Last September we witnessed the U.S. stock market jump to new all-time highs briefly, before beginning a three-month regression that ended with stocks dropping 20% by Christmas Eve. The television and news outlets had a three-month period where they threw flashing red (and bold) words on the screen so that you panicked and second-guessed everything your financial advisor had told you about buying stocks and holding onto them through uncomfortable volatility.
If you were a client with Five Pine Wealth during this period, you would have held tight and seen this instability as a great buying opportunity. For those of you contributing to your investment accounts each month, you were buying stocks at a discount (e.g. instead of paying $100 per share, you paid $80 per share – what a deal!). For most everyone else, your stock dividends and distributions were reinvested to purchase more shares at a nice discount.
This summer we’ve experienced the stock market again at new all-time highs. Aren’t you glad you didn’t sell off everything on Christmas Eve like the T.V. told you to do?
The stock market recovered completely just months after the December 2018 chaos, but now again we are seeing increasing volatility and similar concerns over trade wars, the “health” of the global economy, and a recession that has to hit us sooner rather than later. The result from these issues: the stock market will drop like it does in every correction and recession, and your stocks will drop in value just as they have done historically every 5 to 7 years.
Why should you NOT care?
In August 1979, now 40 years ago, Business Week ran a now-famous cover essay, “The Death of Equities”. The article explained that putting your money into the U.S. stock market was no longer a great idea. The article argued that institutions no longer wanted stocks, they wanted hard assets like real estate, gold, and art. They claimed the average person was no longer interested in investing because rising inflating “killed” stocks, and for a short period of time, stocks had trouble outperforming high inflation. Additionally, U.S. tax laws were said to be unfavorable for growing U.S. businesses, so international stocks would be a more sensible place to invest.
Fast-forward to today: since 1960, inflation (consumer price index) is up 9 times, the S&P 500 index is up 50 times, and S&P 500 cash dividends are up 28 times. In fact, since 1979 the stock market has an average compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.56% annually. In other words, $1 dollar invested grew to $79.53. It looks like Business Week was completely inaccurate with their assumption.
Let’s go back to volatility and the stock market dropping. In the worst recession of our lifetimes (2008-2009), the market dropped by almost half, or 50%, but if you stayed the course and didn’t pull your money out, you could have more than doubled it today, just 10 years later. In fact, if you bought an S&P 500 index near the bottom of the recession, you could have more than tripled your money today.
Yes, the stock market will drop, and yes, your stocks will drop with the market. This is normal; markets do this from time to time.
If you’re worried about what you see, then turn off the news and ignore the headlines – they’re temporary, just day-to-day. And remember, if you believe all the hype around you, then panic and sell everything, you’ll really be kicking yourself in the butt when stocks recover and once again the market hits new all-time highs down the road.
More importantly, if you’re a client of ours, then you know to hold steady for the many reasons listed here in this article. Additionally, you’re diversified into hundreds (if not thousands) of stocks, and also likely diversified in gold, institutional real estate, private equity, and another asset classes that all have a place within your portfolio through the ups and downs of this unpredictable market.
Citations:  www.ritholtz.com/1979/08/the-death-of-equities  www.usinflationcalculator.com  www.pages.stern.nyu.edu  www.multpl.com  www.moneychimp.com (calculation from Jan. 1979 to Dec. 2018)