Editorial Results (free)
1. Keep Your Eye on the Ball
- Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Markets bounced around a bit last week due to the continued volley between economic/earnings expectations and interest rate expectations. As a market observer, you must fully grasp this dynamic to translate daily volatility.
2. Stocks March Into Higher Realm
- Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Found: New Highs!
Markets continued their record march this week as a tepid jobs report reinforced expectations for further Fed stimulus. In anticipation of “print it” Janet’s reign, the 10-year Treasury yield has frozen at 2.5 percent. With a valuation of 17x trailing operating earnings, S&P 500 earnings yield nearly 6 percent. Obviously 6 percent is more than 2.5 percent, making stocks more attractive than bonds. To wit, equity mutual funds have added $32 billion in assets since May 31, while bond mutual funds have shed $128 billion. The longer interest rate expectations remain anchored at low levels, the more enticing the gap between the earnings yield for stocks and the interest rate yields for bonds. This explains the continued push into record territory for the stock market. As rate increase fears abate, stocks escalate.
3. Avoid the Blog Bait
- Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Last week, the keystone cops in Washington signed yet another procrastination resolution to our festering debt and deficit issues. No matter. The market rallied into our fiscal D-Day and right after it to new all-time highs. Why? While the volume of reporting on the debt ceiling has grown substantially, the event itself is old news. Congress has raised the debt ceiling 45 times since the late 1970s. The debt level reached within 2 percent of the ceiling 37 of those times.
4. Community Oasis
- Saturday, October 19, 2013
A visitor walking the winding, sun-dappled paths of Memphis Botanic Garden past stands of maple trees and beds of hydrangeas might never guess that there was a time when a black cloud hung low over the East Memphis attraction.
5. Buying Yellen
- Friday, October 18, 2013
President Obama recently made it official that Janet Yellen will succeed Ben Bernanke as the head of the Federal Reserve. Janet has spent much of her career as a dedicated and vocal advocate for the unemployed. With participation rates low, and the unemployment rate high, the markets anticipate that Janet will continue, if not augment, Ben Bernanke’s expansionary monetary policies. A renewed enthusiasm for monetary stimulus has had observable market impact.
6. Memphis Financial Experts ‘Not Worried’ About Shutdown
- Thursday, October 03, 2013
David Waddell, president and CEO of Memphis-based Waddell & Associates, had a two-word response when asked what financial and economic impact there might be from the current dysfunction in the nation’s capital.
7. A Dose of Fiscal Truth: Important, Not Urgent
- Wednesday, October 02, 2013
I recently received an email from a client asking how in the world the U.S. would overcome its bulging debt pile. There are three parts to this answer.
First, the annual deficits we run (tax receipts – spending) tend to correlate more with economic activity than policy. Through August, bolstered by an expanding economy, government revenues have increased 13 percent, contributing to a 35 percent reduction in the deficit. We will likely finish the fiscal year with a deficit of 4.5 percent, still high by historic standards, but much lower than the 10 percent hit during the crisis. Deficit figures are overwhelmingly a function of economic activity.
8. The Fed Sets Fed Policy
- Thursday, September 26, 2013
The Fed has two primary job descriptions. First, keep prices stable. Second, promote an environment of economic growth that provides employment opportunities. Which is more important?
Economic crises at their core typically consist of disruption in financial and currency markets. Once the financial transmission mechanisms fail, hard recessions and unemployment spikes follow. I struggle to identify a crisis scenario where the catalyst was a spike in unemployment that led to a disruption in the financial and currency markets. Therefore, a central bank’s first and highest priority should be maintaining price stability.
9. Time for a Rally Gut Check
- Wednesday, September 18, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, we discussed the lack of unanimity in the emerging markets sell-off. While the emerging markets index suggested distress within the class, a closer look revealed that only a few countries were truly under fire.
10. The Data Have Spoken
- Thursday, September 12, 2013
Each new month delivers a flurry of economic data. The current deluge will weigh heavily on the Federal Reserve’s decision to maintain or reduce quantitative easing. Let’s quickly review the recent releases and handicap the Fed’s taper temptation.
11. A Welcome Divergence
- Friday, September 06, 2013
One of the most dominant themes prior to the financial crisis was the great convergence of global markets. Bond markets seemed to synchronize around a “global” rate regime and stock markets seemed to synchronize around “global” growth rates. What began with the disaggregation of European bond yields has now spread across asset markets as well.
