Africa – a new beginning?

Lost in the hoopla of Obamacare website failures, government shutdowns and the Detroit Tigers playoff chase, are economic developments that deserve greater attention and scrutiny. One of the services we subscribe to, Stratfor Global Intelligence, has recently been publishing essays regarding prospective positive developments on the African continent. This region is known for its rich … Continued

Two Dollar Gasoline?

This is not a prediction but may be a plausible possibility. Consider: § With oil currently trading at approximately $95.00 per barrel (down from a recent high of $110), gasoline is approaching $3.00 per gallon. § Natural Gas, at approximately $4.00 per MCF, is trading at a heating energy equivalent of $24.00 per barrel of … Continued

Sigma Celebrates 40 Years

Many couples when celebrating an anniversary exchange cards and go out for dinner. When a company celebrates an important milestone, generally they choose to throw a gala celebration and wine and dine their clients and colleagues. Late last year the Sigma team discussed our 40th anniversary approaching and how we would choose to celebrate it. … Continued

Don’t Eat Your Seed Corn

Wise old farmers are believed to have long had a saying: “Don’t eat your seed corn.” In other words, every seed that comes into your hands has the potential to be planted and provide more corn in the future, or to be consumed. The analogy for investors is: Every dollar that comes into your hands … Continued

Random Thoughts

The stock market is generally considered to be a leading indicator. That is, current market action reflects future expectations. The stock market largely shrugged off the government shutdown and the hyperbole surrounding a possible default. The apparent resolution of the October 17 “crisis” was to do it all over again early next year. Talk of … Continued

Polls and Pols – What does it mean?

Recent polls taken during the ongoing government slowdown indicate that the US citizenry is losing confidence in most federal government leaders (President Obama, Republicans, Congress, etc.). At the same time, the prices of common stock indexes are near all-time highs. In elections, voters make their choices by casting their ballots. In investment portfolios, investors signal … Continued

Default? Don’t Bet On It!

The US Government’s annual budget is approximately $3.5 trillion. When we dig deeper, we find the following expenditures, expressed in $ (billions) and %: Medicare and Medicaid $802 23% Social Security $768 22% Defense $670 19% Discretionary $615 17% Other Mandatory $461 13% Net Interest $223 6% From this perspective, it seems highly unlikely that … Continued


Wikipedia defines hyperbole as the use of exaggeration as a rhetorical device or figure of speech. It may be used to evoke strong feelings or to create a strong impression. In the current heated political environment, hyperbole seems to be the primary method of communication. Investors need to be very careful to parse what is … Continued

The Government Shutdown Begins

According to a report in Yahoo! Finance on September 30, 2013 and quoting Sam Stovall, “The peak-to-trough decline associated with the shutdown of the U.S. government between 12/16/95 and 1/6/96 saw the S&P 500 decline 3.7%, only to witness a jump of 10.5% in the subsequent month.” Comments and questions are welcomed. Bob Bilkie, CFA

Stock Picking Versus Indexing

This is a debate that has been going on since the invention of index funds and is likely to remain unresolved. An article in last weekend’s Wall Street Journal suggested that this is no stock pickers market. Perhaps, perhaps not. There is probably no right answer and, even if a strong argument can be made … Continued

Bernanke’s September Surprise

Last Thursday Ben Bernanke surprised investors by announcing the Fed was going to indefinitely continue its efforts to stimulate economic growth. It has been doing this by buying $85 billion per month of bonds and keeping long-term interest rates low. Earlier in the year, Bernanke, citing an improving economy, hinted that the Fed may taper … Continued