The Fed’s QE Dilemma

The US does not have any measurable inflation pressure now nor has it had any over the last 20 years.  The core personal consumption price index, used as the benchmark for inflation by the Federal Reserve (Fed) has been in the 1.25% to 2.5% zone since 1994, averaging about 1.75% for the last 20 years, Read more […]

Not ALL Weights are EQUAL: Why Brent isn’t Heavier than WTI

2014 is just around the corner now and the new weights for both the DJ-UBS CI and S&P GSCI have been announced. While the index weightings follow the methodologies, there are questions around the weights of two particular commodities, Brent crude oil and WTI crude oil. The interest comes from the fact that they are Read more […]

3 Reasons Companies Issue Preferreds

Companies may issue preferred stocks for a variety of reasons.  The three reasons below are the most common. Preferred stock issuances give companies a relatively cheap way to acquire additional capital.  The preferred market is dominated by banks and related financial institutions, which are required by regulators to have adequate Tier 1 capital to support Read more […]

Core / Satellite Investment Strategies: Don’t Forget The Beta!

Traditional Core/Satellite investment strategies typically combine a diversified asset allocation framework with a smaller alpha-seeking segment of the portfolio.  With an increased emphasis being placed by many investment advisors on so-called “tactical” managers, as well as other “alpha-generating” trades, it’s not surprising, though somewhat disappointing, that simple beta often gets ignored.  In a year when Read more […]

Stocks and Houses

When tech stocks collapsed in 2000 and the market fell 50%, investors put their faith in houses:  maybe too much faith.  Then house prices collapsed from mid-2006 as mortgage excesses took down the economy. Stocks fell 50% again.  The subsequent recovery in the economy, houses and stocks disappointed at least two of the three: the Read more […]

Stock Picker’s Market?

This morning’s Wall Street Journal cites an adviser who opines that “the current stock market environment favors…active fund managers, who pick individual stocks in an attempt to beat broad market indices.”  This immediately raises the question of how to define a stock picker’s market, and how to determine whether today’s conditions are more auspicious for Read more […]

No Tricks, Just Treats From The Fed This Halloween

It recently struck me that the announcement day for the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting would coincide with what is known locally as “Mischief Night”. Mischief Night is the night before Halloween when kids play trick on neighbors by hanging toilet paper in the trees or soaping car windows. If anyone was positioned to play a Read more […]

Where’s my free lunch?

Ever since Harry Markowitz published his June 1953 paper on portfolio selection, investors both institutional and retail have subscribed to the theory that diversification – and its use in combination with mean-variance optimized allocations – universally widens and almost always improves the possibilities of risk and return. At its core, the theory states that an Read more […]

You Take My “Breadth” Away

An overview of the market shows that breadth, the number of issues up compared to the number down, is running very strong this year.  Year-to-date (YTD), 451 of the S&P 500 issues are up (47 down), which on an annual basis is the best since 458 issues increased in 2003.  The 2003 number is also Read more […]

A Simple Hedge Strategy

Alternative investments for high net worth investors are like the weather — everyone talks about it, but no one does anything about it.  In fairness, alternative investments — hedge funds, private equity, and the like — are often hard to access and complicated to explain.  But if they can deliver on their promise of uncorrelated Read more […]