The Independent Market Observer

Monday Update: Slow But Stabilizing

November 30, 2015

Despite the Thanksgiving holiday, there was quite a bit of data released last week. Let's take a closer look.

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Farm Living Is the Life for Me: A Turkey’s Story

November 27, 2015

I have shared this story before, but I think it's particularly enlightening at this time of year.  

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New Risks in the Middle East

November 25, 2015

When was the last time a Russian fighter was shot down? I’m guessing in the 1950s or so. The fact that Turkey was willing to shoot down a Russian jet, under any circumstances, is a major game changer.

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Immigration: The Next Issue to Rethink

November 24, 2015

The other day, I wrote that, as the cycle turns, we need to examine things that we assume to be true and make sure they still are. I used China’s quest to make the yuan a reserve currency as an example of just that type of decision. It’s a decision you might make based on what you know to be so but end up regretting once it turns out you were wrong in the first place.

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Monday Update: Mixed Data But Signs of Future Growth

November 23, 2015

Data was mixed last week, with multiple signs of a slowdown. But, in many cases, this was due primarily to a pullback from strong recent performance, while the long-term trend remains positive. In addition, more forward-looking indicators were generally more positive than those that look back, suggesting the slowdown is passing.

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U.S. Dollar Still Failing to Collapse

November 20, 2015

As we approach normal in the U.S. economy, I thought it would be worth taking a look back at the very real risks we have skirted over the past several years. One of the major drivers in the “disaster chic” commentary cycle, which I have written about many times, is to take a real risk and extrapolate current trends into disaster. This plays into a very human tendency to do just that, as well as a pessimism born of recent experiences during the crisis.

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Fed Minutes Indicate “Solid” Economy, but What Does That Mean?

November 19, 2015

The big economic news yesterday was the release of the October minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, better known as the Fed. For the past several years, these meeting minutes have been largely devoid of drama, as interest rates have been widely expected to remain low. But speculation over whether Janet Yellen will or won’t raise interest rates has gotten pretty intense over the past several months.

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Some Thoughts on Paris

November 18, 2015

As you might imagine, I’ve been thinking about Paris a lot the past couple of days: the usual rage and horror, the usual thoughts about what can be done. But the saddest part about it for me? It's just two words—“the usual.”

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A Review of The Courage to Act, by Ben Bernanke

November 17, 2015

Ben Bernanke wrote The Courage to Act to lay out his view, from inside the belly of the beast, of what happened during the 2008 financial crisis. It is worth reading—you will not find a clearer, more informed, and even essentially dispassionate account of the biggest economic crisis in the past several generations. I highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in understanding not only what happened but why.

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Monday Update: Happy Consumers, Still Not Shopping

November 16, 2015

Last week was a slow one for major economic news, with mixed results. There were two reports of significance, so let’s take a closer look.

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A Quick Update from the National Conference

November 13, 2015

This will be another short post from Commonwealth’s National Conference—short because I want to get back to some of the great informational sessions this afternoon.

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A Morning of Giving Back

November 12, 2015

Today’s post will be a short one, as I am currently at Commonwealth’s National Conference in Washington, DC. I spent this morning working on a giving back project, which involved painting three different properties that provide shelter to homeless veterans in our nation’s capital.

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Are We at a Market Peak?

November 11, 2015

The question that seems to be occurring to more and more people is, “Are we at a market peak?” It has been a multiyear bull market, stock prices have tripled from the base, profit margins have been at record highs for years, and now interest rates are going up. It’s not a crazy thought.

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What Do You Ask Ben Bernanke?

November 10, 2015

Starting tomorrow, I will be off to Commonwealth’s National Conference for the rest of the week. It will be a very busy several days, including a giving-back project, which is a Commonwealth tradition that we do at every event, leaving a place somewhat better than we found it; a birthday dinner for an advisor friend; multiple other dinners and functions; and, of course, my conversation with Ben Bernanke on Friday.

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Monday Update: Green Shoots in November

November 9, 2015

Last week’s economic data was very much in line with the weather—much better than expected. As I will outline in this Monday update, it wasn’t the full “shirtsleeves in November” that we had in Boston, but it was nonetheless much sunnier than the prior weeks may have suggested.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: November 2015

November 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. As expected, the data hasn’t changed much from last month—it remains positive in all areas and has continued to improve in many cases—but it’s still important to keep an eye on things.

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Urgency Vs. Importance in Investing

November 5, 2015

Whenever I’m asked about investing—whether the market is likely to go up or down, what sectors to look at, and so forth—there’s one question I always ask before responding: What is the desired time frame? In my view, time frame is inseparable from any kind of reasonable response.

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Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, November 3, 2015 [Video]

November 5, 2015

When markets rose after the Fed hinted at a potential rate hike in December, it made me rethink my expectations for the remainder of 2015. Will it be a double-digit year for stocks after all? I shared my views during an appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch program on Tuesday.

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Quick Takes: Momentum Vs. Value, China Demographics, Globalization

November 4, 2015

I’m at an investment conference today and tomorrow, so I will just offer some quick thought on several topics that don’t really warrant a full post.

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Market Thoughts for November 2015 [Video]

November 4, 2015

In my latest Market Thoughts video, I discuss why October turned out to be a great month, despite being preceded by a terrible third quarter. Some highlights include consumer spending, personal income, and external influences on the ongoing recovery.

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The 2016 Outlook: 3 Important Issues

November 3, 2015

I’m working on my 2016 outlook right now—yes, a couple of months before it actually gets here—and am struggling to focus on what will be most important. Developing an idea about the future requires first identifying the most important issues, then making some decisions about how they are likely to evolve, and finally trying to tie them all together.

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Monday Update: The Slowdown Continues

November 2, 2015

Last week was a busy one for economic data. And the numbers, which I’ll cover in this Monday update, along with expectations for this upcoming period, continued to show the effects of a slowdown in the third quarter.

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