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Category Archives: Economy and Markets

Change in China and What it Means for Investors

Last week’s economic reports from China for July added fuel to the fiery debate over whether China’s economy is slowing rapidly, possibly forming a sharp “hard landing,” or slowing more gradually and likely forming a more shallow dip or “soft landing,” which could already be stabilizing. This debate focuses primarily on the pace of the decline and all sides assume an eventual rebound. However, the debate misses the point…

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Change in China and What it Means for Investors

Measuring Economic Expansion

The U.S. economy is now in the fifth year of the 12th economic recovery (or expansion) since the end of World War II. It is already the sixth-longest expansion and would have to last another year to become the fifth longest…

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Measuring Economic Expansion

Revisiting the Recovery

Last week, financial markets absorbed a nearly unprecedented amount of information on the health of the economy and corporate America. It was just the eighth week in the past 708 (since January 2000) that the U.S. Department of Labor’s monthly labor market report, the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) monthly Report on Business, the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) statement and the first look at gross domestic product (GDP) for the prior quarter were all released in the same week. In general, the equity market took the data deluge in stride, with far less volatility than it had seen in the past when those four key economic events occurred in the same week…

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Revisiting the Recovery

Summer of Love

It has been a summer of love for the stock market. As the temperatures heated up, so did the stock market. From June 24 to August 2, 2013, the S&P 500 Index rose 9%, pushing stocks up about 20% for the year. The last time we saw stocks perform the way they have this year in both pattern and magnitude was…

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Summer of Love

Under the Surface

Stocks in Europe have bounced about 9.7%, measured by the performance of the MSCI Europe Index in dollars, from their low point of a little over a month ago. This is ahead of the gain of 7.5% in the U.S. stocks in the S&P 500 Index over the same period. Several recent surveys and economic data points appear to have renewed a sense of optimism over Europe’s economic future and lifted European stocks. Last week, four of these grabbed investors’ attention…

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Under the Surface

Midsummer Madness

Eight times a year, the outcome of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting becomes the focal point for market participants. Four times each year, the first look at the health of the economy in the prior quarter (via the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s (BEA) report on gross domestic product [GDP]), dominates the headlines. Similarly, at the start of each month, the Report on Business from the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) and the monthly labor market report from the U.S. Department of Labor are the centerpieces of any trading week. This week (July 29 – August 2, 2013), all four of these key events are on the docket…

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Midsummer Madness

Beige Book: Window on Main Street

 The latest edition of the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) Beige Book, released on July 17, 2013, described the economy as increasing at a modest-to-moderate pace, with little wage or inflation pressures. Housing and commercial real estate were mentioned as key drivers of growth. The report, along with comments made by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke at his semi-annual Monetary Policy Testimony to Congress last week…..

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Beige Book: Window on Main Street

Real and Sustainable: An Update

Just prior to the release of the May 2013 employment, report, we wrote in our June 3, 2013, Weekly Economic Commentary: Real and Sustainable, that in the coming months…

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Real and Sustainable: An Update

The Right Recipe for Stocks

The summer means cookouts. The recipe for success is usually simple: take a basic ingredient, add some characteristic flavors, and apply some heat. The recipe for stock market investing success may be as simple as taking the S&P 500 and adding the characteristics provided by buybacks as the market heats up in the second half of the year. Some characteristics to consider for a good core U.S. stock portfolio for the second half include…

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The Right Recipe for Stocks

Mid-Year Outlook

The investment landscape for the first half of 2013 has proven to be a tough one to navigate. And this is likely to continue through the second half of this year. There is a lot of rocky terrain and potentially some surprises ahead that investors need to prepare for. The performance of the markets is likely to converge in the second half of the year on a path that likely holds…

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Mid-Year Outlook