Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:00pm
North Adams, MA now: 45 °   
Send news, tips, press releases and questions to info@iBerkshires.com
The Berkshires online guide to events, news and Berkshire County community information.
SIGN IN | REGISTER NOW   

Home About Archives RSS Feed
The Independent Investor: How The Fed Beat The Market Last Year
By Bill Schmick On: 05:28PM / Thursday January 12, 2012
Important
0
Interesting
0
Funny
0
Awesome
0
Infuriating
0
Ridiculous
0
Much has been made of the $78.9 billion profit that the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank made last year. All but $2 billion will be transferred over to the Treasury. It is a lot of money but in terms of return on capital it is less than spectacular, a mere 2.6 percent.

The Fed's net income was actually down from a record breaking $81.7 billion profit in 2010 on its $2.9 trillion investment portfolio. Still, they did better than the S&P 500 Index, although not as well as the Dow last year.

The real question is how much risk the Fed is taking in relation to return. It appears that on the metric the Fed is taking on more and more risk to generate a return that is under the "riskless" 3 percent return of a 30-year U.S. Treasury bond.

Take the mortgage market, for example. Over the last three years, The Fed has bet $1.25 trillion that its efforts could turn around housing in America. That bet hasn't panned out. Since they started buying mortgage backed bonds in the beginning of 2009, the value of the housing market has declined 4.1 percent.

Rather than pull in their horns, the Fed is buying another $200 billion more in 2012. That amounts to 20 percent of all new mortgage loans. That may just be a beginning, if you can believe some Fed officials. They indicate the central bank could buy two or three times that amount.

The Fed normally makes its money from interest earned on U.S. Treasury bonds, federal agency debt and securities held by firms such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That sounds tame enough, but that is not the entire story. By the nature of its charter, the Fed is supposed to deal in risky assets from time to time. Like Star Trek, their mission may be "to boldly go where no man has gone before."

The Fed is a classic buy at the low investor lending money and investing when no one else will. During the financial crisis, when banks, corporations and even countries were experiencing a free fall in prices in all their financial securities, the Fed was the buyer of last resort.

Yet, today, even some of the most sophisticated Americans have it in their head that the Fed uses taxpayer money in its operations. Even the Wall Street Journal reported in a recent story, "Fed's Lofty Profit Becomes Treasury's Gain" that "The central bank has come under attack for taking too many risks with taxpayer money ... ." The facts are that the Fed actually contributes to the pool of taxpayer funds and will continue to do so whenever possible.

Since the Federal Reserve Bank has the power to create money, it does not need to borrow money from, or use taxpayer money. Sure, the Fed might lose money at some point if inflation suddenly spiked and it needed to pay higher interest on bank reserves. If things really got messy and it needed to sell some of its government bonds, it might suffer a loss but those would be, at worst, temporary issues.

Remember, too, that the Fed is both a buyer and a seller with a far longer time horizon than the markets. Its mission is to administer interest rate policy and insure that unemployment does not get too far out of whack. As such, it creates and controls interest rates to a large extent and can create over time an economic environment conducive to those goals.

There is a reason that investors worldwide don't bet against the Fed. Although profits are fairly far down on the list of the Fed's agenda, because of the nature of their objectives, it is more than likely that they will turn a profit as long as they continue to buy low and sell high.

Bill Schmick is an independent investor with Berkshire Money Management. (See "About" for more information.) None of the information presented in any of these articles is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at (toll free) or email him at wschmick@fairpoint.net. Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill's insights.




Write a comment - 0 Comment            
At The Market: Tug Of War
By Bill Schmick On: 07:32AM / Saturday January 07, 2012
Important
0
Interesting
0
Funny
0
Awesome
0
Infuriating
0
Ridiculous
1
All week stock averages fluctuated, usually down in the mornings and popping up to moderate gains in the afternoon. This slow grind upward however, is largely dependent on what happens next in Europe. So far there hasn't been any thing new but that could change as Europe gets back in business after their long holiday season.

As expected, the good news coming out of the U.S. economy has encouraged investors, while higher yields on Italian sovereign debt provided a counterweight that leaves the markets in a tug of war. The lack of news out of Europe allows investors to pay more attention to American data, such as the drop in the unemployment rate to 8.5% from 9.4% this time last year.

Beginning next week, however, European players should be back from their chalets in Switzerland or Spain and the fun begins all over again. At the same time, we face another earnings season and if earnings are not up to investor expectations we could definitely see a sell off.

Alcoa, the aluminum maker, kicks off the earnings season after the close on Monday and the company has already warned that higher costs and declining prices are threatening profits. Retailers admitted that Christmas sales were not as strong as they had hoped. I had warned readers not to fall prey to the holiday season hype on how great Christmas sales would be for retailers. Those who did best were those that offered thrifty consumers massive discounts off list price.

Short term, absent any new positive developments out of Europe, we could see some profit taking in the weeks ahead. That should be no surprise to investors, given my outlook for 2012. In my column "2012 could be another up and down year" I outlined the risks and opportunities we face this year. To sum up, I expect a choppy first half with a possible 'sell in May and go away' scenario. The second half could be better, thanks to election excitement and hope for a more functional Congress and Senate.

