Fed Chair Powell gave some interesting remarks at yesterdays (3/16/21) meeting. Taking a deep dive into his comments we can glean some pretty important thoughts on monetary policy and the market conditions looking forward.
The performance and enthusiasm of November will be hard to top. In the month of November, the Dow gained 11.8% - this is the best November since 1928. The S&P 500 rose 10% and Nasdaq 11%. Transports, Industrials, Financials all enjoyed their best month since April of 2009. Also, the Dow hit the coveted all time high of 30,000. Some believe that November may have taken some of the steam from December’s momentum however, both the consensus and Fed both agree that growth should be about 4% next year. As we wrap up the year, there are obviously a few reasons for pessimism over the next two months but there are more reasons for optimism over the next 12 to 18 months.
Making trade and investment decisions based solely on big events is hardly ever an effective strategy. Having said that, there were obvious concerns about how this year’s election would affect markets and planning strategies. The best thing to do would have been to pick an allocation which you felt comfortable with and ride whatever wave came along with the election results. Some investors sat the sidelines, some bought what they thought might be winners in whatever their assumed outcome scenario was. All in all, what occurred is what I mentioned in our previous election commentary blog – the markets only care that there IS a President.
Mike and I recently reflected on the past decade of the markets, and now that the New Year has come and gone, we can set our sites ahead for the future. The week of January 6th will be the first full week of trading after our holiday hangover. Market sentiment is a mixed bag and it appears that everyone has a wait and see attitude – this is a juxtaposition of where we were this time last year.
Recently, we have experienced a downturn in the markets and while that is frustrating and, at times, downright scary, there are ways that you can take advantage of these tough times. Tax-loss harvestingnot only can decrease your tax liability exposure by offsetting taxable income, it also allows you to indirectly increase your overall return or have the ability to reap the gains from some of your other investments.
The last few years of a bull market are always a bit of a mystery to professional investors; the market rises faster than it did in the early, cautious years when nobody believed there WAS a bull market, even though there appear to be fewer fundamental or economic reasons for it. The current bull market churns on, even if nobody can explain it, and people who bail out in anticipation of a downturn do so at the risk of missing out on an untold number of months or years of (still somewhat inexplicable) gains. As nice as the returns have been domestically, international stocks this year have been even kinder to investment portfolios.
The Federal Reserve has once again raised interest rates by 25 basis points, but is still maintaining their placid stance toward economic policy. This allowed equities last week to end a tumultuous week with a slight uptick. The expectation is that the Fed is going to continue to raise rates very slowly.
As you can see from the graph, the nation of Greece, once the subject of almost daily speculation about the viability of its government bonds, has pulled its economy out of a disaster into a muddle. No doubt, you got tired of hearing about Grexit scenarios and all the times when the European Central Bank and the European Stability Mechanism came to the rescue.
Anybody who was surprised that the Federal Reserve Board decided to raise its benchmark interest rate this week probably wasn't paying attention. The U.S. economy is humming along, the stock market is booming and the unemployment rate has fallen faster than anybody expected. The incoming administration has promised lower taxes and a stimulative $550 billion infrastructure investment. The question on the minds of most observers is: what were they waiting for?
What is a dollar worth?
If you answered that it's worth a dollar, you must be living in Illinois. A research report by U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis found that the prices for a particular basket of goods and services—food, transportation, housing and education—are higher in some states than others. Illinois came in at almost exactly the average; a $100 bill will buy $100.70 worth of the items. People living in the District of Columbia, the nation's most expensive area, would have to pay, on average, $118.10 for the same basket of items.
There has been much discussion over the last month and half about Bear Markets, Sell-offs, the Global economy and a possible Recession. The vast majority of analysts believe we are not in a recession (neither the U.S., China, nor Europe) and that most economic indicators seem to point to the fact that overall the U.S. economy is strong. In fact, most analysts indicate that there is only a 20 -30% chance of a recession in the making for the U.S. In addition, trucking and retail industries are showing signs of stabilization indicating that things did not get worse in January. The factors that are seemingly the 'cause' of this downturn are angst surrounding global growth, politics, oil and Euro banking woes and each day one or another have been blamed for the sell-off during this downturn. However, none of them should be a catalyst for the down market indicating a true disconnect between reality and what investors in the market are thinking. It is important to note that when investors are buying in huge rallies it's traditionally thought the market has created a herd mentality however, when they are selling in bulk during downturns there is an assumption they are right.