The Independent Market Observer

Rising Inflation: Where Does It Go from Here?

June 30, 2022

We’ve received numerous questions about our inflation outlook over the past few weeks. In some cases, it seems investors are beginning to throw in the towel on traditional asset classes in favor of more inflation-sensitive areas like commodities, real assets, and managed futures, which have had a good run as of late. Before making wholesale changes to portfolios, though, it’s important to understand where inflation may be headed, as opposed to where it’s been.

Headlines are telling us that the Fed let things get out of control, with inflation at its highest level in 40 years and stagflation right around the corner. I would argue that the consensus on inflation could be wrong, mostly because the numbers are suggesting that things have already peaked and will probably moderate as the year progresses. So, let’s have a look at the data and cut through the headlines.

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Catherine Crowe McMillan: A Life Well Lived

June 24, 2022

Today will not be the usual economic content, as I am out of the office for my mother’s memorial service. She passed away almost a month ago, suddenly from a stroke, after fighting Parkinson’s disease for several years. My dad and my family are doing well, all things considered, but today will be a hard one. 

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Politics and Investing

June 23, 2022

First, a confession. I handled a recent comment on the blog badly. A reader wrote in with a question that I read as a political diatribe, and I dismissed it without taking the question itself seriously. I realized that my response was wrong and have since apologized, publicly, in the comment section of that post. I owe my readers, if I can respond at all, a thoughtful engagement with their issue, and I failed that standard. I will try to do better going forward.

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Black Bear or Grizzly Bear?

June 17, 2022

As we discussed yesterday, the bear is here. We talked about how interest rates, especially the yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note, will be determinative as to how long and deep the downturn will be, but noted that there was really no telling. Today, I want to take a look back at history and see if there are any clues we can look at.

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The Bear Is Here

June 16, 2022

We hit a milestone just recently, although it’s certainly not one we wanted to hit. The S&P 500 stock index is now officially in a bear market, down more than 20 percent from its highs. The Nasdaq, of course, has been in a bear market for some time. It is down more than 20 percent, but that is primarily technology, which is notoriously volatile. The S&P 500, which includes the largest and best-known companies across all industries, is a better indicator of market stress overall. The fact that it has moved into the bear phase signifies significant market and economic stress.

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What’s Fueling Sky-High Gas Prices?

June 10, 2022

As we embark on the summer driving season, the average price of regular gasoline in the U.S. has reached an all-time high, surpassing $4.50 per gallon. Strong demand, supply chain disruptions, and low inventories have been common inflationary pressures among consumer goods, including gasoline. But what specific market factors are fueling sky-high gas prices?

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How Bad Could a Bear Market Get?

June 9, 2022

After a brief recovery, it looks like the market decline may have resumed. Although we never quite got to the 20 percent bear market threshold for the S&P 500 in the previous decline, it now looks like we are headed down again, so we might well get there. Once we get to an official bear market, the question then becomes how much lower we might go. Indeed, those are the top questions I am getting right now: how bad can this get—and when will it be over?

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Looking Back at the Markets in May and Ahead to June 2022

June 3, 2022

Markets stabilized in May after one of the worst months since the start of the pandemic. While it wasn’t a great month, after the terrible start to the year, any improvement was welcome. U.S. markets were mixed, with the Dow and S&P 500 up slightly, while the Nasdaq was down but not nearly as much as in prior months. International markets and fixed income also showed small gains.

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A Step Back for Summer

May 20, 2022

Hi, everybody. It has been a busy week. Even though the market continues to drop, frankly I don’t have much to say that I haven’t already said. So, this will be a very short post!

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Are Market Declines Setting the Stage for Future Growth?

May 19, 2022

When we look at yesterday’s market performance, something stands out. It’s not just the magnitude of the decline, bad though it was, but the speed. And it wasn’t just yesterday, as this past month has seen pretty much all of the decline for the past quarter and well over half of the decline for the year. In other words, the market has essentially been down all year. It started to stabilize in March and April—only to collapse again in May. That’s scary.

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