The Independent Market Observer

India: A Land of Opportunities

February 28, 2019

Anu Gaggar, our international analyst, is from India and regularly goes home to visit. I am excited to share her eyewitness, informed report on what is going on there. At Commonwealth’s National Conference, I highlighted the potential opportunities in India. Here, Anu makes very clear that the opportunities are real—as are the risks. Take it away, Anu!

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The National Deficit and Debt: A Solvable Problem?

February 27, 2019

Yesterday, we talked about the deficit and debt. We came to the conclusion that a modest deficit was not necessarily a problem. But the increase in the debt in recent years—and, this year, in the deficit—made both a problem that will have to be dealt with.

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The National Debt: $22 Trillion and Rising

February 26, 2019

Recently, there have been a number of headlines declaring that the national debt has moved above $22 trillion, with an emphasis on how much it has gone up in recent decades.

Well, the headlines are true, as you can see in the chart below. In fact, we have added about $16 trillion since 2000, or about $900 million per year; $11 trillion since 2008, or about $1.1 trillion per year; and $2 trillion since the end of 2016.

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Monday Update: Fed Remains Patient as Durable Goods Disappoint

February 25, 2019

Last week was relatively quiet in terms of economic news, with only two major releases scheduled during the holiday-shortened week. The week ahead will be much busier, as we continue to see the release of data that was delayed by the government shutdown.

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The Housing Market: Where Do We Go from Here?

February 22, 2019

Brad here. One of the recent concerns about the economy has been the housing market slowdown. Housing involves not only home sales but also many ancillary activities (e.g., construction and financing). It is a significant economic actor in itself and a good indicator of how consumers feel overall. Housing is also at the center of many people’s economic decisions. In fact, I get more questions about housing than about anything else from employees here at Commonwealth. For today, Pete Essele has put together a good look at the current market and how it is likely to evolve over the next several months. Thanks, Pete!

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The Allure of Emerging Market Debt

February 21, 2019

Brad here. After looking at emerging market stock markets yesterday, it is a good time to discuss the debt markets there. Although stock markets usually get most of the attention, Nick Follett, manager of our fixed income team at Commonwealth, makes a compelling case that debt markets deserve a look as well. I think you’ll find that this post gets a bit further into the details than we normally do, but the relative unfamiliarity of the topic makes it both necessary and worthwhile. Enjoy!

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Are Emerging Markets Too Risky?

February 20, 2019

Brad here. One of the questions I’ve been getting recently has been whether international markets still make sense, with particular concerns around whether they are too risky. Anu Gaggar, our international analyst, makes a strong case that emerging markets still make sense—in many more ways now than in years past. I think she raises some excellent points and makes a strong case. Enjoy!

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Monday Update: Latest Economic Reports a Mixed Bag

February 19, 2019

Brad here. Today's post is from Sam Millette, a fixed income analyst on our Investment Management and Research team. Over to you, Sam.

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Moving Beyond Bitcoin: The Next Step for the Blockchain

February 15, 2019

I have been keeping an eye on bitcoin prices, which are around $3,600 (as of February 14), close to the lowest level in a year. Bitcoin has clearly not run to the sky the way many buyers thought it would. But there are signs that the underlying technology—the blockchain—is starting to make progress in the real world. Bitcoin was not the real story; the technology was. Now, we are starting to see the results.

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Consumers Not Showing the Love This Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2019

This will be a short post, as it has been a long 48 hours. I was on a red-eye flight last night, returning from the Commonwealth Retirement Symposium in Scottsdale. Before that, I was at the Commonwealth Chairman’s Retreat in Palm Beach. So, my brain is not working at peak efficiency!

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Earnings Recession Ahead? Not So Fast

February 13, 2019

We talked yesterday about the possibility of another government shutdown and the effect that could have on both business and consumer confidence. That shutdown looks to be something we will avoid. But now there is another potential confidence buster ahead being talked up in the media: an earnings recession.

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Government Shutdown 2.0?

February 12, 2019

We are getting close to the decision point on whether large parts of the government will shut down again. Much of our discussion on the first shutdown still applies—the direct economic damage will be real but limited. As we look seriously at a repeat, though, we need to spend some time thinking about the indirect damage. If shutdowns become a regular feature of government, then the effect will be linear but could also rise substantially.

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Monday Update: Trade Beats Expectations

February 11, 2019

Although the government shutdown has now ended, several economic reports from previous weeks have not yet been released. It is still undetermined when they will be made available, although the releases have started. As such, the week ahead will be busy, with the regularly scheduled reports joined by some catch-up data.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: February 2019

February 8, 2019

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 February? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: February 2019

February 7, 2019

As far as we know, the economic news remained solid if somewhat mixed last month. The caveat here is that the government shutdown delayed some reports. The core data we look at, however, is available.

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2018: An Economic Review

February 6, 2019

Now that the dust has settled a bit, and we have some (but not all, due to the shutdown) of the year-end data, let’s take a look back at 2018. In many respects, it was a better year than it seemed.

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A Look Back at the Markets in January and Ahead to February 2019

February 5, 2019

After a terrible fourth quarter in the financial markets, we had a sizable bounce in January. Markets were up significantly, both here in the U.S. and around the world, and sentiment seemed to change markedly from pessimism to a new optimism. The question going forward is whether things have really changed that much.

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Monday Update: Confidence Down, Job Growth Strong

February 4, 2019

Last week was a busy one on the economic front, given the planned reports plus some of the catch-up reports from the government shutdown. Although the shutdown is now over, several economic reports from previous weeks have not yet been released. It is still undetermined when they will be available, although some releases have started.

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Market Thoughts for February 2019 [Video]

February 1, 2019

January was a great month for the financial markets. Despite the government shutdown, signs of an economic slowdown, and dropping consumer and business confidence, U.S. and international markets were up. Plus, job and wage growth were strong, and companies made more money than expected. With the fundamentals solid, even the Fed hit pause on interest rate increases.

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