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

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

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

31 Jan 2022

Market Froth Turning Flat

Markets have been testing the Fed ever since Chair Powell indicated that rates are headed higher and their balance sheet will start shrinking. There’s nothing new about this. In the 1980s, then-Fed Chair Alan Greenspan responded to the stock market crash with monetary policy. Ever since then, markets have believed, with increasing strength, that the Fed would bail out the market. In fact, the phenomenon was given a name: the… 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

3 Jan 2022

The S&P 500 Doubled in Three Years. Now What?

I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll repeat again what Carly Simon sang in her 1971 hit Anticipation: “These are the good old days.” WE now have 96-years of high-quality market data, and a quick look at the numbers showed a few interesting things: The nominal change in the S&P 500 was in the 92nd percentile of all rolling three-year returns. Inflation annualized at 3.6 percent during that time,… 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