The Independent Market Observer

Is Another Market Pullback Coming?

July 31, 2018

With the sharp drop in Facebook stock on disappointing earnings—and ditto for Netflix—two of the market leaders have now stumbled, leading many to ask whether the problem widens to the market as a whole. In fact, several analysts from leading banks have been quoted as saying a new bear market is on its way sometime soon. Should we be boarding up the windows and stockpiling drinking water?

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Monday Update: Housing Slows Further but Growth Strong Overall

July 30, 2018

Last week gave us a look at a wide range of data, starting with housing. This week will be just as busy, concluding with an always important look at employment.

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Is the Economy Growing, Slowing, or Both?

July 27, 2018

Well, the GDP report came out this morning. The GDP is an attempt to measure the size of the economy. Although the GDP has its problems, it is nevertheless reasonable to use it as a consistent baseline as to what direction the economy is moving. I have seen coverage today both on how great it is and on the many problems. Let’s take a more detailed look to see which side is right—or whether both have good points.

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Quick Hits from the Financial News

July 26, 2018

Once again, today we find ourselves with no single overarching story. But there are a couple of quick hits from the financial news worth noting. Let’s start with the headlines—literally.

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The Deficit and the Debt: A Solvable Problem?

July 25, 2018

I’ve spent the past couple of posts painting a picture of how dire the situation is with the deficit and the debt—and it really is. But now we can turn to the real questions: is this a solvable problem or not? If so, what would it take? Indeed, there are a couple of ways the problem can be solved. Some are painless and others not so much. Let’s start with the easy ones.

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Looks Like the Housing Market Is Rolling Over

July 24, 2018

I last looked at whether the housing market might be rolling over back in March. At that time, I concluded that the industry was indeed past its peak. I also determined that we were still not close to the end of the cycle. With all of the weak data we have seen from this sector recently, I thought it was a good time to take another look.

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Monday Update: Economy Solid, But Housing Continues to Weaken

July 23, 2018

Last week was a busy one for economic news, with wide-ranging reports including retail sales, industrial production, and manufacturing. We also got testimony before Congress from Fed Chair Jerome Powell, which shed some light on how the Fed is likely to react to rising inflation. This week, we will also cover a lot of data, starting with housing.

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From Deficit to Debt to Disaster?

July 20, 2018

In recent posts, we have looked at the deficit over the next 10 years, according to the nonprofit Congressional Budget Office (CBO), and the debt over that same period. Now, we are ready to take a look at what that problem might mean for us as a country. It is certainly a problem, but is it solvable? And if so, what would it take to solve it?

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From the Deficit to the Debt

July 19, 2018

Last week, we talked about the deficit, including how it is at unsustainable levels and how it is expected to get worse (much worse) over the next several years. What we left open was when and how the deficit actually turns into trouble.

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What Does Chair Powell’s Testimony Mean for the Markets?

July 18, 2018

We are nearing the end of the regular semiannual testimony by the chair of the Fed, Jerome Powell, in front of Congress. Yesterday, he spoke to the Senate and today he is speaking to the House. As the most influential economic official in the world, what Powell says carries real weight.

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What Should an Investor Take from This Blog?

July 17, 2018

The other day I got an excellent question from a reader (below), which really cuts to the core of what I am trying to do here. I was going to respond to her directly, but then I decided it was such a good question that it deserved a post of its own.

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Monday Update: Inflation Continues to Rise

July 16, 2018

Last week’s data was primarily about prices, although we closed with a look at consumer confidence. The week ahead will be a busy one for economic news, with wide-ranging reports. We’ll also get testimony before Congress from Fed Chair Jerome Powell, which should shed some light on how the Fed is likely to react to rising inflation.

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How Big of a Problem Is the Deficit?

July 13, 2018

One of the important concerns we face today is the deficit. Although it has been overshadowed recently by the headlines on trade, it is actually a potentially bigger problem and is definitely a more certain one. As such, we need to take a look at exactly what the problem is, what it could mean to our investments, and perhaps most important, whether the problem is solvable—or not.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: July 2018

July 12, 2018

Market risks come in three flavors: recession risk, economic shock risk, and risks within the market itself. So, what do these risks look like for July? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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A Look Back at Q2 2018

July 11, 2018

As we start the second half of 2018, we find ourselves in a much different place than we were at the end of the first quarter. Back then, we were worried about a slowdown, and markets had pulled back. Now, despite very real policy concerns, the economy looks considerably healthier than it did then. Indeed, the markets have proven to be remarkably resilient in the face of growing policy risks.

In considering what the third quarter will look like, it is worth taking a more detailed look back at Q2 2018 and how it reversed a fairly weak first quarter.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: July 2018

July 10, 2018

Despite rising concerns as the Fed raised rates and trade tensions ballooned in June, the data remained significantly positive in all four major economic risk factors we track here. Job growth pulled back slightly on a monthly basis, but it continued to accelerate on an annual basis. Consumer confidence remained strong, and business confidence increased—taking the trend back to positive territory. Finally, while the Fed raised interest rates, as expected, it also endorsed the strength of the economic expansion in its statement and press conference, which was helpful. Overall, the strong economic data indicates that growth continues and that the soft spot earlier this year was just that.

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Monday Update: A Great Week for Economic Data

July 9, 2018

Last week was a very busy one, with reports coming in that covered the whole economy. This week’s releases will focus on prices, as well as provide a look into consumer confidence.

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Friday Quick Takes: Jobs, Trade War, and More

July 6, 2018

“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.”

I don’t normally quote Lenin on this blog—or anywhere, for that matter—but this line is just too appropriate today. With everything going on, I thought I would offer some brief comments on subjects that, I admit, deserve—and will get—greater attention. But for now, here are my quick takes.

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A Look Back at the Markets in June and Ahead to July

July 5, 2018

As we begin July, let’s take a look back at the markets in June, plus what to expect in the month ahead.

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Monday Update (on Tuesday): Growth Continues, Signs of Slowing Mount

July 3, 2018

Last week started with some good news on the housing front. This week, we’ll see reports coming in that cover the whole economy.

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Market Thoughts for July 2018 [Video]

July 2, 2018

June was a mixed month, as U.S. markets went down with the Dow and up with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq. Bond markets pulled back a bit on rising rates. There was also pullback abroad, in both developed and emerging markets. Still, the fundamentals are good, and a step-up in second-quarter growth is expected. Job growth is strong, consumer spending is accelerating, and business investment is solid.

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