12 Jul 2021

When You Think One Thing, Think Again

Over the past few months, markets and investors were worried about the possibility of inflation coming back. And, there was and is good reason for concern: the economy is rebounding quickly, finding examples of labor shortages is easy, there is still massive monetary stimulus in place, and there are discussions of even more fiscal stimulus to come. I’ve personally been a little bit skeptical, mostly because I remember all of… Read More

21 Jun 2021

Federal Reserve Changes its Tune

As noted above, the Federal Reserve took center stage last week as they signaled that change is afoot with short-term interest rates. While they did not change interest rates and did not adjust their $120 billion monthly asset plan purchases, they did indicate through their ‘dot plot’ that more members see interest rate hikes in 2022 and 2023. Although I don’t have a picture of the dot plot, I made… Read More

17 May 2021

Inflation Data Spooks Market

Markets were caught off guard last week by several inflation data points last week, and the biggest surprise came from the core inflation rate which was expected to come in at 0.3 percent for the month but was 0.9 percent instead. Most of the time stocks and bonds move independently of each other, but stock and bond prices fell on the inflation news because it could prompt the Federal Reserve… Read More

1 Mar 2021

Worried About Inflation?

Although some of the weakness was thought to be technical in nature, it is also the latest chapter in an ongoing tough market for bonds amid rising inflation expectations, a reasonably strong macro-outlook, solid corporate earnings, improving covid trends, and expectations for continued fiscal stimulus. Only energy posted a win for the week, up 4.3 percent. Utilities and consumer discretionary stocks were down -5.0 percent respectively, and technology fell by… Read More

15 Jun 2020

Yield Curve Control

Last week, I noted that in the Q&A session following the latest Federal Reserve meeting that Chair Powell said that other monetary policy tools such as ‘yield-curve control’ were still under consideration. What is yield curve control, or YCC?  Good question. A little background first. Now that the Federal Reserve has lowered interest rates to zero (okay, near zero, but effectively zero), what tools does it have? We know that the… Read More

18 May 2020

Worried About Inflation?

In response to the economic shutdown caused by covid-19, the government has effectively printed almost $5 trillion dollars. Congress passed a fiscal stimulus package of $2.9 trillion and the Federal Reserve has bought more than $2 trillion in bonds from the open market. Moreover, there is a debate in Washington to see whether Congress should pass another stimulus package and the Fed has committed unlimited funds to fight the economic… Read More

12 May 2020

Since the Great Depression

One of the phrases that we see over and over again these days is ‘since the Great Depression.’ For example, the employment situation reports on Friday showed that the unemployment rate was the worst since the Great Depression.  In the Great Depression, unemployment reached 25 percent, and the second worst reading until last week was 10.8 percent. While perfectly accurate, I worry a little that using this phrase too much… Read More

20 Apr 2020

Unemployment Today

One of the most jarring aspects of the coronavirus epidemic is the speed and magnitude of job losses.  We now have four weeks’ worth of data, and a shocking 22 million people have filed for unemployment benefits. For reference, the previous record for initial jobless claims over a four- week period was 2,697,00 during the 1982 recession.  During the 2008 financial crisis, the record was 2,637,000, just shy of the… Read More

14 Apr 2020

Corporate Bonds in Today’s Market

One of the areas of the market that we’re paying close attention to right now is corporate bonds.  To raise money, companies borrow money in the form of bonds or issue stock by selling ownership in the form of equity. Corporate bonds are safer than stocks in the aggregate because if a company fails, the bond holders get their money back before the equity holders.  While corporate bonds may be… Read More

8 Apr 2019

The Most Powerful Man in the World?

Last week, Ryan Craft wrote at terrific article, titled ‘The Most Powerful Man in the World,’ which you can read here about the power of Jerome Powell, the current Chair of the Federal Reserve.  It even included a superimposed image of Powell’s face on Superman’s body. I agree with everything that Ryan said, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the leader of the free world might say if he saw that… Read More