Industry Professional Comments This Blog section has been created for the sole reason to identify those interesting comments that have been said by industry professionals. These quotes are those that have resonated with H&S that we think all our clients would find helpful! Barron's - 2/23/20 "Goldman Sachs is now forecasting that the novel coronavirus outbreak—and the unprecedented social-distancing efforts to combat it—will punch a record 24% hole in second-quarter U.S. gross domestic product.""Markets have moved with lightning speed to price that in.""This past week alone, the Dow plummeted 4,011.64 points, or 17.3%, to 19,173.98. The S&P 500 dropped 15%, to 2,304.92, and the Nasdaq Composite fell 12.6%, to 6,879.52. ""People are selling whatever assets they have indiscriminately because they have a short-term need for dollar cash for redemptions, margin calls, collateral requirements, or whatever else.”""The Federal Reserve is pulling out all the stops to respond and smooth out stressed markets, essentially deploying its entire 2008 financial crisis playbook in the span of a little more than two weeks.""Commentators have suggested an alphabet soup of potential recovery paths: a V-shaped quick rebound? More of a U-shape that requires a slow bottoming? Maybe a W emerges, with a double-dip recession caused by the return of the coronavirus next flu season?""As for markets, they tend to move ahead of events. The turning point could be a decline in daily new cases in the U. S—which, following trends in China or South Korea, could be four to six weeks out. Or evidence that widespread testing is restoring some consumer confidence. But as the panic on Wall Street began well before the economic disruption was felt on Main Street, stocks should bottom before the economy does. It’s just too early to say when that is." Barron's - 3/16/20 "This is what a market panic feels like. But now that the storm has made landfall, it’s time for unnerved investors to sort out a few things: What just happened, why did it happen, and, most important, what should they do next. The pros have some advice: Don’t be too cautious.What just happened? The coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Saudi Arabia announced a huge output increase, sending oil prices plunging. Forrest Gump contracted the coronavirus. There are no basketball scores to check. Baseball won’t start on time this spring. And President Donald Trump declared a national emergency on Friday after announcing a European travel ban on Wednesday.""The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2,679 points, or 10.4%, to 23,185.62. The S&P 500 dropped 8.8%, to 2711.02, and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 8.2%, to 7874.88. It was one of the 20 worst weeks of all time for the Dow. ""The numbers are breathtaking. They will be talked about by our children’s children.""There are, of course, new risks for investors to discount. Some, like a pandemic, are hard to understand." Barron's 3/2/20 " All three benchmarks suffered their worst weekly drops since October 2008. To put that in perspective: The S&P 500 shed more than four months’ of gains in just seven trading days.""If the stock market had been priced for an earnings acceleration in 2020, by the end of the week it was priced for no growth.""After a tumble like that, a rally could be in the offing. After all, this isn’t the first time that an epidemic has rocked the stock market. The S&P 500 fell 15% after SARS hit the market in 2003, but was up just over 1% six months after the outbreak began. ""Others liken the coronavirus outbreak not to other epidemics but to events like 9/11. When the U.S. was attacked, the economy ground to a halt""ome 93% of S&P 500 stocks were trading below their 50-day moving averages on Thursday. When the latter has occurred, the S&P 500 has been higher three months later 78% of the time, according to Sundial Capital Research data.""he economy did, in fact, weaken over the course of 2019"“When we look at this in 20 years’ time, it will be just a blip,” Dimson says of the current selloff.Even if it doesn’t feel like one now" Barron's - 2/24/20 "We aren’t calling the end of the bull market in U.S. stocks. Yet. But the market is overbought, in Wall Street parlance. That means bullish sentiment is high and a correction is due. A 10% drop to 3000 in the S&P 500—near the index’s 200-day moving average—wouldn’t surprise seasoned traders. In fact, the market is as far away from its 200-day moving average as it has been since late 2017. (That was followed by—wait for it—a correction.)Bull markets don’t die of old age, as they say on the Street. Something has to happen to derail global growth. It could be the coronavirus outbreak in China. It could be slowing commercial construction activity in the U. S.—something Deere (DE) hinted at during its conference call on Friday.Investors ignored Deere’s warning and sent its shares up 7% in trading on Friday. Deere left its full-year earnings guidance unchanged.That’s another sign of a stock market bubble: ignoring bad news." Barron's - 2/3/20 "Like a houseguest who has overstayed his welcome, the coronavirus has been in the headlines long enough that the market couldn’t ignore it any longer—and it won’t be as easy to evict.After a 1.6% drop on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average looked ready to move on to more important things, like corporate earnings. But no. Friday came, and the market sold off with a vengeance. All told, the Dow dropped 733.70 points, or 2.53%, to 28,256.03 this past week, while the S&P 500 fell 2.1%, to 3225.52, their largest one-week declines since Aug. 2.What’s surprising is how quickly everything changed. Until Friday, most of the market damage had been contained to regions closest to the outbreak’s epicenter or to industries directly exposed to it." Barron's - 1/27/20 "A lot can change, of course. Economic growth could reaccelerate and drive inflation higher, forcing the Fed to raise rates sooner than the market expects. Fears of a recession might have petered out, but the growth slowdown we’ve been worried about is still possible. Whatever the reason, markets need to take a break at least once in a while.""he S&P 500, for instance, has gone 71 days without a 1% move in either direction, the longest such streak since Oct. 9, 2018. ""But this isn’t the dot-com bubble, and the coronavirus is unlikely to be the thing that tips the U.S. into recession.""Interest rates remain the primary underpinning for stocks, as equity valuations look stretched, except when compared with the paltry returns offered by the debt market. Much of the credit for that is owed to the world’s central banks, notably the Federal Reserve. In addition to last year’s three one-quarter percentage-point short-term rate cuts, the central bank has expanded its balance sheet by over $300 billion since September, when ructions in the repurchase-agreement market led it to inject liquidity. Since then, U.S. stocks’ value has jumped by more than $3 trillion.""What the Powell Fed won’t do is threaten the economy or bull market by letting the yield curve invert, with the 10-year note yield trading below the two-year note, writes Strategas Research Partners strategist Thomas Tzitzouris. “Powell’s pivot” last year—from planning multiple rate hikes to holding steady and ultimately cutting rates—contrasted