How to Survive A Recession

Hurricane Harvey blasted Texas and left a trail of debris in its wake. The refineries couldn’t produce gasoline, and, as a result, Texans faced a gas crisis. As pumps ran dry, people panicked and emptied grocery stores and ATM’s. It was a few days of bedlam.

Barron’s Magazine this week ran several stories about preparing for the worst. One article had the ominous headline: “9 Meals Away from Disaster.” In the article, it quoted British MI5 as saying: “At any given time, we’re nine meals away from anarchy.”[1] Nine meals equate to three days’ worth of food. If Texans panicked over a lack of gas, can you imagine the reaction people would have if they couldn’t feed their families?

Since the Dow Jones peaked July 23rd, it has fallen 6.25% as investors react to recession fears. The Twitter Trade war escalated this past Friday, sending the Dow down by 623 points, or 2.4%. Also, interest rates are inverting, a semi-valuable predictor of recessions. Currently, the 1-month Treasury rate is 2.07% while the yield on the 30-year is 2.02%. You earn more interest in 30 days than you do for 30 years.

What exactly is a recession? Here’s a definition from Investopedia: “A recession is a macroeconomic term that refers to a significant decline in general economic activity in a designated region. It is typically recognized after two consecutive quarters of economic decline, as reflected by GDP in conjunction with monthly indicators like employment. Recessions are officially declared in the U.S. by a committee of experts at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), who determines the peak and subsequent trough of the business cycle which demonstrates the recession.”[2]

A recession is identified by a “committee of experts” after they determine the “peak” and “trough” of the business cycle. In other words, we won’t know we’re in a recession until it’s almost over.

If GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is the barometer, how’s it doing? Currently, real GDP growth is 2.1%. Since 1947 it has averaged 3.2%.[3] During the Great Recession (2007 – 2009) GDP growth bottomed in the fourth quarter of 2008 when it fell 8.4%. In 1954 GDP growth fell 10%.

Since March 1989, GDP has averaged 2.5%. During the past three decades, we’ve had 110 quarters with positive growth and 12 negative ones. We’ve had three recessions: 1989, 2001 and 2008, or about once in every ten years. Below is a chart of the GDP growth with a recession overlay.

IUSRGDPG_chart

How did the market perform over the past 30 years? Since August 1989 it has risen 966.7%. The Dow Jones closed at 2,402.68 on August 24, 1989. It closed at 25,628.90 yesterday. During the Great Recession, the market started to rebound in March 2009, six months before GDP growth turned positive and the recession was declared over.

What should you do if we’re on the edge of another recession? Here are a few suggestions.

  • Buy Gold. From 2007 to 2010 gold (GLD) appreciated 120%. Since 2011 it’s down 5.15%. The precious metal performs well during times of fear, chaos, and duress.
  • Buy Bonds. Long-term bonds soared 28% in 2008. During the Great Recession, they were up 6.4%.
  • Buy Small Caps (Maybe). During the last recession, small-cap stocks rose 3.84%, primarily due to their lack of financial leverage.
  • Raise Cash. Money market funds, savings accounts, or T-Bills will allow you to pay your bills and preserve your assets. How much? According to Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics, recessions last about ten months.[4] So, if you’re concerned about a prolonged recession, then keep two to three years’ worth of household expenses in cash or short-term investments.
  • Store Cash. Keep a few thousand dollars in your household safe in the unlikely event you can’t access your bank or ATM.
  • Buy Stocks. The best time to buy stocks is when everybody else is selling. Wealth creation starts during bear markets. When fear is high, values are low. It takes courage to buy when others are selling. Sir John Templeton bought 100 shares of every stock on the New York Stock Exchange trading below $1 during the Great Depression. His two investment themes were “avoid the herd” and “buy when there’s blood in the streets.” He died in 2008 with a net worth of $13 billion.[5]
  • Doing nothing is a prudent strategy. A balanced portfolio of large, small, and international stocks and bonds produced an average annual return of 7.42% from January 2007 to July 2019. Investing monthly, through the recession, improved your performance to 8.4% per year. If you bought the portfolio on January 1, 2007, and sold on December 31, 2010, you would have made 3.13% – not significant, but positive.[6]  A buy and hold investor survived the Great Recession by doing nothing.
  • Reduce Debt. The last ten years have treated investors well, and you may have substantial capital gains. If so, take your profits and pay off your debt. Reducing your debt level will allow you to survive a recession if your cash flow drops.
  • A recession impacts human capital. If you’re fortunate enough to have financial assets, use them to help others during a time of crisis. Your gift may allow another family to recover from the pit of despair.

