Joseph Y. Calhoun

Joseph Y. Calhoun

Joe has worked in the financial services industry since 1992 in various capacities, including Operations Manager, Compliance Manager, Registered Representative and Portfolio Manager. From 1997 to 2006, when he founded Alhambra Investment Management, Mr. Calhoun was a Director of Investments at Oppenheimer & Co. Mr. Calhoun holds the Series 63 (Uniform Securities Agent State Law) and 65 (Uniform Investment Advisor Law) securities licenses. He has previously taken and passed the Series 7 (General Securities Representative) and Series 9/10 (General Securities Sales Supervisor) securities exams.

Articles by Joseph Y. Calhoun

Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Maximum Optimism?

The economic reports of the last two weeks were generally of a more positive tone. The majority of reports were better than expected although it must be noted that many of those reports were of the sentiment variety, reflecting optimism about the future that may or may not prove warranted. Markets have certainly responded to the dreams of tax reform dancing in investors’ heads with US stock markets providing a steady stream of all time highs, bond yields rising and the dollar coming off the mat.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: As Good As It Gets

The incoming economic data hasn’t changed its tone all that much in the last several years. The US economy is growing but more slowly than it once did and we hope it does again. It is frustrating for economic bulls and bears, never fully satisfying either. Probably more important is the frustration of the average American, a dissatisfaction with the status quo that permeates the national debate. The housing bubble papered over the annoying lack of income growth and eroding job security of the new millennium in a way the financial market gains of today can’t. 

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Global Asset Allocation Update: Step Away From The Portfolio

Moderate Allocation

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50. There are no changes to the portfolios this month. The post Fed meeting market reaction was a bit surprising in its intensity. The actions of the Fed were, to my mind anyway, pretty much as expected but apparently the algorithms that move markets today were singing from a different hymnal.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Waiting For Irma

This update will be a bit shorter than usual. I’m in Miami awaiting Hurricane Irma. As of now, it looks like the eye of the storm will make landfall near Key West and continue west of us with the Naples/Ft. Myers area at risk. Or at least that’s the way it looks right now. I’ve done a lot of these storms though – I lost a house in Andrew in ’92 – and you never know what these things will do. We are secure in a house that survived Andrew with barely a scratch so we’re pretty confident. In some ways it is like monitoring the economy.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Don’t Underestimate Gridlock

Bi-weekly

The economic reports released since the last update were slightly more upbeat than the previous period. The economic surprises have largely been on the positive side but there were some major disappointments as well. The economy has been doing this for several years now, one part of the economy waxing while another wanes and the overall trajectory not much changed. Indeed, the broad Chicago Fed National Activity index probably says it all, coming in at -0.01.

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More Noise Than Signal

US Real Gross Corporate, 1951 - 2017

A number of people have forwarded this Bloomberg article – Wall Street Banks Warn Downturn Is Coming – to me over the last couple of days. That fact alone is probably a good argument to ignore it but I can’t help but read articles like this if for no other reason than to know what the crowd is thinking.

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Questions

US Corporate Profits / Gross Domestic Product, 1950 - 2017

Why are profit margins persistently high? With decent earnings this quarter, corporate profits as a % of GDP will approach (maybe exceed) 10% again. That is abnormally high compared to the period 1960 to 2000. Margins actually started to rise in the mid-80s but really accelerated after 2000 and outside of the 2008 crisis have remained high. Why?

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Global Asset Allocation Update: No Upside To Credit

Moderate Allocation

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50. There are other changes to the portfolio though so please read on. As I write this the stock market is in the process of taking a dive (well if 1.4% is a “dive”) and one can’t help but wonder if the long awaited and anticipated correction is finally at hand.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Ignore The Idiot

Of the economic releases of the past two weeks the one that got the most attention was the employment report. That report is seen by many market analysts as one of the most important and of course the Fed puts a lot of emphasis on it so the press spends an inordinate amount of time dissecting it.

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SNB Balance Sheet, Markets and Economy: As Good As It Gets?

Markets and Economy 1972 - 2017

Late 2014/early 2015 will perhaps be the closest to a real recovery from the Great “Recession” we shall see in this cycle.  Q1 2015 marked the peak year over year growth rate of GDP in this recovery at 3.76%. That rate compares quite unfavorably with even the feeble post dot com crash recovery high of 4.41% in Q1 2004.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Extending The Cycle

This economic cycle is one of the longest on record for the US, eight years and counting since the end of the last recession. It has also been, as almost everyone knows, a fairly weak expansion, one that has managed to disappoint both bull and bear.

