Monthly Archives: October 2017

October 23, 2017

The Markets

And the hits just keep on coming.

Last week was the anniversary of Black Monday. On October 19, 1987, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (Dow) lost 508 points, or more than 20 percent of its value, as it fell from the previous trading day’s closing value of 2,247 to 1,739. The culprits behind the historic drop are widely thought to be program trading, high valuations, and market psychology.

The anniversary didn’t put a hitch in the markets’ giddy up last week, though. The Dow closed above 23,000 for the first time ever on Wednesday. That’s the fourth thousand-point milestone the Dow has passed this year, according to Reuters.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index also finished the week at a new high. Strong earnings, along with optimism about fiscal and monetary policy, contributed to investors’ optimism. Financial Times wrote:

“U.S. stocks hit record highs yet again and the dollar touched its strongest level against the yen for more than three months as growth bulls applauded news that the Senate had adopted a fiscal 2018 budget resolution, opening the way for tax reform. U.S. Treasuries fell – most sharply at the longer end of the curve – as participants fretted about the prospect of increased federal borrowing and potentially higher inflation.”

It’s interesting to note, despite major U.S. stock markets hitting new highs, bullish sentiment has been below the historical average 36 times this year, including last week. The AAII Investor Sentiment Survey showed bullish sentiment down 1.8 percent, while bearish sentiment gained 1 percent and neutral sentiment was up 0.8 percent. Of course, some consider this survey to be a contrarian indicator.

 

KNOW WHAT CAN BE REALLY SCARY? WAREHOUSE CLUBS. Like horror flick fodder (extras and co-stars who ignore their gut instincts and venture into places they shouldn’t), people go into warehouse clubs thinking they’ll be able to buy just the items they need and escape without serious injury to their budgets. In reality, only shoppers with the preternatural ability to avoid impulse purchases manage it, reports AARP Magazine.

That doesn’t mean you won’t find good deals at warehouse clubs. You will, but you have to exercise tremendous self-discipline. AARP Magazine and Kiplinger’s offered insight to some of the better values at warehouse clubs. They include: 

• Wine. Here’s a shocker: One warehouse club is the biggest wine retailer in the country, according to MarketWatchMag.com. Reasonably priced, signature brands of quality wines and alcohol have been helping warehouse clubs attract members and improve sales.

• Movie tickets. There are some films that should be watched in the theater. If you pick up a packet of discount movie tickets at a warehouse club instead of the theater, the show will cost approximately $8.50 per ticket instead of $13 per ticket.

• Batteries. With the holidays approaching, you’re going to need batteries for everything from drones to remote controls to digital games. Warehouse clubs often have competitively priced options.

If you’re determined to save money by shopping at warehouse clubs, Fox News suggested a mindset adjustment could help:

“Buying an item you don’t need because it was marked down from $125 to $50 is not saving $75. It’s spending $50. That’s a lesson that, if taken to heart, should save all [warehouse club] members money. That doesn’t seem to be the case for most people, however, so these money-saving memberships probably end up being a drain on people’s finances.”

Here’s another way to avoid impulse purchases: Make your choices online and then choose in-store pick-up or delivery. 

Weekly Focus – Think About It 

“Today [Amy] starts shopping from her couch by launching a videoconference with her personal concierge at…the retailer where she bought two outfits the previous month. The concierge recommends several items, superimposing photos of them onto Amy’s avatar. Amy rejects a couple of items immediately, toggles to another browser tab to research customer reviews and prices, finds better deals on several items at another retailer, and orders them. She buys one item from [the retailer] online and then drives to the…store near her for the in-stock items she wants to try on. As Amy enters [the retailer], a sales associate greets her by name and walks her to a dressing room stocked with her online selections – plus some matching shoes and a cocktail dress. She likes the shoes, so she scans the bar code into her smartphone and finds the same pair for $30 less at another store. The sales associate quickly offers to match the price…”
Darrell K. Rigby, The Future of Shopping

