Everyone is Getting it Wrong

Dear Mr. Market:

You’ve behaved fairly well after some insanely raucous behavior last year. You (the market) has actually surprised a lot of folks just barely six weeks into the year. While there is plenty of calendar left in 2023, we’re watching you and it’s simply interesting to see that half the room doesn’t trust your next move while the other half wants to… but still can’t!

Read more: Everyone is Getting it Wrong

The books are closed on 2022, and what a year it was! The past few years have brought the word “unprecedented” to a whole new level. Both stocks and bonds were down in 2022, which is extremely rare and actually only happened twice in the past 100 years! (1931 and 1969). We won’t rehash it all but it’s not just that stocks were down almost -20%, but rather that what was supposed to offset some of that drawdown, never did. Historically bonds have basically always mitigated some of the pain of stocks getting tattered but not last year. 10-year treasury bonds were also down -15% and if you want real pain, 30 year bonds got torched by almost -30%. Name a stretch in your lifetime that was worse? Even if you’re 90 years old…you can’t.

So, enough about what has happened but our focus today is on how this plays with your mind. Below we’ve written a list of all the financial media talking heads as well as economic experts who are not predicting a major recession. Look through our extensive list of names and what do you see?

Oh wait…there are no names listed. Feel free to comment below or let us know if we missed anyone but rarely have we ever seen such an environment of groupthink that it begs the question…what if they’re all wrong? There have been some major economists who in times past have really missed the mark but for some reason they still have a platform and the ability to get your attention. In a future article (or letter to you, Mr. Market) we’ll do a little report card on all the “gurus” who somehow still command everyone’s eyeballs but often can’t correctly guess how many fingers they have. OK…perhaps we’re laying it on a little thick here but hopefully you get the point. There is too much groupthink going on right now and it’s times like these when it pays to take a little bit of a contrarian view.

We wrapped up January in surprisingly good fashion (again…almost everyone got it wrong but we’ll modestly remind clients we did not). Couple that with what is the proverbial “Santa Claus” rally period and you have some interesting history to look at. When stocks are lower the year prior, but gained during the Santa Claus period and first five days of January…we’ve seen a market average +27% the next year. Could it happen this time? Maybe not to that extent but if it doesn’t it will be the first time ever it didn’t at least go higher (nine for nine prior).

Now nobody said it would be smooth sailing (it rarely is). Expect a bit of a cooling down period as we now digest Q4 earnings season until month end. It also happens to be seasonally be a time for a natural pause or break with the back half of February being historically weak.


Regardless, barring some major unexpected calamity, this likely pause in the markets is a perfect opportunity to not only catch your breath (with Mr. Market) but also take a few chips off the table in areas you’ve been wishing you had earlier. For example, most people who had way too much tech on the way up got slaughtered in 2022 with the Nasdaq peeling off -33%. Now that we’ve seen a nice bump in tech stocks to start the year, why not sell some and reallocate to another area?

If you read the recent quarterly newsletter from My Portfolio Guide, LLC, you’ll note the areas we still like. Commodities are down to start the year…what a great place to be building a hedge if you missed their run-up prior. Along those same lines, what also helped our model portfolios last year (relative to what most people had outside of stocks and bonds) was gold. The dollar will retreat some more (unhitching the trailer) so we couldn’t be more bullish on gold being a key component in this environment. One more area that has slumped a bit to start the year are oil stocks (another rare bright spot in 2022). In typical human and emotional fashion, people somehow don’t want single digit multiple (i.e. cheap!) stocks with high yielding dividends. What’s not to like?!? Even Joe Biden told us earlier this week during the State of the Union that we’ll need oil for at least another 10 years…

Lastly, if you’re in the mood on making bets….Here’s a tip for all those watching the Super Bowl this Sunday. If you don’t have a dog in the hunt and are simply “hoping for a good game”…change your tune right now; you should want a blowout (perhaps not for entertainment value but for the market). In years when there is a single digit win during the Super Bowl the market only averages +5% and higher less than 60% of the time. However, on years with double digit margins of victory the market averages +11% and a 79% chance of going higher.

As silly as the “Super Bowl Indicator” is by the way, we did write about it last year (click here) and true to form…perhaps that’s why the market got drilled (kidding!). The Eagles are slight favorites but if you’re just an investment geek and want to root for a team…the football Gods all say the Chiefs need to win and ideally by 10 points or more. It likely won’t happen so enjoy the game and those expensive commercials. By the way, they used to cost advertisers a cool $1 million a few years ago for a primetime spot but are now upwards of $7 million! (and we have the gall to complain about $7 eggs?!?)

Have a great weekend!

Thanksgiving Thoughts

Dear Mr. Market:

Aside from extending our warmest wishes to you for a Happy Thanksgiving, we want to remind you that there is something else happening this time of year. We’re entering the strongest part of the year for the stock market as well as one that historically has the best chance to surprise everyone to the upside now that the midterm elections have passed.

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Permanent Portfolio Review

Dear Mr. Market:

Simple allocation ?

In a year where the stock market has provided zero safe places to hide…you may have changed, the markets certainly have, but one thing has not; the Permanent Portfolio.

We’ve reviewed the Permanent Portfolio before but believe it’s time to check in and provide an update on how it’s doing relative to the broad markets now as well as chime in on whether the strategy still has merit going forward. For some quick background, our first original review was written in June of 2013 (click here to see that). Most recently we revisited the topic with an update in November of 2020 (click here) as we climbed out of one of the wildest years in world history amidst a global pandemic.

