On the Rebound

Just a note to report some good news! Yes, I said good news. I wrote three emails/blogs in December warning everyone about how ugly the stock market was and I’m desperate to report some good news. So far in the six trading days this year the S&P 500 has gained back 3.4% of the -9% it lost in December.

This is important for those folks who are just getting their investment statements from last month. While your totals will be down, things are already headed back in a positive direction. Depending on the portfolio, some accounts have already recovered half the losses of December.

We’re still a long way off the top, and it’s too early to sound the “all clear” alarm, but it’s nice to report we’re on the rebound.

See chart below for the Dec 1 – Jan 9 performance of S&P 500

As we watch political chaos and dueling partisan broadcasts from Washington it’s natural to ask how will this affect me this next year? 

Bank of America Merrill Lynch says this, “The best stock market returns occur when Washington, D.C., is locked in the ‘gridlock’ that comes with different parties controlling the two houses of Congress…The best S&P 500 returns under a Republican president occurred while Congress was split, with that scenario producing 12 percent annual returns.”

Let’s hope they’re right.

Bob Doll, CFA from Nuveen investments is someone else we’ve been watching closely for the last few years. He usually has some good insight into the year ahead  (8 for 10 in last year’s predictions). 

“The biggest question for markets is whether the U.S. is heading into a recession,” writes Doll. “Recessions are inevitable, but we think one is unlikely to commence in 2019. If we’re right, equities will probably see gains over the next 12 months. If we’re wrong, it will be a tough year for the markets and for our predictions.”

In either case, Doll expects “markets will remain choppy and frustrating and stocks will bounce around with extended runs and declines,” not unlike the stock market’s performance in recent months.

Doll’s 2019 Predictions (click for article):

1. Economic Expansion Continues – The U.S. expansion becomes the longest in history despite GDP slowing to a still-above-trend increase of 2% to 2.5%.

2. Higher Wages – Unemployment bottoms in 2019 while wage growth continues to rise.

3. Wider Credit Spreads – The Treasury yield curve flattens and credit spreads widen due to late cycle concerns.

4. Earnings Growth? – Corporate earnings growth estimates weaken for 2019 and 2020 as both revenue and profit pressures rise.

5. Stocks Get Positive – U.S. equities experience a positive return (predicting about +8.5% return for 2019) but fail to reach record highs for the first time in 10 years.

6. International Stocks Beat US Stocks – Non-U.S. stocks outperform U.S. stocks as the dollar sags.

7. Sector Breakdown – The information technology, financial and healthcare sectors outperform utilities, REITs and materials.

8. Federal Deficit Sets a Record – The annual federal budget deficit approaches $1 trillion, a level unprecedented absent a recession.

9. Geopolitics – U.S. and global politics spark more market volatility as the cold wars within the U.S. and with China persist.

10. Dems Scramble to Take on Trump – A double-digit number of Democrats run for president, while President Donald Trump is challenged within his own party.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Crisis without the Crisis

One month ago I reported the stock market’s 10% drop from Oct 1st was Not That Interesting. Then, the market dropped an additional 10% bottoming on Christmas Eve for a total of 20% pullback. Ok, now it’s getting interesting! A 20% pullback has only happened three times since I’ve been in the business.

Meanwhile, the financial media’s worked itself into a frenzy trying to find the most crisis-like headlines to capture more viewers….

WORST CHRISTMAS EVE IN 40 YEARS!!!

WORST MARKET SINCE 2011!!! 

WORST MONTH SINCE 2008!!!

(see charts for comparisons)

The only problem? There’s no crisis.

Rising interest rates are perfectly normal for this point in the business cycle, slightly slower growth of the economy is no crisis, and the slowing demand for housing is actually healthy.

This overreaction to normal events reminds us of some timeless words, “There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the heavens…a time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to tear down and time to build…a time to weep and a time to dance…a time to keep and a time to throw away…a time for love and a time to hate.”  These words are from the Old Testament Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 written into a Pete Seeger song from the 50’s, and popularized by The Byrds in 1965.

