Jefferson V. DeAngelis, CFA®
President and Chief Investment Officer
By their very nature, so-called black swan events are difficult to prepare for given their rarity and unpredictability. Their uncertainty makes risk assessment daunting.
Today, it is abundantly clear that the outbreak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is dramatically impacting our daily lives and the economy at large. It is easy to overreact to the volatility of financial markets. Yet, the end of the world only occurs once, and this most likely is not it.
Asset markets have experienced unprecedented growth since the financial crisis as central banks globally attempted to offset deflationary trends through massive injections of liquidity. In effect, their actions have prevented or delayed a default cycle.
Although likely not the first movie on your list of holiday favorites, Trading Places has developed a Christmas cult following. While worth a watch this time of year, the broad theme of the film - literally trading places - seems to be occurring across the global economy. In some cases, countries are being much more forceful in bringing about this change.
It is difficult to argue that the digital revolution hasn’t improved most people’s standard of living. The tremendous breakthroughs in computing and communications technologies have forever altered our daily interactions....Despite our growing obsession with bits and bytes, the drive to a digital world hasn’t wholly displaced the analog world.
In July, Mad Magazine announced it would cease publication after 67 years. While the magazine might be ending, the image of its iconic mascot, Alfred E. Neuman, will live on for years to come. In many ways, the character with his gap-tooth, carefree smile as the world around him is collapsing epitomizes current market reactions to recent negative headlines.
Economically speaking, Western civilization might be engaged in the most elusive search since the fabled quest by King Arthur’s knights to find the Holy Grail. Today’s investors face a no less formidable or elusive quest. Investors are desperate to seek out quality sources of income at a time when central banks are intent on undermining them.
The phrase “batten down the hatches” has nautical roots. The captain had complete control of the timing of readying the ship for the storm. Captain Donald Trump would like the same discretion over the timing and actions of the Fed, although he is unlikely to get it.
Here in Milwaukee, the Fourth of July is kicked off every July 3 with a large-scale fireworks show held on the lakefront. The panoramic backdrop makes for quite a show in the night sky. Looking through the fireworks induced haze marking the celebration of another Fourth of July, I was struck by the parallels between staging a successful fireworks show and managing the current economic cycle.
The ongoing trade war between China and the United States is exposing their opposing worldviews. The Chinese government prefers to control production whereas the US authorities find it easier to promote demand.