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Date: Friday, 29 Aug 2014 16:51

Quote of the day

Ben Carlson, “Perception can make a huge difference in how we feel about our finances at different points in time.”  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Markets

Why we may be in store for a decade of low returns.  (Short Side of Long)

Wealthy investors are leveraging up their portfolios.  (WSJ)

Why you should Google your favorite perma-bear.  (Big Picture)

Strategy

Why you need to understand your “real, real returns.”  (Pragmatic Capitalism)

Michael Batnick, “Your behavior can have a much larger affect on your portfolio than geopolitics, political turmoil or even recessions.”  (Irrelevant Investor)

Why second-guessing your asset allocation can be so damaging.  (Bason Asset Management)

Trading

You should act as if commissions were $0.  (Gatis Roze)

How to get a job at a trading firm.  (TraderFeed)

A list of the top ten trading books including The Playbook by Mike Bellafiore.  (SMB Training)

Finance

Energy M&A shows little sign of slowing.  (Dealbook)

On the advantages of smaller boards of directors.  (The Atlantic)

This is the golden age of corporate tax avoidance.  (Dealbook)

Now young bankers can’t even pick fun code names for deals.  (WSJ)

Funds

Blackstone Group ($BX) is putting together a balls-to-the-wall hedge fund.  (WSJ)

On the (long term) dangers of chasing hedge fund winners.  (All About Alpha, CNBC)

The opportunity in closed-end funds for patient investors.  (FINalternatives)

Vanguard is cutting fees on its UK funds.  (FT)

Economy

A comprehensive look at the US housing economy through July.  (Bonddad Blog)

American companies are starting to spend.  (Quartz)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

Moving past the active vs. passive debate.  (Abnormal Returns)

What you might have missed in our Thursday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

Aging and the ability to enjoy the more simple things in life.  (NYTimes)

How a walk can boost your creativity.  (Fast Company)

Curiosity is as important as intelligence. (HBR)

You can support Abnormal Returns by visiting Amazon or follow us on StockTwits, Tumblr and Twitter.

www.FeedBurner.com) Friday links:  perception and reality

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 16:54

Quote of the day

Salman Khan, “The Internet is a dream for someone with a growth mindset.”  (Khan Academy)

Chart of the day

Sand 0814 624x216 Thursday links:  a growth mindset

Who said you need to be high tech to generate high returns? Sand companies have soared the past year.  (Ivanhoff Capital)

Markets

The stock market can decline without an inversion of the yield curve.  (Pension Partners)

On the end of the stock buyback boom. (Business Insider)

Strategy

Investors just can’t help themselves when it comes to chasing performance.  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Once more with feeling: dividend paying stocks are not a substitute for bonds.  (Pragmatic Capitalism)

A discussion with Tim Melvin and Tobias Carlisle author of Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations.  (Benzinga)

Technology

Companies are getting more bang for the buck from their IT spending.  (Justin Fox)

Why Instagram is a great environment for advertisers.  (Medium)

Horace Deidu, “So it’s obvious that as a computer becomes wearable it will affect the industry that currently is hired to also be worn: apparel.”  (Asymco)

Lending Club

Lending Club is going public.  (Dealbook, WSJ, FT)

Lending Club is NOT a bank.  (Matt Levine)

Finance

Which hedge funds are attracting big assets.  (Bloomberg)

MF Global customers are going to get their money back.  (Dealbreaker)

Funds

On the rise and fall of the Hussman Strategic Growth Fund.  (Larry Swedroe)

Why S&P 500 index funds are a second-best choice.  (Rick Ferri)

Don’t get hung up on the term “smart beta.”  (Bloomberg)

Alibaba

Business at Alibaba ($BABA) is booming. (Dealbook, WSJ )

But potential shareholders should be wary of governance issues. (Quartz)

Economy

Weekly initial unemployment claims continue to trend below 300k.  (Calculated Risk)

Wages continue to stagnate.  (Bonddad Blog, Wonkblog)

What blue states get wrong: housing.  (Vox)

Alaska is a petro-state but doesn’t act like one.  (Daniel Gross)

A large number of eligible homeowners don’t refinance their mortgages.  (NBER)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

Moving past the active vs. passive debate.  (Abnormal Returns)

What you might have missed in our Wednesday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

Outdoor music festivals have become big business.  (FT, Quartz)

How much does it cost to make ice?  (Wired)

Can the Roku TV help you cut the cable cord?  (WSJ)

You can support Abnormal Returns by visiting Amazon or follow us on StockTwits, Tumblr and Twitter.

www.FeedBurner.com) Thursday links:  a growth mindset

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Thursday, 28 Aug 2014 15:51

The active vs. passive debate has been going on as long as their has been index funds. That being said of late index funds and their supporters have been on quite a hot streak. It was recently reported that the Vanguard Group now manages over $3 trillion in assets a majority of which is in index funds.

John Rekenthaler at Morningstar poured some gasoline on the fiery debate by asking whether active management had a future. After showing the dominance of index funds Rekenthaler concluded that:

Active managers have become the periphery. As the slogan goes, there is core and then there is explore. Active management is no longer core.

Depending on how measure things passive investing is still only 36% of the equity mutual fund universe and an even smaller part of the fixed income universe. So there is still room for indexing to take market share. The irony is that Vanguard who has over $300 billion in actively managed equity mutual funds has shown strong historical performance. This is due in large part to low fees.

The fact is that the only factor investors can really control when it comes to selecting mutual funds (and ETFs) is fees. There is a one-for-one relationship between fees and performance. John Rekenthaler at Morningstar shows that fees play an important role in fund performance highlighting the advantage Vanguard has over its for-profit competitors.

