We’ll give the bulls an ‘A” for effort. Every day this week they pushed the S&P 500 higher, making two new yearly highs, before sellers appeared to drive the averages back down. (more…)

While Americans were home celebrating Thanksgiving, the rest of the world had little to celebrate. Over the last two days, some Asian markets fell as much as 5%, emerging markets overall declined by 2.7% while Europe experienced similar declines. Commodities also tumbled and the U.S. dollar suddenly became the currency of choice. (more…)

Primary care in the Berkshires is still in short supply and those that do practice are closing their doors to new patients. That hurts in an area that already has more than its share of the elderly. The situation appears to be getting worse as med school grads opt for more lucrative, well-paying careers as specialists. (more…)

We’ve seen some profit-taking this week and as the year winds down, we may see more. That doesn’t mean the markets can’t go higher. It just means that for some investors, who got in early in March or before, it’s time to cash in some of those winnings. (more…)

This month the Supreme Court took up a case to determine whether mutual fund fees are being determined correctly and whether investors get enough information to adequately understand the fees they are paying.
The case, Harris Associates v Jones, pits a well-known mutual fund family against individual investors who claim they are charged twice as much in fees as institutional investors. This, they claim, has violated the fiduciary responsibility that fund managers and other Registered Investment Advisors owe to investors as set forth by Congress under Investment Advisors Act of 1940 and most recently under ERISA. (more…)

There was one axiom that investors could almost always rely on: as interest rates decline, stocks move higher. But things got squirrely last year and with the financial system on the verge of collapse; the Federal Reserve forced interest rates down to historic low levels in an effort to provide liquidity to banks and other businesses. Stocks reacted by going higher. Now interest rates are still at historic lows and from every indication, the Fed is going to maintain these levels into 2010. That should be good for stocks. (more…)

Once more into the breach, the bulls say, as they assault the 10,000 level on the Dow. Will we fail or succeed? If we can hold above that level it may provide the psychological boost we need to entice more investors into the market. I say we will hold the higher ground. (more…)

Funny how things work, take the reputation of the Permanent Portfolio Fund, for example: disciplined, conservative, comprehensive asset allocation while protecting purchasing power. All that and a little growth thrown in to keep your nest egg from stagnating, not bad if you are an investor who is looking for a haven from today’s volatility. (more…)

Over the last two years trillions have been spent to aid and assist Wall Street’s wealthiest bankers, Detroit’s blue collar auto workers, owners of gas-guzzling clunkers, first-time home buyers, thousands of Americans facing foreclosures and maybe another dozen or so programs, that we, the long-suffering, silent majority, will have to pay for. Yesterday, however, Washington finally threw us a crumb. Let’s just hope it will pass a House vote. (more…)

Trick or Treat?

The markets had pulled back about 5% by Thursday. Technically, stocks were over sold. We were due for a bounce. “Buy the dip” was on everyone’s lips and then on Thursday morning, GDP for the third quarter came in at 3.5%–an upside surprise. Stocks exploded. Sounds easy, right? Think again. (more…)