Should Investors Worry About Impeachment?

Tweets and speeches don’t drive the stock markets – numbers do

It’s now clear that the investigations into President Trump are likely to continue through the 2020 elections. What’s still uncertain is the impact that these investigations will have on the stock market.
After rallying since Trump’s election victory in November 2016, the S&P 500 Index has done pretty well, but it has stumbled at times too:

• Ending 2016 up 9.54%;
• Zooming up 19.42% in 2017;
• Dropping 6.24% in 2018; and
• Up more than 18% so far year-to-date at the end of the third-quarter in 2019.

Although stocks have rewarded investors with healthy returns, investors seem more nervous that Trump will be impeached because not only will his pro-business agenda be stalled, but the chaos could send the markets into a tailspin. At least that’s the worry.
And although no one has a crystal ball to tell us how the Trump investigations will end, investors would be smart to tune them out. Here are a few reasons why.

Economics Matter More than Tweets

Economics and numbers matter way more than politics to the stock market. Trump’s tweets and speeches get all the media attention, and while the market might seem to react a little bit at times, the reality is that boring economic numbers drive the markets one way or the other. And consider these numbers:

• Unemployment is at 3.7%, one-tenth of a percent from the lowest level in over 50 years.
• We have seen 107 consecutive months of job growth, the longest streak ever.
• Wages have risen 3.2% this year, the strongest year in over a decade.
• Inflation has run below the Fed’s intended longer-term 2% target for most of this 10-year expansion and core inflation has averaged 2.1% so far this year.
• Consumer spending came in much higher than expected with a 4.7% annualized growth number, the highest gain in 4 years.

Impeachment is Unlikely Anyway

Investors should remember that impeachment is very unlikely as no U.S. president has ever been impeached and kicked out of office.
Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton were both impeached, but they were acquitted in the Senate, where a two-thirds majority is required for conviction. Richard Nixon avoided impeachment and conviction only by resigning office.

Earnings Drive Stock Prices

What should investors worry about? Numbers. Specifically, corporate earnings.

It’s an investing adage that earnings are the lifeblood of the stock market. Stocks move in response to real or perceived earnings changes. If you are thinking of owning individual stocks, the trick is to find those whose earnings growth is strong, and should remain strong.
In aggregate, however, investors should worry about the upcoming earnings season as we head into the fourth quarter of 2019. Because according to research firm FactSet, as of September 27, 2019, 113 of the S&P 500 companies have issued EPS (earnings-per-share) guidance for the quarter.

And of these 113 companies, 82 have issued negative EPS guidance and 31 companies have issued positive EPS guidance. For perspective, the number of companies issuing negative EPS is above the 5-year average of 74.

Ignore Tweets and Speeches

Again, Trump’s tweets and speeches will continue to get all the media attention. But if you intend to own publicly-traded companies, make sure you read annual reports and earnings releases, not tweets.

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. This material and information are not intended to provide tax or legal advice.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. 

The Asset Allocation Puzzle

Possessing a considerable amount of knowledge about stocks, bonds, and cash is only a small part of the investment planning process. Many investors are under the false notion that the greatest determinant of
portfolio performance is the specific investment choices they make. Actually, the biggest decision you will make is how much to allocate to different investment categories.

Asset allocation is all about finding the mix of investments that is right for your situation. Goals, time horizon, risk tolerance and risk capacity are some of the key factors that should be considered when allocating assets.

Goals

Determining what asset allocation is appropriate depends largely on the goals you seek to achieve. Are you saving for retirement, college education for your children, or a vacation home? Each goal must be considered in creating the appropriate asset mix.

Time horizon

Time horizon is the length of time a portfolio will remain invested before withdrawals are made. If your investment horizon is fairly short, you’d likely want a more conservative portfolio—one with returns that do not fluctuate much. If your investment horizon is longer, you could invest more aggressively.

Risk Tolerance

Everyone has a different emotional reaction to sudden changes in their portfolio value. Some people have trouble sleeping at night, while others are unfazed by fluctuations in the market. Risk tolerance is a personal preference and should be tailored to you specifically. However, when determining an appropriate asset allocation mix, it is important to consider not only one’s risk tolerance, but also one’s risk capacity.

Risk Capacity

An investor’s risk tolerance refers to his or her aversion to risk, while an investor’s risk capacity relates to his or her ability to assume risk. Sometimes, an investor’s risk capacity and risk tolerance do not match
up. If an investor’s capacity to take risk is low but the risk tolerance is high, then the portfolio should be reallocated more conservatively to prevent taking unnecessary risk. On the other hand, if an investor’s risk capacity is high but the risk tolerance is low, reallocating the portfolio more aggressively may be necessary to meet future return goals. In either
case, speaking with a financial advisor may help to determine if your risk tolerance and risk capacity are in sync.

Have questions or need a second opinion? Contact us today to learn more or to schedule a free consultation.

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. This material and information are not intended to provide tax or legal advice.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.

