The Independent Market Observer

Brad McMillan, CFA, CAIA, MAI

Brad McMillan, CFA®, CAIA, MAI, is chief investment officer at Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC, the nation's largest privately held Registered Investment Adviser–independent broker/dealer. As CIO, Brad chairs the investment committee and is the primary spokesperson for Commonwealth’s investment divisions. Brad received his BA from Dartmouth College, an MS from MIT, and an MS from Boston College. He has worked as a real estate developer, consultant, and lender; as an investment analyst, manager, and consultant; and as a start-up executive. His professional qualifications include designated membership in the Appraisal Institute (MAI), the CFA Institute, and the CAIA Association. Brad speaks around the country on investment issues and writes for industry publications, as well as for this blog.
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Recent Posts

Did the Fed Do a U-Turn?

June 17, 2021

Yesterday, the Fed concluded its regular meeting and came out with the following shocking news: it might start to raise rates in the next two and a half years, instead of the next three years. Markets dropped, interest rates rose, and headlines highlighted the shift in Fed thinking. What’s behind this apparent change in plans? Let’s start by taking a look at what didn’t happen.

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The Dollar (Still) Isn’t Collapsing

June 16, 2021

The strength (or lack thereof) of the dollar is a perennial topic here on the blog. Looking at the past several years, I see “U.S. Dollar Still Failing to Collapse” (November 2015), “Should You Be Worried About the Strong Dollar?” (December 2016), and, after a bit of a hiatus, “The Dollar Is Not Collapsing” (July 2020). There are many other versions, of course. (Notably, I did a whole series on money and the dollar back in 2013.) But the message has consistently been this: exchange rates bounce up and down, but there is no reason to worry.

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Appearance on Nasdaq’s TradeTalks, June 15, 2021 [Video]

June 16, 2021

Yesterday I appeared on Nasdaq's TradeTalks to discuss economic risks, the impact of inflation on the markets, and more. Watch the full segment.

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Will the Fed Sit Tight—or Tighten Policy?

June 15, 2021

The regular meeting of the Fed starts today. Tomorrow, the Fed will issue a press release, describing any actions it decides to take, and hold a press conference where the chair, Jerome Powell, will take questions.

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Coronavirus Update: June 11, 2021 [Video]

June 11, 2021

This will be the last of the Coronavirus Update videos, at least for the foreseeable future. There will be one more written update, which will be posted on the blog on June 25.

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Putting 1-Year Stats in Perspective

June 10, 2021

Much of the commentary on recent issues—especially inflation—has focused on terrible reported numbers. As always, though, it is helpful to remember there is nothing sacred about those numbers. They have assumptions and biases built in, which are unavoidable. As analysts, we need to understand those assumptions and biases, so we can see when they are reasonable (and when they are not).

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Monthly Market Risk Update: June 2021

June 9, 2021

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!

Equity markets started off strong in May, but volatility later in the month led to a partial pullback. The S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) indices both hit all-time highs earlier in the month before suffering from volatility. Despite the turbulence along the way, the S&P 500 gained 0.70 percent during the month, and the DJIA saw a solid 2.21 percent return. The Nasdaq Composite fell by 1.44 percent, as the heavy technology weighting led to additional volatility for the index.

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