Note: This market review was published on January 23rd, 2018 and may not be reflective of current market or investing issues.
Rule No. 1 – Never Lose Money. Rule No. 2 – Never Forget Rule #1.
Rarely do I listen to the talking heads on the business channels. But when I do, or even when I listen to forecasts from money managers we know and trust, I am transported back to the late nineties. Back then all you heard was that “technology and the internet has created a new investing paradigm.” How could you not have all your money in stocks, stocks that had no earnings, but were grossly overvalued? There were a handful of excellent value managers during that time who refused to participate in the market frenzy, including the one quoted above. Many lost over 70% of their assets, or were fired, or both! Today, as markets head ever higher the phrase is that “there are strong earnings. Global markets are synchronized and the investing environment is good everywhere.” I just can’t figure out whether I’m in early 1997 or late 1999.
We do a lot of research at Longview. Mostly we concentrate on global economies, the global investing environment, asset allocation, what to buy, why to buy, what not to buy and on and on and on! Most economists we respect and follow think we are in the late stages of the economic cycle, meaning that we are much closer to the end of favorable markets than the beginning. But that is where their consensus ends. Some economists think this good investing environment could continue for several more years. Others see storm clouds on the horizon.
Our main investment objectives are two-fold: 1) not to permanently impair your capital and 2) help our clients accomplish their financial goals. We have done this over the years by growing assets when there is an appropriate environment and protecting assets when there is not. We are data dependent, hence all the research mentioned earlier. Eventually, we know we will have to transition from growth to protection. We are not there yet, maybe not even close. But we do think the global economy may transition into one that is much slower, similar to markets not seen for over fifty years. Please understand that “may transition” means that there are multiple future scenarios, and none knows exactly which scenario will appear. But we do think that there is a probability that the investment tools we now use could be exchanged for ones from a much different time, leading us to morph from grow to protect.