Contact Us Today!

For a free, no obligation consultation!

 

Morgan Kenwood Newsletter

Subscribe for Weekly Commentary on the latest economic developments and updates on our Firm.

Weekly Market Commentary, March 30, 2021

 

 The Markets
 
Last week, unemployment claims were looking good and consumers were feeling good.
 
The number of Americans applying for first-time unemployment benefits declined. Just 684,000 people filed claims during the week of March 20, down 97,000 from the week before, according to last week’s report from the Labor Department.
 
Granted, that’s a large number – higher than the highest number of first-time claims during the Great Recession – but it’s the smallest we’ve seen since the pandemic began, according to Christopher Rugaber of the AP. He wrote:
 
“Economists are growing more optimistic that the pace of layoffs, which has
been chronically high for a full year, is finally easing…Still, a total of 18.9
million people are continuing to collect jobless benefits…Roughly one-third
of those recipients are in extended federal aid programs, which means
they’ve been unemployed for at least six months.”
 
Consumer sentiment also improved, according to data released last week. The University of Michigan’s Index of Consumer Sentiment was up 10.5 percent month-to-month, although it remained down year-over-year. Perceptions of current economic conditions improved, too. Surveys of Consumers chief economist Richard Curtin reported:
 
“Consumer sentiment continued to rise in late March, reaching its highest
level in a year due to the third disbursement of relief checks and better
than anticipated vaccination progress…The majority of consumers
reported hearing of recent gains in the national economy, mainly net job
gains. The data clearly point toward robust increases in consumer
spending. The ultimate strength and duration of the spending surge will
depend on the rate of draw-downs in savings since consumers anticipate
a slower pace of income growth.”
 
Performance of major U.S. stock indices was mixed last week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and Standard & Poor’s 500 Index both finished higher for the week, while the Nasdaq Composite lost ground.
 
(The one-year numbers in the scorecard are noteworthy. They reflect the strong recovery of U.S. stocks from last year’s coronavirus downturn to the present day.) 
 
 
A fly…err, ship…in the ointment. Until last week, about 50 vessels, transporting approximately 10 percent of global trade, sailed through the Suez Canal every day, reported Scott Neuman and Jackie Northam of NPR.
 
The canal is a shortcut that makes it possible for ships to travel from Asia and the Middle East to Europe without sailing all the way around Africa’s Cape of Good Hope, a route that’s both less secure (pirates) and more expensive (time, insurance, and fuel), according to David Sheppard, Harry Dempsey, Leo Lewis, and Kana Inagaki of Financial Times.
 
That changed on Tuesday when one of the largest container ships in the world became wedged in the canal, blocking traffic in both directions, reported Sudarsan Raghavan and Antonia Noori Farzan of The Washington Post.
 
The effect on global trade, supply chains, and consumers has yet to be determined. “Like much else about the situation, it depends on how long it goes on. A weeklong delay for a few hundred ships at the Suez might have only a negligible impact for consumers, but a prolonged delay could increase the cost of shipping, complicate manufacturing, and ultimately drive up prices,” reported NPR.
 
Prior to the shutdown at the Suez Canal, container shipping costs were already rising. The increase was due, in part, to a shortage of shipping containers. In early February, The Economist reported, “Surging demand for goods and a shortage of empty containers at Asian ports have sent container-shipping costs rocketing…The Freightos Baltic Index, a measure of container-freight rates in 12 important maritime lanes, has increased from $2,200 to $4,000 per container…”
 
On Sunday, preparations were being made to unload some of the 18,000 containers the wedged ship carries to facilitate refloating, reported Yuliya Talmazan of NBC News.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“Everything in a modern container port is enormous, overwhelming, crushing. Kendal, of course, but also the thundering trucks, the giant boxes in many colors, the massive gantry cranes that straddle the quay, reaching up ten stories and over to ships that stretch three football pitches in length. There are hardly any humans to be seen.”
--Rose George, British journalist and author
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
Continue reading
15 Hits

Weekly Market Commentary, March 17, 2021

The Markets
 
 
Investors had a lot to be enthusiastic about last week.
 
