Financial Markets Don’t Come with Traffic Signals

It is unfortunate, but true. There are no financial traffic lights that signal “green.”  It’s all safe now…enter the stock market with no risk.

There are no reliable financial traffic lights that signal “red” and you should exit the stock market now.

So, how to handle the volatility that seems to face us? These are things we have been discussing with our clients. For years. Because in our view, “this time is not different.” Just the dates and issues have changed.

You must have a plan. It does not need to be fancy. Working with us, we will help you adhere to your plan. But you need to develop a written plan that provides for an asset allocation that makes sense for you and your family. We help to develop this plan, and how much to allocate to fixed income (cash, bonds, CDs) and how much to invest in stocks, and where, such as US, international, emerging markets and real estate. And we discuss with you the importance of “value” investing.

So what about now? What is going on?

Part of our philosophy is recognizing that we do not have a crystal ball and that we cannot predict the future. That being said, we are realistic and we are optimistic, for the long term. History teaches us that if we are patient, globally diversified investors, we will be rewarded. Most problems will get resolved. Companies, people and countries innovate and are resilient.

We recognize that there are many problems in the world, today. Right now, the financial markets are focused on Greece and European debt. Last year, the markets fluctuated with every drop of news from China. The US debt crisis and the “supercommittee” that is working on the US budget will be the focus in November.

We take a longer view. There are many positives. As Warren Buffett has stated, Mr. Market is usually too optimistic or too pessimistic. We feel that the markets’ decline this summer was overstated and caused more by emotional fear, than financial reality. We don’t think that future corporate earnings expectations have dropped by 15-20%. Many companies are reporting stronger earnings, have healthy balance sheets (corporate cash is at all time highs), have used record low interest rates to borrow cheaply and oil / gas prices have dropped or stabilized. These are all positives.

We also recognize that there are many problems. Governments of all types will need to reduce spending, to reduce their deficits. That reduction in spending will hurt economies and certain sectors. Uncertainty is a hot topic, especially in the press. Some type of uncertainty always exists. That will not change. We focus on what we can control.

Timing the market does not work. While worldwide stock markets declined in the third quarter, much of that decline has been recouped in the first few weeks of October. Just as no one could have predicted the steep decline on July 1 that subsequently ensued, no one could have predicted on October 1 the rally that has occurred.

We wish we had a crystal ball. We wish we had the perfect financial traffic light. Instead, we have a solid investment philosophy (which is not based on predictions and guess work) and financial planning skills that provide our clients with comfort and financial security. What do you have?

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