Nothing Is Working

Another day, another market sell-off. The latest culprit is the failure and seizure of Silicon Valley Bank after a bank run. It’s two steps forward, one step back. Before COVID, the Ukraine War, rising interest rates, and persistent inflation, the S&P 500 was up nearly 200%, averaging 11.4% annually since 2010. However, most asset classes have traded down over the past two years. Frustrating.

The market has performed poorly for extended periods, but that does not make me feel better. Of course, the worst period for stocks was from 1929 to 1944, when the S&P 500 averaged 1.7% per year. It averaged 1.2% from 1965 to 1974, and from 2000 to 2011, it averaged 1.7%. The S&P 500 barely budged for thirty-eight years, or 40% of the time since 1926. Despite doing nothing for decades, the S&P 500 has averaged 10% annually for 93 years.

Each day the market gives us a reason not to invest. If it’s not a bank failure, it’s war or inflation, but if it were not for uncertainty or volatility, it would be impossible to create generational wealth. When stocks fall, they become cheaper, allowing enterprising and courageous investors to buy them at favorable prices. When the storm passes, they can sell them at higher prices – the best times to invest in this millennium occurred during the corrections in 2000, 2008, and 2020.

As the markets continue to suffer, here are a few ideas to fortify your financial future.

  • Keep an emergency fund of three to six months for your household expenses. If you spend $10,000 monthly, your emergency fund should range from $30,000 to $60,000. If your job is at risk or you’re concerned about the markets, extend your savings to nine to twelve months. An emergency fund allows your investments to recover without selling them at lower prices.
  • Buy US Treasuries because they act as a hedge against falling stock prices and are guaranteed. In times of uncertainty, investors flock to Treasuries. The yield on the 2-year US T-Bill dropped from 5% to 3.9% recently, a significant decline, as investors hunted for safety.
  • Allocate a portion of your assets to bonds. Long-term bonds have jumped 4.5% since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. As interest rates fall, bond prices rise.
  • Eliminate single-stock exposure. Over the past few days, First Republic Bank (FRC) wiped out a decade of gains. We typically sell stocks when they cut the dividend, lower earnings guidance, terminate thousands of employees, or face significant litigation. In my experience, it’s only a matter of time before companies fall or trade sideways for years after an adverse corporate event.
  • Continue saving and investing because markets eventually recover. After the Great Depression, stocks produced an annual gain of 11.3%; after the Great Recession, they generated a yearly return of 13.24%.[1] Investing during the darkest hours can deliver the best returns.
  • Diversify your assets across borders, sectors, and sizes. A globally diversified portfolio gives you the best opportunity to create long-term wealth. For example, international stocks climbed 36% from 2000 to 2011 as the S&P 500 faltered. Long-term bonds jumped 18% during the Great Recession, while stocks fell 53%.

Patience is a powerful tool for a successful investor. The ability to wait for stocks to recover is challenging but necessary. The Chinese Bamboo tree takes five years to start growing. For the first four years, it does nothing but fortify its roots, and then it can spurt more than ninety feet in weeks.[2] And the Agave Americana blooms once every 100 years.

Be patient, grasshopper.

The days are long, but the years are short. ~ Gretchen Rubin

March 15, 2023

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on your asset level.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor. Prices and yields are for today only and are subject to change without notice.

[1] DFA Returns Web, period ending 2/28/2023.

[2],grow%20at%20an%20astonishing%20rate. JD Mind Coach, January 28, 2018

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