The Economic Insights Channel

Five Decades of Middle-Class Wages: August 2017 Update

We've updated this series to include Thursday's release of the Consumer Price Index as the deflator and the August monthly update. The latest hypothetical real (inflation-adjusted) annual earnings are at $37,272, down 12.6% from 44 years ago.

Investing In EV Carmakers and Supply Chains? Utility Work Ahead

Future growth projections for electric vehicles vary dramatically, but all reflect real opportunities for fundamentals-focused investors surveying the links in supply and production chains.

Existing-Home Sales: Fourth Consecutive Decline in August

This morning's release of the August Existing-Home Sales decreased from the previous month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.35 million units. The consensus was for 5.46 million. The latest number represents a 1.7% decrease from the previous month and a 0.2% increase year-over-year.

Are Diversifying Assets Up Next in the Return-Seeking Cycle?

After a sustained period of return leadership by U.S. stocks, a number of diversifying assets now appear poised for outperformance.

U.S. Household Incomes: A 50-Year Perspective

The Census Bureau has released its annual report on household income data for 2016. Last year the median (middle) household income rose to $59,149, a 4.1% increase over 2015 and a record high. The median income adjusted for inflation is also at a record high, above the peak of $58,882 set in 2000. The mean (average) household income set a new high of $83,143. More about that in another commentary. Meanwhile, let's take a closer look at the quintile averages, which dates from 1967, along with the statistics for the top 5%.

Don’t Let Risk Tolerance Questionnaires Kill Your First Client Impression

Every household has a life event annually that will impact their investment objectives and risk score. Improve your first impression by utilizing a robust risk-tolerance questionnaire.

Retirement & CEFs

Adding closed-end funds to your investment portfolio may be a way to help boost your retirement income, industry pros say.

Worried About Rising Rates? Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Be

Should tighter monetary policy on both sides of the Atlantic worry bond investors? We don’t think so. Bonds have historically delivered positive returns when interest rates rise—particularly when they rise gradually.

Weighing the Week Ahead: Will a More Aggressive Fed Spark the Long-Awaited Correction?

We have a light calendar for economic data. The week’s focus will be the FOMC policy announcement on Wednesday. Given the resilience of the market rally in the face of various natural and human threats, the punditry will turn to a favored topic. Expect people to be asking: Will the Fed be the catalyst for a market correction?

The “Big Lie” Of Market Indexes

The “Big Lie” is that you can “beat an index” over an extended period of time. You can’t, ever. Let me explain.

Weekly Gasoline Price Update: WTIC Up 4.7%

It's time again for our weekly gasoline update based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The price of Regular and Premium were down a nickel each from last week. According to, California has the highest average price for Regular at $3.15 and San Francisco, CA is the most expensive city, averaging $3.28. Oklahoma has the cheapest at $2.13. The WTIC end of day spot price closed at 50.35, a 4.7% increase from this time last week.


In her post-FOMC press conference, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen is expected to provide a concise evaluation of the current economic situation. That includes a discussion about the recent trend in low inflation and the economic impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma. She is not expected to signal what the Fed will do with short-term interest rates in the months ahead.

CPI Finally Accelerates – A Small Sigh of Relief for the Fed

As many observers expected, after five months of surprisingly soft inflation prints, prices firmed in August. U.S. core CPI inflation (which excludes the volatile food and energy categories) was up 0.25%, boosted by the largest-ever one-month increase in hotel prices and surprising firmness in rents and owners’ equivalent rents (OER).

Is Value Investing Past Its Prime?

Value stocks have underperformed most other styles of investing, as well as the broad market, by a wide margin since the beginning of 2015. We see several reasons why, which point to the catalysts for a potential recovery; we do not think Value is past its prime.

Generation Dove: The Fed's Norm for Nearly 20 Years

With the top two positions at the Federal Reserve soon to be open, Russ discusses how the easy money era goes back a long way.