Category Archives: Finance

Back And Forth

Posted June 4, 2015 by paragon. tags:Tags: , , , , , ,
shutterstock_56811187picmonk

The U.S. stock market is in a rut. Since the end of last year, little progress has been made. In the last three months, it has moved back and forth in a trading range 10 times. Volatility has increased, with larger daily moves than we have seen for some time. During the month of March, major indexes closed down about 1.5 percent.

Many markets around the world hit all-time highs during the first quarter, which, depending on your perspective, has its ups and downs. For momentum or trend traders, it’s positive, because they ride the trend as long as it lasts. On the other hand, for range traders it’s negative. We are currently hitting the upper end of the range, which may mean it’s time to sell.

Last October, we had a 10 percent pullback. It is too early to tell, but so far it seems the market leadership of large cap stocks and the S&P 500 may finally be changing. Since the October correction, the S&P 500 has lost relative strength.

Contrary to what doomsayers perpetually predict, the dollar has been incredibly strong for the past nine months. So while it may be a great time to go to Europe, it’s somewhat tricky for investors. In addition to determining where to invest internationally, it is important to make sure your dollar exposure is hedged properly.

After falling from $106 to $46 in six months, oil has recently found some stability. This is in the face of analysts calling for $30 oil. Opportunities to invest seem to be spreading out from the U.S. We are entering a transition period where the markets are offering new opportunities and risks.

MANAGED INCOME

The bond market continues to be somewhat of a conundrum. We have been at all-time lows with the 10-year Treasury bond yielding around 1.85 percent. That means if you bought that bond today, you would earn 1.8 percent for the next 10 years. By way of comparison, Germany’s 10-year bond is yielding an unbelievable 0.20 percent. In fact, in a number of European countries, you would have to pay the government if you bought shorter-term debt because they have a negative yield.

The bottom line? Rates are at all-time lows around the world. And because of that, we know rates will eventually rise. When those rates rise, many investors will be hurt. If rates were to move up quickly, bond investors could potentially see volatility and losses similar to what we see in the stock market.

Investors invest in bonds rather than stocks because of their historic level of safety. And that’s a problem considering today’s market. When interest rates move back up to their historical norms, that illusion of safety could easily evaporate.

Interest rates were supposed to move up two years ago. They didn’t. The FED determined the economy was too weak. Ever since then, investors have expected rates to move up. Most recently, rates were supposed to move up this coming June.

Simply put, it’s a guessing game. There are many variables at play and no one knows when rates will rise. The problem is that we have to protect Managed Income from those eventual rate increases. Protecting the portfolio has a cost, in that we give up some of the meager returns currently available. We will continue to do our best to protect the portfolio and pull out whatever returns are available without putting the portfolio at undue risk. When we move off these all-time lows in rates, we should have better opportunities to once again capture returns in the conservative space.

TOP FLIGHT

Active management strategies are coming back into favor. This usually happens later in a market cycle — after the easy money has been made. Early in a market recovery, almost any strategy will work because almost everything is moving up. This is when everyone appears to be a genius.

Later in a recovery, as many asset classes approach full value, it is more difficult to generate returns. Typically, that is when active managers outperform. This is also about the time many investors switch from active strategies to passive ones. Historically, because of the increased market risk, that is exactly the wrong time to make the switch.

We have seen this change in opportunity within Top Flight over the past quarter. Top Flight Portfolio returned 3.98 percent net of fees for the first quarter versus 0.96 percent for the S&P 500. From its inception in January 1998 through March 2015, Top Flight has returned 615 percent to investors versus 193 percent for the S&P 500. That works out to a compound rate of return over that period of 12.08 percent compounded for Top Flight versus 6.42 percent for the S&P 500. Please click here to see full track record and disclosures.

WHAT IS AHEAD?

It’s the question I get asked repeatedly. While no one really knows, there are factors we do know. We know we are likely in the latter third of this bull market. This bull market is the fourth longest in 85 years. From a low of 6469 on March 9, 2009, the Dow Industrials has gone up an additional 11,700 points.

Other issues include:

• How does the market usually react to a severe drop in oil?

• What does the market usually do in the seventh year of a president’s term?

• How does a rapidly rising dollar affect the market?

