The Psychology of Interest Rates

Dedicated readers of TGIF 2 Minutes will recall highlights two weeks ago of Morgan Housel’s excellent book, The Psychology of Money. Digging deeper into the book revealed the theme that human nature and psychology most often lead people to hear – and believe – only what they want to hear and believe or see happen.

This statement is not an insult or meant to sound arrogant. Rather, in matters of money, financial markets and even the economy there is evidence that people, the more they want something to be true, most often will believe a story that overestimates the odds of the story being true.* The markets, following recent comments by Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, nudged UP on thoughts the Fed might “pivot” (meaning: possibly slow the pace of interest rate increases and even lower interest rates next year – a wishful “story”). But more recent moves down in markets reflect the less popular belief that the US Federal Reserve likely will NOT reverse course, thus continuing to raise interest rates until inflation shows evidence of cooling. 

Continue reading “The Psychology of Interest Rates”

Reality Bites

Today’s TGIF 2 Minutes was delayed to reflect a speech given earlier today in Jackson Hole, WY by US Federal Reserve Chair, Jerome Powell.

Earlier today (Friday) US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spoke in a widely anticipated speech at an annual meeting of the Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank. The market and investing worlds were looking for guidance from the Fed Chair regarding interest rates and future inflation. Part of the reason for the speech being so closely watched goes back to a former Fed Chair. For those old enough to remember, in December 1996 Alan Greenspan made a now famous speech that rocked the markets when he coined the term, “irrational exuberance.” Then Fed Chairman Greenspan commented,

  • “How do we know when irrational exuberance has unduly escalated asset values…?” Greenspan went on, “We should not underestimate or become complacent about the complexity of the interactions of asset markets and the economy.”*

And down the markets went for a time. 

Continue reading “Reality Bites”

A Little Paranoia Is a Good Thing

Record-breaking, big outlier events tend to move the needle the most in the economy and stock market.* Note the word, “outlier.” Outlier events typically are surprises and are indeed unlikely. In his beyond excellent book The Psychology of Money author Morgan Housel lists five events that were outliers with world-changing consequences:

  • The Great Depression
  • World War II 
  • The dot-com bubble
  • September 11th
  • The housing crash of the mid-2000’s.

A conclusion could be drawn from the book’s chapter titled, “Surprise!” that surprises are perhaps the most reliable thing going. But the irony of the reliability of surprises is we do not know what the surprise is until after it has unfolded.

Making room for error can be as simple as having a having a “Plan B” and “Plan C” – or being OK with starting completely from scratch – if “Plan A” does not work out. 

Continue reading “A Little Paranoia Is a Good Thing”

The New Car Conundrum

Shorter post today – the summer weather is HOT! And car purchasing decisions can make a person sweat, or not.

Last July, yours truly bought a new car – after 16 years driving the same fully-paid for car. The old car was purchased as a certified pre-owned (back when CPO saved tens of thousands of dollars); the new car purchase last year was a brand-new car from a dealership. There were “those people” who commented, “Why buy a car now (last July) amidst high prices for new and used cars? Why not wait for prices to come down?” There were valid reasons to ask those questions. But looking back, the decision was a wise one and has stood up amidst full-on, continuing high inflation.

When the time comes to replace an older vehicle, even inflation may not hold up as the most valid reason to delay the purchase.

Continue reading “The New Car Conundrum”

Walking Up Interest Rates

To keep with the theme of walking, and because this week the US Federal Reserve “walked up” its benchmark interest rate, a brief discussion is warranted about interest rates, recessions, and the economy. By the way, the weather is HOT as heck, so today’s is a shorter post.

In the accompanying photo please note the mountains in the distance – which could be equated to higher ground, higher prices, and higher interest rates. The walkers seem not to be panicking (yet) because it is early in the higher interest rate progression. Think:

Higher interest rates in the short-term for,

  • Home mortgages
  • Car loans
  • Credit cards.

