Money Manager Sees Healthier Economy this Year

SALEM, Ohio — At the annual economic forecast luncheon of the Salem Chamber of Commerce Wednesday, Joseph Besecker said he sees a stronger economy ahead boosted by a pro-business Trump Administration.

Besecker, CEO of Emerald Asset Management, a money management firm with more than $4.6 billion in assets under management, spoke to a full house.

Like most professional economists, Besecker sees gross domestic product growing somewhere between 2.7% and 3% this year. And he agrees with the conventional wisdom that the Federal Open Markets Committee will raise two interest rates at least twice this year.

The good news is that such hikes should prove no impediment to growth.

“If we have slightly higher interest rates,” he said, “it’ll be good.”

Besecker reminded his audience of some of the basics of investing – he’s been a financial adviser more than three decades – “There’s a lot of people investing in things that they don’t understand,” he said at the outset.

He has steered many of his clients to the stocks of regional banks and companies that provide cyber security because he’s bullish on them.

Unlike many stocks in high technology, biotech and other emerging industries, people “understand what a bank does,” Besecker said, and “people like to understand what they’re investing in. …

“Last year our bank fund was up 30%,” he reported.

Highly publicized cyber attacks on U.S. companies and political parties traced to nations such as China, North Korea and Russia — lead Besecker to predict even greater growth in the cyber security industry.

“Do you think in our lifetime we will ever spend less on cyber security?” he asked rhetorically. “I don’t think so. Whether it’s businesses, government, individuals — people are going to have to spend money to protect themselves.

“[Now] is the most difficult time to invest new money in the market that I’ve ever seen,” Besecker said. However, that smaller number of stocks he would recommend as investments could provide a floor for the market.

“The market can’t go down a tremendous amount,” he said, “and there’s just not a lot of names to invest in.”

Besecker was critical of the Obama administration, especially its alleged war on coal, and the lack of funding in the 2009 stimulus package Congress allocated to rebuilding infrastructure. But he has hope that President Trump will do more to spur the economy.

“We know he’s pro-business, and his [cabinet] are pro-business,” he said.

While expressing worry that the Trump administration will embraces too much protectionism, he sees the benefits of spending heavily on infrastructure, something both Republicans and Democrats agree is needed.

“When you invest in infrastructure, you invest in tangible resources,” Besecker said. “We need to address that. And this administration will do that.”

Pictured are Rick Eicheldinger, CFP, Hunter & Associates; Elliot Foster, vice president, Emerald Asset Management; Jospeh Besecker, CEO; Joseph Hovorka, senior research analyst/portfolio manager, Emerald; Steven Russell, senior research analyst/portfolio manager, Emerald; and Daniel Scarpitti, investment advisor, Hunter Associates.

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.