Dow Down 800

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 800 points on Wednesday, August 14, a day after it rose 400 points. The market is volatile! An inverted yield curve is given as the reason why the Dow dropped on Wednesday. In the past, an inverted yield curve has sometimes preceded an economic recession, which means lower earnings for companies, which means lower stock prices.

My Take

Here are my thoughts about what is going on with the market:

  • The yield curve is inverting because money is being poured into the longer end of the yield curve, and not because rates on the shorter end are increasing. According to the US Department of Treasury, the 10 Year Bond hit a recent high yield of 3.24% on November 8, 2018. The current yield is just over 1.5%, less than half of what it was a scant 9 months ago. By contrast, the 3 Month T-Bill’s yield has dropped from 2.35% on 11/8/18 to 1.91% currently – a much shallower decline in yield.
  • Money is being poured into the longer end of the yield curve because alternatives for yields on government-issued securities worldwide are even lower. Negative interest rates are back. According to Marketwatch, the 10 Year German bond has a current yield of negative 0.7%, and the 10 Year Japan bond has a current yield of negative 0.24%. Interest rates are negative in much of the world (except for the US) because economic growth in these places is extremely weak or non-existent. Large institutional investors see these negative rates and weak growth and figure these other countries aren’t going to grow out of their problems any time soon, and they see that US Treasuries at least have a positive yield, and that the US economy’s rate of growth in the 3% to 4% range far exceeds that of other developed countries, and so they decide it is a good wager to lock in yields for 10 years, even if those yields are half of what they were 9 months ago. This speaks volumes about the future outlook for Europe and the rest of the developed world.
  • Meanwhile, the metrics for the US economy remain good and do not signal an oncoming recession. Despite the 800 point selloff on Wednesday, stock price indexes, which are a leading economic indicator, remain near all-time highs. Unemployment is sub-4%, and workforce participation is rising slightly. Corporate earnings are forecasted to improve, albeit not at the rate they did during 2018.
  • The Federal Reserve has been and remains accommodative, including their most recent 25 basis point cut in rates. Per the Fed, it still has $1.4 Trillion of excess reserves in the system, so money is not tight. In addition, the Fed Funds Rate of 2.25% is about half of the nominal GDP growth rate – a metric some economists look at as a predictive element.

IMO

My point is that this semi-inversion of the yield curve is different than previous inversions that have come before recessions. Most other indicators point toward further growth in corporate earnings and therefore appreciation in stock prices. Moreover, there are other issues in play, such as the China trade issue, that can be solved with some political will on both sides. I believe this semi-inversion will not be followed by a recession within the next 2 calendar years, at least.

Paying for Grandkids’ College

Only a few of my readers that I am aware of currently have grandchildren, but a number of them wish they did. I fall into the latter category. One grandparent I know says, “If I had known how much fun grandchildren are, I would have started with them first!”

How Can I Help With Their College?

One common thought among grandparents is, “How can I help pay for their college education?” Same thoughts as parents have, but perhaps not with the same level of dread. There was an excellent article in a recent edition of the Wall Street Journal that discusses various options a grandparent has. Click this link to read the original article, and then read my two cents worth here below on each of the options presented in the article:

  • 529 Account: This is the best way now, especially if the grandchildren are nearing college age, or at least over 8 years old. Parents can contribute $15,000 per year per grandparent and per grandchild, and they can frontload 5 years of contributions if they want, although this may not be desirable due to investment market vagaries. This means a grandmother and grandfather together can contribute $30,000 per year or $150,000 if they want to frontload 5 years of contributions without triggering Gift Tax issues. I advise not frontloading all 5 years because it is better to invest the contributions over time rather than all at once because you don’t know if you are contributing during a good buying opportunity or not. Most 529 Accounts are invested in target-age funds based on the child’s age and years until they need the money.
  • Direct Payment of Tuition: A grandparent can pay all or part of the grandstudent’s tuition directly. This means the grandparent writes a check directly to the college. The problem with this is that many colleges now want to be paid by credit card all at once, so how mechanically can a grandparent pay for a portion of the tuition? Probably someone will need to contact the college to work out the mechanics, which likely vary from college to college. Another issue to consider: The grandparent really should not write the check to the parent, because of gifting limits. A check directly to the college does not count as a gift, but a check payable to the child or the child’s parent counts as a gift, so there could be issues if the total including the tuition plus other gifts that grandparent gives to any one person exceeds $15,000. For instance, let’s say the grandchild graduates from high school and the grandparent gives them a car for graduation, and then the grandparent writes the grandchild a check for their first semester’s tuition. In this case, the grandparent is generous but not wise because both gifts combined within the same calendar year could easily exceed $15,000.
  • Fixed-Index Universal Life Insurance Policy: This may be the most intriguing option but only if the grandchild is less than 8 years old, because the contribution requires 10 years of aging for the tax benefits to kick in. The grandparent owns the policy but the grandchild is insured, so the cost of insurance is minimal. After being in place for 10 years, withdrawals to pay for tuition are considered loans against the cash value and aren’t taxable and aren’t considered assets that count against a child’s ability to get financial aid on the FAFSA. As in many other endeavors, it pays to plan ahead, and so the best option works if the planning and investing occur 10 years or more before the money is needed.