MSfees 0814 Moving past the active vs. passive debate

Source: Morningstar

Morgan Housel at the Motley Fool expands on this idea of fees and extends from not only fund fees but the advisory fees investors pay to have their portfolios managed. This is just one of many things Housel things is “strange” about the financial services industry. Housel writes:

I can’t think of another industry in which there is so much ignorance around costs.Nearly all financial fees are deducted from assets automatically, rather than clients receiving and paying an invoice. This makes them out of sight, out of mind. Ask someone how much their cell phone bill is, or how much a gallon of gas costs, and they can tell you down to the penny. But ask them how much they pay in advisory fees, and they may have no clue whatsoever.

Certainly performance has something to do with this. Charles Ellis in a recent Financial Analysts Journal article talks about the harsh math of active management and the rise of index investing. This is due in part to the fact the investment industry has become increasingly sophisticated, i.e professional, over time therefore limiting the opportunity for active managers to outperform.

Jason Zweig at WSJ picks up on this theme on notes the dwindling opportunities for active managers. Ellis concludes that investment professionals should focus more on managing the client as opposed to trying to beat the market. Zweig writes:

To Mr. Ellis, the future for many portfolio managers is clear: “Lots of them are going to have to go find something else to do, because the line of work they originally trained for will be fading away.” One obvious destination, he says, is financial planning.

Financial planning and the broader idea of portfolio construction is worth noting here because in a certain sense there is no such thing as a purely passive portfolio. Every portfolio requires some management over time. Cullen Roche at Pragmatic Capitalism finds the idea of “passive portfolios” to be an oxymoron. He writes:

Now, don’t get me wrong here – a lot of the general message underpinning the concept of “passive investing” is great.  I love indexing.  Diversification is tremendously important.  Costs are HUGELY important.  Trading can be terrible for your wealth.  But “asset picking” (which is what all asset allocation ultimately comes down to) is totally necessary.  It’s the only way we can construct portfolios that align our risk tolerance and financial goals with a certain set of appropriate assets.

In the end we are all hopefully trying to build portfolios that meet our particular financial goals. In some cases that might very well include some actively managed funds. Russ Koesterich at the iShares Blog writes about when index (and active) funds make sense. In light of the active vs. passive debate last year I wrote about under what conditions actively managed funds might make sense. In conclusion I wrote:

The financial media not one for subtlety. The indexing=good, active=bad meme is the dominant one at present. There are some very good reasons why investors may want to try to take advantage of actively managed funds in select sectors. Provided you have the right framework and expectations this can make perfect sense. However as noted above investors should keep a keen eye on costs and recognize that we are talking about the slices of the portfolio pie, not the whole pie.

That being said we shouldn’t let the pursuit of incremental gains have us take our eyes off the ball. James Picerno at the Capital Spectator in a recent post talks about the challenges in selecting actively managed funds in building our asset allocation. The broader point he makes is that building and maintaining a rational asset allocation strategy is challenging enough without complicating it with the pursuit of alpha.

We already know that investors are prone to chasing performance. Ben Carlson at A Wealth of Common Sense highlights a recent example of extreme performance chasing on the part of investors into a fund whose strategy that most investors likely don’t understand. This very often leads to a cycle of booming asset flows and the inevitable disappointment for investors.

The big problem for investors is when they continue to cycle from bust to bust. This serial underperformance can lead to greatly diminished terminal wealth. All investors are beset by a number of behavioral biases, which focusing exclusively on index funds, will not offset. Investing is hard enough without throwing all sorts of complications on top of things.

So in the end for the vast majority of investors the active vs. passive debate is at best a sideshow. While we may think that “working harder” will generate for us better returns in reality this extra effort is more likely to cost us time and money over the long run. The things that matter the most for your portfolio, and ultimately your goals, are the big decisions we make about savings, taxes, rebalancing and asset allocation. Focusing on this big picture issues is far more important than picking amongst the latest list of five-star funds.

Items mentioned above:

Investors pour money into Vanguard.  (WSJ)

Do active funds have a future?  (Morningstar)

Passive investing will still gain ground.  (Marketwatch)

Active vs. passive is the wrong question: cost is what matters.  (Rekenthaler Report)

Finance is a strange industry.  (Motley Fool)

The rise and fall of performance investing.  (FAJ)

Mauboussin on “hitting .400″ in today’s investing world.  (Guru Investor)

The decline and fall of fund managers.  (WSJ)

It’s time to eliminate the term ‘passive investing.’  (Pragmatic Capitalism)

Active vs. passive: how to blend both.  (iShares)

Active pieces of the pie.  (Abnormal Returns)

The active vs. passive debate has become tiresome.  (Capital Spectator)

In pursuit of past performance.  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Indexing is no panacea. (Abnormal Returns)

Active vs. passive: try harder or do something easier? (Abnormal Returns)

Mutual fund ratings and future performance.  (Vanguard)

www.FeedBurner.com) Moving past the active vs. passive debate

The post Moving past the active vs. passive debate appeared first on Abnormal Returns.

Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "Exchange Traded Funds, Index Funds"
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Date: Wednesday, 27 Aug 2014 16:50

You can keep up with all of our posts by signing up for our daily e-mail. Thousands of other readers already have. Don’t miss out!

