US Economy

Pomp and Financial Circumstances


Rising student debt levels won’t slow growth or shock markets.

Manufacturers Made Some Stuff in July


Global manufacturing seems to be picking up.

Behind US GDP’s Q2 Dud: Quirky Categories and Oil


An under-the-hood look at US Q2 GDP growth.

Checking in on US Growth


Recent data suggest the US economy gained speed in Q2.

What About America?


Brexit's ramifications will likely ripple across the Atlantic, but it's too soon to know how.

Hiring Lays an Egg: How Investors Should Approach US Unemployment


Friday’s disappointing US unemployment report should have little to no weight in your analysis of stocks’ direction.

Will Oil’s Bounce Boom or Bust?


What to make of oil’s recent rally.

Subprime Auto Loans: Not Another 2008


Subprime auto loans aren’t another crisis waiting to happen.

See Through the Oily Haze Skewing Economic Data


Oil’s big drop since 2014 seems to have clouded investors’ view of the US economy.

How Has Oil Impacted Retail Sales?


Two charts reveal steady retail sales growth excluding oil’s impact.

How Has Oil Impacted Retail Sales?


Two charts reveal steady retail sales growth excluding oil’s impact.

Presidential Change Has Limited Range


Can the President of The United States affect sweeping change on his or her own?

A Dose of (Mostly) Growthy Data


Most recent economic data run counter to widespread global recession fears.

The US Government Did Something … and It Isn’t Awful!


The US government passed and signed spending and tax legislation Friday and it was surprisingly good.

Manufactured Worries About the Future


Data reinforcing one sector’s well-known struggles don’t mean trouble for the broader economy. 

Black Friday Is No Barometer


Black Friday’s economic importance is overstated.

Choose Your Own Manufacturing Adventure


US manufacturing was a tale of two surveys in October.

Global Economy: Look Beyond Manufacturing


There is more to an economy than just building stuff.

How to Tell False Hope From Rational Optimism


We’re optimistic about the US and global economies’ prospects, but not for the reasons hogging headlines Wednesday.

Serving Up Growth


The global economy keeps growing.

Moore’s Law Gets a New Lease on Life


Chipmakers announced a huge breakthrough Thursday, adding years to one of the most powerful technological trends in history.

People Are Not Leaving the Workforce


Don’t let the falling labor force participation rate fool you.

Theories Miss the Mark on March’s Jobs Miss


Whether caused by the dollar or not, March’s weak job gains hold little insight into the US economy and stocks’ future.

America, the Liberated


It's fashionable to say America's economic system needs fixing if we want faster growth, but some simple facts don't support this. 

Three Myths About Friday’s Jobs Report


What January’s jobs report does and doesn’t mean.

Economic Growth Seems Plenty Durable


Do recent US and UK economic data show weakening growth?  

Now Hiring: Reasons to Be Optimistic


The media seemed ecstatic about November’s jobs report, but investors have better reasons to be optimistic about the US economy’s prospects.

Thankful the World Over


There is much to be thankful for, not just in the US, but globally too.  

The Employment Sentiment Trap


Focusing solely on employment data can lead investors astray.

Seven Charts to Free You From Skepticism’s Shackles


Gauges of tangible activity in the US economy show this expansion is driven by more than just the Fed’s attempted financial engineering.

The Dismal Art


It’s unlikely you’d see many headlines touting the fact US GDP growth has been above average in three of the last four quarters. 

Jobs Report Dandy, Analysis a Dud


June’s jobs report was Yankee-Doodle dandy, but it doesn’t mean a thing for stocks.

The War on Long-Term Forecasts (Not Coal)


What does President Obama’s new environmental plan mean for investors?

Economies and Spaceships


Some say the US has to achieve “escape velocity” for the expansion and bull market to continue, but laws of astrophysics don’t apply to the economy (or stocks).

Data Galore, Switching Sentiment


Data can be pretty dull, but we doubt that’s the only reason headlines avoided it this week.

On GDP, Fed Forecasts and Tapering Tapering


The downward revision to Q4 US GDP growth had a big silver lining, but how will the Fed see it?

Infographic: 4 Reasons US Debt Is Affordable


US debt is a hot-button issue, but few know the facts showing why it’s manageable.

The Magic of Rising Rates


Interest rates are up, but so is household lending.

‘More’ Charts on Unemployment


Another lower-than-estimated jobs report seems to have stirred the ire of some in the punditry. But a broader view suggests this isn’t a major factor for investors, period.

Volatility and Manufacturing


Headlines about US and Chinese manufacturing reports seemed to rankle investors Monday, but the actual data reports were benign.

Jittery Over Bad Statistics?


How should we interpret December’s employment report?

Fruitful Fundamentals


Earnings are growing, and forward-looking indicators suggest sales and profits should keep rising.

Is Santa Coming to Town?


Does the Santa Claus Rally matter much for long-term investors?

Taper in December?


Will November’s strong jobs report, a healthier economy and Congress’ potential budget compromise suffice for the Fed to start tapering in December?

The Perils of Non-Traded REITs


Before jumping into non-traded REITs, we’d suggest investors do their due diligence.

A Tale of Two Unemployment Surveys


What can we make of October’s employment report?

The Fed’s Unemployed Logic


Those looking to September’s unemployment report for Fed clues are likely spinning their wheels.

A (Non)Default-Fueled Downgrade


The US is facing another potential credit downgrade despite an averted debt default, but that doesn’t mean much for investors.

Detonate Your Debt-Ceiling Fears


Some presume the debt ceiling is a huge risk looming in the near future, but there is ample evidence suggesting these fears are detached from reality.

The Government Shuts Down


The government shutdown that began midnight Tuesday helps add clarity to the potential market impact of both recent budget squabbling and the debt ceiling.  

34 Numbers to Make You Believe in Growth


Disappointed Q2 GDP wasn’t revised up in the final estimate? Here are 34 numbers demonstrating the US economy is stronger than headline growth rates suggest.

Sept-Taper Caper


Despite media speculation the Fed would begin tapering asset purchases this month, the FOMC held off—at least for now.

One Weird—and Simple—Trick to Thinking Differently About Stocks


Identifying false fears might sound weird, but it’s a handy way for investors to gauge the market’s future direction.

Unemployment with a Taper Twist


Unemployment improved slightly in August, but how this impacts QE tapering plans remains to be seen.

A Manufactured Buzz?


Manufacturing is strong, but investors still seem skeptical of US economic strength.

Skepticism About a Simmering Economy


Many doubt the strength of the US economy—are those concerns justified?

Don't Dump on Durable Goods


A -7.3% drop in durable goods isn’t great, but plenty of other evidence suggests demand remains firm.

Strengthy Banks


A closer look at US banks’ balance sheets suggests the institutions are stronger than some rating agencies seem to believe.

The Bizarro World of QE Taper Fears


As folks realize their QE tapering fears are false, their relief should propel stocks higher.

July’s Employment Report in Three Charts


July’s slower job growth, in our view, doesn’t signal weakness for the economy or stocks.

Rating Agencies: Late as Usual


With Moody’s raising its outlook for US debt on Friday, a look at what happened during our two years on “negative” watch confirms ratings agencies’ decisions aren’t predictive.

Easing’s Quantitative Analytics


A quick analysis of QE’s impact on the economy throws into question the quantity of its benefits.

News Flash—Inside June’s Unemployment Report


Data show recent employment gains aren’t “too slow.”

Piquing Interest in US Debt


Interest rates may be up a bit, but the US’s debt is still plenty affordable.

The Congress of Our Discontent


Snippets from around the web illustrating the market impact of our currently gridlocked government.

Growth, Then Jobs


While Friday’s jobs report was mostly positive, don’t be fooled into thinking the data has a future impact on stocks.

Sentimental About GDP


Thursday’s downward revision of US GDP likely tells us more about changing sentiment than fundamentals.

Underappreciated—Not Underperforming


Recently released (and largely overlooked) economic data further illustrate the US economy’s underappreciated health.

Manufacturing Innovation


The Institute of Supply Management released its Index for April, but don’t let the numbers fool you—domestic manufacturing is making a surprising comeback.

The Employment Twitch


The reaction to Friday’s US Employment Situation report was far from exuberant.

Testing What Stress How?


