A note from Jonathan:
We are delighted to welcome Jennifer Paterson to Journey Tree. She brings many years of administrative experience, organizational skills, and a great sense of humor to the team. She is already helping to make things run more smoothly. Welcome, Jennifer!
Jennifer, her husband, John, and their rescue dog, Luna, come to us from Newberg, Oregon. In Late October, John was promoted to Assistant Store Manager at the Lowe’s here in Eugene and the plans for the big move were set into motion. Jennifer was a bit skeptical about moving to “Duck Country” being that she is an Oregon State alumni but she has found that Eugene is feeling more and more like home. With the help of Jonathan and Irina she is getting to know downtown Eugene and all that it has to offer.
On the days Jennifer isn’t working, she and John love to travel up and down the Oregon coast, vacation in Hawaii, and spend time together with their little family of three. When she’s not busy spending time with her husband, she also likes to take Luna for walks, go wine tasting, and visit her 2 sisters, niece, and nephews.
In investment circles it is often said that “You make your money when you buy.” The basic notion is that the investor buys the stock of a good company that is temporarily selling at a low price and holds onto it until it can be sold at a much higher price. So, to have a good chance to make a profit one needs low prices as a starting point.The problem is that seldom has there been such an absence of low prices. Not just in stocks but in bonds. Not just in the U.S. but overseas.
The major factors pushing investment prices skyward include:
- Vastly increased borrowing by Central Government Banks around the world, which have used that money to buy up bonds (pushing up prices and pushing down interest rates) and even stocks (see chart)
- Historically low interest rates have enabled corporations to borrow money cheaply and use it to buy back their own stock
- An explosion in margin debt (investors borrowing money against their investments to buy more investments)
- A large increase in index investing where new money coming in is invested in a basket of stocks regardless of the current price
- Individual investors taking money out of money market funds and certificates of deposit and investing more aggressively in stocks in hopes of getting the returns they need
Based on the Shiller PE Ratio, which measures how the current stock market value compares to other periods of time, we now have the 2nd most expensive market over the last 100 years. Previously, when the market has been this high, the potential for positive returns has been greatly diminished. It’s hard to make money when you can’t “Buy low.”
“When the market has been in the 20% most expensive range (we are in the top 5% now) the average future return has only been 4.74% over the next three years. In contrast, the average maximum loss in that same timeframe has been -20.75%. That’s a lot of risk for minimal gain.” – Erik Ristuben, Russell Investments
“When markets are priced for perfection as they currently are, it takes very little disappointment to lead to significant shifts in the price of assets.” – Matt Kadnar & James Montier, GMO
At Journey Tree we ask ourselves not just what can we do to make money for clients but how can we minimize the potential for significant losses to their portfolios? Working to guard against large declines in account values is one of the most valuable things we do. Here’s why.
Incurring large losses means it becomes much more difficult to meet investor goals. The larger the loss the more challenging is it is just to get back to where you started. For instance, if your account drops 20% your need to make a return of 25% just to get back to where you started. (For example a $100,000 account would drop 20% to $80,000. You would then need to get a 25% return on that $80,000 to just get back to $100,000.)
If your loss is 30% then you need to make a return of 43% just to get back to where you started. So you can see it gets harder and harder to get out of the hole you’re in when your losses are bigger. And it becomes even more problematic when you are withdrawing income from your account in a down market. Not only has your account declined, but you are taking out money when it is low.
While the media reports on yet another record high for the stock market, we are focusing on risk management to help you through the inevitable rough times and opportunities that lie ahead.
Having completed the annual visitations from family members, Jonathan and Sara are turning their sights to preparing for the imminent departure of Sam and Ingrid. By the end of August their household will have shrunk from four to two. Ingrid will take up residence in Bologna, Italy for four months to sharpen her Italian skills. In January she relocates to Toulouse, France to further hone her French. Later this month, Sam moves to the Los Angeles area to begin the Ph.D. program in geography at UCLA. Such great adventures ahead for them both! And Sara and Jonathan are looking forward to adventures of their own with their new-found freedom.
This has been a productive summer for Irina who is celebrating passing the Level I of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exam, which has been dubbed “the hardest test on Wall Street.” Next up for Irina is studying for the Investment Advisor Representative licensing exam, after which preparation for the Level II CFA exam (next June) will begin.
Jason is happy to report he passed the Investment Advisor Representative licensing exam earlier this summer, which allows him to make investment recommendations and enter trades for clients. He is even happier to report that he and his wife will welcome their first child – a daughter – into their lives in December. They are both excited to begin the adventures of parenthood, and they have been doing their best to enjoy their freedom while it lasts.