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

What Mattered This Week? Progress on the Debt Ceiling

May 26, 2023

This week’s post is pretty much like last week’s post. In fact, I could quote it almost verbatim but won’t, because we do have some more information. 

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What Mattered This Week? The Debt Ceiling, the Data, and the Fed

May 19, 2023

The big news this week was the debt ceiling: who was talking, what they were saying, and if we will get a deal before the X date (i.e., when the Treasury runs out of money). When all was said and done, more was said than done and we ended the week pretty much where we started. But there was some good news.

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Debt Ceiling Crisis: Breaking Down the Worst-Case Scenario

May 18, 2023

Times are getting scary again. Between the debt ceiling, which is the crisis of the day, and everything else that is out there, people are starting to crack. With the Ukraine war still underway and with worries about China, inflation, and a recession, the debt ceiling looks like just the thing that could finally sink the ship. Even though we have done quite well so far and continue to, the worry is always that the next big thing will be the last straw.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: May 2023 [SlideShare]

May 17, 2023

My colleague Sam Millette, director, fixed income on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, helped me put together this month’s Market Risk Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam! Let’s take a closer look.

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What Mattered This Week? Inflation and the Debt Ceiling

May 12, 2023

This week, there were two things that warranted comment. The first was the inflation reports, and the second was the debt ceiling. Let’s take a closer look. 

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Economic Risk Factor Update: May 2023 [SlideShare]

May 10, 2023

My colleague Sam Millette, director, fixed income on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, helped me put together this month’s Economic Risk Factor Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam! Let’s take a closer look.

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Looking Back at the Markets in April and Ahead to May 2023

May 9, 2023

After moderate gains in March, markets continued to rally in April. U.S. markets were up by low single digits, while bond markets were moderately positive. International markets were mixed, with developed markets showing modest gains while emerging markets ticked down. Given the downbeat expectations for earnings at the start of the month, the gains may be a positive sign for the next several months.

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Looking for the Sweet Spot in the April Jobs Report: A Preview

May 4, 2023

Once again, we are about to get the monthly jobs report, which comes out tomorrow. As with every month, this is one of—if not the—biggest economic reports. For the economy, more jobs are good: more workers, more wage income, more spending ability, and so forth. No real downside. But for financial markets? A strong report can be problematic. Those workers—earning and spending their wages—add to demand, which adds to inflation. With the economy slowing and with the Fed suggesting yesterday that it may pause rate increases, tomorrow’s report is especially timely. 

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What the Fed Will Do—and Why

May 3, 2023

The big economic story today will be the end of the regular meeting of the Fed and what it decides to do about interest rates. Markets are expecting a 25 bp increase, to a range of 5 percent to 5.25 percent, with a slight bet on no hike at all. This is the baseline that the commentariat will be reacting to once the news comes out this afternoon. 

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Market Thoughts for May 2023 [Video]

May 2, 2023

After a strong March, financial markets were mixed in April. U.S. markets were up by low single digits, bond markets showed small gains, but emerging markets pulled back. Concerns around inflation and the banking crisis lingered, contributing to the uncertainty about the Fed’s next move. Still, job growth remained at a healthy level, consumer confidence was up, and earnings data beat expectations.

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