The Independent Market Observer

The Fed's as Confused as Everyone Else

April 30, 2015

Reading over the statement from this week’s Federal Reserve meeting, it seems clear that the committee members are as confused as everyone else.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Q1 GDP Growth: Negatives and Positives

April 29, 2015

Today’s big headline is that U.S. economic growth came in at 0.2 percent for the first quarter of the year, well below already depressed expectations. In line with yesterday’s post, is this a sign of slowing growth?

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Considering an Economic Slowdown

April 28, 2015

One of the things I try to keep in mind is the possibility I might be wrong. (Hard to believe, I know, but stranger things have happened.)

Although I remain convinced the economy will continue to grow—and that weather and other transitory factors contributed to the lackluster first quarter—the continuing stream of weak economic reports at least suggests the opposite is also possible.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Oil and Commodity Prices: Back to the Future

April 27, 2015

Today seems like a good time to pull out the wayback machine again, for a look at commodity and oil prices. I’ve focused quite a bit on oil prices here, and what they might mean for the U.S. economy, but other commodities are also important.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell, April 24, 2015 [Video]

April 27, 2015

In case you missed it, on Friday, April 24, I was on-air with CNBC Closing Bell co-anchors Kelly Evans and Bob Pisani to discuss the marketsin particular, performance of old-school tech names.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Lessons from the Nasdaq’s New High

April 24, 2015

It’s been 15 years since the dot-com boom and bust, and the Nasdaq has finally reclaimed its old high. Both the Dow and the S&P 500 have hit a bunch of new highs since then, but the Nasdaq, which flew higher and crashed harder, didn’t make it back to the top of the mountain until yesterday.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

The Market and the Economy: Shades of 2004?

April 23, 2015

I read a transcript this week of a talk given by legendary investor Stan Druckenmiller, which has a tremendous amount of good stuff in it. (You can find it here.)

I was particularly struck by Druckenmiller’s comment, on page 31, that the current economic and market situation feels bad, much as it did for him in 2004. When you hear this kind of statement from someone with his record, it’s worth considering what might happen if he’s right.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

The Housing Market: Dead or Hibernating?

April 22, 2015

Lately, I've been reading that the housing market, having largely recovered from the financial crisis, is now set to stay dormant. Much of this argument seems to be based on the last couple of months, when housing has indeed been hibernating.

But I suspect we haven’t seen the end of the housing boom.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

China: The Other International Risk

April 21, 2015

After yesterday’s discussion of the Greek crisis, I thought we should take a look at the other major international risk: China. I haven’t written a lot about China recently, as there hasn’t been much news, but some recent developments warrant an update.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Greek Exit from the Eurozone Looms

April 20, 2015

Not that long ago, the U.S. was facing a fiscal cliff, with the government at risk of running out of money and the world expected to end shortly thereafter. It was a big deal at the time—mitigated by the fact that the only real problem was the inability of the U.S. Congress to agree.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

What Is the Stock Market Doing Today?

April 17, 2015

Whenever the market drops, I get calls asking me to explain why. There’s no short answer, of course, but today is an interesting time to look at short-term market behavior and try to understand what makes it tick.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Interest Rates and Market Behavior: 5, 10, and 20 Years Ago

April 16, 2015

Yesterday’s post on jobs made some interesting points about the relative performance of the economy today and in previous decades, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses of the current recovery.

A look at financial figures over the same time periods offers a different but equally interesting set of observations.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Employment: 5, 10, and 20 Years Ago

April 15, 2015

Given some of the comparisons I’ve made lately between the 1990s, 2000s, and today, I thought it would be enlightening to look at various data points from different time periods to see how they stack up. After starting to compile the information, though, I realized that there are a lot of interesting comparisons to be drawn, enough to make this a series.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Retail Sales Data: “Snowdown,” Not Slowdown

April 14, 2015

The question about the economy lately has been whether or not we’re looking at a sustained slowdown.