Approaching New Year’s Eve we can identify with these themes: planting investments and uprooting others—keeping some and throwing away others—some caused weeping others caused dancing—some investments we loved, others we hated. 

Just to be clear, we still have concerns. Namely the stability and the predictability on the part of Washington. Many are now wondering what our principles, priorities, and policies are, and how we arrive at them. Changes usually debated publicly and signaled in advance are sprung on the world. This new style excited investors two years ago, but may now be causing exhaustion.

Regardless of the concerns, there are always risks to investing. Although all our statements will show a negative next month, one comforting thought is after every 20% downturn I’ve been through in the last 13+ years (2008, 2011 and 2018) comes a bounce. Whether it takes 3 months or three years, the last three downturns I’ve witnessed have been wonderful buying opportunities. This is why we keep buying when investments go down.

Here’s a breakdown of the buys we’ve made after the market started down:

For the growth stock portfolio, we bought Fortinet FTNT a cybersecurity company, made an additional buy in Square SQ the payment processor, and sold at a gain and rebought lower Mercadolibre MELI the South American Amazon.

For the Moderate and Conservative portfolios we bought First Trust Internet Fund FDN and after a 15% pullback in the market, we bought the high-income Pimco Dynamic Income Fund PDI.

We’re confident these will be good buys as the market trends higher, however, if it turns negative again, we have cash for an additional buy in each of the portfolios.

We hope you have a wonderful New Years and look forward to seeing you in 2019!

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Looking for Good News

Often times in the news, positive headlines sink to the bottom and the negative headlines float to the top. Such is the case regarding the economy and the stock market currently.

With that in mind, I thought I’d send out a positive prediction for 2019 that caught my eye from a well-known bank, JP Morgan Chase. They sent out a letter to their clients recently predicting a 17% gain in the stock market next year!

You can read the article and the details yourself here, but they’re essentially saying the S&P 500 will end next year at 3,100. After today the index is now at 2,545. They state that investors will be lured back into the stock market because: 1) the economy will continue to grow into next year, 2) the trade war with China will likely be resolved, and 3) companies are paying dividends and buying back their own shares next year to the tune of $1.5 Trillion.

What’s even more encouraging is that 14 other strategists surveyed feel similar to JP Morgan Chase and believe the S&P 500 will end close to the same high levels.

While there certainly are predictions stating the opposite, it doesn’t benefit us as investors to focus on them. In fact, selling out and sitting in cash even for a few “UP” days can be incredibly detrimental to a portfolio. Listen to these statistics over the last 10 years:

1) 8 of the 10 biggest up days happened within 1 month of the biggest down days.

2) If an investor in the stock market missed the biggest 5 days they would have lost 32% of their total return over the last 10 years.

The bottom line is while the market continues to be dramatic and price in the worst case scenario, it really does pay to sit tight.

At our KaiPerm Credit Union presentation last week, a gal asked if we were going through another 2008-9 situation. I kindly had to remind her that this is nothing like 2008.

To put it into perspective, the wheels were coming off the financial system back then and the fear was a total collapse of the banking system. Today we suffer from concern stemming from a little bit of slower growth. Serious enough for a pullback, not serious enough to ruin your holidays.

Thank you for reading! We’ll be in the office over the next few weeks, so please feel free to reach out if we can do anything for you.

Happy Holidays from all of us at SMB,

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Not That Interesting

The view outside our office has been beautiful this week. Crisp mornings and sunshine are helping to brighten the mood the financial news is trying to darken.

“What is it now?” you ask.

Today’s “scary” headline is the arrest of the CFO of a Chinese telecommunication company called Huawei (pronounced wa-way), for violating sanctions with Iran. This sparked new concerns we’re angering the Chinese and they’ll be less likely to compromise on a new trade deal.

The news generated fresh pessimism in the stock market which was already struggling from trade tariff and inflation concerns. Today’s drop saw the stock market down 10% off its highs from the end of September, until it rebounded to end the day flat.

