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

Market Thoughts for May 2022 [Video]

May 3, 2022

April was one of the worst months for the markets since the start of the pandemic.U.S. markets were down between 5 percent for the Dow and 14 percent for the Nasdaq, while international markets fell between 5 percent and 7 percent. Rising interest rates drove the declines, with the Fed signaling it intended to keep tightening monetary policy. Still, the U.S. economic news was positive. Hiring remained strong, supporting consumer confidence, and business confidence and investment remained healthy.

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Is the Economy Shrinking?

April 29, 2022

Chalk another point up on the board for the importance of context. Yesterday’s economic data release showed that the economy actually shrank in the last quarter, down by 1.4 percent at an annual rate. This result was down from 6.9 percent in the prior quarter and well below the expected 1 percent growth rate.

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The 100K Project: Takeaways for Investors

April 28, 2022

This will be the last post on the 100K project because I finished it a couple of days ago, 364 days after I started. For those coming in fresh, the 100K project was a decision I made, 364 days ago, to start tracking my daily calorie balance—consumed less burned—over time. The goal was to get a net loss of 100,000 calories down, over an indefinite time period. You could think of it as taking 100,000 calories out of the fat bank.

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Putting Market Declines in Perspective

April 27, 2022

Following up on yesterday’s post about the recent market declines, I thought it would make sense to talk not just about the declines themselves (where they came from and where they are going), but also about what the declines mean from a larger portfolio perspective. To take the emotion out of it for a bit, and see what the larger picture can tell us.

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Why Is the Market Going Down?

April 26, 2022

The economy seems to be doing well, with job growth still at high levels, consumer spending still healthy, and businesses continuing to invest. But the stock market—which is supposedly a barometer of that economy—is acting very differently. The market has fallen significantly from its peak at the start of the year and, more recently, has taken a sharper drop. What’s going on here, and will it continue?

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Time to Unwind

April 14, 2022

Today’s post will be short, as tomorrow is a holiday leading into a long weekend—and next week is vacation! I have to admit, I am ready to get out of the office for a week. As much as I love Commonwealth and Massachusetts, a warm week at the beach isn’t bad either. Add in a chance to see my parents for Easter, and I’m very glad to be heading out.

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Should We Worry About Stagflation?

April 13, 2022

Following up on yesterday’s piece on inflation, I wanted to dig deeper into another topic I’ve been hearing about recently: stagflation. When people look at inflation and the fears of slower growth, the idea of stagflation comes back to life from the 1970s and 1980s. But that was a long time ago when few of us were paying attention to economics. So it’s worth going back to basics and thinking about what stagflation is before we start to worry too much.

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Is Inflation Peaking?

April 12, 2022

The most recent inflation data came in this morning, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) up sharply again. The headline index was up by 1.2 percent for the month and by 8.5 percent for the year (a 40-year high). On the face of it, inflation is approaching a crisis. What if it keeps on rising?

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Monthly Market Risk Update: April 2022

April 8, 2022

My colleague Sam Millette, manager, fixed income on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Market Risk Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

Markets rebounded in March, but it was not enough to offset earlier losses in January and February. The S&P 500 gained 3.71 percent in March, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose by 2.49 percent and the Nasdaq Composite increased by 3.48 percent. But the selloffs in January and February caused all three indices to end the quarter in negative territory. Despite the March gains, the S&P 500 lost 4.60 percent for the quarter, while the DJIA dropped 4.10 percent and the technology-heavy Nasdaq dropped 8.95 percent. The market decline to start the year is a reminder that risks remain that should be monitored going forward.

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What the Fed Meeting Minutes Mean for Investors

April 7, 2022

The most recent news bomb taking markets down was the release of the minutes from last month’s meeting of the Fed. The Fed raised rates, as was amply reported. In the following press conference, Fed Chair Jerome Powell was widely reported to be more hawkish, which is to say, likely to raise rates further. But what we did not know until yesterday was just how emphatic the decision was for the entire committee.

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