Fortis Market Insights are meant to convey what we think are important business / market
events. Many firms share information from their “research directors”. We think hearing
directly from the people who manage the money and make the decisions can provide
some unique insights. We hope you enjoy.
TL:DR – 2018 was a bad year for almost every asset class. Rather than let the financial
media convince you a recession is around the corner, focus on what CEOs are
saying…and they are not saying a recession is around the corner.
2018 Wasn’t Historically Bad for Stocks But It Was For Diversification
Optimism is crucial to do well in the markets long-term. But some times and some years are just bad. 2018 - when it comes to the % of asset classes that have gone down last year - is historically bad. Investors generally have a mix of assets (stocks, bonds, commodities, etc.) that provide diversification and reduce volatility / risk to an extent. Not in 2018.
Almost everything was down in 2018: stocks, bonds, gold, oil - you pick it. We do think 2019 will be better for asset classes. If January is any indication, 2019 may be more “risk on”. And besides, look at 2017 (almost no asset classes were negative). If you average 2017 and 2018, say around 40% of asset classes negative, that’s a bit higher than average, but not the end of the world.
Recession, Recession, Recession
If we say it enough does it actually come true? Potentially…
Humans can be talked into something - we know that much is true… If we are told something over and over and over again (“inculcation”), eventually a lot of people come around to that idea.
The media needs juice, gossip, exciting things. The economy is growing at a steady 2-3% clip with tame inflation, solid employment, and significant less leverage is much less of an appealing story than:
“Does the stock market decline tell us the next big recession is on the way! 2008 all over again??? Tune in for Markets in Chaos tonight!!!”
There is inevitably someone willing to say that everything is about to fall apart. And it’s appealing to listen to them because it triggers your worst fears…all rationality starts to turn off and emotion takes over…because some guy/gal is spouting everyone’s worst fears that bad things might be coming.
Rather than listen to the media, I’d rather listen to the people running the most important businesses in the world. These are straight shooters who are very rich, very secure in their jobs, and historically honest.
Warren Buffett tends to be everyone’s favorite because he is the richest and outwardly humble. He also has access to more data on the US economy through his hundreds of owned businesses, from utilities to insurance to homebuilders to railroads to you name it, he probably touches it somehow. He said in May he thought we were in the 6thinning of the expansion….that’s a long way to go still.
So don’t let the media tell you what’s going on…take it straight from those running the businesses…and they say carry on.
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