Is The Bear Market Over?

Is the Bear Market Over?

On March 23, the S&P 500 closed 34% lower than it’s all time high. Since then, we’ve seen prices rebound nearly 27%. It has many people wondering,  “Is the bear market is over?” Today we’ll pose 4 questions that will help us determine if the new bull market has started.

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From February 1 to March 23 we saw the stock market reach bear market levels at a rapid pace. It was enough to rattle even the most disciplined investor. Since then, we have seen prices race higher. The gain has been roughly 27%. It has us all wondering, “Is the bear market over”

Bear Market Over - prices

Today the official answer is “maybe.” In my view, there are still 4 questions which need answered before we know if it is “officially over” or not

1. Has the Market Priced in the Bad News?

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The stock market is forward-looking—to a point. The price movements factor in a lot of projections about economic and earnings data. But how do you project something this extreme and unprecedented? We’ve never seen the economy forced to an almost immediate halt before now.

2. How Bad Will The Data Be?

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Standard and Poors projects earnings for the companies in the S&P 500 Index. Their most recent data shows an 18% reduction in profits for the first quarter of 2020. And that number was lowered from a week ago.  How much will the actual numbers differ from those estimates?

Gross Domestic Product—that’s the value of output from an economy—will almost certainly be worse this quarter. But how much worse? Some predict the worst quarter since the Great Depression. Will it be that bad?

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3. How Will Investors React?

Is the bear market over

As a group, investors rarely react the right amount. There is a tendency to overreact on both extremes. In the dot-com era, we saw prices pushed irrationally higher. You could argue prices fell too far during the Great Recession too. How will people react this time?

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4. How Long Do We Suppress The Economy?

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The longer we keep the economy in an induced coma, the longer it will take to revive it. When do we reach the point where there is significant long-term damage to our economy? This may be the most important question to answer.

The End of the Bear Market

The bottom of this bear market could have been on March 23. If it was, we can celebrate—we are on our way to recovery. But we need to brace for the idea the worst of this downturn is yet to come. The market could drop further. If the data is worse than expected, it could drop a lot further.

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3 Things You Should Know About Bear Markets

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In this free guide, we’ll share 3 things you need to know about bear markets, and 4 things you can do right now to survive it.

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About the Author

Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.  

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The Best Reason To Not Sell Your Stocks Now

The Best Reason To Not Sell Your Stocks Now

If you haven’t sold your stocks at this point, you may not want to.  Sure, the market could drop further. But selling now could be a big mistake.  Today, I’ll share the best reason to not sell your stocks now.  (read more below)

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Why Sell Now?

The sole reason to sell stocks at this point is to keep your balance from shrinking further. We never truly know (in advance) where the bottom is. And we may not have seen the bottom of this bear market yet. 

Not Sell Your Stocks Best Reason
Click to Enlarge

But selling at this point could end up being a big mistake. Here is the best reason to not sell your stocks now.

Bear Market Math

The foundation of our reason is rooted in what we’ll call bear market math. How much return do you have to earn to recover all that was lost during the downturn?

The Best Reason To Not Sell Your Stocks
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Let’s say the market only dropped 20%.  To erase the losses, you would have to earn 25%.

Right now, the current bottom of this bear market is about 34% lower than the all-time high. From that point, you have to earn 51% to erase the losses.

And if this bear turns uglier and drops say 50% from its February high, you’ll have to earn a 100% return to break even

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"Safe Assets" Offer Very Low Returns

Selling those stock holdings now and moving to the so-called safe assets can be a big problem.  In today’s environment, the potential future returns for those types of investments are very low. You might find a 6 month CD with a yield of 1%. 12 month CD’s are only slightly better. And we all know most of our savings accounts don’t even pay that much. Those low returns make recovering your losses very difficult—if not impossible.

And those prospects look even worse when you consider what happens to the shares of those companies immediately following the bottom of a bear market.

Catching the Rebound

This is our 15th bear market since the end of World War 2.  Here’s what happened following the bottom of the bear markets:

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  • The average price increase 1 month after the bottom was almost 31%.
  • When we look 6 months out from the bottom, the average price gain was nearly 26%.
  • 12 months after the low point, the average price increase was 39%.
  • And 2 years after a bear market bottom, the average price increase was nearly 60%.  

And remember, this is only price increases.  It doesn’t factor in the additional returns from dividends!

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It Happens Early...

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This is interesting.  Prices one month from the bottom were higher than they were 6 months later in every single recovery.  A major portion of the recovery happens very early.  Missing out on that could have a significant impact on your future.