Quote of the day

Martin Wolf, “Almost nothing in economics is more important than thinking through how companies should be managed and for what ends. Unfortunately, we have made a mess of this. That mess has a name: it is “shareholder value maximisation.”  (FT)

Chart of the day

SPX 0814 Wednesday links:  for what ends

This bull market is 2000 days old and has survived any number of calamities.  (Scott Krisiloff)

Markets

Industrials have been underperforming all summer.  (Humble Student)

We should not be surprised that different sectors shine at different times.  (Crossing Wall Street)

Strategy

On the attraction of “behemoth stocks.”  (Aleph Blog)

A simple switching model between value and momentum.  (Alpha Architect)

Risk control vs. risk avoidance.  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Seasonality is a secondary indicator.  (Andrew Thrasher)

Active vs. passive

Active vs. passive is the wrong question: cost is what matters.  (Rekenthaler Report)

The active vs. passive debate has become tiresome.  (Capital Spectator)

Companies

Microsoft ($MSFT) is becoming a mobile app maker.  (Quartz)

Apple ($AAPL) is talking about building a big *ss iPad for 2015.  (Bloomberg also Recode)

Are we thinking about Amazon ($AMZN) the wrong way?  (stratechery)

Why everyone is seemingly to high on Mobileye ($MBLY).  (Quartz, Business Insider, Marketwatch)

VC

Online storage , a la Dropbox, is now essentially free.  (Wired)

SnapChat has reportedly scored financing at a $10 billion valuation.  (WSJ)

An interview with noted VC Bill Gurley.  (Eric Jackson)

Finance

Finance is filled with people with “awful track records.”  (Morgan Housel)

Why it is not surprising that Canada will be the home of the new Burger King ($BKW).  (Dealbook, Wonkblog)

Nontraded REITs are likely to see some restrictions on their sale.  (WSJ)

ETFs

Comparing the large cap ETFs.  (ETF)

Global

China is full up with grain crops.  (WSJ)

Economy

Why the current economic recovery could have some room to run.  (Pragmatic Capitalism)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

What you might have missed in our Tuesday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

Six things to do in your early 20′s.  (Millenial Invest)

Can a sports team have too much talent?  (Well)

On the value of a personal blog.  (A VC)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Wednesday links:  for what ends

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Tuesday, 26 Aug 2014 16:56

Quote of the day

Joshua Brown, “Portfolios are now free – valueless. Advice, on the other hand, is invaluable– but only if it’s delivered with meaning and when it counts.”  (The Reformed Broker)

Chart of the day

DBA 0814 624x375 Tuesday links:  valueless portfolios

Agricultural commodities seem to be bottoming out.  (Barron’s)

Markets

Where are we in the credit cycle?  (Aleph Blog)

Never say never in the stock market.  (Brian Lund)

Strategy

Successful investing is more about avoiding mistakes than anything else.  (ThinkAdvisor)

It’s rarely a good idea to make a decision based on a single data point.  (Bucks Blog)

A look at Guy Spier’s The Education of a Value Investor.  (BeyondProxy)

Companies

Why Amazon ($AMZN) spent nearly $1 billion to buy Twitch.  (Recode, TechCrunch, Dealbook, WSJ, Slate)

Will anything really come of the Apple ($AAPL)-IBM ($IBM) venture?   (Monday Note)

An interview with Horace Deidu about the coming new iPhone and iWatch.  (Eric Jackson)

Finance

Warren Buffett is playing a role in the Burger King ($BKW) acquisition of Tim Horton’s ($THI).  (WSJ, Dealbook, Matt Levine)

Regulatory arbitrage is a waste of everyone’s time and talents.  (John Kay)

Wickr wants to create a Bloomberg messaging competitor.  (FT)

Funds

Pimco is going extend its active ETF business to equities.  (ETF)

Why are alternative asset mutual funds still so expensive?  (Morningstar)

The ETF Deathwatch for August is out.  (Invest with an Edge)

Economy

Who actually pays corporate taxes?  (Justin Fox)

According to Case-Shiller the rise in home prices is slowing.  (Calculated Risk)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

What you might have missed in our Monday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

What does the Twitter “favorite” button actually do?  (Farhad Manjoo)

Will the Napa Valley earthquake affect wine prices?  (Wonkblog, NYTimes)

The best, portable closed headphones ranked including the #1 ranked AKG K551.  (Marco Ament)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Tuesday links:  valueless portfolios

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Monday, 25 Aug 2014 17:38

Help us out by filling out this survey. You could win a free book! (now closed)

The small cap cycle may be played out.  (Crossing Wall Street)

Apple ($AAPL) stock is in uncharted territory.  (Syncubate also MoneyBeat)

Learn statistics or get left behind.  (Barry Ritholtz)

Why value investors have to be both steadfast and realistic.  (The Brooklyn Investor also Greenbackd)

Why your trading should be boring.  (Adam Grimes)

Burger King ($BKW) is in talks to buy Tim Horton’s ($THI) with the intention to headquarter in Canada for tax purposes.  (DealbookWSJ)

How M&A rumors spread.  (Fortune)

How should private equity and hedge funds be benchmarked?  (Larry Swedroe)

Target date ETFs are a dying breed.  (ETF)

Is there a performance drag for liquid alternative funds?  (The Alpha Pages)

The Chicago Fed National Activity Index showed growth in July.  (Calculated Risk)

What you might have missed in our Sunday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Seven habits of people with remarkable mental toughness.  (Inc.)

