On this week’s show, Karl discusses the market’s struggles in May. Sell in May and go away worked this year. Tariffs, a trade war, and a slowing economy were the main culprits.
Hey everybody, welcome to the Eggerss Report. This is the podcast that keeps you informed of what’s going on in the markets, trying to help you become a better investor, be more productive with your money, help you save money, all those different things.
Later on in this show we’re going to, again, give you what I call a case study. It’s a real life example of a situation I was in with a client and it involves the time and the decision of leaving your home, moving to assisted living. It may not be affecting you, yet, but maybe it’s a parent, maybe it’s an aunt, maybe it’s somebody that you care fore. They’ve made the move, then the decision becomes when to sell the house, how to sell the house? So, we’re going to talk a bit about that later on, and hopefully, the goal of that is to give you some information so if you’re in that situation you can help that particular person or yourself. That’s coming up in just a bit.
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All right, well, let’s get back in it here with this market, because the tariff and trade war that was simmering down a few weeks ago reared its ugly head in the month of May. Of course, it started with what looked to be China kind of backing out on some things, so President Trump took the nuclear option and said, fine. I’ll show you. Here come more tariffs.
You’ve seen this chess match, and probably a chess match where both sides already had their moves ready to go. What I mean by that is, we upped our tariffs, and then, of course, they retaliate with something else saying, we’re going to have more tariffs. Then we come back with something else. Wednesday this week, China started talking about rare Earth metals.
Now, rare Earth metals are something that you heard a lot about probably in 2006 and 07, just before the financial crisis. These are 17 elements of the periodic table, and China exports a lot of this to the US. They’re used in things like batteries, and Smart phones, and electric cars, fighter jets. It was going to be really, really big and people started investing in rare Earth metals. It simmered down after the financial crisis, and we haven’t heard about a lot of this, but it’s reared its ugly head on Wednesday because China said we may start retaliating by controlling that, and making it more difficult for the US, whether they have tariffs, or whatever they’re going to do with that. It could affect the US, so it really affected the market that day.
Of course, the market was closed on Memorial Day. Happy Memorial Day, and thank you to all the men and women that have served and sacrificed. So, the market was closed on Monday. We came back Tuesday, and apparently the buyers were still up in the Hamptons, or wherever they spent their Memorial Day, the traders on Wall Street. Really, the main issue, the Dow was down about 230 points that day, the main issue was, again, what we’re seeing is, this inverted yield curve.
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All this stuff we’re talking about, you could go back and listen to podcasts several weeks ago, months ago, and it’s the same thing. Inverted yield curve, what does that mean? Short term interest rates are higher than longer term interest rates. So, a three month treasury is paying more than a 10 year treasury. You can lend your money to the government for three months and get paid more than what you would lend it to the government for for 10 years. It doesn’t make any sense, unless the economy is slowing. When the economy is slowing, this is what happens, inverted yield curves sometimes appear. This is happening.
This happened a few months ago, and it kind of resolved itself, and now it’s coming back again. Here we are, at the lowest level, or the most inverted we’ll call it, since 2008. So, you know, when you see something like that you could say, ah, it’s temporary, we can ignore it, but it’s something to pay attention to. That was one thing that happened.
Then, of course, Wednesday as I said, the rare Earth, the next chess move by China comes into play, and the Dow was down about 400 at one point. It kind of rallied back, finished down about 200. What was interesting this week, and you’ll hear more about this, is the emerging markets were up that day. There was several stocks that were actually in the green that day. It hasn’t been an all or none type of selloff.
Now, we’re down … We finally have had a 5% pull back. Since 1990, usually there’s at least three 5% pullbacks. We hadn’t had one until now, so that’s been rare. What’s not rare is to actually have one. We actually have a 5% pull back, that is normal. We’ve had that.
Thursday, the market kind of bounced around on the green. Agricultural commodities, which we own in our aggressive strategy, have been on a huge run. Gold’s doing very well. We actually own some gold miners in our aggressive strategy, as well. We have a bit of gold in some of our other strategies. Again, emerging markets.
