Archive | International ETFs

Real Risk Taking Will Not Return Until The Fed Flip-Flops

In a strong bull market, higher volatility stocks tend to outperform lower volatility stocks. The PowerShares S&P 500 High Beta (SPHB):iShares USA Minimum Volatility (USMV) price ratio demonstrates how the bull market in equities has been giving way since the highs in the Dow and the S&P 500 one year ago (May 2015). Similarly, in a [...] Continue Reading...


Should Investors Take Notice When Reward Prospects Diminish?

The world’s central banks devise conventional and unconventional ways to depress interest rates. The impact? Consumers purchase goods and services on credit with favorable financing terms. Corporations issue low-yielding debt in order to buy back shares of their own stock. And governments issue low-yielding treasuries to continue spending far more than they generate in tax [...] Continue Reading...


The S&P 500’s 788,400 Minutes: Measuring One Year-And-A-Half In The Life Of An Index

There may be 525,600 minutes in a normal calendar year. However, there have been 788,400 minutes since the S&P 500 first hit 2050 in November of 2014; there have been 1,314,000 minutes since the NYSE Composite Index rose above the 10,000 level in November of 2013. In other words, lost in the narrative that “there [...] Continue Reading...


Three Charts: What Debt, ‘CapEx,’ and Whole Profits Tell Stock Investors

For several years now, I have expressed concern about the accumulation of debt by governments, corporations and households. Some folks seem to recognize that – across the board – total debt levels are on an unsustainable path. Others have argued that the only thing of importance is the ability to service existing obligations, and that [...] Continue Reading...


No Sales, No Profits, No Bull: What Happens When Valuations And Central Banks Collide

Total business sales – sales by wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers – have fallen 5% from their July 2014 peak of $1.365 trillion. At $1.296 trillion for January 2016, total business sales have dropped back to where they were in January of 2013 ($1.293 trillion). In fact, the erosion of total sales by American businesses are even uglier [...] Continue Reading...


Financial Stress Index Is Screaming, “Bear Market Rally”

What if investors had a way to determine the extent of “stress” in the financial system? And what if those stress levels could tell investors whether or not riskier assets (e.g., stocks, higher-yielding debt, etc.) can succeed without definitive U.S. Federal Reserve intervention? Consider the Cleveland Financial Stress Index (CFSI). The CFSI monitors the well-being of [...] Continue Reading...


What Negative Interest Rates Tell You About The Risk-Reward Backdrop

When a country’s central bank reduces its interests rates below zero (i.e., “goes negative”), the action should boost the relative appeal of stock assets. That is the theory. Unfortunately, recent policy initiatives by the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan (BOJ) have failed to inspire their respective stock markets. The ECB first [...] Continue Reading...


Is Unemployment Really 19%? Your Tactical Asset Allocation Should Reflect Economic Reality

Several weeks ago, a comment provider ripped into me for being a left-wing nut job. What did I do to draw his ire?  I explained that the tapering of QE3 and the 0.25% rate hike bump – modest stimulus removal efforts on the surface – adversely impacted everything from currencies to commodities, sovereign credit to corporate [...] Continue Reading...


If Investors Get More Stimulus, Will They Take More Risk?

The U.S. economy continues to show signs of frailty. U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) expanded at a feeble pace of just 0.7% in the 4th quarter. In the same vein, the Atlanta Fed’s GDP forecast for the first quarter of 2016 is just 1.2%. There’s more. The manufacturing segment of the economy has contracted for four [...] Continue Reading...


1704 on the S&P 500 in 2016? Less Far-Fetched Than Investors Want To Believe

How does a favorable bullish uptrend become an unfavorable bearish downtrend? Does the transition happen overnight? Do commentators, analysts, money managers and market participants simultaneously concur that the environment for risk-taking is exceptionally poor? The transition from “good times” to “bad times” is far more gradual than many realize. Granted, prices on the Dow or [...] Continue Reading...


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