Posts by Aaron Task

  • Market set to notch ninth straight quarterly rise

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 42 mins ago

    Barring a dramatic development today, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) is going to end Q1 with a modest gain, and notch its ninth-straight quarterly rise. 

    Given all the headwinds of a strong dollar, downward earnings revisions, fear of a Fed rate hike (which come and go), oil volatility/MidEast unrest, the U.S. market has held up relatively well. 

    One explanation: The supply of stock is down as M&A heats up and the IPO market cools.

    “Dealmaking is off to a running start this year,” The FT reports. “The value of mergers and acquisitions struck in the first three months is up 21 per cent on a year ago making this the fastest start to a year since 2007.” 

    A few more data points to consider:

  • Tax fraud and identity theft: How to protect yourself

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 1 day ago

    Yahoo Finance's Adam Samson contributed to this report We live in an age of cyber-insecurity but I recently got a troubling reminder of the "old-fashioned" risk of identify theft when I received the following email from my accountant: "I am GREATLY concerned, your tax package arrived this morning and the envelope was completely opened when delivered to our office by the mailman. There were only 16 pages in the envelope and no W-2 or any other documents." (Emphasis his.) Panic was my initial reaction to knowing my and my wife's W-2s, along with other sensitive and highly personal information, were floating around unchecked. We do have a LifeLock (LOCK) account which gave me some solace; I hurriedly checked to make sure our account was up to date (it wasn't). Still, that wasn't enough to stop the feeling that our financial security had been violated and our financial well-being was at grave risk. Panic is an understandable but largely fruitless reaction. So after the initial shock subsided, I contacted colleagues and experts in the field to ask their advice. What follows is a compilation of the steps I've taken and some other recommendations, which I hope can serve as a useful tool for anyone who finds themselves in a similar predicament. Here's what to do if your most important personal information is compromised or stolen. First, it appears I violated one of the rules Adam Levin, chairman and founder of Credit.com, cites in the video above: Avoid mailing your tax documents. "Generally any time around tax season that large envelopes go to accounting firms from consumers, there are people out there that are very interested in that mail," he says. "It’s literally the encyclopedia of your life and therefore instead of trusting it to the mail I suggest that you either bring it by hand or at the very least Federal Express it, make sure that it’s done quickly, efficiently, trackably and where there’s accountability." Honestly, I'm not sure what the option is other than to mail our tax package. My wife owns her own business and we own an investment property so there's nothing "simple" about our return. Plus, it would be a pretty big file to send electronically ( which has its own risks, right? ). For the record, we did mail via USPS Priority Mail so had a tracking number and, ideally, some accountability. My wife called and was told the Post Office takes these matters very seriously; we were given a "case number" and told to expect follow up, which frankly has been a little lacking. To date, we've had exactly two pages that were missing mailed back to us.

  • America's famous business brothers: Meet the Pruzans

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 3 days ago

    The Koch brothers are the most powerful brothers in America today. The press loves to cover the Winklevoss and Emanuel brothers, and the Dodge brothers are having a renaissance thanks to a series of commercials focused on the automaker's 100-year anniversary.

    Another set of brothers is having a moment, and a pretty big one: The Pruzans.

    Jonathan Pruzan was named CFO at Morgan Stanley this week, news that largely got buried in the avalanche of coverage about Ruth Porat, who famously jumped from Wall Street to Silicon Valley (for a cool $70 million).

    Meanwhile, middle brother Michael is another Wall Street player. A former employee at Goldman Sachs and Soros Fund Management, Michael currently runs Parkstone Capital Partners, a nearly $500 million fund that focuses on distressed real-estate assets.

    Here's some other famous business brother duos, past and present.

  • Banks "more aggressive...creative" with mortgages: What could possibly go wrong?

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 4 days ago

    A Fed spokesman declined to comment further so it's impossible to tell if the Vice Chair is truly getting worried about trends in mortgage lending or merely stating the Fed's role as the industry's primary regulator. (Update: Fischer gave a speech in Germany Friday about the importance of the nonbank sector and reiterated the need for regulatory oversight but mainly spoke in hindsight about the mortgage market vs. warning about present day activities.)

    But "we are seeing banks getting more aggressive about lending standards" in mortgages, according to Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow, who notes banks are now offering financing to people with FICO scores below 640 for the first time since the crisis, as well as mortgages for as little as 3% down payments. Banks are "definitely getting more aggressive," he says. "They've got to make loans and are getting more creative."

