On Christmas Eve it looked like the bull market was over, with the market down nearly 20% in less than a quarter. Now, 6 months later, we are back at all-time highs and the market has rallied over 26%. While the average investor is left scratching his or her head, the rally is the result of one main catalyst, the Federal Reserve’s desire to keep interest rates low. This is not a new phenomenon, as the low interest rates have been a driver of much of the market’s success over the past decade.
Successful investing is often determined by one’s ability to stay the course. Since 2009, investors have had every excuse to bail out of stocks, but the market has continued to climb a wall of worry, becoming one of the longest bull markets in history. In fact, since March of ’09, the S&P 500 is up 290%. By historic measures, this market has lasted 108 months vs 54 months for the average bull market. The question becomes: Where are we now? In our humble opinion, we are probably pretty deep into the 4th quarter and might go into overtime.
Noah and I flew down to Orlando last week for the annual TD Ameritrade Institutional Conference. In addition to industry professionals and experts, there was quite a lineup of speakers and entertainment, including Mitt Romney, Sugar Ray Leonard and Huey Lewis & the News. Our key takeaways follow:
Over the past week, I have had several clients mention the recent PBS Frontline special, “The Retirement Gamble” (Retirement Gamble). I have also read several negative comments from my industry regarding the piece. After finally finding the time to watch it this morning, I believe it was honest and well done. It is refreshing to see PBS do a piece that includes two of the three messages we try to relay to investors every day.
- A Fiduciary places investors interest before their own
- Fees steal returns and are one of the most important determinants in investment outcomes
The general idea about inflation we are taught is that the greater the supply of money, the less a single dollar is worth, and the prices for the goods we buy should rise. This simple model usually holds true, yet policies by the Federal Reserve over the past five years have substantially increased the supply of money but have failed to stimulate above average inflation. Inflation lowers everyone’s purchasing power and erodes the real return on investments, so keeping an eye on when inflation might rise is important.