Frothy, Bubbly Stocks

Aaron Schuler, CDFA® here.

I’m not writing to you about cappuccinos, champagne, or bubble bath.

We’re talking stocks.

You may have noticed that the shortest bear market in history is over, and markets recently hit new record highs.

Will stocks keep going higher? Will they stay volatile?

Is another bear market around the corner?

Maybe. Maybe not.

As is pretty common in these situations, market strategists are split.

Some see a new bull market that reflects a recovering economy.1

Others see troubling signs of a bubble that could burst.2

What could push stocks higher?

  • A market-ready COVID-19 vaccine or major treatment breakthrough that reignites optimism.
  • More government stimulus that supports consumers and businesses.
  • Good economic numbers that suggest we’re on the other side of the recession and the recovery continues.

What warning signs are flashing?

  • A rally mostly powered by tech mega stocks that isn’t reflected in the broader market.
  • Uncertainty around a November election that’s already contentious.
  • A possible “Minsky moment” market collapse fueled by the Fed’s easy money policy and unsustainable stock prices.3
  • Predictions of a second wave of infection that could provoke more shutdowns.

Bottom line, we can’t predict what comes next, and it’s too soon to claim victory for markets. Maybe we’re on a new bull market run. Maybe we’re facing a second correction.

Since we can’t predict the future, we’re focused on helping our clients cover their financial bases for the next year by having a financial plan. 

As the pandemic continues to drag into the fall, we’re thinking a lot about how to fit regular activities into a “risk budget.” For example, we can group multiple low-risk activities into a bi-weekly budget (go for walks, shop for groceries, etc.) but only one higher-risk activity (like eating out or socializing).

What’s your take? How are you reintegrating normal activities into pandemic life?

The Economy & Sharing Good News

Hi All!

I hope you’re well.

How’s your summer?

In our world, we’ve been enjoying time with the kids and visiting family. With everything going on around the world, I’m grateful that we’re safe and well.

I hope you are, too.

So, what’s going on with the economy?

Well, hopes for the “V-Shaped” recovery economists wanted seem to be fading.1  Though businesses reopened and millions of people got their jobs back, millions more are still unemployed.2 And more layoffs are coming.3

Does that mean we’re still in a recession? Technically, we won’t know until Q2 and Q3 economic data are released.

Best guess? We’re probably still in a recession.

The more optimistic recovery scenarios depended on containing COVID-19 infections so Americans could safely get back to business.

That…didn’t happen.

The question now is whether rising infection rates will put us in a “W-Shaped” double-dip recession, or a slower “L-Shaped” or “Swoosh-Shaped” climb back.

That’s all very interesting, but how does it affect us in Utah and Wyoming?

In many ways, our local economy is a microcosm of the larger state of affairs.

As COVID-19 cases have increased in our area, we’re hopefully on the other side of the crisis/we’ve still got a ways to go before we’re on solid ground.

Our ability to bounce back depends on a few things: 1) keeping infection rates down; 2) workers keeping the jobs they have and returning to the ones they lost; 3) folks shopping, eating out, and spending money locally.

In terms of markets, the recent gains make it clear that traders are looking past the current gloom to a hopefully rosy future.

Are they clairvoyant? Foolishly optimistic? Not optimistic enough?

I agree with Yale economist Robert Shiller’s take: he thinks this is a FOMO market driven by the Fear Of Missing Out. Many traders regret not jumping into the 2009 rally and are determined not to miss out again. That psychological narrative is pushing up the market even in the face of bad news.4

Will it continue?

We’re in earnings season and investors are waiting to see how badly U.S. companies were damaged last quarter. Since many companies have refused to release earnings forecasts, we’re prepared for surprises. Positive and negative.

Bottom line: Buckle up, I think we’re in for a choppy ride.

Ok, so where’s the good news you promised? (It’s the only reason I even opened this email.)

When times are tough and headlines are overwhelmingly negative, it becomes harder to find the good news. But it’s there.