with the actions of his predecessors, who were slow to reverse course when the yield curve inverted. " Barron's - 1/20/20 "The market’s rapid rise has been astonishing—the Dow has gained 2.8% so far in 2020, which translates into a 85% rise over the course of a full year—and has left observers searching for explanations. Some point to the phase-one trade agreement signed by the U.S. and China this past week, which will supposedly get the global economy zooming again. Others credit the Federal Reserve’s balance sheet, which has been growing, some say, because of its operations to support the repurchase-agreement market. Whatever the reasons, though, something seems off. “It feels like there is something unnatural happening now,” says Chris Harvey, head of equity and quant strategy at Wells Fargo Securities.Maybe. But there might be a simple reason for the market’s rally. Investors are responding to a set of conditions—low interest rates, muted inflation, and massive cash returns from U.S. companies—that make putting cash into stocks the most rational thing they can do.""And while stocks look expensive on just about every metric one can find—the S&P 500’s price/earnings ratio of 18.9 is the highest since the aftermath of the dot-com bubble. Yet there is one metric by which stocks still look cheap: price-to-cash returns.""A lot can change, of course. Economic growth could reaccelerate and drive inflation higher, forcing the Fed to raise rates sooner than the market expects. Fears of a recession might have petered out, but the growth slowdown we’ve been worried about is still possible. Whatever the reason, markets need to take a break at least once in a while." Barron's - 1/13/20 “Markets tend to absorb geopolitical developments in stride, as long as the underlying fundamentals are healthy,” “It’s the Timex market that takes a licking and keeps on ticking,” says Clemons."But eventual corrections are a fact of life for stock market investors. The longer the rally goes on, the more sensitive to bad news stocks become."" When you have a year with flat earnings and a stock market that goes up 28%, that cannot be a comfortable place for a central bank to be. The Fed has to have recognized that, and I don’t think it is going to jump in there cutting rates. This is a robust economy, so I don’t think it is an endless loop.""The reasons for being both bullish and bearish on the economy are that the consumer is very strong, but the manufacturing sector is not." "but aerospace is following suit because production cuts are about to happen in 2020.""Does a top-heavy market make it harder to pick stocks? Apple is 5% of the S& P. Scott Black: It’s 4.55%, actually, but who’s counting? To your point, the top five stocks— Apple [AAPL], Microsoft [MSFT], Alphabet, Amazon, and Facebook, are 16.7% of the total weighting. The performance of Microsoft and Apple alone accounted for half of the increase last year in the informationtechnology sector. It was up 48%, and the two of them accounted for 24% of that""a country that prints its debt in its own currency has no limit on how much debt it can print. The government, unlike all of us, doesn’t die, therefore, there’s no end point. The only constraint is inflation; but that’s a big one.""I just want to remind everyone who has been crowing about [U.S. stocks’] 31% total return in 2019 that there was a 20% decline in the last quarter of 2018. So, on a net basis, it was a 10% return." Barron's - 1/6/20 "Iran likely wants to respond in a way that rouses the patriotism of its citizens but doesn’t lead to a traditional conflagration, ""The S&P 500 had gained 8.5% during the last two months of 2019,""“A little bit of a breather here is a healthy thing.”"" whether options traders are betting on a rising or falling market—showed traders favored bullish strategies by 30% more than bearish ones. That index, Goepfert notes, was at the same level in 2000, before the internet bubble burst, and has risen to that level 14 times since then. The S&P 500 is often weak after such an occurrence: The index was lower two weeks later 40% of the time, with a median decline of 1.1%. One year later, the index was lower 58% of the time, with a median decline of 4.5%.""A financial advisor at a small, independent firm recommended that he plow almost everything into variable annuities and nontraded real estate investment trusts.""but just because a firm is independent doesn’t mean it’s free from the biases that other firms have,” says Micah Hauptman, financial services counsel for the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer-advocacy group. Advisors at independent firms usually have more flexibility to recommend private investments such as nontraded REITs and private-equity funds, which tend to come with big commissions and high fees, he adds""In a nutshell, if you work with a registered investment advisor, or RIA, he or she must abide by a “fiduciary” standard of advice. That means your advisor isn’t allowed to put his or her financial interests ahead of yours. Things get confusing, however, because many individuals in the industry are dual-registered as brokers and investment advisors. And firms have dual registrations as broker-dealers and advisory firms, too. Individuals who are dual registered can then wear two hats: They can recommend products for which they can earn commissions, such as annuities and nontraded REITs,""Of the 629,000 broker-dealer representatives, 335,000 are solely registered as brokers and 295,000 are dual registered as brokers and investment advisors. Investment advisors only—who are generally fee-only and can’t accept commissions on securities like mutual funds or stocks—account for 61,500 individuals, according to the Financial Industry Regulatory Association, or Finra, the industry’s self-governing organization.""A standard buyout multiple is two times revenue on a current book of business""RIAs, meanwhile, are still being held to a higher, “fiduciary” standard. Their financial interests can be tied with the client’s, according to new SEC rules, but they have an ongoing duty to monitor portfolios, whereas a broker’s responsibility for investment advice ends with the transaction.""If conflicts are disclosed and mitigated, firms can continue to sell high-fee products rather than similar products with much lower fees." Barron's - 12/23/19 "I’m looking at industries that are doing badly; that for some reason will get better.""Energy services is awful; that could have a major turn in the next year or two.""2019 has been the worst relative year I've ever had in 50 years. Im up, but I'm not going to give you the number. The market is up 29%. I'm nowhere near that"""People associate stock market decline with economic collapses. Yet, in the part 100 years, Lynch points out, there have been 60 declines of 10% or more. "More people have lost money anticipating corrections than in the actual corrections," he says.""For the first time since the Civil War, a decade went by without the U.S. economy falling into a recession. That fact reflects how extraordinary—and how confounding—the economy has been since the financial crisis and recession ended. The reason that the decadelong expansion is still going, one could argue, is that it hasn’t been good enough to end.""the low rates and slow-but-steadily growing economy have been to their great benefit. Easy money from the Fed has helped the stock market rocket to one record high after another""the S&P 500 has risen 189% since the start of the decade—running up to 3221, where it stands today, from 1137 on Dec. 31, 2009.""At this time last year, the market was falling so fast, it only made sense if the U.S. was heading for recession. This year is ending in a way that makes sense only if it’s not.""There are just six trading days left in 2019, and the market doesn’t seem to be able to stop going higher. