Quarterly Outlook

The S&P 500 returned 13.7% in the first quarter, the best quarterly performance since 2009. This follows almost a 20% drop in the S&P 500 during the fourth quarter. The concerns about global growth and rising interest rates, which contributed to last fall’s market selloff, appear to be easing. The WCA Fundamental Conditions “Barometer” advanced sharply in the past few weeks as signs emerged that growth may be picking up in the United States. Accordingly, equity exposure was increased and bond portfolio duration reduced across tactical asset allocation models. Full Report Click Here

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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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Ten years after the financial crisis, the United States equity, real estate, and job markets are back to records. Household wealth has, therefore, surged to a record $106 trillion. Most of the trends we see in the domestic data flow remain strong, although conditions overseas paint a less compelling picture. With much of the slack in the domestic economy gone, and inflation near target, we expect the Federal Reserve to continue normalizing interest rates. Portfolios are tactically overweight value stocks, domestic and developed equities, short duration Treasuries, and real estate. Tactical underweights include growth, foreign and emerging markets, long-duration Treasuries,…

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The U.S. economy is accelerating into the second half of the year with growth tracking toward 4% in the second quarter. However, the yield curve has flattened significantly as the Fed presses forward with rate increases, and trade concerns create some unease. Consequently, our own read of the data has become more mixed and we have tactically reduced exposure to stocks during the first half. Portfolios are overweight value versus growth, and foreign developed versus emerging. The fixed income posture is tilted toward high quality and shorter duration credit versus long-duration Treasuries. We also have a tactical tilt toward REITs…

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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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2018 Viewpoint

Our 2018 Viewpoint begins on an optimistic note. Growth continues to pick up by most accounts, businesses are again investing, and asset values are near records. Confidence necessary for risk taking is apparent, and inflation remains at bay. On the other hand, we are now confronted with higher valuations in many asset classes, which we feel should eventually weigh on long-run returns. This annual Viewpoint, along with quarterly updates, provides an organized way of looking at the economy, financial markets, and your portfolio. Full Report Click Here

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We enter the second half of 2017 with data coming in well, asset prices near records, and market sentiment good. Our analysis of current fundamental conditions points to continued growth, but the “reflation” and “Trump” trades may be losing some momentum. Portfolios are tactically tilted toward U.S. equities, with an emphasis on growth. Fixed income continues to focus on corporate bonds over Treasuries given our outlook. Full Text Here

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The “reflation trade” that drove financial market behavior since the middle of last year lifted stocks and weighed on bond prices. This leaves us with an economy performing better and stock indices near records. Lower bond yields and higher equity valuations help lift short-term growth but also dampen our long-run return forecasts. In the months ahead, we expect to see the pace of improvement moderate compared to what we experienced over the past nine months. Equity allocations in portfolios were increased last summer, and we continue to maintain a modest tactical tilt toward large capitalization domestic stocks over bonds and…

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The economy continues to gradually improve from a near stall earlier in the year.  Earnings forecasts are increasing, and cash returns to equity investors look appealing compared to record low Treasury yields.  With signs of economic slack abating, the Fed now seems to be on track for a December rate hike. Equity allocations in portfolios were increased to overweight during the summer, and we continue to maintain a tilt toward large capitalization domestic growth stocks versus foreign.  Bond allocations are tilted away from low-yielding, long-term Treasuries, favoring shorter-duration and higher-yielding corporate debt. Full Report Click Here

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The first half of the year saw a turnaround in several indicators we watch. While bonds managed to outperform stocks in the first half, signs of improvement in the domestic economy are emerging. Our read of recent trends in the data gives us a basis for optimism on near-term growth. Overseas prospects are still fading, and growth rates are still coming down. Britain’s “exit” referendum poses challenges to Europe at a time when growth is already weak, for example. Our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer remains below 50, but is showing signs of improvement. The “core” of portfolios were recently rebalanced…

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Asset Allocation Update Second Quarter, 2016 The economy is slowing. After growing 1.4% in the fourth quarter, estimates are below 1% for first quarter. The global econ­omy is faring little better. The International Monetary Fund cut its 2016 global growth forecast to 3.2%. In January, this estimate stood at 3.4%. Why so slow? A steady erosion in productivity, anemic labor growth, and deleveraging all play a role. These facts, especially productivity and labor, are harder to influence through policy. Fiscal and monetary policy are simply incapable of addressing these remaining challenges head-on. The trinity of productivity, labor, and investment determine growth…

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2016 Viewpoint

Our macro outlook is for slow growth and stubbornly low inflation. The start of policy normalization following years of zero interest rate policy in the United States comes at a time of weakening global growth and mixed signals from the domestic economy. We continue to view the United States economy as best positioned to weather the overall weak global environment that resurfaced in 2015. In this report, we take a long-term view and address expectations for markets over the long run. Full Report Click Here  

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Full Report 2015 is off to a slow start for investors, as stocks closed the second quarter essentially flat year-to-date and bond returns were generally negative. There are some positive takeaways from the second quarter that should not be overlooked, however. Key Points: The economy is again growing slowly (likely near 2% in the second quarter) after grinding to a halt in the first quarter. The thought of the first quarter stall leading to a recession is fading, and while our WCA Fundamental Conditions Barometer is far from strong, it has stopped slipping and has even seen a small bounce…

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Six years beyond the recession, we thought it would be helpful to pause and take stock of how far we have come.  Gross domestic product is about two trillion greater than where it stood during the recession.  Corporate earnings and dividends have ballooned.  Employment rolls are filling, and the unemployment rate is down considerably.  Lower fuel costs and accelerating personal income trends are helping to drive domestic sales increases.  This is a very good outcome compared with where we were just a few short years ago… For the complete report, please click here.

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First Quarter Asset Allocation Review As we head into the new year, we see the United States economy emerging as a bright spot on the global stage. For 2015, we expect to see above-trend growth, further improvement in private sector balance sheets, and generally improved confidence. The domestic economy should perform better than Europe, where structural reform is still needed, and better than many of the emerging markets, which continue to struggle. Chinese growth should continue to moderate, while Russia and other large net energy exporters will struggle given today’s lower oil price. View Full Report (Adobe PDF)

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