Most important for today – the last morning note of 2015 – I want to wish you and yours the very best of the New Year.
May 2016 be happy, safe, healthy, blessed and filled with prosperity.
Before we leave this rather forgettable market year behind – a couple of numbers you might fancy to take note of – and which set the stage for more contrary surprises next year and beyond:
While there is likely a bit more adding a subtracting to do for fine-tuning the numbers, MasterCard has come out with shopping results for the Holiday Season.
Before we get to the number, recall what we were constantly told leading up to the joyous event – and for nearly every hour on the hour after we put away the Thanksgiving meal utensil s:
It was going to be a terrible season. The consumer was weak, cheap oil was bad for us – wages were not helping, etc., etc., etc.
Oh – and the number?
The Holiday Shopping Season for 2015 ended with a 7.9% increase year over year – one of the largest annual increases on record.
Consumers are fine – wages are solid – jobs are healthy – cash is piled high in couches and mattresses everywhere.
Fear is robust – and that is an excellent setting for 2016.
And the market? Well it spent the year traveling great distances but going nowhere. As we speak – we are hovering just under no change for the year in the major averages. It was not a fun year as markets go and nothing to write home about as to fantastic exploits.
Now It Gets Interesting
Over the past 4 to 5 years, much has changed in the input pricing part of the world. The price of oil has tumbled by two-thirds, gold is down over 40%, non-energy commodity prices are down 40%, and industrial commodity prices have fallen by more than one-third.
Over the same period, Chinese economic growth has slowed from 12% to less than 7% by reports (we still think it is slower than reported – but heck, that’s just us), most industrialized economies have experienced persistently “weaker than normal” growth, and inflation as been relatively low – still oddly persistent even as central banks work to boost it.
Many have looked at these facts and have concluded that the world is caught up in a deflationary death spiral.
Bearish fever is alive and well, but it is consistently countered by evidence of one oddity seemingly misunderstood by most: the economy continues to grow.
I get it – nothing in this process is very exciting.
But not much has changed: the economy shows every sign of continuing to grow at a relatively disappointingly slow pace. The important thing nevertheless is that there is no sign of recession, deterioration, or deflation, and that’s good news.
So where does that put us in the grand scheme of things?
History helps a bit here.
Now that this year has placed the masses in a funk, expectations are low – and that is putting it mildly. Bearishness is just a whiff of red ink away at any moment and itchy sell triggers are ready to be pushed for just the right headline – fleeing again to the safety of bonds or cash – earning almost nothing.
The Surprises…to the upside?
A few thoughts:
Energy will not spike back up anytime soon – though a 10 or 20 dollar bounce is never out of the question. Gas savings will continue to build confidence in the consumer base the world over.
There are now thousands of finished but capped wells here in the states – ready to flow oil if prices bounce. Remember the golf ball story from earlier notes when you think of oil going forward.
The masses and experts still don’t get it: Over the next 5 to 8 years, we will end up seeing somewhere around 40 to 50 million new households formed here in the States.
We will run out of houses. Permits are skyrocketing as the pressure begins to seep into the knowledge base but we will see the industry run hard to catch up.
Rates will stay low because demand for “safety” is still high. Cash mountains are everywhere and fear of stocks is clear.
Risk aversion is still the first choice of too many – hinting that a surprise to the upside is in the offing.
When the bell curve of expectations is so solidly set to the downside or less – one can build confidence that the masses are in the wrong spot.
Gen Y Rules
Next year and for the next decade of so – the engine we call Gen Y will continue to strengthen and build very surprising momentum in our economy. Many areas of technology are set to rocket forward as hardware is replaced with software, cloud tools, connections, apps, processes an d wireless everything.
That noted – the internet of things is in its infancy as well.
Throw in robotics, nano, medical breakthroughs – and more tech gadgets – and one gets the right picture in mine: Gen Y is making a new and better world for us all. Stand at the proper doorways and watch the mass of this generation flow through them.
It is not an accident that they have already produced four of the top 10 largest capitalized stocks on the exchange.
The better news?
Unlike what we witnessed after the Baby Boom, where Gen X was much smaller, birth rates for Gen Z – the follow-up to Gen Y are steady. Hence we have two of the largest generations of all time here in the US standing back-to-back.
That is a relatively prosperous setting for the next several decades – and likely a big surprise to many.
We are all human and as such we can choose:
Listen to the naysayers and black swan hunters or stand back and view the vast horizon of people ahead? People who will create new things, new tools, new ways, new paths, new (almost) everything.
People make markets.
The rest is noise….often designed to keep you off target.
Years like 2015 – more often than not – set the stage for upside surprises in the ensuing years.
Let’s all take those more positive thoughts into the New Year – along with continued patience and discipline….a requirement in all wealth building.
I look forward to spending that time with you and am here to help you where I can.