The investment world recently observed a milestone: the longest bull market in history. But what does this mean to you, as an individual investor?
For one thing, it suggests that patience and perserverance can pay off. From October 2007 to March 2009 – just 17 months – the S&P 500 stock market index fell more than 56 percent. That’s a big drop, of course, but what if you had told yourself that “enough is enough” and you decided to sell ? Consider this: The S&P 500 has now risen about 320 percent since its low point on March 9, 2009. So, if you had stayed invested during these last 9-1/2 years, your portfolio might have achieved impressive results.
How long will this bull market last? No one can say for sure, and it’s usually something we don’t anticipate that ends a bull market. (In fact, there’s no one agreed-upon definition of a “bull market,” although many financial experts define it as a period of rising stock prices without a drop of at least 20 percent.) Right now, the investment environment still looks pretty good: U.S. economic growth is strong, corporate earnings are healthy and consumers are spending. As always, though, potential concerns lurk, including the effects of a looming trade war with China.
Regardless of the prospects for this bull market, here are some questions to ask yourself:
Am I still on track toward meeting my goals? Your investments’ performance may not match that of the S&P 500 or the Dow Jones Industrial Average – and that’s not a problem. These indices only track the returns of U.S. stocks, but to reach your goals, such as a comfortable retirement, you will likely need a diversified array of investments: U.S. stocks, international stocks, bonds, government securities and so on. Rather than compare your investment results to those of a single market index, you should measure your progress by your own “yardstick,” based on a variety of factors, including your portfolio’s performance but also taking into account your age, retirement goals, risk tolerance and family situation. A financial professional can help you create a personalized measurement tool.
Do I need to rebalance? Over time, your investment portfolio can become over-concentrated in some areas. For example, you might have wanted a certain percentage of your portfolio to be held in stocks, but during a long bull market, the value of U.S. stocks may have risen so much that they now take up more space than you had intended, possibly subjecting you to a higher level of risk. Consequently, you may need to “rebalance” your portfolio by adjusting your investment mix.
Am I maintaining a long-term perspective? The 9 -1/2 years (and counting) run of the bull market should remind you that successful investing is not a “get-rich-quick” endeavor, but rather a gradual process requiring you to focus on the long term. Even during this lengthy run-up, we’ve seen “corrections”– short-term declines of 10 percent or more. But if you can stick with your long-term investment strategies, you will be less tempted to over-react to the inevitable bumps along the road.
The record bull market makes for some interesting headlines for a few days – but in the long run, it’s what you do, year in and year out, that will help you write your own story.
This blog was submitted by
Donald G Sellers, AAMS
701 E. Baltimore Pike Suite A2
Kennett Square, PA 19348
Every year the USDA Forest Service hosts a Fall Colors webpage full of useful information about where and when to see fall colors in your part of the country. And, every year, we think of some new angle to encourage folks to visit the web page and to have fun exploring it with family and friends.
However, sometimes in our zeal to make it fun (which it always is!), we overlook the fact that many folks are unaware of how and why leaves turn colors. So this year, thanks to Forest Service scientist Kevin T. Smith, we’re going to explain it in less scientific language.
We all know fall is a dazzling season and the brilliant colors are even more dazzling when you consider that the mosaic of reds and golds in front of you today depends in part on the timing of weather conditions reaching all the way back to leaf emergence in the spring.
While it seems like sheer art and poetry, fall color is really a function of chemistry. For instance, pigments are the chemicals in leaves that produce the colors we see. Some of these pigments, such as chlorophyll that appears green, and carotenoids that appear yellow, are a natural component of healthy leaves during the growing season.
Chlorophyll is instrumental in photosynthesis, the process by which energy from sunlight splits water and carbon dioxide to make the sugar that fuels plant growth. The sugar also provides the structure for natural protective compounds.
The health of a tree drives the production and function of these chemicals. If a midsummer drought causes a tree to lose leaves to reduce water loss, that leaf is already shed (even if still attached) from the living processes of the tree. There are some exceptions but that leaf is not likely to develop brilliant coloration. But if this happens in early August, then that foliage is not going to be on time for the expected seasonal display.
Too much or too little moisture are not the only factors affecting trees. Particularly for urban and community trees, de-icing salts can result in injury that stresses a tree and causes it to not have a timely display of fall color. Also diseases such as powdery mildew and tar spot, kill living cells and hijack the metabolism of the living leaf and the seasonal display will be reduced. If you want to learn about how leaves change color, visit the National Forest Foundation website.
So this year, impress your family and friends with a little leaf knowledge! No matter if it is the most brilliant colors ever, or sort of just really pretty, let them know that this may be fall but it all was decided in spring.
Submitted by Cheryl Kuhn from the United States Department of Agriculture web site.
Enjoy this excellent blog posted by the U.S. Small Business Administration - guest blogger Rieva Levonsky. Visit https://www.sba.gov/ to learn more.
Summertime, and the livin’ is easy. For many small business owners, August’s steamy days bring a brief lull before things pick up again in the fall. That makes now a good time to catch up on some marketing activities you’ve been putting on the back burner. Here are 43 things you can do during your August downtime that will have a big impact come fall.
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From time to time we all read something about leadership that sticks with us. After reading this on the US Chamber's Institute for Organization Management's blog, I thought I'd share it. Submitted by Dave Kilby, IOM California Chamber of Commerce
As I was doing some spring cleaning a few weeks ago I came across a book “The Heart of a Leader” by Ken Blanchard. I was reminded of the Tom Peters’ quote “If I had one failing of CEOs, it’s they don’t read enough.”
So I decided to make the time the time to re-visit Blanchard’s book and, although it was originally published nearly 20 years ago, I found many of the passages, advice and insights extremely relevant for today’s “busy” chamber and association professionals.
Here’s a sampling:
Walk your talk: It is vital for an organization and its leadership to “walk their talk.” They must make every effort to become living symbols of their organization’s value system. Once core values have been set in place – identified, communicated and impacting behavior – they become the “boss.”
It’s more important to be respected than to be popular: Blanchard says if you think back to someone who got a great performance from you, more likely, this was a leader who combined tough and nice. Are you willing to push your people beyond their comfort zone in order to achieve excellence? They might not like what you ask of them, but they will remember you as a leader they respected. NOTE: For several decades, I have advocated that it’s far better for our organizations to be respected, than to be liked.
Winning coaches make their teams audible ready: Can you, like a quarterback, make a snap decision to call an audible, a different play that has a better chance of success? There is nothing wrong with plans, policies or rules. The problem comes when people are told to implement them no matter what. Teach you people to bring their brains to work and be “audible-ready.”
Inquire within: Most of the significant advances in human history have come not from rushing around, but from being still. They required periods of deep and rigorous contemplation and quiet time. There is no way to do silence wrong. The only thing “wrong” would be to not do it.
Never! Never! Never! Never! Give Up! – Winston Churchill: If one quality epitomized Winston Churchill it was persistence. He never gave up. It was that attitude that inspired England in World War II when others might have surrendered. Persistence is sticking to your guns. It’s keeping your commitment and making your actions consistent with your word.
Your life is yours to design: Purpose has to do with one’s calling – deciding what business you are in as a person.
Make your life all it can be!
Cheryl B. Kuhn, IOM