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 78.13 points on Friday, finishing the week up 319.71 points, or 1.1%, at a record high of 28,455.09. Meanwhile, the S&P 500 gained 1.7% on the week, to 3221.22, as the Nasdaq Composite leapt 2.2%, to 8924.96.""Investor sentiment was in panic territory entering December 2018, creating a very positive setup for stocks in the subsequent 12 months,” writes Tobias Levkovich, chief U.S. equity strategist at Citigroup.""Did it ever. The Dow has climbed 22% so far this year, while the S&P 500 has added 28.5%, and the Nasdaq Composite has surged 34.5%. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq are on their way to their best years since 2013.""The year’s gains were possible only because the market entered 2019 positioned for a recession and got a muddle-through instead. Now, the market is betting that the U.S. economy can reaccelerate and keep the gains rising" Barron's - 12/16/19 "That’s key, since continued low rates provide the ideal environment for equity investors, writes James Paulsen, chief investment strategist at the Leuthold Group, in a client note: “At least for the last 93 years, the opportunity to invest in stocks when the 10-year Treasury yield is below 3% has proved to be a ‘gift’.” (The benchmark note ended the week at 1.82%, down 0.02 of a percentage point.)""The volatility of an all-equities portfolio is 40% lower when bond yields are below 3%, he further found, while future 12-month returns were negative only 18% of the time. When bond yields rise to 3% to 4%, however, the risk-reward trade-off for adding stocks is much less attractive, he says." Barron's - 12/9/19 "If he who dares, wins, then it starts to become clear why Warren Buffett hasn’t been winning of late.""All of that has disappointed investors. Berkshire’s Class A shares are up 9% in 2019, to about $334,000, against a 28% total return for the S&P 500." Barron's - 11/4/19 "Strong earnings growth may be overrated, anyway. While stocks tend to follow the direction of earnings over long periods, surges in corporate profits haven’t been good for stocks over shorter periods, says Ned Davis of Ned Davis Research. Earnings rose steadily during the bear market in 1962, for instance, but slumped even as the market rallied in 1990 and 1991.“When earnings growth is booming, stocks often struggle, while when earnings are falling, stocks do quite well,” he writes. “That is unless they plunge more than 25%, in which case they are ‘too bad to ignore.’ ” Barron's - 10/21/19 "Aren’t you concerned about a recession?Recessions are rare. The yield curve is a perfect predictor of recessions, but only in hindsight, with a wide range of timing. We had a yield-curve inversion in 1966, and the recession didn’t happen until 1970. The shortest stretch from inversion to recession was six months; the longest was four years. After the last two yield-curve inversions, in 2000 and 2006, the Fed raised rates three more times. This happened at the same time as a commodity-price spike. The two together equalled 150 basis points [1.5 percentage points] of [consumer] income, quite a headwind. The lesson from history, in my opinion, is that the yield curve puts us on watch for a shock to the consumer. Then, what you need is another shock, like banks pulling back on lending. That’s the tipping point.A recession is not going to come from where it came historically, because debt service is at all-time lows, and the Fed isn’t raising rates; it’s lowering them. It’s not commodities, because they’re only 3% of disposable income for energy, goods, and services, and statistically it needs to be about 5% to really be a tipping point to destroy demand from U.S. consumers." Barron's - 10/14/19 "Friday’s announcement of progress in the U.S.-China tiff “is likely a reflection and recognition that both economies are slowing and would benefit from a de-escalation of trade tensions,” writes Stephen Pavlick, Washington policy analyst at Renaissance Macro Research. “De-escalation is different from a deal,” he avers, so it’s important to watch what happens from here. The practical import to investors is that stocks have overtaken bonds for this year. Through Friday, the SPDR S&P 500 exchange-traded fund (ticker: SPY) was up 18.5% for the year, while the iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond ETF (TLT) was up 15.6%. At the end of July, the bond ETF was leading the stock ETF by about 20% to 8%. Fearing the worst, investors this year have poured $379 billion into bond funds and yanked $217 billion from equity funds, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. In the past week, investors added $11.1 billion to bond funds and pulled $9.8 billion from stocks.""The deal that was reached, at least what we know about it so far, appears to be a cease-fire, not a true peace. China agreed to buy more U.S. farm goods, while the U.S. will hold off on placing new tariffs on Oct. 15. Trump called this “phase one,” and said “phase two” talks will begin immediately. Most of the thorny issues—including the fate of Huawei Technologies—appear to have been left for later.""It’s that tension—between the possibility of a trade deal and a full-scale trade war, between the prospect of a recession and a return to strong growth—that could keep the market moving sideways for a while longer. The S&P after all, has risen just 3.4% since peaking in January 2018.""And that may ultimately be good news for investors. Thomas Lee, research head at Fundstrat Global Advisors, observes that sideways markets have often presaged strong moves up: Twenty months of going nowhere was followed by rallies in 2015-16, 1983-84, and 1952-54. “This really strengthens our conviction that an upside breakout is coming for the S&P 500,” Lee says. Trade deal or no trade deal.""Sustained periods of negative yields aren’t benign. Historically, they are associated with wars or social collapse. Today, they are caused by self-imposed stagnation. The good news is that governments have the power to restore positive interest rates: All they have to do is cut taxes and lift spending until the cost of finance rises in line with the heightened demand for borrowing." Barron's - 9/30/19 "Impeachment makes for riveting television. For markets, the impact is far less clear. From the beginning of Richard Nixon’s impeachment inquiry in February 1974 through his resignation in August that year, the S&P 500 dropped about 13%. But from Bill Clinton’s impeachment in 1998 through his acquittal in the Senate in 1999, the S&P 500 gained 28%.""If the Nixon impeachment began during an obvious bear market, and the Clinton one began during an internet-fueled bubble, good luck trying to guess where the market is heading now. It really hasn’t done much for quite a while now. The S&P 500 has gained just 0.7% this quarter, which ends on Monday, and just 3.1% since its January 2018 peak.""If you’re an optimist, you might note that the S&P 500 is just 2.1% away from an all-time high, despite the dribs and drabs of bad news that have come out in recent weeks. If you’re a pessimist, you point to the fact that the S&P 500 just created a dreaded “double top” and will probably need corporate profit growth to accelerate before picking up again." Barron's - 9/9/19 "August employment data reported on Friday offered more evidence of a resilient U.S. economy, with payrolls growing by 130,000 in the month and the jobless rate holding at 3.7%.""