“Certain knowledge, to the extent that it ever comes, is given us only after the moment of opportunity has passed. The venturer who awaits the emergence of a safe market, the tax-cutter who demands full assurance of new revenue, the leader who seeks a settled public opinion, all will always act too timidly and too late.”
-George Gilder, Wealth and Poverty
After three years of stock market returns averaging above 25%, the S&P 500 Stock Index declined 18% last year. Speculators in cryptocurrencies, SPACs (Special Purpose Acquisition Companies) and meme stocks had an even more difficult and volatile year, but it was no easy time for serious long-term investors. In addition to the stock market decline and volatility, the Barclay’s Composite Bond Index declined over 13%, as the Fed raised interest rates to combat inflation.
Looking ahead investors face many uncertainties including: inflation, rising interest rates, war in Ukraine, threat of recession, a tight labor supply, concern for corporate earnings and political turmoil. On the positive side, the economy remains strong, unemployment is low, and rising interest rates provide attractive returns on fixed-income investments.
Past stock market lows have been reached during periods of the highest uncertainty and greatest concern. Not surprisingly, investment returns have been the highest after these periods of low market valuations. Perhaps the moment of opportunity is near. We remain confident in our long-term investment strategy.