September is shaping up to be a busy month for Swan Hills FCSS, with three community favorite events lined up for the residents of Swan Hills. Here’s a quick look at what’s in store over the coming weeks:
Community Registration Night – Registration Night is a Swan Hills tradition offering an excellent opportunity for community groups, clubs, sporting groups, and recreational groups to let the Swan Hills community know who they are, what they do, and how others can join. It’s also a great chance for Swan Hills residents to check out the clubs, teams, and organizations in town. Joining a community club, group, or team offers new opportunities to make community connections and friends while having a great time.
While this event’s focus can tend to be on programs, sports opportunities, and lessons for children and youth, there are plenty of groups and activities for adults to get involved with too.
Registration Night will be held at the Keyano Centre on Sept. 6, from 5 PM to 7 PM.
18th Annual Swan Hills Wellness Fair – The Wellness Fair is all about different ways for people to maintain or improve their physical, spiritual, and mental wellness. Local support services, personal wellness service providers, vendors, and non-profits will join educational and resource exhibitors to offer a wealth of information, services, and products related to health and well-being.
The Wellness fair will be on Sept. 13 at the Keyano Centre from 2 PM to 7 PM. Aspenleaf Energy will provide a community BBQ from 5 PM to 6 PM.
Drive In Movie Night – From the first event in Sept. 2020, the Drive In Movie night has quickly become a crowd pleaser in the Swan Hills community, particularly with families. Swan Hills FCSS is partnering with the Swan Hills Municipal Library, the Town of Swan Hills, Cardinal Energy, and Fresh Air Cinema to present the movie Ghostbusters Afterlife.
The Drive In Movie Night will be held on Sept. 16 in the Keyano Centre parking lot. Moviegoers can start parking their vehicles at 8 PM, with showtime at 9 PM. Movie admission is free, and a concession (Cash Only) will be available.
Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette
The bear market on Wall Street is not a “black swan.” This is important is for semantic clarity, if nothing else. The term “black swan” has been thrown around with such abandon in recent months that it’s in danger of losing all meaning.
There’s a more important reason not call this bear market a black swan: it creates unrealistic expectations about what can be achieved with black-swan protection strategies. Those strategies hedge against certain rare events, but not everything bad that can happen in the stock market.
The black swan theory has a long history in philosophy and mathematics, but its use in the investment arena traces to the work of Nassim Nicholas Taleb, a professor of risk engineering at New York University. Taleb wrote a book in 2007 entitled “Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable,” in which he defines a black swan as an extremely rare and sudden event that has very severe consequences.
A key aspect of black-swan events, Taleb argued, is that they are unpredictable. This unpredictability means that, in order to protect yourself, you must always hedge your portfolio against the worst. That hedge will detract from your return in most years, but pay off in a big way in the event of a black swan.
A good analogy is to fire insurance on your house. House fires are extremely rare, but you still buy insurance against the possibility and are more than willing to pay your insurance premium.
Black-swan insurance in the investment arena pursues two general approaches. The first is to be as conservative as possible with almost all of your portfolio and extremely aggressive with the small remainder. The second is to couple your normal equity portfolio with an aggressive hedge — such as with deep out-of-the-money puts.
Neither of these strategies has offered complete protection against the current bear market, as you can see in the chart below. The three strategies listed in the chart are:
Swan Hedged Equity U.S. Large Cap ETF HEGD, -0.18%,
which invests more than 90% of its portfolio in large-cap stocks and hedges with put options.
Amplify BlackSwan Growth &Treasury Core ETF SWAN, -0.44%,
which invests 90% in U.S. Treasurys and 10% in S&P long-dated call options.
S&P 500 SPX, -0.34%
fund (96.67%) plus long-dated out-of-the money puts (3.33%). This specific strategy was derived by Michael Edesess, an adjunct professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, in an attempt to replicate the reported returns of a hedge fund (whose strategy is proprietary) with which Taleb is associated.
Clearly, all three approaches’ year-to-date losses are in the double-digits, with the Amplify BlackSwan ETF actually losing more than the S&P 500 itself.
Your comeback might be to suggest constructing portfolio hedges that insure against more than just black swan-like losses. But the cost of such hedges would be much greater than the insurance premium for protecting against a black swan. That cost could be so high, in fact, that you might decide it’s not worth it.
Consider fixed income annuities (FIAs), which allow you to participate in the stock market’s upside while guaranteeing that you never lose money. The “premium” you must pay for this insurance is that your participation rate — the share of the price-only gains that you earn — is often well-below 100%. Currently, for example, according to Adam Hyers of Hyers and Associates, a retirement-planning firm, an FIA benchmarked to the S&P 500 has a 30% participation rate — in effect setting its insurance premium to be 70% of the index’s gains in those years in which the stock market rises.
Would you be willing to forfeit 70% of the S&P 500’s price-only gains in years the stock market rises, along with all dividend income, in order to avoid losses in those years in which the market falls? There’s no right or wrong answer. But you need to be aware of the magnitude of the insurance premium.