• Stocks are overvalued by most historic metrics but undervalued relative to interest rates.

The list is endless. We do our best to separate out those factors that matter and adjust our portfolios accordingly. We apply those factors to our investment strategy to give us a framework. More importantly, we process the actual market data through our models, then react to that data as market conditions change. For example, Top Flight is currently holding about 30 percent cash, which is its highest cash allocation in some time.

Investing is difficult. As I have said before, there are 10 ways to lose money for every one way to make it. Fortunately, Nate and I have a combined market trading experience of 50 years. As they say, “This is not our first rodeo.”

Our objective is to make sure you are invested according to your risk comfort level. Each of our clients is invested differently depending on age, goals, total net worth and investment experience. In order to achieve investment success, you must be invested in a way that allows you to stay invested over the long term, through market ups and downs.

Please let us know if you would like to discuss your investments or make changes to them. We appreciate the confidence you have placed in us.

Written by Dave Young, President and Founder of Paragon Wealth Management

 

Disclaimer Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. 

The Election

Posted November 5, 2012 by admin. tags:Tags: , ,
American Flag waving

Written by Dave Young, President of Paragon Wealth Management

The number one question I am frequently asked is, “How do
I think the presidential election will affect the market?”  In prior elections, I have always had a
preference who won, but my preference did not affect our investment
strategy.  This election is
different.  I believe the outcome of the
election will affect our management strategies, possibly significantly.

I will apologize in advance to those who do not share my
political views.  I do not mean to offend
you.  However, my opinions are based on
my experience managing portfolios for the past 26 years rather than pure
political ideology.  I look at this
election from an investment perspective and the potential impact it will have
on your portfolio.

Historically, in an election year, the market is usually
weak and trending down during August and September.  Then, during October it turns up.   November and December are usually choppy but have
an upward bias.  If a Republican or the
incumbent wins, the market is usually stronger going into the election.   Historically, over the course of the year,
the market ends the year about eight percent higher if a Republican wins rather
than a Democrat.

From an investment standpoint it would be nice to know how
this election is going to play out.  That
is the trillion dollar question.  Most
polls show the race very close with Obama having the edge in some swing states.  On the other hand, political pundits make the
case that the polls aren’t accurate, just like they weren’t accurate when they
showed Carter six points ahead of Reagan just days before Reagan won that
election.

This election is very close.
It is unlikely to be clear until after the election.  It is a tossup on who will control the Senate.  We do know that Republicans will continue to
control the House of Representatives.

If Obama wins a second term and the Democrats maintain
control of the Senate, it is unlikely that we will see a meaningful change in direction.  Thus far, their unsustainable path took our
national debt from 10 Trillion to a mind boggling 16 Trillion dollars in just
four years.  President Obama has promoted
an agenda of class warfare and demonized the job creators who currently pay
most of the taxes.  This divisive agenda
has scared many investors out of the market.
It has created uncertainty for anyone starting a new business or who
needs to invest for their future.  Obama’s
policies have significantly slowed the economic recovery and kept unemployment
at historically high levels.

Stocks have moved up against a backdrop of a very low GDP
and very high unemployment.  That is hard
to understand until you take into account the effects of three years of
artificially held super low interest rates, exceptionally strong corporate
profits (fueled by layoffs) and relatively low stock valuations.

Regardless of who wins, it will take a few years for the
impact of their decisions to play out.
Realistically, if Obama wins then we will not feel the full negative effects
of his policies until 2014 or 2015.
Likewise, if Romney wins and does what he has campaigned on, then we
won’t feel the positive effects until 2014 or 2015.  So, the markets may just meander along or
even drift up until then.

On the other hand, because so many investors invest
emotionally and are afraid of Obama’s policies, we have to be ready for the
possibility that those investors may sell out of the markets because of an
Obama victory.  Conversely, a Romney
victory could have the opposite effect with investors piling into the market
and pushing it up, albeit purely for emotional reasons.

In summary, leading up to and after the election there are
compelling arguments to be made for staying invested as well as selling out and
going to cash.  It depends on who wins
and how investors react.  For us, the
investors reaction to the election will be more important than its actual
economic impact.

