THE FEDERAL RESERVE: “MEET THE NEW BOSS, SAME AS THE OLD BOSS.”

December 31, 2013 SEIA


The Federal Reserve (the Fed) was not the original central bank of the United States. In 1791, the then fledgling U.S. government granted the First Bank of the United States a charter to operate as our central bank until 1811 when Congress refused to renew its charter. Five years later, the Second Bank of the United States was established but it again lost its charter in 1836.
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ALL COUNTRY WORLD INDEX (ACWI): A BETTER MOUSETRAP

September 30, 2013 SEIA


A lot can change in six years. For example, in 2007, Apple launched its game-changing mousetrap (the iPhone); but that year also marked the beginning of the financial crisis. In October 2007, U.S. equity markets started to retreat from their recent all-time highs and markets fell into turmoil.
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WHEN SAFE BECOMES RISKY, TIME TO REBALANCE

June 30, 2013 SEIA


Last quarter we suggested that although equity markets were approaching six-year highs, “higher yielding securities will continue to perform.” That prognostication quickly proved true as investors’ constant thirst for yield pushed income-oriented assets northwards as dividend securities (Utilities, Consumer Staples, Pharmaceutical Companies, Telecom, Master Limited Partnerships, etc.) enjoyed a rousing first quarter. But now with the S&P 500 at historic peaks, many are questioning whether the market can continue to advance or to heed the catchy rhyme of “Sell in May and go away.”
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BULL MARKET TURNS 4!

March 31, 2013 SEIA


BULL MARKET REVIEW: In early February, the venerable Dow Jones Industrial Average, with its long and storied past, traded above 14,000 for the first time since October 2007, moving to within 180 points (1.3%) of its all time high. The S&P 500, meanwhile, moved above 1500, to levels last seen in December 2007. With major U.S. equity indices approaching all time highs, it may be a good time to step back and reassess where capital markets could go from here. But before we look ahead, let’s look at where we have been.
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ELECTION 2012: WINNERS AND LOSERS

December 30, 2012 SEIA


One beneficiary of the result will be Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke, who will have the continued support of the President, rather than face Mitt Romney, who announced he would not renew Bernanke’s term. From this perspective, markets can relax as quantitative easing (QE) money printing is set to continue and interest rates should remain low. Other winners include:
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POLITICAL PRIZEFIGHT

September 30, 2012 SEIA


Congress is poised for another showdown on taxes and the budget deficit later this year—and this time, like any memorable heavyweight title bout, it has a name. Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, leader in monetary policy, coined the year-end fiscal policy decisions as the “The Fiscal Cliff.” While it doesn’t pack the same punch as “The Thrilla-in-Manila,” the stakes are higher.
 
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A MODERN GREEK TRAGEDY 2012: “A Midsummer Dream or Nightmare”

June 30, 2012 SEIA


Europe matters once again—and once again the problems center on Greece. At its core, the European sovereign debt-crisis (ESDC) involves debt ridden countries (Greece) that are no longer able to refinance their own government debts without assistance and loans from a third party (Germany). In exchange for the loans, austerity is promised in order to reduce spending and deficits, however, it’s not working. The defensive posture we outlined here late last year began to take shape in early April as fears over the European-debt crisis began to flare up—again.
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How Will this Year’s Presidential Election Influence the Financial Markets

June 29, 2012 Brian Holmes


Every presidential election highlights stock market performance as a function of whichever party is in office. Read the full text here.

What are some financial opportunities I should look for?

March 30, 2012 SEIA


Every year brings some financial change, and 2012 is no exception. Here are some relevant changes relating to investment, tax and estate planning for this year. Retirement Plans. Annual limits for 401(k), 403(b) and 457 contributions rise slightly to $17,000, and you can contribute an additional $5,500 to these accounts if you are 50 or older this year. IRA contribution levels are unchanged from 2011: The ceiling is $5,000, $6,000 if you will be 50 or older in 2012.
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Year End Review, 2012 Preview

December 31, 2011 SEIA


Twelve months ago the US equity markets wrapped up 2010 with a 15% gain. Small caps and emerging markets fared even better with 20%+ gains. It appeared that Ben Bernanke’s Quantitative Easing programs staved off recession and continued recovery and expansion were in store for 2011. Our year end review highlighted trades in the capital markets that would profit from this ongoing recovery.
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Relative Valuations Amid Economic Uncertainty

September 30, 2011 SEIA


The government recently said that the economy grew at a 1% annual rate in Q2, down from its initial estimate of a 1.3% pace and not much better than Q1’s 0.4% growth rate. With the two most recent quarters posting growth rates below 1%, recession worries have increased as periods of 1% growth or less have preceded nine of the past 11 recessions. Year-over-year GDP now stands at 1.5% which is again below the level at the onset of all the recessions since the first quarterly GDP was calculated — with one exception: The six-month recession in 1980 started in a quarter with lower GDP (1.4%). On only one occasion (Q1 2007) has GDP dropped below 1.5% without a recession starting in same quarter—but in that case the recession began three quarters later in December 2007.
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Soft Patch be Damned – Time to Get Patriotic.

June 30, 2011 SEIA


I think we all know that the media tends to over analyze not only what is wrong but also what could go wrong. Although it is not the end of the world (that prophecy proved false on May 21st), this year is looking more and more like last year. Recall the 2010 summer doldrums and economic soft patch that caused downward pressure on equity prices. Goldman Sachs states that:
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Is Inflation my Friend or Foe?

June 29, 2011 Brian Holmes


Inflation is once again in the financial headlines, even though just two years ago the consumer price index was negative for the first time in 55 years. Read the full text here.

Tax Laws in 2011

March 30, 2011 SEIA


After months of political power plays, in the waning hours of 2010, President Obama signed into law the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Jobs Creation Act.
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Is California a State to invest in or Avoid?

October 28, 2010 Brian Holmes


The Economic demise of California is greatly exaggerated. Read the full text here.

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