Thursday, October 10, 2013

Marquette Tribune: Students Flocking to Investment MOOC

Marquette’s first massive open online course, introduction to applied investing, enrolled 2,603 students as of this weekmore than doubling its original allowance of 1,000 students. The MOOC opened Sept. 23 and is open to anyone in the university. 
David Krause, director of the Applied Investment Management program and professor for the course, said the MOOC has not experienced any technological glitches, has an active discussion board and blog post views which have already reached well above 2,000. Because of all these aspects, he said the course is going better than he imagined when he first decided to create it.
“The course is going extremely well,” Krause said. “I believe the program has exceeded my expectations.”
The course is structured as a four-week survey of investing course. The subjects covered during the course include common stock, bonds, real estate and alternative investments.
“I do think these classes are helpful for students seeking to gain more knowledge about specific topics,” Krause said. “The ages generally span through the entire range.”
Blake Weir, a junior in the College of Business Administration, said he took the class in hopes of helping his personal portfolio.
“This course gives a vivid picture of why to invest in various instruments and basic guidelines to go by when forming a portfolio as well as how to adapt for change in an uncertain world,” Weir said.
The University of Wisconsin–Madison joined Marquette and numerous other schools throughout the country by launching its first MOOC Oct. 3.
In an interview with Wisconsin Public Radio News, Constance Steinkuehler, associate professor at UW-Madison’s School of Education, said she believes MOOCs are part of the “Wisconsin way.”
“The idea of putting this together online in some fashion where someone wanted to go through it voluntarily on their own schedule – that just seems to me like an obvious win,” Steinkuehler said.
Some of the courses UW-Madison will offer include markets with frictions, human evolution: past and future, globalizing higher education and research for the ‘knowledge economy’ and video games and learning. More courses may be offered in the future if these pilot courses go well.
Krause said he first decided to start a MOOC at Marquette when he noticed a trend of students and people in the workforce with the desire for “diverse academic opportunities.”
“I believe that these (courses) do have a valuable role in the future of education,” Krause said. ”These will not be the only delivery mechanism, but they do have the ability to alter the higher education landscape.”
Krause added the course is working well for what it was intended.
“This has been a valuable experience for me and hopefully for the students,” Krause said. “I’ve learned a lot about how to create and produce a MOOC.”

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Advice on How to Become a Research Analyst by Jason Voss, CFA


