In Greek mythology, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty caused Apollo to grant her the gift of prophecy. However, when she did not return his love, Apollo placed a curse on her so that no one would ever believe her predictions. In any case, Cassandra sees a lot of controversial things happening during the next few years. As Cassandra so aptly says...."Forewarned is Forearmed."

This Day in History

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Housing Market Is Still Holding Back the Economy. Here’s Why. -

That may not match how people in a handful of big, prosperous cities see things. After a disastrous and historic crash, housing is booming in places like San Francisco and New York. Bidding wars are back, and the question is not whether the real estate market is recovering but whether new bubbles are inflating.
But there’s another reality that is more important for the national economy. Except in a few booming markets, housing is nowhere close to pulling its economic weight.

Is The Global Growth Story In Jeopardy? - Seeking Alpha

  • Find out what Nanette Abuhoff Jacobson, Global Investment Strategist for Hartford Funds, thinks about the prospects of global economic growth and the implications for markets.
  • Will geopolitical risks and emerging-market stresses impact your portfolio allocations?
  • Will signs of higher inflation pose a problem for risky assets?
  • How could economic incentives ultimately influence Russia's course of action?

Best And Worst Telecom Services Sector ETFs, Mutual Funds, And Key Holdings - Seeking Alpha

The Telecom Services sector ranks sixth out of the ten sectors as detailed in my Sector Rankings for ETFs and Mutual Funds report. It gets my Dangerous rating, which is based on aggregation of ratings of 5 ETFs and 14 mutual funds in the Telecom Services sector as of April 8, 2014. Prior reports on the best & worst ETFs and mutual funds in every sector are here.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World’s Richest -

The American middle class, long the most affluent in the world, has lost that distinction.  While the wealthiest Americans are outpacing many of their global peers, a New York Times analysis shows that across the lower- and middle-income tiers, citizens of other advanced countries have received considerably larger raises over the last three decades.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Most G-7 Economies Still Struggling to Recoup Lost Jobs -

MORE than six years after the Great Recession began, people in most industrialized countries are still less likely to be employed than they were before the downturn.
“The recovery in the labor market has been exceptionally show,” Janet L. Yellen, the chairwoman of the Federal Reserve, said in an appearance at the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday, as she explained why the Fed continues to seek to stimulate the American economy.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ETF Deathwatch For April 2014: Membership Count Drops Below 300 - Seeking Alpha

ETF Deathwatch membership rolls dropped by 15 for April, and for the first time in 25 months the list contains fewer than 300 products. Five names joined the list, eight came off due to improved health, and a dozen exited because they are no longer with us. The ETF Deathwatch for April contains 299 products, consisting of 201 ETFs and 98 ETNs. Among the ETFs on the list, 16 are categorized as actively managed funds.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Constructing A High Income, Lower Risk CEF Portfolio -seeking Alpha

As a retiree, I am always looking for new income opportunities. Thus I was fascinated when I read Lance Brofman's article on a new Exchange Traded Note (ETN) that was paying almost 18%. The ETN was the UBS ETRACS Monthly Pay 2x Leveraged Closed End Fund (CEFL). This ETN is based on the ISE High Income Index that is comprised of 30 Closed End Funds (CEFs) that are selected based on their yield, discount, and liquidity. The objective of the ETN is to generate twice the income that you would receive from a portfolio of the CEFs making up the index.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Defensive Stock Fund For Risk-Averse Investors - Seeking Alpha

Low-volatility equity strategies were all the rage two years ago. Investors were looking to tiptoe back into the equity market but could not stomach the volatility, and two newly minted exchange-traded funds were happy to meet the demand. iShares MSCI USA Minimum Volatility (USMV) and PowerShares S&P 500 Low Volatility (SPLV) raked in $6 billion in the year through April 2013. Those strong flows came at a time when overall demand for equities was tepid. The organic growth rate for large-blend funds was only about 2% during that period. Since that time, the broad equity market has rallied, and investors have pulled $3 billion out of the low-volatility funds while ramping up investment in the broader equity market. While these funds should lag during bull markets, they may pay off during market downturns. Investors who try to chase performance are likely to be disappointed.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Detroit Reaches Deal With Some Bondholders -