IMO

These suggestions for grandparents do not contradict with anything that the child or the child’s parents are trying to accomplish to obtain financial aid or to pay for college. My further advice is to make sure the college choice fits with the budget, and to be realistic about what the child wants to achieve with their college experience. With college as expensive as it is now, make sure that you really understand what you are getting into if you choose to go into serious debt to go to your dream school when you might be better served to go to a more cost advantageous place. And, as always. please ask me to help you if you have serious questions about any of this.

Have a Side Gig

Do you work a steady job, make steady income plus maybe a bonus, but you still can’t get ahead or even squirrel away any money in a savings account? If so, you need to consider what you do in your spare time. Perhaps you need to change what you do when you are not at your job such that what you do puts more money in your pocket rather than taking money out of your pocket.

Side Gig

Having a “side gig” that makes you money can take any number of forms. This article from Medium.com suggests some ideas and gave me the idea to write this post. Teach a class on or consult in a field that you have expertise in; buy and manage a rental property – it’s not passive income if you manage it yourself; buy and sell niche products through eBay or Amazon; or write how-to books or manuals about something you know about. These are suggested in the Medium.com article. Other side gigs that might pay you money include some of the following:

  • Drive for Uber or its like. This works if you have an inexpensive car and you like to chat it up with random people.
  • Do you watch Flip or Flop on HGTV? Do you think you have a good eye for properties and perhaps are handy with some things? How about buying a property and doing a remodel and flip rather than a rental? I have written about this before: It can be a fun way to make some extra cash but don’t do it the way that they do it on TV.
  • If you like to travel, consider becoming a personal tour guide and organizing a tour that you run yourself. You may not make much money, but you may at least have some or all of your expenses covered, so at least you won’t spend as much money as you otherwise would have.
  • Generally, take any skill or avocation you have or do and think about how to monetize it. This is not a stretch – we likely have all dreamed about doing something we love to do for a living. Instead, think about doing it as a side gig that pays you somehow.
  • Think about derivative activities. Example: You like to golf or play tennis, but you will never be a pro or earn money directly by golfing or playing tennis (is “tennising” a word?). Instead, derivative activities that might earn you some extra cash might be to write a blog about the pro tour or about your experiences with these activities or to organize tours of interesting golf courses or about rating golf courses.
  • Babysit! If you are an adult, this only works probably if you are a female and really like kids and otherwise don’t have much of a social life. However, there is a real need for babysitters because high school-age kids who babysit are in very short supply.

IMO

The internet and the accessibility of online retail and other channels open up many doors if you are looking for a side gig that pays you some extra cash. Having a side gig is almost like a 2 for 1: Not only can you put money in your pocket, you also don’t spend money you otherwise would have during your spare time. So, if you make $200 with your side gig and don’t spend $200 on an evening out, that’s $400 more you have in your pocket. It’s a great way to work your way out of the issue I stated at the start of this article, which is that it is tough to get ahead with just the salary you make at your day job.

