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Kuby’s Commentary

Heartburn With a Chance of Relief

Mar 13, 2023

There will be no podcast version of this week’s blog as Research Analyst Brooke Kuby is participating in the annual Roth MKM conference.


Three years ago, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic created a seismic shift in the global economies and financial markets. The collapse last week of the Silicon Valley Bank combined with the recent softening economic data might signal a switch to a new menu of heartburn and perhaps relief.

It was a terrible week in the equity market as the indices posted their biggest losses this year, while U.S. Treasuries and gold soared after federal regulators closed Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) on Friday in the biggest U.S. bank failure since Washington Mutual in 2008. We believe the heartburn from SVB’s failure will be most acute for the startups and venture capitalists that represented the core of the bank’s customers. By the closing bell Friday, the S&P 500 had slumped 4.5%, the Nasdaq Composite was down 4.7%, while the Russell 2000 suffered the most severe loss of over 8%, as banks and other financials comprise nearly 25% of the small cap index. Whereas there will be casualties from this crisis, we think the indiscriminate selling of all financial companies might prove to be an overreaction, as many of those firms will likely be unaffected by SVB’s failure. There was no place to hide as every sector declined, with the Utilities 2.8% loss the least dramatic, and declining issues outnumbering advancing issues by almost 10-1.

Following the sell-off, courageous investors might find some relief from lower interest rates. The fear of “higher for longer” had been plaguing the markets since early February, and in fact prior to the SVB news the stock market was already sharply lower in reaction to Chairman Powell’s comments on Tuesday suggesting that rates could be higher than the Fed’s previous guidance. Those comments seemed outdated by the end of the week, following the combination of the SVB news and the February jobs report, which offered some hints that inflation may be easing, as employee wages increased less than expected. The yield on the 10-year Treasury dropped 31 basis points to 3.69%, while the 2-year rate dropped a similar amount.

As we have said in the past, while our first priority is finding great businesses at great valuations, we do advocate for some exposure to precious metals that historically have been safe havens during uncertain financial markets periods. Our preferred vehicles remain Sprott Physical Gold Trust (PHYS), Newmont Corp (NEM), Pan American Silver Corp (PAAS), and Sprott Inc (SII).

What’s Next?

The fallout over the collapse of SVB and the implications for the banking sector and venture capital ecosystem set the tone Monday morning with the U.S. government outlining the steps it is taking to protect the banking system. Investor attention will then turn to the economic releases with the consumer price index report for February due out on Tuesday. A slight moderation is expected, and on Wednesday producer prices are forecasted to show a deceleration to a 0.3% month-over-month gain from 0.7% in January. Additionally, the Empire Manufacturing Survey and the latest retail sales are both anticipated to show an economic slowdown, while industrial production and the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook are both seen improving. Fedspeak will be muted during the quiet period until the next FOMC meeting on March 21-22.

Stocks on the Move

Most stock price movements were related to the broader market, and was less based on company specific news. If you have a question on a particular company, please reach out to

-12.4% APA Corp (APA)

-11.4% Bank of America Corp (BAC)

-11.9% BGSF Inc (BGSF)

-12.1% Blackstone Inc (BX)

-11.8% Inc (PRTS)

-12.0% Paramount Global (PARA)

-15.1% Bank of Hawaii Corp (BOH)

-11.7% Compass Diversified Holdings (CODI)

-13.8% First Hawaiian Inc (FHB)

-10.0% LSI Industries Inc (LYTS)

-11.0% Rocky Brands Inc (RCKY)

-12.0% Superior Group of Companies Inc (SGC)

-14.2% Weyco Group Inc (WEYS)

The stocks mentioned above may be holdings in our mutual funds. For more information, please visit

The information provided in this commentary is not an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to purchase any security, product, or brokerage service. The information is not intended to be used as the basis for investment decisions, nor should the information be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of any investor. This commentary is presented to illustrate examples of the securities that North Star Investment Management Corporation and/or its affiliates (“North Star”) may have bought for client accounts and the diversity of markets in which North Star Investments may invest, and may not be representative of current or future investments. You should not assume that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this commentary will be profitable or will be equal to any corresponding performance levels that might be indicated. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Investments in securities involve risks including the possible loss of the principal invested. North Star and others associated with it, including employees, may have positions in and effect transactions in securities of companies mentioned or indirectly referenced in this commentary. North Star may buy, sell or hold these securities in proprietary or client accounts. North Star will not be providing regular updates or advising you of any changes in the views expressed herein. Investors should consider their investment objectives, risk tolerance, and financial situation and needs before investing in any security. Tax considerations, commissions, fees and other costs should be carefully evaluated with one’s investment and/or tax advisors. Information provided is obtained from sources deemed to be reliable, but North Star cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information. This material may not be reproduced, distributed or transmitted to any other person in whole or in part without the prior written consent of North Star. A copy of North Star Investment Management Corporation’s Form ADV Brochure, Privacy Notice and Business Continuity Plan summary can be obtained by calling 312-580-0900.

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