Blogs

  • P/E Scenario Modeling

    For the past several months, the S&P 500 has been locked in a trading range of roughly 1230 to 1300. Why has it settled into this particular range? Allow me to offer a few reasons via a scenario forecast. In last Thursday’s blog entry titled...
    Posted to Musing on the Markets by Vinny Catalano, CFA on 09-09-2008
  • A Misguided Slam On Active Management

    It is not uncommon to have major Wall Street players criticize traditional market timing strategies in the financial media. However, such criticism is somewhat misguided in today's market, when many buy-and-hold investors are suffering major investment losses. That's why I was somewhat surprised to see David Dreman, a known contrarian, tag along with the buy-and-hold crowd in a recent Forbes article. In this week's E-Letter, I'm going to take on Mr. Dreman's recent comments about traditional market timing strategies. I'll also show you his recent performance as compared to that of Scotia Partners, one of our latest market timing managers. You can then decide for yourself which one has had the upper hand in the recent volatile market environment....
  • Does The Bail Out Constitute A CDS Event?

    * A potential CDS debacle... * Currencies rally back... * Brazilian real history... * Saber rattling or geopolitical pressure? ** Does The Bail Out Constitute A CDS Event? Good day... And a Terrific Tuesday to you! Right out of the starters blocks this morning, I have to apologize for the tardiness of the Pfennig yesterday... We were experiencing some technical difficulties... In fact, if you sent me an email, I didn't get it yesterday! Things look better this morning, so, maybe we're back on track! I know it's no one's fault when this stuff happens, but it sure doesn't make me feel good about getting up at X:XX AM (I won't say because you will think I'm crazy!) to come in and write the Pfennig, only to see it not go out until late in the day! Well... The stock market here in the U.S. sure liked the news about Fannie and Freddie! I guess, they, just like the dollar bulls, didn't get the memo that this will put billions of dollars of tax burden on taxpayers, and most likely is going to cause a major disruption in the Credit Default Swaps (CDS) that are on the books... Oh, well, we have to learn to deal with mental giants all our lives, this is just another case of that!...
  • This Crisis Is Not Over

    What a momentous weekend. I was pounding the table about the need to move quickly on Fannie and Freddie in my last few letters, and especially this last letter. And then they did it. There are a lot of details that have yet to come out, and it is likely to be far more expensive the Savings and Loan crisis was for the US taxpayer, but it did get done. Hopefully, we can get some real regulation for part of our costs, as well as get rid of the implicit guarantees by US taxpayers so that something like this never happens again. The fact that it did was the fault of the regulatory environment and Congress. They fired the heads of Fannie and Freddie (with multi-million dollar parting gifts), but sadly, the truly responsible parties will be re-elected to perpetrate yet more frauds....
  • Another Government Bailout!

    * Fannie & Freddie news... * Jobs Jamboree very disappointing! * Risk Taking back on the board! * Troubles brewing in China? ** Another Government Bailout! Good day... And a Marvelous Monday to you! We had some historic economic news over the weekend as the Gov't has decided to take over Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae... When I heard the news, I made sure I would check on the currencies later in the day when the Asian markets opened. At first, it was all dollar negative news, and the euro was flying high to near the 1.44 handle... So... I went to bed thinking that the markets would be a shambles this morning when I got to work, etc. etc. But, that's not the case, as I turned on the currency screens I saw the euro had lost all that ground it had gained and is back to looking sickly around 1.42 again. In fact, I just looked over, and the single unit has given up the 1.42 handle and is trading below... I'm searching and searching for news on this strong dollar move, and can't seem to find anything... So, I'll go on with the normal fun, and see if something pops up later as I go along......
  • Sectors and Styles Weekly Investment Strategy Report: September 8, 2008

    excerpts from this week's report*: Technical Analysis "Last week’s market performance pushed the Moving Averages Scorecard to its worst level thus far, at 16.67% bullish. A potential key reversal might be forming in the Financials but there...
    Posted to Musing on the Markets by Vinny Catalano, CFA on 09-08-2008
    Filed under:
  • Additional Thoughts on the Continuing Crisis

    We are entering the next stage of the credit crisis, and one which is potentially more troubling than what we have seen over the past year, absent some policy reactions by the central banks and governments world wide. The crisis was started by an intense run-up in leverage by financial institutions and investors world wide, investing in increasingly risky assets such as subprime mortgages and then the realization that leverage could hurt. The deleveraging process started to intensify last year about this time. The easy part of that process has been just about done. Now is the time for the really hard work. It will not be pretty. In this week's letter, we look at the process and think about its implications for the markets and the economy, and visit some data on the housing market and unemployment....
  • More Dollar Strength!

    * Trichet's words sink the euro rally... * A New Conspiracy theory... * Japanese yen continues to rally! * An Announcement... ** More Dollar Strength! Good day... And a Happy Friday to one and all! It has not started out as a Fantastico Friday, just a Fun Friday... No wait! Just because the dollar is running around the end with the ball, and the currencies can't catch up with the greenback, is no reason to allow it to filter through to my feelings about each and every day! That's right! I'm feeling like there's a ton of weight on my shoulders right now, with this dollar strength, and everyone jumping ship... But, I promised myself over a year ago that if I was able to fight cancer and come out on top, that I would celebrate each day... And that's what I try to do! So... I'll make it a Fantastico Friday after all! The euro's two-day rally VS the dollar got stuffed in a box and shipped to sea yesterday. The single unit looked as though it would add to the rally that took it above 1.45 but as I was signing off yesterday the euro was giving back its gains VS the dollar... And soon, it would give back more than the two-day rally's gains....
  • Solzhenitsyn and the Struggle for Russia's Soul

