The Independent Market Observer

The Independent Market Observer

Commonwealth’s chief investment officer, Brad McMillan, provides insight on the economic, market, and political events of the day—both domestically and on a global scale.

Sell in May and Go Away?

As April draws to a close, the old adage “Sell in May and go away” may be on some investors’ minds. The saying refers to the tendency of markets to underperform during the period from May to October (as compared with better performance from November through April), advising us to sell and wait for brighter days ahead.

Posted: April 28, 2017, 6:48 pm

The Trump Tax Plan: What You Need to Know

The big news today is the White House's tax plan, which proposes to cut taxes across the board, relieve millions of people from the burden of paying income taxes, and make filing much simpler and easier—all while keeping the budget in balance (or at least not making the situation worse).

Posted: April 27, 2017, 4:56 pm

Political Risk Update: Responding to Reader Comments

Yesterday, readers wrote in with a couple of very good questions about risk.

Posted: April 26, 2017, 7:17 pm

Political Risk Update: France and the U.S. Budget

With Emmanuel Macron through to the second round, the French election is (largely) off the table as a systemic risk. Polls show Macron well ahead of Marine Le Pen of the National Front, and the likelihood is that the next French president will be a pro-European centrist rather than an anti-European populist.

Posted: April 25, 2017, 8:37 pm

Monday Update: Despite Some Weakness, Growth Continues

Last week’s economic reports showed some moderation of growth, with substantial divergence between the headline figures and the underlying details in several cases. That said, the general levels of activity remain expansionary. Overall, it was a pretty positive week, but not one that significantly changes expectations going forward.

Posted: April 24, 2017, 6:06 pm

When Assessing the Economy, Mind the Gaps

A friend of mine, a construction manager, once taught me a valuable lesson about evaluating the quality of a building: examine the edges, the corners, and where one material connects to another. Handling the transitions well requires skill, expertise, and time—and not all builders are able to pull it off.

Posted: April 21, 2017, 6:26 pm

With French Election, Potential for Economic Shake-Up

If the U.S. economy isn’t bleeding—at least not a lot, yet—then what is? I closed yesterday’s post with the idea that Europe is the area we should be watching, and the place to start is in France.

Posted: April 20, 2017, 7:06 pm

Why “Run in Circles, Scream and Shout” Is the Wrong Response

One of the many blessings of having a son is that my life is rarely calm. Drama is a regular guest at the McMillan household whenever anything, however minor, happens. I do not always greet Drama with what he would consider an appropriate response, though. In fact, he usually gets a look and then a question: “Is it bleeding?” If, rarely, the answer is yes, I then ask, “Is it bleeding a lot?” If not, we discuss how the adage “When in danger or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout” is always the wrong response.

Posted: April 19, 2017, 7:43 pm

Politics, Taxes, and Other Fun Stuff

Today is tax day here in Massachusetts, as we got an extra day due to Patriots’ Day, a state holiday. The holiday brings with it a number of special events, including the Boston Marathon, as well as reenactments of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. My wife, son, and I actually saw the local militia marching to battle yesterday morning, along the same route they did more than 200 years ago.

Politics and revolution, therefore, are in the air, and the events both here and abroad keep capturing my attention.

Posted: April 18, 2017, 7:13 pm

Monday Update: Retail Sales Disappoint Despite Strong Sentiment

Last week’s data brought more of what we’ve been seeing lately: strong sentiment but weaker results. Despite some disappointments, the general levels of activity remain expansionary, though the headline declines do bear watching. That said, I don’t think last week’s news should significantly change expectations going forward.

Posted: April 17, 2017, 5:01 pm

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logo2 This communication strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of CO, CT, FL, MI, OH, PA, WI. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services. Investments are not FDIC- or NCUA-insured, are not guaranteed by a bank/financial institution, and are subject to risks, including possible loss of the principal invested. Securities and advisory services offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®. Member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor.

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