As we look back at 2014 we can say there were many bright spots, including an extended bull market and new highs on the Dow and S&P 500. The “home country bias” (the preference for US stocks and bonds) CTC portfolios maintain served our clients well as the domestic markets outperformed the developed world and emerging markets. The US economy continued its steady, upward growth, the labor market continued expanding with solid job creation numbers and unemployment fell to 5.6%. Congress agreed to step away from fiscal cliff and government shut-down threats. All of this paints a nice rosy picture.
If you look a little closer at the year, however, other things become apparent. Russia annexed Crimea and stirred unrest in Ukraine. Japan has fallen into a recession, and Eurozone growth has faltered. With oil prices falling to lows not seen since 2009, oil dependent economies of Russia and Venezuela risk political unrest. Economic growth in China has slowed to just over 7%. Hacking, spying and troubling activity in the Middle East also made headlines in 2014.
All this is to say that we begin the new year in familiar territory. There are rationales for optimism and arguments for hunkering down. There are forecasts calling for a correction (“the market is overvalued”) and forecasts predicting double digit returns (“the market is undervalued”). As our investment team looks forward, we believe the US economy will continue to grow. We believe other parts of the world are poised for growth. We believe that there will be economic surprises ahead both on the upside and the downside, and that the way forward will not be smooth or uneventful. As prudent investors, however, we will stay invested, looking at the best research and data available. We can neither predict nor time the day-to-day market fluctuations, but instead will focus our attention on creating the most optimal portfolios we can to provide a high probability of success for you – the achievement of your goals.
Blessings to you, family and friends, as we begin 2015!