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Salal Credit Union

Investment Services Newsletters

Salal Investment Services Newsletter, First Quarter 2021

photo of Adrian Hedwig

Adrian A. Hedwig

Financial Advisor, CUSO Financial Services, L.P.
Available for virtual or phone meetings.
P: 206.607.3481
F. 206.299.9530
adrianh.cfsinvest@salalcu.org

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Annual Market Review 2020

Overview

Over the past 12 months, we have endured a global pandemic resulting in numerous deaths and hospitalizations, mass layoffs, a sinking economy, and a contentious presidential election. Our lives and lifestyles changed, where working and learning from home became the “new normal,” and in-person communication was replaced by virtual meetings. In short, 2020 was a very memorable year that tested our resolve, patience, and courage.

The year began with news of a SARS-like virus spreading in China. Little did we know the impact this contagion would impart on our health, politics, and economy. Late in January, the very first known case of COVID-19 in the United States involved a Washington state victim who had traveled from the city of Wuhan, China. By February, the growing number of reported cases of the virus prompted travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, and shutting down of businesses both domestically and around the world. Aside from concern caused by the virus, we were consumed by the impeachment in February of President Trump, who was eventually acquitted by the Senate.

In March, the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic as the spread of the virus reached more than 100 countries, with more than 100,000 reported cases. By mid-March, President Trump declared a state of national emergency. World economies and stock markets were rocked by the spread of the COVID-19 virus. leading to major market sell-offs, plunging stocks well below their 2019 values. The U.S. first-quarter gross domestic product decelerated at a rate of -5%, only to be outdone by a second-quarter deceleration of -31.4%. Fear became the motivating factor in our lives — fear of contracting the virus, fear of losing a loved one to the virus, fear of job loss, fear of economic failure, and fear of losing our money.

In response to the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, several pieces of legislation were passed, including the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, and the massive COVID-19 rescue package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), which included the Paycheck Protection Program and distribution of stimulus checks to qualifying individuals. In May, focus shifted to the death of George Floyd, which sparked protests and confrontations across the country.

The summer months saw a slight lull in the number of reported virus cases. Economies began to marginally recover, some businesses began to reopen, and travel restrictions were relaxed. However, as the availability of testing for the virus increased, so did the number of reported cases. Following the Democratic and Republican national conventions, the campaign for the presidential election captured the focus of most Americans for the rest of the year, although COVID-19 seemed to cast a shadow over almost every aspect of our lives.

The November presidential election resulted in the defeat of President Donald Trump by former Vice President Joe Biden, with the post-election period dominated by attempts to overturn the results through federal courts and state legislatures. Nevertheless, some positive news came at the end of the year with the development and initial dissemination of COVID-19 vaccines and additional legislation that provided $900 billion in pandemic-related stimulus.

The new year brings with it a sense of hope: hope that the virus will be controlled; hope for a return to some form of normalcy in our daily lives; hope for economic prosperity and job security; and hope for peace, both here and around the world — and a good riddance to 2020.

Market/Index
2019 Close
As of 9/30
2020 Close
Month Change
Q4 Change
2020 Change
DJIA
28,538.44
27,781.70
30,606.48
3.27%
10.17%
7.25%
Nasdaq
8,972.60
11,167.51
12,888.28
5.65%
15.41%
43.64%
S&P 500
3,230.78
3,363.00
3,756.07
3.71%
11.69%
16.26%
Russell 2000
1,668.47
1,507.69
1,974.86
8.52%
30.99%
18.36%
Global Dow
3,251.24
2,960.93
3,487.52
4.15%
17.78%
7.27%
Fed. Funds
1.50%-1.75%
0.00%-0.25%
0.00%-0.25%
0 bps
0 bps
-150 bps
10-year Treasuries
1.91%
0.67%
0.91%
7 bps
24 bps
-100 bps
Chart reflects price changes, not total return. Because it does not include dividends or splits, it should not be used to benchmark performance of specific investments.

