Living In Exciting Times

Grind for October 8th, 2018
“Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances.”

– Thomas Jefferson

To Infinity And Beyond

The Headline

NASA continues to search for alien life

The Grind

The explosion of knowledge about our solar system in recent years has fueled an increased interest in the search for alien life; in particular, alien life that is intelligent enough to produce technology.

Such advanced technology is almost guaranteed to produce noticeable effects like radio signals, microwaves, laser emissions, and pollution. These effects are called “technosignatures.”

The Details

Last week, NASA held a workshop to discuss the current and future state of the technosignature field.

Goals of the workshop included:

— Defining the current state of the technosignature field

— Pinpointing past and current projects that could have an impact

— Identifying key limitations and needed tools

— Exploring the long-term potential of the field

— Discussing how NASA can work with the private sector to advance technosignature research

According to workshop speaker Andrew Siemion, Director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, NASA will proceed with upmost caution if it finds any suggestion of intelligent life.

“There are no plans to attempt communication – our technosignature searches are looking and listening.”

Ups and Downs

The Headline

US stock market enters Q4 with near-record highs

The Grind

The S&P 500 rose 7.2% last quarter – its best showing since 2013 – and remains within 1% of its all-time high. The index is up 9% for the year.

As we enter the fourth quarter, investors are starting to worry how much further stocks can go after a nine-year rally.

Factors that could affect the stock market include:

— Trump’s trade war with China

— Ongoing NAFTA negotiations

— Upcoming midterms elections

— The Fed’s expected interest rate hike in December

The Details

One of the main reasons investors are concerned is the sheer length of the bull market – which in August became the longest in US history.

“There are lots of reasons investors are worried,” says Wells Fargo investment officer Erik Davidson. “There are a lot of things that could go wrong, but the risk of things going right is equally as likely.”

Corporate earnings are expected to slow down during the fourth quarter, while S&P 500 companies are expected to see a 19% increase in profits starting in mid-October (when earning season beings).

And while rate-sensitive sectors (such as utilities) have taken a hit this year, technology and healthcare stocks have increased by more than 15%.

Americans’ general confidence in the economy remains high, with surveys suggesting record highs for both consumer and business optimism.

“Markets are at records, but valuations are reasonable because earnings have been incredibly strong,” explains portfolio manager Richard Nackenson.

Did you know… In Iceland, 100% of domestically produced electricity comes from renewable energy.