Insights & Advice


Up, Up and Away

Investors hit the cash register again this week as all three indexes gained. And it wasn’t just here in the United States. European markets gained steam as well while Japan absolutely shined. After four years of volatility, we earned this rally.

Many readers would probably like to forget the last five years of thrills and chills as countries, currencies and markets teetered on the edge of monetary and fiscal cliffs, only to come back from the dead at the last moment. This year we have had none of that.

Instead, it appears that the global markets, aided by a massive stimulus effort by the world’s central banks, are finally beginning to grow, albeit at a moderate pace. I used the term “Goldilocks Market” in my column last week in describing the world’s stock markets. The bottom line: as long as the Fed and other worldwide monetary agencies continue to stimulate their economies, the financial markets will continue to grind higher.

Worried clients continue to call me asking if it isn’t time to take profits. That’s a good sign, since it represents an investor attitude, which is conducive to more upside. Remember, bull markets are built on walls of worry.

“But what about the deficit and our debt; won’t this sink us in the long term?” asked an investor from Duxbury, MA.

“Not necessarily,” I answered, “and besides, in the long-term we are all dead anyway.”

That may sound flippant and I truly do understand their concern. Everyone still recalls what happened to their portfolios in 2008-2009. Now that they have recouped those losses, the last thing they want is to watch their savings disappear once again.

It is why I constantly remind them that we follow a “buy and sell” investment strategy rather than a “buy and hold” philosophy favored among 95% of our competition. Buy and hold proved to be a terrible strategy for investors, especially for those who were retiring and needed to draw on their pool of savings during that period. But I digress.

On the subject of those twin nightmares, our debt and deficit, they are long-term problems that won’t be solved overnight. It makes no sense to stay on the sidelines earning less than nothing on your money over the next few years waiting for a resolution. You have and will continue to miss enormous opportunities to make a lot of money.

As for me, I become less and less concerned about the deficit as the economy grows. Two weeks ago in my column, “Our First down Payment,” I explained how, for the first time in six years, the government is actually paying its first down payment of $35 billion towards our massive deficit. Granted, it’s not much but it reverses the trend, and the trend can be your friend.

Thursday we received more evidence of that trend. Fannie Mae, and its little brother Freddie Mac, announced they will be paying a $66.4 billion combined dividend to the government by the end of June. You may recall that these two quasi-governmental housing agencies were taken over by the government several years ago. That bail-out is just beginning to pay off as the housing market recovers.

In addition, the growth of the economy (even though that growth is moderate at best) has been enough to generate more tax revenues than expected, enough to reduce the deficit by another $231 billion. Imagine what would happen to tax revenues if the political parties ever got around to spending (rather than cutting) in order to stimulate the economy. The debt and deficit would disappear in no time, in my opinion.

This week we had three up days and two down days. That is a textbook case of a traditional two steps forward, one step back market advance in a sustainable


Posted in At the Market, The Retired Advisor