3 Jun 2024

Is the Yield Curve Broken?

As regular readers of this letter know, we are not big believers in forecasts. We believe that forecasting future economic and market conditions is about as reliable as a long-term weather forecast in St Louis. However, many relationships have a history of moving together. When one changes, it can often be wise to take notice. The strongest of these indicators has been the Yield Curve. The Yield Curve refers to… Read More

15 Apr 2024

Why Are Markets Unhappy Right Now?

As noted above, the March Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation data exceeded expectations. The year-over-year headline rate was expected to be 3.4 percent but was actually 3.5 percent. The core rate, which excludes food and energy, was expected to be 3.7 percent but was 3.8 percent. Those might not sound like big misses at one-tenth of one percent, but the chart below helps tell the story. The chart shows the… Read More

1 Apr 2024

Feel Like Taking Risk? So Does Everyone Else

Last week, I showed four charts that all said the same thing: US stocks are a little expensive when compared to fundamentals (click here to read the article). You could fairly accuse me of saying the same thing this week, but this time, I’m using the bond market. The chart below shows the spread (or difference) between high-yield bonds. High-yield bonds, also known as junk bonds, are issued by companies… Read More

18 Mar 2024

The Return of Sound Money

There are a handful of annual outlooks that I look forward to each year, and one of them is Vanguard’s Economic and Market Outlook. The report, which you can find here, is thoughtful, thorough, and isn’t trying to sell you anything (which is high praise in this industry). They also have great titles, and this year’s was a standout: A Return to Sound Money. In their opening paragraph, the authors… Read More

18 Dec 2023

Fed Chair Powell Dons Red Suit and Fake White Beard

Halloween turned out much more treat and much less trick this year, as it ushered in an early Santa Claus rally. Since October 27th, the S&P 500 is up 14.6 percent, which is more than we hope for in a good year. For the year, the S&P 500 is up almost 25 percent. We’ve still got a few more weeks, so it’s too early to start counting your chickens, but… Read More

12 Jun 2023

The Bond Market is of Mixed Minds about a Recession

One of the things that I hear all the time these days is that the bond market and the stock market aren’t in agreement about whether a recession is coming. Usually, I hear this from someone who thinks that the bond market is right and that the stock market will correct sharply when the recession comes. And in fact, bond investors are giving strong signals of a recession from the… Read More

27 Mar 2023

Cash Matters

After the market closed on Friday afternoon, I was sitting at my desk at the office, wondering what I was going to write about this week. I’m sort of tired of the banking crisis for the moment, even though it’s not over: Deutsche Bank was in the hot seat Friday. In any case, a terrific longtime client (and reader!) called to ask some questions about money market funds, and it… Read More

15 Mar 2023

Silicon Valley Bank: Something Broke

On Monday, I wrote that I would do three days of Insights in response to the Silicon Valley Bank failure. First, I wrote about how we are protecting your cash in this environment. Next, I wrote about how the bank failure might impact the overall economy. Today, I’ll try to break down how Silicon Valley Bank (SBV) failed. I’m certain that more details will emerge in the coming days, weeks,… Read More

14 Mar 2023

Silicon Valley Bank: Something Broke

Yesterday, I wrote about how your cash is protected in the wake of Silicon Valley Bank’s (SVB) failure last week, and I promised to write about the potential impact on the overall economy today. Before I do that, I thought I would let you know that one of the two primary corporate bond funds that we use owned some SCV bonds that lost about half of their value since last… Read More

27 Feb 2023

Considering Inflation Protected Bonds (Again)

In the first quarter issue of Portfolio Insights in 2017, I wrote that Acropolis was phasing out our exposure to inflation-protected bonds, also known as TIPs (for Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities). At the time, inflation was low and stable, and although I whole heartedly supported removing TIPs, I wondered what would happen when we were hit with surprise inflation, which is when TIPs work best. Well, it took five years for… Read More