facebook twitter instagram linkedin google youtube vimeo tumblr yelp rss email podcast phone blog search brokercheck brokercheck Play Pause

Stay Up to Date With Clear Harbor

Receive Updated Commentary and News

Quarterly Market Outlook

The Clear Harbor Market Outlook is a quarterly market update.

Clear Harbor Outlook for 2022 Q4

Shifts in the economic, geopolitical and societal landscape have proved dizzying of late. The quarter about to end has seen a dramatic counteroffensive by Ukrainians against their Russian adversaries, “Zero Covid” policy thwarting growth in China, the passing of Queen Elizabeth II and a new sovereign and Prime Minster in the UK, and persistent inflation and climate-related dislocations around the world. Many questions at the intersection of business and politics remain. Will China’s coziness to Russia and other foes of democracy prod corporations to adjust supply chains and relocate production facilities to freer lands? If so, how will it impact profits and margins—the most significant long-term drivers of equity values? How much will the war in Ukraine exacerbate European energy shortages, fostering dangerous inflation and increasing recessionary pain on the Continent? On a global basis, will similar pressures usher in ever-more populist, and perhaps even undemocratic, political movements? Mark Twain is believed to have remarked: “History never repeats, but it often does rhyme.” While some of today’s economic and political trends may echo what has come before, the confluence of considerations are unique. On a number of fronts, consensus thinking may well be in the midst of significant change, as one regime—whether literal, monetary or otherwise—ends and another begins.

Read More

Clear Harbor Outlook for 2022 Q3

Both for the quarter and year-to-date, volatility was up and prices were down across major asset classes, particularly in equities and fixed income. On the equity front, the MSCI All World Index has declined 13.1% for Q2 and 17.6% YTD; the S&P 500 is off 13.6% and 17.6% respectively for the same periods. After a weak 2021 relative to developed-market indexes, Emerging Markets have fared a bit better so far this year, with the MSCI Emerging Markets Index off a slightly gentler 9.2% in Q2 and 15.5% YTD. On the bond front, the broad U.S. fixed income benchmark, the Bloomberg Aggregate Bond Index, has fallen 5.7% in the quarter and 11.2% YTD. Gold, that traditional shock absorber against market bumps, is unchanged for the year to date, but has given up 5.9% in the quarter as the dollar surged to historically high levels. We view gold as an alternative currency, and therefore believe that its recent ebb is somewhat rational in response to dollar strength. However, as U.S. and global growth slow, I believe that gold is reasonably well positioned to outperform a broad mix of global fiat currencies. Energy is of course up dramatically, with WTI crude oil rising 9.2% in Q2 and 45.7% YTD; natural gas prices in North America have gained 15.2% during the quarter and 74.2% YTD. With that said, domestic prices have trended lower over the last few weeks: the back half of June has seen oil correct by 11.0% from its recent peak, with U.S. natural gas retreating an eye-catching 33.1%. Prices in Europe do remain quite elevated, clearly in response to sharp supply constraints from the war in Ukraine and Russia’s decision to withhold flow.

Read More

Clear Harbor Outlook for 2022 Q2

Russia's unprovoked attack on Ukraine has dealt a blow to economic expectations and the confidence of consumers and investors around the world. Year-to-date, global equity indices are off approximately 8%, while broad measures of fixed income have shed 5.5%. Meanwhile oil has surged more than 40%, gold is higher by more than 6%, and soft commodities and industrial metals are nearly all measurably higher as well. While we hope that Russia will halt their invasion and that the West can address the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, our fear and base case is that this war will continue, leaving thousands more dead. It has already steamrolled key economic assumptions. When I peered into 2022 at the end of 2021, I forecasted higher market volatility in the face of rapidly waning fiscal stimulus and an incremental ebb from historically accommodative monetary policy in the U.S. However, I also believed that these shifts, coupled with a transition toward Covid as an endemic but more manageable public health concern, would allow inflationary pressures—albeit still historically elevated—to wane significantly in 2022.

Read More

Clear Harbor Outlook for 2022

Following a year in which Covid-19 steamrolled the economy and wrought havoc on lives around the world, 2021 brought a measure of long-awaited stabilization. Despite a still-rising death toll, new variants, and supply-chain problems pumping the brakes on the global reopening, the year is poised to end with significant economic momentum, backfilled in large part by record levels of debt-fueled fiscal stimulus. In the U.S., full-year GDP growth will likely register around 5.5% after contracting 3.5% in 2020. As we peer into 2022, we expect to see further normalization of the economic picture as supply-chain bottlenecks are improved, vaccination rates increase, and fiscal stimulus and key measures of inflation in the U.S. both decelerate. These trends should give the U.S. Federal Reserve latitude to begin unwinding their extraordinary asset purchases sparked by Covid, even as they continue to ponder the timing and degree of actual hikes in the Fed Funds Rate. Our view is that while the Fed would prefer to bring rates back toward a more traditional relationship with inflation, speed bumps in the economy as well as political pressures from massive debt could inspire a dovish posture for longer than many expect.

Read More

Clear Harbor Outlook for 2021 Q4

The third quarter of 2021 continued the tug-of-war between uncertainty and self-assurance in the global marketplace. Several concerns took their toll on stocks late in the quarter, including those over the Delta variant, a more cautious U.S. and international consumer, potential economic fallout from China’s faltering real estate sector, and data confirming that the elevated GDP growth of Q2 was, indeed, the likely peak of this cycle in the U.S. Nevertheless, the broader economic reopening story appears intact. As hospitalizations and case counts generally decline, we are adjusting to our new normal—which is to say: finding ways to live with the virus, perhaps indefinitely.

Read More

Clear Harbor Outlook for 2021 Q3

The second quarter saw a sharp spike in GDP growth and a well-advertised rise in inflationary pressures, as demand rose in the face of supply chain bottlenecks affecting everything from new cars to lumber. Employers, particularly in the hospitality sector, were caught in a similar vise, with a wave of pandemic-weary customers returning just as the supply of employees proved constrained by return-to-work fears, limited childcare options, and sustained unemployment bonus incentives.

Read More