In meetings with clients over the last several weeks, we have used the buzzword “Australia”, frankly to get people’s attention to the biggest issue surrounding our economy and the investment markets. The facts are that the Australian economy has gone 28 years without a recession! Here, in the United States, there is anxiety over our 10 year plus expansion and coincident bull market. We have felt less extreme in calling attention to this phenomenon since the New York Times article on the subject in its Sunday business section a week ago. Our point is simply that with the right combination of fiscal and monetary policies plus the lower amplitude of this overall economic expansion, we can continue two or three more years without a recession.
Stock market investors are beginning to comprehend this encouraging prospect. Our stocks are up approximately 19% as of YTD. We have exceeded our benchmark indices for the quarter and YTD. The change in market leadership that we referenced in our January letter has been occurring and is exemplified by the performance this year of Disney, which we own vs. Netflix, which we don’t own.
We would like to mention two additions to our professional staff. Kim Roberts is joining us from Highland Consulting Associates to be our Chief Compliance Officer and work with individual clients. She has a BA from Heidelberg University and an MBA from Kent State University. Kim also maintains a CIPM (Certificate in Investment Performance Measurement). Additionally, Aaron Conway is joining our research team to focus on the Energy sector. He is coming from Sequoia Financial Group and has a BA and MBA from Kent State University. Jeffrey Travis who was our Chief Compliance Officer and followed Energy stocks has returned to his original investment firm, Oak Associates.