Reality Check

Japanese Godzilla QE Shows Fed Mothra Feckless


If QE is the bee’s knees, why did no one tell the Japanese?

Drones, Pizza and a Reality Check


The FAA’s approval of commercial drone flights excited investors, but with key rules still unwritten, patience seems paramount.

Stocks’ Rise Doesn’t Rely on Dividends


The hunt for high dividends isn’t fueling this bull market.

Searching for Meaning in ‘Quiet’ Times


Should stocks’ recent “boring” streak worry investors?

Sales, Not Surveys


July’s UK retail sales report is yet more evidence sentiment surveys aren’t as predictive as many think.

Blue? Red? For Stocks, Election Years Are Typically Green


Falling uncertainty as elections approach tends to boost stock market returns.

Don’t Jump to Conclusions on Brexit’s Impact


Recent UK economic data are insufficient to draw any conclusion about the impact of June 23’s vote to leave the EU.

Don’t Be Swayed by Downgrades


Credit rating agencies continue to downgrade sovereign debt, but this doesn’t mean nations’ finances are imperiled.

One Simple Investors’ Trick for Navigating Brexit


When weighing politics—even Brexit—investors must focus on actions, not talk.

Getting Sentimental About Negative Rates


Negative bond yields show investors remain fearful, a sign the bull market is far from over.

The ‘Retail Recession’ Label Doesn’t Fit


Department stores’ recent woes aren’t a sign the US economy is headed for recession.   

Government or No, Watch Spain Grow


Spain’s government takes a siesta, but the economy keeps on working.

False Fears of a False Dawn


Stocks’ rally since February 11 is built on fundamental support, not sand. 

Who’s Too Big to Fail Now?


Recent developments suggest the “too big to fail” regulatory environment may be changing.

Terrorism Still Won’t Succeed


Free people and free markets will overcome the horrific attacks in Brussels.  

Subprime Auto Loans: Not Another 2008


Subprime auto loans aren’t another crisis waiting to happen.

Sweden’s Central Bank Pushes Harder on String


Investors may be starting to notice central banks’ monetary gimmickry is misguided.

The World Isn’t a Safe Place. Own Stocks Anyway.


Conflict and tension are omnipresent, and markets typically aren’t impacted materially.

New Year, Same Old Volatility


Stocks opened 2016 on a rocky note, but one day’s volatility doesn’t predict the year.

Gleaning Investment Wisdom From a Magician Turned Skeptic


How one man’s conversion to skepticism can inform your approach to due diligence.

Did the NYSE Put a Halt to Stop-Losses?


A policy change at the NYSE highlights the silliness of stop-losses as a trading tactic.

Mutually Beneficial?


Mutual funds have benefits, but investors should consider the drawbacks as well.

Fire the Unemployment Rate


The unemployment rate is a terrible indicator of where the economy and stocks are headed.

The ECB’s FAQs on QE


The ECB’s press conference Q&A turned into Mario Draghi attempting the impossible: forecasting volatility.

Don’t Gush Over Oil Stocks


Considering diving into Energy stocks? Better check the water’s depth.

Friday Treat: Why 2015 Won’t Repeat the S&P 500’s Worst Year Ever


Why one freaky statistic shouldn't scare you.

Charts Are Pretty, But Not Predictive


Technical analysis returned to headlines this week. What can investors glean from it all?

1,896 Days Ago, Greece Was a Mess


If Greece fears haven't derailed the bull market yet, the likelihood they do the enxt time they pop up is teensy. 

Braking Down Subprime Auto Loan Concerns


Are subprime auto loans going to drive the next financial crisis?  

Safe Haven, Found! It’s in the Fiction Aisle


The hunt for a new safe haven to replace those just proven unsafe is on again.  

The Eurozone’s Underappreciated Improvement


The eurozone economy has several little-noticed positives.

Greek Flip-Flops: Not Just for Santorini


What to make of noisy negotiations between Greece's new anti-austerity government and their European creditors? 

Reason #529 Why Stocks Love Gridlock


President Obama's decision to scrap plans to tax 529 savings plan distributions probably won't have a direct market impact, but it illustrates why stocks like gridlock. 

How Wearable Gadgets Describe Economic Data


A crop of new products promise data about your body and fitness level, but they’re far less accurate than touted. The same holds true for economic data.


Buried Growth


Contrary to fears otherwise, the global economy is growing just fine.  

The Often-Rumored, But Rarely Seen Grexit


Politicking over a Greek exit from the euro resumes.

Considerable Wrangling Over Considerable Time


Did the Fed just tell you when short-term rates will rise?

Now What?


Did economic reform in Japan just become more likely?

No, China Is Not Number One.


What to make of recent IMF estimates that show, by one measure, China’s economy will be larger than America’s this year.  

OPEC Stays Put—Will US Shale Take a Hit?


Will OPEC’s decision not to reduce its output negatively impact US shale producers?

SEC Catches Self Proclaimed Pirate Running a Very Real Ponzi in Virtual Currency


And there are two big takeaways.

