January 2016 Commentary
It was a tough year for financial markets. After a flat first eight months of the year, stocks fell by 12% in August and September. Equity markets recovered most of that drawdown by the end of December, ending the year roughly flat. It was a long way to travel to end up back where investors started. This “violently flat” year should be viewed as a pause in the midst of an advancing secular bull market. Such conditions are not uncommon since investors constantly evaluate the outlook for financial markets. Today’s balancing act seems to fit that description. Many U.S. economic statistics are positive, including low unemployment, low inflation, low interest rates, and steady GDP growth. However, those positive factors are quite evenly balanced with concerns over outside influences (China, oil, and the Fed).