Snapshot 2020

The Markets

  • Equities: As with almost every aspect of 2020, the pandemic impacted the stock market throughout the year. Investors began hearing of the possible spread of the virus in January, creating uncertainty and trepidation. By the end of February, investors sold more equities than they purchased, driving values down. By the end of March, the spread of COVID-19 throughout much of the world and within the United States prompted a major market sell-off. The first quarter saw each of the benchmark indexes fall far below its 2019 closing value. Fiscal stimulus measures in April, coupled with value buying, drove stocks to their best month since 1987. The possibility of a COVID-19 vaccine, a brief slowdown in the number of reported virus cases, and the onset of the summer season provided enough encouragement for investors to stay in the market. Throughout the rest of the year, despite a resurgence in the number of reported COVID-19 cases and deaths, an historic number of unemployment claims, delays in the long-awaited vaccine, and additional stimulus, investors saw hope that the economy would turn the corner and that the virus would be contained. Those factors, coupled with the low interest-rate environment, made stocks a viable option.
  • On the last day of the year, the Dow and the S&P 500 ended at all-time highs. In fact, the fourth quarter was robust for stocks, with each of the major indexes posting double-digit gains, headed by the small caps of the Russell 2000, which surged to a gain of 31.3% over the prior quarter. Despite the turmoil and early-year losses, all of the benchmark indexes listed here closed 2020 well ahead of their 2019 closing marks. The tech stocks of the Nasdaq, which gained more than 43.0%, led the way, followed by the Russell 2000, the S&P 500, the Dow, and the Global Dow.
  • Bonds: U.S. Treasury yields generally trended lower in 2020, never reaching their 2019 year-end high of 1.91%. Muted inflation and low interest rates drove bond prices up and yields down. Ten-year Treasuries hit an all-time low of 0.3% in March as investors ran from stocks in favor of bonds. The impact of COVID-19 kept investors on edge as the economy drifted toward a recession. As parts of the economy began to slowly recover, investors again moved toward stocks and away from bonds, pushing yields higher. The yield on 10-year Treasuries ultimately closed 2020 at 91.0%, down 100 basis points from where it began the year.
  • Oil: Oil prices began 2020 at $63.05 per barrel, only to slump throughout the rest of the year. Oil demand declined drastically following COVID-19-related lockdowns and travel restrictions. An all-out oil price war in March and part of April drove prices below $20.00 per barrel. An agreement in mid-April to cut petroleum output helped stabilize prices. For the year, crude oil prices averaged about $39.00 per barrel, ultimately closing at $48.44 per barrel on December 31.
  • FOMC/interest rates: The Federal Open Market Committee lowered interest rates dramatically in 2020 while instituting new and drastic measures in response to the economic turmoil caused by COVID-19. The year began with the target range for the federal funds rate at 1.50%-1.75%. However, due to the negative effects of COVID-19, the Federal Reserve cut the federal funds rate by 150 basis points to a range of 0.00%-0.25% in March. In addition, the Fed instituted a policy of unlimited bond buying, including the purchase of corporate bonds; $300 billion in new financing; and the establishment of two new facilities, the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility to enable the issuance of asset-backed securities, and a Main Street Business Lending Program to support lending to eligible small and medium-sized businesses. The target range for the federal funds rate stayed at 0.00%-0.25% through December and will likely remain there for most of 2021. The Fed also committed to continue increasing its holdings of Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities.
  • Currencies: The United States Dollar Index (DX-Y.NYB), which measures the U.S. dollar against the currencies of several other countries, hit a high of $102.99 in March. It closed at $89.91 on December 31, having fallen nearly 9.0% since the beginning of the year. The huge expansion of the national debt coupled with the continued impact of COVID-19 could keep the dollar from gaining upward momentum for quite some time.
  • Gold: Gold prices began the year at $1,524.50 and closed 2020 at $1,901.70, an increase of nearly 25.0%. During the year, gold fell to $1,450.90 in March, only to surge to $2,089.20 in mid-August. Investors turned to gold amid the growing uncertainty of COVID-19. A depreciating dollar and receding bond yields added to the appeal of gold for investors.