Advice on How to Become a Research Analyst


I am frequently asked, “What can I do to improve my chances of getting hired as a research analyst?” Beyond the obvious — become a CFA charterholder — there are a number of other steps that aspiring analysts may take in my opinion.
Making the Intangible Tangible
What an aspiring analyst has to offer to an employer is largely abstract- and creative-thinking skills. These skills are intangible and difficult for recruiters to assess. This is one reason why firms in finance tend to recruit from the same schools decade after decade: rigor of the curriculum and reliably high quality candidates. This is also why those without experience in the investment industry find it hard to get hired for research analyst positions. That is, in the absence of other evidence, firms hire what they think they can depend on — that is, what is tangible: your education and your experience.
But do not despair if you have not gone to your country’s top educational institution or if you have no experience! I went to the University of Colorado (not a top school for finance recruiters) and had very little experience when I was hired as a research analyst at one of the United States’ largest and best-known money managers.
What employers really want is for your intangible skills to be made tangible. This realization empowers you tremendously, because with this framework, you can focus on providing concrete evidence that you have the skills necessary for being an effective analyst. When I began my career I created a personal website that included: examples of my own personal research analysis on companies; book reviews of economics, finance, and investment texts that demonstrated my ability to think critically about information; and an extended version of my CV (i.e., greater than the orthodox one page maximum), so human resources departments could see if I had what it took to be a research analyst.
By engaging in these activities it will also sharpen your own skill set. For example, when I created my own research reports — which I highly encourage you to do — I used only primary data sources, such as company annual reports. I also did all of my own calculations for things like future gross domestic product; the future shape of the yield curve; and the cost of capital.
Recognize that your opinion matters. Companies will be hiring you for your opinion as much as for your skill set. In other words, they hire you with the expectation that you will take responsibility for your choices. So, if you choose to make your intangible skills tangible by creating your own research reports then you must track how your investment recommendations do by noting the prices of assets on the day that you recommended them for purchase and then track how they perform over time. You must be honest with yourself, otherwise you won’t learn anything. This is more for you than for your future employer. (Though it certainly wouldn’t look good for you to get caught fudging the numbers in even a theoretical exercise.) Markets provide a valuable feedback mechanism for assessing your skill set. The beautiful and terrifying thing about investment management is that the results of your performance are measured objectively. You either did well for people or you did not. So, if you are not doing very well, then you need to identify where your analysis broke down, and then strive to improve.
I have a friend who took a similar approach as me to getting work. He sent his research reports to investment firms every single month for two years and eventually got a job interview. By doing this process he taught himself to be an analyst.
Look for a Mentor
Across the globe, CFA Institute has hundreds of local societies, which are made up of many generous individuals, many of whom may be willing to guide your career track. If that does not appeal, then contact money managers whose process is in alignment with your own. You may be intimidated, but the worst they can say is “no.” In any case, any possible anxiety you experience in approaching investment heroes is good practice for the anxiety you may experience in approaching management of prospective businesses, some of whom may include the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Li Ka-Shing.
Analysis Is Probably Not What You Think It Is
Most analysts, the aspiring and the experienced, think that investing is about facts, models, mathematics, and analysis. Yet, as I discuss extensively in my own book, The Intuitive Investor, there is no such thing as a future fact. Facts, by definition, are things that occurred in the past. Yet investing results unfold in the future. What this means is that investing is as much a creative and intuitive process as it is an analytical process. To be a well-rounded and experienced candidate you need to be able to think in a balanced fashion — that is, both anaytically and creatively. Therefore, engage in activities that enhance your creativity, too. For me, I am an active meditator, as well as an artist. Your success as an analyst will depend on your ability to synthesize information and to see things no one else is seeing. After all, by definition, if you want to earn returns that no one else is earning, you have to do things that no one else is doing.
Stock Your Mental Toolkit
Another tip is to read, read, read, read. Read investment texts. Read texts on geopolitics. Read texts on mergers and acquisitions. Read economic texts. Read anything that sparks your curiosity, even fiction (potent advice from CFA charterholder, Tom Brakke, CFA). And most of all, read the news and from many sources every single day and begin to develop an opinion about the news and how it affects different countries, industries, businesses, and individuals. The most important skill for any investor is: understanding information. He who understands information the best does better, and he who understands information the best and acts decisively on that information wins the day. When I was an aspiring analyst if I encountered a piece of news I did not understand, I would read not just the article in question but also an entire academic paper or book on the subject. I did this day after day, month after month, and year after year until my mental mosaic became large. In other words, let your ignorance guide you. What you do not know and understand should guide what you try and learn next.
Introspection
Spend some time figuring out who you are as an analyst. This is critically important. Why? If your natural strengths as a thinker make you a good trader, then you will be very frustrated working at a deep value, long-term focused money management firm. Likewise, if your character is more in line with a long-term, deliberate process, then you will likely be frustrated at a high-frequency trading shop. You want to know yourself so that you can make an informed decision about where you want to work; about what type of analysis works in accord with your mind; and about where to spend huge parts of your life.
Furthermore, your introspective process will allow you to take an inventory of your innate strengths and weaknesses — and we all have both. You want to develop skills that accentuate your existing talents and skills that compensate for your shortcomings, too.
Be patient
Expect this entire process to take a lot of time. From the time I first had the idea to become a research analyst to the time I got hired doing the work I wanted to do, it took me five years. For some people it is a much shorter process. But then, having done all of the work I described above, once hired I was promoted to portfolio manager in two short years and was fortunate enough (and maybe skilled enough) to have retired at age 35.
Best wishes for success!