25 BP vs. 50 BP

Last week, the Federal Reserve lowered the Fed Funds rate by 0.25% or 25 basis points. I agree with the 25 bp move for a couple of reasons:

  • Many other central banks such as the European Central Bank, Bank of Japan, and Bank of China, are lowering rates, so the Fed needs to as well to keep in line with other central banks.
  • If the Fed did not lower rates, it may cause the US Dollar to strengthen to the point that US exports would be more expensive, thereby causing trouble ahead for US exporters.
  • Inflation is not great but deflation may be worse. The Fed targets an inflation rate of 2% +/- and actual inflation has not hit 2% on average for many quarters. Lowering rates should theoretically cause slightly higher inflation, and should also work against deflation.
  • Longer-term interest rates not controlled by the Fed have been trending downward, meaning the yield curve is extremely flat, even slightly inverted at times. The Fed’s lowering of the short-term Fed Funds rate will help to alleviate an inverted yield curve, which in the past has signaled a recession.
The Fed Announces Its Decision

25 vs. 50

Some out there wanted to Fed to lower rates by 50 basis points instead of 25, theorizing that such a move would be a “one and done” and would thereby provide a clearer path within which the US economy could operate, I understand the rationale, but that’s not the way the Fed operates. The Fed has been raising rates (or at least not lowering rates) for 10 years. They weren’t about to reverse course abruptly, and a 50 basis point drop in the Fed Funds rate would have been an abrupt reversal of policy. Perhaps if there had been an emergency, along the lines of the October 1987 stock market crash or September 11, a 50 basis point drop would have been warranted, but current economic conditions aren’t nearly an emergency along those lines. In fact, many economists, as well as 2 of the Fed governors, argued that there should be no rate cut and that the US economy remains strong enough so as not to warrant a cut. Several careers ago, during my time at a large commercial bank doing risk grading of the loans I managed, I learned that the regulators want to see sequential changes in risk grading. Step by step only, and don’t skip any steps. Fed policy is the same way: A 25 basis point drop in rates was the next sequential step, and a 50 basis point drop would have meant skipping a step, which is not the right way to do it.

IMO

I think the Fed’s steps are bullish for asset prices. Lower interest rates mean lower borrowing costs for individuals and companies, which is good for corporate earnings and therefore good for stock prices. Mortgage rates have trended lower all year, which is good for home buyers and home prices, and the Fed’s decision will only help in that regard. Hopefully, longer-term interest rates will stabilize or maybe even trend slightly upward and thereby avoid the yield curve inversion. If you own stocks or own real estate, this is all good news.

Back From Vacation

I am back from a month’s vacation in Europe, first with my wife of now 30 years celebrating our anniversary, and then with a group of friends attending the British Open golf tournament in Northern Ireland and subsequently golfing on the Emerald Isle. What a great trip! Only a couple of days of rain, and we managed to avoid the worst of the European heatwave. Thank you to my wife and to everyone who helped to make this trip of a lifetime happen without a snag!

We visited Florence, Italy on our 30th Anniversary Vacation

Perspective

I haven’t really gotten away from it all in a long time. Seems like my previous recent trips have involved me keeping fully abreast of the news of the day and the financial markets. This trip was different. I really didn’t pay much attention to the day-to-day news, and though I checked the markets every day, it was to see if there were any significant moves one way or another. Being away and out of touch (sort of) helps you to realize that the day-to-day news typically doesn’t have much effect on the direction of the financial markets, particularly the stock market. I believe that some traders get so invested in the news of the day that they fail to see the forest for the trees. The “forest” purview is that the US economy continues to grow; corporate earnings remain strong; some companies (Amazon) are taking market share away from others (other retailers, especially small retailers); and interest rates remain low. All of this is bullish for stocks in general, particularly for those of us who invest in index ETF’s.

Fortunate

At the same time, I was fortunate to have been away during a month of minimal volatility. When I left on my trip, the SPY was at about 295, and it is now at about 300, with few peaks and valleys between then and now. Similar story for the Nasdaq 100. The Average True Range (a measure of volatility) has been small. The VIX Index (another measure of volatility) has declined by about 6%. In short, it has been a good time to have been away from the financial markets. The markets have continued their “melt-up” despite continued fireworks in Washington, D.C. By the way: Missing the daily news from Washington was really great! By getting away, one can see how the 24-hour news cycle feeds the beast, and that it takes on a life of its own that has little or no bearing on how most of the population live their lives.

IMO

I hope I have gained a perspective that I can continue to carry now that I am back in the breach. I have always tried to be above the fray, so to speak, and I hope that this break moves me more in that direction. Please contact me directly if you want to learn more about my trip, or if you want perhaps to share a story about what you have learned through previous trips of your own.

