The Ups and Downs of the AFG Conference

I am back from the AFG Conference and after almost a week of contemplation I think I have my thoughts in order to give an accurate account of what I learned at the conference.  As I am sure most of you are hearing, there are going to be plenty of “Ups and Downs” in the market moving forward.  This will be especially true as we move through the slow pace of the “Summer Doldrums.”  On a similar theme to John’s post about his CFA Conference experience I will briefly discuss “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.”

The Good

The one resounding theme across all guest speakers throughout out the conference was for the most part the “worst” is behind us and the market has made good strides to improve moving forward. 

The Bad

We are obviously still at a very important inflection point, which will be very sensitive to any information that comes out through the summer months.  We have already seen this concept in action with the increased volatility in the market.  This will be compounded by the lower volume summer months (because of the lower volume, smaller groups of investors have the ability to move the markets in different directions must faster than other parts of the year). 

The Ugly

Taxes, Taxes, Taxes!!! No matter what guest speaker was at the podium, they each brought up some impact that upcoming marginal tax rate increases (the Bush Administration tax cutes, automatically revert at the end of 2010). Most political analysts believe that President Obama will most likely allow these rates to revert back to their pre-Bush levels.  The one prominent theme that came about in regards to taxes, is the potential for it to slow countries ability to work it’s way out of the current recession.  The good news is the timing of the rate change gives the economy another year and a half to form a good solid foundation before any changes take effect.  The hope is we will have formed that foundation and solved some of the other looming issues, allowing the market to focus solely on the pending tax increases.

As always, the AFG Conference is always one of the most interesting conferences we attend, mainly do to the in-depth discussions regarding both the economy and how specific issues can affect the long-term valuation of stocks.  This conference allows us to obtain a good amount of information in a short period of time that we can directly apply to our process of asset allocation as well as our investment selctions.

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