Greg Leonberger, FSA, EA, MAAA, FCA
Director of Research, Managing Partner
As winter takes hold in the northern hemisphere, there are those that choose to escape to warmer climates and those that embrace the season and choose the mountains. Anyone familiar with downhill skiing knows that every ski trail is marked with a shape and color to designate its difficulty. For those unfamiliar with these ratings, the North American system looks like this:
Of course, weather and trail conditions can also impact a trail’s difficulty and must be accounted for when turning down the mountain: environment and terrain matter. Similarly, investment prognostications must recognize the current setting. By now, the environment is all too well known: high inflation, aggressive Fed policy, Russia–Ukraine war, labor supply shortages, and a potential recession. These topics have been covered extensively in recent letters and continue to loom over markets as we start 2023. At a high level, general consensus is that the majority of rate hikes from the Fed are behind us (two are expected for 2023 at time of writing), and inflation will continue to normalize in 2023, thus further supporting the thesis of fewer rates hikes from the Fed over the next year. If a recession comes to fruition, expectations are for it to be short-lived and shallow which reduces the long-term threat to markets.
With this backdrop in mind, we turn our attention to an asset class by asset class outlook for the coming year, assessing the degree of difficulty for each to deliver positive returns in 2023. In some cases, the difficulty will change as the year goes on — similar to trails that are “Most Difficult” for the first half and become more palatable as the journey goes on…which brings to mind a certain trail in Utah that the author found himself on last year that literally had him over his skis…but I digress. Tighten your boots and click into those skis!
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