A Personal Note from Cam – Dated June 14, 2022
Since my last Personal Note, I’ve probably started and stopped a new note to you over 20 times!
It seems that every other day during the past few months, we have been faced with different twists and turns in the United States and around the world that has caused me to pause and ask myself “is it different this time?”
From our inception, Principals of CTA have been affiliated with Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, one of the premier broker-dealers in the industry. As our broker-dealer, they assist us with compliance and due diligence efforts along with other back-office support to our practice.
One of the many services Cetera provides to us is timely perspectives on what is going on in the financial markets. During the past few months, Trevor and I made a strategic decision to incorporate this commentary into information we share with you. We hope that the Cetera Market Commentary we have been sending has provided you with helpful information.
The United States Economy
I believe it goes without saying that everyday items are becoming unaffordable. Inflation has hit a 40-year high and the cost of gas and food prices have surged.
The price of oil has risen significantly in the past five-to-six weeks. Energy prices cascade through the entire economy, impacting and increasing so many other prices.
In the U.S., the national average for a gallon of gas as of June 13, 2022 is $5.014. Here in beautiful downtown Burbank, California the average for a gallon of gas is currently $6.436 for regular unleaded gas. It is not at all uncommon to see premium gasoline selling for over $7.00 per gallon in our community.
Today, June 14th, starts the Federal Reserve’s June policy meeting. It concludes with a rate decision and press conference tomorrow afternoon, on June 15th.
Make no mistake about it. Inflation is proving stubborn. I expect that the Fed will raise short-term interest rates by at least 0.5%, with some speculating on a 0.75% rate hike after recent inflation reports.
The cautious nature of Jerome Powell’s Fed, to this point, makes it more likely rates will increase at their smaller telegraphed percentage rate rather than the Fed dropping a surprisingly higher increase on the financial markets.
The Global Economy
My greatest concerns for the global economy are the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, the price of oil, and recession risks in the United Kingdom (UK) and the Eurozone.
As is the case in the United States, inflation is stubborn worldwide. The economies of the UK and the Eurozone have been greatly affected by the Russia-Ukraine war. As a group, the UK and Eurozone are weaker and at a greater risk of recession. This is true because their respective central banks have a very delicate balancing act as they try to control high inflation, especially since they cannot solve for some of the key sources of inflation.
The war in Ukraine, as it is becoming increasingly entrenched, is worse news for the world because of possible food shortages as well as the scarcity of certain commodities, leading to supply chain disruptions and higher costs.
In addition, the risk of an energy cut-off remains a substantial threat to the European economy.
Why Predictions are More Dangerous than Guesses
I recently read an article that took me back to my youth.
I loved to play little league baseball as a child. Growing up through high school, I was an okay ballplayer and good teammate. But I was terrible at those “guess how many bubble gum balls are in the jar” games. My lack of skill never deterred me from participating though. I mean, what kid was going to pass up the opportunity for a windfall like that?!
Plus, it was just a guess. None of my teammates were going to be able to give me a hard time about my shot-in-the-dark guess on the number of gum balls contained in the container when theirs was just as random as mine.
This randomness is what distinguishes a guess from a prediction.
A guess is made without ego and with a hope for good luck. A prediction (things we see daily on the Internet, social media, television and on cable news) is connected to reputation, pride, trust and dare I say – compensation.
One of the things that Trevor and I pride ourselves on is avoiding making predictions.
We read a lot of conflicting information on a daily basis and we discuss and filter what we read. For us, therein lies the rub: We have yet to find an “expert” on the Internet, social media, television or on cable news whose predictions about the future, the economy or financial markets have ever “played out” in real time.
From our perspective, we have found that most “talking heads” actually have limited understanding about the complexity of what they are opining on.
They are paid to make a specific point, which they do. Seldom will they engage in a “give and take” conversation that leads to a better understanding of the broader issue in question. Perhaps more importantly, seldom if ever, have I witnessed “talking heads” find some level of common ground or compromise.
In my words: “Prediction can be dangerous.” In Warren Buffett’s words: “Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future.”
In our over 40 years of helping clients, we continue to turn to and rely on The Wealth Development System™, our proprietary program which is a customized and wide-ranging wealth growth and preservation process that enables us to assist clients in trying to achieve their lifetime goals by eliminating the guesswork from financial planning.
One truth in our work is that no matter how much we help you prepare for the future, we cannot ensure life will go as planned. But we can make changes in our plans based on what the future is presenting to us at any moment in time.
If you are concerned about reaching your financial planning goals, please talk with Trevor or me so we can determine if changes in your plan are warranted based on your current circumstances.
