In case you somehow have not yet heard, 2020 is a presidential election year. In November, we Americans will go to the polls and collectively determine whether President Trump has earned another four years in office, or if we would be better served by the chosen Democrat candidate. While the race is sure to be hotly contested and the ad dollars good for network and social media bottom lines, what, if anything, does a presidential election portend for equity markets?
Reflecting on 2019, but looking ahead to 2020!
Below we highlight our most popular blog posts from 2019. We're all grateful for the support of our many loyal readers. As always, we welcome your questions or comments. Also, if you would like for us to cover a specific topic in 2020, we would love to hear from you. Just fill out the form on our contact us page and we will be in touch!
In his inaugural address on January 20, 1977, President Jimmy Carter extolled that the nation, “must adjust to changing times and still hold to unchanging principles.” At times it seems we are living in a Moore’s Law-ian period of constant change. In finance, this change has lowered costs for passive, index-based investors, shepherded the advent of quantitative analytics, and enabled investors to efficiently expand analytical horizons.
This expansion has helped usher Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing criteria into the investment mainstream. According to The Forum for Sustainable and Responsible Investment, $12 trillion, or one-fourth of all US-based professionally managed assets, use ESG criteria in their analysis. While there are studies that show consideration of these factors have led to better returns, the increased adoption of ESG criteria should be celebrated because we believe it fosters better corporate behavior.
The 2010s were full of change. In a 3-part blog series, we have taken time to review some of the most memorable changes from this past decade: The Effects of Climate Change, Central Banks Take the Wheel and below, How Mobile has Changed Our World.
In January 2010, the dawn of what would become a decade of unprecedented technological advancement, Steve Jobs stood on a stage in San Francisco and introduced the iPad. Apple had just become the most valuable technology company on the planet and this new, touch-screen device would catapult the company to the first ever trillion-dollar valuation and forever change the computing world.
As part of a 3-part blog series covering the most memorable changes from the 2010s, our 2nd post covers the effects of climate change. If you are interested in reading the first part in this Decade in Review series, Central Banks Take the Wheel, please see link below.
In mid-November the city of Venice, Italy experienced its worst flood in over fifty years. Fueled by rising ocean waters, drudged canals and 75 mile-per-hour winds, the brackish waters of Laguna Veneta rose six feet above normal levels, flooding over 80% of the city. The flood waters caused an estimated $1.1 billion in damages. Included in that estimate is considerable damage done to St. Mark’s Cathedral whose crypt flooded for the first time since 1966.
As we approach a new decade, we’d like to take a moment to reflect on some of the most memorable changes from the 2010s. In a 3-part blog series, we will cover central banks, how mobile has changed our world, and the effects of climate change.
Perhaps the biggest change in the financial markets over the past ten years is the evolution of the Federal Reserve from a somewhat autonomous, esoteric monetary policy making body to an almost ubiquitous actor in monetary, economic and political policy. In 2010 Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke was an anonymous figure, known by few outside financial circles. Today, Chairman Jerome Powell is mentioned weekly in tweets by the President.
On November 13th the Wall Street Journal published an article entitled “A Socially Responsible Strategy Can Be Tricky” that largely took to task Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing. Though the author rightly identifies the subjective, and at times confusing, nature of ESG criteria standards (something Dana has previously discussed), the majority of the article is a somewhat cynical view of ESG investing as a worthwhile economic endeavor.
An interesting dichotomy has developed between the collective psychology of investors and market performance. In a hint of growing uncertainty, investors’ cash allocations have grown $1 trillion over the last three years to levels unseen since 2009. (See chart 1 below). Given the current environment, investor trepidation is understandable. The U.S. remains in an on-again, off-again trade war with China, economic growth has been lackluster as stagnating manufacturing data continues to wrestle with decent services growth, and impeachment hearings have brought to a boil the nation’s political animus. Yet, despite the uncertainty, markets averages have soldiered on to new highs.
The once red-hot market for unicorn investments has turned chilly. These start-up enterprises with a value of at least $1 billion have enjoyed relative easy access to private capital this cycle. Robust growth, easy credit and a fair amount of hype combined to elevate the early valuations of these companies. Peloton Interactive, Inc. (PTON), the maker of stationary bikes and treadmills, marketed itself as “selling happiness.” Ridesharing company, Lyft, Inc. (LYFT) claimed it was “at the forefront of societal change.” Corporate real estate leasing company WeWork aimed to “elevate the world’s consciousness.”
The October issue of Citywire RIA Magazine has hit the newsstands and they released an RIA Supplement titled, “ESG’s Time Has Come.” Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing seems to be a hot topic recently, but many advisors are not up to date with the ins and outs of ESG investing.
As part of the supplement, Dana submitted an article answering many questions that advisors have about ESG Investing. Questions include:
- What advice would you have for advisors who are looking to get into this space or deepen their ESG Investing toolkit?
- ESG Strategies have become popular. Why is this?
- What’s your approach to ESG Investing? How does it differ from competitors?
- What funds do you offer? Are they all ESG funds?
- How do you see the future of ESG playing out? Is it going to become more mainstream and just a regular part of how people invest?
The Dana Funds are distributed by Ultimus Fund Distributors, LLC. There is no affiliation between Ultimus Fund Distributors, LLC. and the firms referenced in this blog post.