    Related:  America's housing policy: The definition of insanity

  • "It's a boom, not a bubble" -- except in biotech, Lindzon says

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 5 days ago

    Stocks were on track for a fourth-straight down day Thursday amid renewed concerns about the Middle East. U.S. crude futures jumped nearly 3% and back above $50 as long-simmering tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran morphed into a proxy war in Yemen. In recent trading, the S&P 500 (^GSPC) was down 0.7% and in negative territory for the year; traders are now watching the March lows of 2040 as the next key technical level while more bearish forecasters are predicting a retest of the January lows below 2000. The market's failure to break out to a new high last week after the FOMC statement "and the developing weakness that led to Wednesday's drop was a negative signpost," writes noted short-seller Doug Kass of Seabreeze Partners. "Yesterday, the Nasdaq Composite (^IXIC) had the largest down day since April 10, 2014. The market leader, biotech, dropped by 4.4% -- the largest down day of the year -- while transports have dropped by nearly 5% this week. In the past these sort of drops have been readily absorbed; this time I am not so sure." Rising bullish sentiment -- the latest Investors Intelligence poll showed 56% bulls and just 14% bears -- was "something of a short-selling trigger for me" and a technical argument for the bearish case, Kass added. Howard Lindzon, chairman of StockTwits, isn't nearly as bearish as Kass but is "a little nervous" and "has reduced position sized after a couple of days like this." Overall, Lindzon believes "there is no bubble" in the broader market -- nor private markets for that matter -- but says the recent action in biotech is "very scary" and a sign of "real silliness" if not a bubble: At the end of last week, the iShares Nasdaq Biotech ETF (IBB), one proxy for the industry, was up nearly 21% year to date vs. a mere 2% rise for the S&P 500. But the index has fallen more than 11% from Monday's intraday high and suffered some major technical damage.

  • NFL going over-the-top: A "milestone event" for streaming TV, Piecyk says

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 6 days ago

    The NFL is going over the top...and I'm not talking about a running back leaping toward the goal line. On Monday, the NFL announced the Oct. 25 regular season game between Jacksonville and Buffalo will be put up for bid on national digital platforms. The game is being played in London, meaning the broadcast will begin at 9:30 a.m. ET and 6:30 PT. That's not exactly prime time for U.S. fans, or broadcast television, but it is 'prime time' in China, where the NFL isstruggling to gain a toehold.

    "It's a one game test. We will evaluate fan feedback," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said via an email exchange. "It's too early to tell about the future [of streaming games]. Will test this season with the one game and evaluate after."

    Aaron Task is Editor-at-Large of Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com.

  • Saudi Arabia doesn't get it: There is no American 'energy policy'

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 8 days ago

    Crude prices tumbled more than 2% early Monday after Saudi Arabia's oil minister on Sunday said his nation won't unilaterally cut production without cooperation from both other OPEC members and non-OPEC nations alike. Oil prices have bounced from the initial decline but the comments reinforced Saudi Arabia's intent to hold the line on production. "We tried, we held meetings [to discuss production cuts] and we did not succeed because countries outside OPEC were insisting that OPEC carry the burden and we refuse that OPEC bears the responsibility," said Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

    Aaron Task is Editor-at-Large of Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com.

  • Peter Schiff won't back down: 'The dollar is going to crash, buy gold'

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 11 days ago

    The dollar index has risen for nine-straight months and recently hit a 12-year high vs. the euro. The greenback's robust rise caught a lot of traders by surprise; for years the conventional wisdom was the dollar was heading down the tubes because of America's runaway debt and the Fed's easy money policies. Now, sentiment has now swung 180 degrees to where "everyone" it seems, is bullish on the almighty dollar.

    But some things never change. Peter Schiff, CEO of EuroPacific Capital, remains steadfast in his uber-bearish view.

    "I'm surprised it's rallied this much but that doesn't mean it's permanent," he tells me in the accompanying video. "When traders wake up to reality and realize how wrong these [bullish dollar] bets are, they're going to unwind these trades and the dollar is going to unwind quickly."

    The 'reality' according to Schiff, is the U.S. economy has not "recovered" and the Federal Reserve is not going to raise rates anytime soon.

    [Get the Latest Market Data and News with the Yahoo Finance App]

  • Oil's "transitory" fall starting to have long-lasting impact

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 12 days ago

    Oil staged a remarkable intraday rally Wednesday, rising 10% from its low after the Fed suggested rate hikes are further off than previously expected, even as it removed the "patient" language from its statement. But oil's prevailing trend resumed Thursday: In recent trading, WTI crude futures were down over 3% and Brent crude was off 2.8% after Kuwait's oil minister said OPEC had "no choice" but to keep production intact or risk losing market share.

    Related: OPEC Secretary General masters the obvious, denies cartel targeting U.S. frackers The Fed believes oil's decline is "transitory" but the steep drop since mid-summer is having a long and far-reaching impact. The macroeconomic and geopolitical affects are fairly obvious and have been widely discussed. Less well known and a step beneath the surface, the fallout includes:

    That's just a sample and just from today's reporting.

  • 'House of Cards' falls on Walmart

    Aaron Task at Yahoo Finance 13 days ago

    Warning: The following includes potential spoilers for Season 3 of 'House of Cards'.

    Bashing Walmart has now officially gone mainstream. In the current season of House of Cards on Netflix, a presidential candidate takes aim at the retail giant. Here's a sample: "The starting salary for an employee at Walmart is below the poverty line....The American government subsidizes Walmart to the tune of $7.8 billion a year by issuing food stamps to over one in 10 of its workers. But here's the scary part. Fifteen percent of all food stamps are actually used at Walmart. Meaning Walmart gets to double dip into the federal government's coffers. "Walmart's top executives have reaped almost $300 million in tax-deductible performance pay over the last six years." A Walmart spokesman said he had "nothing to add," saying the company is "not interested in debating fiction."

    Aaron Task is Editor-at-Large of Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com.