19 Sep 2022

Core Inflation Knocks Market

Stocks sold off sharply this week, as noted above, mostly because markets had anticipated good news on the inflation front and didn’t get it. When I first saw the release, I thought it looked pretty good because the headline rate of inflation was only a tenth of one percent for the month, which brought the rolling one-year rate down to 7.8 percent.  While 7.8 percent is still far too high,… Read More

29 Aug 2022

The Word From Jackson Hole

In the 1970s, the Federal Reserve Board of Kansas City put on a series of three-day symposiums and invited economists, central bankers, and journalists to the Great American West to discuss the day’s topics. Former Fed Chair Paul Volker, who famously broke the back of inflation, liked to fly fish, so he steered the conference to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in 1981, where it’s stayed ever since. The event became a… Read More

15 Aug 2022

Fed Tightening and Stocks

While inflation may or may not have peaked, Federal Reserve officials are still talking about raising interest rates. Several Fed officials called for rate hikes through 2023, and St. Louis Fed President said that the overnight rate should be four percent by the end of this calendar year (it’s currently between 2.25 and 2.50 percent). Although the Fed is already raising rates, a process also known as tightening, I wondered… Read More

1 Aug 2022

Patriots for a Weaker Dollar

I sometimes include changes in the dollar in the market summary that precedes the data table above. I cover the dollar less and less, though, because it’s so abstract. That said, the dollar has been immensely strong recently, and it’s impacting our portfolios. Any patriot likes the sound of a strong currency – after all, a strong currency should reflect a strong country. And a weak or debased currency is… Read More

25 Jul 2022

Looking at Inflation, Backwards and Forwards

Inflation is hard to measure, which is why there are many ways to measure it. In addition to the Consumer Price Inflation (CPI) indexes that I’ve discussed in recent months, there are also Producer Price Indexes (PPI), the Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) indexes, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) purchased price index, the GDP price index, and the GDP Price Deflator index. Oh my! While I don’t intend for this letter… 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

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