12. Rates Are Rising, Rates Are Rising
- Wednesday, August 28, 2013
On July 22, 1981, the federal funds rate (the interbank overnight benchmark rate) hit a historic high of 22.36 percent. On Dec. 11, 2011, it bottomed at .04 percent. Between 1981 and today, large company stocks returned nearly 11 percent on an annualized basis. As consensus suggests, falling interest rates undoubtedly make stocks more valuable.
13. My Taper Paper
- Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Last week, we discussed the recent upshift in the global economy. The next major moment for the market will occur on Sept. 18 when 65 percent of economists expect that the Fed will announce a “tapering” of its quantitative easing program. The movement in the 10-year Treasury bond interest rate confirms this expectation as rates have now climbed to 2.84 percent, up from 1.6 percent three months ago.
14. The New One Thing
- Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Now that earnings season has essentially ended, the stock market needs a new muse. The next earnings season begins in early October. In between, analysts will tweak models and revise forecasts, but real data releases overpower estimate releases. In mid-September, the Fed will either reduce bond purchases or buy more time. President Obama will choose between the over-politicized Larry Summers, the over-dovish Janet Yellen or the over-qualified Don Kohn to succeed Ben Bernanke as the next Fed head. We will also soon revisit Washington’s favorite debate over the debt ceiling.
15. State Rules Get Tighter Scrutiny
- Tuesday, July 30, 2013
NASHVILLE (AP) – Gov. Bill Haslam took office with a 45-day freeze on implementing any new government rules.
Since that time, the administration is using less dramatic and less direct ways of affecting the bureaucratic regulatory process.
16. Two Acts Remain in Bernanke’s Screenplay
- Wednesday, July 17, 2013
After weeks of volatility, driven by complex Fed speculation after a chorus of mixed messages, Chairman Bernanke re-focused marketplace attention on the Fed’s core purpose. As per Congress, The Federal Reserve Act directs: “the Federal Reserve...shall maintain long run growth of the monetary and credit aggregates commensurate with the economy’s long run potential…to promote the goals of maximum employment, stable prices and moderate long-term interest rates.”
17. Central Bank Bumper Cars
- Thursday, July 04, 2013
Markets last week called Bernanke’s bluff and ended the second quarter on a high note. As we well know, Bernanke spooked markets with a timeline for dousing quantitative easing by mid-year 2014. Bond markets convulsed and the 10-year Treasury yield climbed from 1.61 percent to 2.67 percent. Why would Chairman Bernanke do such a thing?
18. King Kong Versus Godzilla
- Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Among attentive investors the recent bout of market volatility has reprised fears of country, currency, economic decline and general market collapse. When global macro-market events occur, large trading positions that have been spooling quickly unspool, leading to jarring movements like those we are witnessing in Japan. These environments become a bit of a predator’s ball, as short-term traders feast on volatility, which only amplifies volatility further.
19. Glacial Job Creation Equals Glacial Stimulus Reduction
- Thursday, June 13, 2013
This has been the weakest job recovery on record. The 175,000 new jobs created in May did slightly exceed analyst estimates, but also slightly trailed population growth. The percentage of the U.S. adult population with a job equals 58.6 percent. This number hit 67 percent back in 2000. Adjusting this ratio for the “retirement effect” to only include those aged 25 to 54 increases the rate to 76 percent, but it still hasn’t budged for three years and is 5 percent lower than it was in 2007. This cannot be explained by retirees. Our job creation machine is malfunctioning.
20. Daily News Seminar Spotlights Financial Hot Topics
- Monday, June 10, 2013
Craig Dismuke, the chief economic strategist of Vining Sparks IBG LP, opened his keynote address at The Daily News’ “Money and Markets” seminar Thursday, June 6, with a story that brought some insight into the wisdom that people – often erroneously – ascribe to experts in various fields, including economists.
21. Safe Can Sometimes Become Risky
- Wednesday, June 05, 2013
When is safe unsafe? Ever since the Federal Reserve began its zero interest rate policies, investors have searched for higher yielding assets. This makes sense. If you need income to run your household or make your pension distributions, you must locate investments that provide yield. If Treasury bonds will not, what will?
22. Reacting To Fed Dread
- Thursday, May 30, 2013
In an otherwise exceptionally dull trading week, markets worldwide reacted violently last Wednesday to Ben Bernanke’s mixed congressional testimony and the Fed meeting minutes released later in the day. Why so skittish?
23. National Economy Headlines Seminar
- Monday, May 20, 2013
The next installment of The Daily News’ ongoing seminar series will offer a comprehensive look at the state of the economy, with insight from a panel of thought leaders and a keynote from the chief economic strategist of Vining Sparks IBG LP.