Putting Stocks’ Zigzags in Broader Perspective


It has been a bouncy start to October, but equity investors must focus on longer time periods than seven trading sessions.

A Fun Fight With the Fed


Contrary to the old Wall Street saying, the Fed’s interest rate moves often mean little for stocks.

About That Manufacturing ‘Slowdown’


The latest factory surveys have folks chattering about a global manufacturing slowdown, but even if they’re right, stocks are pretty good at dealing with these things.

Independent for a Reason


Greater collaboration between the Fed and Treasury doesn’t ensure better policy. 

Hey La, Hey La, Volatility Is Back?


Volatility can be pretty volatile sometimes, but at the moment, this is not one of those times.

Seven Charts to Free You From Skepticism’s Shackles


Gauges of tangible activity in the US economy show this expansion is driven by more than just the Fed’s attempted financial engineering.

Some Ken Fisher Wisdom on the Eurozone


As our boss, Ken Fisher, once wrote, “The older an argument is, the less power it has.”

The Dismal Art


It’s unlikely you’d see many headlines touting the fact US GDP growth has been above average in three of the last four quarters. 

The SEC Adds 60 More Bullet Points on Credit-Ratings Agencies


Will the new regulations targeting credit-ratings agencies accomplish much?

Adventures in Forecasting: CBO Edition


Whether you think they’re too sunny or sour, the Congressional Budget Office’s latest debt forecasts probably won’t match reality.  

The Joy of All-Time Highs


How we learned to stop worrying and love the acrophobia.

Statista: The Countries Hit Hardest By Russia’s Trade Ban


Putin's feeble, timid trade war in a picture.

Can Korea Tax Its Way to Business Investment?


Korea’s plans to goose business spending by taxing the cash on corporate balance sheets probably won’t work out so well.

Are the Reds in the Red?


 Will China’s high debt lead to problems for the global economy?

Yellen About Valuations


Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen sees some froth in equity markets—should investors be concerned?

America Gets All Austere


The Federal budget deficit is way down, and deficit fears should be too.

Crude Reality


US crude oil production is surging, but will allowing exports make gas prices do the same?

The Cost of Trying to Time Corrections


Opportunity cost is money lost.

When Does Focusing on Dividends Actually Pay Dividends?


In the long run, stocks are stocks—there is no permanently “better” stock. And yes, that includes high-dividend stocks.

Robots, Marie Antoinette and You


Why are UK regulators saying, “Let them eat cake”?

Is Volatility Crashing?


Can investors predict future volatility just by looking at “volatility” and “stress” gauges?

Energy Game Changers?


This week was full of big news about Energy. What does it mean for investors?

Detoxifying Mortgage-Backed Securities


Global financial policy and regulators’ attitudes toward securitization seem to be shifting. What’s behind the change?

Bubble Hunting With Sweden’s Wild and Crazy Riksbank


What could happen when a country goes bubble-hunting before the boiling point? Sweden likely finds out.

Inflating Eurozone Deflation Concerns


Quantitative easing would likely create—not stop—deflation in the eurozone.

About That Wibbly Wobbly Market


Will stocks keep bouncing sideways?

When the Growing Gets Tough


China’s recent trade data sparked hard-landing fears among investors. But is fundamental weakness really to blame?

Three Down. Nine to Go.


What does a flattish first quarter mean for the rest of the year?

Abenomics and Other April Fools


With a sales tax hike about to bite an already weakening Japanese economy, the Land of the Rising Sun looks even more like the Land of Rising Disappointment.

Predicting Past Performance


Many investment professionals claim to “manage the fund managers”—in my view, a recipe for an inefficient, backward-looking strategy.

Shaped for U?


In our view, the so-called u-shaped investment strategy is fraught with peril for investors.

You Get What You Pay For


Index funds have many fine features, but they can’t help investors fight the biggest stumbling block to long-term success: emotion.

Another ACA Delay


The latest delay of the employer mandate stole headlines from something more impactful for investors: the new tax on investment income.

Charting the Future


With all the recent market volatility, can the charts tell us what to expect next?

Zero Sum Sentiment


As seen after GDP’s release Thursday, sentiment is still stuck between skepticism and optimism—for every positive, folks can find a negative.

Sentiment’s Goldi-Lockdown


Global growth is accelerating, and inflation isn’t. Investors used to appreciate this, but today’s skeptical crowd sees low inflation as a grizzly prospect.

Shinzo’s Stalemate


On the anniversary of his election, reviewing Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s progress thus far might prove insightful for Japanese reform in the near future.

The Truth About Negative Deposit Rates


The internet is awash with rumors banks might charge for deposits. What’s a customer to do? 

Passive Investors and Other Endangered Species


Passive investing is fine in theory, but extremely difficult to apply in the real world.

The Debt Ceiling and China


Will the debt ceiling make China dump its US Treasury holdings?

France’s (Non)Investment Philosophy


France’s parliament is considering rules that, if implemented, might create some headwinds for its economy down the road.

