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Market Snapshot – March 9th, 2020

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Weekly Market Snapshot – March 9th, 2020

The Perfect Storm

I consider myself an optimist, Natalie, my wife, considers herself a realist. With that in mind, we would like to share some ”real” observations from an optimistic person. Warning, the following may sound pessimistic.

What has been brewing in the economy has the potential to be a “perfect storm”…what do I mean? Below are some highlights of economic and market conditions leading up to and currently in place today:

  • Corporate debt- Over the past ten years, as we’ve all enjoyed lower interest rates, corporate America has loaded up on cheap debt. Much of this debt was used to buy back their own stocks (at expensive prices), which is used to financially “engineer” higher earnings per share. Think of this as you refinancing your house, taking the cash out to buy stocks (at all-time highs) and paying a small interest rate. This works well when stocks are going straight up and you can make a nice arbitrage. It doesn’t work so well when stocks fall and you still owe on the debt. Another concern is that 20 years ago, of the companies whose debt was considered investment grade (higher quality) only 17% of these companies were rated BBB (lowest rating of what is considered investment grade). Today, well over 50% of investment grade bonds are rated BBB, thus the credit ratings of companies have decreased during good economic times (20% of the decline coming during the economic recovery the past 11 years). See link here. Interestingly, the interest rate paid by these companies have fallen, while their credit ratings have worsened. Does that make sense? I’ll come back to this later as rates are rapidly increasing now.
  • Liquidity- Since September 2019 the Federal Reserve has had to provide liquidity to the Repo market (overnight and short-term loans banks provide to other banks). As a result of liquidity shortfalls, interest rates spiked from 2% to 10% last September. I won’t pretend to know exactly how this market works, just know, it is another red flag that the internal plumbing of the financial system has some cracks.
  • Growth slowing- Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, we had been in a period of 12-18 months of deceleration in economic growth. We were still growing, just at a slower pace. Employment, personal income, and consumption were still growing, although the growth rate was trending downward for all three.  Manufacturing both in the US and globally had gone into negative or contraction. However, there were early signs that this trend was going to reverse back to accelerating growth. The economy was at a tipping point; it would rebound from 18 months of declining growth and extend the economic expansion or fall into a recession.
  • Stock Valuations- Regardless of which valuation measurement you use, it seems the consensus view has been that stocks have been overvalued (expensive).
  • Government debt- As a country increases their debt, the impact to stimulate the economy becomes less effective and ultimately causes a strain on the economy, because repayment (even with low interest rates) drag on future growth. The US and countries around the world are at their highest levels of debt throughout history causing a drag on growth.
  • Election year- Enough said!
  • Complacency- There has been a lack of volatility in recent past. All of the issues above have been known for some time without any apparent concern (at least in the stock market until the past three weeks).
  • Newer News: We had a new strain of the coronavirus, COVID-19 impact and spread throughout the globe, with over 118,000 cases and 4,267 death’s worldwide as of 3/10/2020.  The actual impact of the disease was not as concerning as the uncertainty surrounding the economic effects, which seemed to be causing a significant and noticeable slow-down in China.  Current containment measures in Italy are showing similar worrisome signs for economic growth and leading many to question about what impact this may have on the rest of the globe as the disease spreads.
  • Newest News:Oil dropped due to an expected global economic slowdown and a price war between oil producers causing prices to plummet.

If you look at the number of infected persons in Italy, currently 167.9 people per million in population, we could end up with almost 55,000 infected people in the US (as of today we are just over 1,000). Lets take out the sensitive, human impact for a minute (I know these are human beings, children of God, I’m not trying to diminish that) and look at this only from a financial perspective. Common sense says the health risk is less serious than many other risks, for example: the flu, drugs, driving a car, etc. However the financial impact is significant because of the human reaction: events canceled, travel restricted, social distancing, etc. We have already seen major changes, some temporary and some may become permanent. This is where the reality and uncertainties come into play. Sure, if the virus scare is very short lived, we can go back to our lives as normal and potentially ignore many of the conditions mentioned above. Or the virus could be the excuse to start dealing with the reality of the other issues we are facing, as well as the new issues that may arise such as, corporations paying more for their financing, less corporate stock buy-backs, more pressure on corporate profits, layoffs, and then a recession. We don’t know what our new reality may be with regard to our jobs, future viruses, travel, work places, etc. or if there will be a new reality.