Friday, we come in and what do we see? The Dow future is down, once again. Why? Because President Trump had enough of immigration and said, you know what? We’re going to slap 5% tariffs on Mexico as of June 10th if they don’t resolve immigration. There’s a video that surfaced about over 1000 people, 4AM in the morning on Thursday to Friday morning, coming in through El Paso. So, he’s using these tariffs, coming out guns a blazing.
Now, Mexico’s response I thought was interesting. It wasn’t retaliatory, it was hey, let’s have a dialogue, let’s try to resolve this. They seem to be wanting to play ball. Again, I think Mexico … Full disclosure, we own the Mexico ETF in our aggressive strategy. We feel like, number one, the dollar is way over done to the upside, and as the dollar comes down, emerging markets and commodities and all those things will go up. Mexico is in a great position, geographically, and the issues going on with China, so I think the US and Mexico have a lot to gain from that relationship. This immigration is something that is frustrating the President, as it is a lot of people, therefore he’s using the weapon he has, which is tariffs and trade.
Of course, we wake up, the stock market and investors don’t like that, so the Dow was down 300 points at the open. I do think it’s interesting right now. What you’re seeing is the dollar has been on tear, and yet, go look at some of the commodities this past week, go look at gold this past week, and gold miners, and go look at the emerging markets. Emerging markets were up on the week, even through all the stuff.
Is there something going on? We’ve been bullish on some of these areas, and there’s been some tough sledding the last few months, especially … What happens is, if some bad economic numbers come out internationally, then the US economically looks better than the other places around the world, therefore our dollar goes up. When our dollar goes up, guess what? Commodities go down, foreign stocks go down, right? Gold goes down, all types of commodities. But, you didn’t see that this week. You saw the dollar firm until Friday. The dollar’s firm and yet those other areas were actually seeing some money coming.
Are we starting a rotation of some sort? Are we starting where maybe the stock market doesn’t do anything, but some of these areas that have been beaten up severely these last few years actually are performing? We know the emerging markets are cheaper, have a better valuation, they’re growing faster, they have higher dividends in some cases. They’re just a better deal. Do they carry more risk? Sure they do, but they’re a better deal. You hear lots of people saying we’re going to emerging markets, going into emerging markets. Maybe they’re finally starting to do that.
Watch that rotation. I think that was one of the most interesting things we saw this week. Look, here’s the deal. The fact that we have tariffs still there, and increasing, was the main reason that the stock market started to sell off in May, but there’s no doubt about the fact that there are some weaker economic signals coming down every day. Little yellow, flashing lights, right? Little warning signs. Nothing to say a recession’s around the corner, but also nothing to say that the economy is rip roaring. We know that, again, it’s a fragile economy, or susceptible to shocks, as I’ve been saying. Our theme has been good but not great on the economy.
Good is fine. We want it great, but you’re seeing some little signs here and there. I’ve got a dozen little things. I watch a tremendous amount of data flowing in and out on my Bloomberg machine, and it is … Again, some things that are coming down that are just some cracks. So, because of that, I think that combination is what’s causing the market some turbulence here. Yes, the tariffs are a big deal, yes they have people a reason to take profits from the rally from the December lows, but this economy is something that we need to keep an eye on.
If you look at the futures market, there are now Fed hikes being factored in. As far as you can go out, nobody is anticipating any Fed increases at all. In fact, the Fed decreases are about 70% by September. So, the market is saying, look, within the next three to four months, there’s a 70% chance the Fed will cut rates. What will that do? What will cutting rates do?
Do you think the stock market will go up, or do you think the stock market would go down on that? Logically you would say it’s probably going to go up, right? Anytime the Fed’s on the same side as Wall Street, which is lower rates, the market seems to go up. That’s why it started to go up in December when they were hell bent on hiking and then they changed their tune very quickly.
If they cut, I mean, remember they didn’t raise rates a tremendous
… this amount, and so now they start cutting. Does that signal that the economy is weaker than we all believe? So there’s some perma bears out there saying that the economy is horrible. There’s some perma bulls, President Trump being one of them, saying the economy’s fantastic. I can tell you, boots on the ground, again, I know a lot of CEOs, a lot of business owners. Business is great for them. But, there’s no question, when you look at stuff like a 5% tariff on Mexico, if that sticks, you have a 5% increase on all those automobiles coming in from Mexico. That’s not good for consumer spending. The business owners I talk to are worried about this.