So, what should we do as investors? Below are the highlights from a Morgan Housel article I saved 2.5 years ago that helps give perspective in times like these.

An investor once joked after hearing market-moving news that he “cannot wait to get to my computer in the morning…and do absolutely nothing.”

The most important thing we can do right now is follow this advice. We’re not selling or running from the market. We’re watching things unfold and staying up-to-date, but we’re not worried. If anything, declines become opportunities.

Here’s a question to ask when we’re thinking about whether the global economy – and the stock market – will create value over time, “Did more people wake up this morning seeking to solve problems and make life better for others than do the opposite?” The answer is still firmly “yes.”

Whether it’s a trade war with China, Brexit, 2008 financial crisis, or 9/11, financial markets continually have sharp knee-jerk reactions to big news stories with lots of uncertainty. The attitude among many becomes “sell now, ask questions later.” Many hedge funds and short-term day traders cannot stand not knowing what might happen to their investments over the next, say, 30 days.

As long-term investors, we’re not in that camp.

It’s possible the selloff we’ve seen is justified. But it’s probable that a downward dip is more indicative of people selling because they don’t know what’s going to happen, not because they know something we don’t. That’s why we stay the course.

Let me remind you of this chart. It’s the US stock market over the last 140 years.

Do you know what happened over this time period?

·       1.3 million Americans died while fighting nine major wars.

·       Four U.S. presidents were assassinated.

·       675,000 Americans died in a single year from a flu pandemic.

·       30 separate natural disasters killed at least 400 Americans each

·       33 recessions lasted a cumulative 48 years.

·       The stock market fell more than 10% from a recent high at least 99 times.

·       Stocks lost a third of their value at least 12 times.

·       Annual inflation exceeded 7% in 20 separate years.

·       The words “economic pessimism” appeared in newspapers at least 29,000 times, according to Google.

And the market still increased 10,000-fold.

So, forgive me if we aren’t that excited about the latest headline. It’s just not that interesting.

Patience will constantly be tested but ultimately rewarded — as it always has been.

Please contact us if you have any questions. If we don’t talk before, have a wonderful Holiday and we’ll be in touch after the New Year.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Back-to-Back

The stock market couldn’t muster two back-to-back “up” days in October… until yesterday. Finally, we saw some relief after Facebook posted good quarterly earnings and the stock market rallied. The good news continued into today with hopes the trade drama with China will be resolved. That being said, the month of October was still negative, and we should all be prepared to see declines on our next statement, unfortunately.

Looking to the end of the year, there are two big dates to watch: Nov. 6th and Nov. 30th. Nov. 6th is obviously midterm election day and Nov. 30th is the date of the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires. What’s important about Nov. 30th is this is when Trump will meet with the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping to discuss trade. We believe those two dates will contribute to how 2018 will end and how 2019 will fare.

Midterms

Next week we’ll all watch as the votes are counted across the country. Those votes will determine if Trump will be hamstrung with a House controlled by Democrats, or if Republicans will keep control.

If Dems take control (69% chance according to the Economist), we expect increased subpoenas and investigations on the current administration, which would limit Repubs from furthering their agenda. This means building a wall or pushing through another tax cut is probably out, but the ongoing trade negotiations will continue.

Trade Talks

The more important issue is the trade war with China. The increased tariffs already imposed on China are having an effect on our businesses in the U.S. Companies are reporting that costs are increasing based on the 10% tariff already imposed, which is not good.

If there are no productive talks on Nov. 30th, Trump has made it clear he intends to increase the 10% tariffs to 25% on Jan 1, 2019. That will be a shock to many businesses large and small, as well as consumers. We believe this could have a dramatic impact on both the economy and the stock market.

Just today Trump tweeted he had a long talk with China’s Xi on the phone and the talks were going ‘Nicely.’ On that news, the market rallied to end with a back-to-back-to-back gain!

