In the investing world, things are often not as bad as they seem. The data doesn’t always match the headlines.  

Today we talk about:

  • August was not good, but was it really bad? It felt really bad.
  • The worst month for stocks (so far) this year is…
  • Have we even had a correction in stocks yet?
  • Don’t look now, but the US stock market is having a really good year.
  • So is everything else.
  • Things also aren’t as good as they look either.
  • The fourth quarter is the “money quarter” for the stock market.

Monday Morning Money: Not As Bad As It Seems

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August Was Bad, But Not As Bad As It Seems

I’m a big Ohio State Football fan. I admire Jim Tressel who was the head coach for one of the more successful periods in school history. One of the things I can remember him saying in his press conferences, was “things are rarely as good or as bad as they seem.”

You can say the same thing about the investment markets. August seemed like an awful month. We had “headliner” down days of 767, 623, and 800 points. We were bombarded with the negative news. The trade war with china, the inverted yield curve, and the looming recession all dominated the headlines.

It felt like August was a dismal month. If I didn’t keep score, I would have guessed things were far worse than they were. On a total return basis, the stock market, as measured by the S&P 500, was down a little more than a percent and a half. It was not as bad as it seemed.

In fact, August wasn’t even the worst month this year. That distinction belongs to May when stocks declined more than 6%.

(Click image to enlarge)

The Headlines Make it Sound Bad, But It's Not As Bad As It Seems

If you only follow the headlines and sound bites, you may think we’ve had a difficult year. The maximum draw down in stock prices this year is less than 7%. That doesn’t even classify as the textbook definition of a correction. A correction is a 10% decrease in prices. And it is half of the average correction we have seen since 1980.

The endless parade of pessimism makes us think things are worse than they seem. August was not a good month. But, The S&P 500, which is the primary index we use to keep score, is up over 18% on a total return basis through the end of August. 

(Click images to enlarge)

Most of the Major Asset Classes Are Doing Well

In fact, most of the major asset classes we follow have had an outstanding year—so far. Bonds are doing well. Remember last week we talked about the relationship between yield and price. When yields fall, bonds prices go up. And yields continued to fall.

Gold is up more than 18% for the year. And Real Estate is up more than 27% for the year. International stocks are also up for the year.

(Click image to enlarge)

An Interesting Nugget

Over the past 25 years, October has been the 3rd best month for stocks. November has been the 2nd best. And December has been the 5th best. Combined, the fourth quarter has generated an annualized return of 4.3% per year.

Over the past 25 years, the stock market has averaged a gain of 8.9% per year. Nearly half of the return for the last quarter century was generated in the fourth quarter.

(click image to enlarge)

What's On Your Mind?

Do you have a question about what’s happening in the world of finance or investing?  Is there a topic that has you curious?  We’d love to hear from  you.

 We’ll do our best to answer it in a future episode.  To submit your question, fill out the form.  If you prefer, you can send us an email directly.  That email address is

Enter Your Question Here

Financial Planning

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors  He typically works with people who are planning for retirement.  Fleming Watson is a Registered Investment Advisory firm located in Marietta Ohio.  Our firm primarily serves Marietta, Parkersburg, Williamstown, St. Marys, Belpre, Vienna and the surrounding communities in Washington and Noble Counties in Ohio and Wood and Pleasants county in West Virginia.

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