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What’s Up with the Stock Market?

By | 2017, Executive Message, Money Moxie, Newsletter | No Comments

Dear Friends and Financial Partners!

In spite of turmoil, tragedy, and terror, the U.S. stock market has not been suppressed during the last 12 months. Rising jobs and wages continue to support strong economic growth. In the U.S. we are experiencing the lowest unemployment in 17 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Simultaneously, we have the highest consumer confidence in 17 years, according to The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®. Keep in mind that seventy percent of the U.S. economy is driven by consumer spending.

This rise in the stock market is not limited to the United States. It is a global phenomenon. The stock markets of Britain, France, Germany, and a host of other countries are also performing well.

Here’s how the S&P 500 has performed in the last two years. In 2016, the S&P 500 reached 18 new highs and was up 9.54 percent. This year, through November 30th, there have already been 57 record highs for a return of 18.26 percent. The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the NASDAQ have also set new record highs this year.

Dealing with the Wall of Worry
Many of us will readily recall Black Monday, October 19, 1987 when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) dropped 508 points and finished the day at 1,738.74. That’s a decline of 22.61 percent. Thirty years later, on October 19, 2017, the DJIA finished the day at 23,557.99 points. That’s a compounded interest rate of 9.08 percent per year. (By the way, most people forget that even with that large of a drop in 1987, the year finished up a positive 2.26 percent.)

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is one of the most important indicators used to gauge the health of our economy. GDP is the value of all finished goods and services produced by the U.S. Here’s the GDP by quarter in 2017: 1st Quarter—1.6 percent, 2nd Quarter—3.1 percent, and 3rd Quarter—3.3 percent. Wow! It has been several years since GDP has been this high. Researching money managers around the country, most managers believe that this climb in the stock market can continue and, yes, that there may be a Santa Claus rally in the works.

Bullish Best Wishes in 2018,

Roger M. Smedley, CFP
CEO

*Consumer Confidence Index is a registered trademark of The Conference Board.
**The S&P 500, NASDAQ and Dow Jones Industrial Average indexes are widely considered to represent the U.S. stock market. One cannot invest directly in an index. Investing involves risk, including potential loss of principal. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The opinions and forecasts expressed are those of the author and may not actually come to pass. This information is subject to change at any time, based upon changing conditions. This is not a recommendation to purchase any type of investment.

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Is the Dollar in Danger?

By | 2015, Money Moxie, Newsletter, Viewpoint | No Comments

The dollar has ruled supreme as the global reserve currency for over seven decades. It is the preferred means of payment, value, and reserve. As the most trusted currency on earth, it rewards Americans with lucrative privileges. While the dollar’s dominance is unlikely to last forever, a change would be difficult.

Dominant Dollar
The dollar’s source of power comes from trust and economics. We have a stable government a deep financial system. Against these benchmarks, other currencies fail. Our economic production represents 23 percent of global GDP.1 It is safer, easier, and less expensive to trade assets here than any other place on earth.

Profitable Privileges
The U.S. dollar is roughly 5 percent stronger than it would be if it were not the global reserve currency because foreign investors, corporations, and governments purchase dollars.2 This raises the value of our assets (real estate, stocks, etc.) as Americans and helps us enjoy a higher standard of living. Imported goods and overseas travel are especially more affordable. The impact of this wealth effect is estimated to be as high as 0.5 percent of GDP,2 which would be an increase of $900 billion for Americans this year.

In addition, almost 90 percent of world trading is done in dollars.3 This saves U.S. corporations money and lowers financial volatility.

The dollar’s status also increases demand for our government debt. According to Wikipedia, 63 percent of all reserves in the world are dollar-denominated debt. This demand lowers borrowing costs and saves our government an estimated half of one percent on interest.2

Greenback Drawback
In order to maintain the greenback’s place at the top, our government must borrow from and pay interest to everyone else. In addition, our strong dollar makes labor more expensive here. That is one of the reasons why jobs have been going overseas for decades.

Approximately 30 percent of S&P 500 companies get half their revenue from outside the United States. The strong dollar makes exports more expensive in foreign markets and may shave 0.4 percent from the U.S. economy this year.4

Challenging Change
Dethroning the dollar would be a process. It is not something that any group of individuals could change with a vote (Russian President Vladimir Putin has tried).

China is the world’s second largest economy. Should its yuan be considered a strong alternative? It is doubtful because the Chinese government wants a weak currency. It decided to lower the yuan’s value by 2 percent in August. This deliberate devaluation destroys trust, and no country has ever established the global currency through devaluation. This helps explain why the yuan is used in less than 3 percent of world trade while the dollar is used in 45 percent.5

Now What?
Extremely positive things are happening for the dollar and many experts are worried that the dollar may be too attractive. Between April 2014 and April 2015 the dollar appreciated 13 percent6 (a massive move for currency). Now, the Federal Reserve is conflicted over whether to raise rates because it may cause the dollar to strengthen even more.

The so called “experts” and conspiracy theorists will continue to beat their drums. No matter how logical their arguments appear, their poor predictions are meant to create fear.

Discussing the dollar’s status into the future and working hard to maintain its credibility is vital. If we do this, I believe it is safe to say that the days of the strong dollar will be with us for many, many years to come.

 

1. Derek Bacon, “Dominant and Dangerous,” The Economist, October 2015.
2. Richard Dobbs, David Skilling, Wayne Hu, Susan Lund, James Manyika, Charles Roxburgh, “An Exorbitant Privilege? Implications of Reserve Currencies for Competitiveness,” McKinsey & Company, December 2009.
3. Milton Ezrati, “Currencies: Yuan Wrong to Rule Them All,” Lord Abbett, November 2015.
4. Chris Matthews, “The Strong Dollar: Your Enemy or Friend?” Fortune, March 2015.
5. Fion Li, “Yuan Overtakes Yen as World’s Fourth Most-Used Payment Currency,” Bloomberg, October 2015.
6. Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis.

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