But, let’s keep all of this in mind, again, these 5%, 6% pullbacks are really, really normal. The fact that this is the first time it’s happened all year, look, that’s going to happen. What’s interesting, and I think I may have mentioned it last week on the podcast, that when I talk to people, they’re talking as if the market’s down 20% or 25% from its highs. That’s how the mood seems to feel right now, when it’s just vibration, really. We were at all-time highs not that long ago, and we’re only about 5% or 6% off the recent highs.
But, there’s some technical patterns that kind of broke down this week. We always say that, from a technical perspective, if you go back to the December low to the recent high, if we went down to 24,500, that would be about a 50% retracement, they call it. Essentially, giving up half of the gains from the December low to the April highs, you go down about halfway. That would be normal, that would be technically normal. So that’s probably the first place we would go. And, if you also look back at that level, you go back to the October and November, it bounced on that level too, around 24,500 or so. It’s actually about 24,400, we’ll call it. We could fall a little more.
Again, I think we are in a volatile period, but more of a pause. People not really heavily selling, but also, the buyers that were so antsy in December, as we were, and we were buying in December, you get to a point where it rallies like it did, and go, “I’m going to hold off. I have enough stock for now.” That’s where everybody seems to be. But, as I’ve mentioned several times, look at rotations, look at where value is. If you look at things like, and again, we own this, so full disclosure, we own some junior gold miners in our aggressive strategy. But, those things had already been falling. They’re already way off their highs. Emerging markets, way off their highs. Various commodities, various value stocks, specific countries, specific sectors, there are things to do in this market from a tactical standpoint.
In the big part of, hopefully, your portfolio, there is very little to do, because again, this is just some normal vibration. There’s no major signs of major allocation changes happening here. When we talk about this, I always try to qualify it so you don’t get the wrong impression. When I say I like this, or I like that, I’m simply talking about a small piece of the portfolio, or things that look attractive. How much you have, and how often you rebalance, or trade, these things, that is up to you. That is very dependent on your specific situation, whether you have taxes, how much you have in the portfolio, what your goals are. I want to be very clear about that. But, there are things to buy in this market, and there are things to sell in this market.
But, this is not a time, I don’t believe, that to get way, way overly defensive, and what’s interesting too is, some of the defensive areas had a major reversal this week. If you go look at the utility stocks, which you know that we don’t like, down about 4% off their high, but it was the reversal. They were kind of going straight up, and then, one day they just reversed and had a pretty nasty couple of days. That’s an area that I wouldn’t want. Same thing with the consumer staples, down about 4% off their high.
Now, you could argue, “Well, that’s better than the overall market.” That is, but, keep in mind, they were going in the right direction, and they … What’s the safe haven now? Is it still treasury bonds? Well, so far it is. Treasury bonds had a pretty good week. I mean, if you own TLT, they were up probably 2 1/2% this week. Treasury bonds, TLT’s up almost 8% on the year. Remember, TLT is the iShares Barclays 10 year plus, excuse me, 20 year plus treasury bond. So these are long-dated bonds that you buy in a basket in an exchange traded fund, and they’ve been doing very well. Remember, they were moving with the stock market until recently. They went down October, November, started bottoming, started going up when the stock market started going up. Then, in the last few days, during May, as the market went down, they didn’t go down. So it’s interesting to watch that, so that’s still a safe haven bond. But, at some level, do people really want that?
So watch these other areas, these other non-correlated areas, such as gold, to see how they’re acting, because gold hasn’t reacted very well in the last few years, and it’s been interesting to watch that. But, again, the thing to me that’s interesting to watch this week was the emerging markets. If you are buying stocks, which a lot of your don’t, and that is perfectly fine. A lot of you do, that is perfectly fine. Dig deep, go dumpster diving right now, because there are some really good values out there. There’s an interesting, not a debate, but commentary going around about what is value, because Warren Buffet may view value differently than you. You may find value in a very expensive stock. I mean, to me, value is yes, something that is less than what it should be worth. That is value.