There is a compelling case for a potential bull
market, a bear market or a flat market.
Accordingly, we will be watching the markets intently, following our
indicators closely and adjusting our portfolios accordingly.  It’s ironic that in order for investors to once
again have hope and see real change they might need to elect Romney rather than
the official “Hope and Change” candidate.
Disclaimer
Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

It’s All Greek To Me

Posted June 14, 2012 by admin. tags:Tags: , , ,
Greece

photo by spixpix

Written by Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer, Paragon Wealth Management

The much anticipated Greek elections this weekend promise to produce some potential market fireworks next week.  It seems to be a toss-up as to what the outcome will be and even if the pro-Euro side wins and the market rallies significantly it could be very short-lived.  Right now in the short-term bad news is good news for the market because it increases the odds that the central bankers will come to the rescue.  Case in point – today the markets were tailing off mid-day until a rumors spread that central banks were planning coordinated action in response to what might happen in Greece over the weekend.  The Dow immediately shot up about 200 points in minutes.  Markets love their sugar!

Trying to predict what will happen to the markets in the face of all this uncertainty and volatility can be very hazardous.  It can be very easy to make the bear case but then again so many are making the bear case and buying very expensive protection that perhaps the risks are priced in and any news to the contrary creates violent short squeezes.  In the end the Europeans won’t willingly throw themselves off the cliff.  However, they only move when the markets force them to and by continually dancing next to the cliff they run the very real risk of making a mistake and falling off.  I could go on making the bull and the bear case as both sides have valid points that I agree with but in the end I don’t know how it will all play out.

So what’s an investor to do?  In the long-run (which is what investing is) these short-term “events” won’t even matter.  Markets recover as they always have.  However, these headline events stir people’s emotions and then mistakes are made – something I have talked about in length in previous writings.

We have been raising cash in our portfolios to take advantage of the possible volatility events created by the European crisis.  I look at volatility as an opportunity rather than a risk.  Any sell-off based upon a Greek or Spanish meltdown would probably tend to be violent and short-lived and force the final endgame of the European mess.  As equities are already cheap they would become absolute bargains and this could be a great opportunity and therefore we feel it is prudent to have some dry powder!  However, as stocks are already cheap and pessimism abounds markets could already have priced in the risks and the central bankers could act before a meltdown causing the markets to move higher.  For this reason were are still 75% to 90% invested across our various portfolios/models.  This way if markets move up we will participate and if they move down we have money ready to be put to use.  Seems to be the best trade-off at the present time.

Over the horizon the elections and “fiscal cliff” worries promise another possible round or “opportunity” or volatility…

Disclaimer
Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions. Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy. All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice. This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.  

Continued Recovery or Double Dip Recession? Part II

Posted August 17, 2010 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , ,
Newspaper Paper Headline


 Photo By Shutterstock

 

 

Article taken from Paragon Wealth Management 2nd Quarter Newsletter

 

Written By: Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer

 

Media & Current Affairs

In the short-term emotions rule and volatility reigns as investors are pushed around by headline news. A study of bear markets by Ed Clissold of NDR showed that bear markets that occur on rallies after recessions tend to be relatively short and not associated with a new recession- a sort of “echo bear”.

Worries of the European debt crisis and its ramifications are coinciding with the slowdown in economic data compounding the market nervousness. Many are worried that the austerity policies being promoted by the European Countries will stifle the economic recovery even though those actions would reduce their large deficits, which are what the markets were worried about in the first place. The U.S. administration is arguing the opposite of the Europeans with the belief that it is too soon to withdraw stimulus and reduce deficits. 

I find it strange that people are fleeing Euro zone currency and debt due to fear over deficits into U.S. government debt, even though the U.S. is preaching more deficit spending? Somehow I don’t think that will end well. We are therefore avoiding long-term U.S. treasuries, as they could be a time bomb waiting to happen. It might not happen soon, but the low return (below three percent for 10-year Treasuries at the time I am writing this) is not worth the risk in our opinion. 

Above all, the market hates uncertainty and with the bear market still very fresh in investor minds we are in a condition where people are very fast to sell and ask questions later. A report in the Wall Street Journal on June 14 by E.S. Browning (Rapid Declines Rattle Even Optimists) showed that the 12.4 percent drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from the peak on April 26 to June 7 occurred in only 42 days. The article indicated that the only other time that the Dow has fallen that fast in the past 80 years was at the start of the Korean War. 