Major stock indices in the United States soared, finishing the week higher and setting new records along the way, reported Al Root of Barron’s. There was plenty of good news to fuel investor optimism:
 
  • The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan was signed into law. The plan provides $1,400 payments to most Americans. It also delivers child-tax credits, health-insurance subsidies, and extends unemployment benefits into September, reported NPR. Funds also were made available for schools, states, and vaccination efforts, as well as tax relief for people receiving unemployment benefits.
 
  • The spread of the coronavirus appears to be slowing. The 7-day average number of cases in the United States dropped 11.2 percent week-to-week, reported the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). More than 20 percent of Americans have received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and more than 10 percent have been fully vaccinated. As circumstances have improved, a number of states have begun easing lockdown restrictions.
 
  • Inflation remained low in February. For the 12 months through February 2021, the Consumer Price Index rose 1.7 percent, reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics last week. That’s well below the Federal Reserve’s usual target of 2 percent. However, food and energy prices increased significantly more than the index average.
 
Despite last week’s positive news, Ben Levisohn of Barron’s cautioned:
 
“The combination of trillions of dollars of fiscal stimulus, ultralow interest rates, and a newfound sense of liberation means the U.S. economy in coming months will be unlike any the country has experienced in decades. Growth will be faster. Inflation will run hotter. The job market could bounce back more speedily than even the Fed expects. This environment won’t be easy for investors to navigate…For those who can pivot as the market shifts, however, multiple opportunities await.”
 
There is another concern, as well. COVID-19 continues to mutate, and it remains to be seen whether vaccines will prove effective against new strains.
 
The one-year numbers in the performance table below are noteworthy and reflect the strong recovery of U.S. stocks from last year’s coronavirus downturn to the present day.
 
 
 
Big plans for the moon. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 set forth principles making space – including the moon and celestial bodies – the province of all mankind. It confirmed the exploration and use of outer space should benefit all people. Here are a few of the plans various nations have for the moon:
 
  • International Lunar Research Station. Last week, China and Russia signed a memorandum of understanding. The nations plan to build a base on the moon. “…the base will be self-sufficient enough to work without constant resupply from Earth. It will exist either on the lunar surface, in orbit, or both. And it will be a launching point for basic science, exploration, and "utilization" of the moon's resources, as well as a proof-of-concept for the technologies required to sustain human life so far from Earth,” reported LiveScience.
 
  • Lunar fish farming. The European Space Agency has plans for a Moon Village where settlers may be able to “boldly farm fish where no one has farmed fish before,” reported Hakai Magazine. Researchers at the French Research Institute for Exploitation of the Sea have found that European sea bass and meagre (stone bass) are strong candidates because their eggs can withstand the brutal shaking that accompanies the launch of space vehicles.
 
  • Solar-powered Lunar Ark. The movie Titan A.E. may have inspired researchers at the University of Arizona. They’ve proposed building a modern-day ark to hold “cryogenically frozen reproductive cells from 6.7 million species on our planet.” Popular Mechanics asked, “…what's the next best use for a nearby celestial body with a stable environment that only takes about four days to reach on a supply mission? Turn it into a storage locker of sorts for the most precious data on Earth: our own reproductive cells.”
 
The moon isn’t the only part of space nations on Earth plan to explore more fully. The United Arab Emirates put a scientific satellite into orbit around Mars in February, according to The Washington Post. The new space race is here.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact.”
--Elon Musk, Entrepreneur and businessman
 
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
Continue reading
20 Hits

Weekly Market Commentary, February 24, 2021

 

The Markets
 
It’s a contrarian’s dream come true.
 
Contrarian investors like to buck the trend. They buy when other investors are selling and sell when others are buying.
 
