Underwhelming Economic Growth

Recently released second quarter data suggest that the economic recovery continues to be somewhat lackluster with a seasonally and inflation adjusted increase of 1.2% for the period.  The economy appears to be growing at a 1% rate in 2016 and 2.1% since the end of the recession, the weakest expansion since at least 1949. There … Continued

The Jobs Dilemma

On the one hand, we have an unemployment rate of 4.7%.  On the other hand, we have essentially record low work force participation of less than 63%.  There are a number of suggested explanations, usually with little or no definitive substantiation. Employers tend to focus on the lack of potential employees with the appropriate skills. … Continued

Elections and Investing

It is generally accepted that politics and religion are not suitable topics for discussion in polite company. That is probably good advice, but media coverage of politics and the election is going to intensify over the next three months.  This is normal, although this election cycle is generally considered to be unusual.  Both candidates have … Continued

Where’s Waldo

On several occasions over my career providing wealth management counseling to clients, I have run across the phrase from new clients that, “My broker doesn’t charge me.”  I usually ask, “Do you work for free too?” The confusion comes in when one does not explicitly “write a check” for services, but instead, has fees that … Continued

Markets and Elections

For those of us who live in Cleveland, the Republican National Convention (RNC) this week is yet another exciting event for our city.  For two+ years Cleveland has been hurriedly preparing for this coming week. New hotels, new freeways, a new public square, endless rerouting of traffic etc., etc.  The only hiccup so far has … Continued

Opportunistic Pricing

Adjusting prices to reflect shifts in demand is hardly a new concept.  However, the concept seems to have gained an increase in visibility with Uber’s introduction of “surge pricing”, an effort to match demand with the availability of drivers.  Unlike traditional enterprises, Uber depends on their driver’s making themselves available.  Presumably, surge pricing would encourage … Continued

Pay Day Loans

The issue of pay day loans has been in the news lately with a recurring theme that suggests that the industry is an exploiter of the less well off.  Typically, pay day loans average approximately $400, with a duration of about two weeks.  The annualized cost of these loans, including fees and interest, has been … Continued

Oil Prices/Oil Costs

As we know, the price of oil is generally quoted in dollars, and the most common reference points are Brent and WTI (West Texas Intermediate).  Due, in part, to increased press coverage and continuing consumer interest in the price of gasoline, most investors are generally familiar with current oil prices. Economists will tell you that … Continued


Something we all use and probably don’t think too much about, except when the bill comes or someone talks about renewable energy and climate change. It is probable that electricity consumption will increase, at least in total if not on a per capita basis. Investors should consider how we are going to meet demand while … Continued

Freedom of the Seas and the Strait of Malacca

According to Wikipedia, “freedom of the seas” is a principle in international law and law of the sea.  It stresses freedom to navigate the oceans. Like any law, enforcement is sometimes required.  Historically, during a period of relative peace (1815-1914), often referred to as “Pax Britannica”, the Royal Navy was, in effect, the guarantor of … Continued

Trends in the Oil Market

Our Chief Investment Officer, Denise Farkas, and I were at the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Institute’s Annual Conference earlier this week.  We thought that it would be a good idea to share some insight with our readers on trends and changes in the global oil market. First, the global oil market is experiencing a structural … Continued

Picking the Top

It is fairly well established that no one has been able to consistently pick market tops and bottoms.  Of course, that is not stopping people from trying.  One anecdotal clue, that has some currency in the investment community, is the concept of cyclical companies announcing headquarters upgrades and expansions at or near the top of … Continued