The combination of these factors has created a “perfect storm” and has led to wild market swings and uncertainty in the financial markets overall. The bond market is pricing in (predicting) a bad recession as US government bond rates have fallen to historic lows again, below 1%, an all-time low as of Monday. Meanwhile the cost of borrowing for companies is spiking as risk concerns resurface.

One bright side of this market turmoil is very low mortgage rates. In the past two weeks, most lenders have taken as many applications as they did in the entire year of 2019. You may want to consider starting an application to reduce your interest rate…rates are unpredictable as lenders are dealing with crazy volume, so be patient and only refinance if the rate and transaction work for you.

Surprises leads to panic, and panic leads to rapid price moves, which leads to opportunity (the optimist). After the storm, this too shall pass. We have taken measures over the last few days and months to be more conservative and defensive. Don’t panic, we will do our best to guide you through the perfect storm.

Sam Tenney, CFP & Lorie Jones, CFP

  • Tuesday, March 3rd, The Federal Reserve issued an emergency rate cut of 50 basis points. This is the largest rate cut to happen since 2008, and the first emergency rate cut since the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. ¹
  • US Government 10-year bonds have hit all time low yields of 0.55% as of Monday, March 9th. An extremely low yield like this may signal a flight to quality assets, an expectation of low inflation, and extremely thin risk premium taking.²
  • Monday, March 9th, the S&P 500 index declined 7% within the first 5 minutes of market open. This triggered a market-wide circuit breaker, which halts trading for 15 minutes. This is the first circuit breaker event to happen since December of 2008. The corona-virus continues to be a major contributor the decline in markets.³
  • Crude oil prices on March 9th had the largest single day price drop since 1991, losing 26% of its value, at $30.98 a barrel. Refusals to limit production by OPEC (mainly Saudi Arabia and Russia) have been the main driver behind this fall in oil’s price. This volatility in oil prices is adding an additional degree of uncertainty into markets.

SOURCES

1. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/03/03/economy-coronavirus-r…

2. https://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-year-treasury-yield-falls-to-all-ti…

3. https://finance.yahoo.com/news/rout-u-stock-futures-trigger-221631295.html

4. https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/08/investing/oil-prices-crash-opec-russia-sa…

Please note by using any of the links provided for your convenience, you will be leaving Fidelis Wealth Advisors website. The hyperlinks are to websites and servers maintained by third parties. We do not control, evaluate, endorse, or guarantee content found in those sites. Your use of such sites is at your own risk.

This blog is general communication being provided for informational purposes only.  This information is in no way a solicitation or offer to sell securities or investment advisory services.  It is educational in nature and not to be taken as advice or a recommendation for any specific investment product or investment strategy.  This does not contain sufficient information to support an investment decision.  Any investment or investment strategy mentioned may not be suitable for all investors or in their best interest.   Statistical information, quotes, charts, references to articles or any other quoted statement or statements regarding market or other financial information is obtained from sources which we believe reliable, but we do not warrant or guarantee the timeliness or accuracy of this information. All rights are reserved.  No part of this blog including text, graphics, et al, may be reproduced or copied in any format, electronic, print, et al, without written consent from Fidelis Wealth Advisors, LLC. Fidelis Wealth Advisors does not provide legal or tax advice.  Please be advised to consult with your investment advisor, attorney or tax professional before making any investment decisions.

Nancy Tagovailoa

PROFESSIONAL

Nancy has worked in the financial services industry for the past 25 years.  She is passionate about providing an unforgettable customer experience throughout onboarding, account opening and throughout the relationship.  Nancy works hard to make the client experience as easy and efficient as possible.

 

PERSONAL

Nancy was born in Norfolk, Nebraska, but has been in Colorado since she was 6 months old so considers herself a native.   In her free time, she enjoys gardening, painting, and spending time with her family and grandchildren.  Nancy lives in Centennial, Colorado with her husband, Lima.

Karley Winder

PROFESSIONAL
Karley Winder recently joined Fidelis Wealth Advisors as an intern. She is an undergraduate at Arapahoe Community College and is soon transferring to University of Colorado Denver business school to earn her Bachelor’s in Financial Management. Karley also has several years of entrepreneurial experience from starting her own local businesses. She has sincere interest in the field of finance and is eager to gain experience.

PERSONAL

Karley is a Colorado native and has lived in Castle Rock since she was a young girl. She enjoys horseback riding, Pilates, and mountain biking in her free time.