* These views are those of Carson Group Coaching, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* 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.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. 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.* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Sources:
https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/^DJI/history?period1=560149200&period2=561790800&interval=1d&filter=history&frequency=1d (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-23-17_YahooFinance-DJIA_16-21_Oct_2017-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/042115/what-caused-black-monday-stock-market-crash-1987.asp
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-stocks/dow-ends-above-23000-for-first-time-ibm-jumps-idUSKBN1CN1L4
http://www.barrons.com/articles/whats-really-driving-this-stock-market-higher-1508556386 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-23-17_Barrons-Whats_Really_Driving_this_Stock_Market_Higher-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.ft.com/content/f43097dc-b53b-11e7-aa26-bb002965bce8 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-23-17_FinancialTimes-US_Stocks_and_Dollar_Bolstered_by_Tax_Reform_Hopes-Footnote_5.pdf)
http://www.aaii.com/sentimentsurvey
https://www.aarp.org/money/budgeting-saving/info-12-2010/myth_buster_warehouse_clubs.html
http://marketwatchmag.com/interview-annette-alvarez-peters-costco-wine-spirits/
https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2017/warehouse-club-perks-fd.html
https://consumerist.com/2017/04/20/sams-club-launches-store-brand-wines-to-compete-with-costco/
https://www.movietheaterprices.com/amc-ticket-prices/
http://www.kiplinger.com/article/spending/T050-C011-S001-best-and-worst-buys-at-warehouse-clubs-for-the-hol.html
http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2016/11/30/does-shopping-at-costco-sams-or-bj-actually-save-money.html
https://hbr.org/2011/12/the-future-of-shopping

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October 16, 2017

The Markets

There’s a new kid in town: narrative economics.

Last week, Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. His work in behavioral economics and finance recognizes not all economic and financial decisions are made after rational reflection. In Nudge, he wrote:

“The workings of the human brain are more than a bit befuddling. How can we be so ingenious at some tasks and so clueless at others?…Many psychologists and neuroscientists have been converging on a description of the brain’s functioning that helps us make sense of these seeming contradictions. The approach involves a distinction between two kinds of thinking, one that is intuitive and automatic, and another that is reflective and rational.”

Yale professor Robert Shiller, another Nobel laureate in economics, is exploring a field of study related to Thaler’s. It’s called narrative economics. Narratives are the stories we share with each other. They are fuel for conversation and popular narratives often become viral. During a presentation at the University of Chicago, Schiller explained narrative economics is “the study of the spread and dynamics of popular narratives, the stories, particularly those of human interest and emotion, and how these change through time, to understand economic fluctuations.”

Today, a popular narrative in financial circles focuses on Professor Shiller’s cyclically-adjusted price-earnings (CAPE) ratio, which suggests the market may be overvalued. Barron’s reported, “The CAPE, which is based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over the trailing 10 years, stands at 31, versus 32.5 in 1929 and 44 in late 1999.”

If stocks are overvalued, why do investors keep buying shares? It’s a question narrative economics hopes to help answer in the future.

 

SELF-DRIVING CARS, LIFE-LIKE ROBOTS, ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, AND VIDEO PHONES. Millennials and members of Gen Z may find the original Blade Runner movie a bit dated. After all, many of the tech innovations imagined have become a part of our daily lives and others, like mood organs, are in the works.

Mood organs were among the human enhancements imagined by Philip Dick in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (The book upon which Blade Runner was based.) A recent c|net.com article explained:

“Dick doesn’t describe the design of the mood organ or how it works, only specifying that it can stimulate or sedate the user’s cerebral cortex. Users simply dial up the emotion they want, such as 481 (awareness of the manifold possibilities open in the future) or 594 (pleased acknowledgement of a spouse’s superior wisdom).”

Neural implants are a reality already, although they’re not used to control human emotion. Thousands of people with Parkinson’s have implants to manage tremors and applications to help with epilepsy and depression are being explored, according to IEEE Spectrum.