More rules for life (and trading).  (TraderFeed)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Monday links:  statistical importance

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 12:57

Quote of the day

James Osborne, “When we get down into the nitty-gritty details, there is no way to predict which asset allocation will provide the best risk-adjusted returns this year or for the next ten years. But we can certainly have a say in our behavior.”  (Bason Asset Management)

Chart of the day

The Treasury yield curve is flattening.  (Bloomberg)

Markets

Why you can’t be too bullish or too bearish these days.  (The Felder Report)

A different way of looking at relative strength.  (Adam Grimes)

Falling fees

The days of closet indexers is coming to a close.  (Jason Zweig also Mark Quinn, Pragmatic Capitalism)

Comparing the offerings from all of the emerging online investment managers.  (NYTimes)

Companies

The case for breaking up PepsiCo ($PEP).  (Barron’s)

Amazon ($AMZN) wants to get into the online ad business.  (WSJ)

The core principles of the CEOs highlighted in The Outsiders by William Thorndike.  (Clear Eyes Investing)

Finance

Wall Street no longer attracts the Renaissance kids…and that’s okay.  (The Epicurean Dealmaker, Kevin Roose)

Private equity has a big problem: valuations.  (FT)

Global

Austerity was a huge mistake for the Eurozone.  (Joe Weisenthal)

What are the common factors among economies that stagnate?  (Tyler Cowen)

Twelve charts this week on the global economy.  (Quartz)

Economy

A look back at the economic week that was.  (Bonddad Blog, Big Picture)

The economic schedule for the coming week.  (Calculated Risk)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

Top clicks this week on the site.  (Abnormal Returns)

What you might have missed in our Saturday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

Peculiar habits of incredibly successful people.  (Morgan Housel)

Why drafting works.  (Seth Godin)

You can support Abnormal Returns by visiting Amazon or follow us on StockTwits, Tumblr and  Twitter.

www.FeedBurner.com) Sunday links:  asset allocation behaviors

The post Sunday links: asset allocation behaviors appeared first on Abnormal Returns.

Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Sunday, 24 Aug 2014 12:55

Thanks for checking in with us this weekend.  Here are the items our readers clicked most frequently on Abnormal Returns for the week ended Saturday, August 23rd, 2014. The description reads as it does in the relevant linkfest:

  1. Asset class returns: nobody knows nothing.  (Novel Investor)
  2. Americans have no idea what is happening in the stock market.  (The Reformed Broker)
  3. Ten stocks the “ultimate stock pickers” are buying.  (Morningstar)
  4. Warren Buffett is hoarding cash. Why aren’t you?  (James Saft)
  5. The market is missing a key factor for a big blowup.  (Business Insider)
  6. The dark side of technical analysis.  (Adam Grimes)
  7. Using Warren Buffett’s portfolio as a watchlist.  (James Altucher)
  8. Two reasons to be bullish.  (Carson Dahlberg)
  9. What does the first half hour trading tell us about end of day trading.  (Alpha Architect)
  10. Maybe investor should be watching more closely where Google is putting its cash.  (Globe and Mail)

Here is what else you may have missed on the site this week:

  1. Mindfulness, intuition and “intentional trading.”  (Abnormal Returns)
  2. Bundling, unbundling and app apathy.  (Abnormal Returns)
  3. Bundling, unbundling and the app economy.  (Abnormal Returns)
  4. Abnormal Returns on Yahoo Finance.  (Abnormal Returns)
  5. Legends of the financial blogosphere.  (Yahoo Finance)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Top clicks this week on Abnormal Returns

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Saturday, 23 Aug 2014 11:49

The weekend is a great time to catch up on some posts that were either too long or simply didn’t fit in during the week. Hope you enjoy!

Investing

The best investments are often the ones you don’t make.  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

How to teach teens about investing.  (Brett Arends)

Some ways to “spice up” your portfolio.  (Bucks Blog)

Why investors are so unwilling to plunge into the stock market.  (NYTimes)

Personal finance

Why you should max out your 401(k).  (Alliance Bernstein)

Big mistakes wealthy investors make.  (Yahoo Finance)

The many downsides of owning a vacation home.  (Bloomberg)

Advisors

What it means for a RIA to become GIPS-compliant.  (Nerd’s Eye View)

How the big robo-advisors do asset allocation.  (ETF)

New economy

Humans need not apply: on the effect of automation on employment.  (CGP Grey via FT Alphaville)

When creative destruction becomes creative devastation.  (FT Alphaville)

Venture capital

Logistical problems aside, delivery startups are the hot new thing.  (NYTimes)

The top venture capitalists have some elements of “structural alpha.”   (Ashby Monk)

Science

Your phone could soon be a mobile laboratory.  (Wired)

The real reason we yawn.  (WSJ)

Health

Vaccinations matter: the case of whooping cough.  (FiveThirtyEight)

Why are teen pregnancy rates plummeting?  (Vox)

Stretching is overrated.  (The Atlantic)

Yoga works not just your body but your brain as well.  (Time)

Fish

The benefits of eating fish may not have much to do with Omega 3s.  (Well)

Your fish may have more mercury that you think.  (Quartz)

Food

Are the benefits of breakfast overrated?  (Well)

Are sous vide machines going to go mainstream?  (ArsTechnica)

Why you shouldn’t drink a coffee when you first wake up.  (Fast Company)

Restaurants

Why more restaurants are banning kids.  (Quartz)

Comparing Taco Bell’s U.S. Taco Co. to Chipotle ($CMG).  (Slate)

Booze

Bourbon production is at a multi-decade high.  (AP)

A Q&A with Adam Rogers author of Proof: The Science of Booze on hangovers.   (NPR)

Sports

How bullpens took over baseball.  (FiveThirtyEight)

Now that the Chicago Cubs have a plan, fans have stopped coming to Wrigley Field.  (WSJ)

The NCAA is trying to reform itself all the while it is under attack.  (Businessweek)

Entertainment

Hollywood is leaving money on the table by not focusing more in women in film.  (FiveThirtyEight)

An excerpt from The Dude Abides: The Coen Brothers and the Making of the Big Lebowski by Alex Belth.  (Deadspin)

Books

A look at The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We’ve Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris.  (Quartz)

A look at Do Fathers Matter? What Science Is Telling Us About the Parent We’ve Overlooked by Paul Raeburn.  (NYTimes)

