2017 Stock Market Update

The stock market has continued to have success. The big surprise of the year continues to be international stocks. The Matson Money International Stock fund is up 21.89% this year, compared to the Matson Money US Stock Fund which is up just 8.27%. The following is from the Matson Money quarterly update.

“The 3rd quarter of 2017 saw a continued increase in broad equity markets,  both at home and internationally. U.S. stocks grew by 4.48% as represented by  the S&P 500 index, and for a third consecutive quarter, international stocks  fared even better, with the MSCI EAFE index returning 5.47% for the quarter.  After lagging in recent quarters, small stocks surged ahead this quarter, with the MSCI EAFE Small Cap Index returning 7.52%, while the Russell 2000  Index delivered a 5.67% return.

The news cycle over the last quarter was dominated by natural disasters and escalating geopolitical tensions; specifically in rhetoric exchanged  between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The  hurricanes that ravaged the Caribbean and displaced millions in Houston were great tragedies that impacted countless people and caused billions of dollars of damage. In times where events such as these elicit powerful negative  emotions and we see the massive damage and hurt that many people are going through, it can be difficult to not let that emotion bleed over into our perception of the overall economy or financial markets. It can seem intuitive to believe that the unexpected loss of billions of dollars of infrastructure and the collateral damage of lost businesses and millions of employees who are  temporarily out of work would have a tangible impact on our overall economy and therefore negatively impact financial markets, reversing the general upward trend.

However, as with many other seemingly logical intuitions  regarding the what’s and whys of stock market performance, this too is not reflected in reality. In both the current market and what we have experienced historically, the stock market has an uncanny ability to shake off bad news and move uncorrelated to whatever else may be happening in the news, in contrast to what people may expect.

When we look at negative catastrophic events that have occurred throughout history, whether it be war or natural disaster, equity markets have on average generated positive returns despite these calamities. When looking at the  subsequent 1-year return from the month in which the following event  occurred: Pearl Harbor, D-Day, the start of the Vietnam War, the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the S.F. Earthquake of 1989, 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Super Storm Sandy, we see an average return of 9.70% as measured by the S&P 500 Index. This included 6 positive years and 2 that were negative, or 75% positive years. Over the entire time-period for which we have data from 1926-2016, the average annualized return of the S&P was 10.04%, and 67 of the 91 years were positive, or 74% positive years. This data would  indicate that even some of the worst or most trying events in U.S. history did not result in the stock market behaving, on average, any differently than it did in any other year. Trying to predict the movement of the market based on geopolitical events or natural disasters proves to be the same folly as any other form of forecasting.

In the end, choosing a wise financial strategy, and sticking to it, can have tremendous impact on an investor’s long term financial health. Chasing performance through buying and selling is a risky game. Historically speaking, it will only reduce an investor’s real return. Relying on unbiased, non-emotional advice from a trusted investor coach to make good decisions can help an investor bridge that gap between what the average investor makes and the return of the market.”

References

  1. Matson Money. “Account Statement.” Letter to James Hancock. 18 Oct. 2017. MS.

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