As the World Turns

As the World Turns from Eric Clark In the almost 3 months since I penned my commentary on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, world and market events have continued to swirl.  Some changed, others not.  Some familiar, others not so much.  What remains prevalent, in my opinion, is a level of anxiety tied to the uncertainty all around us.  Anxiety that for some, barely registers a concern as they plow through their daily lives and activities.  But for others, a level of anxiety that might lead to an inability to act.  A preference for the status quo, and the sense of control this static state of affairs might provide.  If I’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that if you remain anchored and reluctant to embrace your surroundings, you might find yourself left behind or irrelevant in ways you could regret.  That’s not to say we should follow the herd, but sometimes it can be helpful to be mindful of the situation and reflect on how to effectively navigate.  Being mindful and reflective seem appropriate when viewing the current state Read on! →

Russians and Fed Chiefs and Covid, oh my!

Well, we have certainly turned a corner as 2021 ended and 2022 has begun. Now that we are a month into the new year, let’s take a moment to see what’s different since we left 2021 behind. One thing that hasn’t changed is that we are still dealing with Covid and most of us are weary of the restrictions. After a few months of relative freedom from Covid’s lockdown during the summer and leading up to Thanksgiving, Omicron emerged. The variant spreads easily but isn’t as debilitating as earlier variants.  This has led to fewer negative economic impacts and a view held by some that we need to begin living with future Covid variants more like a seasonal flu virus.  One sidenote for portfolios; if China sees their infection rates increase steeply with Omicron or future variants, their zero-tolerance policy may result in factory shutdowns and put further strain on the already burdened supply chain issues. 2022 brought the Federal Reserve decision-making on interest rates to the forefront, as they work to reconcile increasing inflationary pressures with their stated policy Read on! →

Tariffs, International Trade and Game Theory

  If you were in charge… If you oversaw your own country, what trade policy would you pursue?  Would you be friendly and cooperative or unfriendly and betraying?  Maximizing your country’s payoff may be more difficult than imagined.  Game theory can be used to measure success and failure.  It can also validate just how hard it can be to strike the right balance and allow both trade partners to win.   The prisoner’s dilemma… The current trade and tariff dialogue between the U.S. and China is essentially a repeated prisoner’s dilemma – a workhorse model of game theory that captures the tradeoff between mutually beneficial cooperation and individually beneficial betrayal[1]. If played once, there is only one outcome where neither side can do better with a different strategy: both sides betray one another.  While unfriendly, the mutual betrayal results in equilibrium or balance.  The shortfall of playing one time as if there is no tomorrow, is that trading partners have an infinite number of days in which to trade goods. If prisoner’s dilemma is played multiple times, even infinitely, game Read on! →

Fireworks to Celebrate the mid-point of 2017!

  As I write this commentary at the mid-point of 2017, the markets have made steady progress in the first 6 months despite what has been an unpredictable and often concerning geopolitical environment around the world.  I often tell clients and interested parties that unexpected events can have an impact on markets but they are generally short-lived.  At the end of the day, the markets go back to being influenced by companies and their profits.  That seems to be the case so far in 2017 as we get ready to celebrate with July 4th fireworks, even though every week is filled with news about our partisan politics or the latest terrorist incident.   In the U.S., the Federal Reserve (Fed) made good on raising interest rates.  Unemployment is low, workers are producing goods and services and financial markets have responded in-kind.  While somewhat different economic factors are in play, most overseas’ economies and financial markets are outperforming the U.S.  Even bonds, an asset class most felt would lag as the Fed raised rates, have done well on a relative basis.  Read on! →