January FOMC Meeting: A pause, but (probably) not the end of tightening

Leading into the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) decision, Chair Jerome Powell and many of the regional Federal Reserve (the Fed) bank presidents had unanimously expressed support for a pause in the Fed’s tightening cycle. Even Esther George, from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, advocated for a patient approach to monetary policy in her speech a few weeks ago.

In a press conference following the conclusion of the FOMC meeting, Powell stuck to the script and emphasized the Fed is waiting patiently to see how the economy evolves. The January statement removed the reference to further gradual increases, scrapped the central bank’s assessment that risks to the economic outlook are roughly balanced (hinting that they are skewing slightly to the downside now), and noted that inflationary pressures are muted. Translation: the Fed is on hold until at least June. The battery of dovish tweaks to the Fed’s guidance was enough to lift U.S. equities in the minutes following the announcement.

The cause for the pause: Downside risks

It’s important to remember that the cause for the pause is most likely about emergent downside risks to both the U.S. and global economic outlook. While the Fed still expects a strong economy in 2019, the recent volatility in financial markets, the slowing in global growth, and sharp declines in measures of U.S. consumer and business confidence have all eroded the central bank’s conviction in that baseline somewhat.

A Message From Your Portfolio Managers

Volatility will always be around on Wall Street, and as you invest for the long term, you must learn to tolerate it. Rocky moments, fortunately, are not the norm.

Since the end of World War II, there have been dozens of Wall Street shocks. Wall Street has seen 56 pullbacks (retreats of 5-9.99%) in the past 73 years; the S&P index dipped 6.9% in this last one. On average, the benchmark fully rebounded from these pullbacks within two months. The S&P has also seen 22 corrections (descents of 10-19.99%) and 12 bear markets (falls of 20% or more) in the post-WWII era.

Even with all those setbacks, the S&P has grown exponentially larger. During the month World War II ended (September 1945), its closing price hovered around 16. At this writing, it is above 2,750. Those two numbers communicate the value of staying invested for the long run.

 This current bull market has witnessed five corrections, and nearly a sixth (a 9.8% pullback in 2011, a year that also saw a 19.4% correction). It has risen roughly 335% since its beginning even with those stumbles. Investors who stayed in equities through those downturns watched the major indices soar to all-time highs.

 As all this history shows, waiting out the shocks may be highly worthwhile. The alternative is trying to time the market. That can be a fool’s errand. To succeed at market timing, investors have to be right twice, which is a tall order. Instead of selling in response to paper losses, perhaps they should respond to the fear of missing out on great gains during a recovery and hang on through the choppiness.

After all, volatility creates buying opportunities. Shares of quality companies are suddenly available at a discount. Investors effectively pay a lower average cost per share to obtain them.

 Bad market days shock us because they are uncommon. If pullbacks or corrections occurred regularly, they would discourage many of us from investing in equities; we would look elsewhere to try and build wealth. A decade ago, in the middle of the terrible 2007-09 bear market, some investors convinced themselves that bad days were becoming the new normal. History proved them wrong.

As you ride out this current outbreak of volatility, keep two things in mind. One, your time horizon. You are investing for goals that may be five, ten, twenty, or thirty years in the future. One bad market week, month, or year is but a blip on that timeline and is unlikely to have a severe impact on your long-run asset accumulation strategy. Two, remember that there have been more good days on Wall Street than bad ones. The S&P 500 rose in 53.7% of its trading sessions during the years 1950-2017, and it advanced in 68 of the 92 years ending in 2017.3,4

 Sudden volatility should not lead you to exit the market. If you react anxiously and move out of equities in response to short-term downturns, you may impede your progress toward your long-term goals.  We are continually monitoring and evaluating your portfolio and will make adjustments when necessary.

Thank you for your trust,

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC

News by the Numbers

Five noteworthy figures from the previous week

$60 billion
The amount of Chinese imports to the U.S. that may soon face tariffs.

Following up on the newly imposed excise taxes for imported aluminum and steel, the Trump administration plans a second round of taxes on as much as $60 billion worth of Chinese goods heading to the U.S. The list of specific products subject to the tariffs may not be finalized until May.

Source: Washington Post

 

3
Consecutive months that new home sales have fallen.

Economists surveyed by Reuters expected a 4.4% rise in sales for February, not the 0.6% decline that the Census Bureau announced Friday. At $326,800, the median price of a new home last month was 9.7% higher than it was a year earlier.

Source: Reuters

 

197,000
Net monthly job growth since the Federal Reserve began tightening at the end of 2015.

The central bank has gradually increased the benchmark interest rate with the belief that the economy is strong enough to tolerate such policy change. The economic gains recorded since then have affirmed the Fed’s view.

Source: New York Times

 

62%
The percentage of Americans unaware that the Fed raised interest rates in 2017.

Conducting a survey on behalf of personal finance website NerdWallet, the Harris Poll garnered this result; they surveyed 2,000 U.S. adults who were at least 18 years old.

Source: Detroit Free Press

 

4.75%
The new prime lending rate at most major banks.

This was 4.5% prior to last week’s Federal Reserve interest rate move. The prime loan rate rises or falls in step with changes in the federal funds rate, and it is the base rate that banks use to set interest rates on short-term commercial and consumer loans.

Source: Business Insider