What I Care About This Week | 2023 Jan 30

high angle view of cityscape against cloudy sky
Photo by Quintin Gellar on Pexels.com

by Franklin J. Parker, CFA

The Summary

  • Hold on to your lunch, this is a big week for markets. First, on the data front: we get unemployment data on Friday (3.6% expected), job openings on Wednesday, and factory orders. We also see earnings results for some big names, such as Caterpillar, McDonalds, Meta, and Apple. The big event, however, is the Fed’s meeting this week, and Wednesday’s announcement of their target rate. Markets expect a 0.25% rate hike this week, but commentary and any change to their balance sheet management will easily push prices around.

  • Last week gave us some important data, too. Global PMIs indicate a contraction in general economic activity. US GDP was a bright spot, posting a bit higher than expected at +2.9%. That said, with about 30% of the S&P 500 companies having reported, corporate earnings have not been good. As it stands, it is expected the largest US companies will report a 5% contraction in earnings, compared to a year ago. This is the first time since 2020 that companies have reported less profit than a year ago.

  • Overall, I have grown very cautious. The market may well be mispricing the Fed’s aggressiveness, and corporate earnings combined with deteriorating economic data seem to indicate that a recession is brewing. In short, caution is warranted right now, and building some defensiveness into portfolios is a reasonable strategy. If you have not talked through how to prepare your portfolio for a recession, let’s open that conversation together.

The Details

Let’s talk “can” versus “to” in retirement.

As an advisor, I see my role as one of counseling and execution, but not judgement. Here is what I mean: if my client wants to retire to a treehouse in the mountains of Idaho, my job is to help her retire to a treehouse in the mountains of Idaho, not to judge whether or not that is a worthy goal.

I am, however, going to break with my usual ecumenicism and offer some of my experience as a thoughtful observer.

There are, in my experience, two views of retirement. The first is the classic image: I cease working one day, have a party, get a watch, and retire.

There is a problem with this view: it sees retirement as a destination, not as a path. Most couples will spend about 30 years in retirement — that is a long time to spend at a destination! Which brings us to the second view.

Retirement is a journey, with a lifecycle all its own, and it requires vision, creativity, planning, and acceptance.

I have found that people do much, much better when they retire to something. Something meaningful, something that gets you up on Monday morning, something exciting. That something is different for everybody, of course, but without that retirement can be a long slog, believe it or not!

This is, of course, only a casual observation. Even so, if you find yourself nearing retirement, I would encourage you to think about what it is you would like to retire to, rather than thinking about retirement as only a can.

Chart of the Week

This week’s chart looks at the progression of earnings by sector through time. Once the market leader, Technology has dropped considerably — suffering from both a contraction in earnings, and a contraction in the multiple investors are willing to pay for those earnings (a contraction in the price-to-earnings ratio).

Only a select few sectors have pulled ahead, including Energy, Industrials, Utilities, and Consumer Staples. I will note that these are all defensive sectors, and their leadership in the market is a recessionary signal.

This document is a general communication being provided for informational purposes only. It is educational in nature and not designed to be taken as advice or a recommendation for any specific investment product, strategy, plan feature or other purpose in any jurisdiction, nor is it a commitment from Directional Advisors to participate in any of the transactions mentioned herein. Any examples used are generic, hypothetical and for illustration purposes only. This material does not contain sufficient information to support an investment decision and it should not be relied upon by you in evaluating the merits of investing in any securities or products. In addition, users should make an independent assessment of the legal, regulatory, tax, credit, and accounting implications and determine, together with their own financial professionals, if any investment mentioned herein is believed to be appropriate to their personal goals. Investors should ensure that they obtain all available relevant information before making any investment. Any forecasts, figures, opinions or investment techniques and strategies set out are for information purposes only, based on certain assumptions and current market conditions and are subject to change without prior notice. All information presented herein is considered to be accurate at the time of production, but no warranty of accuracy is given and no liability in respect of any error or omission is accepted. It should be noted that investment involves risks, the value of investments and the income from them may fluctuate in accordance with market conditions and taxation agreements and investors may not get back the full amount invested. Both past performance and yields are not reliable indicators of current and future results.

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