Update: Many of you in the comments section have requested a link to an example research report. When I began my career I got a copy of a brokerage report from my local market and then used it as the basis for my own report. I am going to point those interested in what a research report looks like to Zacks.com.
Note: CFA Institute does not necessarily endorse Zacks. If you sign up for a free 30-day trial at Zacks, they will allow you access to additional information.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

First Week Statistics for Free, Online Course: Introduction to Applied Investing

2500 enrollees in first week (and nearly 200,000 page visits).

Enrollment is still open for the free, online course (Introduction to Applied Investing): http://business.marquette.edu/applied-investing-mooc.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Movie Opening: Money for Nothing

The documentary “Money for Nothing” is is opening now and getting great reviews. Check out the trailer:




Tuesday, September 17, 2013

AIM Students Will Present at Chicago Circles Event - 10/29/13


MARQUETTE UNIVERSITY CIRCLES - Chicago

Visit the CIRCLES - Chicago website for complete event information

Marquette University CIRCLES is an innovative business networking program that connects Marquette alumni, parents and friends in mutual industries.


Tuesday, Oct. 29

5:00 to 8:30 p.m.
The Union League Club

65 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago

5:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. PRE-RECEPTIONS

  • Human Resources Trends with Brian Noviskis, Bus Ad ’82, Vice President for Human Resources at Molecular Imaging — Siemens Healthcare
  • Marquette Applied Investment Management Program Student Equity Research Pitches with David Krause, Ph.D., Director, Marquette AIM program

5:30 p.m. REGISTRATION AND NETWORKING

6:15 p.m. WELCOME

6:30 p.m. FOCUS SESSIONS


7:45 p.m. NETWORK
Meet with Marquette alumni, parents and friends connected to your business sector.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) notes Marquette’s Applied Investment MOOC


The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) is a national voluntary service organization whose mission is to serve its member institutions: the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the United States.
ImageThe September 13, 2013 edition of AJCU Higher Ed News contained a news story about Marquette University‘s First MOOC Course: Introduction to Applied Investing.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Enrollment cap raised due to strong enrollments in Marquette's Applied Investing MOOC



September 4, 2013

Marquette University announced in August that it is moving into the area of open online education with an introductory course in investing. Dr. David Krause, director of Marquette Business’ Applied Investment Management program, will teach “Introduction to Applied Investing,” a short, self-paced course intended for individuals who want to be more informed and savvier about investing.

David Krause with students at NYSE

The course will be delivered through the open source learning management system Canvas from Instructure, another outlet for the growing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. Other institutions with offerings on the Canvas Network include Brown University, Michigan State University, University of South Florida and Santa Clara University.

According to Krause, Marquette is believed to be among the first institutions to offer a MOOC on the topic of applied investing.

“I look forward to launching this course,” Krause said. “It has been developed and will be delivered with the same quality that Marquette brings to all its business courses and programs.”

Dr. Mark Eppli, interim Keyes Dean of Business Administration, agreed.

“This is an exciting first step for the college and the university,” he said. “MOOCs have great potential to showcase a university’s intellectual capital and expand knowledge in an important and relevant topic, like investment management.”

The Marquette course will cover major investment vehicles, including common stock, bonds, real estate and alternative investments, as well as discuss the various methods of investing. Students will also develop insights into the financial markets and learn how to establish a long-term investment strategy, according to Krause.

“If you are new to investing, this course can give you the confidence to begin building your own investment plan,” Krause said. “It can also help you better understand the recommendations of more experienced investors and financial advisors.”


Enrollment in the pilot course is now open and will be limited to 2,000 students. The course begins Monday, Sept. 23 – it is self-paced but designed to be completed in four weeks. The course will remain open until mid-October

Monday, August 26, 2013

Big Media Day for the Free, Online Course: Introduction to Applied Investing

The free, online course: Introduction to Applied Investing by David Krause, Marquette University: http://business.marquette.edu/applied-investing-mooc continues to draw strong enrollment numbers. And today was a big media day with strong local press coverage.












Sunday, August 25, 2013

Ben Bernanke - The Audacious Pragmatist

It has been easy to take shots at the Federal Reserve – they probably take the same abuse from the public as baseball managers. The Fed is constantly being second guessed. And after I let others wail away on the Federal Reserve in the last blog posted, it is only fair to offer an opportunity to learn more about the Fed.

