Mike's Spotlight

A Contested US Election Result & Your Portfolio Webinar

The scenario of a contested US election can’t be ignored. So we’ve asked Neil McIver of McIver Capital Management, Michael’s feature guest on this weekend’s radio show, to put together a more comprehensive webinar presentation on potential portfolio strategies. It will take place next Thursday, September 17th at 6:00pm BUTaccess is limited so make sure you register as soon as possible.

CLICK HERE to reserve your spot

And we would also be remiss if we didn’t let people know that McIver Capital Management is, once again, accepting new clients.

The United States today not only looks ill, but dead broke.

 

Like in World War II, the United States is piling on debt to confront a whole-of-society crisis, raising the question of who will foot the bill in the long term. But, unlike the post-war era, the underlying conditions for robust economic recovery today are less than favorable, placing an even greater onus on wise policymaking.

The United States today not only looks ill, but dead broke. To offset the pandemic-induced “Great Cessation,” the US Federal Reserve and Congress have marshaled staggering sums of stimulus spending out of fear that the economy would otherwise plunge to 1930s soup-kitchen levels. The 2020 federal budget deficit will be around 18% of GDP, and the US debt-to-GDP ratio will soon hurdle over the 100% mark. Such figures have not been seen since Harry Truman sent B-29s to Japan to end World War II.  Full Story

 

The Risk Of Ignoring Risk

There remains an ongoing bullish bias that continues to support the market near-term. Bull markets built on “momentum” are very hard to kill. Warning signs can last longer than logic would predict. The risk comes when investors begin to “discount” the warnings and assume they are wrong.

It is usually just about then the inevitable correction occurs. Such is the inherent risk of ignoring risk.

In reality, there is little to lose by paying attention to “risk.”

If the warning signs do prove incorrect, it is a simple process to remove hedges, and reallocate back to equity risk accordingly.

However, if these warning signs do come to fruition, then a more conservative stance in portfolios will protect capital in the short-term. A reduction in volatility allows for a logical approach to making further adjustments as the correction becomes more apparent. (The goal is not to be forced into a “panic selling” situation.)

It also allows you the opportunity to follow the “Golden Investment Rule:” 

 “Buy low and sell high.” 

The Rules For A Sellable Rally

Retirement Confidence Decline

Despite the surging stock market from the March lows, trillions in liquidity support from the Fed, retirement confidence declined.

“Americans feel under-prepared for the financial realities of retirement, according to new data from Northwestern Mutual. Nearly eight in 10 (78%) Americans are “extremely” or “somewhat” concerned about affording a comfortable retirement. At the same time, two-thirds believe there is some likelihood of outliving retirement savings.”

Again, that was 2018.

Two years later, and with the market 22.5% higher, have things improved?   Full Story

 

With futures flat for much of the overnight session, markets needed that extra oomph to start the week and push them above a key psychological level, and they got that after news that Pfizer and German biotech BioNTech SE were granted fast track designation by the FDA for two of the companies’ four vaccine candidates against the coronavirus. The news, which is purely procedural and was expected all along, was misinterpreted by the market as if the two companies have a promising virus vaccine, and sent Pfizer shares 2%, while BioNTech jumped 5%. More importantly, the news was enough to push Eminis up more than 21 point and above 3,200 which will surely help the market’s mood ahead of tomorrow’s official start of Q2 earnings which are expected to be the worst since the financial crisis.

Results from big banks will be in focus this week. The April-June reports will reveal the extent of the damage wreaked by the coronavirus-induced lockdowns on corporate profits. With a record jump in cases in the United States and some other hotspots around the world, analysts have predicted a return to S&P 500 earning s growth only by 2022.   Full Story

 

Investing With Humility

In the midst of COVID-19, this year has presented many moments for us to reflect upon our health, our work, our human connections, and life in general. Six months ago, it was unimaginable that a novel virus could cause modern civilization to nearly stop on a dime. We have been humbled by mother nature and the idea of what was permanent or certain in our lives has been tested. This experience certainly challenges us to take a few steps back and look at the bigger picture in terms of life and our priorities. But despite these challenging times, the world will adapt as we always have, and this too shall pass.

The COVID-19 pandemic has no doubt created unprecedented times and much uncertainty with respect to our health and the global economy. Countries and governments around the world are having to balance between public health and the economy. It is natural to feel some level of discomfort investing in the current environment given the amount of uncertainty we are facing. Indeed, we are in a global war against a novel virus that the world is not well equipped to fight. Many lives have been lost to COVID-19, millions have lost jobs, businesses are at risk of shuttering, the travel and entertainment industries have come to a halt, and our social lives have been put on pause. There is considerable uncertainty about the duration and severity of the pandemic, including hotspots such as Brazil and India, a resurgence in several U.S. states (Florida, Arizona, Texas, California, and Georgia), and a potential second wave in the fall. Under these circumstances, it is easy to focus on the negatives, extrapolate forward, and formulate a pessimistic case for the markets.

Despite the dire state of the global economy, the market is not the economy. They are related, but not the same. The economy reflects the current reality, whereas the market is a probabilistic, forward-looking mechanism that balances both negative and positive aspects of the future. To have a balanced viewpoint, we must also consider the positives going forward.

So, what could the market be seeing as the positives?

  • A record amount of monetary and fiscal support from governments and central banks around the world is buying us time, while COVID-19 vaccines are being developed. As long as governments and central banks are willing to do whatever it takes to support their economies, the market will have a counter force against economic shutdowns.
  • COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record pace, with several vaccine candidates (such as Moderna’s mRNA-1273) entering phase 2 or phase 3 human trials in the second half of 2020. Dr. Anthony Fauci reiterated recently that based on current trial data, a vaccine is expected to be available at the end of 2020 or early 2021. The goal is to have multiple vaccines available to address the enormous demand globally.
  • While vaccines are in development, therapeutic drugs, such as Remdesivir and Dexamethasone, which have been proven to be relatively effective in lowering case fatality rates and reducing recovery times, are being used to treat COVID-19 patients currently.
  • Economies are slowly reopening in stages, giving rise to improving economic data. In particular, Asia and Europe have contained the coronavirus relatively well and are seeing economic activity normalize. The market tends to do well when economic data goes from very bad to less bad. Realistically, the reopening process will be a two-step forward, one-step back scenario as we monitor, learn, and adjust to the new normal.
  • Market data indicates that a lot of cash is still on the sidelines and many institutions are underweight equities.
  • Sentiment surveys show that many investors are not believing in this rally and are still bearish, which is often a contrarian indicator.

After experiencing the fastest bear market in history in the first quarter of 2020, financial markets, particularly in North America, produced the fastest recovery on record during the second quarter on the back of extraordinary stimulus and support from governments and global central banks (i.e. cutting interest rates and injecting trillions of stimulus money into the economies). The fact that the markets have been able to recover much of the decline in such a short period of time is telling us to keep an open mind for a better than expected future.

Please keep well and stay safe!

Ethan Dang, Portfolio Manager

McIver Capital Management at Canaccord Genuity