AbbVie Buys a New Basket

AbbVie (ABBV), maker of Humira, a rheumatoid-arthritis drug, announced it is buying Allergan (AGN), maker of Botox. For AbbVie, the reason is to diversify its product portfolio and thereby its cash flow. Humira accounted for over 50% of AbbVie’s 2018 sales, and Humira is coming off patent in the US in 2023, which could severely cut its AbbVie’s sales of that product. With its acquisition of Allergan, AbbVie is attempting to position itself for future revenue diversity, as well as potential growth. With Humira coming off patent, AbbVie had to do something like this.

Mature Product

AbbVie is an example that a company needs to continue to grow in order to survive. Just like oil and gas wells get depleted and less productive over time, so to do drugs like Humira, in large part because the exclusivity goes away when the patent expires. With little in its drug development pipeline relative to the huge size of Humira, AbbVie has continued to hike its dividend. At ABBV’s current price of about $69/share, its dividend yield is about 6.3%. Compare this with 10-Year US Treasuries, which currently yield 2.0%. Companies can either invest their cash flow back into their business in the form of R&D or other internal expenses, or they can pay their cash flow out to their investors in the form of dividends. Companies such as ABBV that pay high dividends typically have not been able to find new products or new businesses in which to invest in an accretive way, and so they have instead paid out more of their cash flow to their investors.

IMO

AbbVie no longer wants to have all its eggs in the Humira basket, and so it is buying a new basket of products in the form of Allergan. Time will tell if the management team will be successful in integrating the new products and people that produce and market those products into a conglomeration that is not as dependent on a major cash cow product that is about to go off patent. As an investor, if you are looking at stock opportunities and see a company that pays a 6.3% dividend, make sure you dig into its story to determine why that company’s dividend is as high as it is. Perhaps you have a situation like AbbVie, where the dividend is high now but where there is a significant risk that the dividend might be much smaller in the not to distant future. Dividends are nice, but just know what you are getting yourself into.

4 Fun Things To Do That Cost Little or Nothing

I am in my later 50s and I hear a lot of people my age who are thinking about retirement but are concerned about what they will do with their time after they retire. It is a reasonable concern especially for those of us who work mega-hours and who perhaps have let hobbies or other interests lapse as they struggle to keep up at their job. It is difficult to transition from having a plethora of outwardly-directed tasks to having to decide what to do with yourself on your own each day. Moreover, it is likely that the paycheck will be no longer forthcoming and you will have to make do with less money. What to do when you are short on money and long on time? Here are 4 ideas:

One Thing To Do That Costs Nothing

Get a Library Card

Even if you might not enjoy reading books, there is likely something at the library that will be for you. Don’t believe me? Go to your local library and check it out (so to speak). Do you like to listen to books on CD, maybe in your car? The library is your source. Do you read books on an e-reader but don’t like paying for them? Your library likely has a way you can borrow e-books and have them sent to your e-reader, or even to your phone. Don’t have time to go to an actual library, perhaps because it is inconvenient for you? Your library’s website has so many resources on it that you may not even need to physically go to the library. If you enjoy buying things online and having them show up on your doorstep, you will also enjoy when you put a book on hold at your local library and you receive an email that your book is ready for you to pick up. It is a great feeling in no small part because you know that you will be involved with this great book for the next 3 weeks. If you do like to read, especially if you enjoy fiction, you then might want to join or form a book club so that you can share your thoughts about the book you are reading. The very best part? It’s Free! Library cards cost nothing. You may not even need to be living in a particular city to obtain a card for its library – sometimes even just being in the same state will work. You can find enough activities to take up an entire day or days just by getting a library card and working with the vast resources at your disposal at your library.

Walk

Vigorous physical training is great, as are training goals such as running a race or some other competition. However, for some people, it may be better just to go out and go for a walk. This costs nothing (I assume you will already have comfortable shoes) and is great for your health. Walking leads to other things, such as fresh air, looking at sights, people watching and spending time with friends or significant others while doing something wonderful together. Want to keep the rest of your body in shape? Do push-ups, sit-ups, and any other number of stretch exercises that you can find with a web search. You don’t have to spend mega-bucks per month for health club dues in order to keep in reasonable shape.