Most banks passed the second half of the Fed’s stress tests, but that still doesn’t predict nor prevent future weakness.

Energy in the Spotlight


From the US to Asia, a look at the latest developments in global energy markets.

Inside the Payroll Tax Hike


While many presume the payroll tax hike will weigh on household spending, January’s strong retail sales suggest consumers are rather resilient.

Rational Observations


Despite Wednesday’s negative GDP post, signs of economic growth continue to abound—a fact some folks are beginning to recognize.

Doubling Up Deadlines


Thursday’s debt ceiling deal introduces a few more arbitrary deadlines for Congress to contend with in the months ahead.

Catching Housing Tailwinds


Housing data’s shown improvement of late, which may provide an incremental tailwind for the already resilient US economy moving forward.

Pitching a Fit(ch)


There are some great pairs in US politics: Republicans and Democrats, the House of Representatives and the Senate, debt ceiling debates and threats of a credit rating downgrade.

Planes and Automobiles


Air traffic and auto sales are just two additional  indicators highlighting a healthier than perceived global economy.

Third Time’s a Charm


US Q3 GDP was revised up on higher personal spending and a downturn in imports. To us, despite headwinds and concerns (which are nearly always present), it’s likely expansion continues ahead.

Cliff’s Fisca-la-la-la Follies


Just as the holiday season is reaching its peak, so are debates about the fiscal cliff … At least, they seem to be getting there.

Ken Fisher on Falling Off a Cliff and Hitting a Ceiling


Fiscal cliff talks in Washington took a turn toward another political machination—the debt ceiling—something you might remember from … 91 times before.

Manufacturing a Connection


Alleged connections between manufacturing’s contraction and the fiscal cliff seem, well, manufactured.

Underappreciated Thursday


Signs of underappreciated positives in the US and Europe.

The Affordable Care Act’s Affordability: Taxes


The US election results seemingly have given rise to heated rhetoric over the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. Let’s analyze the likely economic and market impact.

The Great Unemployment Debate


Despite accelerating hiring, the unemployment rate incrementally rose in the last report before the US elections. But should we draw any material conclusions from the data?

Dodd-Frankly, That’s Dumb


Dodd-Frank rules governing derivatives trading go into effect Friday. However, those potentially subject to the rules still find them full of ambiguity and uncertainty.

Scaling the Fiscal Cliff


As the election nears and the year winds down, fiscal cliff rhetoric is heating up. So how to read between the hype’s lines?

Humming Along With Housing


Housing data strengthened recently—potentially providing another tailwind to already resilient US economic growth.

Wandering Through the World Wide Web


One interesting shift in economic activity was paired with two widely held misperceptions Tuesday.

Employing Patience


A shrinking workforce took the shine off August’s falling unemployment rate, but history shows the economy can grow and employment improve as labor force participation falls.

The CBO’s Fuzzy Math


The CBO revised its outlook for the US economy in 2012 and 2013—but their math has us scratching our heads a little.

Gotta Have My Pops!


Rising food prices likely lack the power to pick consumers’ pocketbooks or derail the global economy.

Forecaster Faceoff


The IMF’s and other groups’ updated economic outlooks dominated headlines—a sure sign of a slow financial news day.

Debating Dour Datapoints


Those foretelling future economic distress based on Friday’s unemployment report are likely missing the broader trend.

Yankee Doodle Dandy


This Fourth of July, celebrate freedom, free markets and more bull market ahead!



The Supreme Court declared 2010’s health care reform bill constitutional on Thursday—what does the decision mean for stocks?

Let’s Twist Again


The Fed announced it will extend Operation Twist through year end—but does it give investors a new reason to dance? 

Coming to America


Watch what foreigners do with their money to gain perspective on American competitiveness.

Debatable Data Doldrums


US revised GDP was released Thursday to some consternation. And a brief update on US energy industry developments.

Better Than (Widely) Received


Both more granular and broader views of US Q1 GDP growth show Friday’s figures weren’t as bad as received.

The Volcker Rule’s Definition Problem


Implementation of Congress’ attempt to regulate banks’ proprietary trading was delayed Friday to give regulators time to define what they’re regulating.

Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees on Unemployment


Friday’s unemployment report was less than sensational, but don’t miss the forest for the trees with just one data point.

More Gas in the Tank


Some have fretted rising gas prices are likely to derail the economy—but is there an actual connection to economic activity?

Around the World in Manufacturing


As global manufacturing continues expanding broadly, regional reports highlight some interesting happenings around the world.

Around the World in Manufacturing


As global manufacturing continues expanding broadly, regional reports highlight some interesting happenings around the world.

US Durable Goods Still Strong


February’s capital goods orders missed estimates, but capital goods remain an economic bright spot.

Pulling Back (the) TARP


Roughly three and a half years after its hotly debated birth, TARP’s bank bailout doesn’t seem much like the black hole many feared.

Not-So-Stressful Tests


The Fed announced stress test results Tuesday—revealing mostly healthy financial institutions.

Evidence of Employment


Data from both the private sector and government illustrate healing labor markets.

Manufacturing on the Mind


Upon closer inspection, fears of manufacturing’s long-term decline are unfounded.

Earning Their Keep


Corporate earnings grew again in Q4—the ninth straight quarter of growth.

A Surplus of Deficient Thinking


Trade data rolled in from many parts of the world globally. And they were met with typical deficit-and-surplus rhetoric.

A Case of the (Unemployment) Mondays


Despite recent improvements in unemployment data, many still argue government isn’t doing or hasn’t done enough in that area—an argument which largely ignores several positives at work.

Employment Friday!


Here are over 20 numbers to help illustrate a data-packed Friday.

A Web of Misperceptions


A look at some misperceptions we came across in our regular internet perusal Tuesday.

The Grass Is Greener Than Many Think


Friday’s US Q4 2011 GDP report showed growth continued—and accelerated for the third quarter in a row.

Manufacturing’s Manifest March


While fears of US manufacturing’s decline remain prevalent in the media, data paint a markedly different picture.

Private-Sector Strength


Signs of private-sector strength continue to emerge in the US and abroad.

Headlines in Iowa (and Elsewhere)


Tuesday marked the first US trading day of the year—here’s a quick rundown of some primary stories.

(Growth) Dashing Through the Year


Thursday bore gifts a little early as indications of US growth continued and Congress reached an agreement.

Inside Retail Sales


US November retail sales grew less than estimated. But digging below the surface, the report wasn’t bleak.

Unemployment, Overall and on Average


Is a still-high unemployment rate that unusual?

Red Hot Black Friday


Strong Q3 earnings and record-high Black Friday sales illustrate the disconnect between sentiment and reality.

Have Consumers Changed Their Ways?


Let’s put one theory of a fundamental shift in US consumer spending patterns in perspective.

US Q3 GDP Revision: All About Inventories


Don’t be fooled by the headline deceleration. Tuesday’s US Q3 GDP revision creates visions of a jolly holiday season with steady growth, but dwindling inventories.

Earnings and Implications


A look back at Q3 earnings season, and a look ahead at the likely implications.

Midweek Mash-up


Euro politics dominated headlines again Tuesday, but eurozone musical chairs wasn’t the only story. Here’s a look at what news caught our eye.

20 Numbers to Help Illustrate Unemployment


A collection of factoids to help put current unemployment in perspective.

Counting Candy (and Earnings)


US companies are on track for eight straight quarters of earnings growth.

When News Isn’t Really New


A look around the web at some of Tuesday’s not-so-new news.

Harping on HARP


The government announced a new plan to shore up underwater homeowners. But will it work?

Counterproductive Handwringing Over Productivity


A recent revision to US labor productivity has some in the media wringing their hands over long-range forecasts. But do the data merit the to-do?

A Preponderance of the Evidence: Growth


Although sentiment continues to be dour, a preponderance of the evidence shows underappreciated economic strength.

Racing Towards Zero


Last week, slow developments on US free trade gave way to action—on more than one front.

A Vicious Cycle?


Friday’s unemployment report showed better-than-expected hiring, but that hasn’t stopped some from fretting unemployment’s impact on economic growth.

Do Little Fed, Do Nothing Government


While the Fed took an incremental step intended to buoy the economy Wednesday, Congress seems committed to quite the opposite tactic—doing nothing.