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Global Asset Allocation Update: Not Yet

Moderate Allocation

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50. There are no changes to the portfolio this month. Growth and inflation expectations rose somewhat since last month’s update. The change is minor though and within the range of what we’ve seen in recent months.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Attention Shoppers

The majority of the economic reports over the last two weeks have been disappointing, less than the consensus expectations. The minor rebound in activity we’ve been tracking since last summer appears to have stalled. Retail sales continue to disappoint and inventory/sales ratios are once again rising – from already elevated levels.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Draghi Moves Markets

In my last update two weeks ago I commented on the continued weakness in the economic data. The economic surprises were overwhelmingly negative and our market based indicators confirmed that weakness. This week the surprises are not in the economic data but in the indicators. And surprising as well is the source of the outbreak of optimism in the bond market and the yield curve.

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Global Asset Allocation Update:

Moderate Allocation

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50. There are no changes to the portfolio this month.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: Has The Fed Heard Of Amazon?

The economic surprises keep piling up on the negative side of the ledger as the Fed persists in tightening policy or at least pretending that they are. If a rate changes in the wilderness can the market hear it? Outside of the stock market one would be hard pressed to find evidence of the effectiveness of all the Fed’s extraordinary policies of the last decade.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review: The Return of Economic Ennui

The economic reports released since the last of these updates was generally not all that bad but the reports considered more important were disappointing. And it should be noted that economic reports lately have generally been worse than expected which, if you believe the market to be fairly efficient, is what really matters.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

Moderate Allocation

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50. There are, however, changes within the asset classes. We are reducing the equity allocation and raising the allocation to REITs. 

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

The economic data releases since the last update were generally upbeat but markets are forward looking and the future apparently isn’t to their liking. Of course, it is hard to tell sometimes whether bonds, the dollar and stocks are responding to the real economy or the one people hope Donald Trump can deliver when he isn’t busy contradicting his communications staff.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

The economic reports since the last economic update were generally less than expected and disappointing. The weak growth of the last few years had been supported by autos and housing while energy has been a wildcard. When oil prices fell, starting in mid-2014 and bottoming in early 2016, economic growth suffered as the shale industry retrenched.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

bi-weekly

It wasn’t a very good two weeks for economic data with the majority of reports disappointing. Most notable I think is that the so called “soft data” is starting to reflect reality rather than some fantasy land where President Trump enacts his entire agenda in the first 100 days of being in office. Politics is about the art of the possible and that is proving a short list for now.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

Moderate Allocation

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50.

The performance of markets in the first quarter of the year was a bit schizophrenic. Stocks performed well which one might interpret as a reflection of improving economic growth prospects. Certainly President Trump and his proxies were quick to take credit but unfortunately for the new administration if they are responsible then they seem to be making foreign markets and gold miners great again sooner than America.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

It is hard not to notice that the chart above has a lot less red in it than it has in some time. That is true of the month to month data as well as the year over year changes. There has been a widely reported gap between so called soft data – surveys and polls – and the hard data – actual economic activity reports. Bulls say the gap is there because the soft data always leads the hard data.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

B-weekly

The Fed did, as expected, hike rates at their last meeting. And interestingly, interest rates have done nothing but fall since that day. As I predicted in the last BWER, Greenspan’s conundrum is making a comeback. The Fed can do whatever it wants with Fed funds – heck, barely anyone is using it anyway – but they can’t control what the market does with long term rates.

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Global Asset Allocation Update

Moderate Allocation

There is no change to the risk budget this month. For the moderate risk investor, the allocation between risk assets and bonds is unchanged at 50/50. The Fed spent the last month forward guiding the market to the rate hike they implemented today. Interest rates, real and nominal, moved up in anticipation of a more aggressive Fed rate hiking cycle.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

The Federal Reserve is widely expected to raise interest rates again at their meeting next week. They obviously view the recent cyclical upturn as being durable and the inflation data as pointing to the need for higher rates. Our market based indicators agree somewhat but nominal and real interest rates are still below their mid-December peaks so I don’t think a lot has changed.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

Economic Reports Scorecard. The economic data released since my last update has been fairly positive but future growth and inflation expectations, as measured by our market indicators, have waned considerably. There is now a distinct divergence between the current data, stocks and bonds. Bond yields, both real and nominal, have fallen recently even as stocks continue their relentless march higher.

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Bi-Weekly Economic Review

ScoreCard

The economic data since my last update has improved somewhat. It isn’t across the board and it isn’t huge but it must be acknowledged. As usual though there are positives and negatives, just with a slight emphasis on positive right now. Interestingly, the bond market has not responded to these slightly more positive readings with nominal and real yields almost exactly where they were in the last update 3 weeks ago. In other words, there’s no reason – yet – to believe this is anything more than one of the number of blips higher we’ve seen over the last few years. I will say though that this one appears to be a little more global than some of the other ones so maybe it will have more legs.

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