24. How High Can We Go?
- Wednesday, May 15, 2013
Total stock market returns combine dividends with a change in earnings and a change in multiples. Right now, the dividend yield on the S&P 500 is 2 percent. The earnings estimate for the S&P 500, for year-end 2014 as projected by Standard and Poor’s, approximates $120, as trailing earnings equal $100 per share.
25. The No-Growth Rally
- Friday, May 03, 2013
Over 200 S&P 500 companies have now reported earnings. While 70 percent or so have beaten expectations, the blended earnings growth rate has basically flat lined. Using revenues as a purer gauge adds little encouragement. Revenues have also flat lined over the last year. Without an uptick in global economic activity or the ability to pass on price increases to customers, US earnings look winded. How can the rally persist without growth?
26. Rotten Golden Apples in a Can
- Thursday, April 25, 2013
It has been a particularly tough stretch for sage taxicab investors. My recent taxi tips have centered on three clear winners. Gold, Apple and Cash. Let’s evaluate.
Cab Tip #1: Central Bank Money Printing = Gold Prices Rising
27. Lofty Company
- Thursday, April 04, 2013
For creating the overnight package-delivery business four decades ago, and for everything his company has done since, FedEx Corp. founder Fred Smith has been placed among an elite group of chief executives by the business magazine Barron’s.
28. The Cyprus is Falling!
- Thursday, March 28, 2013
The Cyprus economy is $23 billion. (The Vermont economy is $26 billion.) Bank loans in Cyprus are eight times the size of GDP, compared with 3.5 times in the Eurozone and 1 times U.S. GDP. With leverage ratio’s that high, a small deterioration in loan performance can render the banking system insolvent.
29. Look at the Facts, Not Rhetoric
- Wednesday, March 20, 2013
CITE YOUR SOURCE. In human psychology, fear seems more legitimate than hope. Claims of “impending doom,” and “bursting bubbles” elicit fast emotional responses that seem impervious to critique. So many programs, speeches and advertisements prey on this phenomenon today.
30. Waddell Recaps 2012 at State of the Union Address
- Saturday, March 09, 2013
Once a year, Waddell & Associates president and CEO David Waddell presents a “State of the Union” address to clients.
31. Urbanization Equals Global Opportunities
- Tuesday, March 05, 2013
The worldwide adoption of competition and capitalistic principles has unlocked tremendous prosperity growth. At the core of this prosperity movement are the unique advantages created by urbanizing the world’s population. Urban populations are more productive, more innovative and more efficient than their rural peers.
32. Waddell Recaps 2012 at State of the Union Address
- Monday, March 04, 2013
Once a year, Waddell & Associates president and CEO David Waddell presents a “State of the Union” address to clients.
33. Waddell’s Ideals Centered on Consistency, Honesty
- Saturday, March 02, 2013
At a recent appearance in Nashville before an audience of 100 clients, friends and employees at the Country Music Hall of Fame, David Waddell of Waddell & Associates Inc. gave his company’s annual state of the union address.
34. Quiet Period Could Lead to Frisky Phase
- Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Buyer Intent Building By some analysis, the last two weeks have exhibited the lowest stock market volatility since 1986. While sideways markets are boring, they also reduce anxieties. On average, since 1980, the S&P 500 experienced intra-year declines of 15 percent.
35. Strong January Portends Positive Year
- Tuesday, February 12, 2013
As Goes January … Many market observers state that as goes January, so goes the rest of the year. Mathematically, 1/12th of the year has now passed and the S&P 500 has tacked on 5 percent. Fast-forwarding through the statistical modeling, a strong January predicts a strong annual return precisely because of the positive lead January passes to February. This head start advances the probability of positive returns. Furthermore, a sizable head start increases the odds of success even more. If January is slightly positive, the odds of a positive year are 67 percent. If January is up 5 percent, the odds jump to 79 percent. So a 5 percent positive January has a high probability of correlating with a year of positive equity returns. We cannot rest in that, however, as a 4 percent loss from this point still fulfills the criteria. Better check the vitals.
36. Memphis Investment Firm at Odds With Dell
- Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Following Memphis-based Southeastern Asset Management’s public opposition to Dell Inc.’s proposed $24.4 billion buyout, the Texas-based tech company is trying to reassure shareholders that the deal will be beneficial.
37. Let’s Start a Currency War
- Wednesday, February 06, 2013
Prior to Nixon’s closing of the gold window in 1971, world currencies traded in value relative to the U.S. dollar, which was tethered to gold at $35 an ounce. Following the divorce, currencies began trading relative to the dollar, but the dollar in turn began trading relative to other currencies.
