The Independent Market Observer

September Market Preview

August 31, 2016

Now that summer is almost over (but not quite yet!), it’s time to start thinking about what the fall may bring.

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What About the National Debt?

August 30, 2016

Back in the office after my vacation, the news is generally good. Economic stats continue to surprise to the upside, markets are close to all-time highs, and the Labor Day weekend is coming. So, of course, as Eeyore, my thoughts are turning to things to worry about.

I’m not the only one either. A reader recently wrote in asking, “What about the national debt?”

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Appearance on CNBC's Closing Bell, August 29, 2016 [Video]

August 30, 2016

With the U.S. economy trending up and the international economy improving, where should investors look? Yesterday afternoon, I was on CNBC’s Closing Bell offering thoughts on the day's market activity and the sectors to watch, including industrials and energy.

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Monday Update: Home Sales and Durable Goods Continue to Improve

August 29, 2016

Last week’s economic news showed that business confidence and activity are still improving. Notably, the housing market continues to show significant demand, although it’s now struggling with low inventory—a problem of success. Durable goods orders also ratified the continuing growth in the manufacturing and industrial sectors.

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Book Review: Connectography

August 26, 2016

I don’t read too many books where I find myself repeatedly stopping to underline something while thinking I didn’t know that! There are even fewer that I keep on my shelf in order to reference the list of sources in the back. Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization, by Parag Khanna, earns both of those distinctions.

It also changed how I look at the world.

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New GICS Sector Could Benefit REITs

August 24, 2016

Today’s guest post is from Chad LaFauci, director of real assets at Commonwealth.

At the end of the month, the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) will introduce a new Real Estate sector—the first time a sector has been added since the system’s inception in 1999.

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Monday Update: Housing and Manufacturing Still Improving

August 22, 2016

Last week’s economic data showed that business confidence and activity continue to improve. Plus, housing sentiment and activity continue to expand, while manufacturing and even mining have started to grow again. Overall, last week’s results demonstrate that the weakest part of the recovery—private business—continues to strengthen.

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How Brexit Could Impact Your Real Estate Holdings

August 19, 2016

Today’s post comes from guest contributor Eduardo Ciuffo, a Commonwealth investment research analyst focused on real assets.

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The Trouble with “Low-Volatility” Strategies

August 17, 2016

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

"Does the high level of fund flows into the most popular indices make them perform better simply due to supply/demand 101?"

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Monday Update: Consumers Take a Break

August 15, 2016

Last week’s limited economic data showed that consumers may be taking a break from spending, at least for the moment. Given a smaller-than-expected bounce back in confidence and a disappointing retail sales report, we need to keep an eye on whether consumer spending will continue to drive economic growth.

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Stocks: Partying Like It’s 1999

August 12, 2016

A note for my regular readers: I am taking the next two weeks off to spend time with my family. I won't be totally out of touch—I will still write the Monday Update—but I am turning the blog over to some of my colleagues so you can see what great work they do. For the next two weeks, you'll find new posts here on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; we will return to the usual daily schedule on Monday, August 29. Until then, take care! — Brad

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Where Growth Comes From

August 11, 2016

Yesterday we talked about productivity and growth, with a sidelight on how recent low levels of growth are largely due to low business investment. Although that is certainly true, there’s more to the story.

Let’s take a deeper look at where growth has come from during this recovery and what that might mean for the future.

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The Opposite of Productivity

August 10, 2016

Words are funny. We talk about pros and cons, and everyone has heard the line about the opposite of progress being Congress. But what is the opposite of productivity? Surely it isn’t conductivity.

Whatever you call it, what we’re seeing in the economy is, in many ways, the opposite of productivity growth.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: August 2016

August 9, 2016

Just as I do with the economy, I review the stock market each month for warning signs of trouble in the near future.

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Monday Update: Business Still Expanding, Hiring Strong

August 8, 2016

Last week’s data showed that, despite a small pullback from the previous month, business confidence remains positive across the board. Consumers also continued to demonstrate their confidence by spending. Finally, the jobs report came as a very positive surprise, suggesting that consumers are both willing and able to keep doing their bit for the economy.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: August 2016

August 5, 2016

The economic news this month remains good, largely validating last month’s positive moves and increasing the chance that recent downward trends are changing. Although two months of data aren’t quite enough to declare victory—particularly since some gains were given back—the continuation of the positive trends is very encouraging.

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Employment Report Preview

August 4, 2016

The big news of the week will be the employment report for July, set for release tomorrow. U.S. consumers remain confident and business remains in the dumps, so the future really depends on whether consumers continue to feel good and whether businesses manage to expand.

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The Day I Broke My Brain (Er, Smartphone)

August 3, 2016

I dropped my phone the other day, severely cracking its face. It still worked, but I felt like I was getting slivers of glass in my finger every time I used it, so I took it in for repair. The fix worked fine in the short term, but last night, the phone just died. Nothing.

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Market Thoughts for August 2016 [Video]

August 2, 2016

Both domestic and international markets had a strong month of July. Improving fundamentals, including job growth and consumer spending, helped boost investor confidence. Still, as I discuss in this month's Market Thoughts video, economic growth in the first half of the year was disappointing, mainly due to lower levels of spending in the business sector.

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Protectionism and Investing

August 2, 2016

One of the most unusual aspects of this presidential campaign is how both parties have lined up in opposition to free trade. No surprise there from the Democrats, who have substantial interest groups that have always been anti-free trade, but it’s a complete reversal for the Republicans.

You have to figure that when both parties agree on something, government action becomes significantly more likely. And that means we as investors should start thinking about what protectionism means for us.

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Monday Update: Despite Recent Strong News, GDP Growth Disappoints

August 1, 2016

Last week’s data showed that, although consumers continue to work and spend, business remains a weak point for the economy. Consumer news continued to surprise to the upside, but weak durable goods orders suggested that the industrial sector hasn’t stabilized yet. Lackluster business activity also led to a substantial disappointment in overall economic growth for the first half of the year.

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