Medical treatments are not the only applications for neural implants. Elon Musk is developing ‘neural lace,’ a brain-computer interface (BCI) that may be injected into the human body, travel through the bloodstream, and settle over the cerebral cortex. While neural lace someday may be used to treat or diagnose neurological issues, The Economist reports Mr. Musk has argued, “human beings need to embrace brain implants to stay relevant in a world which, he believes, will soon be dominated by artificial intelligence.” 

Musk is not the only entrepreneur pursuing brain interfaces. IEEE Spectrum reported Mary Lou Jepsen, an MIT alumnus and tech executive, has founded a company which is working on non-invasive BCIs “for imaging and telepathy (the latter could conceivably be done by reading out thought patterns in the brain).”

It’s possible the idea of humans with superpowers may seem quaint to future generations.

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The real question is, when will we draft an artificial intelligence bill of rights? What will that consist of? And who will get to decide that?”
–Gray Scott, Futurist philosopher

* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* 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.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. 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.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

 Sources:
https://www.forbes.com/sites/frankarmstrong/2017/10/13/richard-thaler-a-giant-in-economics-awarded-the-nobel-prize/#7080f263a107
https://www.amazon.com/dp/014311526X/ref=rdr_ext_tmb (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-16-17_Nudge-Improving_Decisions_About_Health_Wealth_and_Happiness-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.uofcbusinessjournal.com/single-post/2017/02/26/With-Narrative-Economics-Shiller-Seeks-to-Broadens-the-Scope-of-Economic-Analysis
http://www.barrons.com/articles/who-says-this-stock-market-is-overpriced-1507956689?mod=trending_now_3 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-16-17_Barrons-Who_Says_this_Stock_Market_is_Overpriced-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://www.cnet.com/news/blade-runner-future-technology-ridley-scott/
https://spectrum.ieee.org/the-human-os/biomedical/devices/5-neuroscience-experts-weigh-in-on-elon-musks-mysterious-neural-lace-company
https://www.economist.com/news/science-and-technology/21719774-do-human-beings-need-embrace-brain-implants-stay-relevant-elon-musk-enters (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-16-17_TheEconomist-Elon_Musk_Enters_the_World_of_Brain-Computer_Interfaces-Footnote_7.pdf)
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/grayscott776538.html

 

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October 9, 2017

The Markets 

Slow and steady… 

It has been 332 days since the Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) Index experienced a 5 percent drop, reported Barron’s. If there isn’t a selloff on Monday or Tuesday, this will become the longest rally without such a drop.

During this period, the Index has gained 33 percent. Think about that for a moment: 33 percent over 332 days. By Barron’s calculations, the market has gained less than 0.1 percent per day. That’s a very slow rate of increase, relatively speaking. The longest-ever rally without a 5 percent drop, which began in November 1994, was accompanied by a gain of 56 percent or 0.17 percent per day.

The most recent issue of The Economist pondered the phenomenon of the slow-as-molasses bull market that has pushed asset prices higher:

“No one would mistake the bloodless run-up in global stock markets, credit, and property over the past eight years for a reprise of the ‘roaring 20s,’ or even an echo of the dotcom mania of the late 1990s. Yet only at the peak of those two bubbles has America’s S&P 500 been higher as a multiple of earnings measured over a ten-year cycle. Rarely have creditors demanded so little insurance against default, even on the riskiest ‘junk’ bonds. And rarely have property prices around the world towered so high…the world is in the throes of a bull market in everything.”

It would be a mistake to assume asset prices will continue to move higher indefinitely. One characteristic that may signal the onset of a bear market is investor euphoria, and we haven’t seen that. The most recent American Association of Individual Investors’ Sentiment Survey showed 2.3 percent more investors were bullish last week, pushing the total to 35.6 percent. That’s still well below the historic average of 38.5 percent.

Last week was punctuated by a senseless shooting. Our hearts and prayers are with the people of Las Vegas.

 

ZOMBIE TOURISM AND ZOMBIE COMPANIES. Zombies have a special place in the heart of pop culture. The undead are pivotal characters in books, movies, games, and television shows. The practical can read The Zombie Survival Guide. Thrill seekers can binge on The Walking Dead. Romantics have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Anyone looking for a laugh can watch Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland.

