Markets were up on Friday, but domestic stocks lost ground for the week as political turmoil and potential trade wars weighed on investors' minds. The S&P 500 dropped 1.24%, the Dow gave back 1.54%, and the NASDAQ decreased 1.04%. International stocks in the MSCI EAFE barely avoided losses with a 0.13% gain.
FACT OF THE WEEK
March 20th marks this year's Vernal Equinox. The sun shines directly on the equator, giving us a near 50-50 split of day and night.
Overall, we received a variety of mixed data last week:
- Housing starts missed expectations and fell 7%.
- Retail sales were lower than expected.
- Consumer sentiment hit its highest reading since 2004.
- Domestic factory production beat expectations.
But data reports were not the only detail worth noting last week. We also marked the 10-year anniversary of Bear Stearns' collapse.
A Look Back
For 85 years, Bear Stearns was a respected institution that became one of the world's largest investment banks. When the housing market crashed in 2007, the firm realized it had taken on far more risk than planned. As a result, the firm ran out of cash, and on March 16, 2008, JPMorgan bought the company for only $2 a share. In retrospect, Bear Stearns' collapse was the first real glimpse of the pending Great Recession.
Less than a year later, markets hit bottom on March 9, 2009. In the years since, stocks have corrected multiple times, losing over 10%. But, they have never lost 20% to push into a bear market - meaning we're in the midst of the 2nd-longest bull market since World War II.
Time can make some memories fade, but we doubt that anyone who experienced the Great Recession forgets how challenging and scary it felt.
Despite the market losses and economic turmoil, the Great Recession was also a powerful reminder of Warren Buffett's advice: "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful."
While the markets seemed to be in a free-fall, allowing emotion to dictate investing choices was easy. But anyone who escaped the markets' bottom missed an incredible growth opportunity.
Nine years after the S&P 500 hit its low, the index was up 390% - and was 122% higher than its record close before the Great Recession began. So, while the collapse was painful, stocks weathered the storm, sailing far beyond where they were before. The economy is also in a very different place than it was a decade ago.
Where We Are Now
- Job Growth: February was the 89th-straight month where the economy added jobs.
- Unemployment: The current unemployment rate remains at its lowest level in 17 years.
- Gross Domestic Product: The U.S. economy has expanded every year since 2010.
Of course, we recognize that the economy is not perfect and still has room to improve. But, we also want to remind you of how far we've all come since the Great Recession first began. If you'd like to take a closer look at your own progress or plans for the future, we are always here to talk.
Waking up on your special day to well-wishes from family, friends and Facebook is lovely. But what if you could get a few fun freebies as well? Below is a quick list of some of the most popular birthday bonuses that businesses often offer:
- Denny's: Score a free Grand Slam breakfast just for showing your ID in what's become one of the most popular birthday giveaways.
- Capital Grille: Show up on your birthday for a complimentary chocolate espresso cake to top off your meal.
- The Cheesecake Factory: Let your server know it's your birthday and receive a bowl of ice cream accompanied by the birthday song!
- Cracker Barrel: Tell the server it's your birthday, and he or she will usually bring you a free dessert.
- Benihana: With this restaurant, you do have to sign up to become a member of the Chef's Table. But you get a $30 gift certificate you can use during the whole month of your birthday.
- Sephora: Sign up to become a Beauty Insider, and you'll get a free gift during your birthday month that you can claim online or in a store.
- Golf courses: Many golf courses will give you a free round of golf the week of your birthday. Just ask.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
DETERMINE IF YOU ARE ON TRACK TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOALS
In a recent Financial Finesse study on the State of U.S. Employees' Retirement Preparedness, fifty-seven percent of employees at pre-retirement age, between 55 and 64, said they had not run a calculation to estimate whether or not they were on track to achieve their income goals in retirement. According to the study, after evaluating those who did not know if they are on track, participants received an average wellness score of only 4.7 out of 10.
Planning for retirement today poses challenges past generations did not have, making retirement a more difficult goal to reach. These challenges include:
- Decreased Social Security and other government benefits
- Lower market returns and interest rates on investments
- Lower home equity to rely on due to the mortgage crisis
- Higher healthcare costs and longer life spans to plan for
Determining if you are currently on track to meet your goals is one of the first steps to developing a sound retirement plan. The sooner you take control of your financial situation, the greater your odds of a successful retirement. Please contact my office if you would like help evaluating your progress toward your financial goals.