What’s the first term you think of when discussing the economy? Stocks, bonds, gold? How about Supply & Demand?
On a recent flight to Salt Lake City, Utah, we saw a “picture worth a thousand words”. Matt Pixa, founder of My Portfolio Guide, LLC, took this picture from the air and also went out to pick the brains of some contacts he has in the import/export business to help put more color to the canvas.
If you zoom in on the picture it almost doesn’t do it justice. There are almost 50 cargo ships waiting to unload but basically stuck out there for weeks. Why are all these cargo ships lined up and floating outside the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports?
Last week was a microcosm of how stock market headlines can really lead you to hear one thing yet see another. For a while now we’ve been barking about how the FAANG stocks have artificially propped the market as there are some serious underlying health concerns. As a reminder for our newer readers, FAANG refers to the five major U.S. technology companies – Facebook (FB), Amazon (AMZN), Apple (AAPL), Netflix (NFLX), and Google (GOOGL). These household names have driven the markets and camouflaged some warning signs of risk on the horizon for quite some time. If you want a peek under the hood or a refresher on just what their impact, valuation, and market caps are relative to the broad market, please click here. (pay close attention to figure 18 which shows market cap with and without FAANG as well as Figures 13 & 14 for some relative earnings/revenue performance)
So…what happened last week? Why did the markets get hit so hard? It was indeed a rough week but then again not too many weeks feel all that bad when we take a quick look in the rear view mirror. (last year there were some mornings when the stock market was down literally -9% before you had your first sip of coffee) Albeit not a pleasant memory, don’t ever forget that (we’ll touch on why later in this article).
You’ve heard us barking about this before but as the world navigates its way out of the Covid-19 pandemic, it won’t be just the stock market that recovers. In many respects the market has mainly bounced back due to a lot of “sugar in the blood” from massive fiscal stimulus and has still primarily been led by some mega cap names. What’s brewing below the surface and actually could turn into something far more sustainable, is a boom in commodities.
Have you ever heard the expression “Even a blind squirrel find a nut once in a while?”
It’s been a while since we’ve had to talk about you. The world has been focused on many changes which sometimes leaves you to quietly do your thing while we catch our breath. We’ve ushered in a new year, the United States has a new President and administration, and we’re finally seeing some light at the end of the tunnel with regards to the most surreal pandemic one could imagine.
How have you been… Mr. Market?
Up, down, sideways, and all over the place…That’s how.
Today we write you a quick note to share our all-time favorite chart as well as a reminder to all those investors who may fall prey to short-term memory lapses. The recent stock market sell-off is a great wake up call to the fact that markets obviously don’t just go up in a straight line. It’s a bit more than that though…
Below is our all-time favorite stock chart and we’re going to share why it’s important to look at this every so often.
Why do we bring up this article now? Lots has changed but lots has not! More than anything we believe that our current environment has so many unknowns embedded in it after one of the wildest rides in stock market history. We won’t dig into the weeds too much but one could easily make the case that any of the following scenarios could take place over the next year:
The Stock Market could absolutely continue to defy odds and climb higher.
We could see another market crash like we saw in the spring this year as there are plenty of issues that have not gone away (Covid-19, political unrest, handcuffed economy, geopolitical concerns)
A deteriorating dollar, inflation on the horizon, a ticking time bomb of debt, and more fear of a prolonged recession, negates any appeal for stocks for quite some time.
We trade up, down, and basically sideways as this market consolidates and digests one of the most tumultuous years in history.
Without rehashing all that has transpired in 2020, we believe that being properly allocated and prepared for just about anything that comes our way seems like a wise way to go. The market is almost always unpredictable but there are times when reading the tea leaves and figuring out clear direction is even more difficult; we believe that’s exactly where we’re at right now.
If you didn’t read our old article from 2013, the basis for the Permanent Portfolio strategy is simple at face value: You divide your portfolio into four distinct and fairly uncorrelated asset classes (Cash, Bonds, Gold, and Stocks). Ideally at any point in most economic cycles one of these asset classes will stink it up but the others could compensate and outperform. During prosperous times Stocks should win. When there is inflation a case can be made for Gold. Should the opposite occur and we get deflation you would ideally see long-term Bonds do well. Lastly, during a severe recession Cash is perhaps your best friend. When coupled together you may never hit a home run but this approach can mitigate disaster and still produce modest long-term returns.
November 3rd is looming large in many minds this year. That’s right, it will be Dolph “Ivan Drago” Lundgren’s 63rd birthday! Big news for sure, but unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know we also have a presidential election to decide.
We know one of these three will be celebrating November 3rd. How about the other two?
Okay, you may not be celebrating the great movie villain that day, but hopefully you do have a plan for voting. Many investors are wondering if they need to have a plan for their portfolios, either leading up to or following election day. There are interesting market factors to consider around election years, but are they compelling enough to act on?
In the most recent edition of “the Guide“, we focused it much on how the election will potentially pan out and what “Mr. Market” has done in years past as well as how that could play out in this very unusual environment. Click here to view the newsletter.
We’ve written you hundreds of letters over the past decade and on occasion it’s nice to put a face with the name! Last week, Matt Pixa of My Portfolio Guide, LLC, was given the honor and opportunity to present an Economic Outlook to the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce.
We share it with you here and look forward to your feedback and questions!
For some of our newer readers it might serve us well to remind everyone of who you are and what this “Mr. Market” character is all about. If you haven’t read Benjamin Graham’s book, The Intelligent Investor, you need to. Even though it was written in 1949, much of what Graham wrote is still applicable today and it’s simply one of the best books on the stock market ever written. Warren Buffett himself loves the book and says that it changed his life. Here’s a summary from Buffett and his description of our very own “Mr. Market”: Continue reading →
We have commented many times on how people have short memories. In the case of recent stock market behavior, however, there is no way one could forget what a ride we’ve all been on. Our job today is not to draw attention to the very obvious past but to one area of the market that is not always directly connected to stocks or bonds.
Do you have gold in your portfolio and if so, should you buy more, hold on to what you have, or dump it? Continue reading →