By the time you read this, you will know more about what the inauguration of Donald Trump means for you than I do, because a few days pass between my writing, and your reading, and the news has never traveled faster than it does today. So let me focus where I can: on perspective.
A year ago the stock market declined as fast as it has in your lifetime during the same first two weeks of the year. It had nothing to do with presidential politics. It may have, in fact, had nothing to do with anything–and so I wrote, one year ago–perhaps we were due for a correction because “it was time.”
Do you remember the terrible crash of 2016? There is no wrong answer to this question. You either do or do not remember.
If you do remember the crash of 2016, good for you! Because you did not panic and you hung in there. Perhaps you called, or e-mailed, or in other ways communicated with your financial planner. And you hung in there.
If you do not remember the first two weeks of 2016, and the doom and gloom that surrounded the end of the “stock market bubble,” as some presidential candidates called it, good for you! You didn’t spend too much time on the internet, looking at your online statements, and perhaps you waited until the statement came in the mail, if you still receive paper copies, after the market rebounded. Because the market typically rebounds, and in 2016, it roared back upwards as fast as the decline was downwards, again, without any good reason. Without any actionable, predictable trigger, the crash of 2016 disappeared as quickly as it began.
I predict that we will not be so lucky this year. I believe the market will decline sharply again sometime this year. And, it just might happen near the end of a quarter-year, when your statements show a markedly quick loss of your hard-earned savings. And this time, you might struggle to ignore it. No shame in that. Just call your financial planner.
The statistics are somewhat helpful. You know from history that the market loses about 15% every year, at some point, on its way to delivering a long-term average 10% gain, per year. But that doesn’t make it easy. In a world of fast information and constantly accelerating change, our inclination to act (wrongly) has never been more dangerous.
“It’s not what you don’t know that kills you, it’s what you know for sure that ain’t true.” –Mark Twain
And that brings us back to the inauguration, one of the most dramatic changes in political direction of our lifetimes. When everyone else is saying this means “X” and that means “Y”, I’ve never felt a desire to be more modest in my predictions–and vocal–about saying, “Who knows?”
The market doesn’t yet know what will happen over the short term. We only have the long term as a guide. And my confidence in the long game is resolute.
A final aside for my readers: this blog (the Periscope) was recently featured as a Best Investing Blog for 2017 as a Top Market Expert. Click here for more info.