Last week, Bank of America (BofA) delivered a contrarian’s dream. BofA’s monthly survey of 225 global asset managers, who are responsible for $645 billion in assets under management, showed the managers were almost fully invested, according to CNBC.
 
The survey showed asset managers’, “…cash levels at the lowest since March 2013, global equity allocations at a 10-year high, and a record number of respondents reporting taking a ‘higher than normal’ level of risk,” reported Randall Forsyth of Barron’s.
 
Asset managers’ optimism reflects central banks’ monetary policies, governments’ fiscal stimulus programs, and positive signs of economic recovery.
 
  •  Central bank actions are supporting low interest rates. Low interest rates encourage economic growth by making money inexpensive for companies and individuals to borrow. In the United States, the real (adjusted for inflation) 10-year Treasury yield finished last week at -0.80 percent, according to the U.S. Treasury.
 
  • Government stimulus is flooding world markets with cash. “Although percentage cash levels held by investment managers are falling, they are not falling fast enough to keep up the rapid expansion of money still flooding the system…U.S. household savings at the end of 2020 were still almost $1 trillion above pre-COVID levels…,” reported Mike Dolan of Reuters.
 
  • Economic recovery is gaining steam. While the virus continues to be a risk, last week much of the economic data in the United States was positive, with retail sales exceeding expectations and manufacturing holding steady, reported Nicholas Jasinski of Barron’s. Economic growth is forecast to be about 6 percent in 2021, reported Reuters.
 
Last week, yields on 10-year Treasuries moved higher and the Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite both finished the week lower.
 
 
It’s black history month. Throughout the month of February, people in the United States celebrate the achievements of Black Americans. President Gerald Ford started the tradition in 1976 to “…seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of Black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.” Test your knowledge by taking this brief quiz.
 
1.   In 1972, the first Black woman elected to Congress launched a campaign for the Democratic Presidential nomination with the slogan: Unbought and Unbossed. She once said, “If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.” What was her name?
a.   Yvonne Brathwaite Burke
b.   Shirley Chisholm
c.    Barbara Jordan
d.   Gwen Moore
 
2.   Eugene Bullard was the first African American pilot to serve in the Armed Forces. He worked as an air gunner for the French Army and served in two American wars. Which wars did he serve in?
a.   World War I and World War II
b.   World War II and Korean War
c.    Korean War and Vietnam War
d.   Vietnam War and Grenada
 
3.   One Black American author, who has won the National Book Award, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the MacArthur Genius Grant, and many other awards, described the work this way, “When you write, it's like braiding your hair. Taking a handful of coarse unruly strands and attempting to bring them unity.” What is the author’s name?
a.   Candace Carty-Williams
b.   Marlon James
c.    Edwidge Danticat
d.   Ta-Nehisi Coates
 
4.   Alabamian Percy Julian didn’t attend high school, but he earned a PhD from DePauw University. Julian graduated Phi Beta Kappa at the top of his class. Historically, he is regarded as one the most influential leaders in his field. What was his field of study?
a.   Law
b.   Medicine
c.    Chemistry
d.   History
 
Quiz Answers:
1.   B – Shirley Chisholm.
2.   A – World War I and World War II.
3.   C – Edwidge Danticat.
4.   C – Chemistry.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow.”
--Alice Walker, American novelist and poet
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
Continue reading
27 Hits

Weekly Market Commentary, February 18, 2021

The Markets
 
Way back, when radio disk jockeys played 45-rpm vinyl singles, the A-side of a disk was the song the record company was promoting and the other side – the flip side – held a song that sometimes had an equal or greater impact. For instance, the flip side of Queen’s We Are the Champions was We Will Rock You.
 
When it comes to the economy and financial markets, flip sides can have significant impact, too. For example:
 
  • Stock market performance. Last week, major stock indices in the United States – the Standard & Poor’s 500, the Dow Jones Industrial, and the Nasdaq Composite – finished at record highs. That was happy news for investors.
 