Recessions are frightening to be sure. However, no one can predict when, where, or how they’ll arrive. It’s impossible to forecast what factor will take down our economy, and no two recessions are alike. You will die a thousand deaths worrying about an economic collapse, especially if you’re watching the evening news or reading social media sites.

Jesus said it best in Matthew 6:25-34: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. 

I been to the edge, an’ there I stood an’ looked down. ~ Van Halen, Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love

August 24, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.

 

 

 

 

 

[1] 9 Meals Away from Disaster. Financial Advisors on How to Prepare for the Worst. Mike Zimmerman, August 23, 2019

[2] Investopedia, Recession definition, reviewed by Jim Chappelow, Updated May 6, 2019

[3] YCharts US Real GDP Growth

[4] https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2019/08/19/recession-what-does-mean-and-what-like/2030642001/, Janna Herron, August 19, 2019

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Templeton, website accessed August 24, 2019

[6] Morningstar Hypothetical. Equal weighted portfolio rebalanced annually: IVV, EFA, IJR, TLT.

A Few Ways to Lose Money in The Stock Market

The market loves to rip wealth from the hands of investors who panic as stocks fall. The Dow Jones fell about 7% from its high last week because the yield curve inverted for a few minutes.

Markets have been rising and falling for centuries. Since 1926 they’ve risen about 75% of the time. A quarter of the time they’re falling – hard. When stocks fall, investors panic.

Stocks have risen 173% over the past ten years. A $10,000 investment in 2009 is now worth $27,260. However, during this great bull run, the Dow Jones has fallen several times. It fell more than 10% in 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016 and 2018. In December it fell 25% from its high-water mark. Despite the drops, the market has always recovered. Investors who sold their stocks last December missed a 19% rebound in 2019.[1]

The graph below shows all the drops in the market for the past ten years. Despite these drops, the market has risen substantially since 2009.

^DJI_chart

The chart below shows the gain in the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1950, producing a gain of 17,790%. Since 1950 the U.S. economy has experienced 17 recessions.

^DJI_chart (1)

As stocks gyrate, here are a few ways to lose money in the stock market.

  • You don’t have a plan on how to invest your assets. You trust your financial future to luck, hope, and chance, playing a guessing game as to which investments will do well.
  • Your investment ideas come from cable television shows or social media sites. Remember, the commentators aren’t talking to you directly; they’re broadcasting their message to millions of viewers.
  • You don’t do any research or homework before you buy a stock. And, more importantly, you don’t have a sell strategy. To make money in stocks, you must have discipline when you buy and sell. Knowing your entry and exit points are paramount to make money when you invest.
  • Investors mistake volatility for risk. If you do, you’re more likely to sell stocks when they’re down. The Dow Jones has a standard deviation of 1%, meaning a 1% drop in the Dow is about 260 points. When investors hear that the market is down 260 points, they panic. However, this move is typical and expected.
  • Time matters when you invest in stocks. The market is efficient in the long-term, but not so much in the near term. If you need money in one year or less, don’t buy stocks.
  • Trying to time the market is impossible. From 1990 – 2018, the S&P 500 returned 9.29%. If you missed the 25 best days, your return dropped to 4.18%.[2]
  • A lack of diversification hurts investors in a downdraft. A well-diversified portfolio owns several investments that rise and fall at different times. If all your investments are moving in the same direction, you’re not diversified. For example, the Dow Jones has fallen 5% for the past month, but long-term bonds have risen 10%.