Regardless of what happens in November, we all must remember there’s always uncertainty in the economy. The “all clear” bell is never rung, and we invest knowing these situations will ultimately be resolved. With the trade war issue, it will either be resolved Nov 30th, or as we get closer to the presidential elections two years from now, but we believe a deal will get done.

Changes to Portfolios

In our growth stock portfolio, we’ve made a few changes. We sold Ebay EBAY, the online sales platform and Ventas VTR, the healthcare real estate company. This gave us some cash to invest during the last couple of weeks which we did. Investing in the point-of-sales company Square SQ, not once, but twice, as the price plunged with the rest of the growth tech companies and then bounced off the lows.

We now have 5% cash ready to buy on the next down day. We’d like to buy another position in Chinese tech to accompany Baidu BIDU, which have been beaten down this year. Another U.S. company we like is Fortinet FTNT, a cybersecurity firm.

In the moderate and conservative accounts, we sold a few stocks as well: Ventas VTR, Proctor & Gamble PG and Amerigas APU. These were stocks we’ve been looking to sell since earlier this year and this latest volatility gave us a good opportunity to get out.

We’ll use that money to reinvest in a growth tech fund called First Trust Internet Fund FDN and a high-yield fund PIMCO Dynamic Income PDI. We’ve also been taking advantage of some higher paying guarantees from insurance companies like Lincoln Financial Group: their 5-year guarantees are at 4.25% now, which is higher than we’ve seen in 10 years.

Apple AAPL reported their quarterly earnings tonight and judging by the reaction, we may have another down day tomorrow. Fear not though, another down day means stocks are on sale and we have our shopping list ready!

Thanks for reading. Please contact us with any questions.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Sour Mood

What a difference a week makes. One week ago I was wishing we had more growth stocks and less bonds in some of our accounts. Today, I find myself wishing the exact opposite. I wish we had more bonds and less growth stocks because of the drop in the market the last few days.

The volatility we’ve seen this week goes to show how fragile the stock marketcan be. Just a change in mood has been enough to erase most the gains in our growth portfolio this year.

The quick change of mood in the stock market reminds me of how quickly my two girls’ mood can change. This picture of my daughter Lucy shows just about anything – even struggling to put on a tutu – can send her into a tizzy!

So, let’s try to break down what’s causing the sour mood we’ve witnessed in the stock market the last few days:

1.     Economy is still doing well. Unemployment? Low! Economy? Growing! You would think this is good news, but it turns out that it’s not. Jerome Powell from the Federal Reserve wants to raise interest rates more aggressively to slow the economy down so we don’t get inflation. This good news then becomes bad news for the stock market.

2.     Growth and Tech companies are overpriced. These high-growth names, some of which we have in our growth portfolio, were too expensive and are due for a pullback to more normal levels. We’ve felt this way for a long time, but they just kept going up. Unfortunately, when stocks pull back, they don’t do so gently. Hence the saying, stocks take the stairs up, but the elevator down!

3.     China trade worries. Even though we were able to strike a new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, a new trade deal with China doesn’t seem to be coming together. My opinion is there’s not much motivation on the part of our president to get this deal done until closer to his election in 2020. Although I hope we get a deal before then, we might have to wait.

There is certainly more to the story than this, but I believe this is most of it. So, what should we do?

1.     Sit tight. Let the rest of this downturn play out and as we head into earnings season and nerves settle down. Companies are reporting earnings as soon as tonight and are expected to continue to show good growth because of the tax reform from last year.

2.     Invest more. After things settle down, we’ll consider adding to the investments from money still in cash. We’ve done this many times now: March 2009, July 2011, Jan 2016, June 2016, Feb 2018… Without exception, putting money to work in the midst of a downturn has been a good decision, including earlier this year.

3.     Discuss other options. If you find yourself in a sour mood about your particular situation, please contact us so we can address those feelings and discuss what changes, if any, we should make to your portfolio in the future.

