November 13th Market Commentary

November 13, 2018

The Markets

How are you feeling about financial markets?

Some votes are still being counted but investors appear to be happy with the outcome of mid-term elections. Major U.S. stock indices in the United States moved higher last week, and the American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) Sentiment Survey reported:

“Optimism among individual investors about the short-term direction of stock prices is above average for just the second time in nine weeks…Bullish sentiment, expectations that stock prices will rise over the next six months, rose 3.4 percentage points to 41.3 percent. This is a five-week high. The historical average is 38.5 percent.”

Before you get too excited about the rise in optimism, you should know pessimism also remains at historically high levels. According to AAII:

“Bearish sentiment, expectations that stock prices will fall over the next six months, fell 3.3 percentage points to 31.2 percent. The drop was not steep enough to prevent pessimism from remaining above its historical average of 30.5 percent for the eighth time in nine weeks.”

So, from a historic perspective, investors are both more bullish and more bearish than average. If Sir John Templeton was correct, the mixed emotions of investors could be good news for stock markets. Templeton reportedly said, “Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria.”

While changes in sentiment are interesting market measurements, they shouldn’t be the only factor that influences investment decision-making. The most important gauge of an individual’s financial success is his or her progress toward achieving personal life goals – and goals change over time.

IS A ZEAL OF ZEBRAS A BETTER INVESTMENT THAN A BLESSING OF UNICORNS? Collective nouns are the names we use to describe collections or significant numbers of people, animals, and other things. The Oxford English Dictionary offered a few examples:

• A gaggle of geese
• A crash of rhinoceros
• A glaring of cats
• A stack of librarians
• A groove of DJs

In recent years, some investors have shown great interest in blessings of unicorns. ‘Unicorns’ are private, start-up companies that have grown at an accelerated pace and are valued at $1 billion.

In early 2018, estimates suggested there were approximately 135 unicorns in the United States. Will Gornall and Ilya A. Strebulaev took a closer look and found some unicorns were just gussied-up horses, though, according to research published in the Journal of Financial Economics.

The pair developed a financial model for valuing unicorn companies and reported, “After adjusting for these valuation-inflating terms, almost one-half (65 out of 135) of unicorns lose their unicorn status.”

Clearly, unicorn companies must be thoroughly researched. There is another opportunity Yifat Oron suggested deserves more attention from investors: zebra companies. Oron’s article in Entrepreneur explained:

“Zebra companies are characterized by doing real business, not aiming to disrupt current markets, achieving profitability and demonstrating it for a while, and helping to solve a societal problem…zebra companies…are for-profit and for a cause. We think of these businesses as having a ‘double bottom line’ – they're focused on alleviating social, environmental, or medical challenges while also tending to their own profitability.”

Including both types of companies in a portfolio seems like a reasonable approach.

If you were to choose a collective noun to describe investors, what would it be? An exuberance? A balance? An influence?

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“In his learnings under his brother Mahmoud, he had discovered that long human words rarely changed their meanings, but short words were slippery, changing without a pattern…Short human words were like trying to lift water with a knife.”
--Robert Heinlein, American science fiction writer

 

* These views are those of Carson Group Coaching, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Sources:
https://www.aaii.com/sentimentsurvey
https://www.franklintempleton.com/forms-literature/download/SIRJT-POS
https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2014/07/11/what-do-you-call-a-group-of/
https://blog.oxforddictionaries.com/2012/08/09/collective-nouns/
https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2955455
https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/322407
https://books.google.com/books?id=p9UiDQAAQBAJ&pg=PT194&dq=stranger+in+a+strange+land+Long+human+words&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjunsfS0MreAhVrQt8KHVkbDbgQ6AEILTAB#v=onepage&q=stranger%20in%20a%20strange%20land%20Long%20human%20words&f=false (Page 167) (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/11-12-18_Book_Excerpt-Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land-Footnote_7.pdf)

 

November 5th Market Commentary

November 5, 2018

The Markets

Stocks recovered some ground last week and then stumbled over unemployment.

Major U.S. stock indices faltered Friday after the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported on a popular ‘lagging’ economic indicator – unemployment. (Remember, lagging indicators describe what has happened in the past.) The BLS reported:

“The unemployment rate remained at 3.7 percent in October, and the number of unemployed persons was little changed at 6.1 million. Over the year, the unemployment rate and the number of unemployed persons declined by 0.4 percentage point and 449,000, respectively.”

Reuters reported the number of Americans receiving unemployment benefits was at the lowest level in 45 years. That’s good news, but it’s old news. Again, unemployment is a lagging indicator and the report reflected what happened in October.

The stock market, on the other hand, is a ‘leading’ economic indicator. It moves in response to investors’ expectations for the future – and recent gyrations suggest investors aren’t certain what to think. Barron’s Daren Fonda wrote, “The market’s 6.9 percent slide in October and the stock averages’ wild swings are testing everyone’s mettle.”

