21 Apr 2020

Oil Gets Weird

When US Treasury bills first traded with negative yields in 2008, I took a screen shot, printed it and put it in a folder of interesting stuff that I look back at every few years.  I never dreamed that interest rates would be negative all the way out to 10-years in Europe. Well, it turns out that it’s not just interest rates that can trade completely upside down – yesterday… Read More

15 Apr 2020

Junk Bonds in Today’s Market

Yesterday, I discussed corporate bonds, and how their yield tells us something about investor risk appetite.  You can read the article here. The same thing applies to non-investment grade bonds, which are also called ‘high yield,’ or less pleasantly, ‘junk bonds.’ The first chart below is exactly like the first chart in yesterday’s article, but also includes the yield on junk bonds (in yellow) in addition to Treasury bonds (in blue)… 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

13 Apr 2020

Coronavirus & Earnings Season

Earnings season kicks off this week, and although we’ve seen a few economic data releases, earnings announcements will offer a lot of information about how the coronavirus is impacting companies. Right now, according to FactSet, earnings are expected to be lower by 10 percent compared to the first quarter last year.  If that’s the case, it will be the largest year-over-year decline since the third quarter of 2009, when the… Read More

6 Apr 2020

Markets Stabilizing, but Still Turbulent

There is no question that we haven’t even started to see the economic impact of the coronavirus, since all of the data that we get is in arrears. For example, last week we got two important pieces of data about unemployment that told different stories.  The good news is that the unemployment rate in march was 4.4 percent, which is an increase from the previous month, but not bad. However,… Read More

30 Mar 2020

A Breath of Fresh Air

Stocks rallied in response to the fiscal and monetary policy response from the government. On the monetary side, the Federal Reserve announced that they would provide ‘unlimited’ quantitative easing (QE), and announced new facilities to support credit markets. The Fed had recently committed to buying $500 billion in Treasury bonds and $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities, and said that it would continue in the amounts needed to support smooth market… Read More

23 Mar 2020

From Inside Acropolis

Today, I thought I would cover two topics.  First, I want to update you on how Acropolis is operating, and, second, offer some thoughts on what one prominent economist is saying about the impact of the coronovirus. Regarding Acropolis, it appears that our regular disaster recover preparations were worth their time and energy.  As a Registered Investment Advisor, Acropolis is required to have a disaster recovery plan in place and… Read More

2 Mar 2020

We Planned for This

The selloff was mostly driven by concerns about the spread of the coronavirus outside of China.  Although the World Health Organization (WHO) said that it was not yet a pandemic, it increased its risk assessment from ‘high’ to ‘very high.’ Although the bond market received less media attention, the results were equally dramatic.  For reference, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury on January 31st was 1.51 percent.  On Friday,… Read More

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