds over three- and five-year consecutive 12-month periods.  Based on the most recently released report, out of 269 large Read more […]

When Diversification Fails

Diversification means different things in different contexts.  We can speak, for example, of diversification within an equity portfolio — i.e., of holding a number of stocks with potentially-offsetting risks, as opposed to concentrating on only one issue or on a handful of similar stocks.  Or we can think of diversification across asset classes — e.g., Read more […]

Where’s the beef?

While I was eating at a well-known restaurant chain, I saw this sign in the front window: So of course as a commodity lady my mind doesn’t think about choices like chicken or veggies, but I wonder what happened to the price of beef in the shortage and why is there a shortage?   The Read more […]

Passive Pensions

We read this morning that the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) is considering increasing its commitment to passive equity vehicles. This follows, by less than two weeks, a study suggesting that public pension funds generally could improve their performance by doing exactly what CalPERS is reported to be considering. Of course whenever you speak about Read more […]

Are Dividends the Answer to Growth for Income Hunters?

Dividend focused strategies as well as strategies offering exposure to alternative income sources have become popular and proliferated over the past few years given the low interest rate environment.  Throughout history, dividends constitute an important part of total equity return. In decades such as the 40s and the 70s, dividends constitute 50% or more of Read more […]