Economists are uncertain about what’s to come, too. Kevin L. Kliesen, in an Economic Synopses on the St. Louis Federal Reserve website, wrote, “Historically, a trough in the unemployment rate also tends to be a reliable predictor of a business recession…an economic analyst is nonetheless never sure that a trough has occurred. Indeed, the unemployment rate can move up and down over the expansion.”

There is one thing many analysts think is likely. They expect the Federal Reserve to increase the Fed funds rate so the U.S. economy does not overheat. Paul Kiernan at The Wall Street Journal reported, “Robust hiring and wage gains last month leave the Federal Reserve all but certain to raise interest rates in December and on course to continue gradually lifting them next year.”

Higher interest rates are expected to keep inflation in check by slowing economic growth.

Despite Friday’s stumble, major U.S. stock indices finished the week higher.

HERE’S AN UNEXPECTED RETIREMENT SAVING TRICK. If you’re concerned your adult children are not saving enough for retirement, send them a photo of themselves that’s altered so they appear to be older, perhaps age 60 or 70. (You can do this for yourself, too.)

One reason Americans don’t begin saving early enough, or save as much as they should for retirement, is ‘present bias.’ When asked to choose between two possible rewards, research shows that people tend to choose the one that will be received sooner.

For instance, imagine you have chocolate and fruit salad. Which will you choose to eat today and which will you choose to eat next week? Researchers found that 83 percent of people chose chocolate today and fruit salad next week.

Try this one.

You can watch one movie today and another movie tomorrow. Your choices include ‘Anchorman,’ ‘Clear and Present Danger,’ ‘The Piano,’ and ‘Schindler’s List.’ What movie will you watch today? Which will you watch tomorrow?

Researchers found a higher percentage of participants chose to watch lighter films on the day they were asked and more intellectually taxing films later.

When presented with the choice to vacation today or save for retirement, it’s little surprise many people choose the former. The rewards associated with retirement are often far into the future. As a result, until a person is within a decade or so of retirement, it’s easy to rationalize spending on other things and not setting aside money for the future.

There is a way to overcome present bias. When people ‘get to know’ their older selves by spending time looking at altered photos, they tend to save more for the future.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“If we now care little about ourselves in the further future, our future selves are like future generations. We can affect them for the worse, and, because they do not now exist, they cannot defend themselves. Like future generations, future selves have no vote, so their interests need to be specially protected. Reconsider a boy who starts to smoke, knowing and hardly caring that this may cause him to suffer greatly fifty years later. This boy does not identify with his future self.”
--Derek Parfit, British philosopher

 

* These views are those of Carson Group Coaching, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Sources:
https://www.barrons.com/articles/stock-rally-fizzles-in-wake-of-strong-payrolls-report-1541201581?mod=hp_DAY_8 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/11-05-18_Barrons-Stock_Rally_Fizzles_in_Wake_of_Strong_Payrolls_Report-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/what-are-leading-lagging-and-coincident-indicators/
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.nr0.htm
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy-unemployment/u-s-labor-market-tightening-manufacturing-slowing-idUSKCN1N64XA
https://www.barrons.com/articles/stock-market-fear-1541091809?mod=hp_LEAD_3 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/11-05-18_Barrons-How_to_Take_Fear_Out_of_Your_Investing_Decisions-Footnote_5.pdf)
https://research.stlouisfed.org/publications/economic-synopses/2018/06/01/recession-signals-the-yield-curve-vs-unemployment-rate-troughs
https://www.wsj.com/articles/fed-will-likely-raise-rates-after-strong-jobs-report-1541176431 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/11-05-18_WSJ-Fed-Will_Likely_Raise_Rates_After_Strong_Jobs_Report-Footnote_7.pdf)
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-economy/u-s-job-growth-soars-annual-wage-gain-largest-since-2009-idUSKCN1N70AJ
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3949005/
https://www.behavioraleconomics.com/resources/mini-encyclopedia-of-be/present-bias/
https://canvas.harvard.edu/files/2761311/download?download_frd=1 (Pages 10, 14-16; Course taught by Brigitte C. Madrian, https://scholar.harvard.edu/bmadrian/classes/api-304-behavioral-economics-and-public-policy)
https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/2b03/cdc6119a5578cd284d8fe9de99e1f169a8fb.pdf (Pages 262-263, 265)
https://books.google.com/books?id=ulhHdvbDRUkC&pg=PA319&lpg=PA319&dq=If+we+now+care+little+about+ourselves+in+the+further+future,+our+future+selves+are+like+future+generations.+We+can+affect+them+for+the+worse,+and,+because+they+do+not+now+exist,+they+cannot+defend+themselves.+Like+future+generations,+future+selves+have+no+vote,+so+their+interests+need+to+be+specially+protected.&source=bl&ots=lVFartNzpF&sig=LgqLWOkCgwMIpj5ixgDFIqNMJuw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwil5t3plbbeAhVRmeAKHbX1AhYQ6AEwAHoECAAQAQ#v=onepage&q=319&f=false (pages 319-320) (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/11-05-18_Book_Excerpt-Reasons_and_Persons-Footnote_13.pdf)

 

October 29th Market Commentary

October 29, 2018

The Markets

Why did the stock market fall when the economy is doing well?

