At times of extreme volatility, it's important to "look past the trees" and "focus on the forest". What does that mean?The forest is the U.S. economy. The largest, freest, most transparent economy in the world. 70% of economic activity in the United States is controlled by the U.S. Consumer, who is in the best financial shape they've been in, in more than 40 years. The U.S. is in the middle of the grand reopening, following the shutting down our economy due to the COVID virus.Supply chains are reopening, unemployment is at a 52-year low and real wages are rising. The U.S. economy has years of growth ahead of it. That is the forest.Now a couple of trees:1. Russia invading Ukraine. As I write this, Russia has started the invasion of Ukraine. Part of Vladmir Putin’s long play in wanting to rebuild traditional Russia and have buffer states against NATO. This will be horrible for the citizens of Ukraine and will cause some economic pain in Europe. Despite that, it will not be a significant economic event for the U.S. economy (short of the U.S. getting involved in a shooting war).Ukraine, the size of Texas, and with a population comparable to the population of Texas, has an economic output that is only 1/10th that of the state of Texas. Texas has a $2Trillion GDP. Ukraine has a $155Billion GDP. It would have the economic impact of a state 1/10th the size of Texas, to the U.S. economy, if it were to collapse economically in it's entirety. So the economic aspects of the invasion are di minimus compared to the political aspects of the invasion.2. The Federal Reserve tightening and interest rates rising. Contrary to popular belief, stocks can move higher in a rising interest rate environment, if rates are going up for the right reasons, i.e., that is increasing economic activity. Since we believe that the U.S. will continue to have increasing activity for several more years, we believe rising interest rates, from historically low levels, are a natural occurrence and should not be feared.It is understandable and normal to pay attention to the trees. They are constantly being discussed and debated on the news and social media. However, it must be done within the context of what's happening to the whole forest. The U.S. will remain on a reopening path. The markets will recover and adjust to their self-inflicted wounds. Inflation will moderate by mid-year and the Fed will adopt a neutral monetary policy by the fall. We will look back a year from now on these events and wish they hadn't happened but recognize that their impact on the U.S. economy is de minimis. Look for new market highs by year end.
Forest vs Trees
February 25, 2022