13 May 2019

Trade Troubles

As noted above, the big story last week was about the on-again-off-again trade deal between the US and China. It’s impossible to know where the deal goes from here, but the options are basically as follows: Talks Continue.  The negotiation deadline could be extended as it was before with tariffs frozen and additional sanctions possible.  The status quo should be stabilizing for markets for a while, despite the policy uncertainty…. 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

18 Mar 2019

Risk & Volatility

Using the words ‘risk’ and ‘volatility’ interchangeably is one of the bad habits of many financial professionals, myself included.  When pressed, we know better, but we make this mistake all of the time nonetheless. Merriam-Webster has four definitions of risk as a noun, two of which are applicable here: ‘the possibility of loss or injury,’ and ‘the chance that an investment (such as a stock or commodity) will lose value.’ Volatility, according to Merriam-Webster,… Read More

11 Feb 2019

Why Bother with International Stocks?

According to data from Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA), the value of the US stock market at year-end was worth $28.1 trillion – about 55 percent of the market value for all of the world’s stocks, which totals $51.2 trillion. Developed international stocks are worth $17.4 trillion in aggregate (34.0 percent), and emerging markets stocks are worth $5.7 trillion (11.0 percent). In theory, passive investors should allocate their portfolio accordingly. In… Read More

14 Jan 2019

Is the Market Rigged?

When I was in college, I read Liar’s Poker, by Michael Lewis.  It’s the true story of Lewis’ job out of college on the trading floor at Soloman Brothers, the most powerful bond trading firm in the world at that time. Many of the characters like John Meriwether, Lewis Reneri, and John Thain are still staples of the financial media, but no one became more famous than Lewis himself. He’s… Read More

7 Jan 2019

Mr. Market Evaluates Macro Data

The market rebounded firmly from yesterday’s slide, with several macro developments in focus. The market was positive on comments from Fed Chair Powell that the Fed will be ‘patient’ as the economy evolves, and that it is listening to the market’s concerns (Powell put anyone?). Participating in a joint interview with former Fed chairs Yellen and Bernanke at the American Economic Association conference in New York, Fed Chair Powell said… Read More

24 Dec 2018

Ba Humbug!

Let’s talk about the week that was, as the S&P 500 fell -7.03 percent, on top of the losses of 5.71 percent over the previous two weeks.  All told, the loss for the S&P 500 is now -17.54 percent from the all-time high set on September 20th. Although I don’t follow the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) closely, I know that many of you do, in part because that’s what’s… Read More

17 Dec 2018

What’s Driving the Market Lower?

Stocks are suffering for two basic reasons: slowing global growth and tightening central bank policy.  While both of these rationales are true, they’re also very generic. Therefore, I thought it would be interesting to look at the big sectors driving the market performance and try to describe what’s happening in each one for a little more granularity. There are 11 sectors, and I won’t be discussing all of them, because… Read More

3 Dec 2018

As The World Turns, Sometimes Quickly

Last week, I said that the stock market had three big questions for the Federal Reserve and its chair Jay Powell.  You can read the full article here, but the questions were as follows: What is the course of interest rates? What will happen with the Fed’s balance sheet? Will the Fed support the stock market, as it has in the recent past? This past week saw a major market… Read More

26 Nov 2018

The Market to the Fed: We’ve Got Three Big Questions

Stocks have been rocky since the start of the fourth quarter, and while investors are worried about a few things from tech stocks to crude oil to junk bonds, but I think the primary concerns are interest rates and the Federal Reserve. There are three huge questions on the table.  First, how high will the Fed raise short term interest rates?  Second, what is the Fed going to do with… Read More