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.
With the Mueller report scheduled to be released later today (as of this writing), preceded by the press conference with the attorney general this morning, the newspapers are on high alert. This report is being billed as a potential constitutional crisis and, if it doesn’t approach that level (as it almost certainly will not), as the beginning of the next round of political wars. Both sides have already started dialing up the rhetoric, without even really seeing what is in the report itself. So it goes.
In my recent post announcing my humble intention to beat the market, I intentionally begged a lot of questions. Most notably, what does it actually mean to beat the market? I did make a nod in that direction, pointing out that defining the problem properly is a prerequisite for solving it. Nonetheless, that question is what we will take a closer look at today.
We are now entering earnings season. After a great deal of worry and hyperventilating, we are starting to see some real data on how companies are doing this year. So far, the news looks good (at least according to FactSet).
Last week was a busy one for economic news, with detailed looks at inflation, some color on the Fed’s take on interest rates, and a consumer confidence update. This week, we’ll see data on housing and retail sales.
I enjoy what I do. As an economic and market analyst, I get to play the most complicated and highest-stakes game there is—and get paid for it. Plus, I have the chance to spend quite a bit of time looking at, and thinking about, a wide range of data about pretty much everything. As such, there are a lot of ideas floating around that I flag and plan to come back to at some point.
This morning, I appeared on Fox Business Network's Varney & Co. to discuss the market rally. Listen in to learn more.
I do quite a bit of speaking around the country, both to industry groups and to clients—the investors who really are the reason I do what I do. In general, the main topic is how to worry effectively about the markets and economy, including what I look at and why. Anyone who reads this blog knows the answers, as they appear every month in the economic risk factor and market risk pieces. But many clients aren’t into the whole story and want to know just the basics. So, that is what I try to give them.
It’s time for our monthly look at market risk factors. Just as with the economy, there are several key factors that matter for the market in determining both the risk level and the immediacy of the risk. Although stocks have largely recovered from their recent pullback, given valuations and recent market behavior, it is useful to keep an eye on these factors.
The primary worry over the past month has been employment: was the very weak February job number a one-off or a sign of something worse? Fortunately, it looks like the former, which eases the primary risk. Unfortunately, we saw the other risk factors continue to trend down, suggesting that the economy might well be slowing even more than expected. Here, one key point at month-end was the brief inversion of the yield curve, which raised concerns.
Last week was a busy one for economic news, including looks at retail sales, business confidence and investment, and the all-important jobs report. Although the data continues to trend down, the most significant reports—especially on employment—continue to signal growth. This week, we’ll see Fed meeting minutes and the latest numbers on consumer confidence.
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