Latest Articles


Economic Comment - February 18, 2016

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

In December of 2015, the Federal Reserve raised its policy rate – the federal funds rate – for the first time in almost ten years. Furthermore, the quarter-point increase represented the end of a seven- year period in which the rate was held at near zero.

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Economic Comment - January 21, 2016

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

Once again, worries about the economic situation and outlook in China have sent shock waves through the equity markets around the globe. Since the end of last year, the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average have both fallen more than 10% which is generally regarded as a stock market correction. Other major market indices, including those in China, Japan and the U.K., all posted similar declines during the first two weeks of 2016. It was, to say the least, a gloomy start to 2016.

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Economic Comment - November 9, 2015

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

News that private nonfarm payroll employment in October posted a robust –and better-than-expected –gain of 268,000 has clearly increased the likelihood of a Federal Reserve rate increase in December. However, the month-to-month volatility in job growth makes it very difficult to determine the underlying trend of employment growth. Put another way, does October’s gain represent a significant strengthening of the job market or an aberration in a slowing trend of hiring by U.S. companies?

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Economic Comment - October 21, 2015

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

While we do not see a recession in 2016, we believe that the  chances of a downturn have climbed to the vicinity of 35%.  As matters  now stand, our forecast of real GDP growth in 2016 calls for an increase  of about 2%, which would be less than the expected gain of 2.4% in  2015.  And the risks to this forecast are, in our view, mainly on the  downside.

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Economic Comment - July 6, 2015

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

The Greek crisis has already prompted a near blizzard of articles, commentaries and opinions that has sought to explain the implications and ramifications of the seemingly never-ending Greek financial crisis, the latest manifestation of which was that Greece was the first developed country to default on its debt to the International Monetary Fund after missing a $1.7 billion payment.

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Economic Comment - April 23, 2015

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

For some time now, the Federal Reserve and most forecasters have displayed considerable optimism regarding economic activity in 2015. Forecasts of real GDP growth in 2015 have generally been in the 3-3½% range, representing a significant improvement over last year’s 2.4%.

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Economic Comment - December 11, 2014

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

To judge from recent comments in the media and elsewhere, one gets the impression that at long last the U.S. economy is rapidly gathering strength and momentum.

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A Note From The Chairman -
October 27, 2014

Written by Chairman, Bob Kopf

Recently a friend of mine asked me a simple, yet penetrating, question that I had, surprisingly, never received in the nearly twenty years of Smithfield’s existence: what factors should one consider in the selection of an investment manager? Following is my attempt to answer my friend’s question.

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What's Going On? - June 13, 2014

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

Is the U.S. economy entering a period of more rapid growth? Many observers expect that, after a dismal weather related first quarter, overall economic activity will rebound in the second quarter – and beyond.

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Blame the Weather? – March 14, 2014

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

The on-going crisis in Ukraine, along with its possible impact on the global economy, has clearly been a major contributor to the recent volatility in U.S. equity prices. At the same time, however, many of the reports on economic activity during January and February were distorted by the severe winter weather in many parts of the country. As a consequence, the equity markets have found it difficult to assess the significance of recent economic statistics, many of which were decidedly downbeat.


Unsettled Outlook – February 13, 2014

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

Another disappointing employment report. In January, nonfarm payroll employment posted a slender gain of 113,000, which was only slightly better than the dismal 75,000 reported in December.


Mixed Signals - January 24, 2014

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

Economists have a habit of predicting that the coming year will be better than the last one. Not surprisingly then, real GDP in 2014 is expected to post a gain in the range of 2.5-3%, representing a significant improvement over last year’s estimated increase of about 1.8%. As of now, however, there is very little in the way of hard evidence to indicate that the economy is picking up speed.


Economic Comment - November 19, 2013

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

Since the beginning of 2013, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Stock Price Index has gained some 25%, far outstripping the estimated 4.5% increase for overall economic activity – as measured by the GDP – and a similar advance projected for corporate profits after taxes. Equity prices, it would seem, have become disconnected, not only from the economy as a whole, but from corporate earnings as well. What accounts for the evident upsurge in investor confidence and sentiment?


Economic Comment - October 30, 2013

Written by Economic Advisor, Norman Robertson

The flow of economic statistics, which was temporarily halted during the government shutdown, is once again underway. What do they show?


Common Factors Affecting Retirement Income

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2013

When it comes to planning for your retirement income, it's easy to overlook some of the common factors that can affect how much you'll have available to spend. If you don't consider how your retirement income can be impacted by investment risk, inflation risk, catastrophic illness or long-term care, and taxes, you may not be able to enjoy the retirement you envision.


The Impact of Inflation

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2013

Inflation occurs when there is more money circulating than there are goods and services to buy. The process is like trying to attend a sold-out concert at the last minute; there is more demand for tickets than there are tickets to go around. As a result, tickets may trade hands for far more than their stated prices. When there's a lot of demand for goods and services, their prices usually go up. The law of supply and demand produces price inflation.


The Power of Dividends in a Portfolio

Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2013

It wasn't so long ago that many investors regarded dividends as roughly the financial equivalent of a record turntable at a gathering of MP3 users--a throwback to an earlier era, irrelevant to the real action.