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

2024 State of The Markets

The U.S. should be in a recession right now. At least, that’s what pundits and economists were telling us a year ago. As recent as April, the Conference Board estimated the odds of a recession starting in the next year at 99%.

But we’re not in a recession. The economy is still growing, and The Federal Reserve is now saying they expect interest rates to start falling as soon as this year.

If so, the strategies that worked during the last cycle are almost certainly not going to work this time around. It’s time for a new playbook that’s better suited to target the innovation tsunami that may soon crash into the global economy.

The chart below shows the most intense global interest rate tightening cycle in over three decades is finally ending (blue-shaded region on the right).

Central banks embarked on a singular mission two years ago: to bring inflation down at all costs. The chart below confirms “mission accomplished,” as inflation in developed economies has fallen dramatically from their respective peaks.

It’s being called a “New Economic Order,” and in an extreme rarity, I grudgingly agree with this media-spun narrative. Because the world has yet to experience the full effect of that blue-shaded region in the chart above, and that’s fueling several crosscurrents that may stick around for a while.

On the one hand, the red arrow in the chart below shows that leading indicators point to a continued slowdown. The U.S. economy has not yet felt the true impact of interest rates at these levels, stimulus checks are mostly spent, and the jobs market is finally weakening. 

On the other hand, the economy and financial markets are not the same. For example, the economy tends to bottom several months after the stock market. Hence, these leading indicators may already be priced into stocks, so getting too defensive this year may backfire.

Furthermore, even if a recession were to happen, more than any other cycle in recent history, consumers and businesses are ready. Both cohorts wisely locked in ultra-low financing years ago, which will almost certainly mitigate the depth and duration of any economic downturn.

Simply put, uncertainty in no way implies danger, but this New Economic Order does warrant a shift in strategy. 

Looking ahead

Regarding finance and investing, a year is little more than the time it takes for the Earth to circle a massive ball of gas. Markets don’t operate on calendars, where the start of a year somehow resets or adjusts the underlying drivers of asset prices. Instead, markets are event-driven. Something either must happen or be expected to happen for markets to move.

Coincidentally, something big happened at the end of 2023. Not only did the Fed stop raising interest rates, but they stated their intention to cut them over the next three years down to around 3%. The chart below shows that traders are even forecasting a 96% chance of at least one rate cut by as soon as May1

The stock market loves the prospects of lower interest rates like nothing else. Lower rates incentivize investors to abandon “safer” asset classes like cash to seek higher returns. The chart below shows a record amount of cash on the sidelines in vehicles like money market funds2.

This cash may be enjoying high yields today relative to recent history, but back out taxes and inflation, and it’s lucky to break even. If these yields fall proportional to the Fed’s stated plan to cut rates, it could send a massive supply of cash into the stock market over the coming years.

Additionally, history may once again be on the bulls’ side. Ryan Detrick is a market analyst who recently published the table below. It shows that when stocks have dropped more than 10%, as they did in 2022, then jumped more than 10%, like last year, the following year has been up 100% of the time with an average gain of 11.7%3.

Lastly, let’s address the elephant in the room. There’s also a presidential election in November. While there may be the temptation to do the metaphorical “move to Canada” if your team loses, there’s a mound of data to suggest that may be unwise. Aside from the bad weather, the table below from First Trust Advisors shows how the stock market has performed during presidential election years since 1928.

Digging deeper, there have been 24 elections since the S&P 500 began. Twenty of these years, the index ended up (83% of the time). When a Democrat was in office and a Democrat was elected, the total return for the year averaged 15.0%. When a Democrat was in office and a Republican was elected, the total return for the year averaged 12.9%.

Said another way, the risk facing investors this year is not the election or an economic downturn but how one reacts to either. Fortunately, solutions exist today that may help temper the urge to get emotional.

The bottom line

Mark my words. Despite some of the challenges the economy may face over the coming months, the opportunity for long-term investors has never looked this exciting. I’m not just talking about artificial intelligence, either. Changing consumer habits, advances in healthcare, and new sustainable energy sources are merely a precursor to the innovation tsunami that’s about to hit the global economy. 

But the media is right for a change. This is a New Economic Order, so the old playbook that worked when interest rates were artificially low is unlikely to be as effective. It could even cause more harm than good. That’s why we crafted a playbook designed to position for the future rather than copy and paste from the past.

The bottom line is while this may be a New Economic Order, we look forward to the challenge and see tremendous opportunity for long-term investors over the next several years. Thank you for your commitment, Happy New Year, and all the best in 2024!


Brian Malizia, President

Mike Sorrentino, CFA


1. CME Fed Watch Tool. As of 1/3/2024.

2. Goldman Sachs. As of 12/1/2023

3. https://www.carsongroup.com/insights/blog/four-more-reasons-24-should-be-a-good-one-for-the-bulls/ 


This newsletter/commentary should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. Content provided herein is for informational purposes only and should not be used or construed as investment advice or a recommendation regarding the purchase or sale of any security. There is no guarantee that the statements, opinions or forecasts provided herein will prove to be correct. Past performance may not be indicative of future results. Indices are not available for direct investment. Any investor who attempts to mimic the performance of an index would incur fees and expenses which would reduce returns. Securities investing involves risk, including the potential for loss of principal. There is no guarantee that any investment plan or strategy will be successful.