“The market is making several assumptions,” says Blackstone Group strategist Byron Wien. “There will be some sort of a trade deal with China in the next six to nine months. Interest rates and inflation will remain low, and the stock market is attractive, with stocks yielding more than bonds.”""The S&P 500 dividend yield is nearly 2%, while the 10-year Treasury yields 1.55%, marking a rare time when stocks yield more than government bonds." Barron's - 9/2/19 "And with that, a wild August has come to an end. Even with the past week’s gains, it was a painful month for investors. The S&P 500 dropped 1.8% for the month, to 2926.46; the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 460.99 points, or 1.7%, to 26,403.28; and the Nasdaq Composite slumped 2.6%, to 7962.88.""There’s a good reason that presidents usually don’t face recessions when running for re-election—they control many of the tools to prevent one. The surest way to prevent one now would be for Trump to end the trade war. “Trump’s trade war with China is feeding recession concerns that are becoming self-reinforcing,” Woo writes." Barron's - 8/26/19 "Happy birthday, Warren! Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett turns 89 next Friday, and he’s still going strong.Investors, however, have been in a less celebratory mood, with class A shares of Berkshire (BRK.A), at about $297,000, down 3% this year, compared with a 14% gain in the S&P 500. The more liquid Class B shares (BRK.B) trade for about $197.""What’s ailing Berkshire? Flattish earnings; the woes at Kraft Heinz (KHC), in which Berkshire has a 27% stake; tepid buyback activity (around $400 million in the latest quarter); no major acquisitions; and Buffett’s age." Barron's - 8/19/19 "Now we know the real reason President Donald Trump has been so keen for the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates. It seems that the nation’s chief executive was considering a deal out of his previous career as a real-estate mogul. According to reports, Trump raised the idea of the U.S. purchasing Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory. As with any real estate transaction, the cost of financing would be crucial to making this work, so a bit of cooperation from Fed Chairman Jerome Powell to knock down interest costs would be helpful.""Worries about the global economy were also manifested by the headlong plunge in global bond yields. The Treasury 30-year bond traded below 2%, the lowest level for such a long maturity in the U.S. republic’s history, while the benchmark 10-year note dipped below 1.5%, not far from its nadir of 1.36% reached in July 2016. That followed the plunge in the 10-year German Bund to minus 0.7% and predictions by some pundits, including former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, that negative yields could wash up on U.S. shores.""As bank stocks have come under pressure, their yields have climbed and become more like those of utilities. The yield of S&P 500 financial firms was recently 2.29%, compared with 3.26% for the utilities, according to Jim Paulsen, chief investment strategist at The Leuthold Group. The yield of the Invesco KBW Bank ETF was even higher, at around 3%." Barron's - 8/5/19 "It was Tariff Man, returning to take an additional bite out of U.S. consumers’ wallets and out of investors’ portfolios, as well.""By midday on Thursday, the stock market had all but recouped its losses in the wake of the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting the previous day. That’s when President Donald Trump announced that he will impose a 10% levy on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods on Sept. 1. The shock sent stocks underwater and resulted in this year’s worst week for the S&P 500 index and the Nasdaq Composite, which slid 3.1% and 3.92%, respectively. The Dow got off with just a 2.6% nick. For the broad U.S. stock market, the paper loss was about $1.1 trillion, according to Wilshire Associates.""That doesn’t make us any less worried. Since January 2018, market peaks have coincided with tariff news, notes Deutsche Bank strategist Alan Ruskin. The first tariffs, for instance, were put in place toward the end of that month, precipitating a 10% decline in the S&P 500 after a rip-roaring start to the year.""The S&P recovered but peaked again in September 2018, when Trump placed 10% tariffs on an additional $200 billion in goods, ultimately resulting in a decline of almost 20%. Even the index’s 6.6% drop in May of this year was preceded by Trump raising tariffs on some Chinese goods to 25%." Barron's - 8/19/19 "Ned Davis, of the eponymous research shop, recently told clients that the probabilities of profit in the S&P 500 Total Return Index (with reinvested dividends) was 73% for all one-year periods since Dec. 31, 1925. For all five-year periods, the percentage increased to 87%, and it rises to 96% for all 10-year periods. In other words, the longer you hold stocks, the great the odds of a profit.""These types of streaks are rarely a sign of a happy market. This past week, the worry was all about tumbling bond yields. The 10-year Treasury yield traded as low as 1.47% on Thursday, its lowest since 2016, while the 30-year yield dropped below 2% for the first time ever. What’s more, the yield on the 10-year briefly fell below that of the two-year, a yield-curve inversion that has historically presaged a recession by six to 18 months or so. (The yield on the 10-year Treasury fell below the three-month earlier this year.)""As soon as the yield curve inverted, the arguments about why it doesn’t work the way it used to started flying fast and furious. The prevalence of negative-yielding bonds, goes one argument, has made U.S. debt more attractive to investors, making the low yields a reflection of demand rather than of economic conditions. Others point to the Federal Reserve’s bond buying, which might have made bond yields artificially low. Even Janet Yellen got into the action by saying a yield-curve inversion may be a false recession indicator this time around." Barron's - 7/29/19 "The S&P 500 index rose 1.7% to 3025.86—a record close—while the Nasdaq Composite gained 2.3% to 8330.21, also a record. The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced just 38.25 points, or 0.1%, to 27,192.45, but only because Boeing (ticker: BA) slumped 8.6% after the grounding of the 737 MAX showed up in its earnings.""But who are we kidding? It’s really all about the Federal Reserve. The central bank is set to lower interest rates at the end of its July meeting on Wednesday, and it would be a massive shock if it didn’t. Hopes for lower rates, which have already knocked the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield down to 2.08% from 2.68% at the start of the year, have helped propel stocks up 21%, leaving them trading at 19.8 times trailing earnings."Barron's - 7/22/19"The market is certain that the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at the end of the month, with the only remaining debate over whether it will be 0.25 or 0.50 of a percentage point from the current target range of 2.25% to 2.50%. (Federal-funds futures pricing currently implies a 19% probability of a double cut at the Federal Open Market Committee’s July 30 and 31 rate-setting meeting.):""On the U.S.