Insurers of about $400 million of Detroit’s general-obligation bonds have agreed to settle their bankruptcy claims in a deal that would also help protect the city’s retired workers, federal mediators said on Wednesday.
Although the bonds represent a relatively narrow slice of Detroit’s $18 billion in outstanding debts, the deal could add momentum to the city’s efforts to resolve its bankruptcy in record time, by this fall. City and state officials are hoping to finish the case by then because the state law that puts Detroit under control of an emergency manager will expire then.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Europe’s Many Jobless See Little Light Yet From Glimmers of a Recovery -

When Kostas Polychronopoulos lost his high-paying marketing position at a telecommunications company during the height of Europe’s financial crisis in 2010, he exhausted himself for more than a year trying to find work.
But a job proved impossible to find. He was forced to leave his sunny Athens apartment, sell his BMW convertible and move in with his elderly mother. Soon, he found himself in a place he never dreamed he would be: standing in line at a soup kitchen.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Regression To Trend: A Perspective On Long-Term Market Performance - Seeking Alpha

About the only certainty in the stock market is that, over the long haul, over-performance turns into under-performance and vice versa. Is there a pattern to this movement? Let's apply some simple regression analysis (see footnote below) to the question.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

High-Yield Global Income Funds Offer Stability During Times Of Market Uncertainty - Seeking Alpha

At the beginning of March, many were hoping that the losses seen in January were a correction and the market was poised to take another leg upward. The markets tested the all-time highs in the first half of March and have just been hovering around them since. This type of trading activity looks more like the market running out of steam instead of gearing up for another rally higher.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

10 Clean Energy Stocks For 2014: Patience Rewarded --Seeking Alpha

For both the stock market and the weather, March was more lion than lamb. My broad market benchmark fell 2.2% to end up 1.5% for the quarter. Volatile clean energy stocks were down 4%, to end the quarter up 15.7%. My annual Ten Clean Energy Stocks model portfolio is designed to avoid much of the sector's notorious volatility, and fell only 0.6%, ending the quarter with a 3.9% total return.

Barron's 10 Favorite Stocks For 2014 - 1Q Update - Seeking Alpha

In December, I published an article highlighting Barron's favorite stocks for 2014. I provided a few tables that summarized the views of a group of analysts, including the Thomson Reuters IBES opinions.
So far, the results have been all over the place. In the following article, I'll update the same estimates published in December by both a group of independent analysts and the Thomson Reuters IBES consensus estimates, both obtained through

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Detroit’s Revised Debt Plan May Cut Pensions Deeper -

The city of Detroit on Monday evening proposed new details, including potentially larger cuts to pensions for some retirees, for its plan for paying off portions of its debts and emerging this year from the nation’s largest municipal bankruptcy.

Monday, March 31, 2014

How the Ukraine Crisis May Change the World -

As Moscow and the West dig in for a prolonged standoff over Russia’s annexation of Crimea, risking spillover to other former Soviet republics and beyond, here are some ways in which the Ukraine crisis could change attitudes and policy around the world.
Russia diminished Russia’s role in international affairs is diminished, at least temporarily. Moscow has been de facto excluded from the Group of 8 advanced economies. Its bids to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and the International Energy Agency are frozen. Western summit meetings with Moscow are canceled until further notice.

Beware Of Currency ETFs? - Seeking Alpha

The currency market (called the foreign exchange, forex, or the FX market) is the largest and most liquid market in the world. The volume of FX trading is over 3 trillion dollars per day, which is an order of magnitude greater than the trading volume on all the world's stock exchanges combined. In the past, it was difficult for retail investors to gain access to this market since you had to open an account with a forex broker. All this changed in 2005 when Rydex Investments launched the first currency Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) based on the value of the Euro. Now there are over 29 currency ETFs and one currency Closed End Fund (CEF).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Top 7 Reasons To Buy Treasuries: Part 2 - Seeking Alpha

