The Independent Market Observer

Monday Update: Consumer Confidence Takes a Hit

September 30, 2019

Last week was a mixed bag for economic data reports. Disappointing results for consumer confidence and spending offset strong new home sales and durable goods orders. This week will be busy, with September’s reports on business confidence and new jobs set to be released. We’ll also see August’s international trade report.

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The Power of Narrative

September 27, 2019

After this week’s trip to California, I am in Denver next week for Commonwealth’s National Conference. As always, I am looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones, as well as learning a lot from the different presentations. On top of that, I know I will have a great time at the many social events. Should be a wonderful week!

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What Your Clients Are Worried About

September 26, 2019

This will be a short post, as I am still traveling. It turns out planes, trains, and automobiles are not very conducive to thinking things through.

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Is the End of Economic Expansion Near?

September 25, 2019

Yesterday was a big day for me. I had the opportunity to speak at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), one of NASA’s major labs. JPL runs the planetary science missions, including the Voyager probes. In the picture below, I’m in front of a model of the Voyager, which is one of the only human-made objects that has actually left the solar system. For a science fan like me, this trip was about as good as it gets. Thanks to Terry Himes of JPL for setting it up and leading a tour afterwards. It was a truly wonderful experience!

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Active Gratitude

September 24, 2019

As regular readers of this blog know, every so often I drop the economic and market coverage and write about something different, usually about gratitude and how important it is. Now seems like a good time to do just that, as I am out of the office speaking this week, and nothing is actively detonating (for the moment!). I also have something specific I’d like to talk about. This gratitude post will be a bit different, as we will focus on active gratitude: giving back.

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Monday Update: Housing Reports Surprise to the Upside and the Fed Cuts Rates

September 23, 2019

Last week’s economic reports for industrial production and the housing market beat predictions, while the Fed lowered rates as expected. This week, we’ll be monitoring important updates for consumer confidence and spending, new home sales, and durable goods orders.

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Quick Takes: The Trade War, the Fed, and More

September 20, 2019

I was just in North Carolina speaking to clients and got home after midnight. Frankly, it has been a slow morning! So, I thought I would provide some quick takes about points that don’t warrant a full post but are still worth talking about.

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What Does the Fed Rate Cut Tell Us?

September 19, 2019

Yesterday, the FOMC decided to reduce the target range for the federal funds rate from 2–2.25 percent to 1.75–2 percent. As the headlines put it, the Fed cut rates by one-quarter of a percent. The headline version is certainly pithier, but the first version is more accurate—and gives a better sense of what actually happened: the Fed did not lower rates (contrary to the headlines), but it did lower the target range for its own lending operations.

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The Fed Jumped into the Cash Markets: How Bad Is It?

September 18, 2019

Brad here. Today, we have a look at the Fed’s recent move into the cash markets from Nicholas Follett, manager of fixed income on our Investment Management and Research team. Enjoy!

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Oil Spikes on Saudi Attack, But What’s the Damage?

September 17, 2019

The big news over the weekend was the drone attack on the main oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia. Apparently, the attack significantly affected the nation’s ability to deliver oil, knocking production down by half or more according to some estimates (more than 4 million barrels per day). As I write this, no one knows when the damage will be repaired or when Saudi production will return to normal.

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Monday Update: Inflation Heats Up and New Tariffs Take Effect

September 16, 2019

Last week, we focused on inflation and the consumer, with the release of August’s reports on producer prices, consumer prices, retail sales, and consumer confidence. This week, we’ll see if home builder confidence remains steady and whether the Fed will cut rates.

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Markets Approaching New Highs Again: What’s Next?

September 13, 2019

As U.S. markets once again approach new highs—after all the drama and the three separate pullbacks last month—I think it makes sense to try to gain some perspective about what is really going on. Immediately after the markets hit new highs last time around, we had quite a bit of volatility. So, it’s reasonable to wonder what will happen next as we approach these highs once again.

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Do We Need Negative Interest Rates in the U.S.?

September 12, 2019

I am working on my talk for Commonwealth’s upcoming National Conference, all about interest rates in the new world. The tagline is going to be “Less Than Zero.” Yesterday, I got an endorsement (sort of) from the president, who tweeted that the Fed should lower rates to zero or even below. Clearly, I got the hot topic right this year!

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Appearance on CNBC’s Power Lunch, September 11, 2019 [Video]

September 11, 2019

Today I appeared on CNBC’s Power Lunch to discuss this year’s IPO market. Listen in to learn more.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: September 2019

September 11, 2019

My colleague Sam Millette, senior investment research analyst on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Market Risk Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

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Economic Risk Factor Update: September 2019

September 10, 2019

My colleague Sam Millette, senior investment research analyst on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Economic Risk Factor Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

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Monday Update: Job Creation Disappoints, But Wage Growth Remains Strong

September 9, 2019

Last week, we saw several important economic data releases, with a focus on business confidence, international trade, and the August jobs report. Ahead, we’ll have another busy week, with updates on inflation, retail sales, and consumer confidence set to be released.  

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Will Passive Investing Blow Up the Markets?

September 6, 2019

I don’t normally link to scary stories in the media. But one in particular has generated a number of questions from advisors, clients, and even employees here at Commonwealth.

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A Look Back at the Markets in August and Ahead to September 2019

September 5, 2019

August was a tough month pretty much across the board, with politics rocking markets around the world. So, what should we expect for September? Let’s take a closer look.

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Market Thoughts for September 2019 [Video]

September 4, 2019

August was a tough month for markets, with fixed income the only bright spot. There was a lot of volatility, with markets down between 4 percent and 6 percent on three occasions. What drove the declines? Politics. The U.S.-China trade war heated up, and the Fed and the White House sparred over rates. Still, the economy remained solid—with consumer confidence high and strong job growth.

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Monday Update (on Tuesday): Consumer Spending Better Than Expected

September 3, 2019

Last week’s economic data releases focused on durable goods orders, consumer confidence, and consumer income and spending. The news was a bit mixed, as we saw stronger-than-expected consumer spending growth despite a drop in consumer confidence. This week, although short, will be busy again, with updates on business confidence, trade, and the August job report.

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