-China trade war front, companies and investors seem to be settling in for the long haul. The post-G20 meeting truce remains in place, and neither country appears incentivized to escalate matters further—or to quickly compromise.""President Donald Trump’s remark on Tuesday that the two sides remained “a long way” from a deal was met by a shrug from the market, and a Wall Street Journal report on Wednesday that restrictions on China’s Huawei Technologies presented a sticking point for both sides likewise didn’t make a splash. Just last month, a few positive or negative words from either side were enough to determine the market’s direction for an entire session.""The S&P 500 index has returned 20% this year, after declining 1% in the past week. The index finished at 2976, below the record set last Monday of 3014."“The ideal environment for stocks is low economic growth, low inflation, and low interest rates, and we have all three now,” says Charles Lieberman, chief investment officer at Advisors Capital Management in Ridgewood, N.J.""The S&P 500 isn’t cheap, at 18 times projected earnings and a 1.9% dividend yield, but the 10-year economic expansion shows few signs of slackening and bonds offer little competition for stocks, with the 10-year Treasury note yielding 2.05%.""There is frustration building among some normally patient Berkshire Hathaway investors as CEO Warren Buffett sits on more than $100 billion in cash in a fruitless hunt for a major acquisition, while buying back only a modest amount of stock.""Berkshire’s class A shares (BRK.A), at $309,000, are up 1% this year. That’s the worst showing for Berkshire in a decade relative to the S&P 500. The stock has underperformed the S&P in the past five years and matched it over the past 10 and 15 years—a disappointment given Buffett’s reputation and Berkshire’s many advantages.""With Buffett turning 89 in August, the prospect of a Buffett-less Berkshire is also unsettling investors."Barron's - 7/15/19"A curious dynamic has taken hold in the market, one where good news is bad news and bad news is good news. Starting with July 5's June job report, stocks have dropped on days with releases of better than expected economic data and rallied when Federal Reserve officials warned of uncertainties and trouble ahead.""The driving force has been the promise of lower interest rates that could boost economic growth and keep stocks climbing higher."Unemployment remains close to a half- century low at 3.7%, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow model estimates 1.4% real gross-domestic product growth in a second quarter, and,manufacturing surveys, through weaker, remain in expansion territory. ""The stock market responds to two factors: fundamentals and policy. On fundamentals, our strategy team thinks the U.S market is roughly at fair value- maybe a little bit below where it should be - on a 12-month basis. However, there isn't much room for mistakes. If trade concerns continue, that will be problematic because of the psychological aspect and the dampening effect on capex (capital expenditures). Investors are so focused on trade that they aren't really looking at the budget issue.""Fed chairman, all byt confirmed in congressional testimony that the central bank will e lowering its key federal-funds target at its next policy meeting at the end of the month.""Lower rates would help offset the uncertainties resulting from slower global growth, Powell said""The Fed has completely changed tack since last December; when stocks skirted an "official" bear market of a 20% drop from its high as it raised rates. Since then, Powell has gone from professing "patience" about further rate boosts to signaling preemptive reductions, and the S&P 500 is up to 28% from its Christmas Eve low."Barron's - 7/8/19"There is little value in the bond market, where the 10-year Treasury yields 2%, high-grade corporate bonds under 3% and top -grade 10-year munis just 1.6%. U.S bonds are likely to produce little for investors in the coming decade after inflation and taxes. But at least they offer something."Barron's - 7/1/19"The first half of 2019 was terrific for financial markets, regardless of whether you were a stock or bond investor" "the SDR S&P 500 ETF, the tracker for the big-stock benchmark, rose 17.72% since the begging of the year through Thursday, according to Morningstar. But taking into account the horrid last half of 2018, the 12-month return was a less impressive 10.38%"Bonds also did well, as the iShares Core U.S. Aggregate Bond ETF (AGG), which tracks the investment-grade taxable debt market, returned 5.89% in the half and 7.85% over the past year.""Fed-finds futures are anticipating three quarter- point cuts by year-end, based on the expectation that the Fed and other central banks will seek to offset the apparent decline in global economic activity. "Barron's - 6/24/19"Like our major political parties, the stock and bond markets seem to live in two different worlds these days. The former sits at record levels, suggesting we live in the best of all possible worlds. The latter sees things as bad and only getting worse. Who's right? As in so many things in life, the truth lies between the extremes""The Federal Reserve this past week signaled its willingness to lower short-term interest rates, with the "overarching" goal if sustaining the economic expansion""That has sent Treasury yields tumbling. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note-which surpassed 3% last year amid warnings from the nation's pre-eminent banker that it was headed to 4%, if not as high as 5%- slid briefly under 2%, its lowest level since 2016. The two year note, the coupon maturity most sensitive to Fed expectations, ended on Thursday at 1.73%, the lowest since November 2017""Yet the S&P 500 index closed at a record on Thursday up over 25% from its Christmas Eve nadir.""The bond market is, in fact, telling us the Fed's fear of an economic slowdown will push into aggresive preemptive action," bolstering stock investors' confidence that the centeral bank will do whatever is needed to sustain the expansion at its 10th anniversary. ""Another possibility, according to Nancy lazar's Cornerstone Marco, is that the recessionary signal from the inverted yield curve is simply wrong. After all, the yield curve inverted in 1995, 1998, and 2000, with federal funds above the 10 year yield. But the only recession that occurred came in 2001, after the dot co, bubble burst."Barron's - 6/10/19"Jan Hatzius, wrote in a note this past week. Inflation data don't warrant a cut, and if the Fed eases up based on flimsy financial evidence, it would "look overly political in light of President Trump's vocal demands for easier policy.""The reason for holding cash isn't the trivial rate of interest you're earning," he says. "It's the flexibility that cash affords you when Mr. Market puts things on sale and