19 more book recommendations from Charlie Munger including Fortune’s Formula by William Poundstone.  (Farnam Street)

A Q&A with William Deresiewicz author of Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life.  (Slate)

Psychology

When a virtual shrink is better than the real thing.  (Economist)

Why Dan Harris author of 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story became sold on the benefits of meditation.  (Big Think)

Ten tips on organizing your mind from Daniel Levitin author of The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload.  (Speakeasy)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

Bundling, unbundling and app apathy.  (Abnormal Returns)

What you might have missed in our Friday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

On the downfall of Food Network…and it has nothing to do with Guy Fieri.  (Salon via @mediaredef)

Check out the high tech features of the new Levi’s Stadium.  (Time)

A dozen thing learned from Paul Graham.  (25iq)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Saturday links:  spicy portfolios

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 16:26

On the bookshelf: Deep Value: Why Activist Investors and Other Contrarians Battle for Control of Losing Corporations Corporations by Tobias Carlisle.

Felix Salmon, “No longer is being an investment banker seen as the best way for a young, talented graduate to make lots of money and achieve great worldly success. Smart kids are moving to San Francisco rather than New York or London.  (FT)

Signs of an overheated market.  (The Fat Pitch, Ryan Detrick)

Valuation is not a timing tool.  (Barry Ritholtz)

On the dangers of outsourcing your market insights.  (TraderFeed)

Can momentum be arbitraged away?  (Systematic Relative Strength)

Three keys to investing in energy stocks.  (Millenial Invest)

Every investor needs a pit crew.  (StockCharts Blog)

Silicon valley is coming after Wall Street.  (FT)

Janet Yellen made the right call on inflation this Summer.  (Joe Weisenthal)

Bundling, unbundling and app apathy.  (Abnormal Returns)

What you might have missed in our Thursday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Uber is just the beginning: dynamic pricing is coming.  (Technology Review)

Can a social network that limits the stream raise the discourse?  (Nieman Lab)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Friday links:  talented graduates

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "General"
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Date: Friday, 22 Aug 2014 14:56

Earlier this week we wrote about the state of the app economy and the idea of how bundling and unbundling help define how software has progressed over time. Not only on the smartphone but on the PC before. Some additional data help demonstrate how the app economy has become somewhat satiated, or some might say stagnant over time.

Dan Frommer at Quartz citing a comScore report notes that nearly two-thirds of smartphone users don’t download any new applications in a month.

download 0814 624x281 App apathy

There are a number of explanations for this but it may simply be the case that most users have their needs met by the most used apps. Frommer writes:

One possible explanation is that people just don’t need that many apps, and the apps people already have are more than suitable for most functions. Almost all smartphone owners use apps, and a “staggering 42% of all app time spent on smartphones occurs on the individual’s single most used app,” comScore reports. New apps come and go, especially games, but perhaps breakthrough apps will be increasingly rare. A look at the top 25 most-used apps reflects mostly mature companies, including Facebook, Google, Pandora, and Yahoo.

Facebook ($FB) has taken the approach to be a “mobile conglomerate” buying insurgent apps that might threaten their core services. Rather than integrating them Facebook has kept Instagram and WhatsApp separate for now. Google ($GOOG) has six different apps that show up on the list of the top 25 most-used apps. Yahoo ($YHOO) has three.

What we are seeing is “stealth bundling.” Companies buying services for strategic and competitive reasons but choosing not to explicitly bundle them together like happens in other markets. A company like Uber is taking a different tack opening up its API to third parties in order to increase its reach. Whether it is explicit or by stealth companies might take they are trying to increase their share of your mobile spending. So for now, bundling is on the rise.

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Date: Thursday, 21 Aug 2014 16:41

Quote of the day

David Merkel, “Like any other thing in investing, no one is out to do you a favor. New stock tends to be offered at a time when valuations are high, and companies tend to be taken private when valuations are low.”  (Aleph Blog)

Chart of the day

AnnualAssets 0814 624x370 Thursday links:  investing favors

Asset class returns: nobody knows nothing.  (Barry Ritholtz, Novel Investor)

Quant

Just because the $VIX is low (or high) does not mean it is a buy (or sell).  (Volatility Made Simple)

On the advantages of mechanical trading strategies.  (Quantified Strategies via @Whole StreetRT)

What does the first half hour trading tell us about end of day trading.  (Alpha Architect)

Strategy

Why it would be a mistake to trade like George Soros.  (Brian Lund)

Warren Buffett is hoarding cash. Why aren’t you?  (James Saft)

Investing is more about psychology than strategy.  (Millenial Invest)

The dark side of technical analysis.  (Adam Grimes)

Companies

Why pharmaceutical companies don’t invest to find new antibiotics any more.  (James Surowiecki)

Was the downfall of Radio Shack ($RSH) inevitable?  (NYTimes)

Why mobile advertisers love Facebook ($FB).  (Daniel Nadler)

Finance

Bank of America ($BAC) is paying a record fine to put mortgage issues behind them.  (Bloomberg)

Goldman Sachs ($GS) junior bankers just got a big pay raise.  (FT, Quartz)

Big deals don’t always mean big fees these days.  (Dealbook)

Funds

Investors are pouring money into the Vanguard Group.  (WSJ)

Why institutional investors are “satisfied” with hedge fund performance.  (FT Alphaville)

The threshold for ‘accredited investor‘ is likely to increase.  (CNBC)

Global

The world is getting old…fast.  (CNN)

Economy

The chicken or egg problem facing the US economy.  (Conor Sen)

Weekly initial unemployment claims continue to trend at expansionary levels.  (Calculated Risk)

The Philly Fed has hit a multi-year high.  (Bespoke)

Corn and soybean yields are off the charts.  (WSJ)

A review of Daniel Drezner’s The System Worked: How the World Stopped Another Great Depression.  (FT Alphaville)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

What you might have missed in our Wednesday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

Six things you need to know to be great in business.  (Blog Maverick)

Nobody is paying attention to your conference call.  (The Atlantic)

On the price of great customer service.  (NYTimes)

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Date: Wednesday, 20 Aug 2014 16:19

You can keep up with all of our posts by signing up for our daily e-mail. Thousands of other readers already have. Don’t miss out!