  • Four compelling reasons to own Treasuries right now, including two of the biggest risks facing the financial markets.
  • Stay away from Treasury ETFs and profit even if rates rise.
  • Deleveraging is a slow process and rates can stay low for a very long time.
  • China is on the brink of disaster, which has significant global implications.
  • Widespread financial warfare is just beginning.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Pitfalls of Reverse Mortgages May Pass to Borrower's Heirs -

Similar scenes are being played out throughout an aging America, where the children of elderly borrowers are learning that their parents’ reverse mortgages are now threatening their own inheritances. Reverse mortgages, which allow homeowners 62 and older to borrow money against the value of their homes that need not be paid back until they move out or die, have long posed pitfalls for older borrowers.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

These Companies Have Paid Dividends For Over 100 Years -Seeking Alpha

The companies I tend to focus on tend to be stodgy corporations that havestrong competitive advantages that allow them to keep customers happy and protect their business from competitors. They are characterized by wide moats, or strong competitive advantages such as geographic monopolies, strong brand names, strong customer relationships, economies of scale or the ability to consistently reinvent themselves.

3 Higher Quality, High-Yield Dividend Stocks - Seeking Alpha

A successful dividend growth investor must start young enough to allow time for dividend growth to occur. What happens when a person waits too late in life to start investing and they need immediate income? Many times the person will invest in high-yield, high-risk stocks and lose their savings. If income is needed immediately and you want to mitigate the risk (to a degree), there are some things that can be done, such as...

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

This Bond CEF Is A Strong Buy With A 9.6% Yield ?- Seeking Alpha

There has been a lot of talk about tapering and higher interest rates in the past few months, but the reality is that we remain in a very low interest rate environment. Even if rates "rise" in a year or so, the increase is likely to be nominal, especially since the global economy is growing slowly and continues to see new challenges to growth with Russia and Crimea, China, etc. Certificates of deposit yield next to nothing, with interest rates of much less than 1%, even for a five year CD. That means there are much better places to park your money, if you look off the "beaten path". Junk bonds offer generous yields, but closed end funds or "CEF's" that focus on this sector can be one of the most lucrative opportunities for investors.

Market Data Proves Russian U.S. Bond Threat Is A Paper Tiger Blowing Hot Air?? - Seeking Alpha

Recently a Putin advisor Serge Glazyev suggested that the way for Russia to strike back at the US was by selling its bonds. The theory goes that by selling the US bonds, the action will drive down the price of bonds and drive up the US interest rates. Ignoring the obvious flaw in that theory that the interest paid on existing bonds remains the same to the issuer, and any increase in interest rates would only impact bonds issued after the rate increase, Serge failed to recognize that if his policy succeeded, the party doing the selling would be forcing a lower and lower price for each bond they sold. Sure a rate increase might hurt the US a bit, but the bond holders are the ones that really get hurt. Serge may also want to review the holdings of US debt by the Chinese. They might have something to say with harming their largest customer's economy, as well as the value of their US bond holdings.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Screamin' And Yellen Higher Rates Are Comin': Part II: Get Your Portfolio Ready With Bank Loan ETFs - Seeking Alpha

Bank Loans are an ideal investment for higher interest rates. Most loans accrue interest at a spread over short-term rates based on indexes such as LIBOR or prime rate. When underlying base interest rates increase the investor's income will grow larger. As an added benefit most loans are senior secured, meaning investors are first in line for repayment should a company default.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bank Of America: Go Home, Goldman Sachs, You're Drunk - Seeking Alpha

Bank of America (BAC) passed their stress test, Warren Buffett is still on board, dividends are likely coming - all is well in the BAC world, right? Well, they were - it was euphoria for BAC investors like myself, until Goldman Sachs (GS) had to come out and harsh our collective mellow.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Rick Rule's 2 Key Bullish Data Points For Gold (Part 1) - Seeking Alpha

Rick Rule is director, president and chief executive officer of Sprott U.S. Holdings. He leads a highly skilled team of earth science and finance professionals who have deep experience in many resource sectors including agriculture, alternative energy, forestry, oil and gas, mining and water. Rule is a contributor to Sprott's Thoughts, a free educational resource for investorsHAI Managing Editor Sumit Roy recently caught up with Rule to discuss the outlook for commodity markets, and particularly gold.