Eat and Drink At Home

If you have more time because you are no longer working as much, you will be able to plan meals, go to the grocery store, buy stuff and cook at home. Say No to going out every day or to expensive home delivery from restaurants. Of course, it still costs money to buy stuff at the supermarket but not nearly as much as it does to go to restaurants every day. Moreover, you will be able to buy and eat a wider variety of fruits and vegetables that are better for you than you would likely buy for yourself at a restaurant. If it isn’t enjoyable for you currently to plan and cook meals, that may be because you don’t have enough time to do so now. Maybe that will change if you suddenly have more time. This could lead to having dinner parties at home and getting to know your friends, neighbors and relatives even better.

Drink Cheaper Alcohol

I read a lot of posts that suggest people should make their own coffee instead of buying it from Starbucks or the like every day. A similar thing goes for alcohol. Instead of going out for drinks, stay in and drink. It’s safer and cheaper. Also, do you really need always to drink expensive IPA’s or Cabernets? Would a regular old beer suffice? As to wine, there are so many options, and if you drink in volume, perhaps you should consider being satisfied with wine that doesn’t cost as much. Maybe not Two Buck Chuck, but there are a lot of good mid-priced wines. Same thing for the hard stuff. Just like those $5 cups of coffee, the expensive beers add up over time, and you might be just as happy with the cheaper stuff.

IMO

Saving or not spending money is central to financial planning. Figuring out what to do with your time while cutting back on your expenditures is also an important part of your finances. With some of these 4 ideas I put forward here, you can work toward accomplishing all of your goals at the same time.

Flooding Danger

Your standard Homeowner’s Insurance policy will not cover you in the event your home suffers a flood. If you are concerned that your house is in a flood zone, you may be able to purchase separate flood insurance through the US Government’s National Flood Insurance program, but it will probably cost you a big premium with a hefty deductible to purchase the insurance.

Missouri River Flooding in March, 2019

In The News

Floods are very much in the news. Heavy rains in the US Midwest caused the Missouri River and some tributaries to overflow, which caused massive flooding in states like Iowa and Nebraska. In the Northeast, if it rains heavily during the late Winter or Spring while the snow is melting, various rivers, creeks and streams will flood. The low-lying Houston area is prone to flooding when a tropical storm hits or even with some heavy rain. One can discuss why this might be happening or if it is happening with increased frequency, but property is being damaged and people’s pocketbooks are suffering.

Flood Zone?

This article from the Wall Street Journal points out that your house might be in a flood zone without you knowing it does because home sellers may not have to disclose prior flooding and because FEMA flood maps may be out of date. Your lesson: Don’t rely on information from others, including the US Government. Instead, rely on your own common sense. Make sure the house you are looking to buy is on high ground, and/or is elevated above ground level. Live somewhere that water flows away from, not where water flows to. If you already own your home, buy the flood insurance (if you can), and also have a drainage or another type of protection plan so that your home doesn’t flood. Installing a drainage system for your property might be money very well spent if it prevents your home from flooding.

Renters

“I rent, and I have renter’s insurance, so I’m covered if it floods, right?” Well, unfortunately, you are not. Renter’s insurance is like homeowner’s insurance in that, if water comes up from the ground (as with a flood), damage is not covered. If you rent, the same logic applies: Use your common sense. Rent on an upper floor, if possible. Live on high ground, and keep your valuables out of harm’s way in the event of a flood.

IMO

If you live in an area with lakes, rivers, creeks, harbors, or other bodies of water, and you are concerned you may be in a flood zone, your concerns are valid. A 3rd standard deviation-type storm may hit and your property could flood. Your best course of action is to use common sense and to take steps ahead of time to prevent flood damage rather than to seek compensation or reimbursement after the flood happens.

Disruptive Technology

A new technology is invented that makes producing a product quicker or cheaper, and the new technology renders an older technology obsolete. It’s a story that has happened throughout history. Autos and trucks supplanted wagons pulled by horses. Planes supplanted trains – for some uses, not all. Austrian and Harvard economist Joseph Schumpeter used the term “creative destruction” in the early 20th Century to describe this process. In more recent years, another Harvard economist, Clayton Christensen, used the example of how steel companies recycled steel to make rebar, and thereby disrupt the steel industry by lowering input costs. Disruption can happen through products or processes. As an investor, think about companies who are doing the disrupting vs. companies whose products or processes are being disrupted by new products or processes. Invest on the side of the disruption.

