Common Cents Archive

Common Cents on an Ugly Day in the Markets – Groundhog Day 2018

February 2, 2018, by John Norris

Section I This morning, a client asked me whether I was nervous about the markets, particularly after the way they have behaved over the last week. He pointed out, correctly at the time, stocks were taking it on the chin here on Groundhog Day after a better than expected Employment Situation report. After all, this all but ensures the Federal Reserve will raise the overnight lending target at next month’s FOMC meeting, right? As the...

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This is Common Cents for January 12, 2018

January 12, 2018, by John Norris

Section I Today, I went to a lunch presentation on Alabama’s economy. Years ago, I was somewhat involved in the sponsoring group, and I have decided to start going again, at least occasionally. Laughingly, there are only so many economic presentations I can sit through in a given year. In case you were wondering, that is more paradoxical or oxymoronic than it is ironic. Just saying. I will cut to the quick: the presenter, who...

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Common Cents for January 5, 2018

January 5, 2018, by John Norris

Section I Everyone knows the old adage: “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” This was particularly true in the markets this week, as stocks just kept on climbing after we changed the calendar on the wall. 2017? 2018? What difference does a man-made concept like a calendar mean when there is money to be made? To be sure, there is nothing in the recent economic data to suggest anything other than...

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A Little Common Cents This Late in the Year?

December 29, 2017, by John Norris

Section I Here it is, the last business day of the year 2017. Outside my window, it is seasonably chilly without a cloud in the sky. Traffic on the highway, which I can just make out, is a little lighter than it ordinarily is at this time of day. The trees have all lost their leaves, and I struggling to make sense of this past year. For some reason, the first few lines of William...

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A Little Common Cents for December 15, 2018….a very little

December 15, 2017, by John Norris

Outside of politics, the big headline for week was the FOMC (Federal Open Market Committee) meeting on Wednesday. This is the monetary policy making body of the Federal Reserve. In a move which surprised no one, the FOMC raised the overnight lending target rate between member banks from 1.25% to 1.50%. On Tuesday, the futures market put this at a 100% probability. The big question is: just how aggressive with the Fed be in raising...

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Some Common Cents for December 1, 2017

December 1, 2017, by John Norris

Section I: Last night, I made an economic presentation to the Tuscaloosa Estate Planning Council at the Indian Hills Country Club. This group has asked me to speak 3 or 4 times over the last decade, and it always, and I repeat always, serves filet mignon. What’s more, it has the club serve me first, which obviously allows me to enjoy said steak. Frankly, this is wonderful, and kind of, if not exceedingly, rare. You...

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Some Common Cents For Friday November 17, 2017

November 17, 2017, by John Norris

In case you didn’t pick up the November 7th copy of Pravda, you might have missed the 100th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. This was ultimate act in a year of great turmoil within Russia which resulted in even more years of civil strife and decades of economic mismanagement. While Lenin and his proletarians were passionate and idealistic, it is safe to say they didn’t completely understand economics. Apologists for the former Soviet government tend...

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Some Common Cents for October 27, 2017

October 27, 2017, by John Norris

Although I don’t consider myself a codger, I have recently found myself saying things like: “when I was a kid” or “I am old enough to remember when.” You know, the sort of stuff that makes you an old-timer whether you care to admit it or not. This week, I was rooting around in a plastic pumpkin full of candy in our office building looking for something good to eat. Specifically, I was looking for...

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Some Common Cents for October 20, 2017

October 20, 2017, by John Norris

One of my wife’s co-workers recently turned us onto a PBS Masterpiece series entitled ‘Poldark.’ As an aside, in case you didn’t already know, Masterpiece is a code word for: 1) originally produced by and aired on the BBC well before PBS got ahold of it, and; 2) a dramatic piece of historical fiction set in the United Kingdom at some point prior to, interestingly enough, television. ‘Poldark’ is no different. Without going into exhaustive...

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Some Common Cents for October 6, 2017

October 6, 2017, by John Norris

I started in this industry working on a buy-side bond trading desk, as well as managing money market and municipal bond funds. My employer in Baltimore had some pretty strict credit standards, and, as a result, we were not big buyers of Puerto Rican debt. This was a little unusual in the industry since the stuff ALWAYS had insurance which meant, at the time, it carried a triple-A rating. Further, due to favorable treatment from...

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