While it is unlikely that anyone in the US was thinking much about last week’s employment and inflation numbers — important as they were —across the long holiday weekend, in Europe it was a different story. Christine Lagarde, head of the ECB, has already kicked off this week referencing the strong growth in the US, accompanied by inflation slowly sinking to 3%, and saying, in essence, ce n’est pas nous (that’s not us). And so the last few months of the year kick off with something more of the divergence that has been hinted at all summer: US monetary policy nearing the end of its tightening cycle (remaining restrictive but not more so), Europe and Britain plagued by a combination of developments that in fact seem to resemble stagflation, and China opting to make relatively minor stimulative policy adjustments, seemingly intent on riding out slower growth than seen in a very long time. Last week, equity markets saw a strong rally, marking the S&P 500 Index’s best weekly return since June 2023. A decrease in longer-term interest rates over much of the week provided support for growth stocks by reducing the implied discount on long-duration future earnings. However, August brought the Index’s first monthly loss since February, indicating a mixed performance. The market rally declined towards the end of last week as bond yields climbed, partly due to a strong manufacturing report offsetting optimism generated by jobs data. On the wealth planning front, we discuss IRAs and designating a trust as a beneficiary.