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Last week provided a vivid example of the powerful forces currently influencing stock prices.  On Monday and Tuesday, prices rose, reaching all-time highs on some market indexes.  Despite underlying fundamental conditions that have historically corresponded with far lower valuation levels, short-term traders continued to buy even the smallest price dips.  After more than eight years […]

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The first quarter marked a continuation of the behavior characteristic of the stock market and economy for the better part of the past several years.  Stock prices sustained their post-election rally through the end of February, rising over 7% in the year’s first two months, then giving back a bit more than 2½ % to […]

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A friend sent me second-hand notes of a recent talk by Dr. Arthur Laffer at the University of San Diego and requested my comments.  I sent him the following. One quick anecdote.  When I headed a not-for-profit consulting office in the late-1970s in Washington, DC, a politically connected contact of mine asked if there were […]

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The year 2016 was a year like few others.  In the hours immediately following the closing of the polls in November, major stock indexes were trading below 2015 year-end levels.  As sentiment turned on a dime from fear of a Trump presidency to celebration of the prospect for new business-friendly policies, stock prices surged over […]

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The powerful post-election stock market rally has turned a great many skeptics into hopeful, if not confident, speculators.  And while momentum should never be discounted, there are numerous reasons to pay close attention to contrasting risk and reward possibilities. Events of the past several months—the Brexit vote, the Trump election and the Italian referendum— have […]

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At our annual client conference on October 6th, we were pleased to host a large number of guests.  I presented what I believe to be the most important issues I have addressed in my 47 years in the investment business.  While I will reprise those comments here in necessarily abridged form, we would be pleased […]

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Notwithstanding brief periods of weakness, both stock and bond markets have experienced remarkable success for more than seven years running. Through that period, those who have continued to highlight various dangers as reason for caution have been perceived as boys who cried “wolf”.  Copious quantities of newly printed money have flooded the equity and fixed […]

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Almost all investors have at least a general familiarity with the long-term performance record of stocks, bonds and cash equivalents. Over the 90-year span from the end of 1925 to year-end 2015, common stocks provided an average annual total return of 10.0%; Intermediate U.S. Government Bonds 5.3%; and risk-free U.S. Treasury Bills 3.5%. All this […]

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The historic volatility evident since mid-2014 was even more extreme in this year’s first quarter. The dramatic market decline in last year’s third quarter was followed by an equally dramatic fourth quarter rally. An almost identical decline and rally were compressed into the first three months of 2016. Following the worst start to a year […]

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Reduce the Fed’s Mandate

March 31st, 2016

Why do we refuse to call absurdity absurd? Meeting after meeting, news conference after news conference, it becomes increasingly apparent that we have conferred on the Fed Chair the role of economic and securities market orchestrator. Markets typically tip-toe into Fed announcements only to explode into paroxysms of volume as algos move prices violently – […]

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