Here's what Goldman Sachs told its big money clients about the stock market mayhem

Markets are all over the place.

The early minutes of trading on Monday saw markets in a panic, with a number of seemingly high-quality stocks down 20% and the Dow down 1,000 points. All told, the day was chaotic and stocks finished the day down 3%. And this coming after stocks lost 3% on Friday.

Over the last few days, a number of explanations were thrown around, including weakness in China’s economy and the possibility of the Fed raising interest rates, among other things. No reason on its own, however, really served as a credible reason for the biggest two-day stock decline since the financial crisis.

All day Monday, analyst commentary on what was going on rolled in, and something that really caught our eye was a note from Goldman Sachs’ asset management team.

These are the folks that deal with Goldman’s big money clients, many of whom are successful outside the world of finance. And so while these are savvy, successful business professionals, the ins and outs of the economy and the stock market is not necessarily that is something on their radar.

But when the Dow loses 1,000 points and the stock market decline makes the front page of newspapers around the country, these folks are going to be on the phone looking for answers — and wondering if their money is safe.

In its note, Goldman wrote:

The recent global market selloff has pushed major equity indexes into correction territory, defined as a drop of 10% or greater from recent highs. We continue to believe global economic fundamentals are strong, even as markets appear to be repricing risk. Moments such as these can, in our view, demonstrate the merits of well­ diversified portfolios.

Goldman also outlined 3 takeaways for investors to keep in mind in light of the market volatility:

  1. Goldman still sees the risk of the US falling into recession as “extremely low.”
  2. The stock market sell-off on Monday was, in Goldman’s view, “a reaction to China’s stock market volatility and currency devaluation (amid struggles for emerging markets more generally), oil prices’ drop to multi-year lows, and worries of potential Federal Reserve (Fed) interest rate increases.”
  3. Goldman thinks, “investors should anticipate higher volatility, especially in equity markets — and that investors should be prepared to exercise patience.”

And so if you’re a market pro or a dedicated reader of this site or others, these reasons for the stock market selling off might not seem interesting (or might seem wrong!), but it is worth keeping in mind what one of the world’s most visible banks is outlining and the sort of conventional wisdom about what is going on right now.

Goldman concluded its note writing:

In our view, this month’s volatility is a reminder of the importance of several principles of portfolio construction: Diversified sources of return matter. While we believe selloffs may create stock­specific buying opportunities, an overreliance on equity markets may create vulnerabilities in volatile environments. Investors should, in our view, consider strategies which seek to limit downside exposure.

On Tuesday, US stock futures were pointing to a sharp rebound with Dow futures up 600 points.

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