I also warned that any number of unknown events ranging from what happens in Europe, The Fed's monetary policy, and actions (or non-action) out of Washington could make any forecasts, including my own, worthless.

Take, for example, this week's rumor (later denied by the White House) that the Obama Administration is planning a mega refinancing ($1-$3 trillion) of the American mortgage market.

Back in September, I wrote in "What the Markets Missed" that such a plan was being debated within the White House. The program would not require congressional approval and could be conducted largely through the Fed, the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is an election year, after all, when the sitting President will do all he can to stimulate the economy before the elections. That type of left field developments has the power to dramatically alter the market's expectations.

The cross currents within the markets remain. As such, I will stay defensive with a large percentage of my portfolio sitting in bonds and dividend yielding stock funds. I will let the markets dictate my next move or when to become more aggressive. In the meantime, expect volatility.

Bill Schmick is an independent investor with Berkshire Money Management. (See "About" for more information.) None of the information presented in any of these articles is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at (toll free) or email him at wschmick@fairpoint.net. Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill's insights.




Write a comment - 0 Comments            
The Independent Investor: 2012 Could Be Another Up & Down Year
By Bill Schmick On: 02:33PM / Friday January 06, 2012
Important
0
Interesting
0
Funny
0
Awesome
0
Infuriating
0
Ridiculous
0
It is that time of year when market strategists stick their necks out and predict the future. No, never mind that most, if not all, of their predictions will turn out to be wrong. Investors clamor for yearly forecasts regardless of accuracy, so here's mine.

This year a lot can happen. So much depends on forces outside our control that predicting the markets will be up (or down) X percent by year end would be criminal at best. Instead, I would like to broadly outline the possibilities and risks we face in the months ahead and how best to play them.

As I predicted, we are currently in a rally that began before Christmas and should extend for the next few weeks if not months. I don't think we will hit any new highs during this period or if we do it won't be until April. Europe will most likely continue to dominate the news, so we should continue to experience quite a bit of volatility. Be prepared for the 1-3 percent up days followed by the same or more on the down days.

I believe that ultimately Europe will get its house in order but between here and there the markets will be quite choppy. A foot in both the equity and bond markets should play best in that environment. Stick with dividend and large cap stocks and defensive sectors in this period along with corporate and high yield bonds and short-term paper.

Although the U.S. economy continues to improve, it is nothing to write home about. Without additional help from the do-nothings in Washington or an end-run by the president around Congress, unemployment will remain high and growth between 1.5-2.5 percent. That is an optimistic scenario, which assumes that a European recession is inevitable but at the same time contained to their side of the ocean.

If, on the other hand, it appears that Europe's recession is spreading globally then all bets are off. Remember too that stock markets sell first and collect the facts later in this day and age. Just a hint that something like that is in the cards would be enough for  a major sell-off in world markets. Therefore it wouldn't surprise me if we have a classic "sell in May (or April) and go away" scenario this year.

Granted that would be a worse-case scenario but one we must all be prepared for. Further hiccups in Europe, fear of renewed recession here at home without further monetary or fiscal stimulus from the Fed or White House could spook sending the S&P 500 Index back towards its 2011 lows at 1,100. Granted, that would be a worse case scenario but one we must all be prepared for. A switch to all bonds would be best in that case.

But remember, we are also in an election year and markets usually begin to anticipate that in the second half of the year. This could give investors an opportunity once again to buy the dip. If history is any guide, the Obama administration will want to do anything and everything they can to boost the economy going into the November election. This year that argument should carry additional weight since both parties are campaigning on the economy and unemployment.

In that case, we could see a major move higher in the averages off the bottom this summer that could move the U.S. market to substantial gains by the end of the year and into 2014. Now, wouldn't that be nice?

If some or most of my forecasts come true for this year, it is quite obvious that a buy and hold strategy will be a recipe for disaster as will all cash, all bonds or all stocks. There will be times during the year investors will want to be both aggressive and defensive and it will be a lot of work, just like last year. There is an old saying that "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" or in this case, hire a money manager that can make those decisions for you, but be sure you pick the right one.

Bill Schmick is an independent investor with Berkshire Money Management. (See "About" for more information.) None of the information presented in any of these articles is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at (toll free) or email him at wschmick@fairpoint.net. Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill's insights.




