What the Heck is a V Shaped Recovery?

What the Heck is a V-Shaped Recovery?

With many states creating plans to reopen the economy, we keep hearing about the recovery. Experts continue to weigh in on what it may look like. But it leaves people wondering, “What the heck is a V-shaped recovery?” 

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If you hadn’t noticed, the American economy has come crashing down. Some people are estimating this will be one of the worst quarters since the Great Depression.

Now, the investment experts and economists are starting to focus on the recovery. And when they get on TV, you start to hear them say things like a V-shaped, or U- shaped recovery. I’ve even heard some talk about a “W” shape or an “L.”

What the Heck is a V-Shaped Recovery?

If you visualize the letter “V”, you see a steep decrease that comes to a point, followed by a steep increase. Think of this as a graph representing important economic data, like GDP, sales, or corporate profits. We’ve seen a rapid decrease in those data points.

V shaped recovery

Many hope that these numbers recover and improve just as quickly as they fell. And we’ll look back at those key statistics and see a “V” shape. This is the most optimistic scenario.

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The U-Shaped Recovery

A U-shaped recovery would see a sharp decrease followed by a gradual bottom. On the other side, the recovery would start slowly and accelerate as time moves on.

Recovery V Shaped

This would make the graph of those data points look more like a “U”. Not as good as a whole, but still not awful either.

A W-Shaped Recovery

V Recovery shape

You have some people worried about a “W” shape. And this wouldn’t be ideal. This would happen in this scenario. We reopen the economy, and things begin to recover quickly. As a result, we see the virus infections spike, which leads to another shutdown. And then the economy would restart at some point in the future.

This would not be ideal, but there is a risk of this happening.

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The L-Shaped Recovery

V shaped recovery

Perhaps the worst possible outcome is an L-shaped recovery. We’ve already seen the rapid decline. But in this scenario, the economic recovery would be long and very slow. A recovery like this could take years to return to where we were before this all started.

What Do I See?

I believe a U-shaped recovery is the most likely scenario at this point. The elected officials are going to reopen the economy at a very measured pace. People are going to be hesitant to spend, and it will take a while for demand to recover.

As much as I would like to see the V-shaped recovery, I don’t see it happening at this point. I am hopeful that we won’t experience a W-shaped curve. In that scenario, the governors would be a lot slower to reopen the economy a second time. And the damage from that would be even worse.

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Financial Planning

About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors. 

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Is The Bear Market Over?

Is the Bear Market Over?

On March 23, the S&P 500 closed 34% lower than it’s all time high. Since then, we’ve seen prices rebound nearly 27%. It has many people wondering,  “Is the bear market is over?” Today we’ll pose 4 questions that will help us determine if the new bull market has started.

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From February 1 to March 23 we saw the stock market reach bear market levels at a rapid pace. It was enough to rattle even the most disciplined investor. Since then, we have seen prices race higher. The gain has been roughly 27%. It has us all wondering, “Is the bear market over”

Bear Market Over - prices

Today the official answer is “maybe.” In my view, there are still 4 questions which need answered before we know if it is “officially over” or not

1. Has the Market Priced in the Bad News?

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The stock market is forward-looking—to a point. The price movements factor in a lot of projections about economic and earnings data. But how do you project something this extreme and unprecedented? We’ve never seen the economy forced to an almost immediate halt before now.

2. How Bad Will The Data Be?

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Standard and Poors projects earnings for the companies in the S&P 500 Index. Their most recent data shows an 18% reduction in profits for the first quarter of 2020. And that number was lowered from a week ago.  How much will the actual numbers differ from those estimates?

Gross Domestic Product—that’s the value of output from an economy—will almost certainly be worse this quarter. But how much worse? Some predict the worst quarter since the Great Depression. Will it be that bad?

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3. How Will Investors React?

Is the bear market over

As a group, investors rarely react the right amount. There is a tendency to overreact on both extremes. In the dot-com era, we saw prices pushed irrationally higher. You could argue prices fell too far during the Great Recession too. How will people react this time?

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4. How Long Do We Suppress The Economy?

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The longer we keep the economy in an induced coma, the longer it will take to revive it. When do we reach the point where there is significant long-term damage to our economy? This may be the most important question to answer.

The End of the Bear Market

The bottom of this bear market could have been on March 23. If it was, we can celebrate—we are on our way to recovery. But we need to brace for the idea the worst of this downturn is yet to come. The market could drop further. If the data is worse than expected, it could drop a lot further.

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How Bad Is The Impact To Our Economy?

How Bad is The Impact To Our Economy?

The COVID-19 virus has affected all our lives. “Stay at home” orders were issued to reduce the strain on our medical system. Those orders also placed our economy in a “medically induced coma.” The media focuses their attention on the human impact of the virus. We rarely hear about the economic impact. Today, we offer some insight to the question, “How bad is the impact to our economy?” Thanks to some data from our friends at First Trust Portfolios, we can get a glimpse of the impact to our economy.

Initial jobless claims

This is the only number we see in the news. And we know those numbers have been huge. But let’s put it in context. A year ago (April 3, 2019) weekly jobless claims were 203,000. On April 3, 2020, initial claims were 6.6 million. That’s a 3,154% increase!

How Bad is the impact to our economy - jobless claims

To put this in perspective, here are weekly historical jobless claims in an animated chart.

Box office receipts

After staying home for a few weeks, you might be itching to go to a movie. A year ago, box office receipts were over 184 million dollars. Between March 27 and April 2, box office receipts were $5,508. A near 100% reduction.

How bad is the impact to our economy

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The hotel industry

The economic shutdown has crushed the travel industry. A year ago, hotel occupancy rates were 90%. As of April 4, only 21.6% of rooms were full.