Dawn After Darkness


Thursday marks the anniversary of Lehman Brothers’ collapse. Three years on, are we facing a repeat of the 2008 financial panic and ensuing bear market?

Whispers, Politics and Remembrance


A Friday look at things recent—and things remembered.

Politics and Pigskins


President Obama will address the nation Thursday on the current domestic jobs situation—but it’s unlikely solutions come from politicians on either side of the aisle.

The San Francisco Fed’s Generation Gap


Conclusions drawn from demographic data about the future of equity market demand sources seem initially compelling but break down under further scrutiny.

Jawboning, Speculation and Hot Air


With the Fed holding its annual Jackson Hole symposium, talk of QE3 is escalating.

A Retail Pop


Amid steep market volatility, it’s important to recognize the widely discussed negatives but also to balance them against material economic positives to get a clearer view.

After the Downgrade


Global markets experienced a sell-off Monday, as investors contended with S&P’s US credit rating downgrade and the ECB’s Spanish and Italian debt purchase plans.

Veritable Volatility


Markets continued their roller coaster ride Friday but basically ended flat—a useful illustration of recent market action in general and one reason to avoid knee-jerk reactions to uncomfortable volatility.

Half Full or Half Empty?


Debt ceiling dramatics came to a conclusion Tuesday, leaving many frustrated in its wake. Here’s a look around the news at what’s poking that frustration—and largely unnoticed remedies.

Ceilings and Seesaws


Even if Congress passes a debt ceiling extension, don’t expect markets to sound the “all clear.”

Confused About Credibility?


Ratings agencies are getting a lot of attention lately, but let’s look at some facts before assuming they’re all that credible.

The Politics of Fear


White-hot, fear-based rhetoric is flying around the debt ceiling as politicians try to sell their positions. And, some links.

Breaking News-US Manufacturing Isn’t Dead


US manufacturing is alive and well, making government claims there’s a need for a “national strategy” dubious at best.

Fisher Investments on Rising Commodity Capital Expenditures


Rising demand from Emerging Markets consumers has had downstream effects on agricultural commodities. This bodes well for commodity capital expenditures.

Across Shining Seas


Isolationism has no place in economics or investment strategy.

Spend and Trade


Though positive global developments are getting short shrift, they do exist today.

Waving the Fed’s Wand


Many seem to think the Fed has a magic wand it can wave to solve the economy’s woes. But folks seem to believe in monetary policy sometimes and not others.

Economic Predestination


It seems the release of every economic data point brings fresh comparisons to the Great Depression—but they just don’t hold up. Nor do they tell us much about where we’re headed next.

Foggy Financials


Though regulatory uncertainty is troubling Financials shares, banks are healthier than most think.

The Great Non-Depression


A recent slowdown in some economic data has the media bemoaning we’re on the verge of the next Great Depression—but the numbers just don’t support that.

Cue the Curtain for QE2?


With June’s arrival comes the last month of the Fed’s second round of quantitative easing purchases.

What’s Up Is Up, What’s Down Is…Up


While Q1 GDP was unchanged, dueling headlines said corporate profits both rose and fell.

A Headache Over Housing?


Although a housing recovery would provide a nice tailwind moving forward, it isn’t necessary for continued economic growth.

Attack of the Muni Monsters


2011 was predicted to be the year of the municipal bond default—but how has that played out so far?

Make a Trade for Trade


Pending FTAs with Panama, Colombia and South Korea are caught in yet another political battle.

Breaking the Debt Ceiling


On Monday, the US hit the $14.3 trillion debt ceiling, stressing the need for Congress to raise the debt ceiling—which will likely happen eventually.

WPA, Reductio Ad Absurdum


Unemployment’s continued sluggishness has some proposing rather radical government solutions—which would likely do more harm than good.

Dawn of the Not So Dead


US manufacturing, long thought dead, is actually much healthier than rumored.

Mending Lending


A new Fed survey shows banks are healthier and lending is improving, but profit margins may be squeezed awhile longer.

Not Running on Empty


Preliminary US Q1 2011 GDP came in below expectations, but varying speeds in a growth cycle are perfectly normal.

The Dodd-Frank “Act” Strikes Again?


The Federal Reserve released yet another proposal in response to provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act, but practical details were few and far between and likely unnecessary.

Fisher Investments MarketMinder: Our Eye on Earnings


Q1 2011 corporate profit growth may be more subdued relative to past quarters, but Fisher Investments MarketMinder finds that normal in the course of an ongoing expansion.

The Scarlet Letter


S&P downgraded the US’s credit rating outlook by a notch, but it shouldn’t mean much.

A Lesson in the Law of Unintended Consequences


Legislation that interferes with free markets can and frequently does have completely unintended consequences—sometimes undermining the very purpose of the legislation.

The Totality of Trade


China reported a trade deficit in Q1 2011, but despite that, both Chinese imports and exports rose—a desirable overall increase in trade.

A Triumph for Trade


Contrary to protectionists’ claims, free trade agreements give American companies a fighting chance in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

An Impasse Comes to Pass


Congressional Democrats and Republicans continue to battle over the budget.

Checking the Inner Gut Strategist


Economic growth and positive market returns continued in Q1 2011. But what of investor sentiment?

A QE2 Quandary


The QE2 debate’s already begun, and unsurprisingly, officials and politicians are heavily divided on the subject.

Profits Prove Positive


US Q4 2010 corporate profits were once again hugely positive—proof of overall US corporate health.

Who Loves Toxic Waste?


The US Treasury plans to sell $142 billion of mortgage-backed securities bought in 2008—the latest example of the government profiting from financial panic intervention.

Muni Meltdown Myths


Fears of a US muni market meltdown are spreading, but even if defaults reached their worst levels historically, the fallout would likely be relatively limited.

Help Wanted?


Private sector employment exceeded expectations Wednesday, but what does that say about the global recovery’s direction?

America Express


US economic growth is accelerating faster than most of the developed world—boding well for American stocks.

A Budget Battle


President Obama revealed his 2012 budget Monday—and true to form, lawmakers are already bristling over proposed spending cuts and tax increases.

Vaguely Reforming Their Fannie


Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner presented three proposals for reforming Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on Friday.

More With Less


Growth continues to surge in the US thanks to increasing productivity.

Recovery Ends. Expansion Begins.


Preliminary US Q4 GDP showed 3.2% annualized growth and pushed the economy to a new high-water mark—inconceivable to many just two short years ago.

Hitting the Mark-to-Market


The FASB's actions speak louder than the FCIC's words.

Blues’ Clues?

Subdued US blue chips earnings reports shouldn't surprise—nor necessarily disappoint.

Not-So-Toxic TARP


Preliminary reports indicate the US Treasury's eight "toxic asset” funds weren't so toxic after all.

Eyeing the Exit

Inflation was up in 2010, but 2011 shouldn't bring materially higher prices.

A Tale of Two Unemployment Rates

Is unemployment really the paramount economic indicator?

On an Up Note

2010 looks to have ended on an economic up note.

A Resolution Good Enough to Keep

What should investors take away from 2010?

Winter Credit Thaw

US bank lending to smaller and medium-sized firms is on the rise.

The Many Gifts of Capitalism

This holiday season, we'd like to say thanks to corporate America for gifts given all year—and their gifts are the kind that keep on giving.

Pain in Spain, But Gains in US

PIIGS fears remain in headlines, but US economic data are encouraging.

Classic Divergence

The Fed remained cautious in their most recent policy statement even as retail sales confirmed continued economic recovery on the verge of renewed expansion.

Dodd-Frank Says Ditch Fitch

The Dodd-Frank legislation calls for the end of the rating agency oligopoly, an outcome we guardedly support. 

A Lesson In Government Math

Counterintuitively, that the US unemployment rate ticked up slightly in Friday's report isn't bad news.

Revealing a Non-Secret

Little attention seems to be paid to expanding manufacturing activity globally—and that could be good news for investors.

Black Friday Not So Bleak

Irish bailout details failed to calm European nerves, but US investors managed to shake off some of the gloom on encouraging Thanksgiving retail sales. 

A Round of Thanks

MarketMinder is thankful for a quite a few things this year.

