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

Two Cheers for the October Jobs Report

November 4, 2022

As I have been saying for some time, the best indicator for the economy as a whole is the jobs market. With consumer spending representing more than two-thirds of the economy, as long as people are working, they can spend. And the jobs numbers tell us whether they are working.

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Will Midterm Madness Affect the Markets?

November 3, 2022

One of the questions I have been getting recently is about the effect of the midterm elections on markets. This is normal. In fact, given the level of partisan rancor—and the number of ads I’ve been seeing on TV—it is surprising that there isn’t more concern around the elections. But with voting just a couple of days away, let’s consider what the elections could mean for our investments.

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Market Thoughts for November 2022 [Video]

November 2, 2022

It was a good month for the markets after a difficult September. The Dow and S&P showed strong gains, and developed markets did well. The rebound was driven by the prospect of a slowdown in future rate increases. On the economic front, job growth remained solid, driving increases in personal income and spending.

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Inflation: Shocks Vs. Trends

October 27, 2022

This will be the second blog post that's come out of my efforts to try to finish my talk for Commonwealth’s National conference. If you remember, in the previous post, the question was whether we were headed back to the 1970s, with all that implies (inflation, stagflation, high unemployment, disco), or back to the 1950s (which, for all its faults, did not have disco).

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Inflation: It’s Not an Isolated Problem

October 25, 2022

I am working on my presentation for Commonwealth’s National conference in a couple of weeks (yes, I am late), but I have to admit I am having some trouble telling the story. Over the past several years, I have taken whatever the hot topic of the day was—whether it was globalization, low interest rates, or the pandemic—and tried to put it in a larger context. In other words, to take something fairly isolated as a problem and tie it to everything else as a means of understanding what was likely to happen over the next five years or so. Looking back, I did a pretty good job.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: October 2022 [SlideShare]

October 19, 2022

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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Changing Trends Create Cloudy Market Forecast

October 18, 2022

At this point in the year, I really spend some time thinking about what the future holds for the markets and economy. Yes, of course, that is my full-time job. But for most of the year, “the future” consists of the next month or so, the next quarter at most. People need to understand what is happening now and what that means for the next couple of weeks. So, that is what I focus on most of the time. You can see that in this blog and in my monthly market and economic risk updates and videos. What commands the most attention is the now.

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Inflation Data Hotter Than Expected

October 14, 2022

Yesterday’s CPI report came in hotter than expected. There had been a general sense that inflation was peaking and that, while it remained high, we were starting to see signs of a sustained downtrend. But the latest report showed that the end of the tunnel is still too far away to see any real light.

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Economic Risk Factor Update: October 2022 [SlideShare]

October 12, 2022

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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What Will Q3 2022 Earnings Look Like?

October 11, 2022

When you look at expectations for corporate earnings for the third quarter, you get a bunch of mixed messages. On one hand, the economy is (supposedly) sinking fast, hit by rate hikes and inflation. More, companies are struggling with the labor shortage, with wages rising sharply and, in many cases, labor simply not available. Between a slower economy and a labor shortage—not to mention the problems created by the strong dollar—you would expect earnings to take a sharp hit. Indeed, we have seen a number of downward revisions to analyst expectations. On the other hand, despite the lower expectations, earnings are in fact still expected to grow, which doesn’t seem consistent with the narrative at the economic level. What’s going on?

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