 

Conclusion

As I write this article, the S&P 500 is down about 14.5 percent from its peak. That’s only 5.5 percent away from the negative 20 percent that most consider as the condition for a bear market. It seems the market is pricing in a double-dip recession whether it actually unfolds or not! We have been slowly raising cash over the past month or so and as the market continues to show uncertainty. If our indicators weaken, we will raise more, but for now we still want to have exposure to the market as it could strengthen as fear subsides and investors realize that the market has already priced in any bad news. After all, we are still in recovery mode. Although it is weak, a recovery is still a recovery. 

Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions.  Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy.  All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice.  This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

 

Continued Recovery or Double Dip Recession?

Posted August 6, 2010 by admin. tags:Tags: , , ,
American Stock Exchange



Photo By Shutterstock 

Article take from Paragon Wealth Management 2nd Quarter Newsletter

Written By: Nathan White, Chief Investment Officer

During the second year of an economic recovery, the economic data in the first year of a recovery is strong because companies ramp up production to refill depleted inventory levels, and economic activity in general resumes. As the growth rates come down in the second year, it often coincides with the stock market taking a break as well.

Part of the reason the market did so well in 2009 was because it was rebounding off extreme oversold conditions that were unwarranted. Now the we have entered the second year after the recovery low, the economic dad is slowing down, which is contributing to the reasons for the recent market decline.

The big question now is whether or not the recovery will continue, and if so at what pace, or are we headed for the dreaded double-dip recession scenario so widely reported in the press?

GDP, Income Figures, Government Actions
First quarter real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was recently revised downward to a 2.7 percent annual rate, which is pretty anemic for this stage in the recovery. This shows that the recovery is not as robust as in past recoveries especially considering how severe the recent recession was. The economic data currently coming out is showing a mixed picture-as is to be expected at this stage of a recovery.

The main reason for the downward revision of GDP was that personal consumption expenditures were adjusted down and this is a significant portion of the GDP figure. It is a possible sign that consumers are still very timid and might not be willing or able to spend. On the other hand, income data show that personal income rose 0.4 percent in May, and this figure has been up for seven straight months.

Increasing income figures strengthen the recovery as it eventually provides people with more money to spend or shore up their finances. However, continued high unemployment, approximately one million less jobs than a year ago, is offsetting the benefits that are coming from income growth. For the most part the economic data is coming in at about average for this stage in the economic cycle. We hoped for better numbers due to the severity of the last recession. A less robust recovery is due to the damage done by the last recession and may indicate that we have not cleared all of the ghosts out of the closet yet. 

Government actions have created a significant amount of uncertainty, which continues to hamper the recovery. The most positive figures coming from the economic data are the rise in productivity and corporate profits. These two data points have performed better than average, and in my view are the main support for the rally off the bear market lows.

The productivity data has enabled corporations to increase profits in the absence of significant increases in sales. I believe this is a significant positive factor for the market moving forward. If the recovery continues with even small increases in sales, it could considerably boost earnings. On the other hand, if the economy wanes high productivity along with current relatively strong balance sheets can serve to support earnings in the face of a condition in which they would normally fall. In the end, markets are moved by earnings. Even if we entered another recession, you could see corporate profits hold up relatively well, which would end up supporting equity prices.

Article to be continued next week…

Paragon Wealth
Management
 is a provider of managed portfolios for
individuals and institutions.  Although the information included in this
report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable,
we do not guarantee its accuracy.  All opinions and estimates included
in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are
subject to change without notice.  This report is for informational
purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with
respect to the purchase or sale of any security.  Past performance is
not a guarantee of future results.

Unusually Uncertain?

Posted July 22, 2010 by admin. tags:Tags: , , , ,
Protest Sign

 Photo By Shutterstock

Written by Dave Young, President of Paragon Wealth Management

Yesterday, Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke said that the outlook for the economy is “unusually uncertain”.

He stressed that the economy was growing at a moderate pace. He mentioned that employment and consumer retirement sentiment were weak.

When he said, “unusually uncertain” the market sold off. What a surprise.

So why is this recovery “unusually uncertain”? What is unusual about it?

