BY DREW FINERTY
I must say life in isolation is much better when the sun is out. I hope you all have been able to get out for walks, do some yard work or just enjoy the change in weather since my last update. There has been a shift in the markets over the past few weeks, as the COVID-19 virus spread is starting to slow and the rate of deaths has lowered. Personally, I am viewing this with cautious optimism, as I am a bit concerned the chatter is sounding like the public is becoming numb to the headlines and we are seeing evidence that some people are looking for reasons and justification to get out of the imposed “stay-at-home” orders by the Health Authorities and our Government. I am still working from home and getting used to connecting with my family, friends and clients on “Zoom” and Microsoft “Teams”…so I can at least see some faces (my 2 ½ year old grandson has gone from a few words to “Hey Grandpa, look at all my Easter eggs”…how they grow up so fast in only a few weeks). To be safe, I am not expecting to re-open our office until July 1st at the earliest, just to be sure and not take any unnecessary risks.
Along with the better health news, comes the roll-out of the enormous Government Stimulus programs in Canada and the US…both positive signs to the stock & bond markets. Interestingly, as of yesterday, the DOW and S&P 500 have recovered almost 50% of the decline from the March floor, so there is still a ways to go and still some head-winds in the economy. I want to measure client expectations, that although the worst may be over, it is not uncommon for a second wave of volatility to hit and certainly the pending news of the impact the virus (& Oil shock) is having on the economy, is certain to be historic. Incredible EI claims in both Canada and the US, and the imminent reporting of Q1 Corporate Earnings, which are also expected to be historically low, there is enough evidence to expect a pending recession, if we are not already in the midst of it now. How things have changed in six weeks! In early March, Q1 earnings were expected to be stellar, with the inflation low, the first phase of the China/US trade deal signed and three lowering of interest rates on both sides of the border, all signs of a pending recession were “kicked down the road” to late 2021 or 2022. That has all changed.
Having said that…this is why I am so bullish & passionate on professionally “Managed Money” in the form of Mutual Funds. I have had the opportunity to sit in on daily Webinars from Portfolio Managers from all our great supplier Fund Companies, and I feel so relaxed that our money is in the hands of some brilliant and experienced PM’s. I have learned so much and as “long-term Investors” (which we all are), this event, too shall pass. Unlike the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, this unprecedented time in history, will fade over time and when we start to ease off social distancing, the economy and the markets will recover. From what I am hearing, this correction will recover faster and more dramatically than the GFC, as our banks and corporations are in much better shape than in 2008, and the governments and world banks are doing all they can this time, to help the people and businesses in their countries.
Finally, not all news has been bad…over the past year, I have been introducing the idea of diversifying client’s portfolios to take advantage of some changing market opportunities. As our world has changed so dramatically, two of the funds I have been recommending (and holding in my RRSP for ten and five years…are the Fidelity Tech Fund and the TD Global Entertainment Fund)…two mandates that take advantage of the new world of working from home and spending more time with TV channels like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video & Disney…and if you have hockey/video fans in your family, EA Sports is a staple.
Take care and be safe, I hope to speak with you over the next quarter, or, any time you need to chat.