38. New Executive Director Tapped for Economic Club
- Saturday, February 02, 2013
The Economic Club of Memphis has a new executive director.
Dr. Christine Jiang succeeds Dr. David Kemme as executive director of the club. She begins her duties immediately.
39. New Executive Director Tapped for Economic Club
- Monday, January 28, 2013
The Economic Club of Memphis has a new executive director.
Dr. Christine Jiang succeeds Dr. David Kemme as executive director of the club. She begins her duties immediately.
40. Three Components Will Determine 2013
- Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Forecasting 2013 The fiscal cliff episode proved bullish for stocks. Fearful asset owners facing tax code uncertainty pulled outsized income and capital gains into 2012. Sellers quickly became buyers to complete the tax arbitrage. For the week ended Jan. 9, investors poured $18.3 billion into stock mutual funds and ETFs, the largest combined inflow in five years. This capital re-commitment has propelled the S&P 500 3.25 percent higher in 2013. Does this mean that 2013 will continue to see fantastic equity returns? Domestic stock returns are driven by three primary components – earnings, dividends and valuations. Let’s consider each to arrive at our forecast.
41. Debt Drama
- Tuesday, January 15, 2013
One of the common refrains among money managers and economists in Memphis is that the nation’s political leaders spend too much time wrestling with crises and not enough actually solving problems.
Case in point: in a few weeks, the federal government will have reached the limit of its authorized borrowing capacity, the so-called “debt ceiling.” In truth, that moment already has come, but the U.S. Treasury Department has some procedural room to maneuver to keep things going for a few more weeks.
42. Cash In on Cashing Out
- Wednesday, December 19, 2012
While we may not know the details of next year’s tax increases, we do know that taxes will increase. This has created a rush of year-end tax planning to sell assets, issue dividends and claw compensation forward. In fact, hundreds of public companies have announced special dividends to pad investor’s pockets before year-end.
43. The ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Misdirection
- Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Please recognize that the “fiscal cliff” debate will not end with current compromise. This debate has just begun so get used to it. Our long-term fiscal situation is toxic and entirely a function of Medicare and Medicaid. Today, Medicare and Medicaid expenditures approximate 5 percent of U.S. GDP. According to the Congressional Budget Office, public health expenditures will rise to over 10 percent of U.S. GDP by 2037.
44. Fiscal Equality vs. Efficiency
- Wednesday, December 05, 2012
Beneath the “fiscal cliff” debate is a fundamental battle of philosophy. Liberal economics prioritizes equality, while conservative economics prioritizes efficiency. Migration toward either of these polls contains costs and benefits. Below is an excerpt from a tax study of developed nations commissioned by the Paris based OECD:
45. Economic East vs. West
- Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Yin and Yang Since Election Day, stock indices have fallen sharply, reflecting the Washington non-consensus. As we enter another legislative sausage session, investors can’t help but recall the 20 percent drawdown that marked the last high-stakes negotiation.
46. Memphis Chamber to Host New York Times’ Sanger
- Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Next week, the Greater Memphis Chamber is hosting a conversation in Memphis with the chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times.
David Sanger, who’s also the author of the new book “Confront and Conceal” and who has been at the vanguard of reporting on issues related to Iran for the Times, will be here as part of the chamber’s regular “A Conversation With …” series.
47. Desperately Seeking Dividends
- Wednesday, October 24, 2012
The 10-year Treasury bond, which historically yields 5 percent, yields 1.75 percent today. At these levels, the risk/reward features of low yielding bonds and higher yielding stocks favors stock dividends over bond interest payments. However, with dividend yields in hot pursuit, investors have driven valuations higher for U.S. dividend payers. In fact, high yielding U.S. stocks now carry higher valuations than the market on average, far above their normal 20 percent discount. This is the highest valuation premium they have commanded since the 1950s. This does not foretell an immediate valuation collapse, but it does beg the question, are there better alternatives?
48. The Great Big Empty Bandwagon
- Thursday, October 11, 2012
Year-to-date the MSCI World index has climbed 15 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average has climbed within 5 percent of its all-time high. The S&P 500 has returned 14.9 percent annualized over the last three years. Corporate earnings have reached a record high. Has any of this inspired investors?
49. Self Reform Can’t Come Soon Enough
- Thursday, October 04, 2012
We Have Seen the Face of Reform In 2008, a prolonged lack of credit scrutiny led to a financial crisis. While the clean-up of the financial system continues, the bulk of the rationalization happened very quickly. Massive institutions failed, while remainder institutions began internal austerity programs to reconstruct rotten balance sheets.