Briefly Bellicose

Geopolitical tensions on the Korean peninsula knocked stocks Tuesday.

Not So Ghoulish October

US October retail sales increased the most in seven months—adding to business spending power.

Geared for Growth

Though little noted, corporate earnings are again trouncing analysts' expectations.

Five Spooky Fears Dispelled by US GDP

Fears are commonplace early in economic expansion—but a clear-minded review of US Q3 GDP shows many are simply ghost stories.

In Queue, QE2

The question of will they or won't they is falling wayside to questions over how much?

Wall Street Pros Bailout Government

Many decry Wall Street profiting from governmental programs put in place during the financial panic, but the opposite is closer to the truth.

Bashing the Bank Piñata

Financials are finding ways around new regulations faster than Washington can enact new ones.

A Recent History of Technical Analysis’ Recent History Lessons

Technical indicators frequently grab investors' attention—but let's use recent history to assess their success.

Taking Stock of Earnings

We could see another quarter of solid S&P 500 earnings.

It’s USA. Not USSA.

Friday's US unemployment report showed little improvement in the jobless rate—but it did reveal a smaller government payroll, adding further evidence recent socialism fears were (and are) overblown.

One Less Four-Letter Word

The unpopular Troubled Assets Relief Fund (TARP) closed to new business on Sunday—posting vastly smaller-than-feared costs and perhaps smaller-than-perceived successes.

No September Slump

September surprised investors by beating expectations, and if history is any guide, there might be more good news in store.

The Threat of Tit for Tat

US legislation targeting China's currency policy seems ill-advised.

Gridlock on the Beltway

Increased political gridlock looks likely—and investors should cheer

Headlines Deceive

Beneath the surface, Friday's US durable goods report showed businesses confidently deployed cash in August.

Credit Where Credit's Due

The US corporate debt default rate is down dramatically and now expected to fall further to pre-financial crisis levels.

First, a Trickle

The Fed's Flow of Funds report showed Americans' net worth fell in Q2—but also showed US non-financial companies maintained a massive $1.84 trillion cash hoard.

Incorrectly Political

As US midterm elections approach, much of the heated debate surrounds the economy. But buying into their accounts is potentially dangerous for investors.

Dumb Bears

Double-dip fears are nothing new, and their existence doesn't confirm that the fears are valid.

Retail Therapy

Consumer spending is doing just fine, despite the usual fears to the contrary.

Wild Wyoming and Washington

From the wilds of Wyoming to Washington's beltway, economic growth was Friday's catch phrase.

It’s Not Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Thursday's US stock market performance wasn't stellar after a few weak US economic reports. But the picture's not as gloomy globally.

Getting a Grip on Bonds

Bonds may feel safe relative to stocks, but there can be drawbacks—sometimes significant.

Trading Up

Trade up a focus on the trade balance for one on overall trade levels.

Hungry Bears

Slowing economic statistics are bringing out the bears. But we don't think they've got much to chew on.    

Titus Maccius Plautus on US Unemployment

July's US unemployment report disappointed. But does this provide useful information for investors?

A Watched Pot Still Boils

Closely watched economic data are showing signs of improvement.

An Import-Led Recovery

Friday's US GDP release provided an interesting look back at the second quarter—and a trip way back to revise dated data.

Spill Bill on the Hill

Is there enough political will to pass a contentious energy bill?

Lowering the Economic Bar

Fed Chief Ben Bernanke's testimony revealed a weaker outlook for growth—but also expectations for a continued recovery.

Economic Relativity

As the economic recovery matures, it's important to separate a declining rate of growth from an absolute decline. 

The Paper Companies’ Big Win

Congress celebrated reconciliation of financial reform on Friday—but there's a lot more paper than substantive reform targeting major factors driving 2008's financial panic.

Housing Tax-Credit Hangover

New and existing home sales data for May disappointed—but the expiring housing tax credit likely played a role.


While some fear ailing US consumers, businesses are showing resounding balance sheet vitality—a likely forerunner to bullish business spending. 

Debunking Debt Concerns

We're big enough to handle our debt—and more.

Hungary for News

Global stocks shed mid-week gains on Friday, tied to one story that was positive but not positive enough, and gamesmanship from a new Hungarian politician.

PIIGS and Chips

Spain's credit was downgraded on Friday, but that shouldn't overshadow positive developments elsewhere, like US manufacturing.

America, Still Popular

Recent data show it takes more than badmouthing to strip US assets of their popularity.

The Fundamental Focus

As stocks waver on euro-worries, global economic fundamentals continue their strong showing.


Hedge funds betting against the market get hurt—sometimes in a big way—when stock prices rise.

Third Time’s Also a Charm

The US economy expanded for the third consecutive quarter.

May Day!

It's the time of year for a classic rhyming myth to return from winter—but it doesn't pass muster when tested.

A (Non) Moving Target

The Fed maintained its target rate Tuesday—but it's only natural to worry about what happens when higher rates do come. (Hint: Fine things historically.)

Rocky Earnings

S&P 500 companies reporting earnings thus far are beating analysts' expectations—by a wide margin.

To Burn or to Stone…

Bankers deserve their share of the blame for 2008, but why solely them?

Uncle Sam’s Payday

There's much talk about raising taxes, but whether or not taxes go higher likely has little effect on the bull market.

Wonka Wonka Wonka

The wonks at NBER are delaying declaring the recession's end—but investors needn't care about an "official” declaration.

Extra-Special Bulletproof

Are credit ratings agencies really all that different from other forms of financial analysis? Nope.

Going Once…Going Twice…

A great deal of ink has been spilled over the world's growing disdain for US Debt, but two recent Treasury auctions tell a different tale.

No Kidding

Stocks got off to a good start in the second quarter, with gains likely fueled by positive manufacturing data from countries large and small.

Adventure’s Out There

Though the housing market continues stabilizing, the pace of recovery remains slow—in stark contrast to stocks and the broader economy.


Banks have received little credit for repaying bailout loans.

Feelings and Other Tragedies

Most Americans feel like their portfolios haven't grown over the last year. But feelings are often completely wrong.

March On

Wednesday's tame consumer price index reading is welcome confirmation inflation remains a distant threat.

Meaningless Marker

Major stock market indexes hit 18-month highs Wednesday—spurring some folks to fear stocks may be due for a drop.

Not in the Mood

Moody signaled its displeasure with US debt levels by announcing the country was closer to a rating downgrade.


A resurging corporate debt market is yet another sign companies are strong and ready to spend, which spells growth for the broader economy.

Long Live the King?

Cash is corporate king currently, and that bodes well for stocks looking forward.

Packing a Punch?

Many fear commercial real estate losses present a potential blow to economic recovery.

In Memoriam

This month memorializes the 2000 market peak a decade on. Looking back, we find few revolutionary investing lessons, but many essential reminders.

Underdogs Victorious

The US and most Emerging Markets beating Q4 GDP expectations signals the global economy is alive and well.

A False Prophet

February's falling consumer confidence doesn't tell us much and should little worry investors.

A Fed Surprise


The Fed raised the discount rate Friday—a baby step toward normalizing monetary policy.

Whoop, There It Is

There's much to whoop and cheer about in the US manufacturing sector.

PIIGS Go to Market

Recent PIIGS countries bond auctions were oversubscribed.

The Plan That’s Just a Plan

Fed head Bernanke released a statement Wednesday detailing stimulus exit options—but indicated monetary policy will remain accommodative for a while yet.

Here Comes . . . a Little Sun

Falling inventories, little talked about, signal continued economic improvement and could help stocks rise over time.

Simmer Down Over Corporate Bonds

Sentiment may be shaking the corporate bond market right now, but companies' prospects are largely robust.

A Tale of Two Surveys

Friday's employment report might seem a mixed bag, but it shows progress overall.

Melancholy Over Manufacturing?

US manufacturing expanded in January at the fastest pace in five years, but naysayers fear the sector's continuing decline.

This. Is. Good. News.

As US GDP grew at its fastest pace in six years, the pessimism of disbelief finds reason to doubt.

One Step at a Time

The FOMC's Wednesday meeting contained no surprises—but showed the Fed's willing to maintain accommodative policies until the recovery is on surer footing.

So Long, Sixty

Tuesday's election surprise likely spells doom for health care reform.

