he race into 2024 has begun, and the U.S. market is off to a quick start. The S&P 500 jumped out of the gates by +1.6%, and the technology and AI (Artificial Intelligence) – heavy NASDAQ index raced out by +1.2%. The bull market rally broadened out at the end of 2023, but 2024 returned to the leaders of last year’s pack, the Magnificent 7 (see also Mission Accomplished). Out front, in the lead of the Mag 7, is Nvidia with a +24% gain in January.
Inflation dropping (see chart below), the Federal Reserve signaling a decline in interest rates, low unemployment (3.7%), and healthy economic growth (+3.3% Q4 – GDP) have all contributed to the continuing bull market run.
Consumer spending is the number one driver of economic growth, and consumers remain relatively confident about future prospects as seen in the recently released Conference Board Consumer Confidence numbers released this week (see chart below).
Source: Conference Board
But the race isn’t over yet, and there are always plenty of issues to worry about. The world is an uncertain place. Here are some of the concerns du jour:
- Red Sea conflict led by the Yemen-based, rebel group, Houthis
- Gaza war between Israel and Hamas
- Anxiety over November presidential election
- Ukraine – Russia war
Money Goes Where It is Treated Best
There are plenty of domestic concerns regarding government debt, deficit levels, and political frustrations on both sides of the partisan aisle remain elevated. When it comes to the financial markets, money continues to go where it is treated best. Sure, we have no shortage of problems or challenges, but where else are you going to put your life savings? China? Europe? Russia? Japan?
Well, as you can see in the chart below, anti-democratic, anti-American business, and confrontational military policies instituted by China have not benefitted investors - the U.S. stock market (S&P 500) has trounced the Chinese stock market (MSCI) over the last 30 years.
Source: Calafia Beach Pundit
For years, market critics and pessimists have been screaming doom-and-gloom as it relates to the United States. The story goes, the U.S. is falling apart, government spending and debt levels are out of control, politicians are corrupt, and we’re going into recession, thanks in part to higher interest rates and inflation. Well, if that’s the case, then why has the value of the U.S. dollar increased over the last 10 years (see chart below)? And why is the stock market at all-time record-highs?
Source: Calafia Beach Pundit
Global investors are discerning in which countries they invest their hard-earned money. Global capital will flow to those countries with a rule of law, financial transparency, prudent tax policy, lower inflation, higher profit growth, lower interest rates, sensible fiscal and monetary policies, among other pragmatic business practices. There’s a reason they call it the “American Dream” and not the “Chinese Dream.” Our capitalist economy is far from perfect, but finding another country with a better overall investing environment is nearly impossible. There’s a reason why venture capitalists, private equity managers, sovereign wealth funds, hedge funds, and foreign institutions are investing trillions of their dollars in the United States. Money goes where it is treated best!
As money sloshes around the world, the 2024 investing race has a long way before it’s over, but at least the stock market has quickly gotten out of the gate and built a small lead.
Wade W. Slome, CFA, CFP®
Plan. Invest. Prosper.
This article is an excerpt from a previously released Sidoxia Capital Management complimentary newsletter (February 1, 2024). Subscribe Here to view all monthly articles.
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