The answer is that one reflects the past and the other anticipates the future.

Last Friday’s advance estimate from the Bureau of Economic Analysis showed the U.S. economy grew 3.5 percent during the third quarter of 2018. Harriet Torry of The Wall Street Journal reported:

“The economy powered ahead in the third quarter, driven by robust consumer and government spending, though Friday’s report included warning signs that the business sector faces turbulence that could hold back the expansion in the months ahead.”

Third quarter’s economic growth was slower than economic growth during the second quarter and stronger than economic growth during the first quarter of 2018.

Economists refer to economic growth as a ‘lagging indicator.’ It is a measure that may help confirm longer-term trends, but offers little information about the future.

In contrast, the stock market is a ‘leading indicator.’ It reflects what investors think may happen over the next few weeks or months. The volatility we’ve seen during the past two weeks suggests investors are uncertain about what may be ahead. Many factors are contributing to uncertainty. For instance, investors are concerned:

• The U.S. economy may grow more slowly. Economic growth slowed during the third quarter and investors are uncertain whether the trend will continue through the remainder of 2018 and into 2019.

• Negative earnings guidance from companies. Corporate earnings growth was robust during the third quarter. Through Friday, almost one-half of companies in the Standard and Poor’s 500 Index had reported earnings and their blended earnings growth rate was 22.5 percent, according to FactSet. However, despite strong earnings growth, many companies’ shares lost value. One reason is a fair number of companies have issued negative guidance indicating earnings may be weaker in the future.

• Trade tensions could slow global growth. While trade disputes with Mexico and Canada have been resolved, trade issues between the United States and China remain. Al Root of Barron’s reported:

"Now, on third-quarter calls, companies have begun to spell out tariff impacts in greater detail. Calculating the ultimate impact of tariffs isn’t easy or precise. A fair calculation would include not only costs but also changes in demand and the possibility of supply-chain disruptions. The result could be significant. The International Monetary Fund lowered its global growth expectations when it released its recent outlook because of, in part, ‘escalating trade tensions.’

• Federal Reserve rate hikes could slow economic growth too quickly. The Fed has begun raising the Fed funds rates, encouraging interest rates higher, in an effort to keep inflation in check. Some are concerned the Fed may raise rates too quickly or too high and choke economic growth.

You have probably heard the saying, “Markets hate uncertainty.” Recent volatility seems to be the result of uncertainty and it is possible uncertainty will cause stock markets to bounce around for some time.

When stock markets are volatile and headlines describe the action with words like ‘plunge’ and ‘erase,’ it’s easy to let emotion get the better of you. Before making changes to your portfolio, please give us a call. We can discuss your concerns and any changes you would like to make to your long-term financial plan.

IS THAT A FACT? A recent Pew Research Center survey found younger people (ages 18 to 49) were better able to distinguish facts from opinions than older people.

Jeffrey Gottfried at Pew reported, “About a third of 18- to 49-year-olds (32 percent) correctly identified all five of the factual statements as factual, compared with two-in-ten among those ages 50 and older. A similar pattern emerges for the opinion statements. Among 18- to 49-year-olds, 44 percent correctly identified all five opinion statements as opinions, compared with 26 percent among those ages 50 and older.”

Pew concluded younger Americans, especially millennials, were better able to distinguish fact from opinion than older Americans because young people tend to be more digitally savvy and also tend not to have a strong affiliation to either political party.

If you’re ready to test your acumen, visit the Pew Research Center website and search for ‘Quiz: How well can you tell factual from opinion statements?’

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.”
--Thomas Jefferson, 3rd American President

 

* These views are those of Carson Group Coaching, and not the presenting Representative or the Representative’s Broker/Dealer, and should not be construed as investment advice.
* This newsletter was prepared by Carson Group Coaching. Carson Group Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Sources:
https://www.bea.gov/data/gdp/gross-domestic-product
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-economy-grew-at-3-5-rate-in-third-quarter-1540557378 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-29-18_WSJ-US_Economy_Grew_at_3.5_Percent_Rate_in_Third_Quarter-Footnote_2.pdf)
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/l/laggingindicator.asp
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/economics/08/leading-economic-indicators.asp
https://www.factset.com/hubfs/Resources%20Section/Research%20Desk/Earnings%20Insight/EarningsInsight_102618.pdf
https://www.barrons.com/articles/trade-war-hits-stock-market-1540493330?mod=hp_DAY_9 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/10-29-18_Barrons-Trumps_Trade_War_with_China_is_Starting_to_Hit_Home_for_More_Companies-Footnote_6.pdf)
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-front/2018/10/12/wessels-economic-update-are-the-feds-interest-rate-hikes-a-mistake/
http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/10/23/younger-americans-are-better-than-older-americans-at-telling-factual-news-statements-from-opinions/
http://www.pewresearch.org/quiz/news-statements-quiz/
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/thomas_jefferson_389008