Another Brick in the Wall

December's job losses may discourage, but they're just another brick in the bull market's wall of worry.

See You Next January

So goes January, so goes the year—so long? Not so fast.

Bonds in Red

Bonds can lose value too. 2009 was an example.


What are the experts saying about 2010? And what should investors do about it?

Data Drawbacks

Economic data—what's in those numbers?

Cash Rich

US companies have plenty of cash on hand ready to be deployed at a moment's notice.

Yields Signs

The US yield curve steepened to its biggest spread in decades last week—bullish for economic growth.

TARP Controversy

TARP's extension Wednesday was largely irrelevant—along with other emergency programs, it's already prevented the worst-case scenario.

Skip the Double-Dip

The future's never certain, but a double-dip recession seems unlikely.

Jobs Report, Sarbox, and Japan Post

The world is full of rotating characters, and some acts have more power to move markets than others.

The Ol’ Pension Blues

The ol' pension blues are back—but they needn't rob investors of holiday cheer.

Thanks Aplenty

Folks generally aren't as happy this holiday as usual, but there's plenty to be thankful for.

Is the Price Right?

Short-term US Treasury yields dipped into negative territory this week. Investors needn't panic—it's not December 2008 all over again.

Channeling Chips

The semiconductor industry was rattled Thursday by analysts' downgrade.

The Show Will Go On

A single piece of news virtually never accounts for daily market movement. 

Back to Business

Investors need not believe in the US economy to believe in global stocks.


Credit ratings agencies are on the ropes lately. But are they down and out for good?

Battle of the Buck

Don't fret a weakening dollar.

Paying for the Bailouts

The financial crisis appears to be over, but thanks to onerous regulations and political scrutiny, Financials' woes aren't.

Unemployment’s Jab No Knockout

US October unemployment rose, but shouldn't hold back economic and stock market recovery.

Hungry for More

Q3 US worker productivity increased the most since 2003—good news for corporate profits and stocks.

Ignoring the Itch

Jittery markets make for itchy trigger fingers.

Bedtime Stories to Scare Investors

CIT's bankruptcy filing is a story reminiscent of last year's financial horrors—one with less power to move markets.

Treats, Please

The US economy returned to growth mode in Q3, with consumer spending leading the way.

Monetary Mantras

Though some central banks are raising interest rates, stimulative global monetary policy remains en vogue.

Not Just Debt Weight

Worried about today's high government debt? History shows we're still well within manageable levels.

Picture This

Leading economic indicators are up for the sixth consecutive month. Investors who wait for the whole picture will likely be left behind as the bull market continues to rise.

Other Shoe Blues

Bull market skeptics believe commercial real estate woes may be the much- awaited "other shoe” drop-kicking markets. We doubt it.

Taming of the Shrill

Cries proclaiming imminent rampant inflation have little economic support.

D10K Doubters

Amid some celebration, Dow doubters hailed 10,000 as the ceiling for stocks. The milestone means little, but the bother's bullish.

Change Ain’t Easy in DC

Some Democrats want to expand the current stimulus—but investors needn't fear, it's unlikely any sweeping new stimulus measures will get approved anytime soon.

Don’t Mess With Taxes

Concerns about higher taxes abound, but stock investors likely needn't fear the effects.

Even Steven

Investors shouldn't abandon their long-term investment strategies just because stocks are recovering.

The Dollar’s Doom Looms?

Rumors are flying that a few countries want to stop pricing oil in US dollars, raising fears about the dollar as the world's dominant currency.

Unemployment, Underemployment and Zombies

Unemployment and underemployment may continue rising, but history tells us they won't hold back stocks.


Fears natural disasters or geopolitical unrest could trigger the next bear market are nothing new.

A Sign of Better Days to Come

US Q2 GDP was revised higher—but fears about the economy and consumer spending continue to weigh on many folks' minds.

Shaken, Not Stirred

The stock market recovery has been steady so far, but don't forget pullbacks are normal during a bull market.

Lofty Promises, Little Action

World leaders descended on the US this week for a couple high-profile summits. Policy decisions, major or minor, are unlikely.

Stimulus U-Turn

The DPJ, Japan's new ruling party, announced its decision to postpone parts of the $165 billion economic stimulus package passed earlier this year—possibly hindering Japan's economic recovery relative to the rest of the world.

Bare Bottom

As the global economy recovers, bare-bones inventories need to rise to keep shelves from becoming equally bare.

Bye-Bye, Recession?

Recent talk of the end of the global recession isn't new news to investors.

Minor in the Key of Kerfuffle

Scaled historically, today's trade kerfuffles are minor—but we like that so many are paying attention.

Separation Anxiety

Though Treasury and White House speak of "exit strategy,” financial regulation proposals could mean continued government involvement in the financial sector.

One Year Later

One year after a fateful week on Wall Street ignited a panic, we evaluate where things stand today.

Of Mop-Tops and Monetary Union

The United Nations recently proposed establishing a global central bank and currency to solve the world's woes—but don't expect action anytime soon.

Less Bad Is Good

Economic data has been exceeding dour expectations, but skeptics are quick to note "less bad" data still isn't good.

Location, Location, Location

Signs of improvement in the housing market are welcome but not necessary for the stock market rally to continue.

Stay in September

Despite investing myths to the contrary, September isn't a cursed month for investors.

Buckle Up

Investors needn't fear China's stock market correction.

Alphabet Soup Recovery

Contrary to popular belief, the stock market and the economy don't move in lockstep. Markets can recover in a V—even while the economy L's, W's, or Q's for a bit.

Pulling Weeds

Colonial BancGroup's failure is typical of recessions' tendency to weed out weaker firms.

The Report of the Consumer’s Death is an Exaggeration

The cards might seem stacked against a rebound in consumption, but consumers are much more resilient than most think.

Out of the Gates

France and Germany announced positive Q2 GDP numbers Thursday, adding to signs a global economic recovery is well underway.

Brainlessly Buoyant?

Stocks' fast pace has some fretting bubbles.

The Day the Twitter Died

Bottom news stories are often the ones behind surging stocks.

Training Wheels

Central banks worldwide are maintaining flexible monetary policies as the global financial system continues its recovery.

Don’t Call It a Comeback

The US economy could be on the verge of renewed growth, but extremely cautious optimism pervades.

Musical Chairs

Employment numbers are in the spotlight again, but don't count on them to perfectly reflect the employment picture or tell you where markets are headed.

The Dog Days

With Congress in recess and much of the financial industry on vacation, the news cycle should be mellow until after Labor Day.

Statutory Sunshine

The financial regulation debate is raging again.

The Long Summer

Major new legislative proposals have stalled in the Beltway—that just might be a good thing for stocks.

Take a Hike

The federal minimum wage increases this Friday. Despite arguments to the contrary, it's likely the economic impact will be negligible.

CIT’s Private Reprieve

CIT may have secured a reprieve from bankruptcy court—for now—but the bigger news is its rescue is being backed by private financing rather than the government.

Back to Basics

Earnings show banks' traditional capabilities are intact.

The Year of the Ox

China's stimulus plans are coming to fruition faster than most developed nations, and the country will probably lead the global economic recovery.

The Tin State

State budget woes have received significant media coverage, but they tell us little about future stock prices.

Oil! (Again)

Commodities regulators are debating the role speculators play in prices—yet again.

CDO Remix

Budding CDO activity is a sign an important source of lending isn't permanently gone.

Numeric Follies

Sometimes the government's economic projections simply don't add up.

Goldilocks and the Inflation Bugaboo

Investors should differentiate budget deficits from inflation.

The Program That Wasn’t There

Banks are less interested in the government's help these days. That's a good thing.

Trifling Transformers

President Obama signed off on the "cash for clunkers” program Wednesday. Don't hold your breath on this one folks.

Witching Hour

A seemingly ghoulish event known as quadruple witching took place this week, but long-term investors shouldn't fear its spells.

Voting and Weighing

Short-term market volatility has never inhibited long-term value recognition or positive returns.

Regulator Rubik’s Cube

Today's announced financial regulatory proposals are moderate but highlight why investors should beware US Financials for now.

The Earliest Bird

Economically sensitive sectors should lead the recovery—especially Materials, the earliest bird.

