5 Feb 2024

Presidential Elections & Stocks

A lot of people are worried about the effect of the Presidential election on the stock market. It seems like no matter who you support, you’re worried that the other candidate will ruin everything. I have no intention of making any political comments of any kind, and the best way for me to allay any concerns without making half of the folks upset is to take a look at data…. Read More

29 Jan 2024

Trading Against Cramer Just Got Harder

Last March, I wrote about a new pair of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that track the bets of Jim Cramer, the host of Mad Money, known as much for his bright lights, loud sounds, and yelling as he is for his investment advice or track record (here’s a link to my article). One of the ETFs would short his stock picks, betting that the picks would fall, and the other went… Read More

22 Jan 2024

S&P 500 Enjoys Record (Close Back in December)

Woot Woot! We can surely celebrate that the S&P 500 is back at record levels as of last Friday. I updated a few charts (below), and noticed something interesting – actual investors in the S&P 500 were back in the money in mid-December thanks to dividends. I am celebrating as much as the next guy about the price improvement, but dividends are part of the equation, but they are often… Read More

16 Jan 2024

Bitcoin: Coming to an ETF Near You

I first wrote about Bitcoin in 2017 and concluded that it probably wasn’t a good investment, but maybe my grandkids would be mad at me because I didn’t buy them a coin for $4,300. A little more than six years later, I’m a little mad at myself as the price is about ten times today.┬áBut I’m not actually mad because I don’t see it as a good investment, even though… Read More

8 Jan 2024

Amid Soft-Landing Talk, Leading Indicators Still Signal Recession

Last year at this time, I was heartily in the camp that the US would enter a recession in 2023. I’m always fine being wrong (it happens more than I care to admit), but I’m especially happy that we didn’t enter a recession. Part of my thinking is a chart that we will see a later in this Insight that shows the drawdown of Leading Economic Indicators. I won’t bury… Read More

2 Jan 2024

Happy New Year

Perhaps the subject line should have read: Happy Old Year! Today will be brief but take a moment to look at the charts below, which show the return for various stock and bond market indexes in the fourth quarter and for the year that was. The worst major asset class return was just shy of 10 percent, and the best was more than 26 percent – a result that almost… 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

11 Dec 2023

Visualizing the Labor Landscape

Probably not surprisingly, I follow the major economic data releases, but I often look at charts because I find the charts provide useful context about the new information. Take the nonfarm payrolls release last Friday. Everyone seems pretty excited about the data because it beat expectations and suggests that the economy is holding up reasonably well despite much higher interest rates. The chart below shows the monthly nonfarm payrolls for… Read More

4 Dec 2023

Why We Fear Inflation

I wasn’t sure what I was going to write about this week and thought about simply starting with a picture of inflation, as measured by the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure, the core Personal Consumption Expenditure, or PCE. Like the core Consumer Price Index, core PCE strips out food and energy prices because they are so volatile, but don’t really change the numbers of the long run. Said, another way, they… Read More

27 Nov 2023

Fooling Yourself with Private Market Math

Private investments, or simply ‘privates’ in the current vernacular, are among the hottest investments in recent years. Private investments, which are often considered one of the most prominent alternative investments, means owning securities that aren’t publicly traded. Private markets can include equity (stocks), credit (bonds), and real estate. Each major group has subcategories. Private equity can be venture capital, buyout equity, or growth equity. Credit can mean direct loans, mezzanine… Read More