The joint investment committee of Horizon and Impel Wealth Management met yesterday afternoon. After suffering through the worst December since 1931, which caused significant fear and panic within financial markets, we subsequently rebounded to have the best January since 1987.
As recently as July/August 2018, there was concern that the US economy was growing too quickly, and could potentially overheat, causing significant inflation. This in turn, would cause the Federal Reserve Bank to raise interest rates aggressively. Historically, when the Fed raises interest rates in such a manner, the end result is eventually a recession.
Within just a few months, the concerns shifted to the economy slowing too rapidly and heading into recession. These fears were exacerbated by a number of items including the results of the midterm election which left Congress in a state of gridlock, meaning there will likely be no more stimulative tax or economic policies coming from Capitol Hill. In addition to this were frustrations around the government shut down, the ongoing trade/tariff battles with China, and uncertainty about how quickly the Fed would continue to raise interest rates.
Recent comments from Chairman Jerome Powell stating that the Federal Reserve would take more of a wait-and-see approach before raising interest rates again, progress on the potential trade/tariff agreement with China and the relatively strong jobs report have caused people to be less pessimistic about the current state of the economy. The January jobs report showed over 300,000 new jobs created. We have also seen the labor participation rate rise each of the last two months, a sign that discouraged workers are now starting to come back to the market and look at new job openings. As consumer spending drives nearly 70% of economic activity, new jobs bode well for retail sales, new home and car sales, and other economic activity.
The committee reviewed recent comments from the seven economic and markets strategist teams we follow. While most of the economic teams recognize that we are in the latter stages of an economic recovery and growth cycle that started in 2009, they generally recognize that we are not at the end of the cycle, yet. From a technical standpoint, the recent market rebound has pushed the S&P 500 above its 50-day moving average, and towards the 200 day moving average. These much followed and psychologically important levels will be critical to watch in the coming days. If we happen to break to the upside, it would give us some level of technical support going forward. The committee will continue to monitor these levels and data points.
This cautiously optimistic tone leads the committee to believe that we should stay reasonably allocated and diversified in our target portfolios for the current calendar year. Therefore, the committee is making no additional changes to our model portfolios at the present time. The adjustments that were made towards the end of the year have worked well and our model portfolios have outperformed the risk adjusted benchmarks over the last one, three and five years. We remind our clients that have short-term or monthly cash needs that the recent upturn has given us an opportunity to create the funds needed at a better time/price than year end. Please let us know if you have questions about your particular situation.
Should you have any questions regarding these notes, please do not hesitate to contact your advisor. We thank you for your continued trust and support of our investment committee and management process. We take this responsibility seriously as we try to help you, our friends and clients, reach your financial planning and investment goals.