If you’re one of those people who just can’t get enough of roamers, rotters, biters, and crawlers, you’re in for a treat: zombie tourism. National Geographic has identified several travel destinations that are steeped in zombie legend:

1. Haiti. American zombie culture appears to have origins in Haiti, where slaves believed death would reunite them with their gods and homelands. The exception was suicide. If slaves took their own lives, they “would be forced to remain in their bodies, soulless, and continue to work the plantations.”

2. Greece. In Greece and elsewhere, folklore historians have found anyone who died of plague or was cursed, murdered, or born on an inauspicious day, could potentially rise from the dead. Some archeology digs have found graves with skeletons weighted by rocks or millstones.

3. Georgia (in Europe). You won’t find any zombies here – and that’s the point. Apparently, Georgia boasts some of the world’s most promising zombie-proof dwellings. The village of Chazhashi, at the confluence of the lnguri and Black Rivers, has more than 200 nearly impenetrable medieval tower houses.

Zombies aren’t always undead humans. There are zombie companies, too. A zombie company is debt-laden and on the edge of bankruptcy. In fact, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) thinks zombie firms may be one reason economic growth has been so slow. The Economist reported:

“We know that a few companies are still producing substantial productivity gains but it may be that monetary policy, by keeping rates low, has stymied the forces of creative destruction; ‘zombie’ companies have been kept alive, dragging down the productivity numbers. Whatever the reason, economic growth won’t rebound until productivity perks up.”

Perhaps National Geographic should add some quarterly earnings calls to its zombie tourism list.

Weekly Focus – Think About It 

“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.”

–Bertrand Russell, British philosopher

* These views are those of Carson Group Coaching, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* 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.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. 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.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

 Sources:
http://www.barrons.com/articles/stocks-hit-new-highs-as-the-bull-trots-steadily-on-1507344223 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-09-17_Barrons-Stocks_Hit_New_Highs_as_the_Bull_Trots_Steadily_On-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21730019-ultra-loose-monetary-policy-coming-end-it-best-tread-carefully-asset-prices-are (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-09-17_TheEconomist-Asset_Prices_are_High_Across_the_Board-Is_it_Time_to_Worry-Footnote_2.pdf)
http://www.investopedia.com/articles/stocks/10/5-steps-of-a-bubble.asp
http://www.aaii.com/sentimentsurvey
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/features/tour-sites-zombie-undead-walking-dead-obsessed/
https://www.livescience.com/51335-greek-undead-spirits.html
http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/709
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/z/zombies.asp
https://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2017/01/light-bulb-moment (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-09-17_TheEconomist-The_Curious_Case_of_Missing_Global_Productivity_Growth-Footnote_9.pdf)
https://www.positivityblog.com/22-inspirational-quotes-on-fear/

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October 2, 2017

The Markets

A lot happened during the third quarter of 2017, but not much changed.

The bull market in U.S. stocks continued to charge ahead. Traditional measures of valuation continued to suggest the market is overvalued, but some analysts argued it’s different this time. The Economist explained:

“The current [cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings] ratio of 31 suggests that stocks are about 50% over-valued – a figure that has only been exceeded in the past 60 years during the dot-com bubble. Bulls argue that the S&P 500’s constituents can justify this heady valuation. Big American companies are wielding increased market power, enabling them to earn outsized profits at the expense of America’s customers.”

The bull market in U.S. bonds continued. Interest rates on 10-year Treasury bonds were lower at the end of September than they were at the start of the year, despite the Federal Reserve increasing rates in March and June. The Fed also has indicated it will soon begin to unwind its balance sheet, which includes about $4.5 trillion in Treasury bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and government agency debt.

Geopolitical tensions remained high, but investors were impervious to the potential effect of various conflicts on stock and bond markets. In August, Barron’s wrote:

“The biggest surprise of 2017 remains that geopolitical risk continues to not matter. Until Monday, North Korea’s nuclear missile program had again faded into the background as just another high impact/low probability risk with no discernible effect on market sentiment. Brexit, the changes in leadership roles in China after the 19th National People’s Congress, the possibility of a United States-China trade war, and the unpredictable nature of the Trump presidency are not weighing on stocks.”

