TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Sandamp;P 500 closed the month of August up 2.25 percent. Year to date, the total return from the index has been 13.51 percent. Gold gained more than 5 percent for the month and silver gained more than 16 percent.Bonds declined early in the month only to rebound and finish the month just about where they started. The current yield on the 30-year Treasury is 2.68 percent, and the 10-year note yields 1.56 percent. The long-term Treasury ETF, the TLT, opened the month at $128.53, declined to $120.53, then rebounded and closed the month at $127.72 for a small loss over the month. The intermediate term Treasury ETF, the IEF, opened at $108.84, declined to $106.42 then closed the month slightly higher at $108.99. The strongest sectors continue to be electric utilities and real estate and the weakest sectors have been electronics non-ferrous metals and gaming. Globally the best performing markets have been Egypt, Bangkok and the XETRA and the worst performing have been Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv and Jordan.The news from the economic front was not too bad; the economy is still showing signs of modest growth. GDP was revised slightly upward from 1.5 percent to 1.7 percent. The U-3 unemployment rate came in at 8.3 percent.Market participants eagerly awaited Ben Bernanke’s speech from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, on the last day of the month. It was at his Jackson Hole speech in 2010 that he announced QE2, the second round of quantitative easing. This year he said that due to weak labor market conditions and an overall soft economy another round of QE is on the table. The FOMC meets in mid September and that meeting will be closely followed for indications of future Fed actions. Bernanke made it clear that with interest rates near zero he still believes in employing non-traditional methods, such as large scale asset purchases, for economic stimulus. He also made it clear that the labor market is very weak and that additional action may be required.A good question is how much will another round of QE really help? CNBC crunched some numbers and came up with the following; half a trillion dollars of QE, $500 billion, would produce about $48 billion worth of growth and that’s in a $16 trillion dollar economy. That would increase GDP by an estimated 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent and reduce the U-3 unemployment rate by 0.1 percent to 0.2 percent. That’s not a lot of bang for the buck.Kenneth Roberts is a Truckee based Registered Investment Advisor. Information on his money management service can be found at his blog at sellacalloption.com or by calling 775-657-8065. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Consult your financial adviser before purchasing any security.
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