The Education 529 Channel

Asset Allocation Views: Singles and Doubles

With market volatility on the rise, consider a broad set of relative value opportunities across global markets.

Robo Advisor Data For Two Year Period Now Available for Advisors

Here at BackEnd Benchmarking we have recently released the 4th quarter 2017 edition of The Robo ReportTM. In this report, we took an in-depth look at two-year returns of seven different portfolios with a full two years’ worth of data.

The World is Not Enough

A few weeks ago, I caught myself pulled in by an old James Bond classic, The World is Not Enough, starring Pierce Brosnan. In the movie, an oil heiress, Elektra King, is kidnapped. While in captivity, she becomes a victim to Stockholm Syndrome and plots with her captor to destroy an oil pipeline running to the Bosphorus Sea. There is a scene in the movie that encapsulates where we are in today’s stock market environment.

Weekly Market Summary

The long term trend in US equities remains firmly higher. Expectations should be for equities to rise in the months ahead. The near term directional edge is more muted. Worldwide, equities are in the process of retesting their February lows. The US is being held up mostly by technology and financial stocks.

Visualizing GDP: An Inside Look at the Q4 Second 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.

New Home Sales Down 7.8% in January

This morning's release of the January New Home Sales from the Census Bureau came in at 593K, down 7.8% month-over-month from a revised 643K in December. Seasonally adjusted estimates back to October were also revised. The forecast was for 655K.

Gold and the Global Ticking Debt Bomb

Looking long-term, there are mounting risks involving debt that make gold appear very attractive right now as a safe haven and portfolio diversifier.

Earnings Growth Matched The Rapid Pace of Equity Appreciation in 2017

S&P sales grew 9% over the past year, the best growth in 6 years. Earnings rose 23%, the best growth in 7 years. Profit margins expanded to a new all-time high of 10.8%. Overall, corporate results in the fourth quarter were very good. Earnings during 2017, in fact, rose as much the SPX index itself. The outlook for 2018 appears to also be strong: the consensus expects earnings to grow as much as 18% this year.

Data-Dependent ... on Imaginary Data

Federal Reserve officials like to say their policy course is “data-dependent.” That sounds very cautious and intelligent, but what does it actually mean? Which data and who’s interpreting it? Let’s ask a few questions.

NFIB Small Business Survey: "Now is a Good Time to Expand"

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for January came in at 106.9, up 2.0 from the previous month. The index is at the 99th percentile in this series. Today's number came in above the forecast of 106.2.

Weekly Market Summary

Prior falls like the one suffered over the past two weeks have led to quick recoveries. That likelihood is further supported by a washout in breadth, volatility and several measures of sentiment. Moreover, the fundamental backdrop remains excellent. Risk/reward is heavily biased towards upside in the near term.

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.

This Selloff Has Yielded Important Information Content

This selloff is demonstrably different than other corrections the market has endured this cycle in one important aspect: it has inflationary rather than deflationary notes to it. This is an extremely important point of context because it tells us something about market participants’ anxieties.

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.

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.