The Independent Market Observer

Monday Update: Back to Normal

August 31, 2015

Looking at today’s news, the lack of worrisome economic headlines is remarkable. Considering all that’s happened in the past couple of weeks—not to mention that markets are closing out their worst month in years—this seems to reinforce the idea that things here in the U.S. really are moving back to normal.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

China and the U.S. Stock Market

August 28, 2015

Now that things seem to have calmed down a bit, it’s a good time to discuss why the past week has been so turbulent. The usual explanations—the Chinese currency devaluation and stock market crash—are certainly valid, but there’s more to the story.

Let's take a closer look at the connection between the news from China and U.S. stock prices.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Good Economic News May Not Curb Market Turbulence

August 27, 2015

If you’ve been reading my posts over the past week, you’ve probably noticed a key theme: despite ongoing market turbulence, U.S. economic fundamentals remain strong.

Today’s data underlined that point again. Economic growth for the second quarter was revised up substantially, from 2.3 percent to 3.7 percent—not only above expectations, at 3.2 percent, but beyond the higher end of the range of estimates.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

The Market’s Downside Risk: How Much Further Could It Fall?

August 26, 2015

After the decline at the end of the day yesterday, I’m getting more concerned about the next couple of weeks in U.S. markets. Although fundamentals remain strong, there appears to be a bigger break in confidence that could well lead to further downward movements.

Let’s take a look at where the market might be headed.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Appearance on Varney & Co., August 24, 2015 [Video]

August 26, 2015

As the markets experienced significant declines on Monday after China sparked a global sell-off, I was on the phone with Stuart Varney, host of Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. Is the situation really as bad as it looks? Hear what I had to say. 

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Monday Update (on Tuesday): Economic News Holding Steady

August 25, 2015

Given everything that happened yesterday, I skipped my regular Monday Update to discuss the turmoil in the markets. Today, let’s return to the economic stats, as they shed more light on my theme from yesterday—that U.S. economic fundamentals remain solid.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

As Market Fears Grow, Stay Focused on the Long Term

August 24, 2015

One bad day doesn’t make a bear market. Two bad days, however, and the prospect of more to come, may well signal one.

Bear market is a scary term, and the past several days have certainly given investors cause for concern. Rather than spend time worrying, though, let’s try to understand what has happened and what it means for our long-term financial goals.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Appearance on Mornings with Maria, August 20, 2015 [Video]

August 24, 2015

As the price of crude oil dropped precipitously last week, nearing another post-financial-crisis low, I joined Maria Bartiromo on the set of her Fox Business Network show, Mornings with Maria, to discuss whether now might be a good time to start investing in the energy sector and how to go about doing so. 

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Market Reality Check: Yesterday’s Big Decline

August 21, 2015

Thursday was rough for financial markets, especially here in the U.S., and it looks like the damage is continuing elsewhere in the world today. As I write this, Asian and European markets are down, with China getting hit particularly hard, and U.S. markets are off slightly. 

Continue reading → Leave a comment

The Fed: Much Ado About (Pretty Much) Nothing

August 20, 2015

Will the Fed start to raise rates in September?

Economists and market watchers have been debating that question for months, concluding that September was a pretty safe bet. That got boring, though, so we took a couple of opportunities—the weak inflation report this week, the Chinese yuan devaluation, yesterday’s release of the July Fed minutes—to reopen the debate.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Housing: A Return to Normalcy

August 19, 2015

The great financial crisis of 2008 was, of course, ultimately a financial crisis, but the proximate cause was housing. As of the mid-2000s, you may remember, the general consensus was that housing prices couldn’t go down nationally because, well, it had never happened before. 

Continue reading → Leave a comment

China's Bubble Trouble

August 18, 2015

The news today is that the Shanghai Stock Exchange closed down another 6.5 percent, despite substantial support from the Chinese government. Given the market’s earlier declines and China’s surprise currency devaluation, the latest plunge suggests more trouble ahead.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Monday Update: Steady as She Goes

August 17, 2015

Building on the previous week’s good news, the economic statistics released last week showed continued improvement.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

5 Reasons the System Isn’t Broken

August 14, 2015

I got an e-mail from a reader the other day that really bothered me. A former investigative journalist worried about where the world was heading, she sent me a list of concerns, backed up with citations from more or less reputable sources.

The concerns themselves were nothing unusual—the U.S. debt and deficit, America’s position in the world, the status of the dollar. What struck me was the writer’s absolute conviction that the entire financial/economic system is broken.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Market Pullback? Maybe Not

August 13, 2015

Over the past month, we saw a market recovery that seemed like it would lead to new highs, a pullback on Greece and China, another recovery, then another pullback, and then a bounce up followed by another pullback on the Chinese devaluation.

What’s going on here?

Continue reading → Leave a comment

China’s Currency Devaluation: Possible Consequences

August 12, 2015

The shocks from the Chinese yuan devaluation continue to echo around the world.

Today, the currency had its second-worst day (after yesterday) since the modern Chinese foreign exchange system launched in 1994, falling a further 1.6 percent against the dollar. Markets were down around the world, and U.S. interest rates dropped substantially.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

China’s Yuan Devaluation: What You Need to Know

August 11, 2015

Some mornings I wake up and wonder what I should blog about. Not today. Looking at my phone in bed to scan the headlines, I couldn’t believe the news—China had devalued its currency! This is a big deal in the financial world.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Monday Update: Slowdown Starts to Speed Up

August 10, 2015

Last week was a good one for the economy. The data released met expectations and, in many cases, substantially exceeded them. Overall, accelerating growth seems likely in the second half of the year, and first-half growth may turn out better than the initial reports suggested. 

Continue reading → Leave a comment

A Good-News Week for the Economy

August 7, 2015

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written about various headwinds the economy faces—among them, slow wage growth, a decline in consumer confidence, slow consumer spending growth, and declining business investment. All of these are real issues, and ones that have held the economy back over the past quarter.

At the same time, there’s been encouraging news this past week that suggests the slowdown, as last year, was temporary, and that faster growth is ahead.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Economic Risk Factor Update: August 2015

August 6, 2015

Once again, it’s time for our monthly update on risk factors that have proven to be good indicators of economic trouble ahead.

For the first time in a while, there have been significant changes in two indicators—one encouraging and one more worrisome—but overall, conditions remain favorable.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Market Thoughts for August 2015 [Video]

August 5, 2015

In my latest Market Thoughts video, I discuss the U.S. and developed markets' recent bounce back after a difficult June. I also provide an update on U.S. economic performance, highlighting positive developments in the labor market.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Bubble Trouble: An Update on Market Valuations

August 4, 2015

Back in February, I looked at U.S. market valuations based on several different metrics, concluding that valuations were quite high—at or above the levels that prevailed before major corrections.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Monday Update: More Slow and Steady Growth

August 3, 2015

Slow but steady was the theme for last week. Although economic growth continues, the pace has not yet accelerated.

Despite some areas of concern, last week’s data was positive on the whole, showing continued moderate growth.

Continue reading → Leave a comment

Subscribe via Email

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®