Running Out of Time
At our recent TaxSmart™ Retirement Summit, Ed Slott shared a quote from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi – “We didn’t lose the game; we just ran out of time.” The point Ed was driving home was that retirement lasts a great deal of time for most people and therefore requires proper planning. This quote is also applicable to short-term investing, but in a different way – as an investor you can control the amount of time spent invested and decisions made, improving your chances for success. For those who are short-sighted, the volatility of the past few weeks might have a negative impact on investment results but those that maintained a long-term outlook were rewarded.
After closing Monday at its lowest point since mid-July, the S&P 500 rebounded and ended the week with a gain as concerns around the U.S. government defaulting on debt payments abated with an agreement being reached to extend the debt ceiling through early December. It is also worth noting that the intraday turnaround on Wednesday was the largest since February. There have been several events affecting the markets recently but one being attributed to the market pullback is the rise in yield of the U.S. Treasury 10-year bond. The rise is in anticipation of the Federal Reserve reducing, or “tapering”, its monthly bond buying program by the end of the year. Bond yields and prices have an inverse relationship so as bond yields rise, bond prices fall and vice-versa. In the past there has been a “flight to safety” during times of stock market volatility where investors move money into bonds, pushing prices higher and therefore bonds provided protection against market downturns. With yields rising and prices falling, that has not been the case over the past several weeks. This is a trend we expect to continue as interest rates move higher so we would caution you against using fixed income as portfolio protection and instead consider other alternatives to mitigate stock market risk.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
The economic releases during the first full week of any month are centered around employment, with special attention on the jobs numbers this month since last’s month’s numbers were much lower than expected. The number of new jobs created were again less than expectations, but still reflected continued growth in the labor market especially since the unemployment rate dropped considerably. Also, the data from the past two months was revised higher showing job creation was better than previously reported. We expect to see a continuation of job growth now that unemployment stimulus payments have ended and the number of job openings remains at an all-time high. Previously the Federal Reserve indicated it plans to taper its monthly bond buying program later this year as long as the September jobs report was “decent.” While this report was less than expected it was probably not bad enough to deter the Fed, assuming there is not a significant downside surprise in next month’s employment report.
Even though there was an agreement to extend the debt ceiling, the issue is not fully resolved and there will no doubt be further political wrangling in Congress. Not to mention ongoing debate about funding the government and the proposed spending bills. As we’ve said in the past, eventually we think these will all come to a resolution over the next couple of months but not without some partisan battles, resulting in further market volatility.
Updating and rebalancing your portfolio is necessary for managing investment risk, so we would advise you to contact us if you have not had a portfolio review recently or if the recent volatility is causing concern. If you do not have a strategy in place, we can help develop one unique to your specific situation. The time of a football game may be short but your time in retirement is long so be sure you have a complete plan in place.
Have a wonderful week!
Nathan Zeller, CFA, CFP®
Chief Investment Strategist
Please contact us if you would like to review your individual financial plan or learn how the TaxSmart™ Retirement Program can help you.
Office phone # (952) 460-3260