The Independent Market Observer

Japan Welcomes Reiwa

April 30, 2019

Brad here. In the U.S., we tend to pay very little attention (too little) to what is going on in other countries, even major ones like Japan. Fortunately, we have Anu Gaggar, international analyst at Commonwealth, to keep an eye on things and let us know when to pay attention. Japan is on the verge of enthroning a new emperor, and that is something we need to be aware of. Domo arigato, Anu-san!

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Monday Update: Q1 2019 Growth Surprisingly Strong

April 29, 2019

Last week was a slow one from a data standpoint, but we did get a look at housing sales, durable goods orders, and what economic growth looked like at the start of the year. This week is a very busy one, with a number of key reports.

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Does Strong Q1 for Economy Forecast More Blue Skies Ahead?

April 26, 2019

This morning, we got the first estimate of economic growth for the start of the year. Despite quite a bit of concern about slowing growth, the figure came in at 3.2 percent. This result was well above the expected 2 percent and a substantial acceleration from the 2.2-percent gain in the last quarter of 2018.

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Investors Run on . . . Desk Treadmills?

April 25, 2019

It’s a busy day, I am running late, and, honestly, there doesn’t seem to be too much that’s urgent on the economic and market front. So, let’s talk about something entirely different: my desk treadmill! You, the readers, are smart people. I am going to assume you can figure out that this is a treadmill you can use at your desk. (You can find the one I use here.) All good? 

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Markets Back at New Highs: So What?

April 24, 2019

This morning’s news revealed that, as of yesterday, both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq stock indices had hit new highs for the first time in six months or so. Let’s cut right to the chase here. For me, the appropriate response to this news is, “So what?”

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Is It the End of the Road for Social Security?

April 23, 2019

The headlines today are about the impending demise of social security, at least that seems to be the spin that many commentators are putting on it. The real story is that the social security system will start paying out more than it takes in sooner than expected—next year. As of 2020, the social security income statement will switch from a surplus to a deficit. One more thing to worry about and a sign of doom on the horizon, right? Not so fast.

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Monday Update: Industry Weak, Trade and Consumer Spending Strong

April 22, 2019

Last week was a busy one for economic data, with looks at industrial production, housing, trade, and, most important, retail sales. The week ahead will be a bit slower, but we will get a look at housing sales, durable goods orders, and what economic growth looked like at the start of the year.

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Politics Again: The Mueller Report and the Markets

April 18, 2019

With the Mueller report scheduled to be released later today (as of this writing), preceded by the press conference with the attorney general this morning, the newspapers are on high alert. This report is being billed as a potential constitutional crisis and, if it doesn’t approach that level (as it almost certainly will not), as the beginning of the next round of political wars. Both sides have already started dialing up the rhetoric, without even really seeing what is in the report itself. So it goes.

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What Does It Mean to Beat the Market?

April 17, 2019

In my recent post announcing my humble intention to beat the market, I intentionally begged a lot of questions. Most notably, what does it actually mean to beat the market? I did make a nod in that direction, pointing out that defining the problem properly is a prerequisite for solving it. Nonetheless, that question is what we will take a closer look at today.

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A First Look at Q1 2019 Earnings

April 16, 2019

We are now entering earnings season. After a great deal of worry and hyperventilating, we are starting to see some real data on how companies are doing this year. So far, the news looks good (at least according to FactSet).

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Monday Update: Inflation Under Control, Fed on Hold

April 15, 2019

Last week was a busy one for economic news, with detailed looks at inflation, some color on the Fed’s take on interest rates, and a consumer confidence update. This week, we’ll see data on housing and retail sales.

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My Next Project: How to Beat the Stock Market

April 12, 2019

I enjoy what I do. As an economic and market analyst, I get to play the most complicated and highest-stakes game there is—and get paid for it. Plus, I have the chance to spend quite a bit of time looking at, and thinking about, a wide range of data about pretty much everything. As such, there are a lot of ideas floating around that I flag and plan to come back to at some point.

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Appearance on Fox Business Network's Varney & Co., April 12, 2019 [Video]

April 12, 2019

This morning, I appeared on Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. to discuss the market rally. Listen in to learn more.

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Is It Time to Tell Clients a Different Story?

April 11, 2019

I do quite a bit of speaking around the country, both to industry groups and to clients—the investors who really are the reason I do what I do. In general, the main topic is how to worry effectively about the markets and economy, including what I look at and why. Anyone who reads this blog knows the answers, as they appear every month in the economic risk factor and market risk pieces. But many clients aren’t into the whole story and want to know just the basics. So, that is what I try to give them.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: April 2019

April 10, 2019

It’s time for our monthly look at market risk factors. Just as with the economy, there are several key factors that matter for the market in determining both the risk level and the immediacy of the risk. Although stocks have largely recovered from their recent pullback, given valuations and recent market behavior, it is useful to keep an eye on these factors.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: April 2019

April 9, 2019

The primary worry over the past month has been employment: was the very weak February job number a one-off or a sign of something worse? Fortunately, it looks like the former, which eases the primary risk. Unfortunately, we saw the other risk factors continue to trend down, suggesting that the economy might well be slowing even more than expected. Here, one key point at month-end was the brief inversion of the yield curve, which raised concerns.

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Monday Update: Employment Recovers with Strong Job Gains

April 8, 2019

Last week was a busy one for economic news, including looks at retail sales, business confidence and investment, and the all-important jobs report. Although the data continues to trend down, the most significant reports—especially on employment—continue to signal growth. This week, we’ll see Fed meeting minutes and the latest numbers on consumer confidence.

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A Look Back at Q1 2019

April 5, 2019

The other day, we talked a bit about what the first quarter of 2019 could tell us about the rest of the year, but it provided only a high-level look. To help us understand what is going on as we approach the second quarter, today I want to dig deeper to evaluate what happened and why.

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Jobs Report Preview: Higher Stakes Than Usual

April 4, 2019

The jobs report (formally the employment report) is always important. In fact, there is no single more important economic fact than how the labor market is doing. This report hits all of the issues: job creation, unemployment, wage growth, and labor demand.

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What the Brexit Endgame Means for Your Investments

April 3, 2019

I have pretty much been ignoring Brexit over the past several weeks, apart from noting it as a risk factor. The reason was that there was no way to predict what could happen—and there were so many options that trying to analyze any one of them was, in the end, pointless.

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Appearance on CNN International: Quest Means Business, April 02, 2019 [Video]

April 2, 2019

What is the inversion of the yield curve really telling us? I discussed this and more on CNN International’s Quest Means Business today.

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Market Thoughts for April 2019 [Video]

April 2, 2019

March was another great month for the financial markets, with U.S., emerging, and developed markets all up. But this strength was a bit strange, considering the weakening seen in the fundamentals. Here in the U.S., both consumer and business confidence took a hit, the yield curve inversion caused many to worry about a pending recession, and analysts lowered their expectations regarding corporate earnings.

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Monday Update: Weak Data Continues, But Trade Deficit Improves

April 1, 2019

Last week was a busy one for economic news, including looks at housing, trade, confidence, and consumer income and spending. This week is also full and should provide further insight on whether the recent spate of weak data is likely to continue.

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