Weekly Market Commentary April 15, 2019

Fast Facts

Impatient Groundskeeping Gone Bad- after parents and players in Ridgefield, Conn., tried to dry a wet high school baseball field before a game by dousing it with gasoline and setting it on fire. A hazardous waste firm had to dig up 6 inches of gas-contaminated dirt after the stunt, which a town official said, “was not a very good idea.”

Password Trouble– Evan Osnos, a staff writer at The New Yorker and a fellow at the Brookings Institution put out a tweet — or a cry for help — letting the world know of the little situation his toddler put him in. “Uh, this looks fake but, alas, it’s our iPad today after 3-year-old tried (repeatedly) to unlock. Ideas?” Osnos tweeted. A photo of the iPad’s screen noted the device was disabled. It also had this mind-blowing message: “Try again in 25,536,442 minutes.” That’s more than 48 years, for those of you who don’t want to do the math. So, Osnos’ iPad will be available to him again sometime in 2067. He eventually found a fix, thanks to the Internet, but he might jist want to share his password with his kiddo.

Marathon in Brogues– A British man has completed a 100-mile ultramarathon across a frozen Mongolian lake while wearing brogues and jeans. Peter Messervy-Gross, 47, had bought specialist gear for the race, but on arrival he found the airline had lost his bags, so he had to run in the clothes he had on—with only a pair of borrowed running spikes strapped to his soles to help him on the ice. Some runners dropped out, but Messervy-Gross persisted, completing the subzero race in four days. His brogues, he says, are still in “good order—worn in nicely.”


Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The only difference between death and taxes is that death doesn’t get worse every time Congress meets.”
Actor and humorist Will Rogers, quoted in the Gastonia, N.C., Gaston Gazette


The Markets

Investors took an intermission.

The curtain appeared to close on the first act of 2019 last week – and what an impressive act it was. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index delivered some dramatic returns and is less than 1 percent away from a new all-time high.

Despite relatively few shares changing hands, major U.S. indices eked out gains. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s explained:

“Trading volume was tepid at best. This past Monday, fewer shares changed hands than on any day since December 24 – when the market closed early for Christmas. Tuesday’s volume was lower than Monday’s, Wednesday’s was lower than Tuesday’s, and…well, you get the point. That was just another sign that no one wanted to place any big bets on the market this past week – in either direction.”

Investors were complacent even though news suggested trade talks with China were progressing well. They remained unruffled in the face of a Presidential tweet suggesting the United States will impose tariffs on Europe in retaliation for illegal subsidies to a European aerospace firm.

There was another interesting development in the United States last week. It was widely reported that a number of companies in retail and banking sectors increased entry-level hourly wages to levels well above the national minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. The companies are paying $13 to $20 an hour, according to Renae Merle of The Washington Post and a report from Reuters.

That is good news for workers, but not such good news for investors since higher wages could lead to lower corporate profits, reported Joe Wallace and Akane Otani of The Wall Street Journal.

Thought required. People make everyday decisions based on the information they possess at any given moment, explained The Economist. As understanding of an issue changes, so do the decisions people make.

For example, a lot of people dislike plastic grocery bags. Many shoppers choose to take cloth bags to the grocery store rather than use plastic bags provided by the store. In fact, some 240 cities and counties have laws that ban or tax plastic bags, according to Planet Money, and there is a national movement afoot to ban the bags.

However, the economics of plastic grocery bags is not as straightforward as many believe. Banning plastic bags appears to be an effective solution to a serious environmental issue. Unfortunately, it is not. An Australian economist studied the effects of plastic bag bans and discovered bans helped and hurt the environment:

  • The good news: Cities with bans used fewer plastic bags, and 40 of those cities generated about 40 million fewer pounds of plastic trash annually.
  • The bad news: Sales of plastic garbage bags increased by 120 percent after the ban, possibly because people reused grocery bags to line trashcans and clean up after dogs. Since trash bags are made of heavier plastic than grocery bags, about 30 percent of the plastic trash gains associated with the bans were lost.

In addition, paper bag use rose, creating 80 million pounds of paper trash annually. Paper is biodegradable and can be composted; however, producing paper bags requires water, fuel, and trees, so that should be considered as well, reported Stanford Magazine.

A separate study conducted by the Danish government found, “The most environment-friendly way to carry groceries is to use the same bag over and over again…the best reusable ones are made from polyester or plastics like polypropylene.”


 Best regards,

John Klevens, CFP


Sources: The Week Magazine, www.DailyMail.co.uk, NewYorkTimes.com
Portions of this newsletter has been prepared by Peak Advisor