Rising Risks In The Quest For Yield

Income oriented investors have been traveling through a yield desert over the last several years. Thanks to extraordinary monetary policy from the U.S. Federal Reserve that has included keeping interest rates pinned at zero percent for the last five years, those living on fixed incomes including retirees have been forced out of the safety of FDIC insured saving deposits and into various higher risk investment vehicles in an effort to find yield. Recognizing the voracious appetite for income in the yield-starved environment, some institutions and individuals have poured into these same higher income areas of the stock market, some with the use of leverage, to not only capture but also amplify yields. While the reliance on higher risk investments has helped satisfy the demand for yield to this point, it is reasonable to consider whether unforeseen risks and unintended consequences are being fostered in the process.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

This QE Bower My Prison

The Federal Reserve’s persistently aggressive monetary policy has had a paralyzing effect for many investors over the last several years. Like a skillet of boiling hot milk being emptied on one’s foot, repeated monetary stimulus programs, including three rounds of quantitative easing, two rounds of Operation Twist and the quintupling of the Fed’s balance sheet, has distorted capital markets in such a way that it has imprisoned many investors to a bower of heightened risk control and uncharacteristically short-term thinking amid the expectation that the negative spillover effects from such unprecedented policies will eventually come home to roost in a significant way. But as we enter the twilight of the Fed’s supposed final round of quantitative easing, the confined investor has reason for gladness, for they can continue to delight in the splendor of today’s market while also knowing that nature never deserts the wise and pure in the end.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

Are Stocks Set For A Major Decline In The Fall?

The market news coverage is becoming increasingly polarized. On one side of the debate are those that believe the sky is the limit for stocks in the months ahead. With stocks reaching a fresh all-time high on Friday, this view has yet to be invalidated. On the other side of the discussion are those that expect a significant stock market pullback is not only imminent but also long overdue. Given the fact that we are soon entering what has historically been a tumultuous time of year for stocks, such expectations may soon be validated. Who is right? Only time will tell, but in working to identify the answer it is worthwhile to explore market history to see if we can identify clues as to whether the stock market is setting up for a major decline as we head into the fall of 2014.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

A Market That Defies All Expectations

A constant refrain over each of the last six years has been the imminent bursting of the bond market bubble. But with each passing year, the bond market continues to defy the skeptics. Despite all of the talk about the Fed ending its quantitative easing program and the threat of rising interest rates in the coming year, the bond market has not only been holding its own but also has been rallying smartly in 2014. The bull market in bonds is now in its 32nd year and remains very much intact. And the latest rally in bonds has brought with it a new and unusual cast of asset class characters this time around.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

2 Key Tests For The True Dividend Growth Investor

It is one of the most popular and time-tested stock market investment strategies. It is dividend growth investing, or DGI, which is a strategy that focuses on companies that consistently increase their dividend payouts each year, supported by the predictable long-term growth of earnings per share. The recent success of this strategy, coupled with the yield-starved zero interest rate environment over the last several years has attracted scores of new dividend growth investors, both young and old. But with so many newcomers to the strategy, it raises an important question. While you may have fully bought into the approach over the last few years, are you a true dividend growth investor? And are you truly ready to not only withstand, but capitalize on the potential risks that may lie ahead.

Please click on the link to read more of my article on Seeking Alpha.

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