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George Putnam, one of the country's leading turnaround and distressed investing professionals, shares his timely insight on the economy and turnaround investing opportunities.

Emerging Markets/International Stocks

United States of Europe?

June 15, 2012

What’s the difference between Illinois and Greece? The biggest similarity is that they are both reported to be virtually bankrupt. But the big difference is that Illinois is part of the United States and Greece is part of the European Union. 

If the state of Illinois goes bust, it won’t be great for people holding its bonds, but otherwise economic life will go on pretty much as normal for Illinois residents. Moreover, there won’t be much fallout for residents of Indiana, or Wisconsin or any other state. And nobody is likely to worry about the problems in Illinois leading to the demise of the U.S. dollar. That’s because Illinois is part of the United States, and we have a federal government that can levy taxes and a strong central bank. The European Union lacks those features, and so the problems in Greece are raising fears of economic turmoil in Europe, perhaps leading to the collapse of the Euro.

It remains to be seen if the Euro-zone countries can agree on the strong measures that it will take to stem the turmoil. In the meantime, we would be very cautious about investing in most European securities. As turnaround investors, we would normally be tempted to jump into a situation like this, but right now we find the outcome too difficult to call and the downside risk still too great.

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George Putnam's Favorite Stocks for 2016

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2015 Bankruptcy Recap: 46% Increase Fueled by Oil & Gas/Mining Industry--Further Uptick Predicted

Looking back at 2015, research reveals a 14% decline in overall business bankruptcies but a 46% uptick in public company Chapter 11 filings—with a striking 51% of those filings coming from the battered Oil & Gas/Mining sectors. Economic indicators point to further increases in corporate bankruptcy, in general, and Energy-related filings, in particular. Just a few days into 2016, this viewpoint has already been validated by Arch Coal's long-awaited $8 billion Chapter 11 filing—and continuing oil price plummets severe enough that OPEC will likely convene an emergency meeting to address "shattered" economies. Read More.

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Spotlight: Junk Bond Market

stock market advice

MarketWatch's Mark Hulbert recently tapped George's distressed investing expertise to determine the fate of the junk-bond market and what its nearly three-year decline likely means for your portfolio.

 

Hulbert writes, "What’s really going on? For insight, I turned to George Putnam, an expert in distressed-company investing. His Turnaround Letter advisory service has handily beaten the stock market over the past 15 years, according to the Hulbert Financial Digest’s tracking, by an impressive margin of 7.3 percentage points a year on an annualized basis."

 

Commenting on the rapid growth of high-yield exchange traded funds (ETF's), Putnam notes, "They have become the investment vehicle of choice for short-term investors….Those investors tend to be trend followers and, therefore, are just the opposite of being contrarian."

 

Read the full MarketWatch junk-bond article to find out what George thinks these recent indicators likely mean for future distressed investing profit.