A New Jersey hospital once described as a “war zone” now has zero COVID-19 patients.5

17 COVID-19 vaccines are in human trials. At least one may be ready for approval by the end of 2020.6

2 million folks gathered to plant trees in Northern India (while maintaining social distance).7

A young man who lost hope of attending college is headed to Harvard Law after the good people he met as a sanitation worker took him under their wings.8

Uplifting stories are out there if we look for them.

What good news do you have to share? Hit “leave a comment” and let me know.

P.S. A new round of stimulus may be coming, but we don’t know when, where, how, or even if it’ll arrive. I’ll reach out when we know more.

1https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/11/after-fastest-recession-us-history-economic-recovery-may-be-fizzling/

2https://www.marketwatch.com/story/jobless-claims-tell-us-30-million-people-are-unemployed-but-many-doubt-its-that-bad-2020-07-08

3https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-layoffs-furloughs-hospitality-service-travel-unemployment-2020

4https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/understanding-us-pandemic-stock-market-by-robert-j-shiller-2020-07

5https://www.nj.com/coronavirus/2020/07/once-called-a-war-zone-this-nj-hospital-now-has-zero-coronavirus-patients.html

6https://www.wsj.com/articles/german-biotech-sees-its-coronavirus-vaccine-ready-for-approval-by-december-11594373400

7https://apnews.com/f1d41fd4772742279da89e972dd8493d

8https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/07/us/sanitation-worker-harvard-law-trnd/index.html

Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

This site is published for residents of the United States and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security or product that may be referenced herein. Persons mentioned on this website may only offer services and transact business and/or respond to inquiries in states or jurisdictions in which they have been properly registered or are exempt from registration. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state, jurisdiction or from every person listed. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Aaron Schuler, Registered Representative. Advisory services offered by Beam Asset Management. Aaron Schuler, Investment Advisor Representative. Mountain West Wealth LLC, Beam Asset Management, FIT Divorce Planning and Securities America, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated entities. (website) Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC. Advisory Services offered through BEAM Asset Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm. BEAM Asset Management, LLC and Mountain West Wealth and Securities America, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated entities. 

Paradigm shifts (and how to keep up)

Life has changed; how do we adapt without losing sight of what we want to achieve?

As you’ve heard me say before, no one knows how the future will play out, but we should still look ahead and think through the consequences of what’s happening. (More about this kind of second-order thinking ahead.)

I believe that our society and our economy are experiencing a massive paradigm shift.

We will never go back to the world we had before COVID-19, and the lens that we used to evaluate ideas, markets, economies, and personal choices over the last decade may not be sufficient for the next decade.

Here are just a few things that I see changing as a result of what’s going on now:

Social Support: 36.5 million Americans have become unemployed in two months, and the effects are rippling through families, communities, and the economy.1 The government has responded with trillions of stimulus dollars to individuals and businesses. More relief is likely to come. What does this mean for our society? Who should get a helping hand in tough times? Will we permanently expand the social safety net?

Work: Thrown into the largest work-from-home experiment in history, more workers and employers will transition to remote work post-pandemic. This shift in work has major implications. Which places will be a draw if workers can live anywhere and employers can have their pick of a nationwide (or global) workforce? Will those who must physically show up demand different compensation?

Education: Students, parents, schools, and universities are being forced to re-evaluate the definition of education (and its price tag) now that the on-campus experience has gone online. What’s missing if you attend from home? How much should education cost? What alternatives to a traditional four-year degree will arise?

Shopping & Entertainment: Brick-and-mortar retailers may never recover from the body blow dealt by pandemic lockdowns. Online shopping, grocery delivery, and digital services may finally overtake offline channels. What will the retail landscape look like when it’s easier (and maybe safer) to eat, shop, and watch at home?

What do you think, [CONTACT_FIRST_NAME]? What do you see changing in the world? Please hit “reply” and share your thoughts.

No one has all the answers about the new world and things are not always what they seem.

Though it appears that the stock market has moved past the pandemic, we shouldn’t celebrate just yet.

Why?

Much has changed in the world and we’re still playing out first-order effects. More consequences are coming.