If you didn’t hit the embedded article links above, the Permanent Portfolio is pretty simple at face value. The Permanent Portfolio is a seemingly basic portfolio allocation strategy created by investment advisor Harry Browne in the 1980’s and outlined in his book Fail-Safe Investing back in 2001. Here’s the secret (simple) sauce and how each asset class should do during repeatable economic cycles:

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Head Nodders and Recency Bias

Dear Mr. Market:

“In the business world the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”

Everyone following the markets is aware that we’re dealing with global economic stresses, a bottle necked supply chain, geopolitical tensions, 40 year highs with inflation, rising rates, and literally the worst start to a stock market year since 1970. It’s got the entire crowd nodding their heads in agreement that these are some brutal times. We’re also clearly in an environment with much groupthink and division…but more on that later.

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Bear Market

Dear Mr. Market:

Simple title.

Simple reality.

That’s exactly where we’re at right now. We’re not going to wait for the financial media to announce it or tell us that it’s only a bear market if we officially drop -20% or more. The intent of this article is to explain not only what a real bear market is, and how this one has behaved differently, but also what to do next.

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The Stock Market Indicator that you won’t hear about…

Dear Mr. Market:

We’ll open this letter to our friend “Mr. Market” by stating one thing that will be very obvious in six to 12 months. 90% of people reading this article will have gotten it wrong. It’s not your fault though…it’s the way our minds are wired and the content we’re constantly being fed.

Regardless of your current market strategy it’s times like this that will test the most patient of long-term investors. We’ve written about this countless times but no matter what the sage counsel or stock market adage is, you should be rattled right now. We could be like most “perma-bull” financial advisors and try to data mine for all the reasons to stay calm or share positive anecdotes to convince you that now is the time to invest; it won’t matter though. Putting “lipstick on a pig” won’t help you nor the current market environment. Bad news and reasons to panic will be the headline for the weeks to come and there will seemingly be no safe place to hide.

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Sell in May and Go Away?

Dear Mr. Market:

Does the old stock market adage of “sell in May and go away” make sense? We’ve actually written about this one spring about nine years ago where we actually advocated taking some chips off the table, however it had less to do with a cute stock market rhyme and more due to profit taking. Where are we at now going into May and is this allegedly poor seasonal time of year appropriate to sell or perhaps not?

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31 Reasons to Sell Stocks… (or maybe not)

Dear Mr. Market:

Have we started off the year with enough things to worry about? The 2020s have seen more than any horror script one would ever want to draw up. We’ve had an unprecedented global pandemic, a massive stock market crash, and now a war….and we’re just two years in! We’ve constantly reminded people that the stock market always has a boogey man hiding in the darkness. Even in the proverbial “good times” people have a natural tendency to feel as though the party will end at some point. To that point…they’re partly right; the party doesn’t necessarily end but it certainly takes a break before resuming.

Today’s article will be rather short, even though there is much behind it (and of course more to come as this story develops). We often talk about people having short memories but don’t think that the Ukraine and Russia conflict just started last week. Click here if you need to catch up on a conflict that’s been in flux since February of 2014. The point of our “letter to Mr. Market” today, however, is on what to do with your investments.

Much like Baskin-Robbins ice cream and their 31 flavors, we found a chart that you need to take a look at; it may not be as soothing as an ice cream cone but it can do wonders for how to put things into context. Below we’re sharing a chart that really want you to take some time to zoom in and reflect on each incident. How did you feel during each one? Were there any that you completely blew off or thought they were overhyped? Conversely, which one scared you the most into actually selling?

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Sorry Ram Fans….Go Bengals?

Dear Mr. Market:

The investment world has not given us much of a break lately. Everything is down….everything…..except gold and emerging markets, but you saw that coming, right?!? Before we dive in, let’s just post some quick year to date numbers and then get to the football banter. Large Caps are down -5.4%, Mid Caps -4.2%, Small caps -5.9%, International -8.1%, and Bonds (which are supposed to shelter us from some of this near-term pain) are down -3.2%. Again, the only thing that is up YTD is Gold at +0.10% and Emerging Markets at +2.5%. Switching gears, allow us to lighten the mood and focus on something mildly entertaining (yet related to the stock market). Why should you be rooting for the Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday during Super Bowl XVI?

All kidding aside, and at the risk of upsetting any Los Angeles Rams fans, the AFC teams winning lately have been good for the bulls. What we’re talking about here is the Super Bowl Indicator. At a minimum this is a helpful article for you if you don’t have a “dog in the hunt” and your team lost weeks ago, never made the playoffs, or you could care less about football yet might be around people who do on Sunday.

In 1978, Leonard Koppett, a sportswriter for the New York Times, came up with the Super Bowl Indicator and for many years it was never wrong! Up until that point the results pointed towards NFC teams winning being the one that seemed to help the stock market the most.

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Pssst….That was NOT the stock market correction we’ve all been waiting for!

Dear Mr. Market:

Yesterday seemed like the start of the Great Depression for some pundits and nervous nellies. Fear sells, and negative prognosis appears smarter than positive outlooks for whatever reason. The reality, and key reminder we wish to bring up again, is that the long awaited correction has yet to come. As of this writing, we are literally only -3.91% off of all-time S&P 500 highs in the market.

It should be noted that AAII Bearish Sentiment reading is as high as its been since the last most major S&P 500 sell-off.

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