Over the past few weeks the focus of our weekly posts has been on the volatility in the global equity market. We have sought to provide some insight into what’s driving global stocks lower and provide perspective on how frequently drawdowns like the one we are currently mired in occur. We hope these insights and perspectives have been valuable for you and helped to give you peace of mind.
It goes without saying, this has been a challenging year for investors. Every asset class has experienced significant loss at one point or another – International Equities, US Bonds, and recently, US Equities. As much as we say uncertainty and risk of loss is the cost of realizing long-term capital returns, times like this can make even the most rational long-term investor fear the future.
After a long stretch of relatively calm and steady stock market gains, volatility has reared its ugly head over the past four weeks. Last week we detailed how interest rates have contributed to the recent stock market slump. While interest rates may be the driving force behind the quick and dramatic drop in stock prices, there are other factors at play. Trade tensions between the U.S. and its global trade partners are running high. There is uncertainty around the upcoming midterm elections. There is nervousness as companies are beginning to announce third quarter earnings. Housing sales are starting to slow. Geopolitical pressures are mounting in light of the murder of Jamal Khashoggi in Saudi Arabia. All of these issues have played a role in the recent market volatility that has seen the S&P 500 decline in 15 of the 19 trading days in October.
Last year, there were eight trading days where the S&P 500 moved up or down by at least one percent. So far this year, there have been forty-one such trading days. Further, five of the last eight trading sessions have seen the S&P 500 move up or down by at least one percent. With the recent volatility in the stock market has some asking what’s next for the stock market and the U.S. economy.
Last Wednesday, October 10th, U.S. stocks suffered their worst losses in eight months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 3.2% and the S&P 500 declined 3.3%, both notching their worst losses since February 8th. The S&P 500 also posted its first six-day losing streak since November 2016, although a bounce back on Friday stopped that slide.
At HIGHLAND, we continue to support the efforts by our staff to develop personally and professionally. We have a commitment to providing excellent service and guidance to clients. Each member of our team has an intellectual curiosity and belief that what they do really matters to our clients’ lives. With this in mind, we have some exciting news to share about the HIGHLAND team.
This past quarter was filled with notable events and anniversaries. At the market’s close on August 22nd, the S&P 500 bull market became the longest ever. The S&P 500 managed to avoid a decline of 20% or more on a closing basis for 3,453 calendar days, a streak that began in March 2009 following the Great Recession. This current bull market surpassed the previous longest bull market that lasted from 1990 to 2000. Since that point, the S&P 500 has continued to reach new all-time highs. It’s ironic that we celebrated the longest running bull market nearly10-years removed from the collapse of Lehman Brothers on September 15, 2008 that shook the financial markets and preceded the Global Financial Crisis. It may feel like a lifetime ago, but we are not far removed from that historic event.
Over the recent past, more individuals have been taking advantage of Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) offered in tandem with high deductible health plans (HDHPs). It is estimated that deposits into HSAs will increase by 22% to $53.2 billion from 2017 to 2018 with direct employer relationships being the leading driver of new account growth.
Last November I was rear-ended on my drive home from work. I was stopped at a red light when the driver behind failed to stop. Luckily, I was not injured in the accident, but it was scary nonetheless. Less than one month later, I was driving down the highway to return the rental car I needed while my car was at the body shop getting repaired and I was once again rear-ended. Not being at fault, I was lucky to escape the accident with no physical injuries.
Exchange-traded products (ETPs) have been lauded by investors and investment professionals for helping to democratize investing. The most popular type of ETP is the exchange-traded fund, better known by its acronym ETF. Exchange-traded notes (ETNs) are a lesser known type of ETP. ETNs differ from ETFs in that ETNs don’t hold underlying securities, like stocks or bonds. Rather, they are unsecured debt instruments issued by a bank that promises to pay the performance of an underlying investment, typically an index or basket of securities.
On September 21, 2018, the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS) sector structure will experience the biggest change in its history. Specifically, the Telecommunication Services sector will be broadened to include companies from the Consumer Discretionary and Information Technology sectors and renamed Communication Services.
Whether you are a first time home buyer or a seasoned mover, there are many intricate details involved with taking out a mortgage. If you are purchasing or refinancing a home, there may be an opportunity to lower the interest through buying mortgage points. Although a lower interest rate sounds appealing, there may be drawbacks depending on your unique situation.
When the closing bell rang on Wednesday, August 22, 2018, many media outlets were quick to celebrate the longest bull market in United States history. However, there are many investment professionals and historians who beg to disagree with this notion. You’re probably asking yourself how can there be a disagreement on whether this bull market is the longest ever? It either is or isn’t. It’s black or white. Day or night. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
The MSCI Emerging Markets Index looks significantly different today than it did at its inception thirty years ago. For one, the market capitalization of emerging markets companies has increased from $52 billion in 1988 to $5.3 trillion as of May 31, 2018. This underscores the ability of emerging markets countries to contribute to the global economy, especially as global markets have expanded.
When the calendar turned from July to August, the United States economy celebrated its 109th consecutive month of expansion. This current period, which began in June 2009 following the Great Recession, is the second longest economic expansion in the history of the United States. While this current economic expansion is one for the record books, it sure hasn’t felt that way for a range of Americans who still don’t feel financially secure. As the chart below shows, annualized real gross domestic product (GDP), which is a measure of economic growth, is the lowest of any economic expansion since 1950.
Protecting yourself and your family is top priority for most, and households purchase different types of insurance to ensure that they are properly covered from unforeseen events.
A very important form of insurance that people frequently overlook is Excess Personal Liability, which is commonly referred to as Umbrella insurance. Umbrella insurance provides additional liability coverage above the limits established through other basic liability policies like auto and homeowner’s/ renter’s. Umbrella insurance is designed to help guard against large and potentially devastating liability claims or judgments caused from bodily injury, property damage, lawsuits, libel, and slander.
General Electric has long been one of the most prestigious companies in the United States. In fact, General Electric is the only one of the original twelve members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average created in 1896 by Charles Dow still around today. This speaks to the company’s ability to innovate and adapt.