Quote of the day

Salil Mehta, “In order for price-to-earnings (P/E) ratios to be useful for long-term asset allocators, they should be somewhat more stable and stationary over time.  This allows one to make and act on a decision, without the ratio confusingly oscillating about, too much, in-between.”  (Statistical Ideas)

Chart of the day

AAPL 0814 Wednesday links:  stationary over time

Apple ($AAPL) is back at all-time highs. Has sentiment gotten ahead the stock price?  (Dan Nathan)

Markets

The US Dollar Index is breaking out.  (Dragonfly Capital, Humble Student)

It is not unusual for the stock market to be at all-time highs.  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

In praise of a jump in volatility.  (Rick Ferri)

Stocks don’t have to be in a bubble to have a significant decline.  (Pension Partners)

Americans have no idea what is happening in the stock market.  (The Reformed Broker)

Finance

William Lazonick, “The buyback wave has gotten so big, in fact, that even shareholders—the presumed beneficiaries of all this corporate largesse—are getting worried.”  (HBR)

ETFs

Twelve lessons learned about fund investing.  (Brendan Conway)

Global

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is loading up on global real estate.  (MoneyBeat, Bloomberg)

Emerging markets have had a pretty good year so far.  (Dr. Ed’s Blog also beyondbrics)

Economy

The rising economy is enticing those out of the labor force to come back.  (Reuters)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

What you might have missed in our Tuesday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

Twitter ($TWTR) is cluttering up your timeline.  (TechCrunch, Business Insider)

Why do online retailers feel the need to have a physical outpost?  (Washington Post)

How social media is being mined to close down dirty restaurants.  (Scientific American)

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Date: Tuesday, 19 Aug 2014 16:48

On the bookshelf: @TimHarford “strongly recommends” Ed Catmull’s Creativity Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration.

Quote of the day

Cullen Roche, “I don’t know what the “value” of stocks are today. And I don’t think anyone else really does. And I think trying to put a value on them through these sorts of metrics is just a big waste of time…”  (Pragmatic Capitalism)

Chart of the day

XLYXLP 0814 624x387 Tuesday links:  a big waste of time

Should we be worried that consumer staples are outperforming?  (Dana Lyons)

Piggybacking

Ten stocks the “ultimate stock pickers” are buying.  (Morningstar)

Using Warren Buffett’s portfolio as a watchlist.  (James Altucher)

Maybe investor should be watching more closely where Google is putting its cash.  (Globe and Mail)

Why discipline is more important than IQ when it comes to investing.  (Farnam Street)

Junk bonds

Do high yield bonds really add much to a diversified portfolio?  (Larry Swedroe)

Junk bond shorts are expensive to maintain.  (Bloomberg)

Pimco used the junk bond sell-off to add to their positions.  (Bloomberg)

Strategy

Intuition is earned over time.  (TraderFeed)

On the value of keeping your trading systems simple.  (NAS Trading)

An examination of one trader’s path to understanding.  (Adam Grimes, ibid)

Companies

Google ($GOOG) went public ten years ago and still a little weird.  (Ryan Detrick, MoneyBeat, TRB, Fortune)

Elon Musk’s SpaceX just raised money at a $10 billion valuation.  (TechCrunch)

The golf business is terrible.  (Business Insider, Businessweek)

Finance

How the JOBS Act has affected information uncertainty with recent IPOs.  (SSRN)

Why didn’t the Dutch Auction IPO take off?  (CNBC)

While you weren’t looking the credit derivatives markets have revived.  (FT)

The financial markets could use a big slug of additional T-bills.  (FT Alphaville)

Should business schools be teaching high frequency trading?  (Businessweek)

ETFs

Pimco and Blackrock ($BLK) are shuttering a slew of ETFs.  (ETF)

Energy

Surprise! There is a global solar panel shortage.  (Bloomberg)

Retail gasoline prices are falling.  (Bespoke)

Economy

Housing starts were up solidly in July.  (Calculated Risk, ibid)

So much for that tick up in inflation.  (Crossing Wall Street)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

Bundling, unbundling and the app economy.  (Abnormal Returns)

You can now get Abnormal Returns content on Yahoo Finance.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mindfulness, intuition and “intentional trading.”  (Abnormal Returns)

What you might have missed in our Monday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

More people are going on social media diets.  (TechCrunch)

Can companies successfully get workers to work fewer hours?  (FT)

America is not vacationing as much as it used to.  (Vox)

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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 19:11

Bad news for app developers. Consumers are downloading (and paying for) fewer apps in part because their basic needs have been largely covered by incumbents. Per an article by Daniel Thomas and Tim Bradshaw at the FT:

Smartphone owners’ waning appetite for new apps is casting a shadow over what has been a technology market hotspot and is fuelling mobile developers’ concerns that their best days of growth are coming to an end.

This is due in part to the fact that smartphone users, and PC users before them, really only use a handful of applications the vast majority of the time. Benedict Evans and Steven Sinofsky in a recent a16z podcast talk about this phenomena in the context of the history of computing. The fact is we humans only have so much attention and ability to master new applications. That is part why we see these cycles of bundling and unbundling of features with various pieces of software.

