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You can find reports from our Investment and Research team, timely and informative financial planning topics from our Wealth Management team, and deeper dives on various important topics in our white papers from any team member. Read online, share with friends, or download for your convenience.

Chart Manufacturing Held Up Better Than Expected in March 4 2 20

The March Manufacturing PMI report showed some initial signs of trouble within the sector, but investors will have to wait another month to see the full effects of the global pandemic. Order backlog and new orders moved sharply lower as businesses slowed purchases. Of particular notice, a lengthening supplier delivery time positively impacted the composite this month. Under normal circumstances, longer delivery times occur due to increased demand, which is a positive. Under today’s circumstances, the longer delivery times derived from supply chain disruptions, which is a negative signal. As we have been saying, we expect economic data to get uglier over the coming weeks and months. However, stock and bond markets are forward-looking instruments and are likely already pricing in really bad future economic news. 

The Allegiant Private Advisors team hosted the firm’s first Online Market Update on Tuesday, March 31.

The presentation, hosted virtually by our Chairman Martin J. Kossoff, CFP®, AIF®, President and Chief Investment Officer Benjamin W. Jones, CFP®, AIF®, and the Investment Research team, discussed current market volatility, economic insights, and government response to the pandemic. 

On March 27, 2020, President Trump signed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) into law. The CARES Act has been enacted as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and is intended to provide immediate and ongoing economic relief to individuals and businesses affected by the crisis.

Click here to view a summary of these key provisions relating specifically to individuals and small businesses.

Key components include direct payments of $1,200 to adults and $500 to children for qualifying households, removing the required minimum distribution (RMD) requirement for 2020, increasing the unemployment insurance benefit, eliminating required payments on certain student loans, and numerous provisions to support small businesses and self-employed individuals.

Chart COVID 19s Impact on Employment March 2020

The Allegiant Investment Team has been warning about new economic reports looking very ugly once the data includes the impact of COVID-19. The March 26th initial unemployment claims report gave us a first look at just how ugly it could be. A record 3.3 million Americans filed for unemployment claims during the week, leaps and bounds higher than the previous weekly record of 695,000 in 1982. As if this wasn’t ugly enough, the April 2nd weekly report showed another 6.6 million Americans filing for benefits.

Yes, this data is scary and will probably get worse before it gets better. But help is on the way from both fiscal and monetary stimulus. The government’s intervention is designed to support the American worker and provides businesses with tools necessary to retain employees while the economy is on pause.

The stock market breached the down 30% threshold this past week for just the sixth time during the last 50 years. As the Coronavirus has upended our way of living and shut down large swaths of our economy, the odds of a global recession have increased dramatically. Facing these unprecedented levels of uncertainty, many investors are wondering if now is the time to call it quits and go to cash. As Mark Twain is credited with saying, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” So, Luke Nicholas, CFA, CFP®, our Director of Portfolio Management and a Principal at Allegiant Private Advisors, decided to dive in and review the other historical instances of 30% corrections and see what market returns looked like after each of those 30% drawdowns. 

The Allegiant team has been in touch with you often over the past few weeks, but I’d like to touch base on behalf of everyone at the office to talk about things that we are doing on your behalf and things that you may want to consider.  Many of you that we have spoken with feel confident that you are in a good position to move forward and it is great to hear that.  Others have been nervous or said that you were “fine.”  We all know what “fine” can stand for though!  While it is not a comfortable feeling, it is totally normal to feel this way during times of uncertainty, like we are currently in.  

Please remember that the Allegiant team remains fully available to connect with you virtually, via phone, email or online meeting portals – whatever method works best for you. Staying connected to your trusted advisors and talking with us is probably one of the best things that you can do right now.  Let me detail a few strategies that you can use, as well as other ways that we are working on your behalf.  

It is in Allegiant’s DNA to provide the highest level of service and commitment to clients, especially during these more trying times. With that in mind, we would like to remind you, as of Friday, March 20, the U.S. government has decided to postpone the April 15 tax-filing and tax-payment deadline by 90 days, pushing the new effective deadline to July 15, 2020.

Equity markets can be volatile, a general rule that sounds like the understatement of the moment. Since the beginning of March, the S&P 500 has had daily movements of more than 4% in 11 out of 15 trading days. With markets experiencing extreme volatility it is important to review one of the most fundamental best practices of portfolio management. 

Rebalancing 101

The primary function of rebalancing portfolios is to control risk, but effective rebalancing can also help to increase average annual returns of a balanced portfolio over its lifetime.

