Our last monthly commentary “Weird Words About a New Abnormal” attempted to update about the markets and a frequent question on investor’s minds – “After the significant financial market rebound, should I consider becoming more conservative (for various reasons)?” The weird words were entertaining and appropriate for a heavy topical discussion. Let’s take a cute (humorous) route this month. Let’s lighten the load with some humor while discussing the current market action and outlook. The biggest difference in people who demonstrate resilience and those who don’t is their perception – how they conceptualize traumatic or stressful life situations. It’s all the little things that happen in your day-to-day life; how do you perceive them? One way to change bad feelings is via good doses of humor.
Do you feel a little discombobulated by strange words? If someone is talking lots of gibberish, gobbledygook, and poppycock, they may be trying to discombobulate (verb) you. If you are very discombobulated (adjective), you are also flummoxed. Confused? That’s what these two words mean – “confuse” (19th century words).
Amazingly – time is flying; it is already more than 4 months since a large share of the global economy was mandated to a near-subsistence crawl. While there is evidence of emerging green shoots that suggest the trough levels are past, the persistence of COVID-19 with its related behavioral accommodations dampens reopening the economy and makes for an abnormal jagged experience.
As we move into the 2nd half of 2020, we are struck by how much is changed from just 6 months ago. A global health crisis/pandemic thrust the world into what is arguably the deepest and sharpest economic recession in a generation’s memory. If that were not enough, the backdrop of acute economic pain combined with several most unfortunate societal tragedies to create a degree of social unrest not felt so acutely in many years.
Despite these dynamics, the 2nd quarter provided strong recovery for global financial markets. Most attribute this almost unbelievable market rebound to a forceful fiscal and economic policy response by governments globally. In this quarter’s newsletter (below), you’ll find 3 brief articles. The first, entitled “65 Days… Now What?”, places the strength of the stock market since the March 23 low in historical context and reviews the actions we pursued early in the 2Q to position portfolios for economic recovery; “Offense Still on the Field” explains how the process of reopening the economy will remain complex amid lingering fallout from the reality of covid-19. Lastly, “True vs. True? And Truth!” examines the Great Depression era (1930’s) and the series of what are now considered consecutive policy mistakes that likely kept both the economy and financial markets impaired longer than if different actions were pursued. Studying these is relevant to the path forward.
1) Set financial goals; 2) Understand where your money is going; 3) Manage your debt; 4) Put your finances on autopilot; 5) Maintain a steady lifestyle; 6) Invest wisely; 7) Obtain knowledge and advice.
At Nvest, our primary goal we strive to achieve with each client is “delivering financial peace of mind.” We believe this goal is best achieved through regular communication; a prudent, time-tested approach to investment management; and via a strong and detailed understanding of how your accumulated assets form the big picture, “financing” you through each stage of your life. In these respects, we are excited to introduce and make available to clients a new tool we call the LIVING LIFE client portal.
2020 was dubbed “the year for seeing clearly” due to the number being analogous to the description for “perfect” 20/20 vision. It’s interesting that we often use this term to describe excellent vision, yet don’t necessarily know what it means. As it turns out, 20/20 vision does not mean “perfect” vision; but according to the American Optometric Society, it simply means “seeing clearly at 20 feet what should normally be seen at that distance.” 20/20 vision means “normal” vision of an object at a distance of 20 feet. There are other important aspects to vision skills – peripheral awareness, side to side vision, eye coordination, depth perception, focusing ability and color perception – that contribute to overall vision ability.
So, how are you “seeing” your financial world today; what investment and economic outlook do you “see?”
Much happened in the month of April, a month that probably felt much longer – “stay-at-home” mandates and related economic shut-down continued, air/water quality improved, oil priced for May delivery traded below zero; yet stocks enjoyed a strong rebound. “Seeing clearly in 2020” seems impaired now because of too much news. “Unprecedented” is perhaps the most overused term applied to many topics during this world-wide pandemic event; but so many things truly are “unprecedented.” As a result, there is no shortage of topics that merit comment. But the simple thought is overload – too much news. So let’s pursue a bullet approach to touching on what we see as the important themes. We hope this format and information is helpful. Most important – we pray that you, your family, and friends are staying healthy and safe.
Nvest (Bill, Steve and Jordan) wishes for you and your family/friends good health, safety and wellness from this COVID-19 virus and the economic challenges. We are greatly concerned by the very real human health impact and ongoing crisis; praying for a timely cure for these current health and economic challenges. Let us know of your worries and if we can be helpful. While it would be unwise to meet in person due to social-distancing protocol, we can visit virtually via web meeting to review your needs, portfolio reactions, and discuss LIVING LIFE financial planning questions. Call or email to coordinate a time to visit.
This quarter you will find several timely updates. First, “The Price is Right?” reviews how swift was the transition from bull market into bear and shares historical perspective; places the size of recent government responses in context; and what we are watching to signal that durable recovery may be near or developing. “Framework for a Path Forward” examines whether the market low observed on March 23 was “a” low, or “THE” low. It is important awareness that retests are normal during periods of market stress, but the market will offer clues beneath the surface about where we are and when/what actions are appropriate to position portfolios for recovery. “Thoughtful Comments for Careful Consideration” is a compilation of notable quotes from highly respected individuals that can be helpful during challenging environments.
No sugar-coating it; the start of this New Year is not what any of us hoped for. Day to day life is highly uncertain, and investments are bruised. While the cause of the current environment is unique and uncharted for every living generation, this too shall pass. Periods like this can cause one to feel paralyzed, with nothing to do but wait it out. However, there are strategies individuals can pursue that will position them to benefit when the storm begins to clear, and simultaneously help you restore a long-term mindset.
With stock prices, even bond prices, falling faster than they rise the next day, fear is dominating many investors’ thinking about investing and many current life activities. Schools, restaurants, churches are closed, temporarily. Gatherings of even a few people are discouraged. Numerous US states are implementing business lockdowns and stay-at-home strategies to contain the spread of COVID-19. At current, there are no tools (vaccine, drug) to address this novel virus, other than shutting economic activity down to buy time for the doctors and drug scientists. Unclear is when we are going to open the economy back up (April? May?), or if we can make it through the year without shutting down again in the Fall. Closing the economy is adding to everyone’s fear of the unknown – a multi-dimensional fear not limited to just Coronavirus, and including the prospects of severe economic/financial damage. Put simply, most all news seems bad.
In pursuit of providing clients access to timely and relevant commentary to the current coronavirus market impact, below are links to research and analysis updates we are receiving. The aim is to share articles that add or enhance the understanding of the root worry (coronavirus and it’s impact on the global economy) and/or provide historical perspective on prior market corrections.