I dislike complaining or whining. But if I were ever going to complain about something, it would be the lousy investing climate of 2015. On the whole, it was a great year for our family and it might still be finished fantastically with the birth of our seventh grandchild, our second granddaughter. What could be better than that? But if not a great finish, her arrival will make it a great start and a very Happy New Year!
Statistically, 2015 has been a major aberration. I heard Art Cashin, one of the long term gurus on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, say this week the following: If the stock market (as defined by the S&P 500 index) does not end with a gain for the year, it will be the first time in the past 140 or 145 years that a year ending in 5 has lost ground. After Tuesday’s rise, it looks a little more likely that the string of wins will continue.
But the Dow Jones Industrial Average is still under water less than a percent. The Barclay’s Aggregate Bond index is finally losing money in a more determined way since the Federal Reserve increased its interest rate charged to banks a whopping quarter of one percent. I have long argued that the recovery would have been much stronger if these rates had been allowed to find their natural level much sooner, probably around 3 percent.
Statistically 2015 should have shown strong stock market gains. Next year, the fourth year of the second term of President Obama, would have the probability of being second best in that regard.
I am rather optimistic about 2016. The sky will not fall just because interest rates are headed upward, albeit very slowly. Consumers will feel better when their money in the bank makes something more than one tenth of one percent per year, and they might even spend a little more in celebration. Even the banks should make more profit, but perhaps not much, since if they accidentally make a bad loan, they may be arrested and sent to jail. Under those circumstances, bankers become very, very risk averse. Can you blame them?
Technology continues to amaze and should provide excitement and better returns for stockholders of innovative companies including those in biotech and healthcare. Do not even think of holding your breath until the cost of healthcare including health insurance goes down. With millions of boomers getting all sorts of body parts replaced or repaired, and the government having held down the numbers of doctors for a couple of decades, the demand far outstrips the supply of most healthcare workers and will for the foreseeable future.
Despite the overall length of the slowest economic recovery of the past hundred plus years, I do not agree with the few predicting a recession anytime soon. President Obama just made it clear he intends to help Hillary Clinton or some Democrat win the election next November. That almost always translates into spending as much money as can be found or borrowed from any potential place in the government.
I predict that we will continue to muddle along, making some progress. Our muddling in 2016 may be even slightly less difficult than it has been!
(As you know full well, past performance is no guarantee of future results. For this year, I say Thank God for that. Opinions and advice are general in nature and are not intended to be specific for anyone.)