Donors can rest easy that their funds are prudently managed by the Foundation’s Finance and Investment Committee along with our investment advisor, Bank of Stockton, Wealth Management Group.
A message from our Investment Advisor, Daniel Fargo
The first quarter of 2020 made a 180 degree turn from a strong 2019 in both economic terms and the financial markets. Domestic Large Cap stocks were up more than 31% in 2019, Gross Domestic Product was up 2.1%, and the unemployment rate was at 3.5% representing historic lows. Then we learned about the COVID-19 Virus.
Stocks took a significant hit with the S&P 500 dropping 33.9% from it’s peak on February 19, 2020. The collapse was widespread as virtually every equity asset class fell. Real estate dropped 42.4%, international equities fell 32.5% and, somewhat surprisingly, small and mid-sized domestic equities both fell more than 40% off of their highs.
Bonds faired differently. Corporate bonds faired much better than equities falling 2.35% for the quarter while U.S. Treasuries, acting as a global safe haven, actually increased in value by 7.05% in the first quarter.
It is important, at this point, to view these three issues (Covid-19, the economy, and the financial markets) as separate, yet intertwined. The ultimate resolution to the COVID-19 situation will come from developing a herd immunity. The economy will be more dependent on the resolution of the virus than the financial markets as human behavior following the “reopening” will change and recovery will come sporadically.
The financial markets have already begun a recovery from their near-term lows. Difficult economic data continues to pour in and the market has yet to digest the first full pandemic-era reports. Yet, the stock market has recaptured nearly 20% of the breakneck selloff.
Those who believe the market bounce-back is justified have been pointing to three main arguments. The Fed has guaranteed unlimited liquidity, the government is committed to fiscal stimulus measures, and a medical recovery.
We believe there will be much more volatility in the financial markets as we have yet to see the first real impact on the jobless report. On May 8, 2020 the jobs report is expected to show an unemployment rate of 15.1%. We also believe the financial markets will remain mildly positive though the summer and into the fall with support from central banks and governments from around the world. While the United Stated has provided roughly $2.7 Trillion in fiscal stimulus thus far, the number soars to nearly $8 trillion from a global perspective. This level of stimulus, combined with central bank liquidity, will support the financial markets for at least the next six months.