Market Update - June 12, 2020

Jun 12, 2020 | Tom McGill


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This week was marked by a return of volatility driven by renewed concern over the global pandemic. It comes after weeks of improving sentiment and growing hope that the worst of the health crisis may had passed and confirmation that the economic recovery had begun. I will provide a synopsis of the situation below, the implications going forward, and then my recipe for a delightful scallop tartare.

 

Coronavirus update

First, the good news. The provinces of Quebec and Ontario continue to see average new daily cases that are trending in the right direction. As a result, the situation in Canada is improving and has led to an expansion of reopening plans. The same can be said for much of Europe where mobility trends have been rising as lockdown restrictions have eased and there have been limited signs of any acceleration in cases. The exception to this appears to be Sweden and the Balkan region, where there have been spikes in new cases in Serbia, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia.

 

Elsewhere, the news has not been as encouraging. Central and South America remain the epicenter of the crisis. But, there are concerning trends in other regions too. More specifically in Southeast Asia and the Middle East where countries such as India, Iran, and Pakistan have seen meaningful increases once again this week. Meanwhile, in Russia, case trends have not accelerated but remain elevated.

 

Investors appear to be most concerned, and confused, about the pandemic in the U.S. The question and debate centers around whether a resurgence of the virus is occurring. At a national level, this does not appear to be the case. But regionally, the story is less clear. California, Texas, Arizona, Georgia, Florida, and North and South Carolina are some states that have witnessed clear increases in new case volumes over the past week, with some also showing increases in hospitalization rates. Furthermore, the risk of escalation in other states remains very real given the mass gatherings and protests that have created more opportunities for the virus to spread. Investors will undoubtedly be focused on this over the next week.

 

The right balance

The reemergence of volatility has reminded us that the path of the economic recovery will be uneven, difficult to forecast, and may remain below its full potential for some time to come. Jerome Powell, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve said as much this week when he indicated that the pace of recovery remains “extraordinarily uncertain” and depends heavily on the ability to successfully contain the virus. Herein lies the next challenge for government officials. More specifically, what approach can foster a functioning economy with effective virus control? The answer is not likely a draconian lockdown as was the case for most of the world over the past few months. Instead, it may involve tactics that are regionally focused, allowing businesses to remain open, mandating physical distancing and protective measures, and identifying and tracing emerging risks and outbreaks. Surely, this is easier said than done.

 

Investors face the difficult task of staying disciplined in their decision making, focusing on their long-term objectives, and not getting influenced by the short-term swings in sentiment and prices. This challenge has been particularly relevant in recent months and holds true today. While we watch the week to week developments closely, and are constantly monitoring our portfolios for opportunities and emerging risks, we remain committed to our long-term approach that is focused on proper planning, asset allocation, rebalancing, and regular reviews of all positions.

 

Scallop tartare (4 ppl)

I first tried this dish in Calgary at Teatro Restaurant last year and have been trying to perfect the recipe ever since. Below remains my best rendition to date and I hope you enjoy.

 

Ingredients:

6 scallops

1 Orange Bell Pepper

1 White Radish

1 Orange (rind only needed)

1 Pink Lady Apple

Fennel Seed

Apple Cider Vinegar

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Smoked Salt

 

Dice the scallops with a chef or utility knife and place in a mixing bowl. Quarter the bell pepper and remove seeds and core. Our goal is to access only the flesh of the bell pepper for texture and flavor; therefore, use a paring knife to remove the skin of the pepper before you finely dice and combine in mixing bowl. Add 2 tbsp. of the olive oil, a pinch of smoked slat, stir, and let rest in the fridge for an hour. Clean and halve the radish. With a mandolin, or a chef knife if you are very good, create 8 thinly-sliced radish wheels the size of a nickel or quarter and the width of a dime. Place in a small bowl, add enough apple cider vinegar to cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.

 

Wash and dry the apple keeping in mind that the goal is have garnish that resemble an elongated match stick. From a whole apple, slice the apple length-wise and right of center. Slice length-wise again into a wheel so the skin of apple is only visible on the circumference. Slice the apple further into 24 matchsticks.

 

Remove scallop mixture from the fridge, drain the radish, and discard the apple cider vinegar. On serving plates, garnish with a quick whisk of olive oil and then arrange the scallop tartare into three, small and equal groups. Finely grate the orange so that the rind falls on each grouping. Arrange the radish on the plate for visual presentation and place two apple matchsticks on each grouping of the scallop tartare. With your knife, dice a few fennel seeds to allow enough to garnish and sprinkle on each grouping of the tartare.

 

Pair with Champagne or a crisp Chablis. A lightly oaked Chardonnay can work as well.