A decline in expected corporate earnings has often heralded recessions, and with disappointing retail sales and employment numbers, many believe that the U.S. is looking at a significant slowdown at best, another recession at worst.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

No News Is Good News for the Economy

April 13, 2015

Reading the papers this morning, I realized we’d hit a milestone: there were no articles about the economy on the front pages of either the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal.

I can’t remember the last time that happened since the financial crisis. Nothing about weak numbers, or expected doom, or anything on the economy at all. We’re back to politics, foreign affairs, the Masters, and a business deal or two.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

The Economy: Boom! Boom. Boom?

April 10, 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, it’s worth comparing the current recovery with the past two, to get some sense of perspective, and that extends well beyond comparing the employment numbers.

In fact, by looking at the fundamental sources of growth in each era, we can get a much better idea of how healthy—or not—the current recovery is.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Job Creation: What Is Normal, Anyway?

April 9, 2015

Why all the angst over the weak jobs number? Much of it is based on the assumption that a decline of that magnitude, especially after a very strong run, means we’re moving into shaky economic territory.

We might be, but let’s check the data before we get too upset.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Earnings and Expectations

April 8, 2015

In the interviews I’ve given recently with various financial media, the questions have centered on earnings season—the time every quarter when companies report how much money they made, in revenue, and kept, in earnings, in the last quarter.

This matters, certainly for the stock market, which is priced off of those earnings, but also for the economy as a whole. If the economy is doing well, companies should be doing well.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Interpreting the Employment Data

April 7, 2015

The different reactions to Friday’s weak employment report got me thinking about how our underlying expectations can affect our decision-making processes—especially when it comes to investments.

My response to the employment report was to look at other employment data and decide the bad news was probably a blip. A friend of mine, on the other hand, took it as confirmation of all his worst fears. You can certainly see where each of us is coming from, in the larger sense.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Market Thoughts for April 2015 [Video]

April 7, 2015

In my latest Market Thoughts video, I discuss some of the reasons why March was such a tough month for the markets, employment and job creation, and the housing market

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Employment Report Hits a Big Pothole

April 6, 2015

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend, whatever holiday you celebrated. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a good Friday from an economic standpoint.

The employment data released last week disappointed across the board:

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Economic Risk Factor Update: April 2015

April 2, 2015

Once again, it’s time for our monthly update on risk factors that have proven to be good indicators of economic trouble ahead. As expected, the data hasn’t changed much from last month—it remains positive in almost all areas and has continued to improve in many cases—but it’s still important to keep an eye on things.

As we move into the year, though, the economic forecast remains bright.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Don’t Be Fooled by These 3 Investing Myths

April 1, 2015

I’m giving a talk today at the Commonwealth Business Experience conference, which, as usual, has been just wonderful. But as I woke up this morning, to go over my presentation one more time, I realized that it’s April Fools’ day.

Not, perhaps, the best day to give a presentation, but it does give me a certain amount of wiggle room for anything I might get wrong . . .

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Subscribe via Email

New call-to-action
Crash-Test Investing

Hot Topics

New Call-to-action



see all



The information on this website is intended for informational/educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice, a solicitation, or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or investment product. Please contact your financial professional for more information specific to your situation.

Certain sections of this commentary contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

The S&P 500 Index is a broad-based measurement of changes in stock market conditions based on the average performance of 500 widely held common stocks. All indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in an index.

The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) Index is a free float‐adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the U.S. and Canada. The MSCI EAFE Index consists of 21 developed market country indices.

One basis point (bp) is equal to 1/100th of 1 percent, or 0.01 percent.

The VIX (CBOE Volatility Index) measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility across a wide range of S&P 500 options.

The forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio divides the current share price of the index by its estimated future earnings.

Third-party links are provided to you as a courtesy. We make no representation as to the completeness or accuracy of information provided on these websites. Information on such sites, including third-party links contained within, should not be construed as an endorsement or adoption by Commonwealth of any kind. You should consult with a financial advisor regarding your specific situation.


Please review our Terms of Use

Commonwealth Financial Network®