The chart above plots the calendar-year price-only returns of the S&P 500 since 1928. The red line shows what your return would have been since then — 3.7% annualized — if you were flat in years in which the index fell, and earned 30% of the index’s increase when it rose. That 3.7% annualized return is a lot less than the 10.0% annualized total return the stock market has produced over the past nine-plus decades.
I’m not suggesting that FIAs are never appropriate in certain circumstances. In an interview, Hyers told me that there are many different FIAs to choose, and some that are benchmarked to indexes other than the S&P 500 have higher participation rates than 30%. Indeed, he added in an email, “many of the [FIAs benchmarked to] proprietary indexes have… participation rates above 100%, so those are where larger gains are locked in.”
My point in discussing FIAs is instead to remind you that there is no free lunch. The more you want to insure against losses, the more upside potential you forfeit in the process. While it is possible to insure against a black swan event, such insurance won’t protect you from all losses.
Mark Hulbert is a regular contributor to MarketWatch. His Hulbert Ratings tracks invest/ment newsletters that pay a flat fee to be audited. He can be reached at email@example.com
Inflation is hurting household budgets, especially in rural markets, and prompting companies to tighten their belts, said Saugata Gupta, managing director and chief executive officer, Marico Ltd. The maker of Parachute oil reported just 1% volume growth in its India business in the March quarter, while revenue growth stood at 5%. In an interview, Gupta said “multiple Black Swan events” were exacerbating inflationary pressures, and companies will have to absorb short-term margin erosion. Edited excerpts:
What are the reasons behind the rural slowdown despite distribution of free foodgrain?
Free rations are distributed to a large section of the population. Though a significant portion of the people is insulated because of the free grains scheme and direct benefit transfers, there is inflation and, that inflation squeezes. So, disposable income towards fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) gets affected. People tend to either downgrade or titrate depending on the category.
We are also lapping a very high base. If we look at Q4 (March quarter), we are at 25% base volume growth. So, on a two-year compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) basis, we are still double digits because we are lapping that high base. Now, a combination of good monsoon, if it happens, the fact that the farmers will get good realization, especially in wheat, and if the base gets corrected—we believe it will lead to growth coming back sometime in the second half of the year. Having said that, obviously, we have to be mindful of how long this geopolitical conflict in Ukraine continues because that has an impact on inflation, which is both crude-related and food-related.
What can the government and private sector do to drive demand?
The government is taking a lot of steps to control inflation. You must appreciate that some of the factors are beyond (their) control. If I look at crude prices and edible oil prices, the two biggest drivers of inflation, because India imports a significant part of its edible oil. The consumer industry needs to continue to keep tightening our belts, and ensure we absorb the short-term margin erosion that could happen. Also, continue to reconfigure some of our pack sizes so that people don’t have to give incremental outlays. Having said that, we continue to see opportunities at the premium end, where, in terms of demand, we are not seeing that shrinkage. So, we have to play at both ends.
The interesting thing is, because of covid, there is far more resilience in the industry. Therefore, I think it is a question of weathering it out in the next six months. We are a little lucky because 50% of our cost base, which is copra, went through inflation last year and it is reasonably soft. So, we are in a little bit of a sweet space because of that and also our international business is doing well. We have some insulation.
This inflation is not structurally demand-led, it is supply-led inflation. So someday, it will give in. We were obviously hoping that the Ukraine situation will come to a resolution but it looks like this is a bit of a long haul. Then Indonesia banned (palm oil) exports. So, there’s a combination of multiple Black Swan events which are happening and therefore, I think we have to cope with it for at least a couple of months.
When you speak about tightening belts, what cost control measures are you taking?
Over the last two years, we have obviously tightened our belts considerably and a lot of the savings have been structural. We have to continue to drive efficiencies.
But three costs that we must ensure we cannot cut are long-term capability-based cost—leadership capability, digital capability and innovation. Second, we are not going to cut down on employee costs because the startup environment has led to a significant war on talent. And third, the reason we are not cutting on advertising and promotion costs is because if you keep on arbitrarily cutting A&P spends, it hits you in one or two years because it dilutes brand equity somewhere.
There is a sense that direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands are seeing a slowdown in growth. What has been your experience with Just Herbs and Beardo?
Actually, I don’t think that demand has tapered. What has happened is the cost of doing business has significantly increased. That is because of some of the changes that happened in Facebook and due to other privacy rules—the cost of consumer acquisition has gone up. As far as Beardo is concerned, we continue to grow and are in line with our aspiration—we have an exit run rate of ₹100 crore-plus. Just Herbs is tracking well. Our overall digital business in terms of the exit run rate in Q4 was ₹180-200 crore.
Will you put acquisitions or launches on the backburner?
Not at all. I would consider this a better opportunity to diversify and innovate. I believe fundamentally, there is nothing wrong in the sector. It is a short-term pain. At Marico, we always have a philosophy that market share gain, volume growth, and innovation are far more important than short-term margins; those will come back. We will continue to look for inorganic opportunities in the digital space—in fact, it’s a better opportunity than last year.