It’s the end of the year and a time for reflection on the past and anticipation of the future. This year has been outstanding for the stock market, with the S&P 500 closing out the year up 29.6%. The bond market, however, has struggled in what many are calling the end of a 30 year bull market. As measured by the Barclays Aggregate Bond Market Index, bonds will close down this year for only the third time since 1980. And gold is down 28% this year; its largest loss since 1981.
In 2013, the biggest market moving stories were not even business related. The year started out with the country going over the fiscal cliff. One day later, the American Tax Relief Act of 2012 was passed. Technically, this was a tax cutting bill. Effectively, (i.e. compared to 2012) this was a tax increase aimed primarily at the upper income brackets. Budget cuts were not agreed upon, so sequestration went into effect in March.
This year saw the first Federal Government shutdown since the Clinton Administration. In what has become the norm in Washington, D.C., lawmakers could not agree on a funding bill even if it hurt America. The event that moved the market the most had to be the comment by Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke that if the economic data continued to improve, the Fed would reduce its quantitative easing. This was not a change in policy or even anything new, but it moved the ten yield Treasury yield from 1.94% to 2.59% in a matter of four weeks. The S&P 500 lost nearly six percent in that same time frame.
So, what are we in store for this year? As usual, the predictions vary wildly. Many believe, as I do, that we will see a single digit percentage gain in the stock market. Not that this should be read to mean that it will be a quiet year. I believe we will have significant volatility and at some point this year we will see that 10% correction we’ve been waiting for. The last market correction was in October 2011 and the market is up 63% since then. Long term interest rates will probably continue to creep up, but short term rates should remain very low.
With the Fed pulling back on their monthly bond purchases, more focus will be placed on corporate earnings and the economy. And while the Federal budget is set for the next couple of years (i.e. no repeat of this year’s Government shutdown), the debt ceiling will be reached in late winter/early spring, which will come with more political posturing.
The beginning of the year is a good time to review your investment portfolio. As with many things in life, financial plans are often set up and forgotten for years afterwards. However, as time passes, you may find that your situation has changed and that your plan is no longer appropriate. Even worse, you may not have a plan at all. Reaching financial goals is not something that happens just by chance. So, take some time to review your financial situation, your goals, and your investment portfolio to make sure you’re on the right track.
And, as always, we at Verity Credit Union are here to help. If you’d like to set up an appointment with a Financial Advisor, please contact Bre Lowry at (206) 361-5312 or BreannaL@veritycu.com.
Non-deposit investment products and services are offered through CUSO Financial Services, L.P. (“CFS”), a registered broker-dealer (Member FINRA/SIPC) and SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Products offered through CFS: are not NCUA/NCUSIF or otherwise federally insured, are not guarantees or obligations of the credit union, and may involve investment risk including possible loss of principal. Investment Representatives are registered through CFS. Verity Credit Union has contracted with CFS to make non-deposit investment products and services available to credit union members.
Sasha may be the shyest social person you’ll ever meet. She joined Verity in 2009, with a couple years in the Credit Union Movement already tucked under her belt (amidst coffee-making and bagel-slinging, running a non-profit, and trying her hand at farming).
An eternal optimist (except, you know, when she’s not), she enjoys exploring her surroundings and having adventures with friends; yoga, running, reading, writing, and good food. Though not a remarkable cook, she is nonetheless a sincere one and admits she’d be better if there were three more hours in every day. When not doing one of the many activities mentioned in the previous two sentences, she counts herself lucky to be peacefully at home, cuddling with her partner and their cat.