Rick Rule's 2 Key Bullish Data Points For Gold (Part 2) - Seeking Alpha

Rick Rule is director, president and chief executive officer of Sprott US Holdings. He leads a highly skilled team of earth science and finance professionals who have deep experience in many resource sectors including agriculture, alternative energy, forestry, oil and gas, mining and water. Rule is a contributor to Sprott's Thoughts, a free educational resource for investorsHAI Managing Editor Sumit Roy recently caught up with Rule to discuss the outlook for commodity markets, particularly gold.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Rocketing Prices Confound an Argentina Racked by Inflation -

BUENOS AIRES — Diego Gómez scurried around the food market, a labyrinth of bustling stalls in a gritty neighborhood far from the elegant avenues of central Buenos Aires. He did not stay long.
“My salary isn’t enough for anything,” said Mr. Gómez, 58, a blacksmith and father of four who earns less than $800 a month. After a few modest purchases, he left the market and headed home.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

» 10 Worst States for Retirement for 2014 Topretirements

Finding the best place to retire in is a little bit like looking for a mate. There are lots of pretty ones out there. But for you – which state has the most attractive features and a minimum of not so desirable attributes. To help weed out the more unattractive ones, we present our 3rd annual (we skipped 2013) list of the worst states for retirement. There is one main point we want to emphasize – everyone’s retirement situation is different, so a one size fits all approach won’t work. If your grandchildren live in one of these states and you want to be near them – that makes it a great retirement state for you. Our goal for this article is to give you the tools to help you figure out what states aren’t a good fit for your retirement. See “Worst States to Retire 2102“.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ukraine Tensions Make This Megatrend Company Stronger???- Seeking Alpha

  • Infrastructure for energy transportation has lagged production leading to transport through the more costly rail option and driving demand for pipeline growth for years to come.
  • A tax-advantaged structure for MLPs and their investors helps drive higher returns for the assets than can be achieved by traditional c-corporations.
  • Tension with Russia may expedite licenses for natural gas exports, opening another opportunity for revenue in the industry.

The Cold, Hard Lessons of Mobile Home U. -

“Don’t get too hung up on appearances,” Frank Rolfe reminded us as our tour bus made its way to the first of several trailer parks we would visit on a bright Saturday afternoon in Southern California. “Remember, you don’t have to live in these homes.”
It was Day 2 of Mobile Home University, an intensive, three-day course on how to strike it rich in the trailer-park business. Seventy-five or so students had signed up for the class, which Rolfe offers every other month in different places around the country. Most of the enrollees weren’t real estate speculators; they were jittery members of a hard-pressed middle class. They were nervous about retirement. Or they were worried about their jobs moving overseas. Or they were making $100,000 a year, maybe even $200,000, but felt the need to earn more. All of them, though, had somehow come to see the lowly mobile home as their vehicle to financial freedom. “It’s about self-preservation,” one 42-year-old attendee told me. He had flown down from San Francisco for the seminar because he hated his job selling health care plans.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Waste Management: A Fantastic And Defensive Company? - Seeking Alpha

  • The benefits of value and momentum strategies on an individual basis have been well-documented in financial literature.
  • Waste Management's asset base is the largest and most diverse in the industry. We like this position.
  • We think defensive environmental exposure makes sense in today's volatile (and pricey) market environment.

