Jason Howell |

Every month we share our personal commentary on economic forces challenging your money.  It's not "gospel" but it's what we think.  Have thoughts?  Please share in the comments below. 

  • Jobs, jobs, jobs. The Labor Department’s recent unemployment report was considered positive by many.  The latest unemployment rate is 3.9% which is the lowest since the year 2000.  Coincidentally, the year 2000 was the year the stock market bubble burst after the last prominent bull market of the 1990s.  The “Tax Cut and Jobs Act” when into effect last February.  It is the largest tax overhaul since the Tax Reform Act of 1986 under President Reagan.  Marginal tax rates were lowered for everyone but whether you “won” or “lost” will depend largely on individual factors like your number of dependents, size of your home and how you tax your business


  • Will the stock market keep going up?  Since January of 2008, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been up nearly every successive year (except for a slight 2% dip between 2014 and 2015).  Many stock market predictors believe that this consistent growth is unsustainable.  No one can predict when this “bull market” will end and if it does, when it will return.  Our consistent view is that the stock market is a tool for beating inflation over time.  In the short-term, bond rates will be a factor in determining market growth.  We will pay attention to the 10-year and 30-year Treasury rates.  As the 10-year yield rises above 3%, we expect retirees to gradually move their assets from the stock to the bond market.  We will also pay attention to the dreaded “inverted yield curve” – the rare occasion when short-term bond rates are higher than long-term bond rates – which has predicted all of the most recent recessions 


  • Ups and downs. This year we are seeing a lot more ups and downs (volatility) in the markets on a daily basis.  We have new domestic policies on taxes and trade along with international uncertainty with countries like North Korea and Iran. 2018 is also a hotly contested election year.  Experts say to expect to continue seeing market volatility and we agree