Markets, investing and what matters most: quarter in review Q2, 2022
By ATB Wealth 28 July 2022 6 min read
Written by Travis Higgins, CFA, CFP and Curtis Huska, CFA, CFP on behalf of Private Investment Counsel (PIC), ATB Wealth’s discretionary portfolio management team. PIC specializes in working with ATB’s high-net-worth private clients.
Interest rate increases, coupled with elevated inflation and recessionary fears, have led to another volatile quarter for investors. On top of a challenging first quarter, many markets, particularly the bond market and US equity market, experienced first-half declines not seen in several decades.
As interest rates continued to rise over the quarter, bond prices fell, leading the broader bond market to a -5.7% return and a -12.2% return through the first six months (bond prices work inversely to interest rates). This represents the worst six-month period since at least 1980. The silver lining is that bond yields are now the highest they have been since 2008 — any bond held or newly purchased will now return about 2% more per year until maturity compared to yields at the end of 2021. Read more about that in our recent article on bonds.
During the quarter, global equities fell in lockstep as Canadian, US, and international equity markets all experienced declines of roughly 12% to 13.5% in Canadian dollar terms. This is despite earnings growth remaining positive. Year-to-date returns on Canadian, US, and international equities in Canadian dollars were -10%, -19%, and -18% respectively. During the quarter, the US stock market officially entered bear market territory having fallen 24% from its all-time high in early January.
As the chart below shows, investors should take heart. Periods of poor market performance have generally been followed by periods of exceptional returns.
The worst S&P 500 quarterly returns - 1926 to 2022
Headlines that mattered this quarter
In the Bank of Canada’s (BoC) ongoing fight to rein in inflation, on July 13 (technically the third quarter) the BoC raised its benchmark interest rate by a surprising 1%. This was on top of a 0.50% hike during the second quarter. After starting the year at 0.25%, total interest rate hikes of 2.25% have the benchmark rate now sitting at 2.5%. After this latest hike, the big five banks along with ATB were quick to raise their prime lending rate which, at 4.7%, is the highest since September 2008.
The most recent inflation reading in Alberta and Canada respectively showed an increase of 8.4% and 8.1% year over year, the highest reading since 1983 (also the first year the Oilers met the Flames in the playoffs).
Oil prices spiked immediately after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia in the first quarter. This has been partly responsible for the elevated inflation readings the global economy has experienced this year. That said, the price of a barrel of oil (as measured by WTI or West Texas Intermediate) fell during the last month of the quarter. After trading at over $120/barrel as recently as June 7, it ended the quarter around $106. At the time of this writing, oil had fallen to below $95 per barrel.
Crude oil WTI
Supply chains improve
Through the pandemic, supply chain backlogs became a regular headline. The good news is that supply chain pressures appear to be easing. The New York Fed’s aggregate supply chain measure now shows a material improvement (see next chart). Similarly, US manufacturers are now complaining much less about supplier deliveries.
Global supply chain pressure has eased but still elevated
The unemployment picture remained very healthy this past quarter as both the Canadian and US unemployment rates remained near historically low levels. At the end of the quarter, the unemployment rate in Canada was 4.9% whereas the US unemployment rate stood at 3.6% (just above its all-time low of 3.5%).
Compass and Pools O class positioning and performance chart
The Compass Portfolios and ATBIS Pools (the funds) were down in absolute terms for the quarter along with the broader markets, but outperformed on a relative basis across both fixed income and equities. Read the full ATBIM Portfolio Managers’ commentary for the second quarter.
Compass Portfolios and ATBIS Pools - Series O - Q2, 2022
The behavior gap explained
It has been documented in numerous studies that the average investor earns returns notably less than the markets and the funds they are invested in. An explanation for this gap is that investors tend to make investing decisions based on the desire to avoid pain (loss) and experience pleasure (returns).