Yesterday’s Breaking News

Fed reports showed US household wealth dropped in Q1, but this is hardly new news!

A Fire Sale Four

Rising US Treasury yields—alarming or alluring? 

Not a Bair Market

Recent government feuding over Citigroup's stock conversion highlights political risk within the slowly healing financial sector.

Baby, You Can Drive My Volvo

America's auto industry is as American as strudel, sushi, and bangers and mash.

One War at a Time

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke called for deficit reduction this week—what gives?

Banks and the Temple of Doom

Big banks are eagerly trying to escape TARP, but it isn't easy.

Don’t Bow to Dow

It's time investors stopped bowing to the Dow—it's a poorly constructed index.

Out With a Thud

Bankruptcy looks inevitable for GM.

Political Pavement

Congress recently passed a slew of new credit card regulations—and already the "law of unintended consequences” is hard at work.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

You can sweat the small stuff—or look at the bigger picture.

Tarnished by Taxes

Tough economic conditions and budget woes in some big states won't derail economic recovery.

Separating Shoots From Stocks

Sluggish economic recovery won't prevent a V-shaped stock market bounce if worst-case fears subside.

Regulatory Redux

Downturns bring increased federal scrutiny. But not all regulation is bad regulation.

Throwback to High-Waters

With stocks down considerably from their high-water mark, it's hard not to wonder how long it'll take to get back there.

A Medium Rare Market

The stock market has been rising in the face of negative economic news, as it's supposed to.

Fashionably Flaky

Adding to already massive global monetary stimulus, the European Central Bank and Bank of England announced more stimulus Thursday.

Don’t Stress the Tests

Fears about bank stress tests are overblown, and markets have so far cheered the results.

The Incredible Shrinking Mortgage Problem

Time is healing the US mortgage market.

It’s Just the Opposite

In bad times, stocks are commonly shunned as permanently damaged goods—history shows no such thing.

Political Appeal

When Democratic presidents learn to appeal to voters beyond their party base, history shows markets do very well in their inaugural years.

Walk the Line

Regulators told investors Thursday they will detail bank stress-test methodology well before the results are released to the public.

The Government’s Learning Curve

How the government handles stress tests for banks will indicate the administration's ability to learn from past mistakes.

A Stimulative Spark

Recent prices demonstrate neither alarming growth nor precipitous declines—making a case for today's aggressive monetary policy.

An Unexpected Tenner

Wells Fargo and other big banks will likely report stronger-than-expected first quarter earnings. But banks still face plenty of risks.

Uptick Rule, Plus Frills

The SEC is considering limits on short selling, including reinstating the recently shelved uptick rule.


The relative size of the US in the global economy is shrinking.

Free of FASB’s Fust

A move in the right direction, the Financial Accounting Standards Board voted to soften FAS 157 Thursday.

Fool’s Errand

Focusing on today's negative data to gauge economic progress is a fool's errand.

Tick Tock, Autos

Time is running out for General Motors and Chrysler, and filing for bankruptcy is looking likely.

Banking Man

Bank executives visited the White House today to discuss the state of the economy and the financial system with President Obama.

Yogic Wisdom

Treasury Secretary Geithner's been on fire all week—but do his words doom stocks? Probably not. 

Climate Control

Ambitious cap-and-trade legislation won't get through Congress easily. That's good news for the economy.

Public-Private Teamwork

Treasury finally released details of the Public-Private Investment Program, but proposed modifications to FAS 157 could be more important to investors.


The Fed's new Term Asset-Backed Loan Facility (TALF) kicked off this week to somewhat tepid demand.

A Fed to Be Reckoned With

The Fed proved it's a force to be reckoned with, unveiling three additional strategies injecting up to an additional $1.15 trillion into capital markets.

Debt-jà Vu

Concerns foreigners will cease to finance the US's growing debt are nothing new.

The Inscrutable Federal Mind

Markets continue to discount uncertainty, not risk, as the rules of the game remain inscrutable as ever.

Fool’s Gold?

Economic and banking news largely beat dour expectations last week—and stock markets rose in response. But it's too soon to say if a new bull has arrived.

Savvy Cities

Free markets increase efficiency—even in hulking government bureaucracies.

Digesting Clouds

Markets have a lot to digest, but few things are concrete yet.

Washington Waffles

Washington's waffling is only prolonging the pain. 

More Aid for AIG

Battered AIG received more aid, but there's no definitive end in sight to their problems.

A One-Two Punch

Stock prices dropped today on dour news from the banking and economic fronts.

Our Beltway Buddies

The White House submitted a blockbuster budget blueprint Thursday. 

Parental Advisory

More inconsistent federal messaging roiled markets Monday and Tuesday. 

Cheering Inflation

Today's CPI data indicates the economy isn't slipping into deflation as many fear.

Bad News Banks

Political rhetoric continues to focus on banks—this time touching on the idea of nationalization.

A Calculator, and Bananas

The 3.5 million jobs promised by the stimulus package is based on fuzzy math, but it doesn't matter much for investors.

Pent Up on Pins and Needles

A pent-up deluge of dreadful news was unleashed Tuesday sending markets sharply lower.

It Was No Grilled Cheese

Members of Congress grilled top bank executives Wednesday on why their institutions haven't been lending.

Seeing Past the Trees

Treasury Secretary Geithner's financial rescue strategy may lack details, but one thing's for certain—it's massive.

Strong Currents Stirring

Erratic equities declined Tuesday, yet credit markets continue to thaw.

A Silver Lining

The economy lost more jobs in January—an unfortunate statistic for jobseekers, but not necessarily investors.

On Borrowed Dime

The government can go a long way on borrowed dime.

Skip the Scratch

Amid today's negative economic news, we note already low inventories could signify a particularly sharp but abbreviated downturn.

Orange-Hued Sticks?

Government capital infusions to help banks lend appear to be sticks disguised as carrots.

Building the Wall of Worry

GDP dropped 3.8% for Q4 2008—a dismal end to the year. Economic news will likely get worse in 2009, but expect the market to improve before the economy.

A CDS Witch Hunt

The Credit Default Swap market has been maligned as a source of financial instability, but inhibiting this important market would do more harm than good.

So Bad, It’s Good?

Plans for a government-run "bad bank” stoked financial shares today, but the targeted assets aren't nearly as bad as people think.

Proceeding Aggressively With Caution

Fed policy makers will likely exhibit both force and caution in their scheduled meetings this week.

Housing Wobble

The heavy emphasis on the latest housing data belies its light GDP weight.

Meet Mr. Geithner?

Treasury secretary nominee Timothy Geithner won the Senate Finance Committee's approval Thursday—but we still know relatively little about him.

Strings Attached

TARP's strings are tightening around the banking sector.

German Debt Drama

Though little noticed in the US, a failed German bond auction has some worried abroad.

Reverse Logic

More weak unemployment data made the news today—but don't bet it depresses stocks long term.

Sunk by Saving?

Consumer health has been at the tip of everyone's tongue—now some worry more saving will make things even worse.

Layer Cake Regulation

The SEC's long-awaited report on FAS 157 only complicates things.

Globalization’s Sequel Is Safe

Central banks worldwide have acted quickly, aggressively, and more or less together all year.  

Toxic Mortgages: Act II?

Looming rate resets on various adjustable rate mortgages are causing some to fear another subprime-like fallout.

The Ghost of Bailouts to Come

The US government is spreading holiday cheer from Detroit to Main Street.

America’s Lost Decade?

The Fed's recent rate cut and announced policy of quantitative easing is causing some to compare the US now to Japan in the 1990s—we're not so sure. 

Still Fighting the Good Fight

US markets were up today as the Fed announced it would again cut rates and continue aggressively deploying its many other policy tools. 

To Err Is…


The Madoff scandal is an unfortunate demonstration of Wall Street hucksterism, but red flags were aplenty. 


Fresh Air’s Fleeting

Thursday night and Friday morning witnessed some surprisingly sane action from the Beltway—and predictably, the opposite too. 

Simplify, Simplify

The muddled US financial regulatory system exacerbated this fall's crisis—maybe it's time to simplify its structure. 

Seasonal Shoppers

Consumer spending will be subdued this holiday season, but there is some good news amid the coal lumps.

