2023 Third Quarter Insights
The 4 Disciplines of Investing for Retirement and Wealth Creation
1. “Investing is a marathon and not a sprint.”
2. “Do no harm.”
3. “Knowledge creates success; stay calm, objective and long-term oriented.”
4. “Choose carefully what you read and to whom you listen.”
“Do the job right the first time, so you do not have to come back a second time.”
– Nicolino Sergio
On June 1st, 2023, we lost my father at the age of 84 after a multi-month battle with health issues. My father was a proud man, immigrating here from Italy as a young man with nothing but a few dollars, a 6th grade education and a few skill traits in construction. He worked diligently to learn English, educated himself, labored long hours for the Plasterer’s Union and started a family. When I was just a baby, he started his own business and worked for several decades in the ceramic tile, marble, and plastering business in Northern New Jersey. As a young boy, I often accompanied him on long 10-hour days, performing various labor-intensive tasks. We worked long hot days in the summer and freezing cold and wet days in the winter. I learned a lot during those formative years, including how to interact with clients and manage their expectations. My father also instilled in me the responsibilities of being a business owner and, most importantly, to always do the right thing for our clients.
I started this business in 2001 with Raymond James and renamed our wealth management team Banyan Wealth in 2020. Our team has a commitment to our clients that was founded on the understanding that you have three very important assets; the first being your health, the second your family and the third your financial assets. In retrospect, I learned these three important commitments from my father. I did not know it at the time, but he was my greatest teacher and, along my childhood journey, was imparting the very values in me that I bring to my own business every day.
To conclude, my father’s trucks always read “Why Call The Rest Call The Best.” He sure was.
The S&P 500, a market cap weighted index, ended the quarter up 16% as it has been exhibiting a relentless move higher. But is it all that it appears? As we end the quarter, we see that 10 large technology companies have contributed approximately 80% of the mover higher for the index, with thinner market participation appearing on the surface. The S&P 500 Equal Weighted Index was only up 6%. This is a large discrepancy between the two indexes that are comprised of the same individual companies. We will continue to monitor this to see if the divergence improves.
Inverted Yield Curves
Over 80% of the various points on the yield curve are now inverted. This is the largest percentage of the number yield curves being inverted in this interest rate tightening cycle. Going back to the 1980’s, there has been several instances in which a large percentage of the yield curves inverted prior to the S&P 500 trading to a new 52-week high. The result of the prior instances was a good size correction in the S&P 500. With the Federal Reserve appearing that they will raise interest rates again in July for the 11th time in this tightening cycle, it is hard to ignore the fact that such large percentages of inversions often lead to a recession. Below is the 3 Month Treasury Yield and the 10 Year Treasury Yield curve, which is inverted but off its inversion lows. The degree of the inversion is large.
The Conference Board Leading Economic Index
The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the US recently released its May data. The data for this index has now fallen sequentially 14 months in a row. The implications of this continued weak data are signaling economic weakness and the possibility of a recession within the next 12 months.
We believe the CBOE Volatility Index as well as the CNN Fear and Greed Index are both displaying complacency and do not reflect the possibility of economic weakness as being signaled by the LEI for the US. Nor do they represent the possibility of a pending recession that the yield curve inversions are implying. In the event there is economic weakness or a market event that initiates selling pressure, the decline could be rather quick and painful for equities and other asset classes.
Source: CNN Fear and Greed Index
2023 has been an interesting year. As summarized above, we have seen a handful of companies dominate the performance in the S&P 500 Index. We see potential recessionary signals from various indicators increasing, yet have witnessed a few market sectors move meaningfully higher. We are fortunate to be overweight a few of those market sectors in most of our proprietary models. Nevertheless, we are cautious short-term and bullish intermediate to long-term. We are always intermediate to long-term focused and believe as investment advisors that we have a responsibility to manage the risks in our portfolios. Since we cannot control market performance, we can simply manage the risk associated with investing. We make every effort to balance the rewards of being right with the risks of being wrong, thus, we will from time-to-time adjust the weightings or even sell certain investments to accomplish this risk management. This does not make us market timers or change our intermediate or long-term belief that equity markets move higher over time; it is simply prudent risk management.
Written by: Nicholas W. Sergio, AIF®
Founder & Chief Investment Officer • Banyan Wealth
Registered Principal & Financial Advisor • RJFS
2021 RJFS Leaders Council Member*
The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. The NASDAQ composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system. Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stocks of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The Russell 2000 Index measures the performance of the 2000 smallest companies in the Russel 3000 Index, which represents approximately 8% of the total market capitalization of the Russel 3000 Index. BPS stands for Basis Points and refers to a common unity of measure for interest rates, one basis point is equal to 1/100th of 1% or 0.01% it is used to denote the percentage change in a financial instrument. Inclusion of these indexes is for illustrative purposes only. Keep in mind that individuals cannot invest directly in any index, and index performance does not include transaction costs or other fees, which will affect actual investment performance. Individual investor's results will vary. Past performance is not a guide to future performance, future returns are not guaranteed, and a loss of capital might occur. All investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss of capital. There is no assurance any investment strategy will be successful. All information, data and analysis provided in this report is for informational purposes only and is not a recommendation to buy or sell any security. This report does not constitute a personal recommendation or take into account the particular investment objectives, financial situations, or needs of individual clients. The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete; it is not a statement of all available data necessary for making an investment decision and it does not constitute a recommendation. Any opinions are those of Nicholas Sergio and not necessarily those of Raymond James and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James does not offer tax advice and services. You should discuss any tax matters with the appropriate professional. Holding investments for the long term does not insure a profitable outcome. There is no guarantee that these statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Forward looking data is subject to change at any time and there is no assurance that projections will be realized. High-yield bonds are not suitable for all investors. The risk of default may increase due to changes in the issuer’s credit quality. Price changes may occur due to changes in interest rates and the liquidity of the bond. When appropriate, these bonds should only comprise a modest portion of a portfolio. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc.
* Membership is based on prior fiscal year production. Re-qualification is required annually. The ranking may not be representative of any one client’s experience, is not an endorsement, and is not indicative of advisor’s future performance. No fee is paid in exchange for this award/rating.