Helping me out was The New York Times, who on Sunday, August 25, 2013 ran an article about Federal Reserve Chair, Ben Bernanke, titled The Audacious Pragmatist  (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/25/business/economy/the-audacious-pragmatist.html?ref=business). And as the name of the article states, Ben Bernank has been a pragmatist since the finance crisis of 2008.  

 

Ben Bernanke (from The New York Times)
The NYT wrote, “Mr. Bernanke, who plans to step down in January after eight years as Fed chairman, will be remembered for helping to arrest the collapse of the financial system in 2008. This shy, methodical economist who had been expected to serve as the keeper of Alan Greenspan’s flame — to preserve the Fed’s hard-won success in moderating inflation — emerged under pressure as perhaps the most innovative and daring leader in the Fed’s history.

But what Mr. Bernanke did after the crisis may prove to have even more enduring influence. For almost three decades, the Fed focused on moderating inflation in the belief that this was the best and only way to help the economy. In the wake of the crisis, Mr. Bernanke forged a broader vision of the Fed’s responsibilities, starting experimental, incomplete campaigns to reduce unemployment and to prevent future crises.” 

The article – which is well worth reading – helps put into perspective the enormous challenges faced during and after the 2008 financial crisis. I believe history will treat Ben Bernanke as one of the heroes of the early 21st century. While not beloved during his tenure, we’ll eventually see that the Fed’s intentions were good and that they responded in a pragmatic manner, as opposed to staunch idealism or bowing to political pressures.

Check out Dr. Krause's free, online course: Introduction to Applied Investing at: http://business.marquette.edu/applied-investing-mooc

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's Next for the Federal Reserve?


Jim Bianco (Marquette ’84) is truly one of the best economists on cable television. This week he was on CNBC discussing the Federal Reserve and the markets.

His comments on the current state of the fixed income markets are spot on…. Simply put, he believes that the Federal Reserve is convinced it is completely correct. “They believe they know better than market participants and are frustrated that their explanations are not being ‘understood.’ The Federal Reserve believes the problem is one of communication and nothing more.”

He continued, “The markets are not having any difficulty understanding the Federal Reserve’s point of view. They simply disagree with it. No matter how many times Bernanke explains his position, the markets see tapering as a form of tightening. In the past, when the Federal Reserve disregards market opinion in favor of their own, it generally ended badly. Could that be happening again?”

Watch the video, it is an interesting dialogue between Rick Santelli and Jim Bianco (a couple of Chicagoans discussing the Federal Reserve and interest rates). These two are not afraid to call it like it is! Also, a nice shout out for Marquette and Jesuit universities...






What is a MOOC?

MOOC 101 – Short Version by David S. Krause

Wikipedia defines a MOOC as online course aimed at large-scale interactive participation and open access via the web. In addition to traditional course materials such as videos, readings, and problem sets, MOOCs provide interactive user forums that help build a community for the students, professors, and teaching assistants. MOOCs are a recent development in distance education.
An even shorter definition is that a MOOC is a course that is usually offered for free over the Internet to anyone.
To get more info on Dr. Krause's Introduction to Applied Investing MOOC, go to: http://business.marquette.edu/applied-investing-mooc

Friday, August 23, 2013

First Investment-Focused MOOC Offered by Marquette

To learn more about Dr. Krause's new Introduction to Applied Investing course available on the Canvas Network, go to: https://www.canvas.net/courses/introduction-to-applied-investing.



