IN CASH for all of 2016


Despite the nice post-election rally to end 2016, it turned out to be downright…average. That is if you use the S&P 500 Index as your yardstick. If you go back to 1928, the average annual return for the S&P 500 (including reinvested dividends) runs just around 10%. 2016 turned in the year with the S&P 500 up 9.54% on a price return basis. Throw in the dividends and it was…

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Why the Shrinking Unemployment is Not as Good as it Seems

Well, we finally had a negative week in the S&P 500, post-election. It was trading down 0.97% for the week, and ended up at an index level of 2,192. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was barely positive, clocking in with a 0.1% gain on the week to close at 19,170. There was good news with employment and an interest rate hike is basically a 100% lock, so what gives? It…

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plan vs catch up

The Jackson Hole Meeting – Should You Care?

Much of last Friday’s speech was dedicated to the tools (actual “monetary tools”, not people) the Fed can use to stimulate the economy. The speech also included how the Fed might react to a future recession. This remark by Janet Yellen received the most immediate attention— “I believe the case for an increase in the Fed funds rate has strengthened in recent months.” You can Google the transcript to fact…

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Cat Economy

Why the Market is up 5 Weeks in a Row

I always find it very interesting to observe the difference in behavior as markets move up and down – especially in the press. I get it, markets tend to go down much more quickly than they go up. It’s much easier for people to get on TV and try to look smart by saying things like, “the reason the market is down over 10% in the past few weeks is…

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Bear Market

Does a Bear Whit in the Soods?

Does a Bear Whit in the Soods? You see what I did there, right? Last week was horrible, I get it. The S&P 500 is down about 6% year-to-date (YTD) in the first week of the year. Furthermore, with the Dow down about 11% from its high last year and the S&P 500 down just a hair under 10% (-9.8%), we are basically in “correction territory”, which is generally defined…

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2016 Economic Review

I Remember 2015 Like It Was Yesterday

**Since today is a big move day in the market, I’ve got a quick thought at the end of this blog. 2015…a year of both expectedness and surprises. The economy trudged along, the unemployment rate fell, and the Federal Reserve finally lifted the Fed funds rate at the end of the year. Taking a closer look, we see what many people are calling “The Tale of Two Economies.” This is…

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Wealth Management Blog

Peace Out, 2015

As everyone knows by now, in addition to Steve Harvey totally blowing it at the Miss Universe Contest last night, the Federal Reserve ended seven years of near-zero interest rate policy by raising rates 0.25% last week. This indicates its conviction in the vigor of the U.S. economic recovery. It was a unanimous decision by the members of the Committee. The rate increase was certainly no surprise to anyone, so…

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Thanksgiving Week

The Beginning of the Holiday Season

This is the beginning of the best time of the year.  Everyone here at Monument hopes you had a wonderful past few days with family and friends. Now, it’s on to the full-blown holiday season. Last week was pretty quiet due to the Thanksgiving holiday. The economic data that was reported remained largely positive and investors seemed less concerned about the mounting evidence that the Federal Reserve will raise rates…

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us vs them

It’s Us vs. Them

Everyone seems to be focused on the global economy over the last couple of months amid fears that sagging growth around the world will take its toll over here in the good old USA. The basic question everyone is asking is, “Will the U.S. economy take a big hit because of problems in developing markets and China?” China is going through somewhat of an economic transformation. It’s moving away from…

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Blood Moon


The markets continued to suffer from some short-term volatility after the Fed’s decision not to increase interest rates. While low interest rates are normally viewed as favorable for stocks, that changes when investors sour on the economic outlook – specifically, the global economic outlook. Investors now seem bitter over the failure of the Fed to raise rates in the middle of the fallout from emerging markets and China. Nevertheless, Fed…

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Trump vs Bush Interest Rates

Debates & Rates

For the week, U.S. stocks were pretty much flat as the Federal Reserve (Fed) left interest rates unchanged.  This prompted some rather mixed emotions… On one hand, the Fed’s low interest rates that have been in place since the financial crisis and have supported equities remain. On the other hand, the Fed expressed concern about the global economy (China, emerging markets, etc.) which has been the big contributor to all…

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Interest Rates

The Fed

This week it’s all about the Federal Reserve.  Their two-day meeting will finish up on Thursday and it is the first meeting in almost a decade that could bring about a hike in the fed funds rate. How Fed Chief Janet Yellen frames the decision may be just as significant, if not more significant, than what the Fed finally decides. And frankly, it’s the trajectory of rates over the next…

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