The first quarter of 2022 was a challenging start to the New Year for investors. After falling into correction territory, the S&P 500 cut some of its losses late in the quarter to end the period down 4.6%. This marked the first time the index experienced a negative quarter since Q1 of 2020.
Just like the weather in Rochester, financial regulations are ever changing. Two recently proposed changes could upend your plan for drawing money from inherited IRAs and how you save in your 401(k) if they are approved later this year.
None of us thought we would live long enough to see our group of alternative investments reverse their multi-year slump, but it is finally happening. Our alternative investment portfolio has outperformed stocks and bonds so far this year and over the past twelve months.
The fourth quarter of 2021 was a microcosm of 2021 as a whole. Many of the trends that we saw throughout the year continued into year end. The emergence of a new COVID variant contributed to reimposed restrictions, supply chains disruptions, and rising inflation. And, the stock market responded similarly to prior COVID scares: a knee-jerk reaction down followed immediately by a rally that culminated in new record highs. Other trends also continued as international stocks continued to trail their US counterparts despite more attractive valuation metrics, and bonds delivered another quarter of lackluster results.
It is well known that the stock and bond markets have generally gone up over time. Why else would anyone invest? Sure, there have been a few “speed bumps,” such as the Great Depression and the decade of 2000 when things didn’t work out so well (see nominal return graph), but generally investors have made money by being invested. But what happens when you factor in inflation?
A not so new New Year! Most of us planner types spent 2021 worrying about one thing or another. For some of us, a lot of frenetic energy was spent on the projected, proposed, and much debated financial changes that the President, and much of Congress, hoped would reboot a lot of well-established financial plans.
Another year has come and gone. In our business the New Year means lots of reporting. Certainly, clients like to know how the year went for their portfolios, and doing those meetings is the fun part of our jobs. However, the other type of reporting that we could do without is filing documents each year with the SEC and other regulators. Still, it forces us to look at our business and take stock of our progress.
Stock market returns were effectively flat for the third quarter. July and August experienced fairly strong returns, but losses in September weighed on full quarter results. Mid-cap and small-cap stocks were slightly negative this quarter, but strong performance in the first half of the year has still provided attractive year-to-date returns.
Despite a weak September, the stock market has generally fared well of late. Returns have been strong year-to-date, and over pretty much any trailing period. There have certainly been bumps in the road, such as the COVID correction in March of 2020, but the last major disruption was thirteen years ago in 2008. While rising stocks are generally good, there can be too much of a good thing. We may be getting to that point, and the same may be true for the bond market.
Social Security is a topic that is sure to arouse emotions. The “entitlement” nature of it bothers some folks. Some just don’t like the thought of not working and surrendering their retirement security to the government. Others don’t believe it will be around since the Social Security Trust Fund is basically broke. Also, deciding when to take Social Security involves some uncomfortable topics, such as life expectancy. However, Social Security is really a good thing that should be part of a deliberate retirement income strategy. Spoiler alert: it will be there for you when you need it.