Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Michael Pettis on the Economics of Income Distribution

Michael Pettis has written an important article on whether cutting taxes on the wealthy leads to growth through an analysis, in different economic investment conditions, of the impacts it can have on economic growth and income inequality.  It is an important article, because the public discussion of this issue is obscured by the divisive ideological political debate of politicians

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Waiting for Godot or Does Anyone Really Know What Is Going on with eurozone Banks?

I have been researching eurozone banks excess reserves and repo availability for a few weeks trying to work my way through muddled commentary and sort the reality from the assumptions and found myself questioning what I know.  In doing so, I have misstated to others what I am thinking and even the data, facts, and issues about which I am concerned.  Sometimes it is best to just stand back and look for the string that pulls the material together.

I have yet to write that article which will address whether eurozone banking rules to promote solvency of banks is creating a liquidity problem, because  the eurozone banking resolution authorities seem to have so badly mismanaged the Banco Popular resolution to the point of intensifying a bank run despite monitoring bank liquidity on a daily and hourly basis.

Banco Popular was Spain's 6th largest bank having been in existence since the early 20thCentury and one of the more profitable banks until about 2016.  In February 2017, it announced it had a 3.b billion euro loss on asset writedowns and Non Performing Loan sales while maintaining it still had more than sufficient quality assets on its balance sheet.

By the end of May and first days of June reports were circulating that Banco Popular had received only 3.5 billion euro on 40 billion euro collateral rather than the 9.5 billion euro it had expected one month previously and had applied to the Bank of Spain for liquidity support receiving only 10%

Monday, June 12, 2017

Even Bloomberg Fears Financial Advisors

I recently wrote yet another article on the institutional deception of the financial advisor services in the United States which contains links to prior articles of mine on the subject as well as testimony provided to the SEC when they studied the issue a few years ago and did nothing.  That article was linked by Abnormal Returns.

Bloomberg had an article last week on how bad financial advisers are multiplying, how they deceive investors, provide advice while having conflicts of interest, how the new Fiduciary Rule is merely a

Monday, June 5, 2017

Will ETFs Have Liquidity in a Financial Crisis?

Noah Smith has a decent column today asking if it is smart to worry about ETFs.   He appears to be concerned about the liquidity of ETFs which hold bonds, derivatives, and futures.  Personally, I think the concerns also apply to equity ETFs in a Crisis market. 

One means of avoiding liquidity risk is to avoid ETNs which not only are comprised of holdings with significant liquidity risk but also can involve default.

If a individual has an account at Fidelity, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, etc., they will find that is significantly less expensive to buy/sell an ETF (such as a Vanguard ETF at Fidelity) than a no-load mutual fund (Vanguard fund at Fidelity) with no 12(b)-1 annual expense of another company.  If it cost $75  to buy a mutual fund and only $7.95 to buy an ETF, you are being purposefully discouraged from buying the fund.

It would be imprudent to not investigate ETFs as well as mutual funds depending on where you have your investment accounts. You will look at the bid/ask spread, because the larger the spread the less liquidity. You will look at volume, because the smaller the volume the less liquidity.  You will look at expense, because you want lower expenses.  You will look at the ETF's portfolio for questionable or potentially illiquid or risky holdings.  You would look at performance over different periods of market conditions.  You would look at risk statistics.  You would look at current and historical distributions.  And that would just be the beginning of the investment decision process and choices of investment in comparison or its role within a portfolio.

Obviously, the least expense purchase is done with a Limit Order, but do not be surprised if it fails and you have to decide whether to make a Market Order.   Investing is a methodical process.  The best portfolios are holding portfolios which have elements which go up and down in different market conditions, because most people buy and sell at the wrong times when reacting to a market and lose return over time.  A knowledgeable investor will have buy/sell rules which they rigorously follow.

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Saturday, June 3, 2017

Beware Financial Advisors Who Are Not Conflict of Interest Free Fiduciary Fee-Only Advisors

On June 9. 2018, the new "fiduciary" rule will take effect requiring financial advisors to "act in the best interest" of the client with respect to retirement account advice.  Unfortunately, in the United States financial advisors are allowed to say they are fiduciary if they attempt to "act in the best interests" of the client despite being financial salespeople  and/or having conflict of interest relationships with financial service companies from which they receive software, services, and incentives or compensation to use them.  A real fiduciary financial advisor is a fee-only financial advisor who works only for the client,. sells no financial products at any time in any capacity, and has no conflicts of interest.

You are going to see media recommendations that you use Broker Check, which is only going to tell you you are finding a licensed salesperson.  They may be able, under current US law, to call themselves fiduciary despite conflicts of interest, but a true fiduciary has NO conflicts of interest.  You will want to use the SEC Advisors page, which will tell you if the individual is just an investment advisor or an Investment Advisor and Broker (salesperson).  You only want an Investment Advisor who is not a Broker. 

When you first see an Investment Advisor, you will first want to see their Form ADV Part II which explains how they do business and how they are compensated.  You want a fee-only advisor who never sale financial products, because the US Securities law allows Investment Advisors to call themselves fee-only when they allow the client to decide if they want products sold to them and not just advice.  Beware.  Watch out for fee-only financial advisors who have a relationship with any person, subsidiary, company, or firm which provides financial products, including insurance, whether commissioned or not for the product placement.  A relationship is a conflict of interest.

The United States is still a predatory frontier where the regulatory authorities only debate how wolves may dress themselves as sheep dogs and profitably feast.  In a civilized society like the United Kingdom, financial advisors must be fee-only with no conflicts of interest period as I have written before and as I have submitted testimony to the SEC previously.  As I have written, the educational and designation standards in the United States are inadequate and purposefully deceptive with no existing financial designation requiring enough education which would equal a true Masters Degree in Finance (the Financial Planning degrees are totally inadequate and designed to bring university revenue not well educated professional fiduciary financial advisors). Even NAPFA is intrinsically linked to the CFP, which is a designation predominately held by, and membership dependent on, salespeople, and just another designation requiring an professionally inadequate education. (Attorneys, CPAs, and medical doctors all require rigorous professional education as well as licensing.)  I have publicly written, as you can see in the links above, that fiduciary fee-only advisors need to be regulated by am independent regulatory body which is salesperson free to avoid the continued deception of who is truly fiduciary.  Meanwhile the SEC is again asking for comment on a fiduciary standard.  They will just ask and, if under enough pressure, design a new sheep dog uniform for wolves who have all that gold in their lairs.

 Look to the ADV Form Part II and ask pointed questions.

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