I spent the holidays reflecting on 2018 which started off looking like a really strong year, and obviously we saw a ton of increased volatility towards the end of the year. That was due to several reasons, mostly the Federal Reserve raising rates plus the Chinese trade issues.
I also thought about the last 10 years and it reminded me a little bit about some time I actually spent on my paddle board over the holidays as well, where it's so easy when you're paddling out with the wind and with the tide and you get out pretty far and things seem good. Then all of the sudden you've got to turn around and you're working against the wind and dark clouds start to form and you're looking below you in the water.
I think the last 10 years have been a lot like taking that paddle board on the way out with the wind and with the tide. It's been easy because we've had the Federal Reserve behind us; we've had strong earnings and reasonable valuations. Now we're coming to a point where we're starting to turn against the wind and the tide a little bit.
We're very late in the market cycle. We've got some things we're going to have to deal with that are working against us. The two most important ones that we see are the Federal Reserve's attempt to continue to raise rates, and the Chinese and U.S. trade issues. We think both of them actually should see resolution in 2019. The Chinese trade thing is a much longer term problem but we think they're going to come up with some shorter term compromises. And then secondly we think the Federal Reserve is going to back off from their aggressive interest rate stance and really be more data-dependent in the New Year.
How that reflects itself in stock prices is going to be difficult to call. It's really going to be a year of volatility. Things will swing around those two big data points. So we think overall it’s going to be a sideways year and we're going to be monitoring the situation closely.
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