Slowdown Ahead

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 12, 2022

ARE YOU TRAVELING for the holidays? There’s good news for drivers. Average retail pump prices have dropped below $3.30 a gallon, with many states seeing prices under $3. This positive development for consumers—including those off to grandma’s house this season—comes as wholesale gasoline futures fall to their lowest level in a year.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in early 2022, and just in time for the busy U.S. summer driving season, gas prices notched all-time highs near $5 per gallon.

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Gloom Is Good

Mike Zaccardi  |  Dec 5, 2022

I HAVE CHEERY investment news: Most Wall Street strategists are bearish on stocks. Last week, Bloomberg reported that 2023’s projected change in the S&P 500 by the best and brightest forecasters is negative. That hasn’t happened since at least 1999. Consider today’s bleak consensus to be a contrarian indicator. It could set the bar low enough for a decent 2023.
If you flip on financial TV or peruse investment magazines at this time of year,

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Not Contagious

Mike Zaccardi  |  Nov 21, 2022

THE FTX FALLOUT IS something to behold. It’s said that the now-bankrupt cryptocurrency exchange has liabilities that could end up being twice what Enron owed when it collapsed more than two decades ago. The hubris of Sam Bankman-Fried (also known as SBF), founder of FTX, is something all investors can learn from.
It was just a few months ago that Bankman-Fried was dubbed the next Warren Buffett and 2022’s version of the late 19th and early 20th century financier J.P.

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Still Too Warm

Mike Zaccardi  |  Nov 7, 2022

I’M 34 GOING ON 74. Like an old man set in his ways, I routinely prepare my own meals and rarely go out to eat. But last week, I shook things up by scarfing down some ribs at a nearby outdoor mall. I couldn’t help but notice all of the “now hiring” signs.
It’s a far cry from when I ventured to the same mall in March and April 2020. Do you remember that feeling—the uncertainty and anxiety about what life was going to look like amid the height of the pandemic?

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Walking the Highwire

Adam M. Grossman  |  Nov 6, 2022

I DON’T ENVY THE FOLKS in Washington. Last year, many accused Federal Reserve policymakers of being asleep at the wheel as they downplayed the risk of rising inflation. This year, of course, it’s been the opposite: The Fed has been in overdrive, raising interest rates aggressively. So far, the Fed has pushed through six increases in a row, totaling 3.75 percentage points. Many are now criticizing the Fed for moving too quickly.
This is in contrast to the challenge the Fed had been dealing with before COVID.

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Almost Done

Mike Zaccardi  |  Oct 17, 2022

LAST WEEK’S INFLATION report did the bulls no favors. The latest reading on the Consumer Price Index showed a larger-than-expected September rise, mostly due to housing data, which tend to respond slowly to higher interest rates. Then came Friday’s University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Survey, which showed an unexpected jump in inflation expectations over the next year and next five years. Result: Bond yields climbed and stocks finished the week lower.
But there’s also good news: Among economists,

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Hooray for Inflation?

Jonathan Clements  |  Oct 16, 2022

IF YOU’RE AN OWNER of financial assets, inflation doesn’t offer much reason to cheer. Lost 16% on your bonds this year? Once you factor in inflation, the hit to your bond portfolio’s real, inflation-adjusted value would be more than 20%.
By contrast, if you’re a borrower, inflation is a bonanza. Suppose you owe $2,000 every month to the mortgage company on your fixed-rate loan. As inflation climbs, your mortgage payment stays the same—but, if your income rises with inflation,

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Hoping for Despair

Mike Zaccardi  |  Oct 10, 2022

THERE’S AN INVESTOR sentiment chart that gets dusted off and passed around after long periods of market malaise. Using the chart, active investors aim to identify when people have given up on stocks, so they can buy shares at the point of maximum pessimism.
Looking back, it appears that late 2021 marked the chart’s “euphoria” phase, and we’ve since been descending through the stages that follow—anxiety, denial, fear and so on. Which phase are we currently in?

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Failure Is an Option

Kenyon Sayler  |  Oct 5, 2022

I RECENTLY LISTENED to author JL Collins on the Bogleheads Live podcast. Collins mentioned several times that stock declines never last. He isn’t alone in this assertion. You can read any number of books or articles that talk about the need to remain invested during stock market downturns because the market always recovers.
Perhaps it’s my training as an engineer. We’re taught to think about failure rates and probabilities of failure—which brings me to an uncomfortable notion: Just because the U.S.

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Back to Fundamentals

Jonathan Clements  |  Oct 1, 2022

WHAT DO ALL BEAR markets have in common? By definition, stock prices must fall at least 20%. But often, that’s pretty much where the similarity ends.
For instance, ponder the differences between 2020’s one-month, 34% plunge in the S&P 500 and this year’s grinding nine-month descent, which saw the S&P 500 yesterday close 25% below its early January high.
The 2020 slump had folks fretting about the economic shutdown and possible deflation, while this year’s big worry is surging inflation amid a 53-year low in unemployment.

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Save the Savers

Howard Rohleder  |  Sep 25, 2022

I LEARNED IN COLLEGE economics classes that there’s a time value to money. A dollar today is worth more than the promise of a dollar a year from now. Result? If you’re going to promise me a future dollar, you have to make it worth my while by paying me some interest.
This was certainly true in 1980, when I graduated with an economics and management major. Admittedly, inflation was even higher back then.

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Give It Time

Mike Zaccardi  |  Sep 19, 2022

WHILE THE S&P 500’s price-earnings (P/E) ratio has little predictive power if you look at returns over the next 12 months, it’s more important if you stretch out your time horizon to five years and beyond. What you pay has a significant impact on your likely long-run return—and that should be comforting for today’s buyers.
Recently, WisdomTree Global Chief Investment Officer Jeremy Schwartz shared a compelling graphic showing P/E ratios for dozens of U.S.

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Hoping for a Repeat

Mike Zaccardi  |  Sep 12, 2022

MIDTERM ELECTIONS are less than two months away. The political landscape is uncertain and always fraught with heated opinions—but I won’t dive into that end of the pool. Instead, consider how the stock market might perform in the coming months and into 2023.
While technical analysis—using past price data to infer future prices—is controversial and dismissed by many fundamental investors, it’s hard to ignore a persistent bullish pattern that could soon repeat. Stock market history tells us that,

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Inflicting Pain

Mike Zaccardi  |  Aug 29, 2022

FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIR Jerome Powell, speaking last Friday at the Jackson Hole Economic Symposium, said that bringing down inflation will mean “some pain” for households. But what sort of pain are we talking about?
Powell and the rest of the Fed members are hoping to create “tight conditions.” That isn’t some opaque description of the economy and financial markets. Instead, the term has four specific components that help dictate Fed policy.

The U.S.

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Going Strong

Mike Zaccardi  |  Aug 8, 2022

RECESSION FEARS are fading. Second-quarter corporate profits have been better than expected. Some recent economic data show key barometers in growth mode, even as the latest GDP report confirmed a second consecutive quarter of economic contraction. Indeed, this past Friday’s hot employment report cooled the debate over whether we’re in a recession.
The pandemic upended so many facets of life and business, and we’re still feeling the effects today, as evidenced by odd swings in what are often stable economic numbers.

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