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

It’s All About Interest Rates

September 30, 2022

A few things have happened in the past couple of days. But most people are focused on the stock market, which dropped sharply, bounced, and then pulled back again. As a result, there have been a number of headlines about how the bear market is back, and so forth. For the average investor, this kind of volatility is worrisome. How bad can it get?

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Government Shutdown: Nothing to See Here?

September 27, 2022

One of the top headlines on the New York Times website is about how Congress is working to pass a bill to avert a government shutdown later this week, postponing it until after the midterms. Sounds like an important story! Yet when I look at both the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post, there is nothing to be seen. Strange, that!

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The Bear Market Is Back

September 23, 2022

We are now in another downswing in the ongoing bear market. Using the S&P 500 as a measure, as I write this the markets are down 22 percent from the peak at the end of last year and just under 14 percent from the end of the most recent rally in August. This year, there have been four drops and three rallies—and we are down quite a bit. That doesn’t feel good. But, feel good or not, here we are. So, the real question is: what should we do about it? To figure that out, we need to look at two things.

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Fed Meeting Recap

September 22, 2022

The other day, I wrote a post about how, with expectations very hawkish for the Fed, the thing to watch for in the latest Fed meeting was whether Chair Jay Powell managed to sneak in some hidden dovishness. He could have said, for example, that the Fed remains data dependent, suggesting that it would ease if the data improved. He could have said, for instance, that there were signs that inflation is moderating. He could have said a lot of things.

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What's Next from the Fed?

September 20, 2022

So, what will the Fed do at its latest meeting? The short version is that almost everyone thinks it will raise rates by 75 bps (or 3/4 of a percent). Almost, in this case, means that a minority of people think the Fed will raise rates by more, like a full percentage point. The takeaway is that everyone does expect rates to go up—and by an amount that, prior to the past couple of months, would have been shockingly large.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: September 2022 [SlideShare]

September 15, 2022

We're excited to roll out a new and improved format for our Monthly Market Risk Update (just like we did with our Economic Risk Factor Update last week). Each month, we will continue to review the biggest market risk factors, but we’ll do so in a SlideShare format we hope you will find both easy to read and informative. Let’s take a closer look.

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Markets React to Inflation Surprise

September 14, 2022

Yesterday’s inflation print was a big surprise—a bad one. Yet, looking at the headlines, you could be forgiven for wondering why. The headline CPI, after all, increased by only 0.1 percent, after being flat the prior month. If we annualize those two months, the inflation rate would be only 0.6 percent per year, which is the opposite of what everyone is panicking about. It isn’t that simple, of course. But given that and the fact that inflation for the past 12 months was down from 8.5 percent to 8.3 percent, it would seem inflation is slowing. So, why the panic?

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Economic Risk Factor Update: September 2022 [SlideShare]

September 8, 2022

We're excited to roll out a new and improved format for our Economic Risk Factor Update. Each month, we will continue to review the biggest risk factors to the economy, but we’ll do so in a SlideShare format we hope you will find both easy to read and informative. Let’s take a closer look.

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Looking Back at the Markets in August and Ahead to September 2022

September 7, 2022

August was a resumption of the earlier pullback after a surprisingly strong July. The S&P 500 lost 4.08 percent, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 3.72 percent, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 4.53 percent. Markets resumed their downward trend for the year, bouncing, in some cases, off long-term trend lines. Internationally, developed markets fell, although emerging markets eked out a small gain.

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Market Thoughts for September 2022 [Video]

September 2, 2022

After a strong rebound in July, markets pulled back again in August. U.S. and developed international markets ended the month down by 3 percent to 5 percent, and fixed income declined. The primary driver here was rising rates. Higher rates provide for lower stock market values, and with fears of a recession taking down expected earnings, the market had a double whammy. Still, there was good economic news. Job growth beat expectations, and consumer and producer inflation showed signs of peaking.

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