In an earlier post Evans wrote about this very topic and asked how this might play out in the context of LinkedIn ($LNKD):

One of the recurring themes of the consumer internet is the cycle from aggregation to disaggregation – bundling to unbundling. There is a lot of value in services that pull everything together in one place, but over time that value starts to recede, the lock-ins keeping people there weaken and the appeal of having separate, specialised products grows. And then, after a while, the appeal of aggregation starts to grow again. We saw this in the past with AOL, and now with Facebook on mobile.

Another real-time example of this phenomena is occurring overseas where the major messaging apps like Line, Kakao and WeChat continue to bundle additional services. Leo Mirani at Quartz talks about how the bundling of services under one roof is akin to what we saw in the 1990s as the web portals of the day, like Yahoo, tried to be all things to all people, with varying degrees of success. Mirani writes:

The business model may have changed from relying on ads to relying on games, but messaging platforms, hot as they are now, are a very old idea from some of the very same portals that shaped internet usage in the first place.

If we are to believe the Evans hypothesis the US is not very far along in the app bundling phase. At present we seem to have an app for everything but very few apps that try to do it all. The fact is that we really have only been carrying around true smartphones since 2007 with the launch of the Apple iPhone so saying anything definitive about user behavior is risky. It is interesting to see how overseas the bundling phase is far more mature than it is in the US. In any event it is fair to say that the pendulum between bundling and unbundling will continue to swing.

www.FeedBurner.com) Bundling, unbundling and the app economy

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "Equities, Technology"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 17:55

In case you have been living under a rock the past few weeks you might have missed the big move by Yahoo Finance to bring the financial/investment blogosphere into the fold. Yahoo has launched a Yahoo Finance Contributors site powered by Tumblr. Many of the financial blogosphere’s leading lights have signed on including Joshua Brown, Barry Ritholtz and David Merkel. In addition the site is also publishing content from industry bigfoots like Carl Icahn, Joe Mansueto and James O’Shaughnessy.

It was recently announced that Abnormal Returns now has its own shingle up at Yahoo Finance. You will see some of our posts over there and in addition you can also find links to podcasts and videos on finance topics. For now the daily linkfest can now only be read on the Abnormal Returns blog. It will interesting to see how all this plays out.

Yahoo Finance remains the most trafficked financial web site and therefore has great reach into the investing world. Phil Pearlman has assembled a powerful group of bloggers who can generate worthwhile content for a global audience. Investment blogging is in many ways a tough gig. One thing this new Yahoo Finance initiative does is provide a wide range of bloggers with the reach and access to an interested readership. Absorption it may not be, but it is new and exciting and a great opportunity for the bloggers involved.

 

www.FeedBurner.com) Abnormal Returns on Yahoo Finance

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "Econoblogosphere"
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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 16:54

Quote of the day

Ben Carlson, “The only thing we can say with any certainty is that bond returns will be much lower going forward than they’ve been since the early 1980s…Therefore the biggest risk bond investors face is misaligning expectations with this reality.”  (A Wealth of Common Sense)

Chart of the day

BNO 0814 624x303 Monday links:  misaligned expectations

Check out how far crude oil is off the highs.  (Business Insider)

Markets

Checking in on tenuous market breadth.  (Short Side of Long)

Commodities, along with oil, have been weakening.  (Kimble Charting)

Strategy

A thirty second course on asset allocation.  (The Reformed Broker)

Reading vs. training: how to get started in trading.  (SMB Training)

Barry Ritholtz talks with noted short seller Jim Chanos.  (Soundcloud)

Companies

A bidding war for Family Dollar ($FDO) has erupted.  (Dealbook, Fortune, Money)

What is Kinder Morgan’s ($KMI) earning power?  (FT ALphaville)

Finance

Silicon Valley is relying less and less on investment bankers.  (Dealbook)

A deep dive into the business of trading shares in athletes, a la Fantex.  (FT Alphaville)

On the importance of hedge fund branding.  (All About Alpha)

Funds

On the (large) influence of Morningtar ($MORN) on the fund industry.  (FT)

How to use Morningstar equity fund ratings.  (SSRN via CXOAG)

How the biggest 15 equity mutual funds did over time.  (Wall Street Ranter)

ETF statistics for July 2014.  (Invest with an Edge)

Economy

Homebuilders were feeling pretty confident in August.  (Calculated Risk, Bespoke)

High paying jobs are staging a comeback.  (Washington Post)

Why the truck driver shortage is likely to continue.  (Business Insider)

The US will be awash in corn this Fall.  (WSJ)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

Mindfulness, intuition and “intentional trading.”  (Abnormal Returns)

Legends of the financial blogosphere.  (Yahoo Finance)

What you might have missed in our Sunday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

Time to stock up on olive oil.  (WSJ)

Pumpkin spice lattes are awful.  (Quartz)

How America fell out of love with canned tuna.  (Washington Post)

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Date: Monday, 18 Aug 2014 14:19

It’s not often that I include two quotes of the day in a linkfest as I did yesterday. See the quotes below:

Gatis Roze, “Investors don’t earn the right to use intuition in their trading until they’ve been investing for decades, not years.  All others must stick to their methodologies and learn how to execute these consistently and profitably.”  (StockCharts)

Joshua Brown, “Many people believe they can be like Soros, and some will point to their process as proof of their seriousness. Unfortunately, merely showing up each day and being diligent in the execution of a process won’t make them the next world-beating macro player.”  (The Reformed Broker)

There are number of different takeaways from these two quotes but there the one I want to focus on here is the application of intuition to trading and investing. Roze’s point is that intuition is only earned after years of hard work and the application of a well-earned process in the markets. Brown in talking about Soros notes that the biggest names in investing became so only because they were able to bet big when their intuition told them so. No logical, quantitative process will ever tell you go to all in on any single investment idea.