50. It’s All Tied Up
- Thursday, September 27, 2012
The markets today must reconcile two primary opposing factors. On the one hand, global economic statistics and earnings pre-announcements describe a listless global economy – not recessionary per se – but not healthy enough to really drive revenues and confidence. On the other hand, the globe’s major central banks have all committed to indefinite and unlimited monetary stimulus.
51. Examining Unknowns, Certainties
- Wednesday, September 19, 2012
US Fed = Yes, ECB = Yes, US Government = Maybe, China = Unknown Last week’s announcement of “unlimited” easing from the U.S. Fed combined with the “unlimited” easing announcement by the European Central Bank extended the global rally in everything but Treasuries.
52. First Tennessee Unit to Move Downtown
- Friday, September 07, 2012
First Tennessee Bank is preparing its Downtown Memphis headquarters for occupancy of one of its units.
53. Senate 2013: Less Visible, More Important
- Wednesday, September 05, 2012
The 2012 presidential election has two widely contrasting visions, larger than life personalities, and plenty of high praise and low blows. Over the next three months, the contest for the Oval Office will dominate American discourse. However, while the big game for the country may be the presidential race, the big game for the markets will likely be the Senate race.
54. Facts, Feelings Go Hand in Hand
- Thursday, August 23, 2012
Investment Lesson: Sentiment Growth just as good as Earnings Growth Two factors move stock prices, earnings and sentiment. Earnings tend to be backward looking while sentiment tends to be forward looking. In market parlance, multiples or valuation ratios (price/earnings, price/book, price/sales) measure sentiment. Stocks prices increase when earnings increase, sentiment increases or both increase.
55. Economic Outcomes Remain Up in Air
- Wednesday, August 15, 2012
Fedcasting With the markets and the politicians currently co-dependent, vacation for one implies vacation for the other. Trading volumes have collapsed. For those who are manning their trading terminals, daily market activity amounts to position-squaring ahead of September’s central bank policy proclamations.
56. What’s On, What’s Off Economic Table?
- Wednesday, August 08, 2012
On the Table: Conversational Easing With the data stream lukewarm at the moment, markets needed policy support for handholding. Recent history demonstrates that when market anxieties rise, fiscal and monetary authorities intervene. We have described this as the “Punch/Counterpunch” market.
57. Small Businesses Create Big Economies
- Wednesday, August 01, 2012
While consumption expenditures account for 71 percent of our economy, investment activity (essentially delayed consumption) determines the magnitude of future consumption. When the economy generates a high level of investment activity, business productivity grows, innovations flourish and new employers create jobs. For these activities to occur, business owners must be willing to take risks. Within the U.S. economy, 65 percent of net new jobs created between 1992 and 2010 came from companies with fewer than 500 employees. In the U.S., as goes small business, so goes the economy.
58. Returns Equal Reality Minus Expectations
- Wednesday, July 18, 2012
At the beginning of the year, expectations ran high. Some economists forecasted U.S. GDP growth rates above 4 percent, European credit spreads indicated crisis containment, and China’s economy appeared to be on a government-conceived glide to slower, non-inflationary growth. As expectations ran high, the first quarter provided stock market investors with the best index returns in 14 years.
59. Market Yields Best June in 13 Years
- Wednesday, July 04, 2012
June: Boon & Lampoon After taking body blows in May, the stock market had its best June since 1999. This time, we can credit European politicians rather than American central bankers for the strong finish. That, my friends, is a welcome change.
60. World Economy Remains in Flux
- Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Big Fat Greek Vote On Sunday, the Greeks hit the polls to decide whether to remain in the euro or not. I wish it were that simple. The winner, Antonis Samaras, prefers that Greece remain in the euro, but wants to renegotiate bailout terms. That stance proved more appealing and pragmatic for the Greeks, who hate accountability but love the euro.
61. Punch And Counterpunch
- Wednesday, June 13, 2012
With baseline sentiment pessimistic, small changes can lead to outsized market movements. To best understand this schizophrenic environment, we must understand the forces at war. I call this the punch-counterpunch dynamic. The opponents are the economic gravitational pull of deleveraging in the developed world versus the helium provided by monetary and fiscal policy makers worldwide. Uncontested news on the deleveraging gravitational pull punches markets lower, riles pessimism, cues action from monetary and fiscal policy makers, who then counterpunch markets higher with programs and proclamations.