Just to put this into perspective: there are concerns about the economy – there always are – but, these concerns are mostly in-line with a stock market that’s been growing for a long time now (i.e. higher interest rates, overpriced companies).  While we may be due for a pullback, we don’t expect a crisis like what we went through ten years ago when the wheels were falling off our financial system.

Although it’s uncomfortable to watch values drop, we are comfortable knowing these events are not permanent and we hope to return to normal soon.

Thanks for reading. Please contact us with any questions.

– Bruce Porter & Tim Porter, CFP®

Senior-Living Placement

Senior-Living Placement

How does someone without any assisted-living experience, 1) determine which senior living facilities are good, 2) match the needs of their loved one with the right facility and 3) not pay more than they need to? These are stressful and difficult questions that many of our clients have been faced with recently.

In our planning meetings with clients, we usually discuss the cost of long-term care, and how to cover those costs, but haven’t talked much about the practical steps to finding a home. Now we have a resource to help.

We were introduced to Jennifer Cook-Buman of Portland Senior Housing, who helps with Senior Placement. Calling Jennifer appears to be a good first step in the process of finding a facility. She provides a service designed to help families place their loved ones in the right home. Jennifer has extensive knowledge in our local area and has placed over 1,100 individuals. In addition, she comes highly recommended. 

I met with Jennifer a few months back and one question I had for her (my favorite question) was, “How do you get paid?” She explained, the facilities have agreements to pay her after the placement, similar to how a realtor gets paid after a sale.

This puts very little burden on the family which is nice, but it can also provide a conflict of interest if she only places individuals in the homes that pay her the most. She explained the details this way, “We all have our own contracts, many are percent based on the monthly rent, I differ in that my fees are a flat rate regardless of size of apartment, location in building, etc. They’re all the same – penthouse in Taj Mahal or studio at motel 6.” This is a great model because there’s no incentive to put a family in a higher priced home unnecessarily.

After hearing about her service, I decided to pass on Jennifer’s information to everyone just in case there are others going through this same process. Feel free to contact Jennifer if she can be a help to you. We get no benefit from any referrals.

Phone: (503) 487-7245  Email: Jenn@portlandseniorhousing.com

Financial Placement

Jennifer handles the people placement, but we help with the financial placement. We’ve been able to help a number of clients put their money in a policy, or investment, that will benefit them the most should they need care. Below are a few questions that should be asked as you consider your own situation.

More Oregon specific information can be found in a recent article here.

How likely am I to need care?

      • 70% of people over age 65 will require some care at some point.
      • A woman turning age 56 today can expect to live, on average, until age 86.6. About one out of every four 65-year-olds will live past age 90, and one out of 10 will live past 95.

How much will care cost?

      • $150,000 is the average cost for people needing care in Oregon. (The Mirabella facility in the South Waterfront of Portland is pictured above.
      • $709,647 is the projected average cost for three years of long-term care 30 years from now. 

How do people cover these costs?

1) Don’t buy insurance and self-insure. – Two-thirds of Americans do this. Most don’t have resources to self-insure.

2) Buy insurance using one of two ways – Pay as you go or Pay one time (details below).

3) Some combination of self-insure and insurance.

Pay as you go VS. Pay one time

Pay as you go – similar to car insurance, pay small monthly premiums and get paid ONLY when you need care.

Example: A couple of healthy 60-year-olds pay $280/mo and have $340,000 in benefits toward care.

Pay one time – Move a larger amount to the insurance co. and get paid one of these three ways:

1) death benefit at death,

2) benefits to help pay for care, or

3) take your premium back without interest.

Example: Someone in good health and in their early 60’s moves $50,000 to an insurance company and receives:

1) beneficiaries receive $100,000 in death benefit,

2) insured receives $100,000 in long-term care benefits, or

3) take the $50,000 back without interest.

Evaluate your own long-term care needs, or to download our 7 Deadly Sins PDF.