Closed-End Funds: The Best Way To Play An Elevated Stock Market - Seeking Alpha

  • Stock benchmarks at elevated levels offer limited potential for upside.
  • Closed-end funds create strong alternatives for those looking to gain stock exposure.
  • NAV discounts and elevated dividends support the outlook for CEN and JGT.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Investors Move Into Ukraine, Out Of Russia - Seeking Alpha

Western leaders haven't been able to wrest control of the Crimea region from Russia and don't appear to have a plan to do so. Party like it's the 19th century and someone get Otto von Bismarck on the phone because annexation is back! While the likelihood of a shooting war in the region remains very low in our view, the crisis doesn't appear to be dying down anytime soon. This is horrible news for the stock Russia. Russian equities have gotten absolutely smoked this year. Below is a five-year chart of Russia's equity market versus that of the Ukraine.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Capitalizing On Cannabis: An Interview With Robert McAllister, CEO Of Enertopia - Seeking Alpha

  • The Canadian medical marijuana rules are undergoing a significant change.
  • Enertopia is attempting to capitalize by investing in cannabis growers.
  • Enertopia CEO Robert McAllister shares his perspective.

How Geothermal Heat Pumps Can Soar Like Solar - Seeking Alpha

Ralph Waldo Emerson never said “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door.” The mousetrap that likely inspired themisquote was invented seven years after his death. Unfortunately, many people take it literally. GHPs have all the hallmarks of a better mousetrap: They do the job of heating and cooling a building more efficiently than any other option. Despite the larger up-front cost, they are a mature technology and usually the most economic option for buildings that can accommodate them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

10 Good Gold ETFs And Perspectives?-seeking Alpha

  • Multiple events during 2008 to 2013 consistently proved that investing 1/10 in physical gold is usually a sound idea, although the net benefit of holding more is less certain.
  • However, physical metal ETFs carry more concentrated custodial risk than equity ETFs. This risk is best minimized by custodial diversification.
  • Also, investments in gold mining and physical silver are somewhat like "gold kryptonite": lacking beneficial value, and in addition, neutralizing the portfolio-hedging superpowers of any gold held nearby.
  • "Ten good metal ETFs" are listed below, followed by "ten basic tips and perspectives," including "hedging your gold" and "no-fee trading.".
  • At the bottom is an argument that oil production is a more sensible investment than metal mining, if using ETFs and trend-following.

Reaching For Yield: Worth The Risk? - Seeking Alpha

Investors seeking more robust returns in a lower-interest-rate environment often look to high-yield bonds for answers. But it's critical that they don't reach too far down the credit spectrum in search of higher yields, as tempting as it may be.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Treasury Forecast: A Sharp Drop This Week And A 7% Scenario For Treasuries In 2017 ??- Seeking Alpha

The latest implied forward rate forecast from Kamakura Corporation shows projected 10 year U.S. Treasury yields down 0.11% to 0.18% from last week while fixed rate mortgage yields are 0.01% to 0.04% higher. Mortgage yields, determined by the Monday through Wednesday weekly survey of the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, lag Treasury movements simply because of the 3-day yield calculation used in the Primary Mortgage Market Survey ®. We also present three potential scenarios consistent with the implied forecast that represent alternative paths for interest rates. We introduce those scenarios with a graph of 52 years of U.S. Treasury yield history and a video of daily yield curve movements.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Shrinking Governments: Good or Bad? -

One accomplishment — well, to the Tea Party it would seem to be an accomplishment — of the Obama administration is the recession in government hiring.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Utility And Infrastructure CEF Report: 6%+ Yields And Deep Value - Seeking Alpha

Executive summary:
  • Risk is real and as such, diversification is key.
  • Income investors are recommended to own a basket of utility stocks for gradual income growth and managed risk.
  • Utilities are defined to include non-traditional, monopolistic, infrastructure-related sectors such as road & rails, telecom, airports, tower REITs and seaports.
  • A new, proprietary utility CEF report grades available funds through a ranking system.
  • An in-depth report with analysis to guide investors through the utility closed-end fund options.

10 Clean Energy Stocks For 2014: March Update - Seeking Alpha

After a rough January, the stock market recovered in February, while clean energy stocks partied like it was 2013. My annual 10 Clean Energy Stocks model portfolio also had a good month, rising 6.0%, and is now up 4.7% for the year in dollar terms, and up percentage-wise in local currency terms. My broad market benchmark (the iShares Russell 2000 index) is up 7.5% for the period and 1.5% for the year. Clean energy stocks soared higher, with the Powershares WilderHill Clean Energy ETF (PBW) up 16.3% for the period and 15.7% for the year.

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