But, when it comes to buying stocks, just buying good, old-fashioned, cheap stocks is value. What’s interesting is, a lot of people look at PE ratios, price divided by the earnings, and they say, “If it’s low PE, that’s what I want.” Actually, you might want to be looking at the very highest PEs, because that means the earnings are depressed. Then, the denominator is very, very low, and because of that, it’s got a high PE. Well, maybe that’s just a time where the E is going to start going up. So don’t always just look at some metrics like PE ratio, that’s very elementary, very basic, and there’s lots more to look at when analyzing a stock than just that. But, there are some companies that don’t grow real fast, but they’re just cheap. They’re selling at maybe 70 to 80 cents on the dollar. And, hopefully, if we got into rougher stock market going forward, those would hold up a lot better than some of the ones that are high flying growthier names.
Again, you can kind of see that it’s kind of happened with semiconductors. I mean, semiconductors, as we talked about recently, down 17%, 18% from their April highs. That’s a big drop. So they were over-valued, over-loved, and they’re getting punished for it, relative to other things. But, a very interesting week nonetheless, and a very news-driven week, and a short week. We only had four trading days. But, watch these economy indicators, because we have earnings forecasts going up, but yet, economic signals that are getting weaker. So how does that reconcile, because again, economic signals can do what they want. But, at the end of the day, we’re not buying economic signals, we’re buying profits. If profits are going up, the stock market hangs in there, and if the Fed isn’t aggressively raising rates, the stock market hangs in there. But, what we have to do is monitor the supply and the demand of the overall market, and it’s still okay right now. It was better a few weeks ago, but it’s okay. Nothing that would signal a bear market.
All right, let’s switch gears for a minute. You know I like to give you what I call case studies. These are real life examples of situations that I’ve seen that I think, as I talk through with clients, I could possibly share some insight, and it may help you in your situation, or somebody you know. Recently, I was talking to a client of mine, and she’s a widow. About a year ago, she had some physical problems that were more … seemed to be temporary in nature at the time. She ended up in rehab, and then, essentially, moved to an assisted living facility with the hopes of eventually returning to her home. Well, she’s at the point now where she knows that’s not going to happen, that she would need some shoulder surgery, and a few other things that are just prohibiting her from living completely on her own. Still sharp as a tack, and wants to go home, but is realistic about the fact that she probably won’t.
Now, in the meantime, this house of hers, which is paid off, and it’s a very nice house, is sitting there empty, and she’s paying extra expenses for assisted living. She wanted to … She needs more cashflow from her account. So she wanted to take some additional money out each month from her account. Now, the problem is, if she does that, it’s a pretty high amount relative to what the account is worth. It’s really not sustainable for the long-term. As opposed to me telling her, “This isn’t sustainable, go sell your house.” We talked through the tough decision of what this might look like, and come up with a game plan. She’s in the Houston area. If you know the Houston area, there’s hurricane season, given where she’s located. That’s one of her concerns about … That’s one of her motivations for wanting to sell the house. But, here we are, already in hurricane season, and I told her, I said, “The amount you’re wanting to withdraw each month is not a sustainable plan for the long-term. It’s just the account will cannibalize over time.”
So we talked through the fact that, yes, it’s easy for somebody to say, “Go sell the house.” But, what about the emotional attachment, the memories, the hassle. This is a big ordeal, especially for someone that’s a little up there in age, to go and just sell this house. It’s a decent-sized home. So we talked through what this might look like. She does have some family in town, but of course, they’re busy, and they have kids, and it’s just difficult. So she needs to get back over to the house and start the plan to start getting rid of things. One of the things I told her was, “The first thing I would do is, if you can, maybe it is helpful to take a non-family member, have a non-family member take you to the house. That way, you’re not sitting there talking about memories and things that are going to make this take much longer than it should, number one.
Number two, and maybe harder, to be honest. She had a maid that helped her out from time to time, and she said, “You know what? That’s a good idea. I’m going to call my maid, she can … I can direct her to do things in terms of getting rid of things and moving stuff for me, because she’s physically unable to move a lot of things. I said, “What I would do is, number one, when you go over there, start doing this in phases. Go over there from time to time, and go through some of the items, and if they’re … get rid of 100%, you’re definitely getting rid of them, put them in one pile, or have the mail put them in one pill. If there are things that you’re not sure of, put them in another pile. If they’re things you are definitely doing to keep, put them in a third pile. Start that process, and maybe clear out a particular room. Then, once that room’s done, the maid can clean it, it’s ready to go. So when the house does go up for sale, that’s one thing checked off the list.