Legg Mason

Disruption is happening in the financial services industry. The latest example is the tribulations of Legg Mason, a well-established investment management firm, famous for its mutual funds. Legg Mason’s core mutual fund business is being disrupted by alternatives such as low- or no-cost ETF’s as well as by the stable of funds available through Vanguard, Schwab, and the like. More and more, investors don’t see the value in investing through Legg Mason when they can get the same basic products with similar or better performance through Vanguard. As a result, Legg Mason is losing assets under management to Vanguard (and Schwab and other similar firms). Legg Mason is publicly traded, and it’s stock took a big hit with the 2008 Financial Crisis and has never really recovered. Legg Mason’s stock is down about 50% since its pre-financial crisis high. Now Legg Mason is in a control battle with hedge fund Trian and its takeover-experienced leader Nelson Pelz. I don’t see Pelz’ wisdom in this – he is, after all, the guy who has lost an estimated $1 Billion in General Electric over the past several years (according to Fortune magazine). However, perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel if a few things break right.

IMO

My point is that you should look at a company or an investment from the standpoint of, “Is this a disruptive company?” or “Is this a company that is vulnerable to disruption?” Most times, it makes sense to invest with the company that is the disruptor, because if they truly have a cheaper or better product or process, the world will eventually come to them, though it may take some time to do so. Stocks in disruptive companies usually don’t come cheap, at least from the standpoint of P/E ratio. However, it is probably better to be on the side of history, despite the price. Not all disruptive technologies or companies will make it – for instance, the jury is still out and will remain so for Tesla. So, don’t bet the farm on any one disruptive technology. Even Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has diversified, via SpaceEx, the Boring Company, and other smaller ventures. Not all individual companies will make it, but disruptive technologies and processes will always be a thing and you can make good money following these disruptors if you do it the right way.

Technology and Inflation

Vanguard posted this interesting article on May 30, 2019, titled “Amid tight job market, tech drives low inflation.” The article contains a chart that shows that core inflation has been below the Federal Reserve’s 2% target for most quarters during the past 20+ years. This period has coincided with the explosion in technology and the advancement of innovations that have aided productivity. As technology has grown and improved, inflation has been kept at bay, and interest rates have remained low.

The Cost of Technology has declined significantly

Sectors Affected

The Vanguard article also has a chart that shows various sectors of the economy and how much they calculate each sector has benefited from improved technology. The single sector that has benefited the most is, not surprisingly, the information technology sector. It makes sense if you think about it. Consider the computing power contained in a new iPhone today vs. its power when it was introduced back in 2007. The new phone may cost 3 times as much as the 2007 model, but you are getting over 30 times the amount of RAM and storage capacity (source: Computerworld.com). IPhones have over 10 times the capacity of a Cray Supercomputer from 35 years ago. Moore’s Law, in the flesh. It’s not that we are spending less for our iPhone (and laptop) units, it’s that we are spending a lot less per gigabyte of computing power. The more power we have, the less likely it is that inflation rears its head.

Among the other sectors Vanguard analyzed, the two most affected by improved technology are Professional Services and Manufacturing. Think about how more advanced banking and finance (included in Professional Services) are now compared with 20 years ago. Technology has transformed stock trading, to name one example, so that it is now seamless and very cheap to invest your money. As to the manufacturing sector, there is a lot of talk about robots and how they will displace so many workers, but the effect is that manufacturing automation has kept prices very low.

Globalization

It is not the point of the Vanguard article, but another reason inflation has been tame for 20 years (and more) has been globalization. The expansion of the manufacturing base to other, low labor-cost countries throughout the world has meant that there is competition for manufacturing plants. With increased competition, the cost of goods manufactured and sold has remained low. Do you think we are anywhere near a point in this world when we are maxed out on production capacity? I don’t think so. Tariffs aside, there is no evidence that we are about to embark on a period of higher cost of manufactured goods.

IMO

As long as inflation remains as low as it has been for the past 20 years, we are well-set for further economic expansion, in the largest macro sense. Technology has played a big role in keeping inflation low, and I don’t see any reason why this trend should not continue in the next 20 years. Does this mean the Federal Reserve should change its policy toward interest rates? Not necessarily, but I do believe that the Fed’s ability to tweak the economy by quarter-point changes in the Fed Funds rate are overrated, and that investors should look beyond what the Fed does and instead consider the effects of continued exponential improvement in technology and what that may mean for the long-term trend in inflation.