October 14, 2013

Weekly Market Commentary

October 14, 2013

The Markets

Do world stock markets believe Congress is just offering up some Halloween excitement? 

Last week, they responded to the government shutdown in the United States and the possibility the U.S. might default on its debt for the first time ever with the bravado of teenagers standing in line for a haunted house. Markets around the globe finished the week higher with some notable exceptions that included Chinese and Mexican markets and America’s NASDAQ.

It’s also possible market performance could be attributed to the lack of economic data available since the government shutdown. Even private economic indicators sometimes rely on federal government information to calculate their numbers, so markets may be weighting signs that America’s elected officials are making progress more heavily than they might if other data were accessible.

The positive progress in U.S. stock markets is particularly interesting since a lot of Americans – many of whom may be investors – have negative feelings about the fiscal policy impasse in Washington, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Sixty percent of Americans polled said “if they had the chance to vote to defeat and replace every single member of Congress, including their own representative, they would.”

That may go a long way toward explaining the recent deterioration of consumer sentiment in America. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan's overall index on consumer sentiment declined for the third month straight in October. The change was relatively small, but sentiment reached its lowest level in nine months.

A FEDERAL RESERVE SYSTEM PRIMER... Last Wednesday, vice chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Janet Yellen was nominated to take over as Chairman when Ben Bernanke steps down in January. If confirmed, she’ll take the helm of the institution entrusted with safeguarding our country’s monetary and financial system.

Congress established the Federal Reserve System a century ago in response to the financial panic of 1907. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston:

“Financial panics and bank runs were all too common during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some were more severe than others, but most followed the same general pattern. The misfortunes of a prominent speculator would undermine public confidence in the financial system. Panic stricken investors would then scramble to cut their losses. And, because it wasn’t uncommon for speculators to double as bank officials, worried depositors would rush to withdraw their money from any bank associated with a troubled speculator. If a beleaguered bank couldn’t meet its depositors’ demands for cash, panic would quickly spread to other banks. (Remember! There was no federal deposit insurance until 1933. If a bank failed, depositors had little hope of ever seeing their money again.)

The panic of 1907 ended when J.P. Morgan intervened and set up emergency loans for financial institutions. The clamor for reform led to the passage of the Federal Reserve Act (which created the Federal Reserve System (Fed), which became law in 1913.

Today, the Fed includes a Board of Governors in Washington, D.C. and 12 Federal Reserve Banks. The Board of Governors oversees the Fed. Its members are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. They serve 14-year terms. The Reserve Banks are responsible for the Fed’s day-to-day operations which include “conducting monetary policy, supervising and regulating banks, and providing payment services all help maintain the stability of the financial system.”

Monetary policy is set by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) which is composed of 12 voting members and includes the seven members of the Board of Governors and a rotating group of five Reserve Bank presidents. The chairman of the Board of Governors is also the chairman of the FOMC.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The greatest thing in family life is to take a hint when a hint is intended – and not to take a hint when a hint isn't intended.”

--Robert Frost, American poet

Best regards,

Suzanne H. Christian, CFP®

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

Suzanne Christian is a Registered Representative with and securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA/SIPC.

  • This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
  • The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
  • The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
  • The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
  • Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.
  • The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
  • The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
  • The Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index (MCSI) is a survey of consumer confidence conducted by the University of Michigan. The MCSI uses telephone surveys to gather information on consumer expectations regarding the overall economy.
  • Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
  • Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
  • Past performance does not guarantee future results.
  • You cannot invest directly in an index.
  • Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
  • Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
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  • NBC
  • Barrons- Economic Calendar (Click on “U.S. & Intl Recaps” to the right of “Resource Center”, then “Fears and hopes,” and view the “Equities by the Day” chart)
  • Barrons- Economic Calendar (Click on “U.S. & Intl Recaps” to the right of “Resource Center,” then U.S. impasse vigil”)
  • Reuters
  • PBS
  • Federal Reserve
  • Federal Reserve Bank of Boston
  • Federal Reserve Back of San Francisco- What is the Fed: History
  • Federal Reserve Back of San Francisco- What is the Fed: Financial Stability
  • Brainy Quote
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Suzanne H. Christian, CFP ®
LPL Branch Manager

phone 909.625.1052

Email: suzanne.christian@lpl.com

External Links: FINRA | SIPC