62. Forum Gives Sober Economic Outlook
- Monday, June 11, 2012
Attendees of The Daily News’ recent “Money and Markets” seminar got a clear-eyed, sober assessment of what’s happening on the local, national and international level from an economic perspective.
And they could be forgiven for perhaps clutching their wallets a little tighter as they left, thinking about national and world events to come.
63. Look Closely at Entry Point Valuations
- Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Chase Vacuums not Bubbles Markets regained their composure last week as the threat of a Greek tragedy diminished. While there are a couple of mile markers before the Greek election on June 17, markets will remain anxious until the ballots are cast.
64. TDN Seminar to Address Range of Economic Topics
- Monday, May 28, 2012
In Shelby County Trustee David Lenoir’s opinion, too many people have been “ingrained” with the notion that government is always the solution to community problems.
65. Greek Drama Playing Out on World’s Stage
- Wednesday, May 23, 2012
Flashback-ish Welcome back to 2011. Global growth jitters have returned, the U.S. has re-engaged in fiscal brinkmanship and the fate of the euro is back in question. Will 2012 be any different than 2011? Perhaps. This time Greece is not fighting to remain in the euro, it’s fighting to withdraw.
66. TDN Seminar Examines US, World Economies
- Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Taken separately, they’re stories with big ramifications. Countries around the world, the U.S. included, are grappling with the yin and yang of austerity vs. stimulus.
This fall, the U.S. presidential election will help set the future direction of an economy that’s still hard to read and incredibly volatile. Tax cuts, a payroll tax extension and a few other things expire at the end of this year, and Congress is as gridlocked as ever.
67. Plenty of Sources For Economic Progress
- Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Something More Than Feelings A business mentor of mine would retort “cite your source” to qualify any argument I was making. A common argument today asserts that with the developed world economies fragile and global unemployment levels high, the anecdotal information suggests that global consumers live in a tent city.
68. Up and Down, Economy Sign Of Indecision
- Tuesday, May 08, 2012
The consequence of living in an economic and political environment that can’t seem to make up its mind is a market that also can’t make up its mind, both surging and sinking last week. Signs of indecision abound. In November, the U.S. must decide between the Romney and Obama policy portfolios. Polls approximate a tie. Our economic growth rate of 2-2.5 percent also amounts to a tie, as it’s the mid-point between recession and true expansion.
69. Market Party Going Strong
- Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Still Growing Last week offered testimonials from three key contributors to this market’s advance. We received preliminary U.S. GDP numbers, we passed the earnings season halfway point, and we obtained policy affirmations from key global central banks. When shaken and poured, these ingredients combined into a delightful cocktail that kept the stock market party going.
70. Avoid Too Many Apples in Your Portfolio Diet
- Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Apples to Oranges Investors and media have run out of superlatives to describe Apple Inc. Not only has Apple become the biggest investment story, it has also become the world’s most highly valued company. Today Apple represents 4.4 percent of the S&P 500 and 16 percent of the Nasdaq composite index.
71. Steering Through Muddied Waters
- Wednesday, April 18, 2012
The Flows Knows While rationality has returned to the markets, occasional bouts of volatility (as we have experienced over the last few trading days) can muddy the analytical waters. After a 30 percent advance in the S&P 500 from the October lows, a pullback seems appropriate, and the reaction to the recent pullback couldn’t be more telling.
72. Laffer Brings Economic Talk to Memphis
- Monday, April 09, 2012
Bankers, financial executives, businessmen and other professionals will gather at the Holiday Inn University of Memphis on Monday, April 9, to hear from Art Laffer, a prominent national economist who has advised multiple presidents and presidential candidates since the 1970s on tax policy.
73. Market Hinges On Pols’ Action
- Wednesday, April 04, 2012
Politics Returns Last week, politicians grabbed headlines and moved markets. First, stimulator-in-Chief Ben Bernanke goosed markets to multi-year highs by pledging his continued devotion to easy money. Thankfully, he has learned that “conversational easing,” simply talking about quantitative easing, achieves the desired result without the inflationary hangover of the act itself. Rates fell and equities rose as fears of premature rate hikes abated. The Fed has been using the microphone as effectively as the printing press lately … good Central Bankers!
74. Rates Down, Money Up Across Globe
- Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Money Money Money Money To address declines in economic activity and stimulate marketplace liquidity, central banks across the globe have taken rates down and the quantity of money up. In fact, the leading global central bank balance sheets are approaching an unprecedented $9 trillion, or nearly 15 percent of global GDP.
75. The Economic View From Above
- Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Reframing the Global Economy This week I will summarize my 30,000-foot view on the global economy. While the news flow may revolve around Europe, the global economy no longer looks to the Old World for leadership. To understand and accurately forecast the future economy, we must redirect our gaze from the Old World to the New World.
