3 Dec 2018

As The World Turns, Sometimes Quickly

Last week, I said that the stock market had three big questions for the Federal Reserve and its chair Jay Powell.  You can read the full article here, but the questions were as follows: What is the course of interest rates? What will happen with the Fed’s balance sheet? Will the Fed support the stock market, as it has in the recent past? This past week saw a major market… Read More

26 Nov 2018

The Market to the Fed: We’ve Got Three Big Questions

Stocks have been rocky since the start of the fourth quarter, and while investors are worried about a few things from tech stocks to crude oil to junk bonds, but I think the primary concerns are interest rates and the Federal Reserve. There are three huge questions on the table.  First, how high will the Fed raise short term interest rates?  Second, what is the Fed going to do with… Read More

30 Jul 2018

Trade Wars and Interest Rates

Every day brings another headline (or Presidential tweet) about escalating trade tensions between the US and the rest of the world. What impact could these tariffs have on the bond market? The most popular narrative is that prices may increase due to tariffs being passed through to US consumers. Higher inflation should lead to higher long-term rates and the potential of a more hawkish Fed. This “cost-push” view of inflation… Read More

18 Jun 2018

What Happened to International Stocks?

As we approach the halfway point of 2018, some things are looking very different from last year. Although it has been a bumpier ride compared to last year, US stocks are on track to have another good year as the S&P 500 is up more than 4.5 percent and the Russell 2000 Index is up more than 10 percent. But unlike last year, international stocks have effectively been flat, flipping… Read More

26 Feb 2018

Who is Jay Powell?

On February 5th, Jerome ‘Jay’ Powell was sworn in as the 16th Chairman of the Federal Reserve, following Janet Yellen, who served one term starting in 2014. Powell’s first day on the job was the sharpest day of the recent stock market selloff, when the S&P 500 lost more than four percent. I don’t think that the market fell because of the new Fed Chair, but I have read a… Read More

8 Jan 2018

Recession Risk in 2018 is Greater Than You Think

Last Thursday night, I attended a Financial Planning Association (FPA) meeting here in Chesterfield presented by William Emmons, an economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His presentation, titled Recession Risk in 2018 is Greater Than You Think, was fascinating.  Despite what people say about government workers and folks from the Federal Reserve, I thought Mr. Emmons was smart, fair and thoughtful – important traits for an economist. Mr. Emmons… Read More

30 Oct 2017

How the Fed Could Change

According to reports Friday, President Trump is expected to announce his choice for Fed Chair sometime next week. Sources in the White House say the list of candidates has been narrowed down to three, current Fed Chair Janet Yellen, Fed Governor Jerome Powell and Stanford University economics professor John Taylor. The “Taylor Rule”, named after the same Taylor who is being considered by President Trump, was first introduced in an… Read More

17 Apr 2017

The Fed’s Next Move

During the 2008 financial crisis, the Federal Reserved used a variety of tactics to stabilize the economy and financial system.  First they cut interest rates, but when they got to zero and couldn’t cut anymore, they started buying bonds in the open market in a process call quantitative easing (QE). The program was controversial because a lot of people thought that it would stoke inflation.  While that didn’t come to… Read More

13 Mar 2017

Meet the Fed’s FOMC

The Federal Reserve will obviously be in focus this week and we talk about the Fed and its members a lot and I suspect that not everyone quite knows how the Fed works.  Today is a quick primer. The Federal Reserve System was created by the Federal Reserve Act in 1913 to serve as a formal lender of last resort to banks during panics and times of a liquidity crisis…. Read More

19 Dec 2016

Bond Market Fascinations: An Interview

Since the election, interest rates have risen across the curve.  The Federal Reserve raised short term interest rates last week for the first time this year, but perhaps more importantly, longer term rates have also risen, which means falling bond prices. Right now, the Barclays Aggregate Bond index is still positive for the year, but the gains are muted, especially compared to the 5.8 percent gain that they enjoyed just… Read More