State of Affairs – Our Perspective

Most likely you are asking the same question we are. What is going on in Washington? And how and when does it end? We clearly have an acrimonious situation in Congress that has caused a government shutdown.  Coupled with the looming debt ceiling deadline of October 17th, this state of affairs is creating mounting uncertainty and great angst for investors. It must be remembered this is a political problem and most likely not an economic problem. Most economists forecast a shutdown that gets resolved within 30 days will impact 4th quarter GDP by just 0.1-0.2% and have no ongoing negative impact. In fact, our best guess is that GDP growth over the next two years will be relatively steady around the 2% level. This is certainly not robust growth but better than most developed economies.READ MORE

The 3rd Quarter Winds Down

September 2013 marks the five-year anniversary of the financial market collapse in 2008; we have certainly come a long way in those five years. With the S&P 500 and the Dow eclipsing all-time highs and interest rates having stayed low for the longest stretch in 50 years, most investors have already received quite a benefit from the fount of cheap money.  Since September 2008, a meaningful economic recovery has taken place.  Look at the results since the equity markets bottomed out in March of 2009:READ MORE

2Q 2013 Market Commentary

“For the loser now will be later to win

For the times they are a-changin’”

– Bob Dylan

With a modest improvement in unemployment, a nascent housing recovery and continued accommodative Federal Reserve, the US markets continued to generate positive returns, albeit with considerable volatility in the second half of the quarter.  In the prior quarter’s Market Commentary in the Guardian, Randall Buck suggested that a short term pullback in the US market would not be surprising.  That forecast was prescient indeed, from late May to late June, the S&P 500® had a peak to trough correction of 7.5% then posted positive returns in the final days of the quarter. READ MORE

Market Update and Outlook – 2Q 2013

In every life we have some trouble

When you worry you make it double

Don’t worry, be happy…..

Bobby McFerrin 1988

While all of the problems the market has been worrying about for the last few years have not been solved, it seems that “the can was kicked down road” enough this quarter for investors to adopt the attitude of Bobby McFerrin. Stock market investors seem to prefer environments where the politicians in Washington “can do no harm”. Early in the first quarter clashes over the debt ceiling and spending cuts were deferred until later in the year and a compromise was reached over tax increases, turning the “fiscal cliff” into more of a “fiscal slope”. With worries about fiscal policy on the backburner, the continued pumping of liquidity into the economy through the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing program and reasonable domestic economic growth, the stage was set for a market rally.  The S&P 500 continued its pattern of the three previous years with a very strong first quarter rising 10.6%. Small Cap U.S. stocks, as measured by the Russell 2000 index, also advanced 12.4%.READ MORE

Estate Planning in a Post 2012 Taxpayer Relief Act Environment

For many people, the last few months of 2012 were an estate planning headache weighing the costs and benefits of gifting to children or trusts while debating whether the Federal government would increase or decrease the lifetime unified credit.  The lifetime unified credit is the total combined amount you may transfer while alive (without incurring gift tax liability) and through your estate (without incurring estate tax liability), referred to hereinafter as the “exemption amount”.  For the better part of a decade, there has been uncertainty and the looming deadline of legal change.  After the passage of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (“Act”), we now know the rules of the game going forward.   READ MORE

Coldstream Special Event – Jason Trennert, Strategas Partners Presentation

Strategas Investment Strategy Outlook – Equities & The T.I.N.A. Factor January 2013

Coldstream had the honor of hosting Strategas Research Partners on January 23rd at Overlake GCC. Strategas’ Chief Strategist and a regular on CNBC, Jason Trennert shared his major investment themes for 2013 in a post-election environment with “fiscal cliff” uncertainty.

Watch the video: https://www.coldstream.com/events

 

Thoughts on the “Fiscal Cliff” from the Coldstream Investment Strategy Group

With the elections over, the media has turned its attention to negotiations between the U.S. House, Senate and Administration over tax policy and spending programs to avert what has been dubbed the “fiscal cliff” facing our country.  One of our research resources, Strategas Research Partners, provides a list below of the various tax extensions, programs and spending cuts set to change in 2013 if action isn’t taken between now and year end. Investors have clearly been nervous about the outcome of these negotiations; the S&P 500 stock market index has fallen (as of November 16th) more than 6% from its early October level, with the NASDAQ composite and small cap stocks down even more.READ MORE

The Impact of Monetary Policy on Investing

When making investments on behalf of our clients our views are being shaped by monetary policies both in the U.S. and abroad.

The Taylor Rule

A number of years ago John Taylor, a Stanford professor and noted economist, came up with a formula to guide how our central bank should set and change their interest rate policy in response to changing economic environments in light of fulfilling a dual mandate of low inflation and maximum employment. The formula, known as “The Taylor Rule” is based on the long term equilibrium real interest rate plus adjustments for the difference between current inflation measures and the central bank’s inflation rate target, as well as the current level of economic growth (GDP) compared to economic growth associated with full employment. Although few central banks have an explicit dual mandate, when the Taylor Rule is applied to the central bank interest rate policies of developed and developing countries the conclusions are pretty clear. Developed and developing countries have had interest rate policies that are more accommodative (interest rates lower than they should be) than is necessary to stabilize prices and promote full employment. This accommodative policy has been the case for much of the last decade.READ MORE

Choppy Waters

After a strong first quarter of the year, market sentiment in the second quarter eroded amid a variety of macro factors.  These factors included the impact of the fiscal cliff facing the US economy heading into 2013, the turmoil from the European financial crisis, economic headwinds of stagnant earnings growth in the US and a slowing in emerging markets, particularly China.  While any one of these disruptions may not have derailed the market, combined they created an environment in which capital moved out of risk assets to safer but low yielding credit instruments.READ MORE

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