76. Waddell Turns Page on ‘Funky’ Year
- Monday, February 27, 2012
The parting remark David Waddell left with the audience at his company’s yearly “State of the Union” presentation this time last year was that he wanted them all to be optimistic in 2011.
77. Here We Go Again
- Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Good news continues to exceed bad news, and the markets stand at multi-year highs. Political tensions that whipped the markets about last year have taken a secondary role, as stronger economic data and low market valuations have taken a primary role. With the Dow Jones Industrial Average kissing 13,000, a level unseen since May 2008, let’s compare the fundamentals now and then.
78. Invest Like It’s 2013
- Tuesday, February 14, 2012
The January Effect As each year closes, tax-savvy money managers purge their investment losers to harvest tax losses and window-dress year-end statements. With the turn of the calendar year, unloved names get repurchased, making last year’s losers suddenly this year’s winners.
79. Economic Coordinates Mark Spot
- Wednesday, February 08, 2012
Economic advances contain fits and starts. Our “spider senses” lead us to believe that the data received up to this point correlate more with a mid-cycle slowdown than with a late-cycle contraction. To help us with orientation, let’s examine a few economic markers to vector in on our location.
80. Keep Close Eye On Indicators
- Tuesday, January 24, 2012
European Tailwind Markets continued their upward surge over the past week as more participants began trusting in the European crisis containment campaign. The reason we haven’t dedicated much copy to Europe recently is twofold.
81. Quality Check Of 2012 Rally
- Wednesday, January 18, 2012
Rally Quality Check So far, 2012 has struck a bullish tone. However, we should look beyond the pop indices and examine the supporting evidence to determine the quality of the current rally. This column should make you more qualified to translate the “Market Data” page of the WSJ’s Money and Investing section. Let’s take a quick tour and highlight the quality indicators with context. Once you have completed this, you will have earned your rally inspector merit badge.
82. Trading Hands
- Monday, January 16, 2012
It’s been something of a roller coaster ride for a little more than six months in the drawn-out process by Regions Financial Corp. to sell Morgan Keegan & Co. Inc., its Memphis-based investment unit.
83. Is Bull Market in Store For New Year?
- Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Predicting 2012 According to Wall Street strategists, the S&P 500 will close somewhere between 1167, for a loss of 7 percent, and 1500, for a gain of 19 percent. Assuming earnings approximate $100 for the S&P 500, then applying a simple market P/E multiple tells you where we should be by year-end. If we feel no different than we did at the end of 2011, then the S&P 500 should finish at 1272 for a 1 percent gain.
84. Golden Oldies Drown Out Euro Pop
- Tuesday, December 20, 2011
The pendulum swings regarding Europe’s fate continue to relentlessly influence daily market direction. With the European debate drowning out all other market news, relevant economic releases and corporate earnings results have gone unheard. This week, let’s turn off the European pop and listen to some golden oldies.
85. Compliance Brings More Accountability
- Tuesday, December 13, 2011
EuroZone 2.0 Rather than bore you this week with the details of the most recent EU rescue flare, let’s take a look back at the bigger picture. After a 30-year global credit binge, credit is no longer flowing to the irresponsible or over-indebted. Based upon the rules defined in the Maastricht Treaty, entrants into the euro must have a debt-to-GDP ratio below 60 percent and budget deficits below 3 percent of GDP.
86. Europe’s Unappealing Options: Print or Perish
- Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Call The European crisis tour stopped in Italy last week. Bond yields climbed above the feared 7 percent, triggering immediate hysteria worldwide. Compounding the issue, Italy and Greece both had “help-wanted” ads out for prime ministers and received no applicants.
87. The Realities of October
- Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Bear Scalping October has long been regarded as the “Bear Killer” month. While there have been many jarring declines in October (1929, 1987 and 2008, to name a few), there have also been 11 bear market bottoms. Markets entered October 2011 pretty petrified.
88. Finding Beauty in the Bold
- Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Something for Everybody Last week extended the market’s winning streak following “turnaround Tuesday.”
The Europeans contributed by passing the European Financial Stability Fund. Global economic releases contributed with better than expected numbers overall. Asia lent a hand by starting to loosen monetary policies. U.S. earnings’ season assisted with key reports hitting their marks, and even the political rhetoric contributed as the “9-9-9” train gathered speed.