Last Month’s Economic News

  • Employment: Employment slowed in November with the addition of 245,000 new jobs, well below the totals for October (638,000) and September (661,000). The unemployment rate inched down 0.2 percentage point to 6.7% in November as the number of unemployed persons dipped from 11.1 million in October to 10.7 million in November. Despite the reduction in the number of unemployed persons, that figure is still 4.9 million higher than in February. Among the unemployed, the number of persons on temporary layoff decreased by 441,000 in November to 2.8 million. This measure is down considerably from the high of 18.1 million in April but is 2.0 million higher than its February level. In November, the number of persons not in the labor force who currently want a job increased by 448,000 to 7.1 million; this measure is 2.2 million higher than in February. In November, 21.8% of employed persons teleworked because of COVID-19, up from 21.2% in October. The labor force participation rate edged down to 61.5% in November; this is 1.9 percentage points below its February level. The employment-population ratio, at 57.3%, changed little over the month but is 3.8 percentage points lower than in February. Average hourly earnings increased by $0.09 to $29.58 in November and are up 4.4% from a year ago. The average work week remained unchanged at 34.8 hours in November.
  • Claims for unemployment insurance continued to drop in December. According to the latest weekly totals, as of December 19 there were 5,219,000 workers receiving unemployment insurance, down from the November 14 total of 6,071,000. The insured unemployment rate fell 0.5 percentage point to 3.6%. During the week ended December 12, Extended Benefits were available in 24 states; 51 states reported 8,459,647 continued weekly claims for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits, and 51 states reported 4,772,853 continued claims for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits.
  • FOMC/interest rates: The Federal Open Market Committee met in December. The FOMC decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 0.00%-0.25% and expects to maintain this range for the forseeable future until employment and inflation meet standards set by the Committee. In a statement released following its meeting, the Committee stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing tremendous human and economic hardship across the United States and around the world. While economic activity and employment have continued to recover, those measures remain well below their levels at the beginning of the year. The Committee noted that weaker demand and earlier declines in oil prices have been holding down consumer price inflation. The FOMC also submitted its projections of the most likely outcomes for gross domestic product, the unemployment rate, and inflation for each year from 2020 to 2023 and over the longer-run. The projected longer run change in GDP is 1.6%-2.2%. The projected unemployment rate is 3.5%-4.5% over the longer range, and inflation is projected to run at 2.0%. The longer-range projection of the federal funds rate is 2.0%-3.0%.
  • GDP/budget: In contrast to the second-quarter gross domestic product, which fell 31.4%, the third-quarter GDP shows the economy advanced at an annual rate of 33.4%, as the country continued to rebound from the economic effects of the COVID-19 virus. Consumer spending, as measured by personal consumption expenditures, increased 41.0% in the third quarter, in contrast to a 33.2% decline in the second quarter. The increase in PCE accounted for 25.44% of the change in GDP. Nonresidential (business) investment vaulted 22.9% (-27.2% in the second quarter); residential fixed investment soared 63.0% after falling 35.6% in the prior quarter. Exports advanced 59.6% (-64.4% in the second quarter), and imports increased 93.1% (-54.1% in the second quarter). Federal nondefense government expenditures decreased 18.3% in the third quarter as federal stimulus payments and aid lessened.
  • November saw the federal budget deficit come in at a smaller-than-expected $145.3 billion, down roughly 30% from November 2019. However, the deficit for the first two months of fiscal year 2021, at $429.3 billion, is 25% higher than the first two months of the previous fiscal year. Through November, government outlays rose 9.0%, while receipts fell 3.0%. The rise in government expenditures for fiscal year 2021 is attributable to a 67% increase in outlays for income security, an 18% jump in outlays for health, and a 214% climb in community and regional development payments. Medicare outlays fell about 15% compared to the same period last year.
  • Inflation/consumer spending: The COVID-19 pandemic clearly impacted personal income and spending in November. According to the latest Personal Income and Outlays report, personal income and disposable personal income decreased 1.1% and 1.2%, respectively, after decreasing 0.6% and 0.7% in October. Consumer spending fell 0.4% in November after increasing 0.3% the previous month. Inflation remained muted as consumer prices were unchanged in November and October. Consumer prices have increased by a mere 1.1% over the last 12 months ended in November.
  • The Consumer Price Index climbed 0.2% in November after being unchanged in October. Over the 12 months ended in November, the CPI rose 1.2%. The prices for lodging away from home, household furnishings and operations, recreation, apparel, airline fares, and motor vehicle insurance increased in November. Prices for used cars and trucks, medical care, and new vehicles declined over the month. Increases in shelter and energy were major factors in the CPI increase. Core prices (less food and energy) increased 0.2% in November and are up 1.6% over the 12 months ended in November.
