Posted by Vi Hughes on Sep 17, 2020
This Tuesday we heard on ZOOM from Jordan Schwann, a Portfolio Manager with Newport Wealth. Newport has been in business for twenty years and has about three billion dollars in assets under management. About thirty percent of their client base is in Alberta.
 
Jordan first talked about the effect of the COVID pandemic on our economy. COVID is a world-wide pandemic with significant numbers of infections and deaths which have had and will continue to have a significant effect on economies around the world. He said that there is no way we can go back to normal until we have a vaccine. Vaccine development is ongoing in many companies and countries around the world. There are presently nine companies with a vaccine in final approval Stage 3 trials. Hopefully, several of these will be available sometime next year.
 
The economic effects of this pandemic have been the sharpest and deepest global recession since the Great Depression. Real GDP growth was already slowing in 2019, but the pandemic effects of business shutdowns pushed it down even further. Central banks and governments have provided monetary stimulus and have cut interest rates to help to compensate. This has resulted in massive purchases of bonds, securities, ETFs and hi yield bonds. Globally governments have spent ten trillion US dollars. Our economy in North America lost about ten-years-worth of job gains in the first few months of the pandemic.  Jordan said that only about fifty percent of those jobs have been regained so far. Fortunately, consumer spending has held up really well throughout, which shows that government transfer payments for low income individuals are working. Unfortunately, one area that is not doing well is small businesses, which are still down about twenty percent. Very large corporations are doing fine finding funds as they can issue bonds, but some large companies in hard hit sectors such as travel, energy and real estate are going bankrupt, if they did not have enough cash flow to cover their debt.
 
Financial markets sold off quickly at the beginning of the pandemic but rebounded as soon as the central banks stepped in. At the moment the market is showing some unusual trends. The S&P 500 is currently dominated by the values of just six stocks, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google and Microsoft. They currently make up twenty five percent of the entire value of the S&P 500. These companies are attracting a lot of interest right now, but investors should be sure that they are purchasing good companies at a good price as well. Some market corrections are most likely coming. Governments are using low interest rates to support markets, and this is bad news for the bond market. This means people are putting their money into the stock market. Average investors need to think about how to generate income in this environment as low interest rates are here to stay for a while. Some factors to consider are the speed of vaccine development and the correlated economic recovery, the current social and political unrest, inflation rates and levels of pre-existing debt. He said that a broad diversification of investments is the best approach to deal with all of these things.