Restless Investors Eyeing Final Quarter

September
28

Written by: Jon McGraw

Oh, the uncertainty!

Investors are keeping one eye on the Federal Reserve and the other on politicians trying to determine what may happen during the last quarter of the year.

The Fed, which is the central bank of the United States, is responsible for conducting monetary policy with an eye toward full employment and stable prices. If, as St. Louis Fed President James Bullard told Reuters, the economy is near full employment and inflation is sure to rise, then why didn’t the Fed raise rates in September?

Reuters reported voting members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decided uncertainty in global markets had the potential to negatively affect domestic economic strength. Mr. Bullard believes the decision puts an October increase in doubt, too, according to Nasdaq.com. Mr. Bullard told reporters:

“For the committee, it’s always hard to have made a big decision at one meeting and come back at the next meeting. The key question will be what kind of data did you get during the intervening period that changed your mind, and it’s not that clear what data we will have in hand in October that we would be able to cite to support my position, relative to what we had at the September meeting. But it is possible.”

Regardless, Fed Chair Janet Yellen made it clear last week she expects to see a rate hike before year-end. That might have helped settle markets, except Speaker of the House John Boehner resigned soon after Yellen spoke. The Speaker’s resignation made a government shutdown this week less likely, according to Barron’s. However, fiscal policy issues haven’t been resolved. A meeting of the political minds this week would set the stage for a mid-December showdown, and that’s data the Fed will have to consider if the December FOMC meeting occurs amidst a government shutdown and debt-ceiling crisis.

No one seemed to be happy with the state of affairs last week, and stock markets were awash in red ink.

Data as of 9/25/15 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) -1.4% -6.2% -1.8% 10.2% 11.1% 4.7%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. -3.4 -9.2 -13.7 0.2 -0.1 0.9
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.2 NA 2.5 1.7 2.5 4.3
Gold (per ounce) 0.5 -4.4 -5.5 -13.5 -2.4 9.5
Bloomberg Commodity Index 0.9 -15.2 -25.7 -15.5 -8.7 -6.6
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -0.3 -4.7 8.4 9.0 11.6 6.9

Talking Cars: What Will They Say?

Soon, cars will be able to talk with one another. Vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication has been tested in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a relatively mild and polite Midwestern town. Now V2V is being rolled out in New York City, along with technology that allows traffic signals to contribute their two cents. Just imagine what a New York cab might have to say to another New York cab that changes lanes without signaling.

OK, it’s nothing like that.

The idea is to reduce traffic accidents. If a dangerous situation arises, an alert sounds. Gizmodo.com described it like this:

“These sensors send out signals over a specific wireless spectrum band and also receive them from other vehicles, creating a network of communicating sensors that ping when there’s danger … A secondary form of the technology, called Vehicle-to-Infrastructure, does the same thing—but with sensors embedded in stop signs, traffic lights, and other pieces of road infrastructure.”

Soon, people will be able to install V2V on smartphones so they can ping a warning to approaching cars as well.

While V2V seems like a good idea, pinging a warning to a distracted driver moments before a crash and expecting them to respond appropriately may be asking too much. The Economist suggests that automation—giving vehicles the ability to take over—cannot be far behind. “Depending on how you look at it, that’s a good thing—or terrifying … opening cars and buses up to computerized control also means opening them up to hackers … Imagine the fun they could have if thousands more vehicles could be controlled from computers or smartphones.”

Ultimately, intelligent transportation systems are expected to optimize the number of vehicles that can use roadways, helping save money that would otherwise be spent on expanding infrastructure to accommodate population growth.

Weekly Fun

Join us at Buttonwood Art Space for the opening and showing of “Visions of the Flint Hills 2015.” An opening reception with auction will take place this Friday, October 2, from 4 to 6 p.m. (VIP ticket only) and 6 to 9 p.m. (public reception). The artwork will be viewable through November 27. Visit buttonwoodartspace.com/show/visions-of-the-flint-hills-2015 for more information.