November saw several new all-time highs for the various stock market indexes. The four indexes we follow were up from 2.5% to 4.00%, an all-around great month for investors. The Dow Jones Industrial Average crossed the 24,000 mark for the first time in history last month. When I came into the business the Dow clocked in at under 1,000. I guess I’m dating myself a little. The upshot is that I’ve seen a lot happen in the 34 years I have been managing people’s retirement assets. I was here for the crash of 1987. It scared me to death. In May of 1988 a new book, “The Great Depression of 1990” by SMU Economics Professor Ravi Batra was released. It was a runaway best-seller. The book’s description said that it “explains why the United States is headed toward the greatest depression in history and offers specific investment strategies to avoid disaster.” As it turned out, the 1990’s became the most successful and profitable decade in history for both the stock market and the economy. There will always be the doom and gloomers telling us the sky is falling. There will also be the prognosticators who will always predict a market going higher and higher without a pause. I remember watching CNBC the day the NASDAQ crossed 5000 for the first time. The anchor of the show interviewed a Wall Street type who promptly told us The NASDAQ was headed straight to 10,000. A couple of months later it started to shed value, falling to 1,100 before reversing course again. It didn’t make it back to 5000 for 15 years.
I said all that to say this; nobody really knows. The stock market goes up when there are more people who want to buy stocks than sell stocks. And, of course, the stock market goes down when there are more people selling than buying. But the gains and losses are not as random as they may appear. There are solid reasons when stocks shoot up rapidly, or fall like a brick. Day-to-day the stock market will not show much consistency or reason. Long-term, it will. That’s why taking the long view on your retirement assets is so important. And that’s what we are trying to do for you.