The Retirement Channel

The Big Four Economic Indicators: December Real Retail Sales

Note: With the release of this yesterday's Consumer Price Index, we've updated this commentary to include the latest Real Retail Sales. Month-over-month nominal sales in December rose by 0.6% (0.63% to two decimals). Real Retail Sales, calculated with the seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index, rose a lesser 0.3% (0.34% to two decimals). The chart gives us a close look at the monthly data points in this series since the end of the last recession in mid-2009.

Trump Deficits Will Be Huge

There is much we don't know about how the Trump presidency will play out. Will the Wall get built? Who will pay for it? Will it have at least some fencing? Will repeal and replace happen at exactly the same time? Will Trump throw a ceremonial switch? Will there be a Trump National Golf Course in Sochi? It's anyone's guess.

What Inflation Means to You: Inside the Consumer Price Index

Let's do some analysis of the Consumer Price Index, the best known measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides all expenditures into eight categories and assigns a relative size to each. The pie chart illustrates the components of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, the CPI-U.

The Big Four Economic Indicators: A December Bounce in Industrial Production

Today's report on Industrial Production for December shows a month-over-month increase of 0.8 percent (0.83 percent to two decimals), which was above the Investing.com consensus of a 0.6 percent increase. However, the previous month was revised downward from -0.4 percent to -0.7 percent. Industrial Production peaked in November 2014, only one point higher than its pre-recession peak in November 2007. It has contracted for 17 of the last 25 months. The year-over-year change is 0.5 percent, the first YoY increase after 15 consecutive months of YoY contraction.

Media Headlines Will Lead You To Ruin

Since investors are mostly individuals that have a “day job,” the majority of their “research” comes from a daily dose of media headlines. Therefore, since the media tends to “focus” their attention on “market moving headlines,” either bullish or bearish, investors tend to “react” accordingly.

Will Q4 Earnings Confirm Recent Economic Strength?

My scorecard for earnings season will look for the following company characteristics: Confidence. I expect most to have a murky outlook, with no reason to set the future bar very high. Important trade relationships – imports or exports. Comments on these fears may create some buying opportunities. Concern about a stronger dollar. Everyone is teed up to watch for this, and we should as well.

New Tools to Prove You Acted as a Fiduciary

This article, the first of two parts, is a review of some of the more prominent new tools that advisors can lean on as they prepare for the full DOL rule implementation on April 10. Each of them addresses a different aspect of the rule, and they all approach it from different angles.

Developing an Effective Advisor Training Program

In a previous article, I wrote about the hiring process. Now that you have found a qualified candidate, how do you get her integrated into the team?

Lifting Your Clients above the Fray

Periods of fear and confusion are when your clients need you the most. On that note, here are several areas advisors should focus on to better serve their clients in times of need.

Form 5500 Gets a Makeover: What Does This Mean for Plan Sponsors?

On July 21, 2016, the Department of Labor (DOL) issued proposed amendments to the 5500 series forms in a “Notice of Proposed Forms Revisions,” prepared jointly by three agencies: the DOL, the Internal Revenue Service and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, collectively referred to as “the agencies.”

Interest Rates and the U.S. Stock Market: What's the Real Relationship?

Interest rates and the U.S. stock market have a complex relationship. Don’t be fooled by correlation statistics on the matter. Read more now.

Weekly Unemployment Claims: Up 10K, Better Than Forecast

Today's seasonally adjusted 247K new claims, up 10K from last week's revised number, was better than the Investing.com forecast of 255K.

Is the U.S. Workforce Nearing Full Recovery?

We've updated our monthly workforce analysis to include last week's Employment Report for December. The unemployment rate, as expected, ticked up from 4.6% to 4.7%, and the number of new nonfarm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) was below forecast at 156K.

Economy Ends 2016 Strongly, Liberals Gaining On Conservatives

When the Commerce Department reported on December 22 that 3Q Gross Domestic Product increased at an annual rate of 3.5%, many of us in the forecasting business wondered if that figure might be too optimistic. We also wondered whether the economy could sustain a 3+% growth rate in the 4Q.

Animal Spirits

I believe this rally was the result of animal spirits based on the notion that Trump’s pro-growth policies will support the economy. At the same time, many investors assume that growth in the economy will lead to upticks in inflation and interest rates, which—along with lighter regulations—are perceived as positive for business.