Watch the trailer for the course at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d8-do6ElvFE



Thursday, August 22, 2013

Marquette to launch first MOOC with Intro to Applied Investing

Enrollment is now open for a short, pilot course; open online class begins Sept. 23
 MILWAUKEE – Marquette University today announced it is moving into the area of open online education with an introductory course in investing. Dr. David Krause, director of the Applied Investment Management program in the College of Business Administration, will teach “Introduction to Applied Investing,” a short, self-paced course intended for individuals who want to be more informed and savvier about investing.
Krause noted that the course will be delivered online through the open source learning management system on Instructure’s Canvas Network, another outlet for the growing popularity of Massive Open Online Courses or MOOCs. Other institutions with MOOCs on the Canvas Network include Brown University, Michigan State University, University of South Florida, Clemson University and Santa Clara University.
According to Krause, Marquette is believed to be the first institution to offer a MOOC on the topic of applied investing.
“I look forward to launching this course,” Krause said. “It has been developed and will be delivered with the same quality that Marquette brings to all its business courses and programs.”
Dr. Mark Eppli, interim Keyes Dean of Business Administration, agreed.
“This is an exciting first step for the college and the university,” he said. “MOOCs have great potential to showcase a university’s intellectual capital and expand knowledge in an important and relevant topic, like investment management.”
The Marquette course will cover major investment vehicles, including common stock, bonds, real estate, and alternative investments, as well as discuss the various methods of investing. Students will also develop insights into the financial markets and learn how to establish a long-term investment strategy, according to Krause.
“If you are new to investing, this course can give you the confidence to begin building your own investment plan,” Krause said. “It can also help you better understand the recommendations of more experienced investors and financial advisors – and hopefully protect you from poor advice and bad decisions.”
Enrollment in the pilot course is now open and will be initially limited to 1,000 students. The course begins Monday, Sept. 23 – it is self-paced but designed to be completed in four weeks.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Dennis Krause on Bonneville Salt Flats for 3rd Year of Racing on the World's Fastest Track

My brother, Dennis Krause, is back for his third year of racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats. The weather/track conditions are poor. Unlike the past two years, the salt is currently wet and quite tacky - not the best for trying to go 240+ mph in a Ford Mustang. 

His best run thus far is 214 mph - below his previous best of 220 mph last year. He's hoping for better track conditions on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

Today he wrote, "We plan to make an early pass tomorrow.  I sure hope conditions improve so I can see what this thing has really got.  Right now there is no reason to run nitro.  It won't hold the power we've got.   If conditions are good we will make three runs.  The last one will be with nitro-methane, and we will try for the 240 mph goal.  When the motor blows we'll come home."

Pictures below from yesterday:
Dennis Krause running over 200 mph at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2013 

Dennis Krause (Ford Mustang) at Bonneville Salt Flats


Friday, July 12, 2013

The new Wall Street Admissions Test (WSAT)

This is not an endorsement - I'm posting this because I've been receiving inquires about the new Wall Street Admissions Test (WSAT). As I learn more, I'll pass it along. The following was pulled from various online sources.

The Wall Street Admissions Test is your chance to stand out from the pack of finance job seekers. The test is free and it can be taken online.  http://www.streetofwalls.com/wsat/

Many of the most competitive employers will require you to take the test, but taking it also shows initiative to employers for whom it is optional. The WSAT is your chance to show employers your skills and earn an interview.


For every job opening on Wall Street, there can be hundreds of highly qualified candidates vying for the position. Most of the jobs you will apply for will receive thousands of applications from other candidates whose qualifications are very similar to yours. The WSAT lets you stand out to employers. 


Just last year, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein said that more than 300,000 people applied for available full-time positions at the firm in 2010 and 2011. The bank hired fewer than four percent of those applicants.

The CEO of job search site Monster, Salvatore Iannuzzi, said the average company with 100,000 employees receives about three million applications each year.

On Wall Street especially there are tons of highly qualified candidates with degrees from top schools and stellar GPAs competing for a limited number of openings.

And as Wall Street has contracted due to layoffs, there are more and more qualified people looking for those available jobs. 

So how do you stand out and how does an employer sift through all the job seekers for the perfect candidate? 

That's exactly the problem former investment bankers/ hedge funders Adam Goldstein, 33, and Brett Adcock, 27, are aiming to solve with a new product called Street of Walls— a web site that tests and screens job seekers based on finance industry specific skills employers are looking for. With this service it doesn't matter where you went to school if you can prove your abilities.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

AIM Fixed Income Fund Performance (as of 6/30/2013)

The holding period for the AIM students in the Class of 2014 began on 4/1/2013 and their first quarter was 5 basis points below the benchmark (Barclays US Aggregate). On a YTD basis the Fund is 4 bps below the benchmark. A further report will be published that provides full risk and return performance statistics.


