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 August 2021 [Video]

August 2, 2021

July was a generally good month for the markets, with all three major U.S. indices up by more than 1 percent. But emerging markets were hit hard and ended the month down significantly. On the economic front, the data remains positive, although business and consumer confidence declined. Further, medical risks are on the rise, with the Delta variant hitting the unvaccinated population.

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This Is the End (Again)

July 23, 2021

For some reason, I have been getting another round of questions about the end of the world. The dollar is collapsing, the IMF is devaluing the U.S. currency, the deficit and debt are blowing up, inflation is rising, and so forth. These end-of-the-world worries usually happen every couple of years, driven by some outside anxiety, which is, at the moment, COVID.

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Jobs and the Labor Force: The Long View

July 22, 2021

Yesterday, we talked about whether the labor market would balance in the short term. We also discussed whether there were enough people outside the labor force who might move back in, with higher wages and other inducements, to provide enough bodies to not only fill the current vacancies but also provide enough of a cushion to prevent further dislocations in the future. Although it is close, so far the numbers suggest there are enough people out there to do that. In the next year or so, jobs and employees should move back into a rough equilibrium.

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Can the Labor Market Normalize?

July 21, 2021

A couple of weeks ago, we left off our discussion on the labor market with the conclusion that the labor market shifts were real and reflected underlying changes in both the demographics and demand for jobs. Knowing that, however, doesn’t tell us what is likely to happen in the future. So, let’s think through the factors that will determine just that.

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Is the COVID Recession Over?

July 20, 2021

Yesterday was an interesting day. Yes, the headline declines in the stock market made it interesting, and that news is certainly part of it. Still, that kind of volatility is normal. We haven’t seen it for a while, but if you look back, it’s no big deal. In fact, markets are ticking back up again.

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What Do Rising Medical Risks Mean for the Economic Outlook?

July 15, 2021

It was about three weeks ago that I ended the regular coronavirus updates as the medical news had improved sufficiently that the country had largely reopened and the virus was under control. Since then, unfortunately, we have seen infections tick back up, and it is clear that—from a medical perspective—the virus is still with us. Thus, this update discusses where we are now and what it might mean going forward.

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What About Climate Change?

July 14, 2021

As regular readers know, I largely steer clear of politics. Political beliefs are largely beyond argument (on both sides), so it’s not a good use of time to put out arguments that go against someone’s convictions. Yet, in economics and markets, we do have to deal with the facts, as we saw recently with the pandemic. Regardless of where you stand on the vaccine, for example, the facts are what they are. And that is where we now find ourselves with climate change.

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Monthly Market Risk Update: July 2021

July 13, 2021

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

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Economic Risk Factor Update: July 2021

July 9, 2021

My colleague Sam Millette, senior investment research analyst on Commonwealth’s Investment Management and Research team, has helped me put together this month’s Economic Risk Factor Update. Thanks for the assist, Sam!

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Looking Back at the Markets in June and Ahead to July 2021

July 8, 2021

As we close out the first half of the year, we know a couple of things. First, the U.S. economy is almost entirely reopened following the pandemic shutdown. Although we are not yet fully back, the healing process continues. The story for the rest of the year in the U.S. will be about managing the risks, staying open, and growing our economy. As we are largely past the pandemic, the challenge ahead will be keeping the progress going.

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