Over the next 100 years, the U.S. will experience several recessions, maybe even a depression. The market will rise substantially and fall dramatically. No one knows! It’s impossible to predict a recession since most of the economic data is trailing, so by the time it’s been identified, it’s probably half over.

I do understand that market drops are scary. However, holding and buying stocks through market troughs has proven to be a winning strategy. If you invested $10,000 in the Dow Jones on October 1, 2007, just before the start of the Great Recession, your balance would be worth $18,340 today. At the market low, your balance dropped to $6,547. If you sold, you locked in a loss of $3,453. If you held on, you made $8,340.

What I do know is that investors who follow their plan, save money, diversify their assets, invest for the long-term usually win in the end.

Stay the course, my friends.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. ~ Psalm 23:4

August 23, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.

 

 

[1] YCharts. Website Accessed August 23, 2019

[2] Dimensional Fund Advisors, Investment Principles

Headwinds

The stock market has hit a rough patch recently, falling 5.75% since the Federal Reserve cut interest rates on July 30. Headwinds have been stout as market participants react to the trade war, protesters in Hong Kong, Brexit, Trump’s tweets, and calculated language from Chairman Powell.

The recent selloff follows the May decline when stocks fell 7%. For the past 50 years, the average decline from a market top has been 10.7%.[1]

Are this year’s headwinds worse than in previous years? You might say yes because of recency bias. However, it’s in-line with previous market pullbacks.

Here are a few facts.

  • The Dow Jones is up 9.23% for the year and 171% for the past ten.
  • International markets are up 4.32% for the year and 19% for the past ten.
  • Long-term bonds are up 20.8% for the year and 57% for the past ten.
  • A globally diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds (60% stocks, 40% bonds) is up 10% for the year and 104% for the past ten.
  • The 30-Year U.S. Treasury bond is currently yielding 2.03%, a historic low. In 1990, it paid 8%.
  • The current U.S. inflation rate is 1.81%. In 1980 it was 14.5%.

Let’s review how a 60% stock, 40% balanced index performed during past routs if you held on until the end of last year.[2]

  • Stocks fell 48% from 1973 to 1974. If you purchased the index before the drop, your average annual return was 10.4%.
  • Stocks fell 19% in 1990 during the Gulf War. If you purchased the index before the drop, your average annual return was 8%.
  • Stocks fell 43% during the Tech Wreck. If you bought the index in 2000, before the drop, your average annual return was 6.8%.
  • Stocks fell 53% during the Great Recession. If you bought the index in 2007, before the drop, your average annual return was 4.7%.

Markets turn quickly, so it’s best to own a globally diversified portfolio of low-cost funds.

I understand that emotions trump facts when stocks fall 500 points or more. It’s human nature to want to sell your investments and wait for trouble to pass. When fear is high, investors want to trade stocks for bonds until the coast is clear. If you invest in a portfolio of U.S. Treasuries, your current yield would be approximately 1.8%, or about the rate of inflation, so after subtracting inflation, your net return would be zero. It will be less than zero after paying taxes on the income you received.

Are you concerned about the loss of your principal? If so, here are a few steps you can employ today.

  • Reduce your stock exposure. If your stock allocation is 60%, lower it to 40%. Lowering it will reduce your risk by 25%.
  • Increase your cash position to cover three years’ worth of household expenses. If your annual expenses are $100,000, keep $300,000 in cash or short-term investments. A three-year cash cushion will allow you to ride out most market corrections. For example, if you had a high cash reserve from October 2007 to October 2010, it would’ve allowed your stock investments time to recover. In other words, you didn’t need to sell your stocks at the bottom of the Great Recession.
  • Rebalance your accounts to keep your allocation and risk level in check. Since stocks and bonds fluctuate, your asset allocation will change if you do nothing. If you started with a 50% stock, 50% bond portfolio ten years ago, it would have a current allocation of 72% stocks, 28% bonds. By doing nothing, your risk level increased by 37%. An annual rebalance will keep your portfolio allocation at 50/50.[3]
  • Buy the dip. It takes courage and wisdom to buy stocks after they’ve fallen dramatically. Investors who purchased stocks in March 2009, after falling 53%, were rewarded with a gain of 322%! An investment of $100,000 is now worth $422,200.[4] Using the past 100 years as a guide, then buying stocks when they’re down is an intelligent strategy.

