At its September meeting, the Federal Reserve announced that it would begin the process of winding down its balance sheet. While the central bank is taking caution to chart a slow and gradual course, it marks a significant step in its plans to back away from quantitative easing and is likely to reverberate throughout financial markets as the unwinding progresses.
Municipal bonds (or munis) issued by state and local governments have long been favored by tax-conscious American investors. These securities provide the unique benefit of tax-free income, allowing investors to shield a portion of their nest egg from federal and most state and local taxes and boost their so-called tax-equivalent yield. As a result, these bonds, which help fund approximately three quarters of America’s infrastructure projects, are particularly attractive to Americans in higher tax brackets. Continue reading “Foreign Investors Flock to U.S. Municipal Bonds”
As the American economy enters its eighth year of post-recession growth, the unemployment rate continues to fall. In fact, May’s reported unemployment rate of 4.3% is the lowest in sixteen years, marking just how far we’ve come since a high-point of 10.0% in October 2009. Unfortunately, anecdotal evidence from workers and employers and a deeper dive into labor statistics indicate that, despite these improvements, structural issues remain. While concerns such as underemployment and reduced participation in the labor force remain problematic, perhaps the biggest issue for American jobseekers and businesses today is a growing gap between the skills companies seek and the abilities of the workforce. Known as the ‘skills gap,’ this asymmetry can have a damaging ripple effect that weighs on everything from individuals’ opportunities for employment to overall economic productivity.
Attempting to make comparisons between the structures of countries’ housing markets is a difficult task. Numerous elements must be considered, such as geography, government policies, and demographics, while analysis can be further complicated by an overall shortage of comparable data throughout various countries. Continue reading “Renters Under Pressure Globally”
For yet another year, residents of New Jersey have been subject to among the highest property taxes in the nation. Data compiled by the NJ Department of County Affairs shows that property owners paid an average of $8,549 in property taxes for 2016, representing a 2.35% increase from the previous year. Continue reading “New Jersey Ranks High!…..For Property Taxes”
When economists, journalists, and politicians talk about the strength or weakness of the national economy, they cite one main statistic: GDP. The metric, which stands for Gross Domestic Product, singlehandedly quantifies the output of national economies, guides the action of central banks, and acts as the universal benchmark for when economies officially enter and exit recessions. Continue reading “GDP: Faster Growth Than Meets the Eye?”
On January 25th of this year, the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA/Dow) passed the 20,000 milestone for the first time ever. Seemingly every media outlet began to host discussions regarding whether investors should get back into the marketplace, how much further stocks can go, and a multitude of other investing-related topics. Continue reading “DOW 20,000 — Does It Matter?”
Each year, more deals and promotions seem to enter the marketplace in hopes of enticing holiday shoppers to spend more, or even to get them to actually come to the store itself. Expectations on how major retailers will perform and notifications regarding the level of confidence consumers have with the economy are rampant throughout the holiday season. Continue reading “Holiday Retail Sales”
Recently, amid excitement over the possibility of the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching 20,000, the U.S. dollar somewhat quietly hit a 14-year high. The greenback moved higher following December’s Fed meeting, in which the central bank raised rates and put out a hawkish statement on the possibility of more rate increases next year. In the following weeks, the dollar has continued to grind even higher. Beyond just the headlines, what does this actually mean for American consumers, businesses, and investors?
There are a couple of recurring themes that have seemed to dominate the financial news in recent weeks: the rise of the major indexes to record highs in equities and the steep rise in treasury yields. Since growth and interest rate expectations factor into both moves, these two headlines may seem like two sides of the same coin; yet there is a major difference between the two.