opportunity knock. ""Markets are now betting that interest rates are about to fall for the first time since December 2008""The so called yield curve has also flattened and inverted: short term Treasuries are yielding more than 10- year bonds, and there is scant difference between the yield of a one-year T-Bill (2.04%) and a 10 year not (2.12%). Historically, that has often indicated a recession is coming, implying that a rescue plan form the Federal Reserve may be in the Horizon.""trade issues complicate the economic calculations. And the Fed is under a political cudgel: policy makers want to preserve the Fed's political independence and credibility, and they want to maintain some dry power in the event of an external shock like a geopolitical or financial crisis.""Some strategists and bond managers are skeptical that the Fed will follow through with rate cuts."Barron's - 6/3/19"While Trump famously views the stock market as the report card for his presidency, he's not gaining much now politically from the tariffs, according to an analysis by Goldman Sachs' economic team.""Signs of economic worry sent bond yields plunging globally, with the 10- year Treasury yield sliding to 2.139& the lowest since September 2017 and down more than a full percentage since its recent high last October. JPMorgan economists think such easing moves to offset the tariff drag would "make abysmal growth attainable" (MAGA, in case you didn't get it).""The Treasury yield curve's so called inversion - with the benchmark 10-year note's yield (2.15%) trading below that of the three month bill (2.35%) - has spooked the stock market because this flip from the typical configuration historically has been a portent of recession. Indeed, every recession has been proceeded by a negatively sloped yield. And as longer term Treasury yields have have declined in recent weeks, the disquieting question of "What does the bond market know" has rattled the stock market, leaving the Dow Jones Industrial Average lower for the sixth straight week.""..when the signals from the real economy are positive and diverge from the dour ones sent by the bond market, it's typically bullish- not bearish- ""Looking back at the history since 1967, he constructed a model to compare consumer confidence with the 10-year Treasury yield. When this 'confidence gap" has been in the highest quartile for the period, the subsequent six month return from S&P 500 index averaged 14.34%, with a 20.36%probably of decline. When the gap between consumer confidence and the change in the Treasury yield has been in the lowest quartile, the S&P return has averaged has averaged less than half as much, 6.76%, with a much higher chance of decline, some 38.06%. Paulson's model now is 93% higher than a;; other six-month time frames since, 1967, which suggests stronger returns ahead."Barron's - 5/27/19"Visa and Mastercard take an average of just 15 basis points, or 0.15%, per card transaction, he estimates. Merchants take 98% of the total card purchases, and most of the balance, or roughly 1.5%, goes to the bank that issues the card networks' low take rate decreases the incentive to displace Visa and Mastercard. The small fee works for them only because of the enormous volumes that flow through the networks.""Cryptocurrencies have also not gained traction in consumer payments because of relatively slow transaction times and the lack of recourse for fraud or stolen funds.""The U.S. economy hit bottom in June 2009 and has been growing slowly but surely ever since, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research's Business Cycle Dating Committee. In just a few months, the current expansion could soon become the longest in America history, beating the previous record from March 1991 to March 2001.""That's not necessarily good news. The risk of recession tends to rise over time because prolonged periods of growth encourage risky behaviors. People who have forgotten the fear of joblessness and the pain of falling asset prices are more willing to take out big debts and are less willing to maintain an adequate buffer of emergency savings. Business used to steadily rising sales will keep investing in additional capacity until they end up with excess inventories they can't sell.""Eventually, growth becomes dependent on unsustainable patterns of spending based on perpetually rising asset prices, dissaving, and over-investment. It doesn't take much for the entire process to swing into reverse.""Fortunately, a downturn is not inevitable. In fact, there are good reasons to think the current expansion could last at least another 10 years - under the right circumstances. Somewhat perversely, the best reason for optimism is the depth of the scars of the global financial crisis. Saving rates are higher and indebtedness is lower than at any point since mid-1990s. Americans are far less willing to boost their sending in response to rising asset prices than in the past. The job market also has plenty of room for improvement, with the employment rate of working-age adults well below its level in the 1990s."""Ask me a question, and I'll give you the answer," he'd say. "Usually, it's 'I don't know.' " But his colleagues didn't even know where to start. So, save regularly, he told them. Stay in the market through thick and thin- it will reward you. "Focus on things you have control over: Your costs. Your behavior." They asked Tony to look at their statements.""There has never been a 20-year period in the stock market's history when it has lost value." Barron's - 5/6/19"Retirement is really about understanding three things: One, the value of diversification; two, the value of saving early, including an escalation of savings as you get older; and three, the value of guaranteed income once you get to retirement, or whats technically called the de-accumulation phase.""We're awaiting House floor action on the Secure Act, which has some helpful components. One, it creates an annuity safe harbor, so that plan sponsors can be comfortable when they put an annuity into the plan. We're really pushing for this notion of annuitization to become more of a standard choice, and have it be an in-plan annuity, which is simpler and has lower fees. Two, it requires a disclosure on how much income will likely be produced by your savings, which will remind people of what they need to do in order to actually get that retirement check. It also raises the age fro taking required minimum distributions to 72 from 70 1/2. That's important to consider with increased life expectancies."Barron's - 4/22/19"Being called boring is almost never a compliment. For investors, though it is a dream come true.""excitement leads to big market swings, one way or another""All for good reason. If market volatility is a reflection of uncertainty- good or bad- there's very little either right now. Consider recent economic data. Jobless claims remain at their lowest levels since 1969 and retail sales bounced back in March, but neither were good enough to suggest that the economy is overheating. In fact, the Conference Board's index of leading economic indicators increased 0.4% in March, a rise that indicates that the U.S. economy should grow by about 2% in 2019, the research group said."""Boring is good because boring means no uncertainties that are unmanageable," he explains. "This backdrop of no recession and stable growth and