A Gradual Cure


US financial and economic health recovery will take place in steps, not in a single climactic moment.

Deep Into the Playbook

In yet another attempt to address housing market concerns, the feds announced a plan hoping to aid new homebuyers and support housing prices.

The Usual Suspects

President-elect Obama's economic Cabinet picks are experienced economic and political veterans—the usual suspects.

The Egghead Economy

On Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) officially labeled this past year a recession.

Help Wanted

Banks are learning the hard way TARP is no overnight solution.

Our Erratic Queen

Rapidly falling prices have many worried about deflation.

Take Two

The Fed's willing to innovate and innovate again to succeed.

Citi Won’t Sink Yet

As expected, the federal government stepped in over the weekend with an aid package for ailing mega-bank, Citigroup.

Fear Strikes Financials, Again

Fear strikes Financials—again!

Little Meaning in the Muck

Today's volatility is sometimes hard to fathom—but some of it is surely due to existing non-fundamental pressures.

Presto Change-O

Some insurance companies are turning themselves into savings-and-loan holding companies to qualify for government funding.

Invest for the Future, Not the Present

During economic downturns, many wait for signs of recovery before investing. But investment decisions based on today's news only puts investors behind.

Plan B

The government has switched to "Plan B” on various rescue programs.

And Justice For All…

Some have argued the government's financial crisis cure-all has been one-sided—but a new plan seems to indicate that will soon be remedied.

A Motor City Mess

Can a government save an industry? Detroit's Big Three are hoping so.

Down to One

The US elected a new president Tuesday night, removing one key uncertainty.

The Ultimate Leading Economic Indicator

The stock market is a leading economic indicator, not the other way around.

Months Like Years

The last day of October finished higher—but the month was tough for stock investors.

Nothing’s Shocking

Thursday brought further global liquidity support and weak (though expected) preliminary third quarter GDP data.

Tooling Around

Cutting the federal funds rate is just one monetary policy tool of many.

Signs of Life

Taken together, recent government and private sector actions are easing financial uncertainty.

Banking on the Government

What will banks participating in the Treasury's recapitalization program do with the extra funds?

There Are Positive Earnings

Despite the gloomy headlines, there are plenty of companies reporting positive earnings.

More Fed First Aid

Recently, the Fed announced more help for ailing money market mutual funds.

Easing Goes It

Tight credit conditions have eased lately—a little-noticed fact.

Follow the Leader

After Monday's round of announced European government capital injections, the US countered with a plan of its own Tuesday.

The Paper’s Piling Up

In addition to an interest rate cut, the Federal Reserve this week opened a new lending facility aimed at jumpstarting the commercial paper market.

The Benefit of Bad Memories

Though today's financial panic may seem Great Depression-like, the real economic consequences don't have to be.

Build a Man a Fire…

The Treasury's $700 billion financial rescue plan won't solve anything quickly—at least not in the way most folks think it will.

From Liquid to Antiques Roadshow

We examine the controversial topic of mark-to-market accounting—for those who forgot the details (or never knew to begin with)!

Monday’s Markets

After one of the largest down days in years, some new information came to light while other issues remained unresolved.

Politicizing the Rescue Plan

In the hands of politicians, the financial rescue plan has become…politicized!

Merely Bailout Opines, Not Call to Action

Many smart folks are weighing in on the government's bailout plan. Instead of hasty action, use this time to become as informed as you can.

Dollars for Assets

As Congress debates the Treasury and Fed's financial system bailout, many are concerned over its "price tag.”

Certainly Uncertain

The weekend and Monday delivered more news of material importance to financial markets.

Wall Street’s Wild Spirits

After a wild week on the Street, markets ended just about where they started.

A Shot in the Dark

Curtailing short selling is at best a regulatory shot in the dark.

Concerning AIG

The government rescue of insurance giant AIG is concerning but has its bright spots. 

Weekend at Lehman’s

On one of the worst single days in stock market history, capital markets revealed as much about their strength as their weakness.

Today, Resolve Trumps Timing

The last ten months have tested investors, but history and fundamentals say a bottom is likely near. When stocks hit bottom they'll bounce high.

New Rules for M&A

New M&A accounting and reporting standards mark a positive step toward creating seamless global markets, but pose problems for today's would-be sellers and buyers of companies.

Fate Accompli

For months, the fates of Fannie and Freddie seemed uncertain. Now, the federal takeover is a fait accompli.

Looking Forward to the Back End

Major indexes have declined 20% or more from their highs, indicating a bear market. With the US presidential election at hand, investors face a critical juncture.

It Could Happen to You

"Could” and "might” aren't news. Investors should be wary of opinions masquerading as journalism. 

Survey Says

Sentiment-based surveys almost never capture the complete picture.

Everything in Its Right Place

Many assign undue weight to the successes or failures of international organizations. But sovereign nations will do as they please, and failure to reach wide consensus doesn't mean globalization's end.

Too Big to Fail

Will the Fed's expansion of powers prove to be a terrible precedent or a pertinent innovation?

Don’t Demonize the Deficit

Earlier this week we noticed the re-emergence of a classic investing myth. Folks hailed the trade deficit shrinking on growing exports as good news.

The Dollar and You

There's lots of hubbub surrounding the US dollar's recent rally against other major currencies. What should investors know when it comes to currency movement?

California Dreamin’


Is California's once-golden economy now tarnished by years of anti-competitive regulation and taxes?


Cost Consumed

Higher production costs aren't necessarily directly passed on to the consumer.


As second quarter 2008 GDP came in stronger than expected, headlines still find reason to be gloomy.

Long Train Runnin’

Investors looking for anecdotal evidence miss some hard data, like transports, which remain strong--unlikely to happen during recession.

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

Some folks fret lower oil and gas prices are a bad sign for Energy and the economy, but fundamentals still look nice.

Earnings Expectations

Earnings season is proving to be a bumpy ride, but good news exists.

Time to Go to the Bull Pen?

Sector weightings are one of the key drivers of portfolio performance. Knowing when to make adjustments is vital to performance over time.

Your Mother Was a Hamster

With all the talk of economic woe and calls for accountability, a harsh regulatory response could become a risk.

Pessimistic Prognosticators Aplenty

Those in the financial industry are overwhelmingly bearish. Is there legitimate reason for their pessimism, or do the current troubles within their industry skew their views?

CPI : Rotten to the Core

While CPI has ticked up of late, rekindling inflation fears, global long-term interest rates, a better indication for the market's expectation of inflation, remain benign.

About Fannie and Freddie…

Markets were volatile again on Friday as fears over the health of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac resurfaced.

Care to Dance?

Initial public offerings (IPOs) have dried up lately. Many view this as a bearish sign. But a dearth of IPOs means less stock supply—bullish for prices.

The Paradox of Pursuit

For this year's celebration of independence, it's time to ask why we feel so bad while the world keeps getting better.

Oxymoronic Growth

That so many want to classify the economy today as being in recession is probably more a function of dour sentiment than economic reality.

A Classic French Fold

Many touting economic stimulus checks as the economy's saving grace are talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Don’t Fear the Fed

The Federal Reserve left rates unchanged yesterday, but hinted at a potential shift in policy in the months ahead. Regardless, incremental rate changes don't matter much to long-term investors.

Hanging Tough…Over and Out!

Many worry today's market volatility is because the world's more perilous than ever. Truth is, there's never a dull moment. Hang tough!

What Wealth Effect?


Folks fearing the weak housing market will dampen consumer spending shouldn't worry—consumer spending tracks disposable income, not home equity.

Bellwether Blues

Folks tend to base broad economic views on local circumstances and solitary storylines. This earnings season, be wary of assigning too much weight to the performance of a small set of traditional economic bellwethers—there's a wider world out there.

The Good, the Bad, and the Not So Bad

Ben Bernanke's congressional testimony on Wednesday seemingly supports calls for recession in 2008. Scaling the problems reveals slower growth, but a recession remains unlikely.

New Rules for the Street?

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson announced an "overhaul” plan for U.S. financial markets. But the plan, if it survives, will likely look very different.

Trial by Fire

Treasury Secretary Paulson's new policy recommendations intended to strengthen financial markets could prove to be more bane than boon.