As you’re doing this process, it’s going to take some time, and I said, “Look, why don’t we make a plan that you want to sell the house by next season, next hurricane season, that gives you nine to 10 months to get everything out of the house and get it sold?” because, here’s the thing, the house, I told her, I said, “Look, the fact that you’re taking a little more out of your portfolio than you should right now is really a bridge loan, if you will, because you do have another asset sitting there. Right? You have this house, which is an asset. It’s paid off. You’re going to sell it. You’re going to get cash infused, coming to you, and it’s just going to be a few months from now.”
When you take the house into consideration, the amount of money you’re withdrawing out of your account isn’t as high as it would seem. You take what your portfolio is worth plus your house, and you see what your withdrawals are from the portfolio, and that percentage is a little more reasonable when you take the house into consideration, but it’s like a savings account. You’re just not using it right now, but to never use it isn’t a good sustainable plan, so we do need to sell the house. The fact that you’re not going back there, the fact that when a house is sitting there, number one, you’re paying interest and taxes and, number two, things tend to happen when a house is sitting there empty. If you know that, if you’ve ever two homes at one time, trying to sell one of them, you know there are situations that pop up like that.
She knows she needs to sell it, but it helped her to talk through a process and a plan. The plan of attack is she’s going to visit some family out of state in the next month or two and then, when she comes back, she’s going to start going over there on weekends and during the week when she can, when she’s able to get somebody to take her. She’s not driving anymore, so that makes it challenging, but she wants to go back over there and start filtering through some of her belongings, some of her memories and going through that process slowly, so that phase one is getting that house in order, literally getting things out of it and then starting to get it sale-ready with the plan of having a deadline by next spring and, if she does that, it gives her plenty of time to do this.
It gets her mentally there because that’s really the biggest thing, and she admitted it. We talked about it. I said this is a mental hurdle. Yes, she could go and hire somebody to empty the house out and put the house on the market, but this is where her husband, who is deceased, and her resided for a number of years, beautiful house, a lot of memories there, a lot of stuff, it’s a large home, and she is now going through this process, and she’s at the point now where she realizes she needs to sell it.
As her advisor, I’m telling her the financial side that she needs to sell it, but I’m also helping her through the emotional side, which is also one of the reasons somebody has a financial advisor is not just to give you the numbers. Anybody could tell her, “Go sell the house. You need to sell the house. It doesn’t financially make sense,” but that’s not what I did. We took the time. We spent about an hour on the phone talking through this action plan and what it might look like, and then the second part of this is, once she does sell the house, then she’s able to use some of that savings to live off of, to help with the assisted living costs, which are high, and, at that point, she doesn’t have to take as much out of her account.
Think about it. Her account, by the way, one of piece of information you don’t know is her account is an IRA, so, every dollar that she takes out extra right now, it’s just more taxes to pay, so… but I told her, “This plan works okay if it’s temporary. Taking a little more out of your IRA for the short term is okay. It’s just not sustainable,” and she understood that and, now, we’re going to put a plan into place.
Now, this isn’t some long, comprehensive plan. This is just a situational plan. This is a specific issue. She has enough money to live. She has enough money to do the things she wants to do, which is what the goal of the plan is. It’s my job to help her talk through that, think through it, get from A to B, and then do it the most efficient manner. Look, the most efficient manner would be, and I should say the most efficient manner for her, the most efficient manner is to sell the house yesterday. That would be the most financially savvy thing to do, but you have to meet people in the middle and understand that sometimes, when you’re selling a home and even if you’re not living there, the emotional attachment, if people push you too much or force you to sell it too quickly or give you bad advice, you may or your friend or your parent may withdraw and, all of a sudden, that house is sitting there for years and years.
I’ve seen that as well. This is a delicate situation, but she totally understood it. She totally enjoyed the conversation and talking through what this looks like, and she’s making a wise decision here, but it takes time. You may have somebody in your life that is in that situation. Whether it’s a parent or whether it is somebody that you live with or maybe you’re a widow or a widower, whatever the situation, sometimes we’re in those predicaments that the financial side meets the emotional side and coming up with a game plan where it makes you or your friend or your parent comfortable is critical. It’s not just about the numbers, and so I wanted to share that with you because that’s a real-life example of things that people go through as they age.