That all being said how can traders (and investors) be open and available to their own intuition. Michael Covel in a recent podcast with Andy Puddicombe talked about meditation and mindfulness. Some of Puddicombe’s own clients include traders at some of the world’s biggest banks. The idea being that mindfulness allows traders to be less distracted and more focused on the goings on around them.

Brett Steenbarger at TraderFeed has written a number of times about mindfulness and trading. One idea that comes out of this is that mindful traders are more intentional in their actions. He writes:

Good traders, I believe, think about markets before they place their trades. Great traders do that–and they think about their thinking. This makes their trading more intentional, more controlled, and ultimately more rule-governed.

Intuition in the markets in only earned over time. Intuition can be accessed more readily by those that are more mindful, especially of their own emotions when trading. You cannot trade like Soros in his heyday without having firm sense of your own emotions. Most of us will not make our fortunes in the markets. However we can be more mindful in our trading and more open to our intuition. More importantly if we can be more intentional in our trading we can help avoid the pitfalls that wash out so many traders.

Update: See also this piece by Jason Voss at the Enterprising Investor on the importance of intuition in trading.

Items mentioned above:

My 12 takeaways from ChartCon 2014.  (StockCharts)

When process meets the real world.  (The Reformed Broker)

Michael Covel talks with Andy Puddicome.  (Trendfollowing Podcast)

All it takes is 10 minutes.  (TED)

Mindfulness in trading: asking the right questions.  (TraderFeed)

What proportion of daytraders actually make money?  (TraderFeed)

www.FeedBurner.com) Mindfulness, intuition and intentional trading

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Author: "abnormalreturns" Tags: "Behavioral Finance"
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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 13:44

Quotes of the day

Gatis Roze, “Investors don’t earn the right to use intuition in their trading until they’ve been investing for decades, not years.  All others must stick to their methodologies and learn how to execute these consistently and profitably.”  (StockCharts) and

Joshua Brown, “Many people believe they can be like Soros, and some will point to their process as proof of their seriousness. Unfortunately, merely showing up each day and being diligent in the execution of a process won’t make them the next world-beating macro player.”  (The Reformed Broker)

Chart of the day

CORN 0814 389x420 Sunday links:  earned intuition

Check out the reversal in corn.  (Afraid to Trade also StockCharts Blog)

Markets

Two reasons to be bullish.  (Carson Dahlberg)

The market is missing a key factor for a big blowup.  (Business Insider)

Are there legitimate reasons for the market’s high CAPE reading?  (Robert Shiller)

Closed-end bond funds are getting cheaper.  (Focus on Funds)

Gold is pretty oversold.  (Short Side of Long)

Strategy

Do investors really need standalone alternative strategies in their 401(k) plans?  (Jason Zweig also Bloomberg)

Don’t believe everything you read about George Soros’ portfolio.  (A Dash of Insight)

Single-factor traders are often doomed.  (TraderFeed)

The best traders are agnostic about the news.  (A Dash of Insight)

On the danger of taking stock tips.  (Aleph Blog)

IPOs

Online retailer Wayfair has filed for an IPO.  (TechCrunch, WSJ)

Small business lender OnDeck Capital is gearing up for a public offering.  (Inc.)

Companies

What is Coca-Cola ($KO) doing with Monster Beverage ($MNST)?  (WSJ, Breakingviews)

One last look at the Kinder Morgan ($KMI) roll-up.  (MLP Guy also Barron’s, WSJ)

ETFs

Eight lessons learned about ETFs (and investing).  (Brendan Conway)

Performance chasing by fund managers doesn’t work.  (Rekenthaler Report)

Global

China’s rich are increasingly look to emigrate.  (WSJ)

Society

Why are Americans “feeling so meh“?  (The Reformed Broker)

Twelve great reasons why it is a great time to be alive.  (Rational Optimist via Carpe Diem)

Economy

Why universities are willing to countenance grade inflation.  (voxEU)

A look back at the economic week that was.  (Bonddad Blog, Big Picture)

The economic schedule for the coming week.  (Calculated Risk)

Earlier on Abnormal Returns

Top clicks this week on the site.  (Abnormal Returns)

What you might have missed in our Saturday linkfest.  (Abnormal Returns)

Mixed media

How to look smart.  (Marginal Revolution)

In search of “negative maintenance” colleagues.  (Feld Report)

Ira Boudway, “Baseball’s future is in small, local, and cheap.”  (Businessweek)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Sunday links:  earned intuition

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Date: Sunday, 17 Aug 2014 13:15

Thanks for checking in with us this weekend.  Here are the items our readers clicked most frequently on Abnormal Returns for the week ended Saturday, August 16th, 2014. The description reads as it does in the relevant linkfest:

  1. European stocks have had a pretty good pullback.  (Dragonfly Capital)
  2. You are a shockingly bad investor.  (Business Insider)
  3. How value stocks do during a correction.  (The Brooklyn Investor)
  4. Tax receipts don’t lie.  (Calafia Beach Pundit)
  5. What factors truly are significant?  (Research Affiliates)
  6. Unique investment strategies are few and far between.  (the research puzzle)
  7. 7 reasons Warren Buffett is sitting on so much cash.  (Brian Lund)
  8. Why you should be reading more research papers on investing.  (BetterBeta Trading)
  9. Comparing recent S&P 500 corrections.  (@StockCats)
  10. Agricultural commodities are extremely oversold. (Short Side of Long)

Here is what else you may have missed on the site this week:

  1. Making your own luck in the generational roll of the financial dice.  (Abnormal Returns)

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www.FeedBurner.com) Top clicks this week on Abnormal Returns

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