December 2015 Commentary

How the Grinch stole Santa’s Rally into the New Year: December 2015 Outlook

Santa never came. We childlike investors represent all the little Who Ville citizens, including yours truly little Zandy Who. The Grinch left us lumps of coal in our stockings and took our zonkers for zonk bopping and our honkers for honk hocking.  Luckily, we as intelligent investors don’t have to put up with this Dr. Seuss metaphor for much longer. Simply put, the fear in the market is due to two things: falling oil prices and the actions of the Federal Reserve.

For the month of December, we finished the month and year very flat. Unfortunately, the Grinch wasn’t satisfied with the Christmas spoils. He decided to begin 2016 by scaring the investing public to death. It is on this point that we wish to opine. China has been a problem forever. The issue isn’t the economy or a depression; more simply, it’s the lack of transparency that the world has with such a huge country. The fact that we can have something so large and economically consequential to the United States and the rest of the world and simultaneously be opaque is the real reason for all the volatility. What happens in China stays in China. The unknown economic effect on the world is exactly what Wall Street hates and punishes with down markets!

On the other hand, I’m not buying all the fear mongering.  Why is what’s happening in China any different from the Asian contagion? We survived that time. In fact, I think the glass is more than half full: unemployment is lower (I know it all depends on who, what, and how you measure, I got it). Interest rates are still very low and will be increased carefully over the first ½ of the year. This adjustment will put bullets back in the Fed’s gun; therefore, our world in the United States is more stable. Finally, while the precipitous falling price of oil has been painful, the consumers win at the pump, and investors win with some bargains. I promise you that I am not being Pollyanna about the investment landscape; there are plenty of landmines. Our goal in 2016 is to use our newly established partners within the firm and our investment tools to make sure that we bounce on to higher account values in the near future which is why we cannot take panicky irreversible action today.

In the spirit with which we began this December outlook, we will quote one or our favorite authors, Dr. Seuss as we think about the beginning of this New Year:

“I’ve heard there are troubles of more than one kind; some come from behind. But I’ve brought a big bat. I’m all ready, you see; now my troubles are going to have troubles with me! “

Happy New Year!

 

Mark Scott

A.G. Campbell Advisory, LLC, 1340 Smith Avenue, Suite 200, Baltimore, MD 21209