The Independent Market Observer

Monday Update: Watch What Consumers Do, Not What They Say

February 29, 2016

Last week’s economic news was generally good, despite some signs of weakness. Data showed consumers making and spending money, more signs of stabilization in industry, and continued growth in housing.

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Using Analysis to Improve Lives

February 26, 2016

I’m just back from the Commonwealth Chairman’s Retreat conference, trying to digest all I learned there. I usually come away with at least one idea that has the potential to change my life for the better, and this year it was the concept of purpose.

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The Presidential Election and the Market

February 25, 2016

I don’t normally write about politics. Although it’s an essential part of market and economic analysis, the connections are indirect and take time to show up, making daily or even monthly commentary not very relevant.

Politics is also fairly loose, in that what politicians say has little relation to what they actually intend to do, and what they intend to do has little relation to what actually gets done.

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Opportunities in Adversity: The Dollar

February 24, 2016

In yesterday’s post, we discussed how the common perception of the oil price decline is significantly out of line with reality. It is just this kind of mismatch that has, historically, created opportunities. Another mismatch situation—with the dollar—offers similar potential.

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Opportunities in Adversity: Oil

February 23, 2016

Following up on last week’s post about real risks and the opportunities that could arise from them, let’s take a look at the energy industry. With oil prices dropping to multiyear lows, companies and countries struggling to stay in business and pay their bills, and new suppliers like Iran reentering the market, the industry has been in better shape.

But could this slump also present opportunities?

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Monday Update: Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

February 22, 2016

Last week’s economic news was mixed, with signs of slowing in housing even as industry appeared to stabilize.

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More About Negative Interest Rates

February 19, 2016

My post the other day about negative interest rates in Japan sparked some questions from readers, so let’s dig a bit deeper. (We’ll return to our analysis of global risks and opportunities next week.)

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Assessing Risks in the Rest of the World

February 18, 2016

As the U.S. recovery continues and the economy normalizes, the problems—and opportunities—elsewhere in the world are becoming more important to American citizens and investors.

There are two big questions we need to ask ourselves:

  • First, what are the risks we should be paying attention to?
  • And second, where are the opportunities?
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Is It Worth Investing in Emerging Markets?

February 17, 2016

Today's post is from Anuradha Gaggar of Commonwealth’s Investment Research team.

The recent market turmoil has prompted much soul-searching among emerging markets investors: can they continue to justify an allocation to the asset class?

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Monday Update: Retail Spending Better Than Expected

February 16, 2016

Overall, the data last week was encouraging on the consumer side, and we’ll find out this week whether that translates to the business side as well.

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More Volatility—Plus More Good News

February 12, 2016

Yesterday was another bad one for the markets. Worries continue to build around the energy sector, the European banking system, emerging markets . . . the list goes on and on.

Clearly, stock markets worldwide are betting on a serious downturn. Strangely, though, economists in general (myself included) think the global economy is much more likely to continue growing than move into recession.

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What the Heck Is Going On in the Markets?

February 11, 2016

When I woke up this morning, I checked the markets as I usually do, and my first thought was—paraphrased—what the heck? What happened last night to drive Asian and particularly European markets down that hard?

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Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, February 10, 2016 [Video]

February 11, 2016

On Wednesday, I joined CNBC Power Lunch hosts Tyler Mathisen, Michelle Caruso-Cabrera, and Melissa Lee to discuss recent market volatility and how politics could affect investing, particularly the health care sector.

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The Market’s New Year’s Resolution

February 10, 2016

Today’s post comes from guest contributor Peter Essele, a portfolio manager on Commonwealth’s Preferred Portfolio Services® Select platform.

Like many of us, the equity markets have started 2016 with a New Year’s resolution: get in shape.

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Bear Market Ahead?

February 9, 2016

As I’ve said many times lately, I do not believe we’re heading for a repeat of 2008–2009.

A number of factors—a stronger U.S. economy, a less leveraged financial system and consumer, and an absence of imbalances like we saw with housing—suggest that we’re not in for a 2008-style collapse. Although the economy may be entering a slowdown, growth is likely to continue.

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Monday Update: Behind Poor Headline Numbers, More Encouraging News

February 8, 2016

The economy is doing better than last week’s headline numbers would suggest, and we'll find out this week just how much better that is.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: February 2016

February 5, 2016

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 third month in a row, the consumer confidence indicator is flashing a yellow light. Despite some improvement last month, the data has declined again, which is worrying.

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Studies in Economic Failure: Japan Edition

February 4, 2016

As always happens in times of uncertainty, the doomsayers are back.

Not that long ago, they were predicting that destructive Federal Reserve policy would lead to the collapse of the economy and the downfall of the dollar. After being proven wrong on those fronts, they’ve returned with a new story: that the drop in oil prices will be the undoing of the U.S. economy.

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Appearance on TV6's The Ryan Report, January 24, 2016 [Video]

February 4, 2016

After speaking recently at the Economic Club of Marquette County, Michigan, I sat down with Don Ryan, host of The Ryan Report, for an in-depth interview on the markets and expectations for 2016.

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Negative on Japan’s Negative Interest Rates

February 3, 2016

One of the most interesting (and surprising) pieces of news on the economics front has been the Bank of Japan’s decision to take rates to negative levels—in other words, to charge depositors to keep their money in the bank. This is not an unprecedented move, as negative rates have been in place for a while in some European countries, but it’s still somewhat unusual.

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Market Thoughts for February 2016 [Video]

February 3, 2016

In my latest Market Thoughts video, I discuss January's dismal market performance, which was the worst we’ve seen since the financial crisis. Why did it happen? Is it likely to get worse? And what can we do about it?

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A Look Back at 2015: Lessons Learned

February 2, 2016

The first sentence of my market update for last January went like this: “U.S. stock markets dropped across the board in January, as investors reassessed their risk tolerances.” Sound familiar? I went on to note that the primary concerns were slow earnings growth, caused by weakness elsewhere in the world, and a strong dollar. Again, does that ring a bell?

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Monday Update: U.S. Consumers Strong, Industry Struggling

February 1, 2016

Overall, last week’s data reflects an ongoing split in the U.S. economy, with consumers and the service sector doing well while manufacturing and industry continue to struggle. 

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