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Caveat Emptor

Posted by Larry Doyle on February 25th, 2009 8:49 AM |

buyer-beware2The equity markets across all sectors have gotten off to a very rocky start for 2009 (down 15% on average). In the midst of that, a lot of institutions and individuals have fled to the safety of short term government funds, money market funds that now benefit from a government backstop, and other cash alternatives. On average, these investments pay Wall Street and fund managers perhaps anywhere from .1% to .3% of the assets being managed. Those fees will not make the managers rich anytime soon. How do they respond? Welcome to the world of “principal protected notes.” 

These structured notes are marketed to track an underlying index (say the S&P 500) while guaranteeing no loss of principal. Wow. Sounds like a great product. Where do I sign? Well, hold on just a second. I am not stating that structured notes do not have some degree of merit, but one needs to be very cautious in fully understanding how these notes work before purchasing. (more…)






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