Financial Planning

Smart Beta Investing: New Paradigm or Word Trick

Is so-called smart beta investing a new and improved way to invest or just another one of Wall Street’s fancy sales pitches? Smart beta strategies (formerly known as “fundamental indexing”) in the investment world generally fall into two camps: 1) Indexes that use a one-dimensional or simple formulas, like equal weighting all the stocks within a benchmark like the …

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How Much Money is Enough for a Comfortable Retirement?

In 2011, the oldest members of the Baby Boom generation reached retirement age and over the next 15 years, around 8,000 Boomers per day will turn 65. And as more Americans contemplate life in retirement and preparing for it, they need to have a clearer picture of what their income (NYSEARCA:AGG) needs will be after …

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Stock Market Fear is Tapering, Greed is Back

The stock market’s wild mood swings from fear to greed and back are in full swing again. And this time around, the investing public’s fear of missing out on potential stock gains is greater than its fear of losing money. The latest Fear and Greed Index shows that stock market greed is now at extreme …

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Russia Isn’t Only Trouble Spot for Emerging Markets

As if war between Russia and Ukraine wasn’t bad enough, emerging market stocks (NYSEARCA:BKF) are still dealing with two other major problems: China’s unfolding credit crisis and Latin America’s currency and political turmoil. Russia’s president Vladimir Putin said that Russian troops have the right to invade Ukraine, setting up the possibility for combat between the …

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Does the Sleeping Giant (VIX) Have More Upside?

Like a sleeping giant, stock market volatility can hibernate, but it never goes away. Right now, the giant is showing signs of awakening and whether the beast completely tramples the city is yet to be determined. Although the S&P 500 (^GSPC) hit all-time highs near 1,859 last week, a number of flashing indicators we’ve written …

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Will Dividend Yields Test ’99 Lows?

The past six years have been brutal for dividend and income investors. Zero percent interest rates have depressed bond yields (NYSEARCA:BOND) and with major stock indexes (^DJI) now trading at all-time highs, dividend yields relative to prices have fallen too. Last year, the number of S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) stocks paying a dividend touched a 17-year …

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Valuation Models Say Stock Market Losses Ahead

Overpaying for anything is a bad idea. But it’s an especially bad thing when it comes to investing in the stock market. James Montier at GMO correctly observes: “Over the years I’ve witnessed many attempts by the practitioners of this most dark art to justify why tried and tested measures of valuation are no longer …

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Is this the Weakest Bull Market in History?

“Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, one by one,” said Charles MacKay in his classic book the Madness of Crowds. A closer examination of the U.S. stock market’s (NasdaqGM:QQQ) action shows how the herd is …

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Are Corporate Earnings Being Gamed?

Are corporate earnings really as great as the executives at the helm and Wall Street want us to believe? Over 70% of S&P 500 (^GSPC) companies that have already reported beat analysts’ earnings estimates during the fourth quarter. Furthermore, 66% reported higher sales revenue, which is above four year averages, according to FactSet.  Equity permabulls …

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MyRA is Dead on Arrival

During his State of the Union address, President Obama unveiled his new plan to increase retirement savings. The plan is dubbed “MyRA” and is geared for people without a company sponsored retirement plan. Sadly, MyRA is more than a futile attempt at preventing people from retiring without money. It’s another shining example of grandstanding and …

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Wall Street is Still Optimistic, Should You Be Too?

Never mind the S&P 500’s (^GSPC) mild nosedive. Wall Street’s analysts are still cheerleading stocks for 2014 as if nothing has changed. How bullish are they? Among Wall Street’s analysts, 18 out of 21 predict a 3% or greater increase for the S&P 500 (NYSEARCA:SPY) in 2014.(see table below) One of the most bullish 2014 …

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