Recently, institutions like Desjardins and Manulife announced drastic steps to shut down their Principal Protected Notes (PPNs) and other complex instruments that rely heavily on derivatives markets. As an aggressive underwriter and seller of PPNs, one wonders if CIBC is next in line to do the same? Did these large financial firms have their clients’ best interests in mind when they sold these products? I think not!
Despite the continuing negative headlines, there are however some positive signs amid the recent equity market volatility. Around the world, banks have started lending to each other again, as evidenced by the dropping inter-bank lending rates. The yield on short term U.S. Treasury bills is increasing slowly as investors sell these ultimate "safe-haven" securities in search of bargains in other markets.
If we look back on previous bear markets, the declines lasted, on average, 15 to 17 months. Watching the current crisis unfold over the last 15 months begs the question: When will it end this time? While we can't predict this, we can invest in such a manner as to ensure that we capture and benefit from the lowest prices. By rebalancing and investing cash in measured tranches over a period of several months, despite knowingly purchasing equities before the lowest point is reached, we can confidently "frame" the bottom. If, on the other hand, we wait for the recovery to manifest itself, we know we would be paying more later and miss the opportunity that we are now presented with.
Implementing this strategy requires the courage to disregard gyrating markets and the sensational media. Approaching portfolios and markets with a rational, dispassionate and academically sound strategy, as we do, is the best way to realize your long term objectives.
I encourage you to pass this along to anyone who you feel has not had the benefit of sound investment advice in these trying times.