Weekly Market Commentary

The Markets

U.S. stock markets were unsettled last week.

President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries to the United States for 90 days, in tandem with some disappointing earnings reports, inspired turmoil and uncertainty that helped push U.S. stock markets lower early in the week. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped below 20,000.

Mid-week, markets remained sanguine after the Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged. An economist cited by Barron’s said:

“[The Federal Reserve] left open the door to hike rates further should the trend in inflation accelerate while also maintaining the option to hold rates steady for an extended period. I expect the minutes to be released in a few weeks will show a more wide ranging debate than that indicated by the policy statement, but the clear lack of visibility on key trade, tax, spending, and regulatory initiatives argued for a well-scrubbed statement.”

Late in the week, markets rallied when the Bureau of Labor Statistics delivered a reasonably strong jobs report. The Boston Globe wrote, “…employers added a healthy 227,000 workers to their payrolls in January. But, despite a surge of local minimum-wage increases in states across the country, wage growth was meager.”

Financial shares gained on Friday. The Washington Post reported market optimism returned after The Wall Street Journal published an interview with Gary Cohn, White House Economic Council Director. Cohn indicated President Trump planned to sign executive orders preparing the way to dismantle Dodd-Frank reforms and limit other regulations affecting the financial industry.

The Dow finished the week just above 20,000.

DOES COLLEGE OPEN DOORS? A new study examined how college affects Americans’ social mobility by cross-referencing data from the Department of Education (from 1999-2013) with 30 million tax returns. The researchers looked at the earnings of graduates from various colleges and how graduates’ earnings varied relative to parental income. The Economist described some of the findings:

“…some colleges do a better job of boosting poor students up the income ladder than others. Previously, the best data available showed only average earnings by college. For the first time, the entire earnings distribution of a college’s graduates – and how that relates to parental income – is now known.

These data show that graduates of elite universities with single-digit admissions rates and billion-dollar endowments are still the most likely to join the top 1 percent (though having wealthy parents improves the odds). And despite recent efforts to change, their student bodies are still overwhelmingly wealthy…

…legacy admissions, which give preferential treatment to family members of alumni, exacerbate the imbalance. Of Harvard’s most recently admitted class, 27 percent of students had a relative who also attended. There’s evidence that this system favors the already wealthy. MIT and the California Institute of Technology, two elite schools with no legacy preferences, have much fewer students who hail from the ranks of the super-rich.”

The top colleges by mobility rate (students moving from the bottom to the top 20 percent) included: Cal State University-Los Angeles, Pace University-New York, SUNY-Stony Brook, Technical Career Institutes, University of Texas-Pan American, CUNY System, Glendale Community College, South Texas College, Cal State Polytechnic-Pomona, and University of Texas-El Paso.

The top colleges by upper-tail mobility rate (students moving from the bottom 20 percent to the top 1 percent) were: University of California-Berkeley, Columbia University, MIT, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell University, and University of Chicago.

Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam,
Where the deer and the antelope play,
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word,
And the skies are not cloudy all day.
— Lyrics to Home on the Range

* These views are those of Peak Advisor Alliance, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
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