Investing is a courageous act, especially when your investments are tumbling. Short-term trading, mixed with short-term thinking, will derail your long-term plans. Rather than acting on impulse, focus on your financial plan. A well-designed plan accounts for multiple scenarios, including broad market declines. If you’re not sure how your investments will impact your financial future, give me a call and let’s figure it out.

I believe the market is going to fluctuate. ~ J.P. Morgan

August 15, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.

 

 

 

 

[1] YCharts: August 1, 1969 – August 14, 2019

[2] Dimensional Funds 2018 Matrix Book. Returns ending 12/31/2018.

[3] Morningstar Office Hypothetical.

[4] YCharts: March 9, 2009 to August 14, 2019.

Dry Powder

Active stock traders need to keep some dry powder so they can buy stocks when the stock market falls. Dry powder usually means cash. Allocating a portion of your portfolio to cash will be a drag on your returns, especially in a low interest rate environment with a rising stock market.

Traders need to be nimble so they can pounce on stocks when they drop. A cash hoard gives them the opportunity to act quickly without selling another position. This strategy works well when stocks fall, and they act on their impulse. If they time their purchase correctly, they can make a lot of money. Of course, if they don’t act quickly or time their purchase correctly, their strategy is for not. In a stock picker’s market cash is needed.

Traders look for fallen angels and Boeing is a classic example. Due to their unfortunate tragedies, the stock has dropped from its high of $440. Traders felt that Boeing below $400 was a bargain. The stock went through $400 like a hot knife through butter, falling another $62 to $338. Traders took their dry powder to buy it at $400 only to see their investment fall 15%.

Timing the market is extremely difficult. According to one study, asset allocation accounts for 93.6% of your investment return with the remaining 6.4% attributed to market timing and investment selection.[1]

During the fourth quarter of 2018 the Dow Jones fell 12.5% and investors withdrew $183 billion in mutual fund assets. Investors were storing up some dry powder, I guess. This year investors have added $21 billion to mutual funds, or 11.5% of what they took out last year. Meanwhile, the Dow has risen 13.8%. Dry powder?

A better strategy for most investors is to own a portfolio of low-cost index funds, diversified across asset classes, sectors and countries. This portfolio will give you exposure to thousands of securities doing different things at different times. It will allow you to stay fully invested because you never know when, where, why, or how the stock market will take off. It reduces your risk of market timing and eliminates the cash drag on your performance.

But what if, or when, the market falls? In a balanced portfolio you will own bonds of different maturities. For example, during the Great Recession stocks fell 56%. Long-term bonds were up 16.6% while intermediate bonds stayed steady at 2.94%. Dimensional Fund Advisors Five-Year Global Fixed Income fund rose 4.9%. True, they did not offset the entire drop-in stocks, but they did hold their own.

It’s possible, and recommended, to rebalance an index portfolio on a regular basis. When your asset allocation changes, rebalance your portfolio to return it to its original allocation. This strategy allows you to buy low and sell high on a regular basis. I once heard an advisor compare rebalancing to getting your haircut. When your hair gets too long, cut it back to its original length.

Shouldn’t stock pickers make money in a stock picker’s market? According to Morningstar only 24% of active equity mutual fund money managers beat their passive index over a 10-year period.[2] Is it possible to pick the top quartile funds every year for the next ten years? Doubtful.

Dimensional Fund Advisor’s found that over a 20-year period only 42% of equity funds survived. Their database started with 2,414 funds and only 1,013 survived twenty years. If more than half the funds fail, how will you be able to pick the top 25%?[3]

Rather than keeping dry powder or trying to time the market, focus on your financial goals and invest in a balanced portfolio of low-cost index funds.

