Weekly Market Commentary March 4, 2019

Fast Facts

 Philanthropy is Trending- Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos contributed $2 billion to charity in 2018, topping the list of America’s biggest donors. It’s the first time the world’s richest man has cracked the top-50 rankings, and he is well behind Bill Gates’ lifetime $45 billion. Bezos came in ahead of No. 2, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who donated $767 million

It Takes a Village- When Seth Marko discovered he needed emergency open-heart surgery, he wasn’t sure what would happen to the Book Catapult, his San Diego bookstore. Then Scott Ehrig-Burgess, manager of a rival bookstore nearby, stepped up. He offered to run the Catapult while Marko, 43, was in the hospital, and recruited eight volunteers from other bookstores to help. For more than a week, Ehrig-Burgess faithfully opened and closed the Catapult and trained the volunteers while also working at his own shop. “It’s pretty incredible,” said Marko.

Surprise!- Construction workers in Estonia who saw what they thought was a large dog struggling in an icy river rushed into the freezing water to rescue the animal—unaware that they’d actually saved a wolf. The workers carried the beast, sedated by hypothermia, to a car and drove to a clinic. “He was calm, slept on my legs,” one of the men, Rando Kartsepp, said of the animal. Veterinarians treated the canine at the clinic, and sensibly placed it in a cage after realizing the dog was in fact a 1-year-old male wolf. It has since recovered and been released in the wild.


Weekly Focus – Think About It

“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.”

–Mae Jemison, American engineer, physician, and NASA astronaut


The Markets

Is it a soft landing?

Economists use aviation metaphors to describe the results of central banks’ efforts to manage rapidly growing economies. If the Federal Reserve lifts rates enough to prevent the economy from overheating without jolting it into recession, then it has engineered a soft landing, according to Investopedia. (Rate increases that drop a country into recession are hard landings.)

Ben Levisohn of Barron’s thinks recent Fed actions may have produced the second soft landing in the history of the United States:

“…the Federal Reserve might have engineered a soft landing for the U.S. economy…When Chairman Jerome Powell abruptly decided that he would hold off on further rate hikes, the market responded as if a recession was no longer in the offing. And it probably isn’t…There are also signs that the Fed, simply by taking a breather, has eased monetary conditions. The evidence: The yield curve is steepening. The difference between 30-year and two-year Treasury yields – the spread most correlated to money supply – has risen to about 0.6 percentage point, the highest since June…”

Not everyone agrees.

Last week, Economist Robert Shiller told Bloomberg, “The economy has been growing pretty smoothly…There are some signs there might be things amiss. The housing market is soaring and the stock market is high. It’s been a long time that we’ve been in this recovery period and it wouldn’t surprise me at all if there was a recession.”

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite delivered slight gains last week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was flat.

Here’s a blast from the past. Depending on your age, the 1980s may be a nostalgic chapter in your life or the wellspring of amusing photos of your Miami-Vice clad, lace-gloved parents. The 80s are known for more than MTV, yuppies, sci-fi movies, and cell phones the size of shoeboxes, though. The decade marked the start of a new era in geopolitics as the Cold War ended and the Berlin Wall was dismantled.

The 1980s also brought a wealth of innovative new products that disrupted markets and changed the way people perform everyday tasks. Entrepreneur Magazine recently identified some of the decade’s notable inventions, including:

  • The First Artificial Human Heart. Robert Jarvik’s invention was used as a temporary solution for many people who were waiting for a human heart to become available for transplant.
  • Compact Disc (CD) Players. The first compact disc ever pressed was ABBA’s ‘The Visitors’ reported Time Magazine. Not many people listened to CDs early on because of the cost. However, CDs eventually disrupted the market for vinyl records.
  • DNA Fingerprinting. This discovery enabled a person to be identified from just a few hair, skin, or blood cells which revolutionized forensic investigation.
  • Personal Computers and Software. At the start of the decade, technology visionaries Bill Gates and Steve Jobs – still in their twenties – were figuring out how to make computing accessible. Personal computers became more prevalent, along with floppy disks and CD-ROMs.

While the fashions have become obsolete, along with camcorders and CD players, many of the decade’s inventions have proven more durable – and some have completely changed the way people interact with the world.

Which of this decade’s inventions do you think could have a similar impact?


Best regards,


John Klevens, CFP


Sources: The Week Magazine, The Guardian,
Portions of this newsletter has been prepared by Peak Advisor