Thoughts From Our Founder: Reflection and Optimism for What Lies Ahead
As we close the door on 2023, I can’t help but look back at this past year and reflect on the various twists and turns we experienced, most unexpected and some even fitting the description of a “black swan” event- an extremely unexpected event, which results in a decisively negative impact on the markets.
Following is a list of some of these unexpected events:
1. The Federal Reserve raised interest rates three additional times and at the fastest clip between 2022 and 2023 that we have seen since the 1980’s.
2. Soaring interest rates caused the value of banks’ bond portfolios to drop sharply. This dynamic combined with a surge in customer withdrawals evoked memories of 2008 and saw some major regional banks unexpectedly collapse.
3. We experienced a double strike in the entertainment industry when both the writers and then the actors went on a prolonged strike, effectively bringing production and the entertainment industry to a grinding halt.
4. The war between Russia and Ukraine entered its second year but global support for Ukraine seems to be waning and US financial support is tied up in a split congress.
5. Hamas launched an unforeseen attack on Israel leading to a war which is still ongoing. Historically, Middle East conflicts have led to spikes in oil prices but this time around the economic impact was muted and crude oil actually ended the year down 10% at $77.04 a barrel.
A year ago, most analysts were calling for a US recession and they were wrong. Instead, inflation receded, consumers kept spending and unemployment during the year fell to 3.4%, the lowest level since 1969. Nevertheless, many experts still remain concerned that inflation could rise again, interest rates may not fall as much as expected or that we can actually fall into a recession in 2024. Further, many are concerned about the uncertainty surrounding our upcoming Presidential election, gridlock in Congress and ongoing geopolitical risks and challenges.
It is apparent that the herd was completely wrong in 2023. This leads me to remind you of the basics when managing and allocating your individual portfolios, noting again that successful market timing is virtually impossible. As we start a new year, I urge you to once again think about your risk tolerance, the time horizon for requiring portfolio withdrawals, potential personal risks, family dynamics and the possibility of accessing or needing to replenish emergency funds. Please feel free to reach out set a call/zoom/meeting should there be any updates in your personal circumstances or should you wish to discuss your projected needs in 2024.
We stand ready and excited to work together with you again in 2024, to hopefully meet your ongoing goals and navigate through whatever lies ahead. One certainty is that there invariably will be unexpected events and unforeseen headlines again this year. No matter what happens, I urge you to reflect on the market and economic gyrations in 2023 and the benefits we all realized by staying disciplined, unemotional and strategic through the year’s volatility.
On a personal note, we at JSF are very excited about the next chapter in our firm’s 28 year history as we embark on constructing our new modernized office suite on the 21st floor of our existing building. Further, we have celebrated engagements, weddings, and new additions amongst our JSF family. Much of this would not be possible without your ongoing confidence and trust. Here’s to a 2024 full of good health, happiness, peace and prosperity for us all.
Happy New Year!
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The Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index measures the investment-grade U.S. dollar-denominated, fixed-rate taxable bond market and includes Treasury securities, government-related and corporate securities, mortgage-backed securities, asset-backed securities and commercial mortgage-backed securities.
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