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.
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.
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.
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?”