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SALT Conference Comments to Add Salt to Wounds of Equity Investors


Washington, D.C. -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/06/2014 --Two weeks ago the SkyBridge Conference, also known as SALT, took place in Las Vegas. This annual conference is committed to facilitating debates and discussions on macroeconomic trends within the context of the global economy by bringing together some of the brightest minds in economics, money management, politics, and the U.S. military. This year there were some very poignant thoughts that pertain to investors in the U.S. stock and bond markets.

David Tepper, a $20 billion hedge fund manager, made major headlines by saying, "I'm nervous about the market. There are times to make money, and this is a time not to lose money. It's a nervous time. The market is dangerous now."

David Rubenstein, Co-CEO of the Carlyle Group, said "The U .S. markets are not cheap, and it's very difficult to find deals in the buy-out world." That's not a good sign. Following Rubenstein was former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, who said, "We are not at the end of financial instability."

Nassim Taleb, the New York Times best-selling author of "The Black Swan," who most recently wrote a paper entitled "Skin in the Game," argues that the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, unfairly rewarded what he called "bad actors," and that the U.S. economic system still remains dangerous. He went on to say, "If you want to take on risk, go to any hedge fund, you're going to have a ton of risk." His take on the U.S. market place was, "Not enough people paid the price for 2008." This makes us wonder what we are heading into says Dawn Bennett, CEO of Bennett Group Financial Services. Is he saying that not enough people actually learned from 2008, and that we have to relearn that lesson again? she asks.

Lastly, this from former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, "Greece is just muddling through” So says Bennett, with all the media talk about how the central banks are saying things are getting better, well, it’s not true, because as these comments show, across the board, that the developed economies are not improving. And as we all know, ”muddling through” does not mean getting better, it just means going through the movements and getting nowhere fast.

Bennett says that sums up many of the important ideas and thoughts that came out of SALT regarding the markets, and it certainly doesn't sound like optimism. Everyone can pretend that everything is fine and dandy because the Dow keeps hitting new highs, but in reality, some of the smartest and brightest economists and money managers know better and are speaking the truth.

More fodder for the fire to contemplate for preparing investment portfolios for some probable downside is Walmart. The company reported earnings and missed every one of their numbers across the board, and even guided lower for next quarter. Walmart for the past five decades has been the retailer competitors fear the most. As a result, it has been a phenomenal investment for its shareholders. That's changing rapidly. Walmart reported first quarter earnings per share of $1.10, which was below the $1.15 expected.

The reasons the company stated for not making earnings expectations were the weather, ObamaCare and taxes which hurt their revenues of $114.96 billion, which were below the $116.30 billion anticipated. The Walmart stock took a nosedive because shareholders are not happy with this outcome. Typically, Walmart has performed well during both solid economic times and in bad economic times. Therefore, is Walmart another canary in the coalmine for U.S. investment portfolios? asks Bennett.

The home-builder confidence indicator came out the same week, and it plunged to a 12-month low, and for the fifth month in a row, this survey missed expectations, at 45 versus 49. This is the lowest National Home Builders survey since May 2013, which illuminates the true reality of home sales and mortgage applications.

Another indicator reported that week was the University of Michigan Confidence Index, which dropped and missed expectations by the most since June of 2006. This is the greatest amount of misses in eight years. Why does this mean anything? Higher highs in stock prices and lower highs in confidence are not exactly what a stock investor wants; it's a negative sign, says Bennett. Confidence is the key number to have positive returns for continued exuberance and a fueled multiple expansion. Current levels of consumer sentiment need to be almost double for the U.S. equity markets to approach historical multiple valuation levels.

Her suggestion for U.S. investor portfolios is to raise the sell stops on all equity positions, and be prepared to take profits or limit losses if positions start to fall. The adage, "Sell in May and go away," may just be sage advice this year. Stay bearish as this market continues to melt up. "This inflated stock market is the Fed's creation, but it’s investors problems," she said.

All market data references are sourced to Bloomberg terminal database.

Securities offered through Western International Securities, Inc. Member FINRA & SIPC. Bennett Group Financial and Western International Securities, Inc. are separate & unaffiliated companies.

About Dawn Bennett
Dawn Bennett is CEO and Founder of Bennett Group Financial Services. She hosts a national radio program on called Financial Myth Busting http://www.financialmythbusting. com. She can be reached on Twitter @DawnBennettFMB or on Facebook Financial Myth Busting with Dawn Bennett or

Bennett Group Financial Services LLC, based in Washington, D.C., is a comprehensive financial services firm committed to providing opportunities to clients’ as they seek long-term financial success. Its customized programs are designed with the potential to help grow, lower overall risk and conserve client assets by delivering a high level of personalized service and skill.