Common Cents & Mosaics

With the exception of Mondays, our investment committee holds a conference call for Oakworth associates every morning. Before each member of our committee shares their thoughts on the economy and markets, I ask them to “give us some good news.” As you can imagine, this isn’t always an easy thing to do.

As I have written in this newsletter on numerous occasions, the headlines have been absolutely awful thus far in 2022. Throw in the dramatic events of the last 2 years, and the news has been unremittingly bad, in aggregate. That is why I dissected the most recent GDP report in last week’s missive in order to find a few silver linings in all the dark clouds.

After all, just as man can’t live on bread alone, so, too, they can’t live on a steady diet of negativity. Any more of said same will undoubtedly cause the world to stop revolving, spinning slowly down to die. We can’t have that.

Yesterday morning, just about every news outlet in the English-speaking world ran a story about the celebrations for Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee. There was much pomp and pageantry. As Joseph Lee and Dulcie Lee at BBC News put it:

 

Roaring crowds cheered the Queen as she joined other royals on the balcony of Buckingham Palace on the first of four days of Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Thousands flooded The Mall, waving flags in the brilliant sunshine to celebrate the Queen’s 70-year reign.

The 96-year-old watched a flypast with 17 other royals and was immediately flanked by Prince Charles and four-year old great-grandson Prince Louis.

The Queen looked delighted as she and Prince Louis chatted during the event. But the noise of the 70-aircraft flypast was too much for the young prince, who was pictured covering his ears and tightly shutting his eyes.

The parade marked the start of a long bank holiday weekend of events celebrating the Queen’s reign – the longest by a British monarch.

Riding on horseback and wearing the Platinum Jubilee medal with his uniform, the Prince of Wales inspected the troops in his mother’s place.

As the soldiers marched towards Buckingham Palace at the end of the parade, the Queen emerged on to the balcony, accompanied by cheers from the crowd.

More than 1,500 officers and soldiers along with 350 horses from the Household Division took part in Trooping the Colour, the first time the parade has been staged in full since the pandemic.

After the parade, more than 70 aircraft – including Spitfires from World War Two, Apache helicopters, Typhoons and the Red Arrows – took part in the flypast over Buckingham Palace. Several jets flew in formation to form the number 70 in honour of the Queen’s long reign.

Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their three children – Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis – flanked the monarch on the balcony – the Royal Family’s first gathering there since 2019.

Space for public viewing filled up by mid-morning. Thousands of spectators lined the Mall and filled nearby St James’ Park, waving flags and draped in union jacks.

Many in the crowd saw the day as a historic moment, and spoke of their admiration for the Queen.

“She’s such a strong personality,” said Salamath Silmy, from north London. “I always talk to my daughter about how we have to be strong like her.”

Visiting from the US, Elaine Henderson said the day represented “everything I love about Britain”.

 

As an American, I find the concept of royalty a little baffling. These people weren’t just born sliding into home; they were born leaving the stadium in a chauffeured limousine after the end of the game.  How so? Why by sure happenstance and dumb luck, that’s how so. I suppose it is almost like being a Bush or a Kennedy in that regard.

Further, if I were a Briton, I would probably resent these people. Why should I have to scrimp just to go on holiday at a Butlin’s or to Blackpool? This when the royals come into this world with palaces, castles, and servants waiting for them! The best part? According to The Royal Household, the ‘total net expenditure of the UK royal family funded by the sovereign grant/sovereign grant reserve (aka UK taxpayers)’ was an estimated £87.5 million in 2021. Using today’s exchange rate, that works out to be around $110 million.

The feeling I had as I looked at pictures of the parade, the cadaverous Duke of Kent, Prince Charles with all of the medals he earned for being born, and the Queen grinning from ear to ear…the feeling…was happiness, strangely enough. While the British monarchy has no direct impact on my life, family or career, it is/was nice to see the power of a tradition at a time when the world seems to be getting rid of them.

When you consider how much the world has changed over the last 70 years, it  is remarkable the institution of the Queen hasn’t. To be sure, it has had to adapt, and it also helps Elizabeth seems to be an appealing and approachable person, even if she isn’t. I am not sure you could say that about much of the remainder of the royal family. So much so, it will be interesting to see what happens to the monarchy after she dies.

But what does this have to do with the markets, let alone the US markets?

Admittedly, this is a bit tangential. The House of Windsor has nothing to do with domestic interest rates, corporate earnings, the US labor markets, or stock valuations. Nada, rien, niets, nichts, niente, and nic. However, the news cycle is a mosaic of different headlines, stories. Individually, they don’t paint the bigger picture. Yet, they do when combined, sometimes spectacularly.

So, the platinum jubilee? It is just one tile in the mosaic of life, albeit a very pretty one. If we can combine enough others, perhaps the picture we make will be more appealing than the one we currently have.

And that would, indeed, be good news.

Thank you for your continued support. As always, I hope this newsletter finds you and your family well. May your blessings outweigh your sorrows not only on this day but on every day, and thank you for indulging me this week.

John Norris
Chief Economist & Parade Watcher

 

 

Please note, nothing in this newsletter should be considered or otherwise construed as an offer to buy or sell investment services or securities of any type. Any individual action you might take from reading this newsletter is at your own risk. My opinion, as those of our investment committee, is subject to change without notice. Finally, the opinions expressed herein are not necessarily those of the rest of the associates and/or shareholders of Oakworth Capital Bank or the official position of the company itself.