The Independent Market Observer

Brad McMillan, CFA®, CFP®

Brad McMillan, CFA®, CFP®, is the chief investment officer and a managing principal at Commonwealth. 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, the CFA Institute, and the CAIA Association. He also is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner. 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

Looking Back at the Markets in November and Ahead to December 2023

December 6, 2023

Markets improved last month across the board as interest rates pulled back on signs of slowing growth. U.S. markets were up by high-single to low-double digits, while international markets were also up by high-single digits. Even fixed income posted gains of around 5 percent. For the first time in a while, everything went up.

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Market Thoughts for December 2023 [Video]

December 4, 2023

Markets roared back in November, as interest rates dropped to September levels. U.S. indices were up from 8 percent to 11 percent, with the Nasdaq performing best. Fixed income showed surprising gains, and international markets rose sharply.

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What Mattered This Week? All About Interest Rates (Again)

December 1, 2023

What mattered this week in the economy and the markets? Let’s dive right in.

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Will the Fed Cut Interest Rates Soon?

November 30, 2023

Interest rates are back in the news again, along with a feverish dissection of the latest meeting notes and comments from the Fed. Will the Fed cut rates or not? When? How much? Surely, the Fed has to. That means markets are going up! And so they rise.

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What Mattered This Week? Fed Minutes, Consumer Sentiment

November 24, 2023

Here's a quick update for this holiday-shortened week! From my perspective, two things mattered this week:

  1. The release of the FOMC meeting minutes
  2. The latest consumer sentiment reading
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Thanksgiving Food for Thought: The Parable of the Turkey

November 22, 2023

Once upon a time, a turkey hatched in the dead of winter. He lived in a nice warm coop, had plentiful corn and seeds to eat, and spent much of his poult-hood playing with all of the other little turkeys.

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What Mattered This Week? Progress on Inflation, Markets Bounce

November 17, 2023

This was a week of good news pretty much across the board, which doesn't happen all that often. Congress managed to kick the can down the road again on spending, avoiding a governmental shutdown. Inflation was down across the board. And with both those risks subsiding, interest rates dropped—pushing markets higher. We continue to close in on a soft landing for the economy, and markets keep reacting to that.

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The Federal Deficit and Debt: A Painful Problem to Solve

November 16, 2023

Today, I want to discuss a topic that has somewhat fallen off the radar: the federal deficit and debt burden. It has been off the radar screen for a decade, since the last debt panic. The reason for that is that the panic led to real reforms that largely solved the problem. That episode—the fiscal cliff and the sequester—has a lot to tell us about today’s situation. Let's take a closer look.

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What Mattered This Week? Economy and Markets Remain Resilient

November 10, 2023

It’s been a quiet week, so this will be a short post. You’re welcome.

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What Would Happen if the Fed Issued a Digital Dollar?

November 9, 2023

It’s time to go to the mailbox again for questions about a central bank digital currency—a digital dollar issued by the Fed here in the U.S. This is a bit of an obscure topic, but it seems to be getting traction as something to worry about. So, let’s take a closer look.

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