The flip side: Concern that share prices may not be sustainable. “The long, long bull market since 2009 has finally matured into a fully-fledged epic bubble. Featuring extreme overvaluation, explosive price increases, frenzied issuance, and hysterically speculative investor behavior…this bubble will burst in due time…,” wrote asset manager Jeremy Grantham of GMO in January 2021.
 
  • Vaccination acceleration. The pace of COVID-19 vaccinations has accelerated. Vaccinations are important to economic recovery because they are expected to restore confidence and increase economic activity, reported Janet Alvarez of CNBC.
 
The flip side: Vaccines may not be as effective as many anticipate for two reasons: 1) Some Americans are reluctant to be vaccinated, and 2) Vaccines may not be effective against all strains of the virus.
 
  • Additional stimulus. A $1.9 trillion stimulus package is in the works, which could “…prevent unnecessary financial hardship and mitigate future economic risks,” according to Morning Consult economist John Leer.
 
That seems particularly important since employment gains have slowed. Last week, Carleton English of Barron’s reported, “All told there were 20.4 million workers receiving benefits under programs for the week ending January 23, a 2.6 million increase from the prior week. At this time last year, there were 2.2 million workers receiving benefits.”
 
The flip side: Too much stimulus could cause the economy to overheat, lead to inflation, and cause the Federal Reserve to raise rates. The bond market has already been pushing rates higher. Last week, the yield on 30-year U.S. Treasuries rose above 2 percent for the first time since February 2020.
 
  •  Infrastructure spending. Work has begun on a $2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure plan that is intended to create jobs and rebuild U.S. transportation networks, reported Ian Duncan of The Washington Post.
 
The flip side: While many agree U.S. infrastructure needs repair, the cost may be paid through higher taxes. There is ongoing debate about whether tax increases impede or accelerate economic growth, according to Jim Tankersley of The New York Times. In addition, government spending of this type is another form of stimulus, which could heat up economic growth.
 
Last week, Colby Smith of Financial Times reported numerous economists have increased U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) growth estimates for 2021. Estimates ranged from 5.9 percent to 6.3 percent.
 
 
Innovations can be difficult to value. Throughout history, inventions and new ways of doing things have changed the world:
 
  • The magnetic compass, which was invented in the 12th century, helped people navigate the world.
  • The printing press, which was invented in the 1400s, made it possible to mass produce books, democratizing knowledge.
  • Electricity and electric lights changed the rhythms of everyday life in the late 1800s.
  • Currency, which was first used in the ninth century, eventually led to monetary systems, banking, and credit cards.
 
It would have been difficult to understand or estimate the long-term value of these innovations. It’s possible some of today’s innovations could have similar impact. One is machine learning. Machine learning uses algorithms to turn a data set into a model that can improve our understanding of a topic. For example, machine learning is being applied to:
 
  • Scientific research. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) “…have now developed a machine-learning algorithm that helps them identify multiple possible structures that a protein can take…The researchers are now using this technique to study the coronavirus spike protein, which is the viral protein that binds to receptors on human cells and allows them to enter cells,” reported Anne Trafton of MIT News.
 
  • Smart cities. Data-collecting technologies are being deployed in a number of cities. Kim Hart and Aïda Amer of Axios reported these technologies include location beacons (which track smartphones), smart tolls, drone cameras, smart landfills, security cameras, streetlight sensors, and smart grids. While expectations for smart cities are high, public skepticism has slowed the pace of these projects.
 
  • You, your friends, and your family. “Much of the most privacy-sensitive data analysis today – such as search algorithms, recommendation engines, and adtech networks – are driven by machine learning and decisions by algorithms. As artificial intelligence evolves, it magnifies the ability to use personal information in ways that can intrude on privacy interests…,” explained Cameron Kerry of Brookings.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“There is no recipe, there is no one way to do things – there is only your way. And, if you can recognize that in yourself and accept and appreciate that in others, you can make magic.”
--Ara Katz, Entrepreneur
 
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
Continue reading
47 Hits

Weekly Market Commentary, February 8, 2021

The Markets
 
 
It’s not a black diamond ski run yet, but the yield curve for U.S. Treasuries is steeper than it has been in a while.
 
