Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Train In Vain

Bank of America cutting again in 2012, further evidence the forced marriage with Merrill Lynch was a loser.   


Monday, January 30, 2012

Busted By The Man

FINRA hits Merrill Lynch with a $1 million fine for failing to arbitrate with employees, sounds like a fun bunch.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Passive Aggressive

Investors are now infatuated with passive ETF strategies, making American Funds the biggest loser.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Roman Wilderness

George Soros to markets, it’s the end of civilization as we know it.


Friday, January 20, 2012

FusionIQ Webinar

 FusionIQ Webinar

 Join us for a Webinar on January 25

 Space is limited.
 Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


Want to see FusionIQ in action ?? Please join FusionIQ CEO Barry Ritholtz and founder Kevin Lane for a live demonstration of the power of the FusionIQ tool. Through a GoToWebinar, you will be able to see IQ live as Barry and Kevin walk you though pointers on how to best use your IQ Investor service. We will answer try to address many of the questions we have received, and maybe give you a few very interesting - and timely - research ideas.  


This live webinar will occur on Wednesday, January 25 at 5pm Eastern, and will simply require you to login to the GoToMeeting address we have provided above. 

Please be sure to join us, as this promises to help you realize the powerful potential of Fusion IQ as a unique investing tool. We would ask that you forward any questions in advance to [email protected], so we can address as many of the most relevant topics as possible.

Many thanks in advance for your participation !



FusionIQ Webinar


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


5:00 PM - 6:00 PM EST


After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.


System Requirements
PC-based attendees  Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server

Macintosh®-based attendees  Required: Mac OS® X 10.5 or newer



   Barry Ritholtz                   Kevin Lane

   CEO                                Founder

Wealth Creation

The coming Facebook IPO is expected to create over 1,000 new millionaires. Well done.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

It's Your Money

Even after Solyndra, taxpayer dollars still being wasted on “green” projects generating zero returns.  


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tough Love

Advisers often lack the education to needed to provide financial planning guidance.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The #1 Investment Return Factor No One Wants to Talk About

Relative strength is the #1 investment return factor no one wants to talk about.  The reasons are not entirely clear to me, but perhaps it is because it is too simple.  It does not require a CFA to forecast earnings or to determine an economic moat.  It does not require a CPA to attempt to assess valuation.  It does not require an MBA to assess strategic business decisions.  In short, it does not play to the guild mentality wherein only certain masters of the universe have the elevated intellect, knowledge, and background to invest successfully.

Although relative strength is simple, I am not suggesting that relative strength is easy to implement.  Losing weight is simple too: eat less, exercise more.  That does not make it easy to do.  Relative strength, probably like most successful investment strategies, requires an inordinate amount of discipline—and tolerance of a fair amount of randomness.  Like most games that are easy to learn, but difficult to master—chess would be an apt example—proficient use of relative strength also requires deep study and experience.

Yet relative strength has been used successfully by practitioners for many generations.  George Chestnutt of the American Investors Fund began using it to run money in the 1930s and said it had been in use by others for at least a generation before that.  Relative strength has been shown to work in many asset classes, across many marketsfor more than 100 years.  Since the early 1990s, even academics have gotten in on the act.

And for all that, relative strength remains ignored.

I was reminded of its apparent obscurity again this week when reading an excellent article on indexing by the macrocephalic Rob Arnott.  He had a very nice piece in Advisor Perspectives about the virtues of alternative beta indexes.

In recent years, a whole new category of investments—called “alternative betas”—has emerged. Some of these alternative beta strategies, including the Fundamental Index® approach, use various structural schemes to select and/or weight securities in the index. In that sense, they fall between traditional cap-weighted approaches and active management: they pick up broadly diversified market exposure (beta) but seek to produce better results than cap-weighted indexes (what is desired from active managers).

Our CIO, Jason Hsu, and research staff have replicated the basic methodologies of many of these rules-based alternative betas, ranging from a simple equal-weighted approach to the straightforward Fundamental Index strategy to the truly exotic such as risk clustering and diversity weighting.7 The potential rewards are promising. Of the 10 non-cap-weighted U.S. equity strategies studied, all outperformed the passive cap-weighted benchmark. The range of excess returns by alternative beta strategies was between 0.4% and 3.0% per annum—matching a reasonable estimate of the top quartile of active managers—that is, the small cadre of managers who generally are successful at beating the benchmark (see Table 1). The bottom line: investors can obtain top-quartile performance with far less effort than is required to research and monitor traditional active equity managers.

Mr. Arnott has a very good point—and the numbers to prove it.  Lots of alternative beta strategies are available that can potentially offer top-quartile performance relative to other active managers and that may also outperform traditional passive cap-weighted benchmarks.  He is no doubt proselytizing on behalf of his firm’s Fundamental Index approach to some extent, but I think his underlying thesis is correct.  He offers the following table as evidence that alternative beta strategies can outperform, using data from 1964- 2009:

Source: Advisor Perspectives, Research Affiliates

I would like to offer a slight modification of this table, since it is only a listing of “select” alternative beta strategies.  Relative strength has been inexplicably excluded. Below, I present the same table of alternative beta strategies now including relative strength, the #1 investment return factor no one wants to talk about.  (I have my own theory about why other indexers don’t want to talk about relative strength, but I will let you reach your own conclusions.)  The relative strength returns presented in the table are for the exact same time period, 1964 through 2009.  They are taken from Professor Ken French’s database and show the results of a simple relative strength selection process when using the top third (as ranked by relative strength) of the large cap universe.

Source: Research Affiliates, Dorsey Wright

Are you surprised that relative strength blows away the other alternative beta strategies?

You shouldn’t be.  There are plenty of academic and practitioner studies attesting to the power of relative strength.  In short, I agree with Mr. Arnott that alternative beta indexes are worth a close look.  And I think it would be particularly prudent to consider relative strength weighted indexes.

Clean Machine

Natural Gas is abundant, clean and inexpensive. So what’s the problem?


Monday, January 16, 2012

Batteries Not Included

Higher costs far outweigh any benefits of hybrid vehicles , consumers quickly losing interest.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Market 1, Buffett 0

Berkshire Hathaway underperforms S&P 500 in 2011, has the Old Man lost his way?


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wrong Number

Morgan Stanley CEO tells go-getter young exec to go jump in the lake. Fail.  


Pull The Plug

This should sound familiar to readers of our blog, it’s time to call your elected officials.


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Game Over

The end of Western Civilization has arrived, it’s a foregone conclusion at this point.


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Hybrid Hype

Honda sued for not delivering promised high mileage from Hybrid Civic, another green monster created.  


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Man From Atlantis

Did Europe suddenly fall into the ocean? Proceed with caution.