The Federal Reserve Board began the meeting yesterday that many suggest will result in the first rise in interest rates since June of 2006. The results are expected to be announced today at 1pm CDT. In the recent days and weeks leading up to the meeting, a number of circumstances have impactedthe expectations of whether the “lift?off” will begin or not. The strongest two arguments against raising rates seem to be some recent economic indicators that suggest the U.S. economy is still pretty soft (little to no inflation exists) and a rate hike’s potential to harm international markets, especially the emerging economies, from the dollar appreciating further against other currencies.The main argument for raising revolves around the low unemployment rates and a desire to move away from the current emergency level of interest rates. The most recent data seems to be split on the outcome, with the market pricing in only a 25% expectation of an increase (according to the CME Group’s Fedwatch tool) while the CNBC Fed Survey of economists is showing a plurality of the respondents expect a hike (49?yes, 43?no, 8?undecided).
With all this in mind, it’s important to rememberno one knows what the Fed will do and how it will affect the near?term direction of markets. So will they or won’t they? How much? What happens if? Whatever action they take it will likely be used as fuel for the fire on both sides of the debate and produce additional volatility. There is a reasonable argument that a rate hike may exacerbate global currency issues and, along with China’s slow down, foster an environment that will be difficult for stocks to produce outsized gains. It is also quite plausible that today's valuations are historically reasonable and the US economy is strong enough to tolerate an incremental increase. On the other side of the argument, a delay in the rate increase could create an even more difficult position for the Federal Reserve down the road.
Since 2008, governments and central banks have been involved in a grand experiment intended to prevent a global depression and spur growth. More recently, a number of countries have taken steps to devalue their currency in order to make their goods cheaper for export. These factors and others tend to increase the potential for distortion and amplified volatility. While this is disconcerting, it does not change our fundamental views or approach.
Looking toward the long term trends, we see the economies in America and much of the world moving back toward what was normal before 2008. The developed markets seem poised to benefit from lower unemployment and a lower cost of oil. Europe also has the advantage of a cheaper currency which should help their exports. Many emerging market countries depend on the exports commodities and have been hurt due to price weakness in energy and minerals. Concerns about their currencies versusthe dollar have also weighed heavily on their underperformance. Still, we see capitalism, along with knowledge and innovation, expanding at home and around the world and we think participation in this expansion will be rewarded over time. Making asset allocation decisionsthat are consistent with your goals and maintaining discipline to stick with the practice of rebalancing and shifting toward assets we view as undervalued, will give us the highest probability of a successful outcome.
To that end, we continue to phase into investments with strong financials and economic potential while being thoughtful of exhausting cash too quickly. While we don’t pretend to know if these additional investments and changes will produce positive results over the next month or even year, we feel good about their potential over the longer term.
On a final note, at the end of September,we intend to produce our first of edition of “Investment Notes”. It will be a short piece outlining the what, why, how, and what’s next of changes we’ve made in each of our strategies.We anticipate that it will be deposited into your on?line vault on a monthly basis going forward. We look forward to your feedback on this new communication as well as any other thoughts, questions, or comments.
As always, thank you for allowing us to work with you.
The CCA Investment Team
Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Please note that individual situations can vary. Therefore, the information presented here should only be relied upon when coordinated with individual professional advice.