  • Prices that producers receive for goods and services rose 0.1% in November following a 0.3% October jump. Producer prices increased 0.8% for the 12 months ended in November, the largest advance since moving up 1.1% for the 12 months ended in February. Producer prices less foods, energy, and trade services rose for the seventh consecutive month after advancing 0.1% in November. For the 12 months ended in November, prices less foods, energy, and trade services moved up 0.9%, the largest rise since a 1.0% increase for the 12 months ended in March.
  • Housing: Sales of existing homes fell in November after advancing in each of the previous five months. Existing home sales dropped 2.5% in November but are up 25.8% from a year ago. The median existing-home price was $310,800 in November ($313,000 in October). Unsold inventory of existing homes represents a 2.3-month supply at the current sales pace, a record low. Sales of existing single-family homes fell 2.4% in November following a 4.1% jump in October. Over the last 12 months, sales of existing single-family homes are up 25.6%. The median existing single-family home price was $315,500 in November, down from $317,700 in October.
  • New single-family home sales continued to slide, dropping 11.0% in November after falling 0.3% in October. The median sales price of new single-family houses sold in November was $335,300 ($330,600 in October). The November average sales price was $390,100 ($386,200 in October). The inventory of new single-family homes for sale in November represents a supply of 4.1 months at the current sales pace, up from the October estimate of 3.6 months.
  • Manufacturing: Industrial production has risen to within 5.0% of its pre-pandemic (February) level after increasing 0.4% in November. By comparison, industrial production in April was 16.5% below its February level. Manufacturing output rose 0.8% in November, marking the seventh consecutive month of gains. An increase of 5.3% for motor vehicles and parts contributed significantly to the gain in factory production; excluding motor vehicles and parts, manufacturing output moved up 0.4%. In November, utilities declined 4.2% as unusually warm temperatures reduced demand. Mining production increased 2.3% in November after falling 0.7% in October. In November, total industrial production was 5.5% lower than a year earlier.
  • For the seventh consecutive month, new orders for durable goods increased in November, climbing 0.9% following a 1.8% jump in October. Despite the trend of monthly increases, new orders for manufactured durable goods were 8.0% lower than a year ago. Excluding transportation, new orders increased 0.4% in November (+1.3% in October). Excluding defense, new orders increased 0.7% in November (+0.2% in October). Transportation equipment, up in six of the last seven months, led the increase, climbing 1.9% in November (+1.5% in October).
  • Imports and exports: Both import and export prices inched higher in November. Import prices rose 0.1% after falling 0.1% in the prior month, an increase largely driven by higher fuel prices. Import prices excluding fuel dropped 0.3% in November. Despite the recent increases, prices for imports decreased 1.0% from November 2019 to November 2020. Export prices advanced 0.2% in November after declining 0.1% in October. Overall, export prices dipped 1.3% over the past year. Agricultural export prices rose 2.2% in November, while nonagricultural prices for items such as consumer goods, automobiles, and industrial supplies and materials were unchanged, but are down 1.6% during the 12 months ended in November.
  • The international trade in goods deficit was $84.8 billion in November, up $4.4 billion, or 5.25%, from October. Exports of goods were $127.2 billion in November, $1.1 billion, or 0.8%, more than in October. Imports of goods were $212.0 billion in November, $5.5 billion, or 2.6%, more than in October. Driving exports higher in November were foods, feeds, and beverages (4.3%), and industrial supplies (1.5%). After increasing 5.9% in October, exports of consumer goods inched up 0.8% in November. Imports of industrial supplies (2.9%), consumer goods (6.7%), and other goods (4.0%) pushed total imports higher in November. Imports of automotive vehicles fell 3.2% in November after rising 3.2% in October.
  • The latest information on international trade in goods and services, out December 4, is for October and shows that the goods and services trade deficit was $63.1 billion, an increase of nearly $1.0 billion, or 1.7%, over the September deficit. October exports were $182.0 billion, or 2.2%, more than September exports. October imports were $245.1 billion, or 2.1%, more than September imports. Year to date, the goods and services deficit increased $46.6 billion, or 9.5%, from the same period in 2019. Exports decreased $345.9 billion, or 16.4%. Imports fell $299.4 billion, or 11.5%.
  • International markets: A mutant strain of COVID spread rapidly though parts of Europe late in the year, sending stocks reeling as several affected countries tightened restrictions. This latest development will likely stall what had been a recovering European economy. Industrial production and retail sales had been approaching pre-pandemic levels in several European nations. The United Kingdom and the European Union reached a trade agreement as Brexit nears its final stages. In China, the third-quarter GDP advanced 2.7% and is 4.9% higher year-over-year.
  • Consumer confidence: The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® declined in December for the third consecutive month. The index stands at 88.6, down from 92.9 in November. The Present Situation Index, based on consumers’ assessment of current business and labor market conditions, decreased sharply from 105.9 to 90.3. However, the Expectations Index — based on consumers’ short-term outlook for income, business, and labor market conditions — increased from 84.3 in November to 87.5 in December.