“What are the second- and third-order consequences of this?” is a question big thinkers like Ray Dalio (manager of the largest hedge fund in the world) ask about complex scenarios.

Here’s what they mean:

First-order thinking is fast and simple: B is the logical outcome of event A.

But then what? What happens as a consequence of B?

And what happens as a result of that? And what is the follow-on effect of that?

Second-order thinking is about interactions and complex systems. It’s slow and hard (but mastering it can put us steps ahead of the crowd).

Understanding the new world that’s growing out of the pandemic requires thinking through these higher-order consequences and developing a new lens to navigate the uncertain waters ahead.

How can we adapt? How can we still pursue our goals in a totally different world?

We think it through with humility and an open mind.

We hone our second-order thinking skills by asking: what could happen? And then what? How likely is it that I’m right? What could happen if I’m wrong? How do I position myself?

We’ll do it together.

COVID-19 is going to be with us for the rest of 2020 and possibly into 2021. So we’re adapting.

At Mountain West Wealth, it means we will hold virtual client meetings and limit our in-person office visits to an as-needed basis.

We’re taking it day by day and thinking through those higher-order effects.

How about you? What changes are you making to your plans this summer and fall?

Be well,Aaron Schuler, CDFA®Mountain West Wealth
Phone. 307-352-9330
Mobile. 801-694-9305
www.mtnww.com

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC.   Advisory Services offered through BEAM Asset Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm.  BEAM Asset Management, LLC and Mountain West Wealth and Securities America, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated entities.
Trading instructions sent via email may not be honored. Please contact my office at 307-352-9330 or Securities America, Inc. at 800-747-6111 for all buy/sell orders. Please be advised that communication regarding trades in your account are for informational purposes only. You should continue to rely on confirmation and statements received from the custodian(s) of your assets. The text of this communication is confidential, and use by any person who is not the intended recipient is prohibited. Any person who receives this communication in error is requested to immediately destroy the communication without copying or further dissemination.

P.S. A number of clients and friends have reached out to talk through options around a potential lay-off, buy-out offer, or early retirement. If this is on your mind, please let me know. We can work through it together.

P.P.S If you’ve got a kid in college this fall, I have a question for you: is virtual university still a compelling offer? Are you and your student considering a gap year or some alternative? Please hit “reply” and let me know. I’m interested in learning from your experience.

1https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/05/14/unemployment-jobless-claims-coronavirus/

Chart source: https://www.artsci.com/studentpoll-covid-19-edition-2

Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

This site is published for residents of the United States and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security or product that may be referenced herein. Persons mentioned on this website may only offer services and transact business and/or respond to inquiries in states or jurisdictions in which they have been properly registered or are exempt from registration. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state, jurisdiction or from every person listed. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Aaron Schuler, Registered Representative. Advisory services offered by Beam Asset Management. Aaron Schuler, Investment Advisor Representative. Mountain West Wealth LLC, Beam Asset Management, FIT Divorce Planning and Securities America, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated entities. (website) Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC. Advisory Services offered through BEAM Asset Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm. BEAM Asset Management, LLC and Mountain West Wealth and Securities America, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated 

5.4.20: The Economy & Some Virtual Fun

I hope you’re safe and well.

It’s been weeks since we shuttered the office and started working from home and, like many, I’m feeling the strain of upended life.

How about you? Are you ready to venture out again?

In this letter, I thought I’d give you a rundown of some of the latest economic projections as well as a sneak peek of what post-lockdown life could look like for us soon.

(Ready for a break from COVID-19? No worries. Scroll down to the P.S. for some wonderful distractions.)

On to the economy.

You may have seen a headline showing that U.S. economic growth dropped -4.8% in the first quarter after posting 2.1% growth in Q4 2019. That’s not a surprise.1

Unfortunately, worse news is ahead since widespread layoffs and shutdowns didn’t hit until late March. Here’s a projection of what the next few quarters could look like for the economy.2

You can see in this chart that the coronavirus hit the economy like a tsunami. Q2 could be the worst quarter since the Great Depression.3

The arithmetic of recovering from a 30%+ drop in economic growth means that it could take many months (maybe even years) to return to pre-pandemic GDP levels, especially if we face multiple waves of infection.