The 7 Deadly Sins of Retirement Planning

Credit or Blame

August 22 will mark the longest bull market (up market) in history unless the stock market drops more than 20% before then. It got us thinking, who deserves the credit for this? Trump helped push through the tax reform which resulted in our economy notching a 4%+ GDP growth figure in the second quarter of 2018. This is the most our economy has grown since 2014. So does Trump deserve credit for this economic growth? I Googled that question…the unhelpful results are below:

That got us thinking, should we be giving Presidents credit for economic growth? Should Coolidge get credit for the Roaring Twenties? Three months after he left, the bubble burst and Hoover took the blame for the worst performance ever. However, it sounds like the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act he signed didn’t help matters.

It looks to me that timing may have more to do with a President’s stock market record than the policy put in place. Clinton benefited from the internet boom and George W was saddled with the internet bust, the 2001 terrorist attacks, and the 2008 crisis. Trump has benefited from the momentum of this long recovery started under Obama, but Trump should get some credit for extending it. To be clear, he’ll also get the blame when things cool off, especially if the reason is because of his tariffs.

Best Presidents stock market performance:

1.     Calvin Coolidge 1923-1929:     26.1%/yr

2.    Donald Trump 2017- July 25, 2018:  16.2%/yr

3.   Bill Clinton 1993-2001:    15.2%/yr

4.   Barack Obama 2009 – 2017:   13.8%/yr

 Worst Presidents stock market performance:

1.     Herbert Hoover 1929-1933:   -30.8%/yr

2.     George W Bush 2001-2009:    -5.6%/yr

3.     Grover Cleveland 1893-1897:   -4.9%/yr

4.     Richard Nixon 1969-1974:       -3.9%/yr

Info from Kiplinger.com

In the meantime, stocks are steady and companies are reporting their earnings again. So far the news has been good (with the exception of Facebook falling over 20% tonight!), but everyone is still pointing to uncertainty surrounding the brewing trade drama. The meeting with the EU just today looks like that could be a bit of good news on the trade front.

Other economic indicators suggest the housing market may be peaking. In California, a leading indicator for the nation, June’s sales were down 11% from one year ago. Houses may now be priced too high and rising interest rates could be squeezing buyers.

The data for Portland is still good though. May saw sales slow, but June 2018 home sales beat June 2017 sales by 7.8%. There may be a slow down coming, but Portland doesn’t seem to care just yet.

Allevi-8 Book

Another item we wanted to mention is a retirement planning tool that we’re offering to our clients. We’ve had a few versions of these in the past: the When I’m Gone Book is what Bruce originally called them, then we had The Go-To Book. Now, we’re creating them here in the office and calling them the Allevi-8 Book.

These books are a place to put your important financial documents so your spouse or beneficiaries can easily find your insurance policies, investment accounts, will or trust, real estate info, important contacts and other details if/when something happens to you.

We’ve handed out 30 of these so far and we have another 20 that Jeremiah just put together. Please let us know if this is something you’d like to have, or if you have a friend or family member that could benefit from it. When we run out we’ll just make more!

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer. Call us with any questions or concerns.

-Tim Porter, CFP®

Pepper-ation for What’s Next

“Why would anyone in their right mind volunteer to be pepper sprayed?” This is the question I was asking myself after I was pepper sprayed and had to defend myself during my annual two weeks of training at the Yaquina Bay Coast Guard Station in Newport, OR. This is how it was described to me beforehand, “…it’s like dipping your face in a hot fryer, sticking needles your eyes and then you have to fight someone off.” It turns out that’s pretty accurate. The photo I took was over an hour later after I was feeling much better. They didn’t allow pictures before then.

Getting sprayed and then having to defend myself, along with rigorous physical training, law enforcement education, and firearms instruction was required to qualify as a boarding team member at the station. Other than being sprayed, it turned out to be a great experience and I can now be more useful during my time as a reservist in Newport and abroad.

