Yesterday was the worst decline on Wall Street since June. Growth in tech companies like Apple, Tesla and Amazon fell from their summer highs and left many people wondering if the markets have hit the top. GBH Morning Edition host Joe Mathieu spoke with National Securities' Chief Marketing Strategist Art Hogan about what these fluctations in the market mean for the economy. The transcript below has been edited for clarity.
Joe Mathieu: We've seen declines like yesterday's before. I guess the question is: Was that just an interruption in the big summer rally or a sign of the top?
Art Hogan: Well, I'll tell you this. I think that we came into yesterday with a market that had been unidirectionally higher — pretty much uninterrupted — since the March 23 low, so I think we were well overdue for a bit of a pause. And when we look at some of the tech indicators, we clearly overbought in the short run. So we've gone a little bit too far too fast, especially in some of those technology names that were hit a lot harder than the overall market. I think we're still in that secular bull market for a long time. I think 2021 is going to be better economically than 2020 was, but I think a lot of this rides on us not getting into a full blown technology Cold War with China, getting the CARES Act 2.0 out of Congress and certainly coming up with a vaccine eventually.
Mathieu: So this is the pause that refreshes, to use a Wall Street cliche, as opposed to something that investors should really be more concerned about in taking action on?
Hogan: No, absolutely. I think the long term prospects for markets look very good. But as mentioned, there are many things that happen this fall that will cause some volatility. So I think that will probably be more the norm than the exception. So if you think about two days ago, we're up 450 Dow points only to see the market go down 850 Dow points yesterday. That kind of volatility is likely to be with us through the election cycle. So when we think about U.S.-China trade tensions, the results of the election when we finally get those and whether or not we can get the next level of fiscal policy out of a gridlock in Washington.
On the other side of that, we'll certainly see sequentially better economic data. We'll certainly see better news and COVID treatments, vaccines and testing. And we'll have to see how the experiment of reopening schools goes. So there's plenty of things to keep us on our toes, but I think we're in a long term bull market with a lot of economic energy that gets released on the other side of this pandemic.
Mathieu: Sounds like a lot of question marks then, obviously. What do you think of today's jobs report? It appears to be better than expected. We also know millions of Americans are still on unemployment.
Hogan: Yeah, I would say it's pretty much in line with expectations broadly, and I think that's good news. I think the good news here is that the average hourly earnings are a touch higher than expected. And certainly the labor force participation rate is increasing, which is good. The bad news is, as you point out, there are still many people that are unemployed, and that's in the millions. So in general, we have gotten about half of those people that were out of work because of the pandemic back to the workplace, but that other half can be very difficult because it resides in those businesses that won't reopen necessarily unless and until we get a vaccine. So I think the next stretch of jobs reports aren't going to be as robust as the last five.
Mathieu: Good to know. Art, what would you tell some of the new investors who came into the market over the summer, locked in their house, in some cases unable to bet on sports, for instance? We've seen a lot of younger new retail investors get into the market and they have massive gains on paper. They followed some of these stocks I've mentioned, like Apple, Tesla and others up by hundreds of percents. It looks great on paper. At what point do you take profits?
Hogan: Well, I can tell you this. I think that it's important to remember that investing isn't a game. It's not like an online betting, it's actually something that can set you up financially for important things like your retirement and paying for things that are important to you, like your kids' education. But it shouldn't be looked at as a game. There's a lot of risk that comes with investing. That's why you get the kind of premium you do in equities over fixed income.
So volatility is the norm, not the exception, as we mentioned, and I think it's wise to have a balanced portfolio. If you're going to look at investing, you should likely have some sort of plan and not just go after every shiny object that comes across your screen. So I think it's wise to be careful. I think yesterday was a pretty good warning shot to those folks that are new to this business that markets also go down. And that's important to remember. But I think over the long run if you have a nice, balanced, diversified portfolio with 60 percent in equities and 40 percent in fixed income, and you recalibrate that on a regular basis to make sure that portion is in balance, you will do well over the long term. But just remember, it's not a game.
Mathieu: Art Hogan, you and I were talking during the dot-com meltdown 20 years ago in former lives for for both of us. Does it feel different now? Are these companies justifying higher prices than they did then for real reasons? Or is this just froth?
Hogan: Yeah, you can you can have froth without having the comparison to the dot-com bubble. And by that I mean if we look at the companies today that are getting frothy — and certainly the Fab Five of Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and a lot of these players that have done very, very well — If you look at the PE ratios that they have now compared to what they were in 1999 and 2000 when things rolled over, they're about half of that. And the other thing to keep in mind is back then, the yield on the U.S. tenure is about six percent versus the 70 cents that it's now, or 70 basis points. So the equity risk premium is certainly better in this environment.
That's not to say there's not some froth in the run up that we've seen and some of the names that have obviously done very, very well since the lows have probably gotten ahead of themselves. But to make that apples to apples comparison to what that felt like back then when we were measuring how many eyeballs you had in companies that weren't making any money going public and going up 50 percent on the first day, the comparison falls very short.