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Updates from the EWM Team:
Financial updates, tips, and news you can use.

EWM Updates

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Market News

Proper public sentiment can galvanize economies just as powerfully as it can push new government policy. How the average U.S. consumer feels about his personal financial situation and the surrounding business environment greatly influences momentum in the markets. And with so much current COVID-induced uncertainty about where things are headed, indicators of public sentiment can become even more important in figuring out trends. Thus, the release last week of the preliminary September reading of the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index, possibly the most scrutinized monthly gauge of the public's feelings about finances, was highly anticipated. The index takes a survey of U.S. consumer confidence on personal finances, the short-term overall economy, and the long-term overall economy and then converts those answers into a number where a higher score indicates greater optimism. The September reading beat market expectations with a value of 78.9, the highest level since March of this year. Of course, as the chart below shows, this is far below the readings taken before the coronavirus lockdowns. However, the chart also shows that we shouldn't be too sentimental about past sentiments, as public feelings about finances and the economy were much more pessimistic during the Great Recession of 2008-2009 according to the index.

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Market News

It is always interesting to see economic theories play out in real time. We know that airlines are struggling due to COVID-related travel restrictions and the fast shift in business culture away from traveling and towards video conferencing. Even before COVID, airline fares in the US had been on a near steady drop since 2014 (see the chart directly below). The much smaller number of business travelers is particularly painful because the often rushed, last-minute nature of much business travel has historically produced a nice profit margin for the airlines.

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Market News

"Hannibal is at the gates!" shouted the panicked people of Rome in 216 BC as the Carthaginian general appeared on the precipice of destroying their Republic. An implacable and ingenious enemy, Hannibal had repeatedly defeated the best armies Rome could muster. Running out of options, Rome reluctantly turned to a bold, unorthodox young man for help - a man known to history as Scipio Africanus. With a fondness for long hair and Greek philosophy, Scipio flouted the conventions of Roman society. He was a hippie and an iconoclast before hippies and iconoclasts ever existed. He assumed political offices for which he was not eligible. He had little patience for petty procedures and stuffy statutes in his drive to accomplish great things - and he would accomplish great things. Through a combination of charisma and cunning, he beat the Carthaginians back to North Africa and eventually defeated the once invincible Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in 202 BC. After the victories, Scipio was idolized by the public and placed above the law. Later on, when the Roman Senate would bring charges of embezzlement against him, Scipio would dismiss the accusations as not worthy of his time.

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Market News

With many questions turning from COVID to politics, it is important to refresh ourselves about what is important about electoral politics. There is no doubt that people are worried about the election. The electorate is always worried about upcoming elections and the future of this great nation. We get that, and we are also concerned about the future. But we are never convinced that the occupant of the White House has quite the impact that they are credited with in the press. Looking at the chart below tells us the same. Democrat and Republican regimes have had identical stock market returns through 2015.

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Market News

To err is human, but to prepare for error is ... well, maybe not divine, but it is a pretty important thing to do nonetheless. In that vein, we wish a belated "Happy Birthday" to software engineer Margaret Hamilton who turned 84 last week.

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Market News

The pandemic and the subsequent societal response have created difficult situations. It has also allowed us to observe some economic circumstances that we would have never been able to see were it not for these events. We are getting used to seeing incongruous headlines next to each other. Note below the big headline at noon Eastern Time on 8-17-2020 from the front page of Bloomberg.com, and then notice the second small headline below it underlined in yellow. How can these two items exist on the same news feed? 16% of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans are in delinquency, yet homebuilders are the most hopeful they've been this millennium.

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“Taiwan, in particular, represents a single point-of-failure for most of the United States’ largest, most important technology companies,” announced a 2019 Pentagon report on vulnerabilities in the supply chain for advanced microelectronics and their possible national security ramifications. This year’s coronavirus lockdowns and last week’s microchip trade restrictions issued by the Commerce Department against Chinese telecom giant Huawei have only served to elevate these concerns around Taiwan.

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