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April 1, 2022

Dear Client : Returns for the major stock indices and the current bond and money market yields are as follows: IndexYTD 2022Dow Jones Industrial Average   -4.56%S&P 500   -4.94% Fixed Income Yields        1 year5 year10 year30 yearMunicipals1.54%2.03%2.23%2.60%US Treasuries1.60%2.46%2.34%2.45% Fidelity Government Cash Reserves Money Market Fund0.01% The first quarter of 2022 has been distressing.  The news of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has captured the hearts and minds of so many worldwide as the daily headlines of chaos and suffering are difficult to see, let alone to bear.  From a global pandemic to an unprovoked war by a nation with nuclear weapons, investors have had much to consider.  Anxiety, unease, and uncertainty have felt commonplace in recent history.  As investors, we have to again try to assess the risks to our investment strategies amid the fears and uncertainties.  Despite the volatility, the markets have been resilient as they have rallied back significantly for the year.  Though we cannot know how the invasion will play out, we can reflect on history, study the investment implications and alternatives, and attempt to mitigate the risks as we understand them.  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24th was a surprise to some, but not all.  The troops and drumbeat to war had been building along the Ukrainian border for months.  On the day of the invasion, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 859 points at its intraday low, only to close up 92 points, an intraday reversal of nearly 1,000 points.  To date, both the market low (down 11% or 4,000 points) and peak fear were during the first day of the invasion.  The markets again...

January 1, 2022

Dear Client: Returns for the major stock indices and the current bond and money market yields are as follows: Index         2021Dow Jones Industrial Average   20.84%S&P 500   28.71% Fixed Income Yields        1 year5 year10 year30 yearMunicipals0.19%0.60%1.05%1.54%US Treasuries0.38%1.26%1.51%1.90% Fidelity Government Cash Reserves Money Market Fund0.01% Happy New Year!  The equity markets delivered impressive results in 2021 as long-term investors were again rewarded.  We experienced three declines of 5% in the S&P 500 index, reaching no greater than a 6% decline.  The market rose steadily, similarly to 2019, in broad-market support.  All of the sectors comprising the S&P 500 appreciated more than 10%.  Small, mid, and large company indexes performed in excess of 20%, as did growth and value stocks.  It was difficult to NOT make money in equities this year.  The bond market, on the other hand, had negative returns. The Total Bond Market Index was down 1.86% in total return.  The real rate of return factoring in the current inflation problem made fixed income especially painful in 2021.  For many reasons, the equity markets continue to attract demand, and asset prices have been rising everywhere.  As an investor, I cut my teeth in a golden era of investing (the late 90s).  Back then, the market delivered five straight years of 20%+ returns.  Similar to now, market participants were making money seemingly ‘hand over fist.’  Many portfolios had gravitated away from diversification, and many market newbies had portfolios littered with the latest high-flying stocks.  Moreover, they were often leveraged in margin and excessively overweighted in the hottest flavor (technology sector).  That generation of investors heard the scary words “it’s different this...

October 1, 2021

Dear Client: Year-to-date returns for the major stock indices and the current bond and money market yields are as follows: Index         YTDDow Jones Industrial Average   10.57%S&P 500   14.68% Fixed Income Yields        1 year5 year10 year30 yearMunicipals0.18%0.56%1.13%1.73%US Treasuries0.07%0.98%1.52%2.08% Fidelity Government Cash Reserves Money Market Fund0.01% The markets have continued to grind upward in 2021.  The year-to-date performance numbers frankly speak for themselves.  This bull market continues to reward long-term investors as the climb has been steady over the past year.  Despite the healthy market rally, we continue to grapple with the effects from Covid and the imbalances that have been caused in its wake.  We continue to believe Americans are learning to live with the new normal and the worst of the economic disruptions seem to be behind us.  Despite some areas of the market being overvalued and a market correction overdue, the market has remained resilient, and we remain optimistic. Inflation continues to be at the forefront of concerns facing investors.  Inflation means rising prices or too many dollars chasing too few goods and services, and currently is the symptom of underlying reproachable issues; some will self-correct in the short run, while others will take more time.  The most notable causes are: supply problems, labor shortages, massive fiscal stimulus packages, seemingly endless manufactured low interest rates, and asset purchases (the Fed balances sheet).  Each of these is its own discussion, but all are contributing to rising prices.  Once again, the question is where to go from here?  For starters, we believe the labor shortages and supply problems are temporary and have begun correcting back to normal levels as the...

July 1, 2021

Dear Client: Year-to-date returns for the major stock indices and the current bond and money market yields are as follows: IndexYTDDow Jones Industrial Average   12.73%S&P 500   14.41% Fixed Income Yields1 year5 year10 year30 yearMunicipals0.14%0.51%1.00%1.58%US Treasuries0.07%0.88%1.46%2.08% Fidelity Government Cash Reserves Money Market Fund0.01% Happy 4th of July!  As we again celebrate the birth of our nation, we would like to reflect on the strong first half of 2021 in the equity markets.  Any way you slice it, the equity markets are doing well as every sector of the S&P 500 is positive for the year.  If you are a holder of equities, you are generally pleased; every equity style, from value to growth to foreign, is performing.  The vaccines are working, and the virus is becoming less of an issue for equity markets with each passing day.  The American economy (as measured by GDP) is on pace for its best year-over-year growth since 1984, and pre-tax corporate profits are back to all-time highs.  American consumers and corporations are flush with cash, and the pent-up demand is unwinding into the economy.  Combine all of this with an asset-friendly Federal Reserve Bank committed to low interest rates, and you have higher stock prices and an economy ready to roar. As we often communicate, looking backward is always easy, evaluating the present can be challenging, and prognosticating the future is even more difficult.  As investors, we live in unusual times.  We have had a litany of unprecedented and rare events: from shutting down the economy, to enormous stimulus packages, to unemployment rising from 3% to 14% in weeks, to the Fed increasing the...

April 1, 2021

Dear Client: Returns for the major stock indices for 2021 and the current bond and money market yields are as follows: Index        YTDDow Jones Industrial Average   7.76%S&P 500   5.77% Fixed Income Yields    1 year5 year10 year30 yearMunicipals  0.10%0.50%1.08%1.81%US Treasuries  0.06%0.93%1.73%2.40% Fidelity Government Cash Reserves Money Market Fund0.01% The first quarter of 2021 is off to a good start for the equity markets.  First and foremost, COVID cases are falling precipitously, and the vaccines are proving to be a huge success.  Though the numbers seem to vary, we believe that between the vaccines, the number of counted cases, and the CDC’s estimated unreported infections, nearly 70% of Americans have some form of antibodies.  And though we certainly do not know the final outcome of the new strains or whether the vaccines will permanently end all variations of the virus, we believe the worst is most likely behindus and that herd immunity will soon be here in 2021; and the great re-opening of America is underway!  While we remain optimistic for the year ahead, we believe as long-term investors, it is constructive to reflect on the last year.  We all remember too well how we felt one year ago, when the world nearly stopped in the uncertainty of the virus.  In the depths of the fear, no one knew how severe the virus would be and to what extent the economic engine would slow.  This fear caused panic and led to extreme behavior, leaving some companies booming while others ground to a halt.  The world was in disarray, and markets never stopped discounting and adjusting for every possibility.  Amid the uncertainty, we wrote:...