The Independent Market Observer

U.S. Stock Market: Should You Be Worried?

June 30, 2015

Yesterday wasn’t a good day for the stock market—anywhere. When I wrote yesterday’s post, the U.S. markets were only off by a bit. But the drop later in the day looked like it might be a bad sign; at a little over 2 percent, it was the largest one-day dip in some time.

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U.S. Economy Grows, Greek Debt Default Looms

June 29, 2015

The headlines this morning are all about Greece, as they should be. But to put things in context, let’s first go back to recent economic news here in the U.S. In order to understand what the Greek crisis means to us, we have to understand where the U.S. economy is today.

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What Happens to My Bond Investments When Rates Rise?

June 26, 2015

Today’s post is from my colleague Peter Essele, portfolio manager in Commonwealth’s Investment Management group. See you next week! — Brad

I’d say that nine out of ten questions I’ve fielded recently are some variation on the title of this post. Many people seem to think that the impending rise in rates will have a kind of snowball effect on bond markets—that rising rates will lead to price declines on bond strategies, which will lead to outflows, followed by more price declines due to forced selling, and then more outflows.

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Why Greece Matters

June 25, 2015

The topic of the day, once more, is Greece. Frankly, I’m sick of writing about Greece, and I’m sure everyone involved in the negotiations, including the Greeks, is even more tired of the whole thing than I am.

Here's the question: Why do we all continue to bother? What makes Greece worthy of such continued attention?

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Threats to Growth: Boomers' Retirement, Millennials' Student Debt

June 24, 2015

A major demographic transition is under way in the U.S., with the baby boom generation aging into retirement as the millennials (or echo boomers) start to enter their prime earning and spending years. This is a well-known story, but lately I’ve been thinking about a worrying new take on it.

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Greece, the Eurozone, and Jury Duty

June 23, 2015

This will be a short post, as I’m headed out for jury duty this morning. It’s been some time since I last reported, and I have to admit I’m not very excited. It is a civic duty, though, so off I go.

The question is, Will the eurozone show up for its own version of jury duty?

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What Do Rising Interest Rates Mean for the Housing Market?

June 22, 2015

Today, I want to revisit a post I wrote just over two years ago. I’ve updated some of the data, but the concerns and the conclusions remain timely. In keeping with one of my recurring themes, this is also an example of how rising interest rates won’t mark the end of the world but, rather, a return to a more normal environment.

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The Problems of Success: Inflation

June 19, 2015

I closed yesterday’s post with the thought that, based on positive U.S. economic trends, we should now be planning for the problems of success. Sure enough, the economic data released yesterday highlighted a big one: inflation, with the monthly increase in the Consumer Price Index topping 0.4 percent.

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Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, June 18, 2015 [Video]

June 19, 2015

The market rally on Thursday begs the question, how much higher can we go? I shared my thoughts on earnings expectations and what sectors may provide continued growth opportunities for investors in an appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch program

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The U.S. Economy: 3 Reasons for Optimism

June 18, 2015

Both Greece and yesterday’s Federal Reserve meeting are in the news today, but nothing particularly new or significant is happening in either case. The Fed will or won’t raise rates in September, and Greece will or won’t default at the end of the month. There’s not much else to discuss right now.

Instead, let’s raise our eyes a bit and look at the big picture. The ongoing narrative about the U.S. economy is that it continues to struggle, and the future is uncertain. I’m becoming increasingly dissatisfied with that view, as it doesn’t capture the good news and trends we’re now seeing.

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Europe in the Next Five Years

June 17, 2015

Yesterday, I talked about several major trends that are poised to at least pause (and quite possibly reverse) over the next couple of decades. One major area we didn’t discuss is Europe, which is likely to see more change in the next 5 years than it has in the past 20.

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Your Investments in the Next 30 Years

June 16, 2015

As we discussed yesterday, the next 30 years are likely to be very different from the last 30 as interest rates start to rise again. But beyond interest rates, what other large-scale changes can we expect, and how might they affect our investments?

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Do Rising Rates Mean Falling Stocks? Part 2

June 15, 2015

My post last week on this topic generated a fair amount of attention and quite a bit of comment, both positive and negative. I stand behind my argument, but one excellent question came up that’s worth addressing: what does the data show during a period of rising rates, such as the 30 years before 1985 (the starting point for the data in my previous post)?

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What Happens If Greece Falls Off the Debt Cliff?

June 12, 2015

Reading about the Greek debt crisis this morning, I think it’s high time to resurrect the once-ubiquitous “cliff” metaphor from the U.S. budget negotiations.

The faceoff between Greece and its creditors continues to intensify and is now worse than the confrontation between Republicans and Democrats ever was. There are very real and substantial divides between the two sides, and the parties involved are running out of room to agree to disagree.

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Do Rising Rates Mean Falling Stocks?

June 11, 2015

Yesterday, I saw an interesting doom-and-gloom piece on rising rates, which claimed that rate increases typically sink the stock market and that we could potentially expect a crash in the near future.

Theoretically, this isn’t crazy; higher rates should lead to lower stock prices. In practice, though, higher rates typically reflect a strengthening economy.

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Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, June 10, 2015 [Video]

June 11, 2015

Is it time to get defensive on U.S. stocks, or is there still room for the markets to move higher? That's what I discussed during an appearance yesterday on CNBC's Power Lunch program

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Europe and the U.S.: A Look Back at the Past 3 Years

June 10, 2015

I started this blog three years ago today, on June 10, 2012. At a guess, I’ve written almost 800 posts, including links to media appearances and monthly videos. That’s about 400,000–500,000 words on the economy, the markets, and, of course, lobster rolls.

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Greece and the Stock Market: Time for Concern?

June 9, 2015

It may be time to start watching the stock market more closely. Although I believe the general environment remains supportive, the uncertainty around the Greek bailout might be creating the conditions for a market pullback.

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What Population Changes Mean for Economic Growth

June 8, 2015

In a recent post, I noted that demographics are a potential reason for the slower economic growth we’re now experiencing, compared with earlier growth cycles. Today, let's take a closer look at the data to see how changes in population have become a more important factor in the level of economic growth over time.

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Market Thoughts for June 2015 [Video]

June 8, 2015

 In my latest Market Thoughts video, I discuss recent ups and downs in the market, including corporate earnings figures, U.S. economic growth, and job indicators. I also provide an update on the international markets, including news about Greece and the European Union.

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A Walk Through Today’s Strong Jobs Report

June 5, 2015

As I wrote the other day, the economic recovery really all boils down to jobs. With multiple weak indicators across the board and a poor March jobs report, many wondered: was the recovery continuing, or were we in the first stages of another slowdown?

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Greece: Teenager with a Credit Card

June 4, 2015

As yet another deadline for Greece and the eurozone approaches, we once again find ourselves considering what a Greek default might mean for the U.S. and world economies. First, though, let’s take another look at what’s actually going on with Greece and Europe.

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U.S. Power and the South China Sea

June 3, 2015

I planned to write more about sources of economic growth today, but I’m out of the office without easy access to data, so we’ll postpone that conversation to tomorrow. Instead, let’s discuss the situation in the South China Sea.

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Where Does Economic Growth Come From?

June 2, 2015

When we discuss economic growth, there’s a tendency to look at the top level of data—the growth figure itself—and try to figure things out from there. Recently, I’ve compared current growth levels with those of past decades (here and here) but haven’t discussed why things might have been different.

Today, as a way to understand those differences, let’s think about where growth comes from, on a fundamental level.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: June 2015

June 1, 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 we look at here 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 summer, though, the economic forecast remains bright, despite weakness in the first quarter.

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