The Education 529 Channel

June New Home Sales Inches Up

This morning's release of the June New Home Sales from the Census Bureau came in at 610K, up 0.8% month-over-month from a revised 605K in May. Seasonally adjusted estimates for back to March were also revised. The forecast was for 615K.

Factoring a Gap Year into College Savings

Can 529 funds be used for gap-year expenses? I recently had a parent ask me if their child’s 529 college savings account money could be used to help pay for gap-year expenses. Here’s the short answer: Maybe.

Building Portfolios that Address Financial-Cycle Risk

I will illustrate how a regime-based framework can protect capital when markets deteriorate, while adding value when conditions improve.

Baby Boomer Employment Across Time

The 20th century Baby Boom was one of the most powerful demographic events in the history of the United States. We've created a series of charts to show seven age cohorts of the employed population from 1948 to the present. What we see is essentially the "Boomer Bulge" in employment across time. Those born between 1946 and 1964 continue to grow the employment of the two oldest cohorts. It will be interesting to see how long those two trends continue.

Trends in the Teenage Workforce Update

In July of 2015, CNN Money featured an article with the optimistic and intriguing title "More American teens are getting jobs. That's good for everyone." After reading the article, we revised one of our monthly charts on Labor Force Participation to include the age 16-19 cohort -- one we elsewhere combine with the 20-24 year-olds. We've updated this article to include the latest employment data.

NFIB Small Business Survey: Index Falls in June

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for June came in at 103.6, down 0.9 from the previous month. The index is at the 93rd percentile in this series. Today's number came in below the forecast of 104.4.

Long-Term Trends in Employment by Age Group

The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is a simple computation: You take the Civilian Labor Force (people age 16 and over employed or seeking employment) and divide it by the Civilian Noninstitutional Population (those 16 and over not in the military and or committed to an institution). The result is the participation rate expressed as a percent.

The Ratio of Part-Time Employed Lowest Since 2008

Let's take a close look at Friday's employment report numbers on Full and Part-Time Employment. Buried near the bottom of Table A-9 of the government's Employment Situation Summary are the numbers for Full- and Part-Time Workers, with 35-or-more hours as the arbitrary divide between the two categories. The source is the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS) of households. The focus is on total hours worked regardless of whether the hours are from a single or multiple jobs.

Weekly Market Summary

US equities reached a new one-month low late last week before rebounding on Friday. In particular, NDX found support right on its mid-May low. This is now an important line in the sand, with implications for SPY as well; so long as the Thursday low holds, look for higher prices.

ECB Policy: Are Markets Overreacting to Draghi?

Normalization of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) monetary policy never was a question of “if” but one of sequencing, timing and calibration. Financial markets reacted to ECB President Mario Draghi’s speech in Sintra this past week in a way suggesting the ECB might change all three of those policy normalization parameters.

Credit, Finance and Market Stability

Understanding the interplay between credit and finance is critical to recognizing the signs of economic distress. Yet this was precisely the failure that plagued economic analysis leading up to the financial crisis. Let’s take a look at the recent history of credit, finance and the underlying nature of market stability.

Mesas, Valleys, Plateaus, and Cliffs

We are at the far edge of a monumental mesa here, but speculators are ignoring the cliff, assuming that they are on a permanently high plateau. The unfortunate aspect of these mesas and valleys is that they encourage backward-looking investors to believe that projected returns based on “old valuation measures” are no longer relevant, precisely when valuations are most informative about future returns.

Trump and the Truth About Climate Change

When Donald Trump announced that he was withdrawing the US from the Paris climate agreement, he argued that the accord is bad for America and "unfair" to it. In fact, the Paris accord is very good for America, and it is the US that continues to impose an unfair burden on others.

Visualizing GDP: An Inside Look at the Q1 Third Estimate

The accompanying chart is a way to visualize real GDP change since 2007. It uses a stacked column chart to segment the four major components of GDP with a dashed line overlay to show the sum of the four, which is real GDP itself. Here is the latest overview from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bank of America Trashes Risk Parity Funds, Launches One a Month Later

In August 2016, Bank of America Merrill Lynch (BAML) wrote a research note characterizing risk parity as one of the central causes of equity market losses in late 2015. The note had all the hallmarks of a compelling plot line, replete with weapons of mass destruction, billion-dollar bets, and evil villains.