What’s the current state of the US private equity market? “Sustained higher interest rates, inflation…damped deal and exit activity” in 2023. Exits have been extended for years. “The growing need for liquidity options will likely drive an explosion in continuation funds that provide cash-out opportunities and secondary sales by fund investors.” The investment community’s hope is that individual investors will step in to help.
Remarkably, the economy has continued to grow at a healthy pace even as inflation has come down. The Fed’s 5.25 percentage point increase in the federal funds rate over the last two years has had surprisingly little effect on either consumer spending or the job market. US real GDP grew 2.5% in 2023, a much stronger level than previously expected.
A report coming from the Joint Committee on Taxation for a hearing before the Senate Committee on Finance probably should be a warning that certain tax planning techniques may be in for some increased regulation.
Are portfolio manager fees “the only reliable predictor of performance”? “The lower the fees, the higher the returns realized by investors.” It depends. In a pooled investment vehicle, where the client is merely a creditor of the real owner of the investment, perhaps. For separately managed accounts made up mostly of individual common stocks, probably not. The difference between an active management fee of 100 basis points on a $1 million account and an average 35-basis-point fee for most passive investment vehicles is substantial. Some passive vehicles have lower fees and some predict we will see 10-basis-point fees or lower as investment firms race to lower fees.
Although high inflation, high interest rates and incessant recession predictions have cast a shadow over the economy the past year, a sudden increase in innovation has provided some much-needed hope and a glimpse into a brighter future. Recent advancements in artificial intelligence and weight-loss pharmaceuticals threaten to shake up their respective industries. While the major players—Microsoft, Alphabet and Eli Lilly—will all likely benefit, these innovations will also provide an opportunity for new, smaller companies that can lead across these technological changes.
The quick rule of thumb about what the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is likely to want to look at or to audit, if so inclined, is the current year plus the prior three years. These are called the “open years.” If fraud may be involved, it is the current year plus six prior years. The timing schedule is called the statute of limitations. It is meant to help compliant taxpayers trying to do the right thing from being subject to audit beyond a reasonable period, hence three open years. However, if items are omitted from a filed return, making the return “false, fraudulent or otherwise represents a willful attempt to defeat or evade tax, the statute of limitations doesn’t start running.” These rules apply to taxes due, interest and penalties.
Woodstock uses pooled investment vehicles for client cash, so we’re watching money market funds. We’re interested to see that of all the categories of investments in the endowment model, private equity seems to be taking an outsized share. And we like to tell Woodstock’s story.
The stock market roared ahead in the first half of 2023, returning +16.9% and defying predictions for another difficult year. The stock market sailed through the demise of four medium-sized banks, a Congressional debt ceiling showdown, higher interest rates, and widespread calls for a recession.
AI has been gradually permeating many aspects of our daily lives. For instance, recommendation engines use AI to suggest merchandise, movies, and music based on what service providers know we already like and what we share in common with other users. AI is used for word suggestion, dictation, language translation, GPS navigation, facial recognition, and fraud detection, to name a few applications. It can read and process forms.