19 Sep 2022

Core Inflation Knocks Market

Stocks sold off sharply this week, as noted above, mostly because markets had anticipated good news on the inflation front and didn’t get it. When I first saw the release, I thought it looked pretty good because the headline rate of inflation was only a tenth of one percent for the month, which brought the rolling one-year rate down to 7.8 percent.  While 7.8 percent is still far too high,… Read More

15 Aug 2022

Fed Tightening and Stocks

While inflation may or may not have peaked, Federal Reserve officials are still talking about raising interest rates. Several Fed officials called for rate hikes through 2023, and St. Louis Fed President said that the overnight rate should be four percent by the end of this calendar year (it’s currently between 2.25 and 2.50 percent). Although the Fed is already raising rates, a process also known as tightening, I wondered… Read More

13 Jun 2022

Inflation: A Deep Dive

I like to say that this newsletter is a mix of information on investing, financial planning, and economics. Regular readers know that I tend to focus most on investing, then financial planning, and economics is a distant third place. The current inflation environment, however, is forcing me to cover more economics, although the reality is that inflation materially impacts investing and planning. Today, I will look at inflation in isolation,… Read More

11 Apr 2022

Economists Estimate the Probability of Recession

In the market summary above, I referenced the fact that the yield on the ten-year Treasury note is back above the yield on the two-year Treasury note. There was a relatively brief period where that wasn’t true, and a lot of consternation in the media and among investors that the inverted yield curve (when the shorter-term yield is higher than the longer-term yield) meant a recession was coming. In my… Read More

22 Feb 2022

Another Bond Market View of the Economy

A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting and someone said, “why talk so much about the bond market? Who cares?” Of course, we care about the bond market because 30 percent of the money that we invest is in bonds, so we are bound to keep track of it. And, as former bond traders, it feels natural. I understood the question, though, because the stock market is where… Read More

18 Jan 2022

Interest Rates & Tech Stocks

On the last day of last year, the 10-year US Treasury closed with a yield of 1.52 percent. As noted above, it closed last week with a yield of 1.78 percent, an upward change of 0.26 percent, or in percentage terms, 17.1 percent higher. Short-term rates have not changed much so far, but the Federal Reserve has indicated that short-term rates could be at or above one percent by the… Read More

10 Jan 2022

The Fed’s Policy Pivot: Higher Rates Ahead

The big story last week was Federal Reserve’s hawkish tone. In fact, though, the Fed’s pivot started a few weeks ago, but last week solidified it through the release of the minutes from their December meeting. There are two key factors that investors are watching: what the Fed plans to do about their bond-buying program known as quantitative easing (QE) and their plans for short-term interest rates. Regarding short-term interest… Read More

20 Dec 2021

Alternatives are Tough

I wrote a lot about inflation in 2021 for pretty obvious reasons. I also wrote that bonds are difficult investments to own right now because the expected inflation rate over the coming decade is more than the current interest rates. After receiving a lot of inquiries about bond alternatives like REITs, utilities, and the like, I wrote an article shooting down those too. This article is a variant on that… Read More

13 Sep 2021

Inflation and the Price of Milk

The inflation that we all worried about earlier this year is showing up in the monthly numbers. It’s too early to say whether the higher readings are transitory, as the Fed would say, or here to stay. The most recent reading showed that inflation for the 12-months ending in July is 4.2 percent for ‘core’ inflation, and 5.3 percent for headline inflation. What’s core inflation? It’s the headline number but… Read More

16 Aug 2021

What Kills a Bond Portfolio

Even if everything goes according to plan, we are probably stuck with zero percent on cash for the next few years. We’ve been in this situation for so long that it almost seems normal, and with some negative interest rates elsewhere around the world, sometimes zero even seems good (actually, it never does, but negative is just so bad). Earning nothing is so lousy that every once and a while,… Read More