Don’t let dry powder blow up your portfolio!

My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style. ~ Maya Angelou

June 19, 2019

Bill Parrott, CFP®, CKA® is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located 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.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than 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.

 

 

 

 

[1] Determinants of Portfolio Performance, Financial Analyst Journal, July/August 1986, Vol 42, No. 4, 6 pages; Gary P. Brinson, L. Randolph Hood, Gilbert L. Beebower.

[2] https://office.morningstar.com/research/doc/911724/U-S-Active-Passive-Barometer-7-Takeaways-from-the-2018-Report, Ben Johnson, February 7, 2019

[3] file:///C:/Users/parro/Downloads/2019%20Mutual%20Fund%20Landscape_%20Report.pdf

Who Cares?

Who cares that the current bull market has risen more than 260% when stocks have dropped 7% in the past month? Does it matter that stocks have generated an average annual return of 10% for the past 100 years or markets rise 75% of the time when this year will be negative? Stocks have outpaced bonds and cash for decades, but so what? This year bonds and cash have the upper hand.

The current bull market started on March 9, 2009 after a grueling 17-month bear market. The current recovery is (was) over nine years old – one of the longest recoveries on record.  Did the market go straight up during this historic run? Of course not. It was littered with several corrections.

During this bull market, the Dow Jones experienced 68 days when it fell 2% or more and 45% of the time it produced a return of 0% or worse. The average daily gain has been .06% – yawn.

Here is a year by year look at this bull market.

2009 – After the bull market started, it dropped 7.42%. It finished the year up 18.82%.

2010 – During this year the market fell 7.6%, 13.5% and 5.12%. It finished the year up 11.02%.

2011 – During this year the market fell 6.28%, 7.12%, 16.26%, and 8.17%. It finished the year up 5.53%.

2012 – During this year the market fell 8.87% and 7.75%. It finished the year up 7.26%.

2013 – During this year the market fell 4.86%, 5.6%, and 5.75%. It finished the year up 26.50%.

2014 – During this year the market fell 13.75%, 4.5%, 6.64%, and 4.95%. It finished the year up 7.52%.

2015 – During this year the market fell 14.44%. It finished the year down 2.23%.

2016 – During this year the market fell 10.12%. It finished the year up 13.42%.

2017 – During this year the market fell 1.9% – a mild year. It finished the year up 25.08%.

2018 – This year the market has fallen 11.58%, 4.75%, and 12%. The year isn’t over yet!

As you can see, this bull market experienced significant drops, but it always recovered. Will this time be different? Who knows? Time will tell.

Here are a few suggestions if you’re concerned about the recent market volatility.

  1. If you need money in the next one, two or three years, do not invest it in the stock market. Rather, invest in a money market fund, CD or U.S. Treasury Bill.
  2. If the market is keeping you up at night, your allocation to stocks is too high. Sell your stocks to your comfort level.
  3. Work on your financial plan. Your plan will determine your asset allocation based on your goals. If your plan, goals, and asset allocation are aligned, you’re more likely to stay invested through good times and bad.
  4. Time the market. Sell at the top; buy at the bottom. Just kidding. No one has been able to consistently time the market, but who knows, you may be the one to do it.

These past three months have been brutal. The market downturn has turned a decent year into a poor one. This happens occasionally. During the next two weeks spend some time reviewing your goals. If they’re still intact, stay the course.

People who succeed in the stock market also accept periodic losses, setbacks, and unexpected occurrences. Calamitous drops do not scare them out of the game. ~ Peter Lynch

December 18, 2018

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm located 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 to help our clients pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

 

Source: YCharts. Year by year data does not include dividends.

 

Photo Credit: Victor Brave

 

 

 

 

Is Bad Good?

Global markets have dropped considerably the past three months. The Dow Jones has fallen about 8% as investors react to negative headlines about trade wars, Brexit, interest rates, and several other issues. They have been selling stocks to buy bonds or park money in a cash account. These remedies may feel good in the short-term, especially as markets fall, but over time it’s not a wise strategy.

