Weekly Market Commentary

August 24, 2020

 

The Markets

The shortest bear market in history is over and what a ride it’s been.

The Nasdaq Composite and Standard & Poor’s 500 Indices finished at new highs last week. The stock market is considered to be a leading economic indicator, so strong stock market performance suggests economic improvement ahead.

There was a caveat to last week’s gains, though. One large technology company was responsible for 60 percent of the S&P’s weekly gains (0.7 percent), reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s. The same large company is also a component of the Dow Jones Industrials Index, which finished the week flat. Without that stock, the Dow would have finished the week lower.

One reason for the U.S. stock market’s rise to date may be dividends, reported Lawrence Strauss of Barron’s. “…equities remain attractive relative to 10-year U.S. Treasuries. The yield on that bond was recently at 0.67 percent, about one percentage point below the S&P 500’s yield.”

IMPROBABLE RESEARCH. The Annals of Improbable Research publishes “…research that makes people LAUGH, then THINK. Real research, about anything and everything, from everywhere – research that’s maybe good or bad, important or trivial, valuable or worthless.” In that spirit, here are a few notable scientific studies that may inspire awe and/or skepticism:

  • Coffee improves longevity. There has been a lot of research exploring whether coffee helps people live longer or shortens their life spans. A metastudy published in the European Journal of Epidemiology found people who drank two to four cups of coffee a day were likely to live longer than those who drank no coffee.   Go coffee drinkers!

 

  • People don’t know what they don’t know – and they don’t know it. The Dunning-Kruger Effect is a cognitive bias in which people wrongly overestimate their knowledge or ability in a specific area. “Not only do these people reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize it.” Notably, when the unskilled are trained and develop skills, they recognize the limits of their abilities.      Just wondering, do you know anyone like this??

 

  • Insights about alligators on treadmills. Researchers at the University of Utah found, “…alligators, unlike lizards, are able to walk and breathe at the same time by using a rocking pubic bone – part of the pelvis – to help them inhale and exhale,” reported Science Daily. A study published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology reported alligators that trained on treadmills for 15 months improved their peak oxygen rate by 27 percent.               This might make the useless fact category! What if the alligators were smokers?

 

  • Arachnids fly the friendly skies. Venomous pseudoscorpions, which are tiny predatory arachnids, have perfected the art of hitchhiking. They attach to flying insects, such as beetles, when they want to travel to new hunting grounds, reported National Museum Publications.

 

Focus On The Positive

“All sorts of things can happen when you’re open to new ideas and playing around with things.” –Stephanie Kwolek, Chemist and inventor of Kevlar

 

Best regards,

Bill Spalding