October 2019 Investment Strategy

The stock market has remained relatively unchanged over the past quarter while economic data has been mixed in the U.S. and bad overseas. What seems to be shifting are the narratives driving the market and certain important segments of the economy. Narratives are the stories that explain certain events or behaviors. These stories have become increasingly powerful today as ideas can spread instantaneously around the globe. If a specific narrative gains enough traction, it can impact economic activity and lead to misallocated capital (bubbles). During the last economic expansion, “housing prices never decline” was the popular story repeated ad nauseam. Although we know better today, this belief had an enormously powerful influence on consumers, bankers, politicians, and regulators. Ultimately, narratives must reflect reality, or they can reverse in dramatic fashion. Over the past 3-6 months, we believe there were several important shifts in perception which will have ramifications in the foreseeable future. Specifically, the U.S. shale oil revolution and tech-fueled initial public offerings (IPOs) are facing increased skepticism.

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