These gains may not have erased all the losses in any of those bear markets. But the surge immediately following the bottom helped those who stayed invested–even if their accounts fell further—recover a lot faster than if they moved to “safer havens.” And this is the best reason to not sell your stocks now.

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Neal Watson is a Certified Financial Planner™ Professional and a Financial Advisor with Fleming Watson Financial Advisors.  This is now his 5th bear market.  Unfortunately, it won’t be his last.

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Still Not A Bear Market

Still Not A Bear Market, Yet

Right now, there is a lot of fear and panic on Wall Street. It looks and feels bad. Yesterday seemed to amplify those fears even more. The Dow fell over 2,000 points for the first time ever. It was a headliner type day.

You can’t brush a day like that aside and say, “It was no big deal.” It is a big deal. The 7.6% decrease was the worst day for stocks since 2008. And it was the 24th worst day ever recorded. And this comes on the heels of two of the wildest weeks I can remember in my 24 years as a financial planner.

It feels really bad. The “fear index” reached its highest level since the Great Recession. Volatility is extreme.

Still not a bear market

Still Not A Bear Market

But here’s the thing that hasn’t gained traction in the financial media. This is still not a bear market, yet. And “yet” is important. Year to date the stock market has dropped 15%. From it’s high in late February, prices have dropped 18.8%. We don’t find the bear until prices drop 20%.

I say “yet,” because we could easily find the bear’s den in the next few days. I believe it is more likely than not. But there is always a chance we don’t cross that line for a while, if at all.

STill Not a bear market

The Second Hardest Thing To Do...

This is the unpleasant part of being an investor. Riding through the waves of big down days and big up days. “It feels like we are riding The Beast at Kings Island,” as one client put it. That’s a pretty good analogy.

Unfortunately, it looks like this wild ride may continue for a while longer. The impact of the virus both to our health and the economy remains unknown. And now an oil price war adds to the hysteria. We have no control over the uncertainty or the attention. But we can control what we do.

Doing nothing is the second hardest thing to do in times like this. But it is often the best course of action. We can look back at the past 20+ years and find many reasons to sell our shares of great businesses. But those reasons can’t overshadow why we hold onto those positions.

Still Not a bear

What's The Hardest Thing To Do?

What’s the hardest thing to do in times like this? Buy more stock. The shares of these great businesses are on sale for a limited time. The prices might get better, but the sale won’t last long.  Remember, you are supposed to buy lower.  We may not see an opportunity like this again in our lifetimes.

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Financial Planning

About the Author

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.

Death of the Stretch IRA: Should You Convert to a Roth IRA?

Death of the Stretch IRA: Should You Convert Your IRA to a Roth IRA?

The SECURE Act killed the Stretch IRA. This could mean a nice tax bill for someone you care about. The big question that has come from this: “Should you convert your IRA to a Roth IRA?”

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Death of the Stretch IRA

In December, the federal government passed the SECURE Act. And one of the biggest provisions of that bill was the elimination of the Stretch IRA. This impacts non-spouse beneficiaries of your IRA, 401k or other retirement plan accounts. That means your kids, grandkids, etc. It doesn’t affect spouses.

Under the old rules, your kids could spread out the distributions from an inherited IRA over a long period of time. Now, your kids will have to liquidate those accounts within 10 years.

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Converting Your IRA to a Roth IRA

One strategy you can use to address this is to convert your IRA to Roth IRAs. This means you pay taxes on the amounts you convert now, and the money then grows tax-free. And when certain conditions are met, your kids won’t pay any taxes on their distributions.

Should you convert your IRA to a Roth IRA? The answer is very complicated and will be different for everyone. Here are the key considerations

1. Who Pays Higher Taxes?

Who has the higher tax rate? Converting your IRA to a Roth IRA means you pay the taxes. You have to understand who has the higher tax rate. If your tax bracket is the same as your kids, the conversion may not be worth it. But, if your kids pay taxes at a higher rate, the math changes.

State taxes also matter in this.  If your kids live in Florida where there is no state income tax, that needs to be considered.  Likewise if they live in a high-tax state—like New York—it changes the math.

2. Watch the Hidden Taxes

Pay attention to the hidden taxes? Converting your IRA could impact the taxes on your Social Security benefits. It could also trigger taxes on your Medicare premiums due to the income related adjustments. You’ll want to look at those elements too.

3. Can't Convert Your Required Minimum Distributions

If you are older than 72, you have to be careful. The rules won’t allow you to convert your required minimum distributions. You have to satisfy those before you convert.  This may make it more expensive than you think.

4. Know the Total Costs

Look at the total cost of your strategy. There are some complex strategies you can use to preserve some of the “stretch provisions.” They use some advanced trust planning. You have to weigh the cost of the trust, plus the tax costs of setting them up.