It took about 24 hours to wear off, but I can now say I’m much more prepared to handle a situation involving pepper spray. That’s the reason the USCG mandates law enforcement personnel be sprayed – it’s a stress test to ensure the officers are prepared. A little less painful, but just as important, is the “pepper-ation” we go through to make sure accounts are in good shape to handle either the next downturn or uptrend, in the stock market. The last few weeks we’ve continued making changes across all accounts to prepare for this.

Moderate and Conservative Accounts

In our more conservative accounts, we’ve continued selling individual stocks and replacing them with funds to provide more diversification. This will eliminate the stock specific risks while also helping to participate better with the stock market when it goes higher.

With the cash we received from selling, we bought a bond fund called First Trust Enhanced Short Maturity FTSM. We also bought a 4-year individual Bank of America Bond paying 3%. These investments were bought to maintain stability in case the market goes down in response to the global trade drama.

We’ve also been taking advantage of the guarantees that a few insurance companies are offering. Some that we’ve been looking at go up with the stock market to some extent, but cannot go below 0%. These annuities are not products we’ve typically been encouraging people to invest in (in fact, we’ve felt strongly against annuities for some time), but they’re now becoming more attractive as an acceptable bond replacement due to rising interest rates. There’s quite a bit more detail on these. We can provide additional information if anyone has questions.

 

Growth Stock Account

In the more aggressive growth accounts, the mandate is less about reducing volatility, and more about capturing as much growth and we can. Stress testing these accounts means looking to see what stocks are underperforming and replacing them with companies that could grow more.

Because of this we’ve sold a salt-mining company that disappointed us, Compass Minerals CMP, and replaced it with a company we’re very familiar with Intuit INTU. Intuit is a software company behind the online tax preparation company Turbo Tax (I’m a customer), the small business bookkeeping program Quickbooks (we use this in the office), and the budgeting website and app Mint.com (I also use this). Intuit seems to have the market cornered in these areas and we expect big things from them moving forward.

We realize summer is not the most compelling time to be focused on your investment accounts, but in case anyone has any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Thanks for reading,

Tim Porter, CFP®

Managing Maddening Volatility

Well, here we are again. Another day of maddening volatility brought to us by another round of maddening tariffs. If it feels like the market’s as volatile as it’s been in a VERY long time, it’s because it is. If you need proof, just look at how much I’ve aged since the volatility began!

Actually, that’s a picture of Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, an investment company that manages $5.1 Trillion. In an interview with CNBC yesterday, Bogle said he thinks the stock market is more volatile than at any other point in his extensive investing career.

He says, “Now that’s only 66 years, so I shouldn’t make too much about it, but you’re right: I’ve seen two 50 percent declines, I’ve seen a 25 percent decline in one day and I’ve never seen anything like this before.”

This remark was puzzling for us at first since the market is down far less this year compared with 2008. But when we did the research, we found the stock market has had 27 days that it’s moved over 1% since the beginning of the year. In all of 2017, the stock market had only 8 days that moved more than 1%. That means we’ve had more than 3 times the volatility and it’s only April 6th! No wonder I feel like I’ve aged so much this year.

Despite the drama, Bogle largely sees the turbulence as mere “noise.” “When all these people look at some future forecast — of, let’s say, interest rates or inflation — and sell, somebody else is buying.” Bogle quipped.

Bogle is using his 88 years of wisdom to caution us not to get wrapped up in short-term news and lose focus on the long-term. We must remember: volatility is not uncommon, but is actually quite normal in investing. The real challenge is managing emotions through the financial “noise” that’s vying for our attention.

Instead of letting emotions dictate our investing strategy, we expect cooler heads will prevail and a deal on trade will be hammered out…eventually. We’re also looking forward to what we hope will be better news next week.

Earnings Season

Although the major headline driving the market down this last month was tariff related, we are anxiously awaiting the beginning of earnings season next week. We believe companies will be reporting positive results stemming from the tax reform and that should help drown out trade war fears. If that happens, we should get some relief from the selling and be able to point to some much-needed gains.

Thanks for reading. Please call us if you have questions!

Tim Porter, CFP®