Quantifying investor behavior is challenging. Calculating emotions in a spreadsheet is impossible. However, sentiment indicators try to capture this information.

Sentiment indicators are contrarian, by nature, and they tend to follow the market’s direction. If stocks rise, so do the indicators.

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), CBOE Equity Put/Call Ratio, the American Association of Individual Investors Bull-Bear Spread, and mutual fund flows are a few of the more popular sentiment surveys.

The CBOE Volatility Index, the VIX, is the fear gauge. When fear is high, it rises. On November 20, 2008, it peaked at 80.86, indicating an extreme level of fear in the markets. Stocks would fall for a few more months before rising 267%. The average VIX reading is 18.39. It currently stands at 21.63.

The CBOE Equity Put/Call ratio is an indicator utilizing options. When it’s above .7 investors are buying more puts than calls. Put buyers expect the market to fall so they’ll profit if it does. When investors buy calls, they expect the market to rise. If the reading is above .7, it’s bullish. Below .45 is bearish. The current reading is .79. On August 21, 2008, the put/call ratio was .39. Investors were buying calls because they were optimistic the market would continue to rise. They were very confident – too confident. The market fell 37% by the end of 2008.

Measuring mutual fund flows is another solid indicator for investors. When they feel secure, investors buy mutual funds. When they’re scared, they sell. From April 2016 to December 2016 investors withdrew $199 billion from equity mutual funds fearing a market drop. In 2017, the Dow Jones rose 24.33% – a great year for the index. In the past three months investors have sold $62 billion worth of mutual funds.

My favorite sentiment indicator is from the American Association of Individual Investors. When this indicator is high, investors are confident. On August 21, 1987, the indicator reached 66. Two months later the Dow Jones fell 22% – the worst one-day drop in its history. On January 6, 2000, it hit an all-time high of 75. Three months later the Tech Wreck would arrive. The NASDAQ index would fall more than 50% over the next two years.  One of the most pessimist readings ever recorded was March 5, 2009 when it touched 18.92. Four days later stocks hit bottom and started a nine-year bull run. Today the indicator is flashing a pessimistic warning of 20.90%. The historical average is 38.24.

These indicators are currently in negative territory, a positive for stocks. When pessimism and fear rise, stocks look more attractive. The market likes to climb a wall of worry.

Not to be left out of the indicator game, the New York Times ran an article about the 2019 financial crisis that hasn’t happened yet. The article appeared in their style section.[1] Business Week’s famous headline, “The Death of Equities” appeared in August 1979. Had you purchased stocks on the day it ran, you would have enjoyed a gain of 2,641%!

Ron Paul is also getting into the prediction business. He’s predicting a 50% correction that will “spark depression-like conditions that may be ‘worse than 1929.’”[2]

Of course, no indicator is perfect. A negative one isn’t always positive. It’s imperative to focus on your goals. If they haven’t changed, stay the course. It takes courage and fortitude to hold stocks when everybody is selling but owning great companies for the long haul is how wealth is created.

The big money is not in the buying and the selling, but in the waiting. ~ Charlie Munger

December 17, 2018

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management firm located 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 to help our clients pursue a life of purpose.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.

 

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/10/style/2019-financial-crisis.html, by Alex Williams, 12/10/2018

[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/12/14/ron-paul-market-meltdown-could-spark-depression-like-conditions.html, by Stephanie Landsom

Can Stocks Go to Zero?

The recent rout in stocks has been unnerving.  The rate of decline has been swift and violent.  In less than two weeks it has fallen more than 9%. Market corrections aren’t fun but they’re normal.  Up markets follow down markets and vice versa just as spring follows winter.   Stocks can’t go to zero and snow eventually melts.

Since 2008 the stock market has climbed more than 106%.  However, this rise hasn’t been without disruption.  Over the past ten years there have been five double digit percentage declines, or about one every two years.  In 2008 it plunged 50%.  In 2011 it dropped 18%.  In 2015 it fell 16%.  In 2016 it declined 13%.  This year it has fallen 9%.  Despite these drops a buy and hold investor still managed to generate an average annual return of 7.5%.  A $100,000 investment ten years ago is now worth $206,100.