Eye on the Year Ahead

The year 2021 should bring continued economic recovery. As the United States and the world inch slowly toward normalcy following the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, stock markets, employment, and production should also advance.

Data sources: Economic: Based on data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (unemployment, inflation); U.S. Department of Commerce (GDP, corporate profits, retail sales, housing); S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Index (home prices); Institute for Supply Management (manufacturing/services). Performance: Based on data reported in WSJ Market Data Center (indexes); U.S. Treasury (Treasury yields); U.S. Energy Information Administration/Bloomberg.com Market Data (oil spot price, WTI Cushing, OK); www.goldprice.org (spot gold/silver); Oanda/FX Street (currency exchange rates). News items are based on reports from multiple commonly available international news sources (i.e. wire services) and are independently verified when necessary with secondary sources such as government agencies, corporate press releases, or trade organizations. All information is based on sources deemed reliable, but no warranty or guarantee is made as to its accuracy or completeness. Neither the information nor any opinion expressed herein constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any securities, and should not be relied on as financial advice. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All investing involves risk, including the potential loss of principal, and there can be no guarantee that any investing strategy will be successful.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) is a price-weighted index composed of 30 widely traded blue-chip U.S. common stocks. The S&P 500 is a market-cap weighted index composed of the common stocks of 500 leading companies in leading industries of the U.S. economy. The NASDAQ Composite Index is a market-value weighted index of all common stocks listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. The Russell 2000 is a market-cap weighted index composed of 2,000 U.S. small-cap common stocks. The Global Dow is an equally weighted index of 150 widely traded blue-chip common stocks worldwide. The U.S. Dollar Index is a geometrically weighted index of the value of the U.S. dollar relative to six foreign currencies. Market indices listed are unmanaged and are not available for direct investment.

Sequence Risk: Preparing to Retire in a Down Market

“You can’t time the market” is an old maxim, but you also might say, “You can’t always time retirement.”

Market losses on the front end of retirement could have an outsize effect on the income you receive from your portfolio by reducing the assets available to pursue growth when the market recovers. The risk of experiencing poor investment performance at the wrong time is called sequence risk or sequence-of-returns risk.

Dividing Your Portfolio

One strategy that may help address sequence risk is to divide your retirement portfolio into three different “baskets” that could provide current income, regardless of market conditions, and growth potential to fund future income. Although this method differs from the well-known “4% rule,” an annual income target around 4% of your original portfolio value might be a reasonable starting point, with adjustments based on changing needs, inflation, and market returns.

Basket #1: Short term (1 to 3 years of income). This basket holds stable liquid assets such as cash and cash alternatives that could provide income for one to three years. Having sufficient cash reserves might enable you to avoid selling growth-oriented investments during a down market.

Basket #2: Mid term (5 or more years of income). This basket — equivalent to five or more years of your needed income — holds mostly fixed-income securities, such as intermediate- and longer-term bonds, that have moderate growth potential with low or moderate volatility. It might also include some lower-risk, income-producing equities.

Early Losses

A significant market downturn during the first two years of retirement could make a big difference in the size of a portfolio after 10 years, compared with having the same downturn at the end of the 10-year period. Both scenarios are based on the same returns, but in reverse order.
Assumes a $40,000 withdrawal in Year 1, with subsequent annual withdrawals increased by an inflation factor of 2%. This hypothetical example of mathematical principles is used for illustrative purposes only and does not represent the performance of any specific investment. Fees, expenses, and taxes are not considered and would reduce the performance shown if they were included. Actual results will vary.

The income from this basket can flow directly into Basket #1 to keep it replenished as the cash is used for living expenses. If necessary during a down market, some of the securities in this basket could be sold to replenish Basket #1.

Basket #3: Long term (future income). This basket is the growth engine of the portfolio and holds stocks and other investments that are typically more volatile but have higher long-term growth potential. Investment gains from Basket #3 can replenish both of the other baskets. In a typical 60/40 asset allocation, you might put 60% of your portfolio in this basket and 40% spread between the other two baskets. Your actual percentages will depend on your risk tolerance, time frame, and personal situation.

With the basket strategy, it’s important to start shifting assets before you retire, at least by establishing a cash cushion in Basket #1. There is no guarantee that putting your nest egg in three baskets will be more successful in the long term than other methods of drawing down your retirement savings. But it may help you to better visualize your portfolio structure and feel more confident about your ability to fund retirement expenses during a volatile market.