low inflation and low rates is bullish for risky assets, in particular equities."" Barron's - 4/8/19""What changed in 2010 was quantitative easing and its impact on the yield curve," he says, explaining that when the yield curve flattens, it gives cash-rich growth companies an even bigger advantaged over value stocks, which tend to carry out more debt. An inverted yield curve - like we saw in late March - only amplifies that dynamic. "Value will come back, but not until we see a persistent steepening of the yield curve," he says.""Value tends to be very, very good early cycle trade," says Nicholas Colas, co-founder of Data Trek Research. "That's exactly what we've seen. It's just that this cycle has gone on forever." Value-style investing tends to cluster in a couple of industries, he says, namely financials and energy, which together account for a third of the assets in the Russell 1000 Growth index. Tech accounts for less than 10% of the value index and a third of the growth index.""One popular explanation for value's chronic under performance is that as tech shakes up virtually every industry, it drives an even greater wedge between innovative growth companies and old school value ones.""We've heard it said many times before, but it is worth repeating: Bull markets do not die of old age. Since 1949, the average one has lasted five years and four months, according to Yardeni Research data. The longest ran from 1987 through the dot-com peak in 2000 and lasted more than 12 years; the shortest ran from 1966 to 1968 and lasted a little more than two years."Barron's - 3/11/19"Dollar strength encourages imports while inhibiting exports by making U.S. dollars-based goods and services less competitive. Net goods exports tend to follow the oath of the dollar with six-month lag. This means that unless the dollar reverses course and weakens quickly, the U.S. trade deficit will probably worsen.""The S&P 500 index finished at 676.53 on March 9th, 2009, marking the bottom for its crisis-era sell-off. The index has returned 400% since then, including reinvested dividends. Ten years, however, is a long time for a bull market to run, and skeptics have latched onto it as one more reason to predict its imminent demise.""Those past returns haven't been too shabby. Since 1900, U.S large-cap stocks have averaged a total return of 6.4% annualized after inflation, according to the Credit Suisse Global Returns Yearbook. That's 1.4 percentage points better than the 5% average from world stocks. Paul Marsh, a professor at the London Business School and one of the yearbooks authors, expects real returns to settle around 4% for the U.S. over the next couple of decades- but even that is better than what the investors would get from bonds. Investors "would be foolish not to be looking at equities," Marsh says. Whether you're a short-term investor or in it for the long term, stay the course."Barron's - 2/11/19"Demand for currency rises when investors need it to buy local assets - like stocks in the S&P 500 - and when local bonds offer higher yields. The dollar's recent strength coincided with the Fed hiking interest rates and slowdowns in the Chinese and European economies, which made the dollar relatively more attractive.""If the dollar weakens, then the foreign exchange headwind affecting corporate revenues dissipates, but that relief might take longer to develop than some analysts except."Barron's - 2/4/19"With the new jobs getting all the attention, the unemployment rate got short shrift. On first glance, there didn't seem to be much to look at, as it rose to 4% in January from 3.9% in December.""Nothing particularly worrisome there, expect for the fact that it's the year-over-year change that really matters. Michael Darda, chief markets strategists at MKM partners, calls the change in the unemployment rate one of the most reliable recession indicators, if not a leading one. Since World War II, a 0.5- percentage- point climb year over year in the unemployment rate had meant the U.S is either in a recession or about to fall into one.""People should not be punished for being paid lots of money, provided they deliver. In America, you've got many people running corporations making lots of money but not doing a very good job - without naming names. That's where the system is flawed.""He was 49, and he took a chance on a start-up. Its called risk/ reward. He could be extremely successful for taking risks and chances. If your right, you win. If your wrong, guess what? I've been on the wrong side of a lot of deals.""But income inequality is only unequal when two people do the same thing and one person gets paid less. We don't want to destroy incentives. We don't want to destroy incentives. We don't want to destroy a system that encourgages people to do more, because if they do more they will do better.""When you feel certain that's the way it id, you take action and make sure it stops, that's what you do. Because, guess what, a business that's run on that basis will not have a successful future. Listen, the lady who runs all 2,300 Home Depot stores is a black woman. She started with us as a part time cashier; her family's from Jamaica, and shes not good, shes spectacular. We're a better company because Ann- Marie (Campbell) had that job, and i'm a richer man because she has that job. That's capitalism!Barron's - 2/4/19"There are a lot of people, Franklin, who don't want to make the effort. I'm not talking about guys starting companies; I'm talking about the number of people who if they could get away with not having a job, they'd do it.""When rates were near zero, investors used the acronym TINA to describe the sentiment that "there is no alternative" to stocks. Today, it's more like TASS- the alternatives still stink.""But there are a few credible reasons to think earnings growth might indeed pick up as the year goes on. One is that the recent government shutdown, which has ended for the moment, sapped an estimates, some also nudges their second-quarter forecasts higher.""Investors worried about a slowdown might want to favor companies whose growth inst overly tied to the economy. Traditionally, that has meant defensive groups like food, drugs, and has electric utilities, but grocery spending has shifted toward fresh and away from packages food, drug makers are facing pricing pressures, and electricity demand isn't growing as it used to.""taxes wiped out the out performance; the fund returned 12.8% after taxes on distributions, trailing the index.""ETFs, however, don't typically buy or sell their holdings - instead, they swap the underlying securities with large trading partners in whats called an inkind transaction, which does not incur capital gains and, therefore, shields investors from almost any tax hit.""Actively managed ETFs are far more tax-efficient than virtually identical mutual fund portfolios. Consider what transpired at Davis selected Advisers, a firm that shells both actively managed mutual funds and active ETFs."Barron's - 1/28/2019"Of course, the market has already made back a big chunk of its December losses. The S&P 500 has gained 13.3% from the Dec. 24 low-and the size and speed of the rally appears to have startled investors. That gain means that the easy money has been made, but valuations suggest more upside, Citi's Levkovich says. Historical, when the S&P 500 trades at a trailing price/earnings