Dating back to 1928 the stock market has finished a year in negative territory 24 times, or one in every four years.  Throughout the past 90 years it has averaged an average annual return of 9.6%.

Paradoxically, when stocks fall they become safer.  Valuations become cheaper and dividend yields increase giving you an opportunity to buy at attractive prices.

An investor who purchased the Dimensional Funds Core Equity 1 mutual fund (DFEOX) on October 1, 2007 enjoyed a gain of 135%.  A $100,000 investment grew to $235,000.  If she waited until March of 2009, after the market had fallen 50%, her initial investment would be worth $484,000, a gain of 384%.[1]

What can you do to protect your assets?  Here are a few suggestions.

  1. Follow your financial plan. Your plan should give you peace during a market decline because your investments will be synchronized to your goals. It’s your financial GPS.
  2. Diversify your assets. Diversification is the only free lunch on Wall Street. A diversified portfolio allows you to own securities from around the world.   In addition, you can reduce your risk by adding cash, bonds and alternative investments to your portfolio.
  3. Invest in cash. If your time horizon is three years or less, move some money to a cash account, CD or T-Bill.  Do you have to pay tuition?  Buy a home? Payoff your mortgage? Take a trip? Buy a car?  If so, invest this money in a secure instrument that won’t lose value.
  4. Buy the dips. If your time horizon is greater than five years, buy the dips.  The market in the short-term is unpredictable but over time it has risen.
  5. Buy funds. A portfolio of mutual funds will give you more diversification than one that only invests in common stocks.  A mutual fund will allow you to own thousands of securities.
  6. Dollar cost average. Set up an automatic investment plan that allows you to buy stocks monthly.  Automating this process will remove your emotions from your investment decisions.
  7. Focus on the percentage not the point. A 500 point drop in 1987 was 22%, today it’s 2%.
  8. Think long-term. There are about 72,000 individuals who are older than 100 living in the United States.  This number could rise to 1 million by 2050.[2]   A person who retires at 65 could spend 35 years or more in retirement!
  9. Turn off your media outlets. Pundits, reporters, and commentators do a great job to stir the pot during a market retreat.  They dramatize the information for millions, but they know nothing about your specific situation.

The stock market has been fluctuating for centuries and it will probably continue to do so long after we’re gone.  Focus on your goals, diversify your assets, think long-term and good things should happen.

“Bull markets are born on pessimism, grow on skepticism, mature on optimism, and die on euphoria” – Sir John Templeton

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management an independent, fee-only, fiduciary financial planning and investment management firm in Austin, TX.  For more information please visit www.parrottwealth.com.

2/1/2018

Note:  Past performance is not a guarantee of future returns.  Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog and investments aren’t guaranteed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] Morningstar Hypothetical Tool, returns through January 2018.

[2] http://www.thecentenarian.co.uk/how-many-people-live-to-hundred-across-the-globe.html, Steven Goodman, January 17, 2018.

Points or Percentages?

The Dow Jones is currently trading north of 26,000. As the market climbs higher the range of point moves become more prominent. For example, it’s not uncommon for the Dow to rise or fall 200, 300 or 400 points in a day. When the market has wide moves it catches the attention of the media and investors. A market falling 400 points sounds alarming, but is it?

On October 19, 1987 the Dow Jones fell 508 points, or 22.6%. It was the worst drop in the market since the since the Great Depression. Today, a 500 point drop is less than a 2% move.

In addition to the stock market being higher it’s possible your account value is too. A $1,000 loss has a larger impact on a $20,000 portfolio than one that is valued at $200,000

It’s now time to focus on the percentage change rather than the point change.

You better cut the pizza into four pieces because I’m not hungry enough to eat six. ~ Yogi Berra.

Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management, a fee-only, registered investment advisory firm.

February 2, 2018

Note: Your investments may perform better or worse than those listed in this blog. Investments are not guaranteed and they may lose money.