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) keeps plumbing historic lows. The VIX reflects investors’ expectations for market volatility in coming months. The lower the Index reading, the lower volatility expectations are. The historic average for the VIX is about 19.

During 2017, the number of days on which the VIX finished below 10 – suggesting investors are exceptionally calm – increased significantly. In early June, the VIX had closed below 10 just 14 times since 1990. Six of those closes had occurred in 2017. By the end of September, the VIX had closed below 10 on 32 days since 1990 and 24 times in 2017.

We’re still waiting for inflation to move higher. At the end of the quarter, inflation appeared to be heading the wrong way. The core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index, which is the Federal Reserve’s favorite measure of inflation, came in at 1.3 percent, year-over-year. That’s its lowest level since October 2015, reported Barron’s. The Fed’s goal is to have inflation at 2 percent. It has raised rates during 2017 in anticipation of higher inflation rates, but those higher rates have yet to materialize.

 

THE CASE OF THE SWIRLING EUROS. In mid-September, local authorities in Geneva, Switzerland were investigating an unexpected deposit. Reuters reported:

“…the first blockage occurred in the toilet serving the vault at [a] bank…in Geneva’s financial district, and three nearby bistros found their facilities bunged up with 500-euro notes a few days later…The cash was confiscated during the investigation and it was unclear who would get it if it was found to be lawful. There was no immediate reason to think it was dirty money…”

Whoever was responsible for flushing about $100,000 worth of 500-euro bills may have jumped the gun. The €500 note will be discontinued by the European Central Bank because authorities suspect it has been used to facilitate illegal activities, but production continues until the end of 2018.

The perpetrator hasn’t committed a crime, reported Bloomberg. While it’s illegal to mutilate or deface bills in the United States, that’s not the case in Switzerland. The European Commission isn’t concerned when small amounts of euro are damaged. Its rules for legal tender state:

“The destruction of small quantities of euro banknotes or coins by an individual should neither be prohibited nor penalized. The justification for the non-prohibition is the fact that the lawful owner of a banknote should be able to do what he/she wants with his/her own good as long as there is no impact on third parties.”

Why investigate if there is no crime? There’s nothing like a good mystery to occupy the mind!

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.”
–Dashiell Hammett, American author

* These views are those of Carson Group Coaching, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* 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.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. 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.
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Sources:
https://www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2017/09/daily-chart-10?zid=295&ah=0bca374e65f2354d553956ea65f756e0 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-02-17_TheEconomist-The_S%26P_500_Breaks_Another_Record-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/14/interest-rates-addressed-at-fed-meeting-with-janet-yellen.html
https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/^TNX/history?period1=1483250400&period2=1506661200&interval=1d&filter=history&frequency=1d
http://www.barrons.com/articles/whats-driving-asias-stock-market-rally-1504227382 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-02-17_Barrons-Whats_Driving_Asias_Stock_Market_Rally-Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.cboe.com/blogs/options-hub/2017/06/02/vix-index-closes-below-10-again-as-professor-called-vix-level-the-biggest-financial-mystery
http://www.cboe.com/products/vix-index-volatility/vix-options-and-futures/vix-index/vix-historical-data (Click on ‘VIX data for 2004 to present (Updated Daily)*’ to review the downloaded data in an Excel spreadsheet)
http://www.barrons.com/articles/inflation-falls-again-and-by-more-than-expected-1506691462 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-02-17_Barrons-Inflation_Falls_Again_and_by_More_than_Expected-Footnote_7.pdf)
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-swiss-toilets/geneva-toilets-flush-with-cash-idUSKCN1BT23K
https://www.ecb.europa.eu/press/pr/date/2016/html/pr160504.en.html
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-09-18/geneva-police-confiscate-euro-bills-clogging-up-toilets
http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-10-92_en.htm?locale=en
https://www.goodreads.com/author/quotes/16927.Dashiell_Hammett

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