The plot of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Optimism Index since March 2000 is the single most interesting chart we’ve seen in the last quarter. The NFIB conducts monthly surveys of its members in order to better understand the environment in which small businesses are operating. The way we interpret the chart is that small businesses are MUCH more optimistic about their future post-election than they were pre-election... More >
2016 was a disappointing year for us as our accounts, on average, lost about 3.56% of their value over the course of the year (individual performance varies by account), while the S&P 500 gained 11.96%—both figures include reinvestment of income. The obvious question is “Why the underperformance relative to your benchmark?” The short answer is that we didn’t own enough of the best performing sectors in the market: energy, financials, and industrials and we owned too much of the worst performing sector in the market: health care... More >
Last quarter we said “It seems like every quarter something big happens for us to talk about… .” Well, not this quarter. The last three months have been very quiet – economic growth hasn’t changed much, central bank policies haven’t changed much, bond prices haven’t changed much, commodity prices haven’t changed much, etc... More >
It seems like every quarter something big happens for us to talk about, this quarter was no exception. The UK voted itself out of the European Union on 23 June. The markets (currency markets, equity markets, commodity markets) reacted violently to the development on 24 June—a bunch of market participants must have been caught by surprise... More >
In the spirit of our times, when trigger warnings abound, we should probably warn you now that what we’re about to discuss may make you uncomfortable. Continue reading at your own risk. And no, we won’t be discussing politics...
In the fourth quarter, the S&P 500 Index was up a bit over 7% and up 1.38% for the year. Our accounts, on average, were up 3.52% in the quarter and down 5.03% for the year. (Individual performance varies by account.) The gains for the broader Index in the quarter were mostly made by a small number of large capitalization tech stocks, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Microsoft among them.
The domestic quiet we wrote about in June did not last very long. Between August 17 and August 25 the S&P 500 Index dropped 11%. The S&P 500 Index bounced back about 4% and, as of September 30, it is down 6.4% for the quarter. For the year, the S&P 500 Index is down 5.3%. More >
Economic news and domestic equity markets have been pretty quiet since we last wrote to you in April. On the domestic economic front the revised numbers for 1st Quarter Gross Domestic Product (GDP) came in at -0.7%, significantly worse than most expected. More >
We’ll start with our views on the U.S. stock market, then briefly touch on some broader U.S. and global issues, then close with a summary of how it all ties together.
Tony had some ideas and observations he wanted me to share, but I thought it made sense for him to tell you directly in this edition of our Quarterly Letter. -— Ron More >