“Do I go to all cash at least until after the election?”
More than a few people have asked me this question over the past several months. Even more people have probably asked themselves this question. The answer, if historical data of the S&P 500 index is a guide, is a firm NO.
The chart above illustrates the impact of missing just the 25 best days in the market, the 15 best, 5 best and 1 best day. The days are NOT CONSECUTIVE, they are random best days. If missed, the majority of stock market gains are missed.
After talking with a number of clients and friends in the past couple of weeks it became apparent that a breakdown of YTD stock market performance would be informative. There are major pronounced differences currently in the various stock categories. An explanation of these differences could illuminate why certain portfolios have gone up (or down) more than others.
Please note that this discussion is not meant to minimize the importance of performance. Performance is critical; however, the time frame of performance evaluation and the concept of progress toward achieving goals are even more critical to successful investing.
Over what will undoubtedly be a most unusual Memorial Day weekend the possible topics of conversation will be endless. Everything is fair game this year – especially politics (and maybe sex and religion too). Also high on the list will likely be:
what is proper social distancing
kids’ drive-by graduation celebrations
how many Zoom cocktail hours were held in the past 8-10 weeks.
As we all “shelter in place” and our kids are in “cyber school” we take in news both of the day and of the bigger picture. Here are several personal financial-related cautionary thoughts and a quick graphic (see below). People way smarter than I say that data is key to decision-making and the ability to stick with a plan in crisis situations.
The markets are telling us that the Coronavirus situation and the aftermath of an economic slowdown is likely not going away any time soon. The evidence is in the “indiscriminate selling” of nearly every asset class:
The past several weeks has seen the first pandemic in the era of social media. The last H1N1 Influenza pandemic was in 2009. In 2009, Facebook was young (founded 2004) and Twitter was in its infancy (founded 2006).
In addition to a handful of other major factors, the Covid-19 coronavirus is descending on the planet during: a US Presidential election year, a high-level fight over oil between the Saudis and Russia AND immediately following an almost 11-year UP stock market in the US.
A couple of points of perspective to this very hectic open to the US stock markets:
There are comparisons today and the past two weeks to the 2008-2009 financial crisis. The US stock markets were most volatile n Fridays and Mondays throughout late 2008 with financial institution failures that took place over or near weekends – Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers…and then Merrill Lynch.
Lifestyle, goals and spending are what drive a successful investor’s attitude in volatile markets.
Whew! What a stretch in the markets. During record-breaking volatility both UP and DOWN I have been on the phone continuously with clients and friends for 2-3 weeks. The BEST part is that 99% of the phone calls have been positive in confirming:
…and various conversations about beverage of choice.
With this week’s fast and furious weakness in US and global stock markets – primarily based on spread of the Coronavirus – the next “shoe to fall” likely will be slower short-term economic growth in parts of the US and definitely longer, more pronounced slow-downs in China. These types of slowdowns do happen as a part of market cycles. This situation also got me to thinking about how economic slowdowns, often over decades, have benefited beer and alcohol sales.
Originally titled, “Gut Check in Rocky Markets” but with a new twist the following excerpted edition from the archives of TGIF 2 Minutes is timely on (Not So) Fat Tuesday. Please keep in mind three new factors:
The political divide currently in the US is adding to market tensions and even politicizing the Coronavirus,
Primary Elections and Debates and the policy issues being brought forth are next-to-center stage in the media,
A still very recent UP 29% equity market in 2019,
and there exist the makings of a potential market correction. A market correction is defined as a decline of 10% from a recent high; the US equity markets are down over 6% in two days and are nearing an official “market correction” in 2020.