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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
Finally. It’s here….a bonafide stock market correction. What’s also almost here is Groundhog Day…but more on that in a minute. For those of us with short memories we’ll have to do the necessary preamble and small talk refresher on what this is. For those of you who remember what you did (or were supposed to do/not do) during the last correction, here we go again. Do you remember the fantastic Bill Murray movie “Ground Hog Day”? Click here for the last time we wrote about it but again….people seem to forget what they ate for breakfast so you may not remember what happened in 2018.
Oh… but “it’s different this time“, right? Those are indeed the four most dangerous words in investing. Are there problems to worry about? YES!!!! (but there always has been and always will be)
When it comes to the stock market it’s easy to see the road we just traveled; what’s more difficult is trying to assess and figure out where we’re going. In last quarter’s newsletter from My Portfolio Guide, LLC we put out a fairly bold prediction of the S&P 500 hitting 5,000 and the Dow Jones reaching 40,000 within the next year. Also included in that edition of “the Guide” (click here to view it if you haven’t already), we discussed some common behavioral biases that we’re all vulnerable to. As we head into Thanksgiving and then the last month of the year, the fear levels are beginning to mount again. There’s plenty to worry about, such as inflation, and speaking of that, it’s sort of like your in-laws visiting….They arrive earlier than you expected and stay longer than you’d like!
While we’re not telling people to be 100% into equities…it’s becoming more and more clear that for the foreseeable future there is no better horse to ride. We’re going to call this proverbial horse “Tina” and share why in a moment. Sure, our gold hedge is not providing instant riches but remember that is not why we bought it. Additionally, we’re seeing more and more people buying crypto as the “new gold” yet most can’t even explain what it actually is. We’d prefer to see Tom Brady pitching Subway sandwiches but now he’s doing crypto commercials. Bonds are awful and going nowhere (yet to some degree justified as part of your overall allocation). Cash is still earning “point zero nothing”. Real estate has exploded and bubbled upwards some more but does it feel smart to you to be the highest bidder on a property right now? All this leads us back to our horse TINA… There Is No Alternative.
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.
The stock market has provided many sayings and memorable catchphrases that people tend to regurgitate ; some have merit and some are just garbage.
If you’re a regular reader of Dear Mr. Market, or a client of My Portfolio Guide, LLC, you’ll know that our all-time favorite is “The four most dangerous words in investing are …This time it’s different” -Sir John Templeton. Here are some other all-time adages that you’ve undoubtedly heard:
“Buy low sell high” Uh…yeah, but easier said than done.
“The trend is your friend” Sure….until it’s not!
“If you have trouble imagining a 20% loss in the stock market, you shouldn’t be in stocks” -John Bogle
“Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent” -John Maynard Keynes
So…what does “buy the rumor and sell the news” mean? You probably know that the stock market is full of speculation, great stories, and chock-full of hidden nuggets as well as potential land mines. Even if you’re not an experienced investor or trader, at some point you’ll figure out that by the time your neighbor (you know the guy who never loses and is always up) tells you about a stock tip…the ink on the newspaper is already dry and that idea is likely stale.