ratio between 16 and 18, as it does now, it gains a median 9% over the next 12 months. "If the concerns moderate, stocks could and should move higher.""Panelists said that 8 million metric tons of plastic waste- out of some 300 million metric tons of plastic produced worldwide each year- ends up in the earths ocean. Another surprising statistic: by 2050, all the plastic in the ocean will outweigh all the fish in the ocean."Barron's - 1/7/19"Last summer, when Apple (ticker; AAPL) shares soared, analysts kept raising their price targets to higher and higher levels. This week after the company dropped a guidance bombshell, many of the same analysts slashes their forecasts. The street's reactive stance does little to help retail investors who watched Apple lose $75 billion in market value on Thursday before they could even think of hitting the sell button."Barron's - 1/7/2019"Annual predictions are so yesterday. A higher- than-expected December payrolls number helped push the market up 3.4% on Friday. Yet stocks had their worst first two days of the year since 2000. Where the market will be in a year had little to do with where it is now. Twelve months ago, stocks were coming off 22% return in 2017 and feeling fine, thank you very much- until September. Then, the wheels just fell off.""The best thing about sitting at the low end of a historical range is that mean reversion should start to kick in, Colas says, and the next 10 to 20 years from here will likely be pretty good. Happy now? As for 2019, tell me if there will be a recession, and ill tell you where the market is going."Barron's - 12/3/2018"Global markets are going through s difficult phase, to put it charitably. Excess liquidity is gradually draining out of financial markets as the Federal Reserve reins in monetary policy, raising interest rates off crisis-era lows. Steeper rates have led to a stronger dollar, which is pressuring emerging markets. Prices for oil, steel, and other raw materials are slumping as investors anticipate slower global economic growth in 2019. And markets are taking more cues from fiscal, regulatory, and trade polices, notably the tariff war between the U.S and China.""Phillip Orlando, chief equity strategist at Federated Investors, says equities could keep climbing with a nudge from positive outcomes in trade and monetary polices: a ceasefire over tariffs with China and a more benign rate climate. "The consensus has been that both of these things end badly," he says . "We're on the other side of that trade." He likes value-oriented dividend stocks for their resilience in a down market. he also favors cyclical sectors like energy financials, and industrials, arguing they offer "more bang for the buck."""If there's values in stocks, it's in foreign markets, Ramsey maintains. If the S&P 500 were to fall 25%, it would merely be at its median valuation over the past 30 years, based on a variety of long term valuation metrics. But foreign markets such as those in the MSCI EAFE index could gain 10% just to get back to median valuations.""Trennert also likes emerging markets. If the Fed eases up a bit, it would take some wind out of the dollar. relieving pressure on their currencies. Sometimes, he says, "you make more money from things going from terrible to bad, than from good to great." Barron's - 10/29/2018"What about the other market concerns: trade wars, elections, which companies are beating or missing earnings estimates, the price of oil, natural disasters, gross domestic product, and weather the latest iPhone is a must-upgrade? Pay attention to them, but don't look to them for guidance on how much to put in stocks, because none is as important as the starting point for valuations and the returns available on other investments.""Accurately predicting what the stock market will do next year is impossible. Inaccurately predicting it is easy: It will rise. That's what it tends to do, on average. But the margin of error on that prediction is wider than a canned ham. Investors can be more confident guessing about average returns over the next decade."Barron's - 9/17/2018"October begins a new fiscal year for the U.S government- and a faster ballooning of how much it owes. Barring a behavioral miracle in Congress, trillion dollar yearly budget shortfalls will return, perhaps as soon as the coming year. And unlike the ones brought by the financial crisis and Great Recession f 2007-09, these will starts during a period of relative plenty, and wont end.""Those estimates, provided by the Congressional Budget Office, are based on reasonable assumptions about economic growth, inflation, employment, and interest rates, but they leave out some important things. They assume that the nations need for increased infrastructure investment, estimated by the American Society of Civil Engineers at $1.4 trillion through 2025, goes unmet. They don't account for the possibly of another financial crisis, or war, or a rise in the frequency or severity of natural disasters, and they assume that some trump tax cuts will expire in 2025.""Just holding the line at 78% of GDP over the next three decades would require finding massive, immediate savings in the budget- $400 billion over the coming year, rising gradually to $690 billion by 2048, using 2019 dollars. In comparison, America spent $590 billion in fiscal 2017 on defense, and $610 billion on all other discretionary items. (The rest of the $4 trillion in spending went for mandatory programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, and for interest on the debt.)""When Deficits are large, money tends to be spent on "stupid things," says Maya MacGuineas, president of the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "If you don't have too constraints, you don't think about how to spend wisely." MacGuineas calls debt "The most predictable crisis we've ever faced," but says spotting the tipping point will be difficult, because much depends on other countries , and their appetite for our debt. "We can borrow a lot more if were still the best-looking horse in the glue factory," she says." "Not at all deficits are bad. The $1 trillion-plus deficits America ran for four years ending in 2012 helped shore up its financial system and prevent a deep recession from turning into a prolonged depression. Keynesian economics calls for deficit spending and lower taxes during economic slumps to stimulate demand, with the money recouped through surpluses during good years. That last part isn't happening, however. "Now Keynesian seems to mean you stimulate all the time," says Gundlach." Barron's - 3/19/2018"The market is so discombobulated right now that it cant even decide what its afraid of. What do we mean? When the Standard & poor's 500 index suffered its first correlation since the beginning of 2016 last month, the cause was easily identified- a good old fashioned inflation scare caused by a larger-than-expected increase in wages and a rapidly rising 10- year Treasury yield which almost hit 3%."Barron's - 3/12/2018"some of the best periods for stocks have come when interest rates have risen from low-levels""But it's important not to lose sight of the defensive protection these sticks can provide. "I'm a big believer in reversion to the mean and in seasonality, especially when it comes to the midterm elections," says Sam Stovall, chief investment strategist at CFRA Research."