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Trademark Market Perspective for 02/03/2021

Emerging Market Asset Allocation It would be unthinkable to put together an investment portfolio today that did not include Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, and Alphabet.  Perhaps also Facebook, Tesla, and Netflix.  These companies have become very powerful through domination of at least one critical niche in the new economy, plus they are constantly pushing the frontiers of innovation.  There are also foreign companies for which the same can be said, yet more American investors and advisors do not take the same care to ensure that they have them in their portfolios.  The two most important companies in the world today just might be Taiwan Semiconductor and the Netherland’s ASML Holdings, as they each have control of a part of the most critical aspect of modern society – high end semiconductors.  Moreover, if one wanted to ensure they were exposed to the largest consumer markets in the world, how could one not own China’s Tencent and Alibaba, India’s HDFC Bank, and MercadoLibre – Latin America’s ecommerce giant? I am looking at our portfolios now to ensure not just that we have enough emerging market exposure but also that we haven’t inadvertently missed out on any of these innovative firms.  This is where the growth in this very slowly growing global economy is coming from.  It should certainly be understood that any and all of these companies will have challenges from time to time, be they from a strengthening dollar or some kind of conflict in their home country.  The important thing is that many American investors are becoming discerning enough to know that 1) you don’t sell ALL emerging market positions because India is quarreling with Pakistan or because China is quarrelling with the U.S.; and 2) like it or not, the 4.3% of the earth’s population that the United States of America represents is not going to dominate the 21st century as it dominated the 20th, no matter what we do.  To be clear, doubling your EM weighting might not pay off over the next 12 or 24 months.  Rather, this is a strategic asset allocation decision grounded in the belief that EM economies, and their component companies, are poised for a strong decade. Bonds and Inflation We’ve witnessed a minor upturn in inflationary expectations in January, which is nothing unusual this time of year.  The benchmark bond index dropped -0.86% for the month (which was still better than the S&P 500’s -1.02%, it should be noted).  I am not worried about bonds because I expect a fairly disappointing economic environment for most of the year relative to what markets were pricing in late last year after the vaccines were discovered.  I’m not going to get negative on bonds until we see a bounce in the measures of the velocity of money. Let Your Winners Run In a recent Barron’s, James Anderson makes reference to a recent study done by Hendrik Bessembinder of Arizona State which basically states that most companies’ stocks do not outperform      T-bills.  By far the largest stock gains come from a surprisingly small number of companies that are able to compound wealth over long periods.  Anderson believes the message from this study, which looked at 62,000 companies worldwide from 1990 to 2018, to be that one should be very careful not to sell great companies too soon because they are few and far between percentagewise. Active vs. Passive In the active vs. passive debate, one active argument that almost never gets made is this:  Active managers rarely do truly idiotic things.  What do I mean by this?  The iShares Russell 2000 ETF (IWM) owns GameStop (GME) because it is a small cap stock and owning it is what it is supposed to do.  IWM does not apply any type of profitability filter unlike the Vanguard Small Cap ETF (VB) which does.  Last month, as GME’s price soared, so did IWM’s.  Much faster than did VB’s.  Therefore, uninformed investor money tended to flow in late January to IWM, which was forced to invest it in more and more shares of GME as its price rose.  When one invests in IWM, one may believe that they are receiving a fraction of a percent of hundreds of different small companies, because that is usually true.  If you bought it on January 25th, however, you were unwittingly taking a flier on GME, which was at that point over 8% of the portfolio, and in other sub-Reddit champions such as Macy’s and Bed, Bath & Beyond.  There are several other ETFs where this phenomenon was even more egregious, such as the Cambria Shareholder Yield ETF, which had a lot more GME to start with, so its weighting got to well over 10%.  That is being unwound in a hurry today.  The point is that you should be careful to know your passive investment products, because a “buy-anything-in-this-capitalization-range” policy can bite you if you are not careful. Oh, and by the way, this type of speculative behavior is just never seen at or around stock market bottoms.  Just sayin’. Disclosure Past performance is no assurance of future results. Trademark Financial Management, LLC (“Trademark”) is a registered investment adviser with its principal place of business in the State of Minnesota. Trademark and its representatives are in compliance with registration requirements imposed upon investment advisers by those states in which Trademark operates. Trademark may only transact business in those states in which it is registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration. This newsletter is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its investment advisory/management services. Any subsequent, direct communication by Trademark with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. A complete list of all recommendations will be provided if requested for the preceding period of not less than one year.   It should not be assumed that recommendations made in the future will be profitable or will equal the performance of the securities in this list.  Opinions expressed are those of Trademark Financial Management and are subject to change, not guaranteed and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security. For information pertaining to the registration status of Trademark please contact Trademark at (952) 358-3395 or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure web site ( For additional information about Trademark, including fees and services, send for our disclosure statement as set forth on Form ADV from us using the contact information herein or by calling 952-358-3395. Please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money. Any reference to a chart, graph, formula, or software as a source of analysis used by Trademark Financial Management staff is one of many factors used to make investment decisions for your portfolio.  No one graph, chart, formula, or software can in and of itself be used to determine which securities to buy or sell, when to buy or sell them, or assist any person in making decisions as to which securities to buy or sell or when to buy or sell them.  Any chart, graph, formula, or software used is limited by the data entered and the created parameters. The data was obtained from third parties deemed by the adviser to be reliable. Nonetheless, the adviser has not verified the results and cannot be assured of their accuracy.

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