All investments are subject to market fluctuation, risk, and loss of principal. Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit or protect against investment loss. The principal value of cash alternatives may be subject to market fluctuations, liquidity issues, and credit risk. Bonds redeemed prior to maturity may be worth more or less than their original cost. Investments seeking to achieve higher yields also involve higher risk.

Why We Currently Don’t Buy Bitcoin—or Any Other Cryptocurrency

Snap Shot

  • Investor interest in cryptocurrencies has increased exponentially as bitcoin recently surpassed its all-time high.
  • Dramatic action by global central banks and governments to combat the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive increase in government debt, boosting interest in traditional “hard” stores of value such as silver and gold.
  • The finite nature and lack of state sponsorship have been tailwinds to bitcoin in these unusual times; however, cryptocurrencies remain generally in their infancy. Extreme volatility and sky-high regulatory risks make the asset class a highly speculative investment and not an appropriate strategic holding in a goals-based investment portfolio.

Cryptocurrencies in the News Again

Cryptocurrencies, a digital media of exchange originally designed in response to the global financial crisis, are once again grabbing headlines. After a gain of more than 1000% in 2017, their combined market value fell close to 80% over the next 12 months. Recently however, bitcoin has rebounded substantially, surpassing its all-time high, and investors are once again questioning the potential role of cryptocurrencies in a broad investment portfolio (Exhibit 1).

As COVID-19 wreaked havoc through 2020 on the global economy, monetary and fiscal policy authorities responded with stimulus measures that far eclipsed responses during the global financial crisis. For example, over a three-month span in 2008, the U.S Federal Reserve (Fed) added $1.3 trillion of assets to its balance sheet. By comparison, in the three months following the first mandated COVID-19 shutdowns, the Fed added roughly $3 trillion in assets to a balance sheet that now tops $7.2 trillion (Exhibit 2).

Throughout the first half of 2020, growing economic uncertainty and a weakening U.S. dollar (due to the growing debt to GDP position of the U.S.) drove investor interest in traditional “hard” currencies such as gold and silver. Following the U.S. election in November, bitcoin in particular rapidly appreciated on the prospect of additional fiscal measures, as well as positive vaccine news, both of which raised the specter of inflationary pressure (Exhibit 3).

As technology disruptors, cryptocurrencies and blockchains, or the public digital ledgers where cryptocurrency transactions are recorded, do appear to have promise. The digital assets tend to attract individuals seeking a degree of privacy that they cannot get from conventional banking and payment systems. Meanwhile, corporations, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and even central banks and government institutions are more interested in the underlying technologies driving cryptocurrencies. Many organizations are looking at how this technology can be used to improve operations and business outcomes. Their aim is to create a direct, secure and verifiable person-to-person system for payments that would be entirely private and digital, thereby removing traditional third-party intermediaries like banks. Whether this leads to actual paradigm shifts or just fosters marginal enhancements to businesses remains to be seen. Ironically, wider acceptance of these technologies may require more centralization and third-party verification, which would cause them to become more similar to the systems they were designed to replace. As can be expected given the nascent currency or technology, cryptocurrencies can exhibit extreme levels of volatility. Bitcoin, the most widely followed cryptocurrency, has exhibited realised volatility in excess of 100%, far exceeding that of the S&P 500 Index, gold or the euro. (Exhibit 4).

The cryptocurrency market is just beginning to mature, and the supportive value of digital coins remains difficult to price. We view them as highly speculative instruments, which makes them an unsuitable investment choice for pursuing important financial life goals—particularly for investors who can’t afford the high risk of permanently losing money. In our view, it is far too early to consider including cryptocurrencies in a strategic investment portfolio.

 

Index Definitions: S&P 500 Index: The S&P 500 Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index that consists of 500 of the largest publicly-traded U.S. companies and is considered representative of the broad U.S. stock market.
Important Information: This material represents an assessment of the market environment at a specific point in time and is not intended to be a forecast of future events, or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be relied upon by the reader as research or investment advice and is intended for educational purposes only. There are risks involved with investing, including loss of principal. Information provided by SEI Investments Management Corporation (SIMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of SEI Investments Company (SEI).

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES:
*Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (member FINRA / SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. The credit union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.
Articles one and two prepared for Salal Investment Services by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2020. Article three provided by SEI Investments Management Corporation (SIMC), a wholly owned subsidiary of SEI Investments Company (SEI).
Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, or legal advice. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances.
To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances.
These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable—we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice. This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the state(s) of WA, OR, OH, IA and CA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside the specific states referenced.