A Guide on Government Gridlock


Gridlock makes it tough to pass legislation—but is that good or bad for markets?

The Perils of Price Controls—A History Lesson for the UK


A prominent UK politico has pledged to freeze energy prices if his party wins the 2015 election—something history shows is dangerous for stocks.

Abenomics’ Glowing Tofu Problem


From energy to tofu, Japan’s weakening yen is causing more than a scene these days.

Bull Steam Ahead


Volatility can be pretty volatile sometimes—what does that mean for markets?

Doing It Wrong


It is true there is no be-all-end-all guide to global economic and monetary policy, but here are a few examples of policies investors should watch closely when considering their portfolios.

The Great Non-Rotation


This bull market should keep running, but not for the reason many seem to think.

Rating Agencies: Late as Usual


With Moody’s raising its outlook for US debt on Friday, a look at what happened during our two years on “negative” watch confirms ratings agencies’ decisions aren’t predictive.

Municipal Bond Madness


A proposed tax on municipal bonds likely doesn’t get through Washington gridlock.  

The EU-turn on Banks


EU finance ministers are rewriting the roadmap to bank bailouts.

Land of the Setting Sun?


Japanese stocks’ sharp advance seems to have hit a rough patch.

Opinions Make Poor Standards


S&P thinks the US economy is doing fine, but we didn’t need an outlook upgrade to tell us that.

Led Zeppelin


The dreaded Hindenburg Omen flashed Friday, but evidence shows little reason to fear this technical indicator.

Puffery: S&P’s Magical First Amendment Defense


Oddly, S&P’s defense against the Justice Department’s lawsuit seems to be their ratings amount to “puffery.”

Monkeying About


What can investors glean from two studies making headlines in recent weeks?

Comic: Real GDP Explained


What Cyprus Tells Us About Banking Regulations


Cyprus is in trouble because of two big banks’ bad trades—but that doesn’t make efforts to fix “too big to fail” or the Volcker rule any more sensible.

About That Magic Number


Bullish or bearish, new record highs hold no predictive value.

Was That Cry “Wolf”?


If we extrapolate its growth forward, hyperbole is destined to crush common sense.

Missing the (Maker’s) Mark


Businesses trying to capitalize on rising Emerging Markets demand can learn from bourbon label Maker’s Mark’s recent misstep.

Comic: A Debt Ceiling Solution


An interview with the press reveals a bipartisan effort to solve the debt ceiling debate.

Limited Prices, Limited Improvement


Once again, Argentina likely does much more harm than good in its battle against inflation.

Big League Capitalism


Turns out Hugo Chavez and many Venezuelans are huge baseball fans. If only the country could leverage that love in the name of freer markets and private property protection.

A Supply-Side of Bacon


Due to this summer’s drought’s decreasing corn and soy crops, costs of pig feed are rising and the numbers of pigs across Europe are declining. Could this change fried eggs and Cobb salads as we know them?

Greece’s Anything-But-Euro Crisis


The common currency tends to be a convenient scapegoat for all that ails Greece, but this seemingly gets the Greek situation entirely backwards.

Government Chicken or Private-Sector Egg?


There seems to be much confusion surrounding the origin of economic activity. But it seems pretty clear, to me.

Want Cheaper Rent? End Rent Control


Contrary to popular belief, price ceilings like rent control frequently have the exact opposite of the intended effect. Fortunately, the Supreme Court may soon have an opportunity to end rent control altogether—to the benefit of all involved parties.

27 Things That Mattered This Week - 10/31/2011


After a brief hiatus, our weekly look at interesting stories around the web returns.

34 Things That Mattered This Week, 10/3/11


This week’s collection of headlines—financial, economic and otherwise—that caught our eye.

40 Things That Mattered This Week, 09/23/2011


Here are 40 interesting stories that flew beneath many folks’ radar screens this week.

Full Faith and Credit


As the debt ceiling drama kicks into overdrive, it’s worthwhile to step back and look at whether the fuss is truly warranted.

A Primer on the CPI


Have changes made to the Consumer Price Index calculation affected its value?

Not a Doi Moi Contagion

Vietnam is in crisis, stirring up memories of the 1997-98 Asian Financial Crisis. But its problems are unlikely to give investors déjà vu.

Reality Check: You Get What You Pay For

It's safe to say everyone likes a good deal, but government subsidies often turn out to be more than we bargained for.

Hyped Up on Hooch

Nearly three quarters of a century after the end of Prohibition, bootleggers are making a comeback. This time, though, they're turning that corn hooch into fuel, not moonshine.

Average Trickery

According to 2005 Census data, the average US family has 3.18 persons. Naturally, we know it's impossible for any family to have a fractional population (unless Dr. Moreau's practicing without our knowledge).

Fool's Gold

If you've been around long enough, oil as a cause for hysteria isn't a new thing.

The Profligate Consumer

The news media has everyone just about convinced the "conspicuous consumption" and "pecuniary emulation" of US consumers is out of hand.

The Current Account—One Less Thing to Worry About

The current account balance is a commonly misunderstood economic statistic.


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