What’s your jam?
When you think of fun, are you running an Arctic marathon? Biking to your favorite burger place? Gaming with friends online? Each has inherent risk: Polar bears and hypothermia, traffic and flat tires, and viruses and identity theft. Those who enjoy these activities, understand the possible risks and manage them.
Investing is similar. Investors are willing to take on risk to achieve their long-term financial goals, but not everyone manages it in the same way. Some people are willing to embrace risk, and others prefer a less adventurous option. While it’s not possible to completely eliminate the risks associated with investing, it is possible to manage investment risk with asset allocation, diversification, and other strategies.
Last week, investors responded to the uncertainty created by bank closures in a variety of ways. Some sold assets they felt had too much risk for the current market environment, opting for sectors and industries that have historically shown resilience during economic slowdowns. Others snapped up investments at discounted prices, reported Ryan Ermey of CNBC. Some investors did nothing.
“The smartest thing to do when you have a lot of uncertainty is to sit back and gather information and do your analysis and not jump trying to make big changes,” stated a source cited by Lu Wang and Isabelle Lee of Bloomberg.
Uncertainty is likely to persist as economists and analysts assess how the American economy may be affected. “Banking panics aren’t something to be trifled with. As Fed Chairman Jerome Powell acknowledged on Wednesday, the latest one is sure to slow the economy…The problem, however, isn’t the possibility of more bank failures. It’s that banks are likely to curtail lending—lending they had already started to limit,” reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.
As bank lending tightens, economic growth in the United States will probably slow. When it becomes more difficult for households and businesses to get credit, consumer spending tends to fall. Since consumer spending is the primary driver of economic growth in the U.S., the economy is likely to be affected and we may enter a recession, reported Rich Miller of Bloomberg.
Major U.S. indices finished the week higher, while U.S. Treasury yields rose before retreating again.
If you are feeling unsettled by market volatility, get in touch. We can review your goals and allocations to make sure they’re aligned.
Unknowns and uncertainty.
Financial markets were volatile last week as investors parsed the risks around bank closures, central banks offered additional protections for depositors, and regulators took a harder look at bank balance sheets.
“For much of last year, volatility was elevated, but the risks were somewhat ‘known’ (chiefly inflation and recession)…Now, the introduction of the banking crisis has created a new unknown, which could ultimately mean a sharper increase in volatility (if worse than expected) or a quick reprieve (if fears prove unfounded),” opined a source cited by Nicholas Jasinski of Barron’s.
Unknown risks create uncertainty, and you know what they say about markets and uncertainty.
Yields on Treasuries dropped sharply as investors sought opportunities they perceived to be safe, reported Lawrence C. Strauss of Barron’s. The yield on the two-year U.S. Treasury dropped from 4.6 percent to 3.8 percent, and the yield on the 30-year U.S. Treasury fell from 3.7 percent to 3.6 percent.
While Treasuries are considered to be quite safe, one lesson from recent events is that there are circumstances in which even safe-haven investments may produce a loss. For example, in general, bonds expose investors to interest-rate risk. When interest rates rise, the value of bonds falls. If a bondholder must sell a bond before it matures, the seller may realize a loss.
In stock markets, bearish sentiment was high. Almost half (48.4 percent) of participants in the AAII Survey of Investor Sentiment were bearish. That’s well above the historic average of 31.0 percent. In contrast, just about one-fifth (19.2 percent) were bullish. That’s well below the historic average, which is 37.5 percent. The Survey of Investor Sentiment is widely considered to be a contrarian indicator and, in general, the market moves in opposition to contrarian indicators.
Despite investor pessimism, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Nasdaq Composite finished the week higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished slightly lower.
Markets are likely to remain volatile this week. If you find yourself wondering how short-term market fluctuations may affect your long-term financial goals, get in touch. We’re happy to talk about any concerns.