At Allegiant, we regularly rebalance client portfolios. But what does this mean? Specifically, this means over the last few years we have been taking profits in equities and rebalancing into bonds. In years like 2019, selling out of stocks seemed like a bad decision. Fast forward to today and our disciplined rebalancing strategy played a very important role in reducing downside risk. 

Tactical Weightings

Rebalancing to the model is the first step, the second step is implementing tactical asset allocation decisions. Allegiant manages portfolios both strategically and tactically, utilizing under-weight, equal-weight, or over-weight allocations. For example, a target equal-weighted 60% equity/40% fixed income portfolio could be over-weight equities (65%/35%) or under-weight equities (55%/45%). For years coming out of the last recession, Allegiant ran model portfolios over-weight equities. In 2018 we moved back to our strategic equal-weight target allocation and earlier this year tactically moved to under-weight equities. 

These somewhat minor tilts in allocations can make a significant difference. Today, as markets experience the fastest decline from a market top to a bear market in history, we take comfort in our tactically under-weight equity portfolios. 

While our model allocations are already under-weight equities, the recent market decline has shifted equity allocations even lower in balanced portfolios. This puts us in a very powerful position. Our tactical under-weight to equities, along with an above-average cash position, allows us to play offense instead of defense. Why? When others are looking (or being forced) to sell equities, we are looking for opportunities to buy so that we can rebalance your portfolio back to the long-term strategic allocation. We are now buyers at the right price versus sellers at the wrong price.

2008 Comparison

As scary as it may be to buy equities when all they seem to do is go down, that is precisely the time we should be buyers. As Warren Buffett says, “Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

With the S&P 500 down nearly 32% as of this writing, markets are approaching the average bear market decline (-36%). Whether or not this is an “average” bear market is certainly up for debate. 

I’ve recently seen many comparisons to 2008. Are we going to go through the same dramatic decline as 2007-2009? The honest answer is we don’t know, nobody does. However, it’s instructive to examine the comparison.

The U.S. stock market’s steep decline over the last few weeks is reminiscent of the decline in October 2008 as shown in the chart below. The red star shows where the market is today in comparison.

A Users Guide to Portfolio Management SP5001

Every time is different but using this comparison one could expect further declines to come. If we knew for sure that we would see similar declines to 2007-2009, then buying equities here would not be smart. Or, would it?

Let’s widen our view and look forward. If we bought equities at this point in the 2007-2009 decline and held through the market peak a month ago, this is what we would have experienced. 

A Users Guide to Portfolio Management SP5002

Investment markets are scary at times. As investors we must focus on the long-term and not let short-term volatility derail our well-laid plans. Only investors who accept short-term volatility earn long-term gains. 

The Allegiant team has remained disciplined investors of your capital throughout the ubiquitous cycles of hype and hysteria. Leading up to this bear market we looked for opportunities to reduce risk, which positions us very well to start looking for opportunities to add risk assets while prices are down. 

As the headlines get worse, many opportunities are arising for successful long-term investors. In light of this, we must remain calm and carry on, not let our emotions lead us to make bad decisions, and remain focused on the long-term. 

A Review of Debt-Related Financial Crises

EV9 9361 PaulCantorBloomberg1200By Paul Cantor, CFA, AIF®, CFP®
Chief Operating Officer, Principal

The purpose of this new white paper is to present answers to the questions:

  • Does debt matter?
  • Will high debt levels cause a huge financial crisis?
  • Can we identify how the crisis may develop?
  • What policy responses should we expect to see?
  • Will this information help us better navigate portfolios through the economic fallout?

These questions are critically important to numerous stakeholders for a variety of reasons. Academics are concerned that current policies are inconsistent with sustained economic growth. Regulators and international financial institutions are concerned that current and future increasing debt levels are harbingers of future crises. Portfolio managers are concerned about preserving client assets in times of crisis while earning acceptable returns during periods of economic growth. Individuals care because their lifetime savings might be at risk. Click here to read "The Debt Albatross."

Rather quickly the investment environment has soured. It was only a few weeks ago that many investors were feeling very bullish. Riding on the coattails of a tremendous 2019, most Wall Street predictions were for a continuation of the 11-year bull market. What could possibly bring markets down? 

Fast forward a few weeks and the recent market volatility makes it seem like the world is about to end. While the world won’t end, the 11-year bull market did end. The amount of greater than +/-3% move days over the last couple of weeks is remarkable. While sentiment can change on a dime, and overreact at its peak or trough, it is important to look past the fog and focus on the real economic impacts. 

Bear Market