Should you convert your IRA to a Roth IRA? It’s a good question to ask and consider in your plans. But there are a lot of complexities. You should talk to a tax expert and a financial planner to help you look at all aspects.

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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 neal@flemingwatson.com

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Financial Planning

About the Author

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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Avoid These 4 Big 401k Mistakes in 2020

Avoid These 4 Big 401k Mistakes in 2020

One of the biggest factors in your long-term financial success is avoiding the big mistakes. Unfortunately, we see many of the same common errors that—over a person’s career—can cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars. Try to avoid these 4 big mistakes in your 401k in 2020

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Mistake 1: Not Maximizing Your Match

Many employers will match your 401k contribution.  If you put money in your account, your employer will too.  We typically see that amount range between 3% and 6% of your pay. 

Unfortunately, we see people who won’t maximize their employer’s match.  Not only are you not receiving all the pay you should, the long-term impact on your nest egg can be huge.    

Mistake 2: Not Saving Enough

Most financial planners suggest you should try to save between 10-15% of your pay for your future. In fact, the amount you save is the biggest factor in your long-term success.

Unfortunately, we see people who limit their savings level well below that. Often times, people will cap their savings in their 401(k) at the point where they maximize the employer match. For most of us, this probably won’t be enough to have the type of retirement we want.

Mistake 3: Not Pursuing Growth

A Nobel Prize winning economist once did a study that showed financial losses feel twice as bad as financial gains feel good. As a result, many people get more conservative with their savings than they should. This means they don’t put enough money in stocks.

Not being aggressive enough can lower your returns over time.  This actually adds more risk to your long-term plans.

Mistake 4: Withdrawing Money From Your 401k

Whether you change jobs or take an in-service distribution, withdrawing money from your 401k gets very expensive.

Most times we see this when people change jobs. Instead of rolling their balance to an IRA or their new employer’s plan, they withdraw the money. This results in taxes, early withdrawal penalties, and the loss of future compounded growth.

If your plan allows for in-service distributions, the costs will be similar.  Most of those distributions will be taxed and penalized.  The penalty applies when you are under age 59 ½.

How Much Will These Mistakes Cost?

How much will these mistakes cost you?  The numbers can be shocking.  The longer you have until retirement, the bigger the cost.  We have a special webinar where we illustrate the potential cost of these 4 mistakes. Click on the button to watch.

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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.

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Financial Planning

About the Author

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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Earning Compound Interest

Earning compound interest can make you money.  Potentially it can make you a lot of money.  Today we’ll show you two examples of how you can benefit from compounded returns.

This is part 2 of our Compound Interest Series.  Part 1: Paying Compound Interest, can be found here.  

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Paying Compound Interest

Earning Compound Interest: The Basics

There are two key components. First is the return you earn. When we are saving and investing, we have many choices. Some investments have greater earning potential than others.

The second key component is time. The longer you can let your money compound the better.

Here is our first example. This is something as a financial planner you learn on day one.

You contribute $2,000 per year at the beginning of every year, and you do this for 40 years—$80,000 total. And you earn the long-term average return of the stock market, which is 10%. It grows to nearly a million dollars.

This was the “pitch” you learned to convince someone to make an IRA contribution. But let’s take a look at how the returns you earn impact the totals.

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The Impact of Time and The Cost of Waiting

We said earlier, time matters. In fact, time might be your biggest asset as a saver. Here is another example from day one of financial planner school.  And it illustrates the cost of waiting to start saving.

Investor A: Save Early

Investor A starts saving $2,000 per year at age 25. She continues that for 20 years and stops. And her future returns average 10% per year.

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Investor B: Wait To Save

Investor B doesn’t start saving until he reaches age 45. He uses the same investments and earns the same 10% average return.

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Waiting to start saving means you have to save more to achieve the same result.  In this example, Investor A saved $40,000 total and reached $850,000.  Investor B had to save $13,500 per year, or $270,000 total, to accumulate $850,000 at the same time.  

The impact of compound interest isn’t linear. It’s exponential. And when you understand how it works, you can alter your future for the better. Teaching younger people to save early in life is critical.

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 neal@flemingwatson.com

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Financial Planning

About the Author

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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Do You Need A Million Dollars To Retire?

Do You Need A Million Dollars to Retire?

For some reason, people are fixated on this big round number. Some people will need at least that much if not more. Others will be able to make it work with less—sometimes much less.
We’ll talk about the factors which determine the answer to the “how much” question. And we’ll give you a brief example of how much income a $1,000,000 nest egg can provide.

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