The Independent Market Observer

The Next World: Taking Sides

November 30, 2018

We closed yesterday's post with the idea that the U.S. has been the indispensable market for all rising economies since WWII—starting with Europe under the Marshall Plan and then extending to Japan and subsequently to China and eastern Europe. As the essential market, the U.S. could compel obedience in other areas, notably security, and other countries were happy—or at least willing—to comply.

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Putting the Next World in a Global Context

November 29, 2018

In the last post, we laid out both the U.S. imperative (keep the status quo and improve it if possible) and the Chinese imperative (make a successful economic transition to a developed, wealthy economy). We also outlined how China has changed its strategy from what has been so successful over the past 40 years, and we closed with a teaser on the U.S. response.

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The Next World: China’s Imperatives

November 28, 2018

We closed yesterday’s post with the conclusion that the confrontation to watch is between China and the U.S. and that, at least for the next decade, the conflict is likely to be economic and not military. This is often characterized as a trade conflict. Indeed, that is how it is playing out in the headlines. In fact, however, trade is a symptom and not a cause.

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The Next World: Back to the Old World?

November 27, 2018

We closed the last post in this series on the note that while the now world (i.e., the world we live in) has benefited enormously from the economic freedom that came with the new world, changes are underway that might limit that freedom—to our economic detriment. As politics comes to the fore again, economics may once again take second place.

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Monday Update: Housing Moderates, Business Investment Disappoints

November 26, 2018

Last week was a short but busy one on the economic front, with several reports on housing and a look at durable goods demand. This week, we’ll see a wide range of information on where the economy is going.

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Thanksgiving Gratitude

November 23, 2018

As I try to do a couple of times a year, let’s take a break and think about all the things we have to be grateful for. It has been proven that being grateful is one of the best ways to make your life better—to be both happier and more successful.

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Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, November 21, 2018 [Video]

November 21, 2018

Am I anticipating a Santa Claus rally? Today, I appeared on CNBC's Power Lunch to discuss what we might see in the market over the next couple of weeks. 

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The New World Revolves Around Economics

November 20, 2018

The last post in this series was about the old world, one that was dominated and defined by politics both between and within nation-states. Indeed, the nation-state was the defining entity of the period, with political borders determining economic relationships. But even within nation-states, economic actors were largely constrained by political forces, in the form of laws, regulations, and borders. It was a much smaller world from the perspective of most companies. Your competitors came from your industry, in your country. You knew them, they knew you, and you were all pretty much playing by the same rules and subject to the same constraints.

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Monday Update: Retail Sales Growth Bounces, Manufacturing Healthy

November 19, 2018

Last week started off with looks at prices and whether inflation is picking up. This week is a short but busy one on the economic front, with reports on housing and durable goods demand.

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The Old World: Where We Came From

November 16, 2018

I closed my post two days ago with the observation that the now world—the world optimized around economics—has changed significantly from what came before it. It really became different this time, within the lifetime of most of the readers of this blog.

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Checking in on the Stock Market: The Downward Slide Continues

November 15, 2018

I want to take a break today from the next world discussion to check in on the stock market. Since the pullback in October and the bounce after the midterms, we have seen a slow and continuous decline. I have been hearing more questions and concerns, so let’s take a look at what is going on.

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Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, November 14, 2018 [Video]

November 15, 2018

Given slowing economic growth, are we looking at a recession? Yesterday, I appeared on CNBC's Power Lunch to discuss what we might expect as we head toward year-end.

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Appearance on Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas, November 13, 2018 [Video]

November 14, 2018

We're seeing increased volatility in the market, but what's the outlook for 2019? I discussed this and more (my segment begins at 50:51) yesterday on Bloomberg TV's Bloomberg Daybreak: Americas

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The Now World

November 14, 2018

As we discussed yesterday, the world is always changing. But in the past couple of years, there has been a growing sense that the changes we’re seeing now go beyond what is normal. From an investment and economic perspective, it seems these changes might be getting systemic enough that, over the next decade or so, it really will be different this time. To understand what might happen next, though, it is important to understand where we are starting from—as the next world will inevitably evolve from the now world.

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Moving from the New World to the Next World

November 13, 2018

Now that I am back from the Commonwealth National Conference, I want to spend the next week or so outlining the ideas behind my speech there. The genesis of my presentation was the hundreds of conversations I had with financial advisors and clients over the preceding months. All had different questions and concerns—ranging from whether the U.S. was inevitably declining to whether the U.S. was the only safe place to invest. But over time, a common core concern emerged: the sense that somehow things were changing, as well as the growing worry that the answers we have relied on no longer fit in the new world we are moving into.

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Monday Update: Producer Prices Up on Rising Energy Costs

November 12, 2018

Last week was a busy one on the economic front, with looks at business prices and confidence, as well as consumer confidence. This week’s data starts with prices and whether inflation is picking up.

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What Did the Midterm Elections Mean for the Market?

November 9, 2018

This week, the big news was the Democrats’ takeover of the House of Representatives and the subsequent large bounce back in the stock market. Put together, it sounds like I am implying a causal connection. I suppose I am—but not the obvious one.

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A Look Back at the Markets in October and Ahead to November 2018

November 8, 2018

I think we are all glad October is over. U.S. markets were down between 5 percent and 10 percent at the end of the month, even after a partial recovery, and international markets were down 8 percent to 9 percent. A sudden drop in confidence, especially in the big tech stocks, also rocked markets in a way we have not seen in some time. Indeed, October lived up to its scary reputation. But what does this mean for November?

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Monthly Market Risk Update: November 2018

November 7, 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 November? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: November 2018

November 6, 2018

The good news is that confidence remained strong last month. Business sentiment bounced back in September to a 21-year high and, despite a small pullback, remains very close to that level. Consumer confidence rose even further, to an 18-year high. Even better, job growth rebounded significantly after a weak month. Overall, the economic news remains solid, which should support continued growth.

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Monday Update: Strong Bounce Back for Hiring

November 5, 2018

Last week was a busy one on the economic front, with looks at consumer income, spending, and confidence, as well as manufacturing industry sentiment, the trade balance, and, most important, the job market. The week ahead, on the other hand, will be a relatively slow one for economic news.

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Market Thoughts for November 2018 [Video]

November 2, 2018

October lived up to its scary reputation, with both U.S. and international markets down. Plus, housing started to roll over, and retail sales disappointed once again. That’s not to mention the political risks. In the U.S., the midterm elections have increased uncertainty. In Europe, there are concerns over Brexit and political turmoil in Germany.

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Headed to Commonwealth’s National Conference!

November 1, 2018

Next week is Commonwealth’s National Conference—an annual event where as many Commonwealth advisors as can make it gather together to learn, to network, and, most important, to have a good time together. This year, we are down in Austin again, a wonderful town. I am very much looking forward to it!

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Appearance on CNBC's Squawk Box, November 1, 2018 [Video]

November 1, 2018

How will the markets perform in 2019, especially if rates continue to rise? I discussed this and more earlier today on CNBC's Squawk Box.

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