Long Run Views

The first quarter brought a surge in inflation and war in Eastern Europe. This environment imposes a new reality on investors and policymakers. In this report, we discuss what is happening and how our top-down portfolios are positioned now.

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Viewpoint 2022

We publish this year’s Viewpoint 2022 amid ongoing recovery from an unprecedented pandemic. Signs of continued growth are apparent despite new COVID-19 variants and anticipated policy shifts. Long-run return expectations fall this year in as valuations and profit margins are elevated for stocks. For fixed income investors, surging inflation and expectations for rising rates are of primary focus.

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What Matters Most

In the very long run, it is growth that dominates other drivers of return. In this commentary, we look at why valuations and profit margins matter less than growth over time. With profit margins and valuations at or near highs, we conclude that we should not depend on further increases in margins or multiples for return. Instead, growth and dividends will become more important for us as long-term investors.

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Amid an otherwise positive backdrop, supply shortages, uncertainty over economic policy, and high valuations for financial assets are apparent. We remain tactically overweight stocks, but reduce exposure, shifting somewhat toward bonds. This report addresses how WCA tactical portfolios are positioned now to address short and longer-term factors.

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As the economy reopens, we believe growth is set to surge. The United States is well along the path on vaccination, which is unleashing months of pent-up demand. Meanwhile, other parts of the world are lagging in vaccinations and confronted with potential challenges, including a stronger dollar. Given continued signs of progress and growth in the United States, we refocus tactically around domestic and high-quality assets. We also maintain a tactical overweight to equity over bonds, given incoming data as we enter the third quarter.

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Key Points: Vaccines Spur Growth Rebound U.S. Profits Recover to Pre-Pandemic Levels High U.S. Savings to Fuel Growth Stronger Dollar Favors Domestic Tilt Valuations, Rates, and Taxes are Risks Much has changed in the past quarter. A new administration and new congressional leadership has emerged in Washington. Meanwhile, a COVID-19 vaccination rollout is accelerating throughout the United States and some other parts of the world. Speculative fervor has rippled through some parts of equity markets while bond investors fret about rising interest rates. This quarter we address how these changes are shaping the environment, creating challenges and opportunities for tactical…

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Viewpoint 2021

Many are expecting vaccinations to lead to a robust recovery this year. Return to normal and restart of the in-person economy should encourage growth and be celebrated. At the same time, the return to growth could also weaken the case for continued fiscal and monetary ease. And once restarted, the globe faces challenges. The tensions and ailments that existed before the pandemic are still with us. The path appears to be forward but it will not likely be a straight line. Last year’s pandemic-induced downturn was out-and-out different from recessions past. For this reason, we should see recovery as a…

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Executive Summary: The second quarter brought a surge in stock values predicated on three critical assumptions. First, fiscal and monetary measures would be sufficient to support an economy suffering a tremendous hit. Next, the economy could begin a process of “reopening” and avoid a second wave pandemic shutdown. Finally, progress will be forthcoming toward a treatment or vaccine for COVID-19. While the future could always play out differently than expectations, equity markets seemed willing to focus on positives, rather than lingering unknowns, throughout most of the second quarter.

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Viewpoint 2019

Against a backdrop of worry over trade and rising interest rates, the United States economy continues to perform well. While equity markets generally declined in 2018, investors in the United States generally fared better than overseas. Moreover, most companies saw revenue, profits, and dividends grow in 2018, and we expect more to come in 2019. This annual Viewpoint, along with quarterly updates, provides an organized way of looking at the economy, financial markets, and your portfolio. The full report is available by clicking the link below.

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China has been a major contributor to the global growth story in recent years, and has had a big impact on developments in foreign and emerging markets. As we’ve noted in previous commentary, we have been seeing some weakening in growth outside the United States while growth here remains strong. A 30% drop in the Chinese stock market, a sharp reversal in the Chinese currency, and slowing output growth all point to accumulating foreign sector weakness. Within China, the Chinese government has increased stimulus as evidenced by a recent surge in local government bond issuance (chart, below), and the Peoples…

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WASHINGTON CROSSING ADVISORS THE WEEK AHEAD Big week for data and Fed policy this week. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We’ve seen some slowing in growth lately, but last week’s advance U.S. Gross Domestic Product report was encouraging. Readers of the Monday Morning Minute know that incoming data raised some red flags in the first quarter. Our Fundamental Conditions Barometer peaked with the passage of the tax act in December, declined through the remainder of the winter, and stabilized in April. According to last week’s report from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. economy grew by an estimated 2.3% in the first…

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THE WEEK AHEAD Volatility continues amid headline noise on trade. MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT Recent headlines have been enough to unnerve even the most seasoned investor. The tension between the United States and the rest of the world seems to increase daily. On Friday, the United States threatened to levy another $100 billion of tariffs on Chinese imports, which would bring the total to $153 billion. Because the United States exported only $130 billion to China last year, it may prove tough for China to reciprocate in kind. While much of this is likely posturing ahead of some final agreement, the tone…

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We see the economy on a growth track, but after a year of strong returns and historically low volatility, some moderation to growth and risk appetite seems reasonable. Continued economic growth, without a notable pickup in inflation, remains our dominant view. Last year’s tax changes, and new federal spending initiatives, have the potential to lift investment and speed up growth. Risks to our outlook include rising trade and geopolitical tension, elevated asset prices in some areas, and rising interest rates. During the quarter, we made a few tactical adjustments to portfolios. We tilted portfolios toward large cap domestic value, and…

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THE WEEK AHEAD MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT The drop in stocks from January 26 erased 10% from the market averages. There have been at least two dozen declines of 10% or better over the last 30-years, to put things in perspective. Very few other indicators show a spreading of concern into other areas of the markets or the economy. In the past week, corporate credit spreads remained unchanged; forecast inflation was down only slightly; and S&P 500 earnings forecasts rose. Investors can take some comfort in knowing that a broader reading of the market’s “tea leaves” continues to point toward growth. Source:…

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MACROECONOMIC INSIGHT We begin 2018 on a positive note. Last week’s Chicago PMI posted its third straight plus 60 score and is on the best streak for the index in over three years. We expect similar positive results this week from the various manufacturing reports released. The theme of these reports is positive economic growth. After hovering around 2% for 2016 and into last year, GDP has topped 3% each of the last two quarters. We expect that this week’s data on manufacturing will point to an economy still enjoying a cyclical upswing.  Macroeconomic Advisers and the Atlanta Fed’s GDPNow…

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