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.

The 4-Letter “C” Word for Investors: Cash

Recently, many readers have asked me about where the market is, as they are worried about what to do with their portfolios. The gentleman behind the grill at the café where I get breakfast, who knows what I do, has the same questions for me. Advisors want to know what I think about gold as a risk reducer. Almost every day for the past couple of weeks, I have heard about the nervousness. People are getting scared.

Posted: August 17, 2017, 5:33 pm

How Not to Be Wrong, by Jordan Ellenberg: A Book Review

Yesterday, I wrote about mistakes I’ve made in the past and how I am using that experience to avoid being as wrong—at least in the same way—in the future. So, you can certainly see why a book with “How Not to Be Wrong” as the title appeals to me. The subtitle, “The Power of Mathematical Thinking,” is also attractive, as math is one of the great organizing principles of my profession. On the face of it, this sounds like exactly what anyone in my position should be looking for.

Posted: August 16, 2017, 5:19 pm

Identifying My Mistakes (and What I Did About Them)

I received a really interesting e-mail from one of our advisors the other day. He asked me to identify instances when I had been completely wrong about something, why I had made the mistakes, and what I had learned from them. He was looking for ways to better himself when it came to thinking about the future—a goal I totally endorse.

Posted: August 15, 2017, 7:34 pm

Monday Update: Inflation Low, Not Dropping Further

Last week, the only major economic report was on consumer prices, released on Friday. Overall, this month’s data suggests that inflation remains low but is not dropping further. Therefore, the Fed will remain watchful, and it isn’t likely to increase rates in September but may well start the balance sheet reduction program.

Posted: August 14, 2017, 5:23 pm

Appearance on CNBC's Power Lunch, August 11, 2017 [Video]

After three consecutive days of market declines fueled by tensions with North Korea, the major U.S. indices were up on Friday. Is recent performance simply normal market action, or is it a sign of something worse to come? 

Posted: August 11, 2017, 9:02 pm

Is This Normal?

Events of the past couple of days have me thinking about the entire concept of normal. “Normal,” by definition, means “usual, average, or typical.” It’s a good definition. But when you actually apply it to what we see around us, that definition makes you consider whether the current “normal” meets those conditions—and thus deserves the term.

Posted: August 11, 2017, 7:42 pm

North Korea and the Markets: Should We Be Worried?

After a dip and recovery yesterday, the markets were down this morning. It is clear that the developing situation between the U.S. and North Korea is rattling financial markets. Should we be worried? If so, what should we do?

Posted: August 10, 2017, 7:40 pm

10 Years Later: Looking Back at the 2007 Financial Crisis

Ten years ago today, the global financial system started to crack with the decision by the French bank BNP Paribas to block withdrawals from hedge funds that invested in U.S. mortgage securities. That, as we now know, led to a widening crisis of confidence over what securities were really worth, which in turn called into question the basic solvency of many financial institutions. Unable to know who was safe—or what collateral was worth—the financial system went into gridlock, leading to the crisis we have been recovering from ever since.

Posted: August 9, 2017, 8:03 pm

Monthly Market Risk Update: August 2017

Market risks come in three flavors: recession risk, economic shock risk, and risks within the market itself. Let’s take a closer look at all three to assess what the risk levels look like this month.

Posted: August 8, 2017, 8:26 pm

Monday Update: Strong Jobs Suggest Recovery Continues

We saw a wide range of economic news last week, including a detailed look at consumer income and spending; business confidence in both the manufacturing and service sectors; the international trade report; and, most important, the July jobs report. While there are some areas of concern, the jobs report suggests that the recovery continues.

Posted: August 7, 2017, 6:40 pm

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