Pawning Stocks

Stocks have been sold in the short-term to pay off debt. Said otherwise—certain financial institutions have been de-leveraging. It's kind of like pawning your guitar to pay the rent.

Going Once, Going Twice

The Fed's latest fix has markets in a huff. But just what is a Term Auction Facility anyway?

The Trouble with Carlyle

Investors fear Carlyle Capital's troubles signal larger problems surrounding agency mortgage securities, but Carlyle's woes aren't systemic.

Not in Our House!

Reported January foreclosure rates are up 57% from last year—a closer look at the data shows the accompanying fears are overblown.

Open for Business

Behind the turmoil, markets continue to function normally.

Municipal Bondage

Recent failed muni bond auctions have sparked new fears Wall Street's in credit bondage. But a closer look reveals just another overhyped worry of the liquidity crisis.

Pass the Banjo

The US consumer isn't dead yet! January sales growth beat expectations and is tempering fears of an impending recession.

Emotional Rescue

Is the Sage of Omaha really trying to bail out bond insurers, or merely conducting business as usual?

Credit Zombies

Do higher credit card delinquency rates mean American consumers are finally dead? No—in fact, delinquency rates are still below average. But even higher rates haven't spelled doomed historically

Can We Get Some Service Here?

Market reaction to today's ISM service industry report is overwrought and near hysterical—not an uncommon reaction to economic news of late.

More Mergers!

Acquisition and share buyback activity march onward amid the tumult—an indication economic and market fundamentals are much stronger than today's pervasively dour outlook.

Just Four Things

Ignore short-term market swings and investor fears and focus on what the market's likeliest to do going forward—only one of four possible scenarios.

Still Growing

While some are swooning over the "worst economy in five years,” a sober analysis of preliminary US GDP figures released today shows an economy still on strong footing.

Housing Humdrum

Though bad news from the residential housing sector continues making headlines, it won't have the long-term economic or market impact investors fear.

Empty Calories

Today's announced "stimulus” package from the beltway is little more than empty calories for the economy.

Debt Disbelief

A US bank liquidity crisis never materialized in 2007…and we've got the data to prove it!

Fear and the Fed

Market action today isn't warning you to sell—rather, now is the time to remain disciplined and ride out market turbulence.

The Circle of Life

Bond insurers are struggling to keep their heads above water as ratings agencies evaluate credit ratings. But new companies are entering the market and increased competition promises an improved industry over the coming years.

Inflation - It's Prices, not Price

Investors are worried about plenty today, but inflation shouldn't be on their short list.

America for Sale

Fears surrounding foreign governments' investments in US firms is unwarranted. Capital is capital—the freer it flows the better.

Nothing New

Stocks took a walloping today on widely expected news tied to Financials' health and mortgage-related asset write-downs.

The Fed’s Show and Tell

The Fed plans on communicating more regularly with the American public, which is nice, but we believe won't ease volatility or make forecasting markets any less difficult.

Lenders on the Block

As two troubled Financials firms prepare to go on the auction block, note they are getting bought out by other Financials firms. The sector isn't as imperiled as it may appear.

Market Noir

It's no wonder market volatility is high lately. Today's headlines reveal a lot of market misperceptions. More than ever, folks seem to be choosing an overly dour view in place of reality.

Junk Bonds and Green Skies

Predictions about rising bond default rates seem too dour and highly unlikely.

Employment Drizzle

In light of today's dour employment news, we're rerunning a past story detailing the imperfect nature of employment data.

What Dollar Story?

2007 was a year of hand-wringing about the dollar's demise. With just a few days left in the year, it turns out the dollar wasn't so weak after all.

Recession Confusion

Headlines, polls, feelings—none of these are good indicators of a coming recession. Instead, you must look at the hard data to know if we're in recession.

The Willie Loman Effect

The newest rationale to be bearish is possibly the silliest yet: A vicious cycle-induced recession.

Feel the Flow

Investors dread decreasing home prices will translate to lower net worth and slower consumer spending. But the Federal Reserve's latest report on the US household reveals the largely unappreciated strength and vigor of the American consumer.

MarketMinder’s Letter to Santa

As 2007 draws to a close, we consider just a few of the market conditions that could help fuel a continued global equity bull market.


Pearl Harbor reminds us of the resiliency, strength, and versatility of the United States and its citizens. By comparison, today's perceived economic problems are mere trifles.

Recession Quiz

Folks seem to believe the US is headed for a recession. We'd bet most of those folks would fail our quiz.

A Million a Minute

Investors commonly fear the US government is over-indebted, particularly to foreigners, and this poses an economic threat. However, our government is largely indebted to Americans, and currently, our debt load isn't worrisome.

Six Degrees of Tax Policy

Contrary to popular opinion, a Democrat President and Congress doesn't guarantee a tax hike. Rather, it's conceivable the Democrats maintain the tax cuts for political leverage.

The Secret Testimony of Big Ben

Bernanke's testimony to Congress today depicted a resilient economy with plenty of capital markets-based mechanisms to ballast the soft housing market. Too bad many chose to hear a different message.

Earnings Breather Not a Bear Harbinger

Reported US corporate earnings are weak so far in the third quarter, but a close look at the numbers and proper perspective reveals this doesn't signal a new bear market.

Mind the Gap

Politicians have it backwards. Debt is not a societal negative. It's a vital economic driver, and having access to credit makes society wealthier overall.

Vector Investing

Large and diverse economies (such as the US) require huge dislocations to impede economic growth—most concerns like subprime and new housing supply simply aren't big enough to matter.

Ben to the Fake Rescue!

Yesterday's Fed action won't have much impact, which is good news, since our healthy economy requires no rescuing.

Belaboring Labor

Today's jobs report was indeed negative, but when the hype is cleared away it doesn't amount to much.

Our Callous Economy

News about increasing foreclosures may not be as bad as you think because weakness in the housing sector isn't enough to materially hamper America's economy.

Partners in Debt

Think the US or UK has too much debt? Think again.

Best Credit Crunch Ever!

Catcalls for a world economy in crisis on fears of the supposed credit crunch are getting sillier by the day as hard evidence of stability and strength piles on.

Corrective Measures

Our daddies told us there'd be days like this. The S&P 500 took a whooping today, capping what's been a tumultuous couple weeks in the market. But don't let a few days' frightening downside volatility scare you away from stocks just yet.

In the Meantime

As the stock markets work through jitters about a credit crunch and subprime, recent aggregate economic news has been very encouraging.

Good Data, Bad Information

Corporate profits are beating expectations.

Productive Ignorance


Dying of Old Age

Economies aren't like people.

OMG! Big Telecom Returns

Editor's Note: Today's commentary is written in half English, half Texting language.

No Canary in the Coal Mine

Markets were pounded today in what could be the beginning of the second down leg of the correction.

Death and Taxes…and Economic Growth

Ben Franklin said: "Certainty? In this world nothing is certain but death and taxes.

Idle Thoughts

Our minds are wandering.

Whoop Whoop Whoop

The incompetence of government-run systems cannot be overstated, and we cannot belabor that point enough.

If CEOs Don't, Investors Will Do It For Them

Stocks are cheap and they need to get more expensive.

Don't Go Blind from the Subprime

If you picked up a newspaper in the past few weeks, you probably saw at least one article detailing the downward spiral of the subprime mortgage market.

Still In Flight

Back in November, we provided a list of worries keeping overall sentiment cautious about the economy (see our past commentary "Skyscraper of Worry" for the full list).

Ben's Doomsday Prediction

Dominating headlines today is our bearded buddy Bernanke's Congressional testimony about the dangers of a retiring baby boomer generation.

Casual Correlations

We've done a very bad thing.

Inflating Wages

One of our favorite pastimes is delivering bad news to the bears in times we believe it's a bull market (like now).

Too Busy Working

United States unemployment stands today at a 5-year low of 4.

The Savings Rate Myth

We're a bit tired of hearing of the over-extended consumer.

Stocks Don't Look Back to the Future

It's official: US GDP growth slowed in the third quarter.

Guess What? The US is Bigger than Ever.

Hopefully you said "That's Great!" after reading the above.

I'm OK, You're OK (and We're Both US Consumers)

Psychologist Thomas Harris wrote a book called I'm OK, You're OK in 1976 explaining his theory on how we perceive ourselves and others.


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