Category: Commentary

28 posts categorized as "Commentary"


U.S.-China Trade Wars: Talk and Market Impact

Your diligent economic blogger is struggling to keep up with the news on the trade war front. Last week the US and China traded threats of additional proposed trade sanctions – to be imposed after the still-theoretical initial set of mutual tariffs announced earlier in April. Recall that the world’s two largest economies will soon…

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Market Questions: Less Why, More What

Given the stock market’s 10% drop over about the past two weeks, the question we’re left with now is less about “why” and more about “what.” What to do from here? First, we must keep in mind that the S&P 500 has appreciated by almost 30% in three years with little volatility and only minor…

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Bond triple whammy

US ten-year bond yields have increased about 70 basis points to 2.8% over the last several months which gotten the attention of investors.  While ancient market specimens like myself have a hard time seeing 2.8% as “high,” the change from the last several years is interesting.  There is a good argument to be made that…

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Comments on Recent Equity Market Pullback

It’s been a very long time since the stock market was the lead news story. That changed quickly as the stock market declined almost 10% (from intraday high to intraday lows) in the course of two days (2/2 ‐ 2/5/2018)—a big move, no matter how you slice it. The question everyone is asking is, “What’s…

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AI in my ETF!

Artificial intelligence continues to move into the ETF space. On October 18, 2017, the Artificial Intelligence run ETF powered by IBM’s Watson launched on the NYSE. The fund, AIEQ, is managed by EquBot and brought to market by ETF Managers Group. It’s hard to deny the lure of such an elegant concept behind an ETF in…

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Fed Outlook H2 2017

Our proprietary Astor Economic Index® is still showing good growth in the US economy. The index improved substantially this month to near its highest levels of the year. The bright spot of the economy continues to be broad labor market improvements for such a late period in the cycle. Direct measures of labor market slack…

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Why You Need to Care About This Amazon Deal

I was speaking to someone early this morning. Their exact words were “no big headlines on my phone this morning…that’s unusual”. Of course, they were referring more too political headlines, but the point was taken. Then the Amazon/Whole Foods deal hit the tape. By in large it was a surprise to see and exciting. Amazon…

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How To Tell If A Smart Beta Trade Is Crowded?

Featured in May 23, 2017 With smart beta and factor strategies growing in popularity, getting in and out of them has become a real concern for today’s investors. Are they getting too crowded? How long is too long to be in a strategy? Can I bet against these factors and make money? Deepika Sharma,…

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Weekly Drive: October 27th to October 31st, 2014

NOTE: Content was written on 11/4 and posted 11/7. Certain events already took place. I hope everyone is ready for winter. It is coming. We had our first snowflakes of the season last Friday along with massive waves on the lakefront which ruined the walking path. THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1.  Housing Pending Home…

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Weekly Drive: October 20th to October 24th, 2014

Halloween is here! There are a few more days to buy candy, carve a pumpkin, and figure out what costume to wear. Hope everyone has a safe and fun time on Friday. THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1. Housing Existing Home Sales: 5.17M vs 5.10M est. New Home Sales: 467K vs 470K est. News…

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Weekly Drive: October 14th to October 17th, 2014

THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1. Retail Sales: -0.3% vs. -0.1% est. A bit of a bummer report but also not completely unexpected considering sales were up 0.6% in August. Excluding autos, sales were still down -0.2% for the month. A look at Figure 1 shows weakness across many categories, including gasoline stations and…

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Worrying about the Wrong Things

Fever. Chills. Cold sweats. Nausea. Ebola? No, these are the classic signs of a market-induced malaise caused by rampant fear and worry over the wrong things. The market, which seemed to be itching for a downturn, scared itself into one over a rash of unconnected symptoms.  From Ebola fever (the media-induced variety), to concerns over…

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Weekly Drive: September 29th to October 10th, 2014

I am a week behind so it is time to catch up. Economic reports were sparse last week so much of the discussion there will be focused on the week prior. Financial markets will be covered for both periods. THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1. Nonfarm Payrolls: 248K vs. 215K est. We got the…

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Weekly Drive: August 18th to August 22nd, 2014

THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1. Housing – there were a lot of data points related to housing so I’ll sum them up in quick bullet points. Housing Starts: 1093K vs. 965K est. NAHB Index: 55 vs. 53 est. Building Permits: 1052K vs 1000K est. Existing Home Sales: 5.15M vs 5.02M est. Looking at…

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Weekly Drive: August 11th to August 15th, 2014

THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1. Retail Sales: 0.0% vs. 0.2% est. On a negative note, retail sales came in flat for July. Consumers appeared to slow down purchases of big ticket items as motor vehicles, furniture, appliances, and department stores all saw declines. Falling gas prices over the last month and a half should give…

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Weekly Drive: August 4th to August 8th, 2014

THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1. ISM Non-manufacturing: 58.7 vs. 56.5 est. The latest report on the service industry smashed expectations and hit the highest level in nearly a decade (December 2005). With yet another print above 50, services have expanded for 54 straight months. The new orders subset also hit decade highs with a reading…

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Weekly Drive: July 28 to August 1, 2014

Welcome to the first edition of our new weekly commentary piece. My goal is to use this forum as a way to summarize economic and market activity from the prior week while providing insight from my seat on the Investment Committee and trade desk. THE KEY ECONOMIC LANDMARKS WE PASSED 1. Q2 GDP: 4.0% vs. 3.0% est, Q1…

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Why and How to Pick Tactical for your Portfolio

This note seeks to make two points about why and how to pick a tactical manager. Section 1 shows that Tactical can provide better returns and better risk-adjusted returns than a static allocation to asset class buckets. Section 2 shows that within tactical, picking a diversified portfolio of managers is vital to achieving Tactical’s promise….

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Cleaning Up After the Party is Over: How the Fed Will End Quantitative Easing

With tapering in the air along with holiday cheer, we are getting a lot of questions about how the Fed will end its Quantitative Easing program. This note quickly reviews the QE program and then discusses how the Fed’s asset purchase program will be unwound. Our expected scenario is that sometime in the next few…

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Looking Beyond the Taper

Sometime soon the Fed will reduce its current level of asset purchases. Let’s look quickly at why the Fed will be taking that action and then move beyond that day to think about how monetary policy might evolve over 2014. Since September 2012 the Fed has been buying $85 billion per month in treasury and…

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