Continue reading “Walking Up Interest Rates”

“Dog” Days of Summer

“Man’s or Woman’s Best Friend”. At a time when true friends have proven to be more valuable than ever, it seems that getting a dog is something a good number of people and families did during the pandemic and its aftermath. Long-time dog lovers seem to agree that dogs can bring true happiness to unbearable situations. And the saying, “if you want a friend, get a dog” has been heard for years, even in the movies. “Dog benefits” range from personal joy to family togetherness…with a good deal of responsibility mixed in.

While a dog can turn out to become a true best friend, the “getting a dog” decision is a BIG one and not to be taken lightly. The considerations are several:

Continue reading ““Dog” Days of Summer”

A Game of Chicken?

Will the Fed raise interest rates aggressively? Or will the economic threat of recession force the Fed to slow its pace of rate increases? The outcome in what is shaping up as a sort of “game of chicken” remains to be seen.

Inflation is raging – there is no question. Prices of items as basic as eggs, butter and milk are increasing at crazy high rates. This is not to mention price increases for meat and produce. Gas prices have become crippling, just as workers return to corporate offices even part-time. Restaurants are still raising prices for diners. Home prices are still going up, although the recent rise in mortgage rates may cool the craziness. Wage increases are still happening (and not keeping up with inflation but also feeding into inflation) although there may be moderation in wages coming. The list goes on.

The Fed has good intentions to adjust rates to as ideal a level as possible to tame inflation while avoiding a deep recession.

Continue reading “A Game of Chicken?”

Can Walking Make Us Richer?

Long walks and successful long term financial & life goal setting go hand in hand. Lots of people have zero interest in long walks but even a walk to the mailbox can turn into a long walk – so stay with me here. A recent, rather long walk on the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain (pictured) taught me life-changing lessons about goal setting. Namely,

  • There is no truly right or wrong way to formulate financial or life goals. Yes, goal setting is easier when pen & paper are involved, but the process is more about quality of thought (meaning being honest and open with oneself) than any set of “rules.”
  • There need not be a rush to set financial, business or life goals. Although starting sooner rather than later can help – and momentum will develop on its own. The list of goals may then turn out longer and more exciting than ever imagined! (Dreams can become goals too.)
  • Accomplishing goals in a quality way becomes a series of decisions made along the way – seemingly small decisions and larger, more serious-feeling decisions.
A walk, short or long, can give space for free thought by separating us from the stress of beeping appliances, phones, laptops – even briefly from bosses and colleagues.

Continue reading “Can Walking Make Us Richer?”

Reviewing Crypto Quarterly – Vol. 2

Today’s edition is a review of Crypto from early April 2022. TGIF 2 Minutes will return with new content in early July! Read on for:

  • A high-level update & follow-up on cryptocurrencies
  • Brief comments on Inflation & 1st quarter 2022

Crypto Update

Continuing with the whirlwind of interest generated by “To Crypto Or Not To Crypto” and “Crypto Superbowl” there is more to say including highlighting the recent 36% decline in Bitcoin since November 2021. There is broad evidence that high-profile, fiduciary financial advisers are hesitant – for good reason – to include cryptocurrency across the board in client portfolios. At the same time, a good number of high-profile, responsible, fiduciary financial advisers are including cryptocurrency in some – emphasis, “some” – client portfolios, depending on the client’s goals and risk tolerance.**

Continue reading “Reviewing Crypto Quarterly – Vol. 2”

Looking Back On Behavior & Investing

From the “Best of TGIF 2 Minutes” 2017 Archives….

Under the heading of ICYMI and how meaningful this man’s work is to every human being:

The Nobel Prize in Economics may be a real yawn for most people. But this year [2017], the winner is a rock star. He made a cameo appearance in a hit movie with Selena Gomez and has written multiple best-sellers. His name is Richard Thaler and he’s an economist by trade but over the years chose to combine his studies of economics with psychology – and is widely known as “The Father of Behavioral Economics.” Are you still yawning? Read on.

Richard Thaler
Richard Thaler: The Father of Behavioral Economics
Source: Personal Financial News

Continue reading “Looking Back On Behavior & Investing”