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

Merry Christmas to All

December 22, 2023

I’ve always loved Christmas, but I think I’ve lost much of the spirit as I’ve gotten older. Now that I have a young son—who enjoys baking cookies with his mom and eyeing presents under the tree, while struggling to behave under the eye of the “Elf on the Shelf"—I find myself recovering much of what I’ve lost. This is wonderful, but, as a father, I also find myself reaching deeper into the meaning of the holiday.

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What's the Outlook for the 60/40 Portfolio?

December 21, 2023

Is it time to start thinking differently about asset allocation, or does the 60/40 portfolio still make sense? That was the question for members of our Investment Management and Research team—and the topic made for some lively discussion.

Watch the video below to hear what the team thinks about this longstanding investment strategy. And if you're looking for a broader economic and market view, click on 2024 Outlook in the sidebar to your right.

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Taking the Long View: Where Will the Economy and Markets Be in 2028?

December 18, 2023

When we put together economic and market outlooks, we typically focus on the near term—the next month, the next quarter, or the next year. As the great philosopher Yogi Berra noted, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” So, we tend to stay close to the present, where we know more and can at least set some reasonable expectations.

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What Mattered This Week? Focus on the Fed

December 15, 2023

There was a fair amount of data this week, but only one thing mattered: the Fed. Continued slowing inflation data and signs of a slowing economy took the Fed from a hawkish, we will keep rates higher-for-longer stance, to a much more dovish stance in the past meeting. The Fed's projections have switched from higher rates indefinitely to an expected three rate cuts next year, which is a very big shift. More, Chair Powell's commentary in the press conference acknowledged directly both the better inflation data and slower growth. Higher for longer may be dead—at least that’s what markets think.

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What Mattered This Week? U.S. Economy Chugging Along

December 8, 2023

It was another good week for the economy, while there wasn’t a lot of news on the market front. Let’s take a closer look.

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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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The information on this website is intended for informational/educational purposes only and should not be construed as investment advice, a solicitation, or a recommendation to buy or sell any security or investment product. Please contact your financial professional for more information specific to your situation.

Certain sections of this commentary contain forward-looking statements that are based on our reasonable expectations, estimates, projections, and assumptions. Forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve certain risks and uncertainties, which are difficult to predict. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Diversification does not assure a profit or protect against loss in declining markets.

The S&P 500 Index is a broad-based measurement of changes in stock market conditions based on the average performance of 500 widely held common stocks. All indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in an index.

The MSCI EAFE (Europe, Australia, Far East) Index is a free float‐adjusted market capitalization index that is designed to measure the equity market performance of developed markets, excluding the U.S. and Canada. The MSCI EAFE Index consists of 21 developed market country indices.

One basis point (bp) is equal to 1/100th of 1 percent, or 0.01 percent.

The VIX (CBOE Volatility Index) measures the market’s expectation of 30-day volatility across a wide range of S&P 500 options.

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