I am finding it difficult to stay comfortable as the stock market continues to trend downward. As an investment advisor who is surrounded by data, I am not impervious to the thought that “This time it’s different”. The more uncomfortable I become, the more convinced I am to take action. As humans we feel more in control when we take action, even when inaction is the right choice. This type of response isn’t all that different from physical discomfort we’ve all experienced. We want to wiggle around, nudge here and shimmy there, if for no good reason other than we feel convinced that action is required.
The S&P 500 has retracted -10% off its mid-September highs leaving it with a slightly positive return in 2018. The NASDAQ index which tracks technology stocks is down nearly -15% from its highs in late August and is remarkably still positive for the year. To be frank, seeing the market drop 800 points in a day is startling. On the surface it’s enough to make anyone uncomfortable, but when you look beneath the surface, and evaluate future conditions, I am able to feel the sense of urgency subside.
So what’s above the surface and what’s beneath the surface?
Above the Surface:
- Above the surface it’s choppy. Short term visibility is blurred by the chaos around us.
- We’ve had several large market swings but it’s hard to remember them with the speed of today’s news cycle. In February of this year the S&P 500 was down -10%, followed by a swing up, and then another -7% decline, followed by a swing up, and yet another -10% decline. 
- The economy is sending mixed signals. GDP growth far exceeded expectations for the first half of the year. However, that was likely driven by the massive fiscal stimulus via the recent tax cuts. Leaving people to be concerned that economic growth won’t be sustained.
- The Federal Reserve appears intent on continuing its rate-hike campaign despite several members acknowledging downside risks.
- China and the trade negotiations are a dark cloud hanging over the market. There is growing skepticism on meaningful progress which is dragging investor sentiment.
Below the Surface
- Below the surface it’s calm and clear. Providing visibility of what’s ahead and I’m reminded of the plan in place.
- Most of our investor’s own bonds. By owning bonds you have assets that are negatively correlated to stocks. Meaning, when stocks you own are losing value, the bonds you own are potentially gaining value which can limit your losses.
- In the long run, the stock markets tend to trend upward. There is no doubt they have rough patches. Whether it’s a significant event like the great depression, tech bubble, 9/11, housing crisis or something minor like the US Debt downgrade or Chinese slow down in 2016 the likely hood of a recovery is strong. We believe that in future there are indicators of the likelihood of positive stock returns.
I’ll leave you with this: It’s okay to be worried. But know that our team is dedicated to building your portfolio so it suits your specific needs. If you’ve expressed concern about the stock market, then we’ve made sure you own an adequate amount of bonds in your account. If you’ve expressed an ability to tolerate short term volatility in exchange for higher rates of return over time then know we’ve allocated your account to the right amount of stocks. Everything you own, you own for a reason. We are always here to talk, discuss, review or revaluate your accounts but in the process we will never tell you not to worry.
Disclosure: The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.
The economic forecasts set forth in this material may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
The NASDAQ Composite Index measures all NASDAQ domestic and non-U.S. based common stocks listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market. The market value, the last sale price multiplied by total shares outstanding, is calculated throughout the trading day, and isrelated to the total value of the Index.
About The Author:
In 2017 Andrew was named "Top Next Generation Wealth Advisor" by Forbes magazine.*
Andrew has been published in Medical Economics magazine, and in November 2012, he was recognized in the “Best Financial Advisors for Doctors” issue. In addition to doctors, Andrew has experience working with individuals who are employed or were previously employed by publicly traded companies. He’s developed a well versed understanding in the taxation of stock options, as well as, a strong foundation for developing strategic plans on exercising stock options.
*The Forbes ranking of Top Next-Generation Wealth Advisors, developed by SHOOK Research, s based on an algorithm of qualitative and quantitative data, rating thousands of wealth advisors born in or after 1980. Advisors are interviewed by telephone and in person to evaluate service models, investing process, experience levels and integrity. Additional factors considered include complaince record, client retention, revenus produced for their firms and assets managed. Portfolio perfomrance is not a criterion due to varying client objectives and lack of audited data. Neither Forbes nor SHOOK receives a fee in exchange for rankings.
 Morningstar Direct Performance Returns for S&P 500 TR index, NASDAQ index and Barclays Aggregate bond index (
 Morningstar Direct Correlation Matrix between S&P 500 and Barclays Aggregate bond index over 10yr period (PDF)
 JP Morgan Guide to the Markets, On The Bench, The Importance of Limiting Losses (PDF)
 Please note that bonds are subject to market and interest rate risk if ld prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rates rise and bonds are subject to availability and change in price. (PDF)
 Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal (PDF)
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