Write a comment - 0 Comments            
Page 2 of 2 1  2  
News Headlines
Bianchi Replaces Key City Administrator
Tully: Why I Changed My Vote
North Adams Hospital Closure Stretching Medical Services
Pittsfield Councilor Switches Vote To Approve Bus Purchases
Registration Open for Y's Tie Dye Dash Fundraiser
Adams Community Bank Supports Medical Shuttle Service
'Food Truck Rodeo' On Tap For Pittsfield Downtown
Berkshire Runners Compete at Boston Marathon
Lanesborough Finance Panel Queries Health Insurance; Legion
Pittsfield City Council Agenda: April 22, 2014.
Bill Schmick is registered as an investment advisor representative and portfolio manager with Berkshire Money Management (BMM), managing over $200 million for investors in the Berkshires. Bill’s forecasts and opinions are purely his own and do not necessarily represent the views of BMM. None of his commentary is or should be considered investment advice. Anyone seeking individualized investment advice should contact a qualified investment adviser. None of the information presented in this article is intended to be and should not be construed as an endorsement of BMM or a solicitation to become a client of BMM. The reader should not assume that any strategies, or specific investments discussed are employed, bought, sold or held by BMM. Direct your inquiries to Bill at 1-888-232-6072 (toll free) or email him at Bill@afewdollarsmore.com Visit www.afewdollarsmore.com for more of Bill’s insights.

 

 

 



Categories:
@theMarket (133)
Independent Investor (179)
Archives:
April 2014 (6)
April 2013 (2)
March 2014 (6)
February 2014 (6)
January 2014 (7)
December 2013 (8)
November 2013 (7)
October 2013 (6)
September 2013 (6)
August 2013 (8)
July 2013 (3)
June 2013 (5)
May 2013 (7)
Tags:
Japan Economy Interest Rates Stocks Markets Debt Federal Reserve Commodities Metals Euro Jobs Debt Ceiling Fiscal Cliff Crisis Election Banking Bailout Congress Banks Stock Market Employment Qeii Greece Taxes Stimulus Selloff Pullback Recession Currency Europe Deficit Rally Oil Retirement Energy
Popular Entries:
The Independent Investor: Understanding the Foreclosure Scandal
The Independent Investor: Don't Fight the Fed
The Independent Investor: Does Cash Mean Currencies?
@theMarket: QE II Supports the Markets
@theMarket: Markets Are Going Higher
The Independent Investor: General Motors — Back to the Future
The Independent Investor: How Will Wall Street II Play on Main Street?
@theMarket: Economy Sputters, Stocks Stutter
The Independent Investor: Will the Municipal Bond Massacre Continue?
The Independent Investor: Why Are Interest Rates Rising?
Recent Entries:
@theMarket: Easter Bunny Bounce
The Independent Investor: Good Friday and the Stock Market
@theMarket: No Spring in the Stock Market
The Independent Investor: Banks Face Tougher Regulations
@theMarket: A Crowded Trade
The Independent Investor: Obamacare Confounds Critics
@theMarket: The Faint of Heart
The Independent Investor: Do Women Have a Choice?
The Independent Investor: What's Wrong With This Flight Plan?
@theMarket: Hanging In There


View All
Lacrosse: Hoosac vs. Taconic
Baseball: Pittsfield vs Lee
Chad Shade went 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Sam Fick...
Clarksburg Egg Scramble 2014
The annual Easter egg hunt, sponsored by the VFW, was held...
Pittsfield Egg Scramble 2014
The annual Egg Scramble at Morningside Community School saw...
Track: Monument @Hoosac...
Monument Mountain bested Hoosac Valley on its home turf...
Girls and Boys Tennis: PHS vs...
4-17-14 Girls and Boys tennis match between PHS vs Mt....
Softball: Lee vs Hoosac
4-14-14 Kassandra Kazimierczak went 2-for-4 with a double...
Baseball: MG vs Hoosac
4-11-14 Dan Flynn's suicide squeeze with the bases loaded...
Softball: MG vs McCann
4-11-14 Mount Greylock and McCann Tech played an atypical...
Sullivan School CPR Class
Seventh-graders at Sullivan School in North Adams learned...
Lacrosse: Mounties vs. Hoosac
Mounties overwhelmed Hoosac Valley on Wednesday 14-1....
North Adams Furnace St. Fire
Firefighters contained a top floor apartment blaze on...
Berkshire Chamber Career Fair...
More than 50 employers connected with job seekers at...
Lacrosse: MG vs St. Joe
Mount Greylock boys lacrosse team won 17-4 St. Joseph at...
Softball: MG vs Drury
4-8-14 Mount Greylock softball claimed a 7-2 victory over...
Wahconah High School Musical...
Wahconah Regional High School is putting on the 1930...
Lacrosse: Hoosac vs. Taconic
Baseball: Pittsfield vs Lee
Chad Shade went 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Sam Fick...
Clarksburg Egg Scramble 2014
The annual Easter egg hunt, sponsored by the VFW, was held...
Pittsfield Egg Scramble 2014
The annual Egg Scramble at Morningside Community School saw...
Track: Monument @Hoosac...
Monument Mountain bested Hoosac Valley on its home turf...
| Home | A & E | Business | Community News | Dining | Real Estate | Schools | Sports & Outdoors | Berkshires Weather | Weddings
Advertise | Recommend This Page | Help Contact Us | Privacy Policy| User Agreement
iBerkshires.com is owned and operated by: Boxcar Media 102 Main Street, North Adams, MA 01247 -- T. 413-663-3384 F.413-664-4251
© 2000 Boxcar Media LLC - All rights reserved