Decisions to sell when investments have fallen in value can lead investors to a permanent loss of their capital. Investors who plan to re-enter the markets should be aware that some of the best returns come shortly after the worst returns. Missing out on the early days of a recovery can materially affect investors’ long-term returns when compared to a “buy and hold” strategy. Alternatively, investors can be drawn to investments that have experienced recent strong returns. This can lead to a cycle of ‘buying high, selling low.’ For a prime example of this behaviour, please check out the article on ARKK funds mentioned in our final section.
How investors can protect themselves
Sticking to your long-term investment strategy
A conscious and thoughtful decision to do nothing is still a form of action. Have your financial goals changed? If your portfolio is built around your long-term goals, a short-term change in markets shouldn't matter. Having a written Investment Policy Statement (IPS), has been shown to help investors stick to their long-term plan.
Investors can often overestimate their willingness to take on risk during periods of calm or exuberant markets. It can be during periods of falling markets when one’s true risk tolerance will reveal itself. Taking on appropriate levels of risk (bond to equity ratio) in advance will help you to ride out these periods of volatility without sacrificing your long-term returns, and protect your portfolio from permanent loss.
A diversified portfolio benefits investors in a number of ways:
- Eliminating the risk of a permanent loss of capital
- Lowering overall portfolio volatility as asset classes, sectors, and individual countries typically run on different return cycles
- Helping investors to not chase performance
Despite both the Canadian and US stock markets reaching all-time highs earlier this year, recent market declines have investors concerned about what lies ahead. The takeaway an investor should have at times like this is that every crisis, real or perceived, be it economic, geopolitical, or market related, has eventually been overcome and markets move onto new highs.
Best-selling author Jeremy Siegel, who has tracked the US stock market’s performance over a couple of centuries, shows that equities, which ultimately represent an ownership in businesses, have produced returns higher than any other asset class over the long term. It is the only asset class to take advantage of human ingenuity and society’s ongoing drive for improvement. Siegel acknowledges, however, that despite the historical evidence, it is likely to be our emotions that will drive our investment behaviour, and that successful investing is far more about being able to resist our very human (and normal) impulses of fear.
In his best-selling book, The Psychology of Money, Morgan Housel writes “I am a passive investor optimistic in the world’s ability to generate economic growth and I’m confident that over the next 30 years that growth will accrue to my investments.”
As historical evidence firmly bears this out, he might be onto something.
What we’re reading and listening to
- ARKK: An Object Lesson in How Not To Invest - by Morningstar.
For a prime example of the “Behaviour Gap'' look no further than this Morningstar article that takes a look at Cathie Wood’s ARKK fund.
- On the Inevitability of Bear Markets - by Ben Carlson.
“Knowing a bear market will occur is half the battle.”
This document and all of the content has been compiled by ATB Investment Management Inc. (“ATBIM”) which manages the Compass Portfolios and ATBIS Pools. ATBIM, ATB Securities Inc. (“ATBSI”), and ATB Insurance Advisors Inc. are wholly owned subsidiaries of ATB Financial and are individually licensed users of the registered trademark for ATB Wealth. ATBSI is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
The mutual fund performance data provided assumes reinvestment of distributions only and does not take into account sales, redemption, distribution or optional charges or income taxes payable by any security holder that may reduce returns. Unit values of mutual funds will fluctuate and past performance may not be repeated. Mutual Funds are not insured by the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, nor guaranteed by ATB Securities Inc., ATB Investment Management Inc., ATB Financial, the province of Alberta, any other government or any government agency. Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees, and expenses may all be associated with mutual fund investments. Read fund disclosure documents before investing. The Compass Portfolios includes investments in other mutual funds. Information on these mutual funds, including the prospectus, is available on the internet at sedar.com.
Opinions, estimates, and projections contained herein are subject to change without notice, and ATBIM does not undertake to provide updated information should a change occur. The information in this document has been compiled or arrived at from sources believed reliable but no representation or warranty, expressed or implied, is made as to their accuracy or completeness. ATBFinancial, ATBIM and ATBSI do not accept any liability whatsoever for any losses arising from the use of this report or its contents. The material in this document is not, and should not be construed as an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any investment. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part; referred to in any manner whatsoever; nor may the information, opinions, and conclusions contained herein be referred to without the prior written consent of ATBIM.
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