AIM International Equity Fund Performance (as of 6/30/2013)

The holding period for the AIM students in the Class of 2014 began on 4/1/2013 and their first quarter was 88 basis points below the benchmark (S&P ADR). On a YTD basis the Fund is 242 bps above the benchmark. A further report will be published that provides full risk and return performance statistics.



AIM Equity Fund Performance (as of 6/30/2013)


The holding period for the AIM students in the Class of 2014 began on 4/1/2013 and their first quarter was 53 basis points above the benchmark (Russell 2000). On a YTD basis the Fund is 169 bps above the benchmark. A further report will be published that provides full risk and return performance statistics.



Dan Fuss: "We are in the foothills of a secular rise in interest rates"



As readers of this blog know, Dan Fuss of Loomis Sayles is my favorite fixed income investor of all time. His record is second to none. Here is his recently published quarterly newsletter. Always a good read.



July 2, 2013

Well, the bond market is no longer boring!  The second quarter was not only disappointing but quite volatile.  Year-to-date, the same phrase applies.  Fortunately, on a comparative basis, your account did relatively well.  The accounts' sensitivity to the overall market had been brought down over the last year and a half or so and that turned out to be fortunate.  Nonetheless, the absolute return was disappointing.  A lot more detail will be forthcoming shortly. 

Our forecast, for some time now, is that we are in the foothills of a secular rise in interest rates.  Well, it turned out the first "foothill" was quite something.  From the low of last summer, 10 year Treasury yields have risen approximately 1%.  That may not seem like a lot but going from 1.47 to 2.47 adjusts bonds prices quite a bit.  Thirty year bonds that were issued in the summer of 2012, at par, were quoted at the end of June in the low 80s.  Most of that move actually came in the last six weeks of the second quarter.  So what happened? 


The proximate cause of most of the price drop was a statement followed by clarification from the Fed.  You have read about that.  That was quickly followed by a number of speeches from individual members trying to clarify what they meant.  Nonetheless, the outflows from the mutual funds and selling of the ETFs really picked up momentum.  What helped the market really crescendo on the down side was apparent selling of shorter Treasuries by foreign central banks (an inference drawn from the record drop in Fed Foreign Holdings) and the secondary impact from a liquidity squeeze in the Chinese Market.  Some observers call it the "perfect storm" and I agree with that.  Further amplification came from heavy selling in high quality short-term corporates, a normal secondary reserve for mutual funds and others, that found no bid. 

One change in the bond market is now very apparent.  The "middle of the market", otherwise known as dealers, is now relatively much smaller than the "buy side" and far less able to provide liquidity to the market.  The dealer capacity to provide a thick buffer that dampens the volatility of buying or selling is much reduced.  Thus, volatility increases. 

So what might be coming? 


It does appear to me that the first step in the rise of interest rates turned out to be a much bigger one than would be expected under the circumstances.  Viewed from a more "fundamental" perspective, the global and domestic economies really don't seem to be all that strong.  The Fed has put forth an economic forecast that will help guide their activity.  Based on that forecast, it does not seem likely that they will allow short-term rates to rise for quite a long time, perhaps a couple more years.  The question then becomes what about their buying of intermediate and longer-term Treasuries.  When will they start to "taper"?  That, of course, is up to them.  Nonetheless, when they start and the amount of "tapering" doesn't look likely to be hard on the market for the foreseeable future.  That's the good news. 

The bad news is that fund flows out of mutual funds and ETFs have already started and people are now cautious on fixed income.  The retail end of the market certainly does not look promising.  Partially offsetting this is a quite visible rise in the institutional flows of money to fixed income.  We will just have to see how this plays out.  The institutional flows basically head towards intermediate and long maturities as well as below investment grade in many cases.  The retail outflows seem to be primarily from intermediate and long investment grade corporates, plus from high yield and emerging market funds. 

