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The blog is a personal commentary by Yale Bock on the specific events which may have occurred in the investment or political world. Specific stocks are mentioned, and many readers find this a good way to gain another perspective on the investment world.
“It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker, that we can expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest” - Adam Smith
As the world anticipated the Dow breaking past the 20K mark, the index has not been able to surpass the momentum to overcome the nice round number. The failure can be attributed to anything one might seem logical: valuation, season, lack of earnings power, political uncertainty, national debt, interest rates, etc, etc. Still, some view the inability to break through as a major problem, others see it as a temporary obstacle which inevitably will be eclipsed. Early last week, Janet Yellen indicated she thought interest rates might see some strengthening during the rest of 2017, maybe even up to as many as three increases. Mrs. Yellen’s interest rate policy is going in the opposite direction than most of the rest of the world, intending to normalize the cost of money as a way to preempt possible inflation. In doing so, the actions of the Fed are consistent with Mr. Smith’s famous quote about self interest, a bedrock principle of economics. As you will see later, there is another person who believes in Adam’s philosophy.
In other interesting developments last week, investment bank and scourge of the earth (according to Bernie and Elizabeth) Goldman Sachs posted strong earnings on the strength of improved fixed income results. US Bank, a solidly run, large regional bank, also turned in steady results by meeting expectations. United Health Group, the largest health insurer in the country, showed the losses from being involved with the exchange business aren’t hurting shareholders much. If you are a small business, you know you can count on health insurance premiums going up every year by nearly 10%, and in some cases a heck of a lot more. IBM beat expectations but has seen revenues decline for many quarters as the enterprise computing space gets even more competitive thanks to the cloud. At the end of the week, Union Pacific, Proctor, and Slob (Schlumberger) also met consensus estimates. You can see it was a full week on the earnings front, and next week the whole corporate world reports, so there is plenty to watch on that front.
Yesterday’s peaceful transition of power between the outgoing and incoming president elect was memorable, as almost all inauguration’s are. The traditions and pageantry of the ceremony are remarkable in there enduring nature. It is also always interesting to see the raw emotions of the political actors who all show up to display their envy, disappointment (Hillary), jealousy (other Republicans) , and maybe even anger (Bernie) at the ultimate winner. In this case, Donald Trump took the oath of office and made a ‘muscular’ speech detailing the dominant theme of his administration, ‘America First.’ In it, clearly self interest lies at it’s heart as contrary to the belief of the outgoing leadership, there are plenty of issues in the country which need to be addressed. Now, as was the case hundreds of years ago, one’s own welfare remains at the center of economics. Thanks for reading the blog this week and if you have any questions or comments, please email me
Y H & C Investments, Yale Bock, and the family of Yale Bock own positions in securities mentioned in the blog post. Investing in stocks can lead to the complete loss of your capital. As always, on any company mentioned here, past performance is not a guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk of losses on invested capital. One should research any investment and make sure it is suitable with your objectives, risk tolerance, risk profile liquidity considerations, tax situation, and anything else pertinent to your financial situation. Also, the CFA credential in no way implies investment returns will be superior for any charter holder.