I had a chance to take a group of students from Mississippi College to the Global Asset Management Education Conference in NYC. We ran into a group from Mississippi State as well as a group from Jackson State (I don’t know if Ole Miss was there). But it was a chance for me and for those students to then listen to the word from the Wall Street gurus—and it was definitely a really good word. A quote I bring back from one of the panelists: “Expect a long-run secular bull market.” What that means is we expect continued gains in our stock market. Now understand that this is not going to be a straight line, but those dips will be opportunities for investors. And it’s not as widespread. We are going to see some pockets where companies are still not at high values. Again, that’s an opportunity.
Then, they talked about the job situation. The trend in unemployment is still declining, but we all know that wages haven’t caught up. What they said is that that’s because we’ve become so much more productive, and our growth has been slow. We’re going to see some pressure on wages. So, expect those wages to start to climb. That’s good news.
For manufacturing, the automotive industry, as we know, is in excellent shape. Other manufacturing has come back to the U.S. The thing we’re watching is the strong dollar. The strength of our dollar could actually cause our manufacturing to be less competitive.
Our GDP, well, it has been positive since 2009 even though it hasn’t felt that way. We’re going to get a new report this week and expect it to be 2.8% or 3.0%. So, decent, steady growth. We like that.
One thing I learned at the conference I wasn’t too happy about relates to the regulation of the financial industry. The regulators and the regulated are still way too cozy. That means investors need to get educated. Read the fine print on everything you invest in. Watch out for those fees! Know that as an investor, you’re going to have to watch out for yourself, because the regulators may not be paying attention.
I learned that from going to a sessions where there were two folks who were attorneys from a law firm, and they work with the mutual fund industry. And the SEC regulator used to work for the same law firm. So, I was a little cynical about that.