“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore, dream, discover.” – Mark Twain

The 1st quarter of 2018 is already over and it was an interesting 3 months to say the least. If we look at 2017, the fact that we had only a little bit of volatility is the exception. Most years there’s over ten percent declines at some point during the year. Which is something we’ve about hit already this year. That’s the normal and not anything to be freaked out about – listen to find out why.

Transcript of the video:

Hi there.  Mike Brady with Generosity Wealth Management, a comprehensive, full service financial firm headquartered right here in Boulder, Colorado. 

I’m here to talk about the first quarter review and the rest of the year preview.  Charles Dickens in a Tale of Two Cities started off by saying it was the best of times and it was the worst of times.  I suppose maybe we could start off that way with the first quarter as well.  January for the unmanaged stock market indexes was a continuation of a strong upward movement that we saw in 2017 with very little volatility.  That’s really one of the big stories as far as I’m concerned is that 2017 was so low volatile and that was the unique situation.  All the way up to about January 26 of this year when volatility decided to come back.  And so we definitely saw that in February.  March looked like it was starting to come back up again and then we gave it away in the third week of March.  And so the quarter ended a nine out of the eleven major S&P sectors, 9 of them were negative and two of them were positive.  And those two that were positive was actually information technology and consumer discretionary.  And so that’s kind of interesting. 

Of the indexes, pretty much all of them were negative except for emerging markets and actually the NASDAQ.  The NASDAQ unmanaged stock market index was positive.  But even those that were negative in the U.S. here, not counting – I mean when you look at Japan and you look at some of the others abroad they were actually down quite a lot at negative seven percent or so.  We were down one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half percent.  That’s really breakeven in my mind, particularly when you can make a one percent move in a day which we definitely had some more one percent moves this past quarter than we had in quite some time in the last couple of years.    

So it’s good to put this in perspective.  The way I look at investments is that it’s three steps forward, one step back and maybe sometimes it’s two steps back.  And if you focus so much on the negatives, on the steps back, then you’re never going to have the steps forward as well.  And so when all this volatility is happening and let’s look at that chart that I have up on the screen.  So you’re back to where you were three-and-a-half months ago. This is not that you’re back to where you were ten years ago.   

Let’s put everything in perspective.  As a matter of fact, it is normal for there to be volatility.  It is normal for there to be declines.  And with the number, the DOW being 25,000 and 26,000, 500 and 1,000 point movements are less significant as a percentage.  So we have to look at things in percentages.  I remember back in 1987, you know, I’m 49 years old right now and at that time I was a freshman in college when the October 1987 crash happened and that was 500 points.  Well that was 20 to 25 percent of the whole market.  Well, 500 points on 25,000 is not that statistically significant like it was 20 to 30 years ago.  So the numbers get magnified just like our portfolios.  The larger the numbers, of course, a percentage change one way or the other can be thousands, tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars.  And so we have to keep it in perspective from a percentage point of view. 

I continue to be optimistic and that means not that I guarantee it, absolutely not.  There’s no guarantees in this world.  Life is not a guarantee.  Investments are not a guarantee.  I’m actually going to do a follow up video to this about how investing is like poker, not chess.   

Just to give you a little preview of that.  There are unforeseen things in poker and there is a certain amount of luck involved in poker whereas chess is all strategy.  The better person should always win whereas that’s not the case in poker and that’s not the case in investments and that’s not the case in life.  There are things that are unforeseen, things that we can do the best that we can.  We can increase our probabilities of success.  And so as I look towards the rest of the year I see lots of profitability with companies, I see lots of technical change continued.  I believe that the tax change that just happened was a very favorable thing, at least in the short run and the short run being the next one to three to four years or so as cash comes back I’m sure, and we reinvest some of that cash as well.  Other people might have a different point of view and that’s absolutely fine.  That’s what’s great about America is that we can have different points of view.   

You have to remember though that from a long term point of view which is the way we have to look at it, things are complicated.  There’s many different variables that determine this.  And so you might place a higher value on the variability of chaos as you might see it.  You might place a higher value on tariffs and say wow, this is a bad thing.  I don’t place that as high of a concern but maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe you’re right, maybe you’re wrong.  Maybe you get it.  I just read this morning how Elizabeth Warren is in favor of the tariffs in China just like President Trump.  I never thought the two of them would agree but there we go.   

So it’s very interesting that there’s all these different variables.  We have to remain long term investors because I can go back 25 years, I’ve been doing this 27 years, and go back my entire career and there’s always been a reason to be pessimistic.  There’s always reasons to be optimistic and so the question is over a longer term – three years, five years, ten years, et cetera, what’s in your best favor because it’s very hard to read the tea leaves on a shorter term basis.   

I’m optimistic.  I continue to be so.  I believe that there’s a greater than 50 percent probability that things are going to continue to work out fine.  Maybe there’s going to be some increased volatility which is normal.  The fact that we had only a little bit of volatility last year is the exception.  Most years there’s over ten percent declines at some point during the year.  And so we about hit that this year.  So that’s the normal and not anything to be freaked out about. 

Mike Brady, Generosity Wealth Management, 303-747-6455.  Give me a call at any time.  Thanks.  Bye bye.