To sum up:  It looks like the first phase of the first cycle in a secular rise of interest rates is already over.  The market is thinner and so moves like this will come quickly and be sharper.  The recent market disruption has caused some buying opportunities, particularly in the high yield and intermediate investment grade corporate area.  When the second leg starts and from what level is yet to determined.  Our best guess is that yields will be a bit lower before the next rise starts and it's a little bit further out than the market seems to anticipate.  That is yet to be seen.  What does seem apparent is that the market will be more volatile going forward and that can be viewed positively since it will provide periodic buying opportunities.  Thus, our focus continues to be to position your account to take advantage of a longer-term rise in interest rates.  With a lag, the income generation of the portfolio should rise.  The trick will be to keep the capital base steady and rising at the same time.  That is more than a case of “cake and eat it too” but, hopefully, it should be possible.  We'll see. 

Dan Fuss

Loomis Sayles

The CFA Institute launches a new investment certificate program: Claritas


The Claritas Investment Certificate is a new global self-study education program and exam designed to give anyone working in financial services a clear understanding of the investment industry and their professional responsibilities within it. Focused on the essentials of finance, ethics, and investment roles, the program requires approximately 100 hours of study and generally can be completed within six months. 

There is no education or experience requirement; however candidates should feel comfortable with the English language. The multiple choice, computer-based exam can be taken at your convenience at available test centers around the world. 
Successful candidates will be awarded the Claritas Investment Certificate by CFA Institute. The Claritas program promotes a shared understanding of the industry, builds employee confidence, and raises effectiveness across all professional disciplines in the financial services industry, outside of investment roles; from client services to compliance; from human resources to IT and operations; from sales and marketing to legal and administrative services.


To learn more download these Claritas materials: 
Claritas factcard (PDF) 
Claritas booklet (PDF)
Explore the Course of Study


Fast Facts:
·         Online, self-study program, requiring approximately 100 hours of study
·         Two-hour multiple choice exam, available at Pearson VUE test centers worldwide
·         No requirements or experience necessary 
·         Teaches essential concepts and ethics of the investment industry
·         Successful candidates earn a certificate of knowledge

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Op-Ed: It's time for the Federal Reserve to act independently

About 100 years ago, President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to create the Federal Reserve System, which set off a fierce debate. Critics predicted that the Federal Reserve would become an economic dictator - an “invisible government by the money power.”

At the last Fed news conference, chairman Bernanke spoke of his timetable for scaling down quantitative easing  “If things are worse, we will do more,” he said of the nation’s economy. “If things are better, we will do less.” Talk about decisiveness! 

The debate about the role of a central bank in the U.S. has been raging since the founding of the country – and even today the Tea Party seeks to eliminate the Federal Reserve.

Is the Federal Reserve too strong? Is it now the all-powerful central authority that Americans feared it would become? Is it independent of the “money trust” it was created to tame?

These questions – and others - are being debated in op-ed pieces and faculty lounges across the country. I'm weighing in as well.

Bernanke said  “If things are worse, we will do more. If things are better, we will do less” when talking about the future course of monetary policy. For several days following his remarks, the financial markets tanked - stocks, bonds, commodities, and everything else. The markets' short-term hostile reaction to the prospect of a measured end to easy money should not make it harder for the Fed to reverse course. The Fed should act independently.

Like a trainer teaching a puppy, the Fed should follow through on its orders and remain in charge – not succumb the wishes of markets. Certainly during the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve had to step in and restore order – I think they saved the day.  

Since then, the super low interest rates and easy money drove investor funds into risky assets and sent prices higher, restoring bank and investment company balance sheets. Unfortunately the policy did not directly benefit the lives of the working class or seniors – as credit dried up and savings rates dropped to near zero. The bad actors got bailed out.

The Fed should follow through on a plan to taper down quantitative easing and allow the economy to function on its own by 2014 – despite the temper tantrum the markets will throw.  The economy can stand on its own two feet and its time to get back to normal - or at least its time to stop artificially holding interest rates below market equilibrium.