Market Update: Separating Emotion from Action

March 9, 2020

As we write this message, the week has opened with a plunge in global stock markets following a shock to oil prices (due to Saudi Arabia’s sudden decision to drastically cut prices). This comes after a weekend that saw continued spread of the coronavirus, with communities around the world instituting social distancing measures and quarantines.

We recognize that all this is highly unnerving and even frightening. We further acknowledge that the full economic and medical effects of this disease are unknowns.

However, what we do know is that panicked investing is never a good strategy. Here is what you can count on from your Litman Gregory team:

  • First, as our clients know, we were already conservatively positioned with lower allocations to U.S. stocks and higher allocations to fixed-income and diversifying alternative strategies. In recent weeks we’ve seen the benefit of these latter holdings, as they’ve held up compared to stock markets or even appreciated.
  • Second, our discipline is to use our long-term orientation to our clients’ advantage by looking out beyond the near-term fear to rationally assess fundamentals and valuations. When there is a highly compelling case, we are prepared to act by adding back to risk assets like stocks when they are cheap and unloved. This is one of the hardest actions to take as an investor—to “be greedy when others are fearful.” But by acting with informed conviction, we can add long-term value to our clients’ portfolios.

Again, we understand that significant market volatility—in this case combined with a scary real-world health threat—naturally elicits questions and emotions. Our team is here and available to talk through any questions or concerns you have. As always, our thoughts are with all those directly affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Update on our business preparedness: We want to assure clients that Litman Gregory is prepared for these extraordinary circumstances. We are closely monitoring the coronavirus and have implemented precautionary measures to protect everyone’s health to the maximum extent possible while minimizing disruption to Litman Gregory’s business operations. Our risk-management measures include elevated hygiene practices individually and within our offices, the activation and testing of remote work capabilities for all employees, ensuring up-to-date business continuity plans for all key employees and business functions, an assessment of vendor vulnerability to work outages, and placing limits on employee business travel. Our business-continuity team is closely tracking developments within our local communities and will update the steps we are taking accordingly.

If you have questions or would like to discuss your individual situation, please contact our team so we can set some time for discussion.

—Litman Gregory Investment Team