Reflections on the World Conflict

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This week, like most of you, I have watched in horror as the atrocities continue in Ukraine. I can’t help but remember a handful of past events that are part of what shaped who we are and how we got here. Ultimately, I’ll link to your investment account, which may be the only thing I’m marginally qualified to talk about.

First of all, I was born in 1952. The impact of the “greatest generation”, Depression era and World War II veterans were in full force. During the war, my mother and her older sister moved into a rental house in Cedar Grove with my older brother and three double first cousins. My brother was born in March 1942 and legend has it that our father first met him when he was 3 years old. With a nation of 18 to 35, he left a pregnant wife to serve in the Philippines. He came back after the war. Fast forward to around 1959 and all the Boy Scout troop dads, little league coaches, Sunday school teachers, and more. Families were building a post-war nation that had a proud quality (or so it seemed to me). I was the first man in my extended family who did not do military service. I am therefore the beneficiary of their sacrifice. I am proud to say that I truly feel gratitude for this. My mother had a brother a year younger who was a tail gunner in a fighter jet in the Pacific. One of my other uncles passed on his belongings to our family in a fairly small box that included his flag. They never recovered that plane or that crew.

I also remembered this week a speech given in Boston by former President Bill Clinton several years ago. His daughter, Chelsea, was getting married this weekend and he seemed a bit scattered in his presentation. He answered questions and was asked if he could change one thing about his presidency, what would it be? There was a muffled chuckle from the room and I heard someone sitting behind me mutter something about a ‘blue dress’. Without hesitation, he answered. “If I had to do it again in 1999, I would have gone to Kosovo earlier. We could have saved thousands of lives.” You may recall that the President of Yugoslavia used political and military power to assert Serbian supremacy over the ethnic Albanian majority in the province of Kosovo. Thousands of Albanians have been killed in a relentless campaign of ethnic genocide. Sound familiar?? However, let’s not confuse Russia with Yugoslavia.

In 2000, I heard General Norman Schwarzkopf speak in San Diego. He had commanded troops in Operation Desert Storm. I will never forget his summary statement on the war. “If what you think you know was learned from the media, just assume you don’t know anything.” I think that is also true today.

The most informative statement I’ve seen this week was posted on Facebook by a friend. He posted a picture of Forrest Gump sitting on that bus stop bench where he shared all those stories with the random stranger sitting next to him. The caption reads “And just like that, everyone on Facebook stopped being infectious disease experts and became international relations experts.” That says it all. It’s complicated and we just don’t know the whole picture. We can hope and pray for someone to make and be able to make wise decisions in this complex global community that our ancestors left us. So let’s move on to the part about our investment accounts.

You may be feeling a more direct impact this week from the cost of gas at the pump rather than the volatility of your investment portfolio. Let me first quote Stephen Auth, Chief Investment Officer at Federated Hermes, in his weekly commentary. “Scenarios vary, but 12 months ahead stocks should be higher from here.” According to them, we will continue to experience considerable volatility. The Standard and Poor’s 500 could easily undergo a 20% correction from its previously set high. He maintains that these opportunities will continue to be buying opportunities, not the start of a prolonged downturn.

As oil seems to be at the forefront of investment discussions, I checked with Saira Malik, Chief Investment Officer at Nuveen Investments. His team publishes a comprehensive weekly commentary. They considered investing in a higher oil price environment for longer. They believe that soaring energy prices often precede economic downturns, but this is not a causal relationship. Increasing supply and slowing demand are much easier said than done. However, they believe that the current spike in oil prices is not a sign of an impending recession. In fact, on March 10, the West Texas Crude futures price curve showed $113 a barrel for April, then fell to $89 for December. While you may be more aware of the cost of cruising in your fuel-guzzling beloved, they don’t see a lasting impact on your investment account. It’s a small price to pay if it were to save lives in Ukraine. Keep praying for peace.

The opinions expressed herein are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations to any individual. To determine which investment(s) may be suitable for you, consult your financial advisor before investing. The economic forecasts presented in the presentation may not develop as expected and there can be no guarantee that the strategies promoted will be successful. Referenced performance is historical and does not guarantee future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested directly. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

RFG Advisory and its investment advisor representatives do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This document has been prepared for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon, tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal and accounting professional for advice on these matters.

Visit us at www.planinvestinspire.com. Tommy Williams is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional of Williams Financial Advisors, LLC. Securities offered by Registered Representatives through Private Client Services, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory products and services offered by Investment Advisory Representatives through RFG Advisory, a Registered Investment Advisor. RFG Advisory, Williams Financial Advisors, LLC and Private Client Services are unaffiliated entities. The branch is located at 6425 Youree Drive, Suite 180, Shreveport, LA 71105.

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