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The 10-Year Anniversary of the Bull Market

It was a meteoric ascent, with a few blips along the way. That may sound like a dramatic way to express the stock market’s rally of the past 10 years, but there are any number of adjectives that could be substituted for “meteoric.” The truth is that if someone had invested in an index fund tracking a broader representation of the equities market during that time period; March 9, 2009 to March 9, 2019, would have more than tripled their money. The S & P 500 was up 313 percent during this time period. Back in 2009, the market had bottomed out. This was post-financial crisis and it was a rough time for the market. The growth from that day forward has been a good period for the market and equity investors. To get more than a 300 percent gain on your money is not something that happens every day


The Early Year Market Rebound of 2019

Last Christmas did not feel like a time for joy for many investors, who found themselves perplexed and shocked at the abrupt market volatility. It was not the gift they were expecting. A number of factors are thought to have left investors jittery the end of last year, among them; the Federal Reserve’s hawkish tone and the prospect of several interest rate hikes in 2019; concerns about trade talks as well as concerns with some FAANG stocks. These issues and others introduced some spectacular volatility into the markets that had prognosticators wondering about the new year. Had the long-running bull market really come to an end? Despite this volatility, stocks bounced back in the new year, and through the second week in February, the S & P 500 was up more than 16 percent. By February 22, the Dow had broken through the 26,000 mark for the first time since



The news hasn’t been able to say enough about the “government shutdown.” It has been the headline story in many papers and the lead story on many evening newscasts. To say that the government was shut down is something of a misnomer. It was actually a quarter of the government, consisting of about 800,000 employees. The federal government, in large part, gets funded through appropriations determined by the Congress. Not all agencies of the government are funded for the current fiscal year; some are operating under temporary extensions. Those under temporary funding were impacted. Those federal employees who were affected fell into two groups; those who continued to work with deferred pay and those who were actually furloughed. This includes approximately 380,000 federal workers who were placed on temporary leave without receiving pay. The remaining 420,000 workers are considered “essential” and were required to report to work, even if their



For many astute investors, there are often two schools of thought on stock selection; value or growth. Many investors ascribe to the value school because they like the idea of buying out-of-favor stocks that might have had a temporary set-back but could offer a lot of upside. They are more likely to pay dividends and may also be more appealing to those who are risk-adverse. The growth stock camp believes that the stocks they choose offer growth because of profit or revenue growth. These companies reinvest earnings back into the company. The growth camp is often willing to take on a little additional risk and forego dividends in the hopes for a respectable upside. They often also need to be a little more risk tolerant and ride out more potential volatility. The tug-of-war between these two investment philosophies have waxed and waned over the years, as institutional and retail investors



There was a time when everyone went to the mall to shop. Brick and mortar was the only choice and stores were crowded as a result. When online shopping first appeared, people were skeptical and weary of providing their credit cardinformation or trusting any part of the process. Amazon was making some strides early on with gaining market share, but the appetite for the Internet and shopping had not yet caught on. Those first transactions officially began in 1994, a year before Amazon opened its doors. What prompted most of the shopping from home that year was catalog and TV shopping channel purchases over the phone. Incredibly, that year, there were 98 million consumers who purchased $60 billion of goods from home. Calling an 800-number was the first foray into shopping from home before the real concept of ecommerce exploded. The Internet was still largely a mystery to many back then



The price of oil crashed in late 2014, prompting the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to begin a price war to regain lost market share. Besides losing market share to other countries outside its own cabal, OPEC was losing share to the United States. During November, oil prices dropped almost 22 percent, which represented the largest monthly percentage drop in 10 years. In response, OPEC may cut production. This cut could represent over a million barrels a day. Oil prices had reached a four-year high in early October. A strange thing happened on the way to the forum, or at least, between the distillery and the gas pump. The United States went from being dependent on oil from the Middle East to being the worlds largest oil producer. It happened very subtly, without much fanfare and it was mostly predictable by those who were believers in the U.S.’s



There’s a strange phenomenon in the stock market that recurs from time to time. A popular stock, that has become a megastar and is shooting for the moon, suddenly falls back to earth; at least part way. The luster becomes tarnished. This is why former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan coined the phrase “irrational exuberance.” He was speaking of the entire market, but to some degree, individual stocks inspire the same enthusiasm. They may or may not have the greatest valuations, but they are most often exciting companies that have achieved great things. Greenspan used the term in 1996 regarding the tech stock run-up, but it would take another few years before the prediction saw real consequences. And so it has been, with the prestige and reverence paid to the FAANG stocks; the high-flyers who have rewarded investors well and seemed to be on a dizzying trajectory. Who can argue that these market



“Don’t let the door hit you on your way out.” That is an old adage that has been used sarcastically when someone’s exit is mocked. Symbolically, Europe is telling Great Britain just that as fair warning to any other member of the European Union (EU) who might consider an exit. Brits voted in 2016 to make their exit from the EU amid protests and inter-regional disagreement. With the complexity of the original agreement, 45 years ago, the exit from this agreement has made Brexit a challenging event on many levels; politically, economically, socially and legally. While the United Kingdom (U.K.) remains a part of the EU for now, the timeline for negotiating a deal is drawing near. For many Brits, the European Union proved too expensive to belong to, did not offer sufficient vetting on uncontrolled immigration and was out of touch. Their discontent mounted with repeated terrorist attacks within



The U.S. buys a lot from China. That may be the understatement of the year. The number is actually a half a trillion dollars annually. That is a very big number, even by Washington’s standards. It may seem like just about everything that we buy as American consumers is made in China and that isn’t far off base. Cell phones, computers, toys and furniture are some of the leading imports and the first two make up the biggest percentage of imports. The problem is that the Chinese government does not want to reciprocate. China imports about $15 billion annually of U.S. farm crops such as soy beans and $10.5 billion of transportation equipment such as airplanes. They also import about $7 billion annually of oil and gas products. While much of the attention in talk of a “trade war” has centered on steel and aluminum, those two products represent a



The pain at the pump has really hit home for many Americans during the recent holidays with prices that have averaged 73 cents more than a year ago. The average price of regular gas nationwide was $2.26 a year ago. The price of gas on Independence Day was the highest in four years. A barrel of Brent crude increased by five dollars from April to May. More than one variable has been at play creating a surge in the price of oil. The OPEC member countries voted to cut back on oil production in 2016. With demand staying high, and even higher in China, the price of oil, and by extension gasoline, was impacted by the falling supply. The U.S. supplies Saudi Arabia with military weapons, including a $350 billion deal last year. The president has asked the Saudi King to increase oil production. The head of OPEC said that