I know they say that as one gets older times goes quicker, but 2022 really seems to have disappeared at an incredible pace and it’s hard to believe the year is now drawing to a close, with Christmas less than a week away.
Mind you, we started to get in the Christmas spirit right at the beginning of the month with our staff Christmas party on December 2nd. This was the first one after the merger of the business earlier in the year, so it was good to have a larger group together. Sadly, 2 or 3 people were unable to attend, but we still had a group of 14 and although we were at a much bigger function, we had a really enjoyable evening and I have to say, Martyn and myself managed a pretty good display of ‘Dad dancing’ – or we thought so anyway!
The following weekend, Chris and I took the opportunity to visit Wroclaw, which is in the southwest corner of Poland, towards the Czech border, where they were celebrating with quite an extensive Christmas market, which is where the picture below comes from. A great city with lots of history so well worth a visit. We thought it was going to be cold there, but actually, little did we know what was in store when we got home, the next day we had all the snow and the last week has been bitterly cold, although I’m pleased to say the snow has now all gone.
There was one other Christmas surprise in store for me and that was on Monday of last week, I tested positive for Covid, which left me feeling under the weather for a few days, but this morning, I have tested negative, and I’m pleased to say, normal service has therefore been resumed!
Charity Donation Rather than Christmas Cards
As you may have noticed from our email sign off, once again this year, we have decided rather than sending Christmas cards to everyone, that we will be making charitable donations and this year, we have chosen two children focussed charities in the southeast of England. These are:
Demelza provides clinical care, therapies, specialised activities and practical support across Kent, South East London and East Sussex.
They have two hospices and provide community based support in the home as well as a programme of on-line activities. Their end of life care for children and young people and bereavement support for family members of all ages is available to all.
£28 – keeps the hydro pool clean for a day, giving families the chance to have fun splashing around together.
£72 – keeps the soft playroom open for other siblings.
£360 – enables a child to receive a series of art therapy sessions.
Chestnut Tree House
Chestnut Tree House is a registered charity, that offers care to 300 children and young adults and their families with life limiting conditions in Sussex and South East Hampshire. Their aim is to provide the best quality of life for the children they care for and support for their families.
This care is provided free of charge, and therefore they rely on donations to support the work they do. They have a number of shops located throughout Sussex, including Arundel, Bognor Regis, Brighton, Chichester, Eastbourne and Seaford.
£10 - can pay for a memory box full of precious keepsakes for a bereaved family to cherish.
£28 – can pay for support for a bereaved family.
£50 – helps to fund a session with a child and young person’s psychotherapist or family counsellor.
With so many good causes around, it can be difficult to know which to support, but we thought children based charities at Christmas time, is where we would like our support to go this year.
We are proposing to close the office and the end of play on Thursday 22nd December and will be reopening on Tuesday 3rd January.
Market Thoughts and What can we Look Forward to in 2023
Looking back over the last 12 months, we can see that exactly 1 year ago, markets were ending 2021 on a relatively high point, but then markets turned early in the New Year and with the invasion of Ukraine in February by Russia and all the associated instability that this has caused, it has turned into a very volatile and disappointing year to say the least.
Whilst there have been a number of low points during the year, it would seem that the absolute low was at the end of September and since then, we have seen some reasonable recovery in most global markets.
As we now know, the Central Banks got it very wrong in terms of their expectation for inflation rates and that was clear even before the invasion of Ukraine, but with soaring energy costs, we have seen inflationary numbers that we thought perhaps we would never see again.
Consequently, Central Banks have been playing catch up with a series of interest rate increases over recent months, December included, and this is likely to continue for a while into the New Year. However, there is a fine balancing act to be considered inasmuch that if Central Banks are too aggressive, this is likely to compound the position with regard to recession, which in itself would be arguably counterproductive.
Last week, the Bank of England announced that in their view, inflation in the UK has now peaked and indeed, the same appears to be true in the US. You may recall that I commented last month, that in my view, this was the case, and therefore, this is pleasing to see and again, I think that inflation will continue to fall.
Ironically, with the aggressive interest rate policy and the fears about recession, normally Stock Markets would react negatively to this, but that does not appear to be the case at the present time!
Earlier this morning, I was reading an investment commentary that was looking at the situation and was talking about “deeply inverted yield curves” in both the USA and the UK, which the article argued is a tried and tested recession indicator – the article got quite technical from there onwards (if indeed, inverted yield curves are not technical enough already!), but then went on to try to explain why markets are not reacting in the way you might expect. The answer it would seem is that along with potential recession, one would not only expect to see interest rates peak, but to start to reduce once more and factoring this in could indeed, be helping to buoy markets at the current time. As the article commented, “equity markets are focussing on the interest rate cuts, since they are designed to make credit cheaper, boost loans, oil the economic engine and fuel a fresh upcycle!”
Markets have indeed proven themselves to be cyclical and I think as we look ahead to 2023, it’s fair to say that we should expect volatility to continue in the short term, but as inflationary pressures ease and perhaps interest rate policies do plateau, if not reverse, we will start to see an environment for growth materialise as the year wears on and one would hope that this time next year, we will be reflecting on a much more positive outcome.
As always, time will tell and making predictions is a dangerous game!
Let me close by wishing you and your families a very safe and Merry Christmas and with you, I look forward to and hope that 2023, will be a better year all round.
As always, stay safe and our best wishes from all at Alexander Bates Campbell