I hope you had a wonderful Summer and are looking forward to Fall

If you’ve been preoccupied with the investment world (which I hope you haven’t!), you may have noticed that volatility is back.

Given that, I wanted to showcase some of the good news, some of the bad news, and provide my take on the current investment environment.

The Good News

  • Social Security payments may rise by 8-9% in 2023. This would be a meaningful increase to everyone who is receiving Social Security now or will in the future.
  • Bonds and bank accounts are starting to pay meaningful interest.
  • Gas prices have declined for 89 consecutive days (as of Sept. 12th).
  • The job market remains very strong.
  • The revenue (i.e., sales) of companies in the S&P 500 Index – perhaps the most important metric for a company – are the highest they’ve ever been.

The Bad News

The majority of this year’s bad news stems from the rise in interest rates. The increase, which is a policy response to high inflation, has effected almost everything in finance:

Real Estate

  • Mortgage rates have doubled over the past year and are now above 6%.
  • High mortgage rates are starting to impact the housing market. Demand for new homes seems to be cooling, as mortgage purchase applications are down 23% from a year ago.
  • Prices recently declined in the following 7 cities: San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Washington D.C.

 Inflation

  • Inflation remains high in many areas: In the US it’s 8.3%, in the Eurozone it’s 9.1%, and in the UK it’s 9.9%. The inflation in Europe is largely driven by energy prices, which may be the catalyst for a European recession.

Stocks

  • The global stock market is down approximately 20% from its high in January.

Bonds

  • Bonds have not declined as much as stocks, but they’re still down around 13% for the year, a much bigger decline than bond investors are used to.

My Take

I can’t say it any better than financial blogger Ben Carlson:

“If you’re an accumulator of financial assets, this volatility should  be viewed as an opportunity to buy at lower prices, not a risk. If you’ve already accumulated financial assets, this volatility is on the other side of a decade-plus of extraordinary gains in the U.S. stock  market. Either way, it’s important to remember that volatility — to both the upside and the downside — is a feature of bear markets.”

As for the “what to do” now question, I’m reminded of another quote from famed investor Peter Lynch:

“Far more money has been lost by investors preparing for corrections, or trying to anticipate corrections, than has been lost in corrections themselves.”

The investment approach utilized by Think Different Financial Planning is long term-oriented and emphasizes controlling what you can: your fees, the taxes related to your investments, and your portfolio risk. We’re extremely diversified and know that declines are a part of investing.

While there is a lot of bad news, in order to be a successful investor you have to invest like an optimist. We’ve persevered through worse before, and I believe we will again.

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Disclaimer: Investments are not guaranteed and are subject to investment risk, including possible loss of the principal amount invested. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. All allocations and opinions expressed are as of the date of this presentation and subject to change. The information contained herein does not constitute investment advice or a solicitation. Information obtained from 3rd parties is believed to be accurate, but has not been independently verified.

The opinions expressed in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual or on any specific security. The material is presented solely for information purposes and has been gathered from sources believed to be reliable, however Think Different Financial Planning cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Think Different Financial Planning does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as such. As always please remember investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Think Different Financial Planning and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Think Different Financial Planning unless a client service agreement is in place.