The Independent Market Observer

Trump’s Address to Congress: What to Watch For

February 28, 2017

Tonight, President Trump will give his first address to Congress—essentially a State of the Union. He has a lot to talk about, and it will be interesting to see what he chooses to focus on.

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Monday Update: Housing Continues to Improve, Fed Remains Confident

February 27, 2017

A limited amount of economic data was released last week, but what we did get was generally positive. The housing sector continues to post solid growth, and the Federal Reserve minutes showed confidence in the recovery.

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The Price Is Right—Or Is It?

February 24, 2017

We left off yesterday with the conclusion that the price you pay for an investment can determine your returns over time. It's a commonsense principle: other things being equal, someone who pays more for an investment will, over time, do less well than someone who pays less.

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What Explains Long-Term Returns?

February 23, 2017

We concluded yesterday that time, in and of itself, does not explain how investments should behave over the next several years. The question now, of course, is what does?

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Another Look at the Long Run

February 22, 2017

Last week, we started thinking about what the long run really means for investors. It was a decent first cut, but the graphs I used to illustrate my point were not as useful as I had hoped. Today we’ll take a more numerical look at the argument.

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Monday Update (on Tuesday): Consumers Lead the Way

February 21, 2017

Last week’s flurry of economic data was generally positive, either coming in surprisingly strong or much better than it looked. Both rising prices and faster consumer spending growth reflected an improving economy.

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Thinking About the Long Run

February 17, 2017

As I wrote earlier this week, for investors, the difference between the short term and the long term is not as obvious as it would seem. Where does one end and the other begin?

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Why Isn’t Political Turmoil Shaking the Market?

February 16, 2017

I spend most of my time thinking about economics and the economy, but over the past several years, that has increasingly included a healthy side helping of politics.

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What a Difference a Year Makes

February 15, 2017

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana

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The Stock Market and Me: It’s Complicated

February 14, 2017

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I was going to write about how much I love the stock market. The more I thought about it, though, I realized that “It’s Complicated” is a more accurate description of our relationship. I do love the market, but we have issues.

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Monday Update: Plenty of Data This Week

February 13, 2017

Last week was light on economic data, and what news there was didn’t really move the needle. The recovery continues but at a slow pace, with improvements in sentiment moderating even as the fundamentals continue to get better.

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Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, February 10, 2017 [Video]

February 10, 2017

What's behind the ongoing rally in the stock market? I appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch this afternoon, explaining why I think equities are responding to fundamentals and growing consumer confidence, not, as some would suggest, to President Trump and his policies. 

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Long-Term Needs, Short-Term Focus

February 10, 2017

One of the emerging issues I see many investors grappling with is the short term/long term dichotomy.

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The Velocity of Money: 2017 Edition

February 9, 2017

Economic questions come in cycles. Recently, with the relatively hawkish tone of the Fed and the turmoil in Washington, DC, economic worries have spiked again, and the velocity of money has become a hot topic.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: February 2017

February 8, 2017

Just as I do with the economy, I review the market each month for warning signs of trouble in the near future. Although valuations are now high—a noted risk factor in past bear markets—markets can stay expensive (or get much more expensive) for years and years, which doesn’t give us much to go on timing-wise.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: February 2017

February 7, 2017

The news this month is good once again, with all indicators pointing to continued expansion, despite a small pullback from January levels in some cases. Based on the latest data, the downtrend that developed in 2016 continues to reverse. The consistency of the reversal across multiple data sets and the positive levels of the data are encouraging. 

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Monday Update: Picking Up Speed

February 6, 2017

In a departure from recent slowing, last week’s data indicated that the economy may be making a comeback.

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Two Cheers for the Jobs Report

February 3, 2017

I had planned to post my monthly Economic Risk Factor Update today, but that will have to wait until next week. Spoiler alert: Conditions remain favorable, but the jobs report issued today was a big surprise and merits some detailed consideration.

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For the Market, Every Day’s Groundhog Day

February 2, 2017

When I hear the words "Groundhog Day," I always think of the movie, not the holiday. Here in Massachusetts, we’re more or less guaranteed six more months of winter, so we don’t pay too much attention to the groundhog. The movie, on the other hand, really does speak to me.

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What Will the Fed Do Next?

February 1, 2017

When the regular meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) concludes today, the Federal Reserve will issue a statement describing the meeting and what, if anything, it has decided to change about monetary policy.

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Market Thoughts for February 2017 [Video]

February 1, 2017

Last month was a great month for stock markets, and from a financial market perspective, the world is in good shape. In fact, we’re seeing the first synchronized global expansion since the financial crisis. So, what’s the problem?

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