Since the Global Financial Crisis, we have operated in an environment where money has been “cheap”. When the Federal Reserve lowered the funds rate to a range of 0 to 0.25% during the heart of the pandemic, some might have even described money as “free”. Established companies could raise debt at historically low rates for any number of projects. Young startups could access venture capital to fund their operations as they searched for a path to profitability. And private equity firms had capital to lever up their portfolio companies to boost returns and de-risk their investments. Lower interest rates and over $14T in fiscal and monetary stimulus worked together to stimulate the economy. With interest rates approaching near zero, governments, businesses, and consumers had ready access to money whenever they needed.
Inflation is when you pay fifteen dollars for the ten-dollar haircut you used to get for five dollars when you had hair. -Sam Ewing (author)
We ended 2021 similar to how we began, challenged by Covid as the virus continues to alter holiday plans, disrupt commerce and frustrate a world weary of the conversation. Covid was supposed to be conquered by this point, but virus mutations and vaccine hesitancy have allowed this visitor to remain with us. What is different this time around is the Omicron variant appears to be more prevalent, but less deadly. Hospitalization risk appears to be 1/3 that of the Delta variant but, given that Omicron is more infectious and has a shorter incubation period, hospitalizations are going up. We began 2022 with an all-time high of 1 million active new U.S. cases.
“When all the experts and forecasts agree – something else is going to happen.”
– Bob Farrell, Wall Street Market Strategist
September and October have brought cooler weather and, along with it, volatility to the markets. Neither are unexpected. Season are seasons, and September has historically been the weakest month of the year for stocks. The S&P 500 ended September with a 4.8% decline which was only the second down month for 2021. October is also considered to be a volatile month for investors. The 1929 “Black Tuesday” stock market crash occurred on October 29, 1929. The “Black Monday” Crash of 1987 took place on October 19, 1987. And while the fall of Lehman Brothers technically started when the company filed for bankruptcy on September 15, 2008, October 2008 experienced major market declines as we steamrolled our way into the financial crisis. Even as recently as 2018, U.S. markets lost $2T in October.
“Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves.” – Peter Lynch
We are almost 10 years into a bull market birthed out of The Financial Crisis, throughout which, economists have described the stock market as climbing a “wall of worry”. The market continues to rise, but no one believes that it can continue. I am confident that at some point we will experience a correction. I am also confident that, many years from now, the companies we own will be much more valuable than they are today.
“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment” – Charles Darwin
2016 ended exactly how we predicted…..or perhaps the opposite of that. Election results contradicted most polls, and the market’s reaction to the Republican win was not the Armageddon that I expected. In fact, the Dow, Nasdaq and S&P indexes all improved more than 2.5% from the election to year-end. Benjamin Graham, the man considered to be the father of value investing, taught that “stocks aren’t pieces of paper or lottery tickets; they are units of ownership in real businesses whose underlying value does not change
As we enter the fall, we are approaching the one-year anniversary of launching Richie Capital Group. We have spent much of the past year navigating regulatory requirements, launching early clients and preparing our platform to support larger institutions. We have also spent some time researching the market to better understand client needs, competitor offerings, and how RCG can be best positioned to provide solutions.
We have found that the problems facing clients both big and small are largely the same. In terms of retirement, most individuals have not saved adequately and are not on track for a comfortable and timely retirement. Many of the public pension funds set up for teachers, first responders and government employees are significantly underfunded.