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

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

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

Entering the Final Quarter of 2012…

As we highlighted in the spring, 2012 has been a good year for the financial markets, equities in particular, and has exhibited much less overall market volatility than 2011.  Although there were no significant year-over-year gains for equity markets in calendar 2011 from the prior year, the fourth quarter strength in common stocks set the stage for a more bullish tone into 2012. Equity markets have been going up of late, thanks largely to some improvements in economic data, including  the September jobs report showed payrolls rising by 114,000 for the month as well as upward revisions in jobs growth for both August and July. More significantly, the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1% to 7.8%, its lowest level since January 20009.    READ MORE

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