I’ve been through a few economic cycles and have never heard the fed chairman use those words.

I don’t know what he was thinking, but I’ll take a guess. After an economic slowdown/meltdown “usually” the economy goes through a normal cycle of recovery. He said this one is “unusually uncertain” indicating it is not “normal”.

What is “unusual” this time?

I believe it is the impact that politics is having on our economy and the markets. Usually politics do not have that big of an effect on the economy. This time is different.

Is it unusual for government to completely overhaul the private sector health care system, which makes up around 17 percent of our economy? Is it even more unusual to do it during such difficult economic times? Maybe it’s unusual to do it when surveys show that most Americans oppose it.

Or maybe it’s embarking on a complete overhaul of the financial system? Maybe it’s that the financial overhaul is based on the theories of senators like Chris Dodd and Barney Frank that have no “real world” financial experience and therefore those living in the “real world” have no confidence in them. Maybe it is because congress passes these monster bills (2500+) pages on a purely partisan basis without reading them.

Why as he said, is unemployment high and why are consumers scared?

If you are a business that needs to make a profit, (unlike a government agency), there are costs and risks involved in hiring new employees. Maybe you aren’t sure how much the new health care regulations are going to cost your company. Possibly you aren’t sure how much of your money you will still have left to pay a new employee with after the upcoming new tax proposals are implemented. Now that unemployment costs go on for 99 weeks, maybe you don’t want to accept that unknown liability you have if you need to lay someone off in the future. Or maybe it’s simply because as a business owner you have a target on your back that says “Need Money? Tax Me!” and you don’t feel comfortable with that.

Why would you hire a new employee?

Why would you take the risk? You wouldn’t. And most employers aren’t. They are making things work with the employees they have. The government tells us every day they are saving us, but they are actually having the opposite effect. They have created incredible uncertainty. That uncertainty translates into high unemployment and low consumer confidence.

Not to worry.

Today congress cleared the way to spend another $33,000,000,000 (that’s billion) of our grandchildren’s money, and extend unemployment benefits once again. This administration seems to be taking the law on unintended consequences to a whole new level. Maybe higher tax rates and permanent government expansion are not the solution after all.

Maybe we’ll have a chance in the voting booth to start repairing this mess in November. Time will tell. 

Paragon Wealth Management is a provider of managed portfolios for individuals and institutions.  Although the information included in this report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy.  All opinions and estimates included in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are subject to change without notice.  This report is for informational purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.

Paragon Wealth Management’s Story

Posted March 18, 2010 by admin. tags:Tags: , ,

The past few months we have been working on some new videos about Paragon Wealth Management to help investors understand who we are and what we are all about. This short video is an introduction our company. It also shares our views on active money management vs. buy and hold. This video was created for our website. If you would like to see steps 1, 2, and 3 mentioned at the end of the video, visit www.paragonwealth.com

Paragon
Wealth Management
is a provider of managed portfolios for
individuals and institutions.  Although the information included in this
report has been obtained from sources Paragon believes to be reliable,
we do not guarantee its accuracy.  All opinions and estimates included
in this report constitute the judgment as of the dates indicated and are
subject to change without notice.  This report is for informational
purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with
respect to the purchase or sale of any security.  Past performance is
not a guarantee of future results.

American Finances

Posted June 17, 2009 by admin. tags:Tags: , , ,
The National Debt Clock

Written by Nathan White, Paragon Chief Investment Officer

photo by agilitynut

There is currently a lot of talk about what the implications will be for all of the government involvement in the economy. To help put things into perspective I thought it would be good to take a look at the current condition of the country’s finances. I am not a doom and gloomer, but I think it is always helpful to know the facts in order to put things into perspective.

  • $56.4 Trillion – Current Liabilities and Unfunded Promises of the Unites States Government

This equates to $483,000 for every American household!

  • $11 Trillion – Current National Debt

         50% held by foreign countries and the other half held by the public

  • $1.7 Trillion – Projected 2009 Budget Deficit

The largest as a share of GDP since World War II

In order to service all of these liabilities the government will have to take more from the private sector which means slower economic growth than there otherwise would have been.

It does not mean that we wont grow (which is why I’m not a doom and gloomer!) but just that the growth will come at a slower pace on average.

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