One of the hardest parts of investing is intelligently evaluating how things are going. This is especially true for publicly traded companies (stocks) or strategies (like mutual funds) that invest in them. The problem is financial assets tend to fluctuate wildly from year to year.
Of the many topics having to do with Social Security, without question, the hottest and probably least understood is the fiscal health of the program. I regularly hear people quip that Social Security is “going broke.” But is this really true?
My article on Social Security last month spurred several good conversations with clients. It’s obviously a topic of great interest to many so I’m going to stick with it for at least a few more columns.
On March 19th we hosted one of our regular lunch and learn events. The topic was Social Security. It usually draws a good crowd relative to others, but even I was surprised by how many people attended. The room was full with roughly 50 attendees.
In mid-February, we hosted our annual “State of the Markets” breakfast. Once again the weather was crummy. In fact, the snow was bad enough that schools closed locally. That’s the second time in four years we’ve held our event on a day that school was canceled!
Market volatility has returned. With it, increased fear amongst investors. I’ve heard it coming from our clients and can see it in the way financial media is reporting news. For example, at the end of Q3, Amazon reported another quarter of record profitability, yet a Wall Street Journal article on October 26, 2018 focused on “slowing” sales.
Every election cycle we get a handful of clients inquiring about repositioning ahead of voters going to the polls. Our advice is virtually always the same, if your time frame and investment objectives haven’t changed, neither should your positioning.
This month marks the ten-year anniversary of the climax of the 2008 financial crisis. That September, falling asset prices led to the bankruptcy of the investment bank Lehman Brothers. The collapse started a domino effect which nearly brought down the entire global financial system. Both the US economy and stock market bottomed out in the following months at different points in 2009.
It’s official, we’re currently amidst the longest bull market in US history (as measured by the S&P500 at least). According to data from JP Morgan, the average S&P500 bull market since the 1920s has lasted about 55 months. The current rally is now in its 113th month and just passed the previous record which ran from October 1990 to March of 2000.
I recently spent several days in Los Angeles visiting an asset manager that I hold in high regard, First Pacific Advisors (FPA). The event was a biannual opportunity to hear from each of the firm’s portfolio strategists, ask questions and meet their respective teams.