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In Banks We Trust

By | October 19th, 2009|

This is Doug Tengdin from Charter Trust Whither the banks? As our historic financial panic settles out, what is the likely future of bank regulation? Clearly, we are not going back to the status quo. A hostile Congress and trillions in bailouts guarantee that. But what is the reform going to be? A Financial Consumer Protection Agency and that’s it? A mandate to break up [...]

The Wedge

By | October 16th, 2009|

What are taxes, anyway? Governments have to collect taxes to pay for their services. They also collect taxes to encourage or discourage various activities. For example, the mortgage interest deduction and homestead property tax exemption are designed to encourage people to own their own homes. Our governments have tax policies that affect our actions. But taxes also act as a wedge between economic actors, distorting [...]

JP More!

By | October 15th, 2009|

Was it all just a bad dream? With the Dow hitting 10 thousand and many stocks at one-year highs, was last year’s market panic just a piece of underdone potato? That’s the way it feels as we watch the market climb ever higher. Credit spreads have come in and global markets go up. Yesterday’s big news was from JP Morgan. Even though they bought Wamu’s [...]

Doin’ the Grind

By | October 12th, 2009|

Are junk bonds really golden? Since the march lows, junk bonds have been on a roll, adding over 40%. At the same time, investment grade debt has grown, although not as much, advancing about 15%. But in the past week the situation has gotten confusing. Most corporate bonds have fallen, while junk bonds continue their roll. So what gives? Part of the answer lies with [...]

BRIC- bats

By | October 8th, 2009|

What's the deal with BRIC stocks? The initials denoting Brazil, Russia, India, and China have been around a few years. And I've rarely seen a dumber amalgamation of markets. An analyst at Goldman Sachs coined the term in 2001 to describe the four nations he thought would join Japan and the US to be the world's biggest economies by 2050. But just think about their [...]

Boring is Beautiful

By | October 7th, 2009|

Is this market crazy? Or just forgetful? Last week's employment report was lousy. When most predicted it would show a modest improvement, it turned out to be worse. A lot worse. Now we're hearing all about the W-s, U-s and L-shaped recoveries that people were so worried during the winter of discontent last year. Well, don't get your knickers in a twist, as they say [...]

What Happened to Bonds

By | October 6th, 2009|

Remember "Boring is Beautiful?" Well some bond funds aren't. Last year the Barclay's Aggregate Bond Index returned 7.5%. That's pretty good considering the S&P lost 37% last year and global markets lost over 40%. The problem is, your average bond fund lost money. Heck, even Bill Gross, Master of the Universe, only earned 3.5%. What happened? Bond funds started enhancing returns over 25 years ago, [...]

Instant Futures

By | October 5th, 2009|

Is instant coffee the solution for Starbucks? Instant coffee conjures up images of grimy break-rooms and long-forgotten term papers. It is not a good feeling. But its virtue is, it's cheap. For less than 10 cents you can have a small cup of joe that will help you wake up or keep you going when you need a lift. Just add hot water. So it [...]

I Love to Tell The Story

By | October 2nd, 2009|

We all love to hear stories. Does this help our investments? People seem hard-wired to listen to a good yarn. From the Bible to Beckett, literature has documented the rise and fall of kings, kingdoms, and communities. Shakespeare said that all the world's a stage, but what he didn't say that it's a stage on which we tell story after story after story. And we [...]