Economy

August 13, 2020

Making Fantastic Lemonade from Covid’s Lemons

You are living through, and surviving, one of the most tumultuous times in World History. Your schedule has been upended. The amount of change you are experiencing in your life is most likely at it’s peak. Many of you, or someone you know, has likely experienced a huge career impact. Vacations have been uprooted and re-booked some time in the future. The way kids experience school is completely changing. We have no sports. You get the gist. It’s easy to focus on the negative. Let’s spin this puppy around and find the upside. The amount of increased family time has been incredible for many […]
July 30, 2020

When the S&P 500 is Really the S&P 5

One of the most perplexing aspects of our investment world is how market summaries you generally see on television and websites can mislead us about the health of the stock market. Today is an extreme case in point. Chances are, you have seen headlines telling us that the Nasdaq Composite index is up about 17% for the year, testing new highs every other day or so. The S&P 500 index is almost flat so far this year, but is not far from its late February high. The markets are moving ahead smoothly, or even robustly, right? As it turns out, most of the gains […]
July 16, 2020

Holding Colleges Accountable

A report from First Trust Advisors, L.P.: It’s time to think about something other than COVID, statues, the election, and defunding the police. How about higher education? Specifically, student loans and grants. Just like the bipartisan efforts to making housing more affordable, these programs were well-intentioned. But, also like the housing market, they have led to serious problems. The US has about $1.5 trillion in student debt outstanding, more than subprime mortgage loans in 2007. We’re not worried these loans will cause a collapse in the economy, but they are a major burden that must be dealt with at some […]
June 25, 2020

Saving and the Shutdown

A report from First Trust Advisors, L.P.: Turning off the global economic light-switch, and then turning it partially back on, has sent shockwaves through economic data that, while anticipated, have been jaw-dropping in both directions. For example, US retail sales plunged a combined 21.8% in March and April, before rising 17.7% in May. Manufacturing production fell 20.0% in March and April, before gaining 3.8% in May. Non-farm payrolls shrank 22.1 million in March and April, followed by a gain of 2.5 million in May. The savings rate surged to 33% in April, the highest rate ever recorded with current metrics. […]
June 18, 2020

The Fed is Committed to Low Rates

The one key takeaway from last week’s Fed meeting is that monetary policymakers are set to keep short-term interest rates near zero for as far as the eye can see. Not forever, but at least until 2023. Keep this in mind in the week ahead, as we get more reports confirming the economic recovery started back in May. The Federal Reserve conveyed that commitment in a few different ways. First, and most important, was the quote from Wednesday’s post-meeting press conference with Fed Chairman Jay Powell that the Fed is not even “thinking about thinking about raising rates.” In other […]
June 12, 2020

Loose and Staying Loose (a report from First Trust Advisors, L.P.)

The most important takeaway from today’s Fed meeting is that policymakers don’t expect to raise short-term interest rates until at least 2023.  The Federal Reserve’s “dot plot” shows where policymakers think short-term interest rates will be at the end of this year, 2021, and 2022 and these show that no members of the rate setting committee – literally, none – think rates will go up this year or in 2021 and that only a small minority thinks they’ll rise in 2022.  Moreover, the median estimate among policymakers is that the unemployment rate will finish 2022 at 5.5%. In the aftermath […]