It has been a challenging yet very profitable year managing your money in a world filled with uncertainty and opportunity. Markets do not like uncertainty and tend to react dramatically to the unknown. Fortunately, markets also look at economic fundamentals and those investors who can weather short-term volatility brought on by the unknown are usually rewarded with long term positive returns.
No one can predict what is going to happen with the pandemic now entering a third year of disruption. The world is eager to move on from COVID-19. When it can do so—and the extent to which economic shutdowns occur in the interim—relies on the course of COVID-19 variants.
For most of our investors we look at a long-term investment horizon (more than 5 years) to allow your investments to grow over time. Because no one can predict market declines with certainty, a reasonably diversified portfolio may be the best solution for a long-term investor who is concerned about both return and risk. Remember, even if you are close to or in the early years of retirement, you need a financial portfolio that will continue to grow with you since retirement can easily last 20 years or more.
It is important to understand why so many investors hold a balanced portfolio of stocks, bonds, and guaranteed income instruments such as annuities. Stocks serve as a portfolio’s growth engine, the source of stronger expected returns in most market environments. If stocks always outperformed bonds investors would have littlle incentive to also hold bonds. Although stock prices historically have risen over time, their trajectory has not been straight. They have endured bumps—and several sharp contractions—along the way. Bonds typically have functioned as a stabilizer for a portfolio, with prices rising or falling less sharply during periods when stock prices are rising and falling. That contrasting return pattern helps minimize losses to a portfolio’s value compared with an all-stock portfolio. It helps investors adhere to a well-considered plan in a challenging return environment. With proper planning, investors with balanced portfolios should be well-positioned to stay on course to meet their goals, instead of swerving to avoid bumps in the road.
Infinity Wealth Management is here to do that planning for you. We continue to follow a disciplined approach to our investment strategy for our clients keeping in mind their age, years to retirement, liquidity needs, and risk tolerance. This strategy includes diversification among different asset classes; equities, bonds, life insurance, and annuities. Taking profits, especially those seen in the last couple of years, and protecting them in annuity products that guarantee a future income stream, or insurance contracts which provide a welcome legacy to loved ones, is an integral part of our management approach.
In 2022, the risk exists that run-ups in inflation and tight labor markets could cause the Fed to raise rates sooner than anticipated. Markets are bracing for a period of heightened uncertainty in early 2022 which can result in sharp, sudden swings. Therefore, it is important that we as investors continue to have the discipline to focus on a long-term plan even during periods of short-term upheaval.
In its new economic forecast, Congressional Budget Office projects that the economic expansion that began in mid-2020 will continue. It is predicted that the economy will continue to strengthen during the next five years as labor market conditions continue to improve.
Despite this forecast, as we \start the beginning of 2022,, parts of the economy and markets are out of balance. Labor demand exceeds supply, financial conditions are exceptionally loose even when compared with improved fundamentals, and policy accommodation remains extraordinary. The gradual removal of policy support and stimulus packages enacted to combat the pandemic-driven downturn will pose a new challenge for policymakers and a source of risk for financial markets. Although global economic recovery is likely to continue in 2022, it is predicted to be at a slower rate due to supply-chain challenges and tight labor markets. Consumer prices are trending higher but not expected to reach 1970’s style inflation. Despite continued solid fundamentals in the financial markets, low bond yields, reduced policy support, and stretched valuations in some market sectors (tech) will keep returns lower than last year. A strong 2021 run-up in prices driven more by valuation expansion than by increased profits makes U.S. equities overvalued. Valuation expansion means that the price of some stocks is increasing due to demand for that stock, not because of any increase in profits or earnings of the underlying company. Just because the valuation of a stock,such as Apple, grew from $1 trillion to $2.9 trillion since 2019 doesn’t mean Apple profits grew by that amount.
As a result, past reversions from overvaluation to a fair-value range have more so been a function of prices falling than of earnings rising, and market corrections have occurred with greater frequency when equities were overvalued as opposed to when they were valued fairly.
The professionals at Infinity Wealth Management have taken the initiative and are selling some positions in your portfolios that have benefited from large, unrealized profits over the past couple of years. We have captured that profit by selling the underlying securities and will look for less risky, less volatile, investment products in which to reinvest. Of course, we do not sell everything that is sitting on a profit but rebalance your holdings to tamp down the risk of losing what we have built over the years. Recent equity price run-ups have provided great returns for your portfolios, but it is time to rebalance your asset mix to match your risk comfort level.
As always, we are happy to answer any questions you may have about the management of your finances. Please call or email Michele Pensa at 303-249-8845 or [email protected] Meetings can be conducted in person, (right now with masks), or digitally. We are looking forward to a prosperous 2022.