Letter to Clients: Second Quarter 2020

April 2020

Dear Clients and Friends:

Our last letter started with hopes that you had a wonderful holiday season and wishes that 2020 would be happy new year. There was no way anyone could know how much the world would change in less than 13 weeks.

Typically, we begin each of these quarterly letters with information and news about DV Financial. This quarter the news is as somber as it is important. DV Financial remains open for business. We are able and ready to serve you.

As a financial services provider, we have a Business Continuity Plan to minimize the impact a significant business disruption would have on our ability to serve you. We have long been prepared to be able to work remotely. The global COVID-19 pandemic has tested our plan and proved our remote capabilities. While we are minimizing direct and personal interaction, our systems include the ability to answer our office phones from anywhere, we continue to monitor and manage your accounts, we have video meeting capabilities, and our records are securely stored and accessible in the cloud.

We are constantly digesting information as it becomes available, listening to our trusted analysts and economists, and doing our best to pass along information to you.

It is during stressful times that we can provide the greatest value to you. Know that while you are focused on practicing social distancing and taking care of your family’s well-being, we are focused on taking care of you financially.

Please do not hesitate to call if there is anything we can do to help during this time of crisis. You can call the office at (515) 255-3354 or email me directly at adinkin@dvfin.com.

Market Update

Since the February 19th peak, the S&P 500 Index has shed 34% to its most recent low[i] which is roughly in line with the average bear market pullback[ii]. Bear markets are defined by a sell-off of at least 20%. However, the rapid decline in the major stock market indexes is not typical of an average bear market. No doubt about it, there is nothing typical about this crisis.

There is an enormous amount of uncertainty. Many industries that require person-to-person interactions are shut down. In a battle for survival, many businesses are doing everything possible to reduce their expenditures during this shut down including furloughing non-essential employees which has led to nearly 10 million jobless claims nationally in just two weeks.

Without stable guidance from businesses or modern precedent on which to model economic forecasts, the second-quarter projections for GDP have been incredibly wide. All we know for certain is that economic uncertainty has translated into earnings uncertainty which, in turn, has translated into incredibly volatile markets.

Table 1: Key Index Returns

MTD% YTD%

Dow Jones Industrial Average

-13.7

-23.2

NASDAQ Composite

-10.1

-14.2

S&P 500 Index

-12.5

-20.0

Russell 2000 Index

-21.9

-30.9

MSCI World ex-USA*

-14.6

-23.9

MSCI Emerging Markets*

-15.6

-23.9

US Aggregate Bond TR** -0.6

3.2

Source: Wall Street Journal, MSCI.com, Morningstar, MarketWatch

MTD returns: Feb 28, 2020 - Mar 31, 2020 

YTD returns: Dec 31, 2019 - Mar 31, 2020 

*in US dollars           **Bloomberg Barclays

 

Government in Action

While social distancing will slow the spread of COVID-19, the economic impact is undeniable. In a way, the government is putting key sectors of the economy in a coma as it hopes to stem the spread of the virus. When health and safety dictate, the goal is to successfully restore the economy once the government guidelines become more relaxed.

Policymakers aren’t expecting the economy to bounce back on its own. Legislation is being put into action to stimulate the economy’s revival. The government’s actions to soften the expected economic blow goes well beyond what we saw during the 2008 financial crisis. During the financial crisis, the Government’s focus was on Wall Street and critical credit markets. Today, the scope of support in on Main Street and consumers.

Congress has passed and the President has signed the $2 trillion CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act) which provides direct payments for individuals & families, enhances unemployment benefits,  offers forgivable loans for small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, and contains bail-out provisions for larger businesses in the hardest hit sectors of the economy.

The Federal Reserve has dropped the fed funds rate to zero and it has implemented several programs designed to support Treasury bonds, investment-grade corporate bonds, municipal bonds, commercial paper, mortgage-backed securities and money market funds.

Will this work? Much depends on the duration and severity of the shut-down and the path of the virus.

Yet We Are Confident

Even though much is unknown, we remain confident in many ways.

We are confident this pandemic will eventually pass. We will persevere.

We are confident that resilience and ingenuity are part of America.

We are confident that the fundamentals of the U.S. economy were strong before the pandemic.

We are confident in our simple premise for investing: markets rise more than they fall because historically the U.S. economy has expanded over time.

We are confident that no one will ring a bell to indicate that we have hit the “bottom”. Only in hindsight will we be able to look back and define the point when things started improving. Therefore, it is critical that we stay invested rather than try to time the market.

We are confident in the financial plan we have built together. It was designed to be our roadmap in bad times as well as the good times.

We remain confident and encourage you to practice confidence too.

Final thoughts

None of us has ever lived through a time of global pandemic with such drastic social change. Hopefully none of us will ever have to again.

Please keep yourself and others healthy. Take care of yourself.

As always, we are honored and humbled that you have given us the opportunity to serve as your financial advisor. Please feel free to reach out to us by email or call (515) 255-3354; you can also like and follow us on Facebook @dvfin. We especially enjoy when you share our value with others and consider it the highest form of compliment. If you know of others who seek answers to calm their financial nerves, we would appreciate the introduction.

Let’s hope that the next letter brings with it renewed joy and optimism.

Sincerely,

Art Dinkin, CFP®

This newsletter contains general information that may not be suitable for everyone. The information contained herein should not be construed as personalized investment advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. There is no guarantee that the views and opinions expressed in this newsletter will come to pass. Investing in the stock market involves gains and losses and may not be suitable for all investors. Information presented herein is subject to change without notice and should not be considered as a solicitation to buy or sell any security.

Indices are unmanaged and investors cannot invest directly in an index. Unless otherwise noted, performance of indices do not account for any fees, commissions or other expenses that would be incurred. Returns do not include reinvested dividends.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted average of 30 actively traded “blue chip” stocks, primarily industrials, but includes financials and other service-oriented companies. The components, which change from time to time, represent between 15% and 20% of the market value of NYSE stocks.

The Nasdaq Composite Index is a market-capitalization weighted index of the more than 3,000 common equities listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange. The types of securities in the index include American depositary receipts, common stocks, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and tracking stocks. The index includes all Nasdaq listed stocks that are not derivatives, preferred shares, funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs) or debentures.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is a market value weighted index with each stock's weight in the index proportionate to its market value.

The Russell 2000 Index is an unmanaged index that measures the performance of the small-cap segment of the U.S. equity universe.

The MSCI All Country World Index ex USA Investable Market Index (IMI) captures large, mid and small cap representation across 22 of 23 Developed Markets (DM) countries (excluding the United States) and 23 Emerging Markets (EM) countries*. With 6,062 constituents, the index covers approximately 99% of the global equity opportunity set outside the US.

The MSCI Emerging Markets Index is a float-adjusted market capitalization index that consists of indices in 21 emerging economies: Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Czech Republic, Egypt, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Taiwan, Thailand, and Turkey.

Barclays Aggregate Bond Index includes U.S. government, corporate, and mortgage-backed securities with maturities of at least one year.

[i] St. Louis Federal Reserve

[ii] LPL Research