Cracks Appear in Europe’s Credit Rally

We’ve seen some dramatic price moves in the riskier European bonds since 26 July, when European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi assured the markets that “whatever it takes” would be done to save the euro.

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How Can Balanced Investors Mitigate Their Equity Risk?

Over the past three decades, bonds have provided balanced investors with the best of both worlds. As 10-year Treasury yields fell from a high of 13.7% in 1980 to less than 2% today, bonds provided both strong returns and a great cushion in times when equities were weak. Bonds are still important, but investors shouldn’t [...]

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Will Solar Ever Reach “Grid Parity”?

The coming of grid parity keeps receding into the distance like a desert mirage. Over the last six years, executives at solar energy firms and their consultants have projected repeatedly that solar energy will reach grid parity—become cost competitive with other power sources—in three to five years—only to push its expected time of arrival further [...]

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Do TIPS Pose a Hidden Risk to Seekers of Inflation Protection?

Treasury-inflation protected securities, or TIPS, have been a popular choice for investors concerned about future inflation. And TIPS’ returns have been impressive in recent years. But the main contributor to TIPS’ performance isn’t inflation. It’s an ingredient that could become as hurtful down the road as it’s been helpful in the past.

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Does an Odd Economic Tidbit Reveal Surging Optimism?

The Philadelphia Fed Index, a leading measure of US economic activity, beat analysts’ expectations. But what caught our eye—and many others’ as well—was a detail within the survey: the future index jumped more sharply than it has since February 1991, when the first Gulf War ended unexpectedly quickly.

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Weaker Growth Helps Shift Germany’s Approach to Sovereign-Debt Crisis

Recent German data show clearly that the sovereign-debt crisis is starting to bite. This might help explain why the government has given a green light to the European Central Bank’s (ECB’s) new sovereign-bond purchase program. It may also indicate a more lenient approach to Greece—at least for the time being.

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Afraid of QE3? Buy Real Assets

In the past few weeks, central banks have reaffirmed their intent to do “whatever it takes,” in European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi’s words, to address the various ailments afflicting the global economy. While central bank actions may or may not have their desired effects on the real economy, they do create short-term opportunities [...]

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How Would Municipals Fare Under Romney?

Last month, we wrote that changes to the tax code being discussed in Washington would affect the value of municipal bonds. While that analysis still holds true, that was before the election campaign engines really revved up. Now there’s more chatter, if not more clarity. My colleague Michael Brooks weighs in.

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Policymakers Powerless to Stem Capital Flight from Spain

Capital flight from Spain is accelerating. As foreign investors and banks pull massive sums out of the country, policymakers look powerless to stop it.

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Challenges in Today’s Municipal Market

Most fixed-income investments carry two key risks: interest-rate risk and credit risk. Both affect a bond’s value in the market. But before the 2008 financial crisis, interest-rate risk was the primary concern of many investors and investment managers—credit risk was much less of a consideration. My colleague Michael Brooks explains why.

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