    As we search for "the" driver of financial markets, we look at all kinds of things. We pore over government statistics, company financial statements, and analyst research, trying to find that one nugget that will give us a glimpse of the future. Today, though, we're going to turn to literature. Because it's in Solzhenitsyn's vision of Mother Russia that we find an almost chillingly accurate roadmap of how Russia is likely to reemerge onto the global stage. When President Bush famously looked into Putin's eyes and saw his soul, what he saw - whether he knew it or not - was Solzhenitsyn's depiction of a true Russian leader. Read this obituary essay from my friend George Friedman over at Stratfor. George puts Solzhenitsyn in historical context, using his life and writings to illustrate not just the evolution of the Russian/Soviet/Russian system but also the Western perception of Russia and what it says about future relations. It's uncannily ironic that Solzhenitsyn died just days before Russia forcefully punctuated its geopolitical prominence in going to war with Georgia. You can almost imagine Solzhenitsyn shrugging and asking, "What did you expect?" Over the Labor Day weekend, Russian President Medvedev used a press interview to lay out five points that will define Russian foreign policy going forward. Allow me to translate (loosely) from the Russian: "We're back."...
  • Week of 09/04/2008

    In This Issue:

    Growth Is Stronger Than Expected
    But A Slowdown May Be On The Way
    "The Economy" May No Longer Have Much Meaning
    There is Always Something That's Doing Well
    Hurricanes And Floods Won't Stop These Carriers
    Lower Interest Rates Seem Likely
    The Bottom Line This Week

    Last week investors proved once again that they are more resilient to bad news than we might expect. Although the Dow and the Nasdaq declined 0.3% and 1.5% respectively, those were mild reactions to the potential damage Hurricane Gustav could have done to America's energy infrastructure. If only one Gulf Coast refinery or oil rig had been knocked out, gas prices would have shot back up – and inflation would have quickly followed.

    It turned out that we dodged the bullet this time around, but Hurricane Hanna is coming up fast. Judging from the flat market we are having so far this week, the new storm is also of little concern on Wall Street.

    ...
  • The World as We See It

    4 reasons why this may be the worst crisis since the 1930s - and 4 projections for what's going to happen... I identify the foundational forces now driving our economy to establish a basis for the investment recommendations you'll read in this advisory in the months to come. The role of the U.S. as the world's dominant economic superpower is now challenged by an out-of-control growth in debt and a deterioration in its reputation as a financial haven. The dollar is losing its special status as the global "reserve currency," is leading, in turn, to higher inflation, higher interest rates, weakening financial assets (stocks and bonds) and runaway prices for commodities. Let the data and let them speak for themselves, with some interpretation along the way....
    Posted to The Room by David Galland on 09-04-2008
  • Avoiding Amazing Estate Battles

    Few things amaze estate planners more than the property heirs choose to fight over. The worst disputes often seem to occur over items that most outsiders consider trivial. Items of little financial value seem to trigger emotional reactions in heirs. Sometimes...
    Posted to Retirement Watch by Bob Carlson on 09-04-2008
  • Central Bank Meeting Day...

    * Euro fights back... * Germany Factory Orders drop... * BOE & ECB meeting today... * Riksbank raises rates! ** Central Bank Meeting Day... Good day... And a Thunderin' Thursday to you! A rainy Thursday for us here in St. Louis, as the rains from Gustav reach this area. There's another Hurricane in the Caribbean now... There are two Central Bank meetings going on as I write this morning. The European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England (BOE) both are meeting this morning, and both are expected to leave rates unchanged. More on this in a bit, the Fed's Beige Book, and more this morning, so let's go! Front and Center this morning, the euro spent yesterday on the rally tracks recovering from a 5-month low... When I turned on the screens this morning, the single unit was trading above 1.45 again, on expectations that the ECB would leave rates unchanged. But I've seen a softening in the euro, since arriving, that has come from an unexpected drop in German Factory Orders for the month of July....
  • The Looming Valuation Adjustment Process

    A powerful argument is being made by my good friend and frequent Market Forecast panelist, Rich Bernstein (Merrill Lynch Chief Investment Strategist), in his most recent report – “Valuation Now at Historical Extreme”. The chart below...
    Posted to Musing on the Markets by Vinny Catalano, CFA on 09-03-2008
    Filed under:
  • An Aussie Rate Cut!

    * Dollar rally continues... * Eurozone data prints weak... * Oil sees a HUGE drop! * WAKE UP, China! ** An Aussie Rate Cut! Good day... And a Wonderful Wednesday to you! I'm shaking my head this morning and wondering what its going to take to get this dollar rally stopped before it gets out of hand, and the exports get killed once again. And if the exports get killed, the Current Account Deficit begins to swell again, and so on and so on. This dollar strength is not good for our economy at this stage, but that's what we have, and I'm wondering who wrote the book of love! I recall the last time we saw the dollar smokin' hot like this, 2005... I sure hope the nasty emails to me don't start again... You should have seen some of these emails, they would embarrass a sailor! OK, that's just a saying, I'm not picking on sailors! You have to say these disclaimers or else there will be someone that gets upset and fires off a nasty email. What's happened in society that email has allowed people to say things they would never say to someone's face? It's brought out the Mr. Hyde in people, for sure!...
    Posted to Daily Pfennig by Chuck Butler on 09-03-2008