The Market in 2017
In what has been an unprecedented market since the end of the great recession in 2009, we had another positive quarter, with U.S. and international markets gaining just over 5%. Even bonds eked out a meager 0.8% return, despite slowly rising interest rates. We all love a rising stock market, and since the market low in 2009, the US stock market has gone up 265% or an astonishing 17.6%/year. Market timers assuredly did not achieve returns like this, as they were apt to be selling low on “bad news” and buying high during this market run up. As usual, no one can predict when the market will turn around. There are pundits on both sides of the equation, predicting continuing appreciation and of course others forecasting the opposite. My advice stays the same, stick to the asset allocation you are comfortable with and rebalance periodically.
Obamacare & the American Healthcare Act
Whether you love or hate Obamacare, it is currently still the law, so everyone is legally obligated to have health insurance. The recently proposed American Healthcare Act was withdrawn before a vote. No matter what your health insurance premiums are, I urge you to have health insurance coverage. Even though premiums can be steep, they can save you a boatload of money, as some family members and I have recently found out. Medical procedures, testing and drugs can cost an arm and a leg without insurance.
The Role of Bonds in Today’s Interest Rate Environment
With the great returns of the stock market and the continuing prospect of rising interest rates (which generally translates into lower bond prices), I regularly get asked, “why should we own bonds in our portfolios?” The first reason to own bonds is for stability – bonds are simply not as risky as stocks and they are much less volatile. The second reason for owning bonds is income. A study published in the Financial Analysts Journal found that between 1950 and 1999 stocks were three times more volatile than bonds. Even though there may be some pain associated with a rise in interest rates and an associated drop in bond prices, that pain is nowhere near what a severe stock market downturn can do to our portfolios, let alone our psyche. The bottom line – own a well-diversified portfolio of stock and bond funds and rebalance periodically.
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