Let’s mentally prepare for that.

April 2020 is likely to be one of the worst months for the economy in history; contradictorily, it was also a blockbuster month for stocks.4

Why are stocks so disconnected from the economic data?

Fundamentally, a stock’s price is an attempt to put a value on the underlying company’s earnings now and in the future. Complicating the calculation are factors like fear, greed, uncertainty, and movements in the overall market.

While economic data looks back at what has already happened (or is happening now), the stock market looks forward at the trajectory of the business environment. Framed that way, the rally isn’t so unusual since investors are expecting things to get better, not worse.

Will the rally continue? Hard to say. Volatility is very likely to be the name of the game for months.

Economists are predicting a rebound in Q3 2020. Are they right?

You know by now that we can’t perfectly predict what the recovery will look like; all economic estimates are based on educated guesses about spending, business investment, trade, and other factors. The biggest unknown is “personal consumption” by folks like you and me. Our spending drives 70% of economic growth.

The pace of the recovery depends on how quickly businesses reopen and consumers go out to shop, eat, travel, and spend money. If people don’t feel safe going out or don’t feel confident enough to open their wallets, growth could take longer to come back.

What do you think? Will you go back to your pre-coronavirus routine? Hit “reply” and let me know. I’m interested in hearing your perspective.

What could life look like as our states reopen? While America is just now taking the first tentative steps toward reopening, many countries around the world are farther along, offering us a glimpse of what daily life might look like in a world where the coronavirus still remains a threat.5

Hong Kong: Restaurants are open but tables must be spaced farther apart.

South Korea: Pro sports are back but athletes play to empty stadiums. Temperature screening is in place in many buildings.

Taiwan: Schools are in session but assemblies are canceled and students wear face masks in class.

Australia: Beaches are open but sunbathing, picnicking, and large gatherings are verboten.

How long will coronavirus precautions overshadow our daily life? Realistically, some restrictions are likely to drag on until a vaccine or breakthrough treatment becomes widely available.

What do you think? What will our “new normal” look like?

Warmly,

Aaron Schuler, CDFA®Mountain West Wealth
Phone. 307-352-9330
Mobile. 801-694-9305
www.mtnww.com

P.S. I promised you some distractions from the coronavirus, and here they are:

Watch jellyfish float at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (includes relaxing music!).

Dream of a Caribbean vacation with the beach cam at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke.

SCUBA dive vicariously in a kelp forest off Anacapa Island.

Watch the live cam at Tembe Elephant Park.

Take an hour-long walking tour around Paris.

Enjoy!

1https://www.bea.gov/news/2020/gross-domestic-product-1st-quarter-2020-advance-estimate

2https://www.cbo.gov/publication/56335

3https://www.marketwatch.com/story/echoes-of-the-great-depression-us-economy-could-post-biggest-contraction-ever-2020-03-19

4https://www.marketwatch.com/story/after-a-blockbuster-april-for-the-dow-and-sp-500-is-sell-in-may-in-the-coronavirus-era-a-smart-strategy-2020-04-30

5https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/02/world/asia/coronavirus-china-hong-kong-south-korea-australia.html

Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

This site is published for residents of the United States and is for informational purposes only and does not constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any security or product that may be referenced herein. Persons mentioned on this website may only offer services and transact business and/or respond to inquiries in states or jurisdictions in which they have been properly registered or are exempt from registration. Not all products and services referenced on this site are available in every state, jurisdiction or from every person listed. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. Aaron Schuler, Registered Representative. Advisory services offered by Beam Asset Management. Aaron Schuler, Investment Advisor Representative. Mountain West Wealth LLC, Beam Asset Management, FIT Divorce Planning and Securities America, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated entities. (website) Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA & SIPC. Advisory Services offered through BEAM Asset Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisory Firm. BEAM Asset Management, LLC and Mountain West Wealth and Securities America, Inc. are separate, unaffiliated entities.