2019 Client Letters
View 2020 Monthly Client Letters here.
We’ll present our outlook for the coming year in our letter to you after the holidays. In the meantime, let’s set aside the swirl of the daily news and reflect on the values of family, friends, and faith, and appreciate and enjoy them.
Holy Expletive! I must have had a mild attack of Rip Van Winkle syndrome. I turned on TV the day after Halloween and there were Christmas shopping commercials! Had I slept through Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day?
During a very enjoyable dinner last week my friend and I carried on a wide ranging conversation that led to a discussion of old movies. Having recently watched one of my favorites from the ‘50s, ‘Harvey,’ I was lamenting the quality of current motion pictures and the computer generated special effects that seem ubiquitous—car crashes, explosions, mass battles, etc. when she told me that she watches only TMC.
Oh, my goodness, Henny Penny has returned! Only this time she is not running and yelling that the sky is falling. Nope, now she is frantically shouting that, “The yield curve has inverted and a recession is coming!!”
When the Fed lowered interest rates a quarter of a point, a figurative roar of approval went up from those who appreciate being able to take advantage of lower borrowing cost. Businesses needing funds for new equipment or expansion, consumers financing new cars, home buyers taking out mortgages---all benefited. A good thing.
Raymond and Mary were clients for years, going back to my days as a trust investment officer for a group of banks. At one of our meetings I commented that they were my oldest clients. With a wee grin Mary said, “I would prefer that you think of us as your clients of longest standing.”
A lady came in this morning to discuss using our investment management services. One of the first questions she asked, was, “Are you a fiduciary?”
Rather than simply write about indicators of the much-improved economy of the past couple of years, here are graphic depictions of two correlated aspects that reflect what has happened on a more personal level than is presented with such macro information as the balance of trade, GDP, oil prices, et.al.
Any day now the Mueller Report will come out, providing fodder for the media and politicians. Fact is, we think that the Mueller report will continue to puzzle, excite, anger, encourage, deflate, etc. the readers and viewers of the news, portending an extended period of political bashing and uncivilized discourse.
The economic outlook remains positive, although at a slower pace than last year. The markets continue unsettled, awaiting any news, especially concerning the trade battle between the U.S. and China and negotiations with North Korea that will remove the market’s most difficult status with which it often deals—uncertainty. Good news? Bad news? No problem: The markets function as a discounting mechanism in dealing with either. But uncertainty—meh!
If the market were a person, health care professionals might suggest treatment for schizophrenia, the patient having suffered the worst December performance since the Great Depression and then the best January in 32 years. But it’s not human, just a reflection of a mass of individuals and institutions responding, often irrationally lately, to news/rumors/whispers of the day.
As the markets in 2018 jumped, hopped, dove, ran, limped, raced, spiked, etc. toward December 31, we observed its erratic behavior and, as did many investors, wondered when it would end. When the algorithmic trading by the institutions and hedge funds would stop executing a ‘follow the leader—push the sell button’ method of trading, while ignoring the fundamental values that were being dragged lower. So good companies were not exempt from the selling.