Covid-19 has made the world into a new place. Not just “out there”, but in our homes and workplaces. From here on, we’ll be doing many things differently, maybe for a few months and maybe for decades to come. It’s important to understand how we got here.
Peter Cavelti’s essays have been printed and quoted in papers, magazines and newsletters internationally, including The Wall Street Journal, Barron’s, The Financial Times, the Financial Post, The Globe and Mail, Money, Personal Finance and World Link. Peter releases new commentary as inspired by current events and the desire to share information with an independent, unbiased voice.
In this issue, we review a year in which markets—against all expectations—continued to advance, against an exceptionally challenging background. We also look ahead at 2020 and beyond, considering key political, economic and social issues, both at home and globally.
America’s executives and board members have sold a combined $19 billion of stock in their companies through to mid-September. If we annualize that, it puts insider sales at a two-decade high.
It’s interesting that the date of this communication should fall on America’s Independence Day, because America is once again my central topic—not by design, but by default.
Once again, predictably and on time, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Banks, have shifted gears. After talking tough for most of the past year, the world’s key monetary agencies have softened their stance.
As I wrote three months ago, the stock market has for some time been a risky place to be. Yet, with few exceptions, financial columnists, the talking heads on television, and the major investment firms sang the same chorus—the economy, they chirped, is doing just great and a major correction is months, perhaps years, away.
It’s ten years since Lehman Brothers collapsed and the financial world unravelled. We entered the crisis with cash reserves that seemed alarmist, but helped us weather the storm and be able to stock up on quality equities after their precipitous drop.
A new world order, without America at the head of the table, is in the making. We examine why even Washington’s allies are finding it difficult to relate to the world’s lead power.
Inflection points in narrative are highly important markers. Technically, the stock market is still in a bull market and no one can know when a deeper correction will unfold.
For now, the prevailing narrative persists: motivated by the belief that central banks won’t allow a meaningful correction in equities and that there are few attractive places for money outside the stock market, investors feel that broad overvaluation is justified.
How risky is the broad stock market? It depends how you look at it, but there is plenty to worry about. To begin with, valuations are high by any yardstick; in the U.S. for example, the S&P500 cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio has only been higher once—in the late 1990s.
We examine several recent events that threaten to overthrow the social, economic and political order. As a general rule, when the unknowns starts to crowd out the predictable, it’s best to be cautious.