Europe’s Short Rate Remains Unchanged

The European Central Bank left its key rate unchanged at a record low of 0.25%. There was speculation around whether the European Central Bank would cut rates again in response to the low level of inflation (0.7% in January). The central bank’s president, Mario Draghi, addressed the low inflation issue by saying that the measure Read more […]

Olympic Metals: Going For The GOLD?!

In honor of the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, I thought it would be a good time to discuss gold, silver and bronze that are the metals in the Olympic medals. Since copper is the main metal in the bronze alloy, we’ll use copper as the index metal. Let’s start with gold.  Recently, I Read more […]

Why U.S. Investors Are Turning to Europe

The New York-listed iShares Europe 350 ETF has more than doubled in size in the past six months; the front page of last Friday’s Financial Times reported that U.S. purchases of European equities have surged, while the Wall Street Journal noted yesterday that “Europe is back.” European equities have underperformed U.S. equities by around 45% Read more […]

The New Fed! Yellen’ About Commodities

As we all know by now, Ben Bernanke is gone. He was focused on not having a depression on his watch so he pulled out all kinds of never-before-tried policy tools. Consequently, Janet Yellen will have to cope with the unintended consequences of QE — namely big unrealized losses in the Fed’s bond portfolio.  Recently, I had Read more […]

What’s a Normal VIX Level?

Someone asked me this last week: “What’s a normal or typical VIX level?”  That’s a good question.  Here is the answer: 20.2. And 17.1. And also 13.0. Before I go into why it takes at least three numbers to answer this question, let me remind you that the history of the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) Read more […]

The Power of Dividends: Preferred Stock

Similar to fixed income securities, the U.S. Preferred Stock market has started 2014 with positive performance. The S&P U.S. Preferred Stock Index  (Total Return) ended January 2014 up 2.68% .  A good start given the S&P 500 Index (Total Return) was down 3.46%.  As a fixed income comparison the S&P/BGCantor U.S. Treasury Bond  7-10 Year Read more […]

Beware the Snows of January

The equity markets are getting nervous with the S&P 500 almost 6% off its high, foreign equity markets down at least that much or more and emerging market currencies slipping and sliding.  Normally in such moments there are two opinions: the correction is here versus the economy is solid so don’t worry.  Were the weather Read more […]

Treasury yields remain lower for the start of 2014

Counter to the thinking that tapering would drive yields higher; Treasury yields have remained lower for the start of 2014.  Additional collateral needs to meet regulatory requirements; risk-off trading and economic uncertainty in emerging market countries such as Turkey have temporarily kept rates lower than the start of the year.  It remains to be seen Read more […]

Puerto Rico and Indexing the Municipal Bond Market

Puerto Rico Bonds Removed from Investable Municipal Bond Indices On January 8, 2014, S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that it is removing bonds issued by Puerto Rico and other territories from the S&P National AMT-Free Municipal Bond Index effective  January 31, 2014. Why? Puerto Rico bonds no longer meet the objective of the index. The Read more […]