Her husband gave her some wise advice one time. I knew her husband for years. He was a client of mine, and he told her, he said, “This house that we live in is going to be your long-term care policy,” and he was correct because, as I’ve probably shared in a podcast before, a long-term care policy oftentimes increases in price dramatically and, eventually, you get priced up before you’ve ever used it. It just keeps going up and you just can’t afford it anymore, or sometimes these policies, if they are affordable, they don’t cover some of the things that you’d want them to cover, and so what a lot of our clients do is they have a paid-off home and, if one needs care, the other spouse is there, but then when they’re both ready to go to assisted living, they sell the house and downsize and use that equity to help pay for the increased cost of assisted living. [inaudible 00:32:25] and that’s a really good plan.
Now, we know that assisted living costs a lot of money each month, and she’s experiencing that, my client. However, she’s also going to experience, once she sells the home, a decrease in other costs. She won’t have the property insurance. She won’t have the property taxes. She won’t have some of her grocery bills that she had at her other house, so there’s some substitution, there’s some reduction of costs, so, yes, assisted living does cost a lot more, but there’s also some reduction of cost, the maintenance of the home, the lawn care, the maid, all those things that she used to pay for. In the assisted living, she doesn’t have to. Once she’s completely out of the house, some of her costs are going to go away and, obviously, the assisted living goes up a little bit, so she is going to have increased cost from where she was two, three years ago, but once the house is sold, some of those costs will go away.
That’s a real-life situation of a financial decision that also meets an emotional decision, so, if you know somebody that’s in that situation, we could help. Obviously, we helped her, and we help clients do those things every day, and they could be all kinds of decisions, whether it’s college planning, when to take Social Security. We have a client right now, a high-paid executive that wants to go work for a nonprofit, and he’s doing it at a fairly early age, so we’re doing a comprehensive plan to see what that looks like, to plan out the cash flows, and, yes, it will work under certain conditions. He needs to know what those conditions are, and we’re outlining those and giving him a game plan, and he’s able to leave that really stressful job and go work for a nonprofit, which some people would say maybe it’s a more stressful job, but, anyway, he’s wanting to do this, and I think he’s going to enjoy it and change his lifestyle and also cut off about two to three hours a day of travel time.
We can help with all those financial planning and life decisions, and we can also help you on the investment side, how to achieve the results you want. Whether it’s tax-free income, whether it’s going a little bit off the beaten path, to have investments that are a little more unique or whether it’s just traditional investments that you just don’t know the allocation or you don’t know how much of certain assets to hold or when to be more aggressive, when to be more conservative, or maybe you need an advisor to help you stay on the path, a lot of clients need us for that.
Any of those things you need, we’re always here to help, 210-526-0057, and that’s really why we do this podcast is to bring our experiences to you, whether they’re in the stock market or whether they’re in the financial planning realm with real-life situations. We always run into situations that are very interesting. Sometimes, we haven’t run into a lot of those particular cases, and so we’re having to do some research and having to tap some of our resources, but we always come up with the answer or find the help and find the answers for the client.
Anyways, I hope that was helpful to you, because you’re probably going to run into that situation either with yourself or with a parent. All right, that’s a wrap for today. We appreciate it. Don’t forget you can call us, 210-526-0057, or visit our website, and we’re on social media. The podcast, of course, you can get it on Overcast, Apple Podcast, Stitcher Radio, Spotify, iHeartRadio, lots of ways or just on the website.
Have a wonderful weekend, and we will see you back here next week on The Eggerss Report. Take care, everybody.
This show is for entertainment only, and the information provided by the hosts, guests and this station should not be deemed as advice. Your investment decisions should be based on your own specific needs. You should do your own research before you make those decisions. As president and CEO of Eggerss Capital Management, Karl Eggerss may hold securities mentioned in the show for himself and his clients. Just don’t buy or sell anything based on what you get from radio or TV. Use your own judgment or get yourself a trusted advisor.