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.

Monday Update: Industrial Production Strong, Retail and Housing Sales Slowing

Last week was a busy one for economic news, with a wide range of data from across the economy. This week will give us a final view of housing for the month, as well as whether business investment continues to improve. We’ll also get a preliminary look at how the economy performed in the third quarter.

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Posted: October 22, 2018, 5:40 pm

Appearance on CNBC's Nightly Business Report, October 18, 2018 [Video]

Yesterday, I appeared on CNBC's Nightly Business Report (my segment begins at 4:38) to discuss the global issues weighing on the market, as well as their potential impact on U.S. investors. Listen in to learn more.

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Posted: October 19, 2018, 6:07 pm

Thinking About October 19, 1987: Black Monday

Lots of things happened in 1987. Among others, I graduated from college. But, if you are in the financial industry at all, the mention of 1987 calls only one thing to mind: Black Monday (October 19, 1987), the day the stock market crashed. In many ways, this was the biggest nightmare of many stock investors. So, it is no wonder it continues to cast such a long shadow. In light of the recent market volatility, I think it makes sense to reflect on what happened 31 years ago today and what it might mean for investors today.

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Posted: October 19, 2018, 5:14 pm

Looking Beyond U.S. Markets

I am in the process of writing my speech for Commonwealth’s National Conference in November. I have decided to focus on really understanding what is going on with the trade war and what that might mean for investing. That understanding, of course, requires a fairly deep dive into both what is happening and where the war started.

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Posted: October 18, 2018, 7:44 pm

Market Volatility: The Real Lesson

I don’t get a lot of panicked calls and e-mails when the market melts up, like it did yesterday. When the market rises 2 percent, the sense seems to be that it’s just the universe working out the way it should. But when the market drops 2 percent? Something must be out of whack! And yet, both are signaling the same thing: the markets are struggling to put a price on future uncertainty. When markets bounce around that much, it is because there is real disagreement about what the future could hold and what that means for corporate profits and, therefore, for stock prices.

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Posted: October 17, 2018, 4:47 pm

What’s Next for the Markets?

After declines in the markets last week, the question at the start of this week was whether they would continue. The news from yesterday was, frankly, not all that encouraging. Markets did try to rally, only to fall at the end of the day. Nonetheless, there are reasons to believe that the markets are stabilizing and may even be headed higher over the next couple of weeks.

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Posted: October 16, 2018, 4:03 pm

Monday Update: Inflation Steady, Confidence Pulls Back

Last week was mostly about prices, although we finished with a look at consumer confidence. This is a busy week, with a wide range of data from across the economy.

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Posted: October 15, 2018, 7:15 pm

Time to Pay Attention to What the Market Is Telling Us

We had another bad day yesterday, with markets pulling back even further. This big decline, for the second day in a row, sent fear levels even higher. Overall, the drop so far has been about 7 percent for the S&P 500. This is a big loss over two days, especially by recent standards.

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Posted: October 12, 2018, 7:17 pm

A Bad Day in the Market: Is It a False Alarm?

Yesterday was a bad day in the market. The Dow was down more than 800 points (800 points!), and the S&P was down almost 100 points (100 points!). Surely, this is the beginning of the end.

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Posted: October 11, 2018, 4:26 pm

Monthly Market Risk Update: October 2018

Market risks come in three flavors: recession risk, economic shock risk, and risks within the market itself. So, what do these risks look like for October? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers.

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Posted: October 10, 2018, 7:02 pm

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