18 Jul 2022

Looking at Inflation, Backwards and Forwards

After quietly lying dormant for several decades, inflation is today’s big story in economics and markets. We all feel it at the grocery and pump, not to mention airline tickets, which are up more than a third from a year ago. It’s also dictating central bank policy, here and abroad, and everyone is rightly wondering whether that central bank policy will push global economies into a recession if it hasn’t… Read More

21 Jun 2022

And Now: Some Good News

The most salient question today is whether or not the US and the rest of the world will enter a recession. The answer, of course, is that, at some point, we will enter a recession. I think that a much harder question is when we enter a recession. I’ve heard a few people say that we’re in one now because the first quarter’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was negative, and… 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

31 May 2022

A Look at Bear Markets, Part II

What a difference week makes! Last week, with the market down -18.2 percent from its all-time high and dipping into bear market territory at some points during the day, it felt like a bear market was a sure thing. Of course, it may still happen, but with stocks now down -12.8 percent, it doesn’t feel as imminent. Last week’s article focused heavily on bear markets, almost to the point of… Read More

23 May 2022

A Look at Bear Markets

Even though the S&P 500 closed flat on Friday, it was down substantially in the middle of the day, down -2.3 percent in the late morning. At that moment, the S&P was down more than 20 percent from the all-time high set in January. Since a bear market is generally defined as a -20 percent decline from the recent peak (also called a drawdown), a lot of digital ink was… 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

28 Mar 2022

Stagflation & Misery

The term ‘stagflation’ hasn’t been part of our everyday vocabulary for years, but I am seeing it more and more, and Google Trends confirmed my casual observation. Stagflation, a portmanteau of stagnation and inflation, is defined by Wikipedia as a period where ‘the inflation rate is high, economic growth rate slows, and unemployment is steadily high.’ The thrust of the articles that I am seeing argue that we’re already in… 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

6 Dec 2021

Illustrating Inflation

For years now, inflation has been an afterthought in the investing conversation because it’s been so dormant. In fact, for a few years, the worry was centered around deflation. And yet, here we are, somewhere in a pandemic (I’d like to think near the end, but omicron is a good reminder that we just don’t know what’s around the corner), and we’re talking about supply-chain bottlenecks and looking at government… Read More

15 Nov 2021

Inflation Runs Hot

This past Wednesday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data for October, which showed inflation on consumer goods growing at a rate not seen in thirty years. This concerning trend is illustrated in the chart below. The orange line tracks the annual growth rate of the CPI since the 1960’s. This line includes all prices and categories. The white line tracks the same index, but… Read More