First Quarter Update, Opportunities & Risks


Bill’s Blog | April 3, 2024

Welcome to Spring, the beauty of new flowers, blossoms, and the greening of plants and trees. It is one of my favourite seasons. Not only has the season bloomed, but so have the markets with significant upside in the first quarter. 

  Q1 IN NUMBERS January 1 – March 31 

    TSX:  +6.6% YTD 

    S&P 500:  +13% YTD  

    Nasdaq:  +12% YTD  

    Bitcoin:  +72.4% YTD  

    Magnificent 7:  +20% YTD 

    Gold: +8.09% YTD

    Oil: + 16.08% YTD

So, let’s break down each market. The TSX Canada’s largest exchange has caught an updraft, but only 50% of the USA S&P 500. Canada will continue to lag due to a slower economy (barely buoyant), weak productivity, staggering debt (personal, Corporate, and Government), and many anti-business government policies. Very little capital is flowing into Canada with our current Government, which significantly hinders our economy.

The US economy remains strong but is backstopped with one trillion of new government debt every 100 days and running a war budget. As I have always stated, debt doesn’t matter until the day it does. When you cannot repay it, default or create hyperinflation with endless money printing. One day, there will be a reckoning with the insane debt levels, and we will all pay for it. 

Another important factor regarding central bankers’ lowering rates is that doing so means we are in a recession. However, inflation does not want to die, so rates are higher for longer. If job numbers remain strong, wage inflation will continue, making it difficult to lower rates. The rapid debt expansion and the cost of borrowing will eventually become a severe issue in the US and other nations. In Canada, if the CB lowers rates too quickly, this could cause a new surge in real estate pricing and the next wave of inflation. The CB’s have painted themselves into a corner.

The Nasdaq has surged higher. However, three of the seven (Magnificent Seven) have turned down, and there has been a rotation into chip manufacturers and AI stocks with significant gains. Technology and innovation drive the economy and productivity, so the US excels above Canada and most Nations. Also, the US stock markets are at record overvaluations, and there will be a correction at some point.

Bitcoin leads the race in gains (72.4% YTD), with massive capital intakes flowing into Bitcoin EFTs, Blackrock, and others winning with billions in inflows. Second, the Bitcoin halving will occur later this month when the miner rewards are cut in half, and demand continues to surge. If history repeats, the following year and a half will be remarkable. Bitcoin has already surpassed its all-time high. Cryptocurrencies are highly volatile speculations (meaning high risk); however, after proper due diligence and deploying only a small amount of capital, you can afford to lose (no debt); speculating in cryptocurrencies may be worth the risk. At least hundreds of millions of people think so.

I have been recommending precious metals for over a decade to have a position in gold and silver. Gold has broken its all-time high, and I foresee a solid year. Why? If interest rates do drop, gold will soar. Also, central banks and Eastern Nations are making large purchases of gold, with China leading the buying spree. Gold is an excellent hedge against inflation, retaining your purchasing power, and does well during war times and geopolitical risks. We have all in spades! Consider putting a sizable position in physical Gold and Silver as a part of your savings, and you will not regret it.

A continued power shift is evolving between West and East, and oil/gas is in the middle. Despite many Western politicians’ continued attacks against oil/gas, the East does not care about their CO2 agenda. The vast majority of the world wants a better standard of living, which comes from cheap energy. One billion people still have no electricity, and another billion plus have intermittent power, often only a few hours daily. Whatever your views are on the issue, oil prices will continue to rise as the demand increases in the coming decades. 


  • Buy precious metals, and if you need help, contact me: cash, RRSP, TFSA, and other registered categories. Storage is also available.
  • Consider taking a small position in Bitcoin and a few quality altcoins, as BIG money is now in the game.
  • Have an expert active portfolio manager to de-risk your portfolio (dividend-focused, diversified in assets, and hedged if needed). Available to those with a minimum of 100K combined family assets and Cash, RRSP, RRIF, TFSA, etc. Please get in touch with me to discuss if this is a good fit for your investments.
  • Select Private Equity with solid cash flow and 10-year-plus track records. These are investments outside the stock market and provide a means of proper diversification. I have referral arrangements with experts in this field if you need help diversifying a part of your portfolio. 
  • Life insurance contracts have many benefits, such as protecting investments, creating income, estate planning, and growing wealth. I am a licensed life insurance broker in BC and can help anyone in the province.

Risks to the economy and markets:

One of the lessons I had to learn personally is to manage risk and avoid taking significant losses to my capital. Can you relate? So, what are the significant risks you need to consider?

  • Central banks will not be able to control inflation completely. 
  • Governments continue to run massive deficits that are highly inflationary. Then, they continue to raise taxes, fees, and our cost of living. 
  • We have a severe housing crisis, shortages, and unaffordability, whether purchasing or renting. Only 26% of Canadians can now afford a home, compared to 70% ten years ago. According to RBC, just 45% of Canadians can afford a condo, down from 60% in 2019. You should only pay 30% of your household income to rent or own; it has risen to 49% for many home buyers.
  • Having too much debt is crippling, and get help if you need it. Part of having financial freedom is having little or no debt.
  • Lastly, as I have stated in the last few years, we are in a war cycle. Currently, the markets don’t care and continue to rise. The tragedy of the human loss of life and displacement of 10’s of millions of individuals and families is beyond sad! I continue to be very concerned the two wars will continue to escalate. The Iran regime (not the general population) has created chaos in the Middle East by funding extreme terror groups (about 10). Iran uses its proxies as a delay tactic to ensure they have time to build their nuclear bomb, and if that is allowed to happen, the world will become a far more dangerous place. For some reason, the UN and many nations and politicians do not grasp the fundamental issues that have created this crisis. The Iranian regime has also partnered with Russia in providing and developing advanced war drones that Russia has been using against Ukraine. France has aggressively taken a stand against Russia and is providing Ukraine with significant military expertise and war machines. Escalation and expansion of war would cause a significant correction or crash in the markets. Let us all pray these wars will end soon!

So, what should one do? Be proactive. Ensure you have one or two financial experts who understand the market risks and know what to do. Building wealth is a team sport that requires several proven people to help you achieve your long-term goals. Develop a plan and be willing to make adjustments along the way, as our world is rapidly changing. Based on many risks, there will likely be many ups and downs for the remainder of 2024. If you need help, please get in touch with me.

All the best in 2024,

Bill Westmacott is a financial educator and solution provider.

Financial Education & Honest Solutions Create Success

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