The first quarter was unusual in that both stocks and bonds were down. In fact, government bonds experienced their worst quarter in nearly forty years, so even the usual protection that bonds provide in turbulent times did not play out well this time around. Starting in November, the markets have experienced draconian internal sector and style rotations as, or more extreme than anything I have seen in my 25-year career. Some indices experienced one of their worst starts to a year since the Great Depression, after already experiencing significant drawdowns in the months prior. Long-duration stocks, which are those where expected earnings and dividends are further in the future – this includes forward looking growth and disruptive innovation stocks – have been strongly sold off. As of this writing, the well-known ARK Innovation ETF, a proxy for the long-duration disruption innovation space, is down over 49% year-to-date after declining almost 25% in 2021.
Recently, Carnegie Investment Counsel Portfolio Manager/Regional Director Scott Inglis was a guest of Behind the Numbers, which is a podcast about the “real stories” behind business performance and valuation. Inglis talked with the host, valuation expert and bestselling author Dave Bookbinder. Scott provided detailed insights around demystifying noise in the market place”. Here’s an overview of the conversation.
The U.S. rejoined the 197-nation Paris Climate Accord. Under the accord, the U.S. has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% of 2003 levels. President Biden has also stated that his administration wishes to move the U.S. to net zero emissions by 2050.
There is a great deal of trepidation about the potential economic consequences surrounding this matter. The concern is that it will require a lowering of consumption in the U.S. and even our standard of life.
If these targets are not just posturing but serious goals, they may portend both large government spending and tax incentives. Rejoining the Paris Climate Accord may signify a historical capital spending boom by both government and private businesses.
Inflation is on the minds of many and there is no shortage of price increase anecdotes around the country. From commodities like iron ore and copper doubling in price, to paying MSRP for a year-old car, these observations of rising prices are coloring perceptions about general affordability, the dollar, the central bank and investments.
Whether we are experiencing inflation is not up for debate, however, the prospect of sustainable inflation is definitely debatable. Is it the ‘80s all over again? Can we objectively look at the pandemic-induced supply disruptions, a confluence of weather anomalies, lean manufacturing driven supply chain decisions and a Texas freeze, and call it a structural and sustainable inflation? Not really. At least, not yet.
Are we headed into a time of inflation? Many people and economists are debating this issue right now. In the “real world,” we’ve seen inflation in interesting areas such as Pokémon and NBA Top Shots trading “cards,” which had seen a spike up in prices earlier in the year. Housing prices are certainly rising. Plus, inflation is finding its way into commodities such as food inputs like soybeans, corn and more. Certainly, gas prices are higher at the pump than a year ago. And does it mean inflation is coming because of crazy high auction prices for things such as Jack Dorsey selling his first tweet ever as an NFT (non fungible token) for over $2.9 million?
The markets moved dramatically up and down in the third quarter, ending down. The volatility and decline seems out of sync with the U.S. economy which has continued to show growth, albeit without much in the way of animal spirits. The U.S. has a historically low unemployment rate, exhibits decent growth in consumer spending and shows improved housing prices and low inflation.
But, investors do not like uncertainty. A combination of factors and fears of the unknown appear to be at play. It is noted that the most dangerous times for financial markets is when “stories” become broken. A whole crop of stories broke down in the third quarter from “Invincible China” to “Energy Demand Always Growing Faster than Supplies.” This in turn has resulted in multiple levels of uncertainty:
The recent market sell-off has garnered quite a bit of attention, and we wanted to reach out to let you know our thoughts. We know this kind of market activity is unsettling. This current slide in equity prices feels particularly unpleasant, since the market has been mostly placid this year and has been on a steady advance the last six years.