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

Economic Risk Factor Update: February 2023 [SlideShare]

February 8, 2023

My colleague Sam Millette, manager, 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 January and Ahead to February 2023

February 7, 2023

After a tough December, the markets rallied in January. Fears about inflation faded, and hopes that the Fed would hike rates more slowly—or even start cutting them—dominated markets as signs of economic weakness appeared. But this bad economic news was good news, as long-term rates pulled back, supporting financial markets.

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Wow! January Jobs Report Crushes Expectations

February 3, 2023

Let’s get the headline out of the way. The number of new jobs expected in January’s jobs report was around 188,000, down from the prior month’s 223,000. But the actual number came in at—wait for it—more than half a million (517,000 to be exact), which is more than double last month. This is an astonishing beat. And what is even more surprising is that the headline beat is only part of the story.

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Market Thoughts for February 2023 [Video]

February 2, 2023

After a tough December, both U.S. and international markets showed gains in January. The primary drivers were the continued drop in inflation and the decline in longer-term interest rates. Despite the market gains, the economy showed signs of slowing, with consumer spending dropping for the second month in a row and a pullback in business confidence and investment.

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Trouble Ahead? What to Expect from January’s Jobs Report

February 1, 2023

As we wait for the jobs report on Friday, there is a lot of worry. Signs of a slowing economy are pointing toward a recession this year. Consumer spending dropped two straight months at the end of last year, and business confidence is down to recessionary territory. The Fed is still looking to substantially weaken the labor market, in search of lower inflation. All of the signs are that the jobs market will weaken significantly.

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As Goes January, So Goes the Year? Let’s Hope So

January 31, 2023

“As goes January, so goes the year” is a well-known Wall Street maxim that, like most Wall Street maxims, is sometimes true and sometimes, well, not true. As of today, we are very much hoping it does turn out to be true this year. January has been a very good month so far, with a significant bounce back from the terrible results of 2022. It would be nice to see that bounce continue. The good news is that—while still expecting volatility—we can expect the market to continue doing well this year. Let’s walk through the reasons, starting with history.

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Why Is ESG Investing So Controversial?

January 26, 2023

Following up on my colleague Sarah Hargreaves’s post on ESG investing, I thought I would comment on some discussions and questions I have had on the topic. For what is at bottom a simple attempt to make better investment decisions, it has become a surprisingly controversial topic. So, let’s dig in a bit into what is actually happening when we talk about ESG investing. 

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Investor Worries on the Rise—But Is It Time to Panic?

January 20, 2023

I have gotten more than the usual number of worried emails, texts, and calls recently—not only from Commonwealth advisors, driven by the concerns of their clients, but from my clients as well. While I understand most of what’s behind those worries—the debt ceiling, at the moment—what is interesting is that last year, during the bear market, I heard much less in the way of worry. It’s not that people weren’t concerned, but there wasn’t the level of immediate fear that I am hearing right now.

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The U.S. Hits the Debt Ceiling (Again): Now What?

January 19, 2023

As of today, the U.S. has borrowed as much as it legally can and will be prohibited from borrowing any more. Or, in the language of the headlines, we have hit the debt ceiling. The new Congress has failed to pass a law allowing the Treasury to borrow the money to make payments that previous Congresses have required the Treasury to make. The Treasury will therefore have to use cash on hand right now, as well as any inflows, to pay the outstanding bills for as long as it can—until the money runs out.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: January 2023 [SlideShare]

January 18, 2023

My colleague Sam Millette, manager, 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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