So far, 2022 has been a very difficult year for most investors and all investment asset classes. We have witnessed the worst first 100 trading days of the year since 1970. For the Nasdaq, it is the worst first 100 days ever.
The S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite are currently in a bear market. A bear market is when a market experiences prolonged price declines. It typically describes a condition in which securities prices fall 20% or more from recent highs amid widespread pessimism and negative consumer sentiment.
As we began 2022, scars from the Great Recession seemed to have finally been healing. Now, as I write this, we are once again smack in the middle of a big sell-off in the financial markets.
Just like it was yesterday, we had been enjoying a newfound freedom from COVID-19. Now inflation is surging, and it has made life more difficult for a great many people.
As I reflect back, what we are dealing with now feels different from the mortgage meltdown of 2008. The economic threats were more dire then across the world-wide financial system.
Over my career, I have found that politicians want to take credit for good news and blame others for bad news. Put another way, they wish to take credit for everything and responsibility for nothing.
Today, so much of what we hear out of Washington is fully scripted. I for one, had high hopes when President Biden ran on the theme of competency, experience and that he could bridge the divisions in our country. Unfortunately, from my perspective his administration seems to be struggling to manage multiple crises.
Looking back to 2008, thank goodness our politicians on opposite sides of the aisle worked together to try and keep our financial system from going over the cliff.
Today, it seems like no matter what one of our political sides proposes, the other side will vote it down, regardless of its merit – simply because of a “R” or a “D” after their name. Our senators and representatives are interested in taking sides, and it is not the side of the American people as a whole.
When we are faced with economic hardship like we are starting to see now, it feels like we are in it by ourselves. The good news is that these feelings are not facts.
Please know that everyone feels this way right now. The conversations Trevor and I are having with you cover the gamut…from those who are worried about stretching their paychecks to meet their basic needs to those who are extremely wealthy – everyone is worried about the economy and the financial markets.
What can you do to feel better? Here are a few things to consider:
You are not alone. Everyone is feeling this way. While the action or inaction that comes out of Washington may add to your stress, pick up the phone or send Trevor or me an email, and let’s have a conversation.
While the circumstances of each bear market always vary and each one feels different, they are generally very similar from an investing standpoint. Bear markets happen regularly. They are not fun while you are going through them, but generally they do not last long. On average, bear markets last about nine months. That’s all. Think of them like difficult conversations you have had in your life, like when you broke up with someone or had to deliver painful news. It is awful thinking about it and living through it, but then it is over and you move on.
Please think back to how horrible the bear market was from 2007 to 2009 – and then how amazing the market was for the following 12 years. Or think back to how shocking and painful the COVID-19 crash was in 2020, only to be followed by a year and a half of remarkable gains.
Or think about this: In 2020 leading up to the 2020 elections, the market fell 35% in a matter of weeks, it went on to recoup its losses within five months and went on to gain 32% in a year.
We will get through this.
Invest when it feels most uncomfortable to do so. Markets bottom once people panic, capitulate and finish selling off en masse. I do not believe we are at that point quite yet, but people are very scared.
If you had put money to work near a market bottom at any point in history, you would have done extraordinarily well. And believe me, anyone who’s done so was not confident about it at the time.
Our Ongoing Focus
Our ongoing focus at CTA Wealth is on controlling the things that we can control and monitoring those things that are out of our control as closely as possible.
Daily we continue to consult with clients preparing to retire or who are already enjoying their retirement. We continue to talk with families about education planning for their children and grandchildren. We continue to address cash-flow planning and what is the right amount of emergency cash to have on hand when market upsets, like the one we are currently facing, occurs. We have helped with estate administration issues and also addressed the need to update estate planning documents with clients and their attorneys. We have addressed income tax planning questions and we have reviewed investment planning and risk management goals and objectives. The list goes on and on.
Daily we continue to do what we have done for over 40 years…we have been there for you and your family. Our continued focus is on helping you, our friends and clients, address your most important questions, concerns and challenges.
If you have questions, please call or email, as we would be more than happy to talk with you at any time.
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The opinions expressed in this letter are those of Cameron M. Thornton, CFP®. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance information is historical and not indicative of future results. Past performance does not guarantee results.
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Cameron M. Thornton, CFP® is a Registered Representative with Cetera Advisor Networks LLC and may be reached at www.ctawealthadvisors.com or (818) 841-1746.
https://gasprices.aaa.com as of June 13, 2022.
 BluePrint Investment Partners. March 9, 2022 blog.
 Zacks Advisor Insights. May 25, 2022. Economic & Earnings Commentary.
 The Oxford Insight. June 9, 2022. How to Control Your Fear of the Bear Market by Marc Lichtenfeld, and following.