And so are we… The world stopped pretty much everything at one point during the pandemic and sports were of course no exception. For true sports fans there was nothing more depressing than watching cornhole tournaments or empty arenas void of fans, sounds, and energy. Even if you don’t like or follow college basketball, we think you’ll enjoy what we pioneered and have put together.
We’re proud to say that My Portfolio Guide, LLC was the first investment firm to publish a March Madness investing bracket where we share our picks and match them up against each other. We break down and assign each of the four “regions” with an asset class and then pick teams (stocks) that we think have the best chance at doing well relative to others.
Not only is this “exercise” a way for us to share our ideas from a macro perspective, but it offers a fun platform to dig into a couple specific investments and themes we are following or excited about in the year ahead.
Click here or below to enlarge and see the entire bracket for 2023.
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!
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 notpredicting 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?!?)
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.
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.
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.
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 →
We are living in scary times, as investors and as human beings in general. With stock markets cratering and the uncertainty surrounding Coronavirus, it’s hard to remember when things were this bad or uncertain. How and when will things get better?
Regarding the market, there are no absolute rules, but it’s generally agreed investors have to fully capitulate before a bear market downturn can find its low point and eventually turn back the other way. The idea is that all the bad news, expectations and fear have to hit their worst point, so there is finally nothing else to drive the market lower. After that, anything remotely positive or even just “not bad” starts the base for the ensuing bull, and the market can begin climbing again.
The dilemma is that no one sounds an “all-clear” signal to let you know when that point has been reached. Think about the low point of the last bear, March of 2009. President Obama was freshly inaugurated (cause for optimism or pessimism, depending on your political leaning). Chrysler, GM, and Ford were near bankruptcy. Unemployment was climbing. A massive stimulus package had just been signed, but no on knew how effective it might be. Investors wondered if their portfolios would ever recover to where they had been. Those were troubling times, but we all know the market turned sharply upward that month and the bull continued for 11 years. It’s all much more clear looking back in the rearview mirror but at the time it was certainly not so.
Stock Market returns 1,3,5, and 10 years after Worst 1 Days Ever
There is no saying what will bring about capitulation with the current market. In our last column we noted how drawn out the 2000-2002 bear was. Things could get worse before they hit their inflection point. But it will come…if it hasn’t already. Yesterday was the third worst day in the history of the stock market and many threw in the towel. We’ve also advised that panic is never a strategy, and keeping your head as an investor right now is absolutely the right thing to do. One cannot change the past or the fact that this event took on disastrous proportions that nobody could have imagined. This is different than a standard bear market in that it’s more like an unforeseen natural disaster but in this case one that is not specific to some other part of the world; it’s truly global and caught the entire globe flat footed.
Human instinct is to seek shelter when danger is imminent, and that gives us the urge to abandon our better instincts. Sell all your stocks! Go to cash! End the pain! This might provide short-term comfort or relief, but assuming you need some amount of growth to reach your goals, you now have the dilemma of when and how to get back in.
We would advise staying the course, while being prudent. Strategic rebalancing can make sense, but not drastic changes to your allocation. If you have a plan in place that you felt good about during the market highs a month ago, stick to it, and revisit it if needed. Heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson famously said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.” The market is definitely throwing some serious punches right now. How will you answer the bell?
Lastly, we’re seeing two sets of behaviors right now; one group of people is scrambling to buy toilet paper while another is doing whatever they can to buy stocks. Mark our words in that this will be an inflection point and one where your decisions/behavior today will truly impact where you sit 10 years from now.
Behind the curtain of this investment blog and our series of letters to a fictional market character (Mr. Market)…there are actual human beings. We’re certainly not hiding behind a fluffy topic, but on days like today we want to share how life can parallel with things like the stock market; it can also really put things in perspective as we look back at where we were at certain points in life. Additionally, it sometimes helps people know that unlike many other articles and financial advisors you’ll find on the internet, My Portfolio Guide doesn’t cut and paste regurgitated garbage or use a ghost writer to relay our message.
Today is March 13th…Friday the 13th! Today it’s also me, Matthew Pixa, who is writing to you and letting you know that it’s the day my daughter Isabel turns 18. Perhaps we’ll do more of these personal articles but it won’t hurt our feelings if you don’t want to read about my baby girl’s birthday when the stock market is down -25%. You be the judge, but please read on and see where I’m going with this. Continue reading →