89. Movement In The Logjam
- Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I’ll admit that the pessimism over-ran me last Monday as the market slashed through its August lows after a brutal third quarter. My contrarian instincts insisted that a market turnaround couldn’t be far. To set the stage, the average U.S. stock mutual fund lost 17 percent in the third quarter, while the average international fund shed 21 percent.
90. Debt Spreading Equally Across Entire World
- Tuesday, October 04, 2011
The Big Game Rolling passage of the $595 billion European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) last week emboldened the markets Monday and Tuesday, only to leave them second-guessing the efficacy of the device, its timing and the underlying economic environment. By the end of the week, the early enthusiasm waned as skepticism rose, leaving the S&P five percent lower than its Tuesday high.
91. Comparatively, US Shows Promise
- Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Global Indicators Weak Last Week Global economic indicators deteriorated further last week, causing us to further fortify our defenses.
The week began with the Federal Reserve performing the “Twist” by committing to sell $400 billion of short maturity Treasuries and purchase $400 billion of long-dated maturities between now and mid-2012. Additionally, the Fed announced that it would begin reinvesting maturing mortgage-backed security proceeds into other mortgages, attempting to lower mortgage rates to support housing prices. By lowering long-term interest rates without printing new money the Fed artfully concocted “free” stimulus. However, adding justification, the statement also added that there are “significant downside risks to the economic outlook.” The psychological depressant of that assertion overpowered the downward pressure on interest rates resulting in a Bronx cheer from the markets. With the Fed’s cupboard bare, the politicians have lost their backstop. Washington has simulative tools available but gridlock seems the current objective. Surprisingly, in comparison to other nations, the U.S. condition looks promising.
92. Sometimes Survival Feels Like a Rally
- Tuesday, September 20, 2011
What Goes Down Pessimism gets old. After running from shadows for the last few weeks, markets turned last week and faced their fears. The news wasn’t good, but it was good enough to cheer a market suffering from “Armageddon hypochondria.” At this point of pessimism, survival can spark a rally. For a ringside seat to this shadowboxing match, observe the movements in the European Financial ETF.
93. A Primer on Recessionary Market Behavior
- Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Counterpoint A few positive countertrend economic data points, a big Buffet Bank of America buy and a Bernanke bounce inspired markets last week, moving the S&P 500 higher by over 4 percent. The durability of the move warrants skepticism, but the rally appeared amidst oppressive pessimism. Who’s buying?
94. Allie Prescott to Head U of M Alumni Association
- Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Allie Prescott has been elected president of the University of Memphis Alumni Association national executive board of directors.
Prescott holds his bachelor’s and law degrees from the U of M, and he is a life member of the University of Memphis Alumni Association. As a former adviser to the executive director and former vice president for membership, Prescott is serving his fifth year on the national board.
95. The ‘Why’ of Global GDP Dynamics
- Tuesday, August 23, 2011
The New Malaise While debt and policy uncertainties stoke volatility, the declines in the markets stem from declines in global economic growth rates. Growth estimates worldwide have fallen precipitously over the past couple weeks. As baseline estimates fall, the right question to ask is, “Why?”
96. Sanon Joins Agape As Director of Operations
- Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Julie Sanon has joined Agape Child & Family Services as director of operations.
Hometown: Leesburg, Fla.
Education: Psychology major from Oklahoma Christian University of Science and Arts
97. So, What Year Is This?
- Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Back to the Future As investors, we view volatility as a distraction. Successful defensive strategies engage prior to drawdowns, and successful offensive strategies engage into them. Before we can settle on the right strategy, however, we must determine which game we are playing.
98. The More Things Change …
- Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Change of Plans Like a car requires gas, forecasts require data. Two weeks ago, the data stack indicated that we had continued global growth, providing ample revenue opportunities for global corporations. Low earnings multiples paired with global growth indicated defensible value within the S&P 500. With current earnings trending toward $100, applying a simple conservative P/E of 13 presented 1300 as a stable base. The S&P 500 fumbled near this level frequently but seemed to find footing. On Friday of last week, however, the data stack changed.
99. New World Follows US Debt Downgrade
- Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Here we go again. Markets opened Monday, Aug. 8, with the world irreversibly changed, thanks to last week’s downgrade of U.S. debt by Standard & Poor’s from AAA to AA+. It follows last week’s wild ride for the stock market, which included stomach-churning swings for investors up through Friday, the day S&P issued the press release heard round the world after markets closed.
100. So It Comes to This
- Wednesday, August 03, 2011
It appears that agreement on substance has arrived in Washington. That will forestall default, but may not be enough to forestall downgrade. Should you fear a downgrade U.S. Treasury debt?
The Mechanics of Downgrade