A yield curve is the line on a graph showing yields for different maturities of bonds. Yield curves provide insight to bond investors’ perceptions about the economy. There are four basic types of yield curves:
 
  • Normal: The slope is upward because short-term bond yields are lower than long-term bond yields. A normal curve for U.S. Treasuries has a yield gap of about 2.3 percent between 30-year Treasury bonds and 3-year Treasury bills, according to Fidelity. On Friday, the difference was 1.78 percent.
  • Steep. The upward curve is unusually steep. This may occur when an economic expansion is underway, demand for capital pushes interest rates higher, and inflation rises.
  • Flat: There is no curve because short- and long-term bonds have similar yields. Flattening yield curves can be a precursor of economic slowdown and lower interest rates.
  • Inverted: The curve slopes down. Long-term bond yields are lower than short-term bond yields. Some believe an inverted yield curve is a signal that recession is ahead.
 
Right now, the steepening of the U.S. Treasury yield curve is positive news, according to a source cited by Ben Levisohn of Barron’s:
 
“Historically, [a steepening yield curve is a] good sign for both the economy and
stock markets…But it is also an early warning sign that the clock is ticking on how
long the Fed will remain on hold, or easy, before beginning to hike rates and
tighten financial conditions to combat the threat of runaway inflation.”
 
Inflation concerns were part of last week’s debate over the size of the pending stimulus. If stimulus is too small, economic growth and jobs recovery may falter. If it’s too big, the economy may overheat and inflation could become an issue, according to economist Lawrence Summers in The Washington Post.
 
Judging by January’s anemic jobs report, it could be a while before the economy runs too hot.
 
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 49,000 jobs were created last month. At that rate, it would take a very long time for the economy to recover the jobs lost in 2020. The pace of hiring is expected to accelerate as more Americans get vaccinated and new stimulus is distributed, reported Matthew Klein of Barron’s.
 
Major U.S. stock indices finished the week higher.
 
 
 
Bits and Bobs. Investors are always looking for news that might lead them to new trends in the market. Here are a few fascinating tidbits from last week:
 
  • Currency competition. China would really like the yuan to replace the U.S. dollar as the world’s favored currency. Reuters reported, “…the global system for financial messaging and cross-border payments, has set up a joint venture with the Chinese central bank’s digital currency research institute and clearing centre, a move some see as a sign that China wants to explore global use of its planned digital yuan.”
 
  • Putting a price tag on nature. The Treasury of the United Kingdom commissioned an expert panel to evaluate the contributions of species and ecosystems to the size and growth of economies and evaluate how loss of biodiversity will affect economies in the future. The 600-page Dasgupta Review reports that sustaining the world’s current level of economic growth and standards of living (a.k.a. “global demand for the biosphere’s goods and services and the biosphere’s current capacity to supply them on a sustainable basis”) will require 1.6 Earths.
 
  • Veggies telling tales. Scientists are finding ways to help plants monitor the environment and communicate their findings. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) embedded nanotubes in spinach plants to look for chemical compounds found in explosives, like landmines. MIT News explained, “When one of these chemicals is present in the groundwater sampled naturally by the plant, carbon nanotubes embedded in the plant leaves emit a fluorescent signal that can be read with an infrared camera. The camera can be attached to a small computer similar to a smartphone, which then sends an email to the user.”
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“Here's to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And, while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
--Rob Siltanen, Advertising marketer
 
 
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. *Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. * The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. * The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. * Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. * The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. * The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. * Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. * Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. * Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. * Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. * You cannot invest directly in an index. * Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
Continue reading
36 Hits

Contact Details

Morgan Kenwood Advisors, LLC
5130 West Loomis Road
Greendale, WI 53129-1424
Phone: (414) 423-4020
Fax: (414) 423-4023
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.