How Bad is the economy hotel occupancy

Another measure of the hotel industry is the revenue per available room. Last year at this time, hotels earned $89.67 per room. Right now, they are earning $16.50 per room. This is a stunning 81% decline.

Impact to our economy How Bad

Airline passengers

The TSA publishes data about the number of passengers they screen each day. A year ago, they were screening about 2.2 million people every day. Now, they are screening 95% fewer travelers, only 94,941 per day.

How bad is the economy - airlines

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Rail traffic

One of the ways you can measure economic activity is by tracking how much freight travels our railways. A year ago, we saw 510,000 cars moving goods and services. Today it has dropped to 429,000 cars–a 19% drop.

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Hard choices and their unintended consequences

Our elected officials made choices they felt were for the greater good for the health of our country. We don’t offer these data points as a criticism of their choices. But these choices affected the American economy. Unfortunately, most of this data gets ignored by the mainstream media. When we look to answer the question, “How bad is the impact to our economy?”, we see it is extreme.

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Should I Take Money From My 401k Plan

Should I Take Money From My 401k?

“Should I take money from my 401k to help me get through these tough times?” That’s a question we received from a listener.  The CARES Act made some changes to these distributions.  But there are still some things you should consider. Let’s dig into the answer. (Read more below)

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It’s a tough time right now. We’re all trying to stay healthy. That has led to some very extreme measures. And those measures have created some financial hardships for people.

Mark sent us a question. He asked, “should I take money from my 401k to help me get through these tough times?”

How the CARES Act changed 401k distributions

Recently the federal government passed the CARES Act. It is a $2 trillion stimulus designed to help Americans weather this storm created by the Covid-019 virus.

One of the provisions of this act was to provide some tax relief for distributions from 401k plans and other retirement accounts like IRA’s.

Should I Take Money from my 401k

Normally, if you are under age 59 1/2 there is a 10% penalty for early distributions. The CARES Act now waives this penalty for those early withdrawals up to $100,000.

The act also allows you to spread the taxes from any of those distributions over 3 years.

Lastly, you can return those distributions to your IRA or 401k inside the three-year period as well.

Check Your With Your Employer!

Not every 401k plan allows for in-service distributions. Please check with your employer.

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But, should you take money from your 401k?

Now, this doesn’t answer Mark’s question. It shows that it is an option. Should you tap into your 401k (or IRA) to help you through these tough times?

Here are some things to consider?

Should I take money from my 401k

Your distribution is taxable…

The distributions are still taxable. Even though you can spread the tax bill over three years, and there is no penalty, there are still taxes due. Think of it this way, for every dollar you take out, at best you’ll only keep 85 cents.

You’re selling at lower prices…

The stock market is down significantly. Selling now, means you’re going to lock in those losses.

There is a future cost…

You worked hard to save it. Taking those funds from your account not only has a current cost, it has a potential future cost as well. You’ll miss out on the future growth. Over time that could be significant.

A last resort…

Withdrawing from retirement accounts should be a last resort. Unfortunately, a lot of people could reach those extreme situations. The government has at least provided a little relief if it gets that far.

Make sure you dig into your numbers before you make these tough decisions. If you need some guidance, talk to a financial planner.

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The Best Reason To Not Sell Your Stocks Now

The Best Reason To Not Sell Your Stocks Now

If you haven’t sold your stocks at this point, you may not want to.  Sure, the market could drop further. But selling now could be a big mistake.  Today, I’ll share the best reason to not sell your stocks now.  (read more below)

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Why Sell Now?

The sole reason to sell stocks at this point is to keep your balance from shrinking further. We never truly know (in advance) where the bottom is. And we may not have seen the bottom of this bear market yet. 

Not Sell Your Stocks Best Reason
Click to Enlarge

But selling at this point could end up being a big mistake. Here is the best reason to not sell your stocks now.

Bear Market Math

The foundation of our reason is rooted in what we’ll call bear market math. How much return do you have to earn to recover all that was lost during the downturn?

The Best Reason To Not Sell Your Stocks
Click to enlarge

Let’s say the market only dropped 20%.  To erase the losses, you would have to earn 25%.

Right now, the current bottom of this bear market is about 34% lower than the all-time high. From that point, you have to earn 51% to erase the losses.

And if this bear turns uglier and drops say 50% from its February high, you’ll have to earn a 100% return to break even

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"Safe Assets" Offer Very Low Returns

Selling those stock holdings now and moving to the so-called safe assets can be a big problem.  In today’s environment, the potential future returns for those types of investments are very low. You might find a 6 month CD with a yield of 1%. 12 month CD’s are only slightly better. And we all know most of our savings accounts don’t even pay that much. Those low returns make recovering your losses very difficult—if not impossible.

And those prospects look even worse when you consider what happens to the shares of those companies immediately following the bottom of a bear market.

Catching the Rebound

This is our 15th bear market since the end of World War 2.  Here’s what happened following the bottom of the bear markets:

Click the graphs to enlarge

  • The average price increase 1 month after the bottom was almost 31%.
  • When we look 6 months out from the bottom, the average price gain was nearly 26%.
  • 12 months after the low point, the average price increase was 39%.
  • And 2 years after a bear market bottom, the average price increase was nearly 60%.  

And remember, this is only price increases.  It doesn’t factor in the additional returns from dividends!

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It Happens Early...

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click to enlarge

This is interesting.  Prices one month from the bottom were higher than they were 6 months later in every single recovery.  A major portion of the recovery happens very early.  Missing out on that could have a significant impact on your future.

These gains may not have erased all the losses in any of those bear markets. But the surge immediately following the bottom helped those who stayed invested–even if their accounts fell further—recover a lot faster than if they moved to “safer havens.” And this is the best reason to not sell your stocks now.

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Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.  This is now his 5th bear market.  Unfortunately, it won’t be his last.

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