Sometimes the best strategy is to do nothing at all.
It occurred to me recently as I was thinking about the financial markets that there’s a strong possibility we’re in the same situation we were in between January 2, 2014 and January 4, 2016. During that time, the markets didn’t do much – they went up, but a lot of volatility occurred, and by the fall of 2015, everyone thought for sure we were headed for a recession. The markets were acting funny, and people were convinced that the bull we’d been in since the end of 2009 was officially over.
Then, between January 25, 2016, and October 9, 2019, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained a little better than 60 percent, not including dividends. Even though most people’s accounts were positive, we were bombarded all the time during that two-year period between ’14 and ’16 that the bull was dead. Many people were still making money. They just weren’t making as much money.
The reality is that we do sometimes go through these periods where the markets gyrate up and down and there’s a bunch of gibberish made up by journalists. But, this volatility is worth looking into, and some of you have decided to make some portfolio adjustments now, while we’re not in a recession. And that’s okay.
What I do find somewhat problematic is that, when the markets go nowhere, the best thing for investors to do might be to sit on your hands. Most of the stocks we own are solid American companies who continue to innovate, and whose worth will be realized by investors. But these will also gyrate back and forth, and we won’t know who the true winners are until we’re out of this market period we’re in.
People often take volatility as a time to make a lot of changes in their investments, and while we are actively monitoring your portfolios, I can assure you – and trust me, in my business, I rarely get to make guarantees – but I can tell you that between now and the next election, you’ll be hearing a few soundbites over and over: Trump. China. Impeach. Brexit. Boeing planes grounded. GM strike. Loss of consumer confidence. Impeach.
In my opinion however, all of that is just noise along the investment path.
Here’s the deal. If you’re going to need your money in, the next 24-36 months or so, please, give us a call and let’s talk. But, if you’re a longer term investor, it may be best to sit tight and ignore the news. Mentally remind yourself that most of your investments are a bet on the growth and innovation of America, and nothing else.
When I got into this business in February 1997, the Down Jones Industrial Average was right around 7,000. Currently, it’s around 26,000. I had no idea what the markets would do back then, and while I don’t have a crystal ball to forecast the next 22 years, I do believe that American ingenuity should continue to advance, and that the markets should reflect that ingenuity.
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