Is a recession imminent because of the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank? First Republic Bank, Signature Bank, and Silvergate Bank are also on the ropes, and I’m sure there are more to come as individuals withdraw their money to buy US Treasuries or bury it in the backyard. If bankers are nervous, they will stop lending funds to businesses and homeowners, which is not a good recipe for economic growth.
Because of the recent bank failures, loans to domestic banks touched an all-time high. The government has insured all deposits, causing the assets in the discount window to soar. According to PBS Newshour, the Fed loaned $300 billion to banks, allowing depositors to retrieve their funds. As a comparison, the Feds loaned $50 billion to banks during COVID and $538 billion during the Great Financial Crisis.
In addition to bank failures, several technology companies have laid off tens of thousands of employees. Morningstar said more than 139,000 employees had lost their jobs this year. The unemployment rate is hovering near historic lows at 3.60%, but it can climb quickly if the pace of layoffs intensifies.
Another headwind for the economy is the yield curve. Though rates have declined this past week significantly, the yield curve is still inverted. The yield on the US 2-Year Treasury is 4.14%, and the 10-Year yield is 3.56%. The yield curve is inverted when short-term rates are higher than long-term rates, which could signal a recession.
Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, or lack thereof, is a crucial recession indicator. The true definition of a recession is two consecutive negative GDP quarters, and so far, this metric is not flashing a warning. In fact, it continues to rise. GDP has increased by 5.68% over the past year, up 21.38% since COVID.
There have been thirteen recessions since the end of World War II, or about once every six years, lasting about ten months in length. Despite the recessions, the S&P 500 is up more than 23,000% since 1945, averaging 11.02% annually. The best three-year stretch for the S&P 500 occurred from 1984 to 1987, following the 1982 recession, averaging 33.4% annually, and the index never lost money during any 15-year rolling period. A one-dollar investment grew to $3,274. The one-month US T-Bill, the safest investment in the world, averaged 3.80% annually during this period, turning a dollar into $17.96.
A recession is coming, but I don’t know when, nor does anyone else. According to historical data, the last one occurred in 2020, so we may experience another between now and 2026. If you’re concerned about a recession, sell stocks, buy bonds, and increase your cash balance. If your time horizon is three to five years or more, and you’re not worried about volatility, buy stocks in a globally diversified portfolio.
The recent bank failures are another thing to worry about, but don’t let them distract you from your financial goals. The stock market is resilient and has survived worse calamities. As I often say, follow your plan, think long-term, diversify your assets, and good things will happen.
As sure as the spring will follow the winter, prosperity, and economic growth will follow a recession. ~ Bo Bennett
March 18, 2023
Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on your asset level.
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