Rilee Erickson

PROFESSIONAL
Rilee comes to Fidelis Wealth Advisors with a background in Financial Services, having previous experience in property and casualty insurance, as well as life insurance. Rilee graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Science in Agribusiness and Horticulture Sciences. Rilee’s passion is helping people protect their family and their future.

 

PERSONAL
Rilee is a Wyoming native and resides in Big Piney, Wyoming with her husband and two boys. Rilee enjoys spending a lot of time outdoors and exploring the beautiful and rugged Wyoming Range.

Skye Fineran

PROFESSIONAL
Skye comes to Fidelis Wealth Advisors as an Administrative Assistant in 2021 and is a recent graduate from West Texas A&M University. There she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Management. Skye also completed Amarillo College’s paralegal certification program. Skye enjoys the rewarding feeling of helping clients to achieve their financial goals and looks forward to making a difference at Fidelis Wealth Advisors.

 

PERSONAL
Skye grew up in Tecumseh, Michigan and currently resides in Castle Rock, Colorado with her family. Skye loves art history, playing golf, and spending time with her family and friends.

RIA Innovations

Fidelis Wealth Advisors has a strategic partnership with RIA Innovations, a Division of NWAM, LLC. RIA Innovations provides administrative support services for registered investment advisors nationwide. This service is under the direction of Nelly Mubashi, the Chief Operating Officer.

 

NWAM, LLC, dba Northwest Asset Management & RIA Innovations is an SEC registered investment adviser. NWAM, LLC dba Northwest Asset Management & RIA Innovations and Fidelis Wealth Advisors, LLC are not affiliated companies.

Gabriel Jones

PROFESSIONAL
Gabe started with Fidelis Wealth Advisors as an Investment Research Assistant in 2018, and has an intense passion for investment research.


PERSONAL
Gabe is currently in college to obtain his Bachelors in Finance, and enjoys spending time outside of work hiking and reading.

Dawn Folmer

PROFESSIONAL
Dawn Folmer comes to Fidelis Wealth Advisors with a background in the finance industry, having previous experience with a registered investment advisory firm in Denver. Dawn is a recent graduate of Colorado State University Global, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Leadership. As a skilled financial planning assistant, she enjoys the rewarding feeling of helping people reach their financial dreams and retirement goals.

 

PERSONAL
Dawn is a Colorado native and resides in Castle Rock with her family, where they enjoy being adventurous and active in the outdoors. Additionally, she is passionate about travel, food, and playing golf.

Jeff Bullock

PROFESSIONAL
Jeff joined Fidelis Wealth Advisors after spending nearly 10 years working at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management in their Private Bank. As Chief Investment Officer, he is responsible for the overall investment strategy, portfolio construction, and market insights for clients.

 

Jeff held various roles during his decade at J.P. Morgan, including working as an investment specialist on their trading desk, where he was responsible for managing and trading investment portfolios for High Net-Worth families and non-profit foundations throughout the Rocky Mountain region. Jeff helped co-manage over $4.0 billion of investment assets and gained broad experience in portfolio construction and investment strategy, as well as in-depth knowledge in a variety of asset classes and markets. In recent years, Jeff was part of the leadership team that trained new advisors and established an expansion office in Utah.

 

Jeff loves helping people with their money-related questions and management. Very simply, his goal is to help others continuously improve their financial situation, regardless of the current condition. His framework centers around sound advice and proper decision-making by engaging in honest discussion and taking a long-term approach.

 

PERSONAL
Jeff holds a B.S. in Accounting from Brigham Young University. He is a native to Colorado and loves playing golf and being outdoors. He lives in Highlands Ranch with his wife Nicole, and their two children.

Lorie C. Jones, MBA, CFP®

PROFESSIONAL
Lorie began working in financial services in 2013 with a Registered Investment Advisory firm in South Denver. She started as a paraplanner and provided technology and operations support before transitioning to a Client Services Manager role with Empower Retirement. There she managed a book of 300+ Core Market plans before joining Fidelis Wealth Advisors.


Lorie enjoys the challenges presented by financial planning and is rewarded by helping clients thoroughly understand the complexities of finance so they can be better informed and in control of their planning.


In addition to securities licenses, she holds health, life, accident, property, and casualty insurance licenses in the state of Colorado and completed her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation from the CFP® Board of Standards. She is also a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).


PERSONAL
Lorie graduated from Colorado State University with an MBA. She enjoys running and has participated in several marathons and half-marathons around the country. She also enjoys hiking with her family, traveling with her husband David and their five children, and working with the cub scout and boy scout programs, including volunteering with the district.