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

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

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

1 Apr 2019

The Most Powerful Man in the World

For the stock market, the first quarter of 2019 turned out to be the mirror image of the last quarter of 2018. Since hitting a low on Christmas Eve, there has been no looking back for the S&P 500 as it rebounded over 13% thus far in 2019, nearly erasing the bear market losses from the end of 2018. Clearly, this renewed optimism in the markets is a result of booming economic… Read More