What’s Up With the Markets?

Anyone who followed the often-used
investment adage, “Sell in May and go away,” is likely pleased with
their decision after the markets struggled in the month of August.1

While recent market events may
seem dramatic, August is historically the weakest month of the year for U.S. equities.2
By mid-August this year, both the Dow and S&P 500 experienced the greatest
sell-offs of 2019. Meanwhile, the 30-year Treasury bond rate dropped to the
lowest on record, and the 10-year Treasury yield fell below the two-year rate
for the first time since 2007.3

Lately, concerns regarding a
potential recession have increased. If you’re questioning your investment
portfolio, we’re happy to help ensure it’s designed to weather economic
turbulence and aligned with your financial goals. Give us a call to schedule an

Market analysts point to three
factors that have increased the chances of the U.S. falling into decline in the
next year or two:4

  1. The inverted
    yield curve — When the yield on longer-term Treasuries is lower than the yield
    on shorter-term Treasuries, it creates an inverted yield curve, which has historically
    been an indicator of a pending recession.
  2. Interest rates — While
    the Federal Reserve recently lowered interest rates, more cuts may be necessary
    to avoid an earnings recession, which is when there are two consecutive
    quarters of reduced corporate profitability.
  3. Trade — President
    Donald Trump initially announced, and later backed off, more trade tariffs on
    Chinese imports. However, the constant and prolonged trade uncertainty tends to
    shake up the markets and could even be the trigger for a recession.

While the August shake-up may be
only temporary, some of these underlying factors could be a harbinger for more
serious economic issues. For example, the continuing trade spat with China is
sinking U.S. companies further when it comes to competing on a global scale.
According to the IMD World Competitiveness Center, the U.S. is no longer the
world’s most competitive economy. Asian-Pacific countries, particularly Indonesia
and Thailand, showed significant improvement in the rankings. Meanwhile,
several Middle Eastern nations — namely Saudi Arabia and Qatar — have also made
significant progress.5

This year, the U.S. slipped from
first to third in global competitiveness, falling behind Singapore and Hong
Kong. While the U.S. ranked first in the categories of domestic economic
strength and delivering on business needs, it didn’t make the top five in effective
government policies on competitiveness or business efficiency.6

Content prepared by Kara Stefan

1 Troy Segal. Investopedia. May 1, 2019. “Sell in May and
Go Away Definition.” https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/sell-in-may-and-go-away.asp. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

2 Jacob Sonenshine. The Street. Aug. 5, 2019. “August Is
S&P 500’s Worst Month – Especially When Stocks See Strong Year.” https://www.thestreet.com/markets/august-one-of-s-p-500-worst-month–15045736. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

3 Jeremy Herron and Sarah Ponczek. Bloomberg. Aug. 14,
2019. “U.S. Stocks Tumble as Economic Worries Mount: Markets Wrap.” https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-08-13/stocks-to-rally-in-asia-on-tariff-delay-relief-markets-wrap?srnd=markets-vp. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

4 Anna-Louise Jackson. Acorns. Aug. 14, 2019. “Why
August has been such a wild ride for the US stock market.” https://grow.acorns.com/why-the-stock-market-has-been-bumpy-so-far-this-august/. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

5 Daniel Moritz-Rabsen. Newsweek. May 30, 2019. “U.S. Economy
Slips From First to Third Place in Global Competitiveness Ranking Amid Trump’s
Tariffs.” https://www.newsweek.com/us-economy-slips-first-third-place-global-competitiveness-ranking-1439659. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

6 IMD. May 2019. “Singapore topples United States as
world’s most competitive economy.” https://www.imd.org/news/updates/singapore-topples-united-states-as-worlds-most-competitive-economy/. Accessed Aug. 19, 2019.

We are an independent firm helping individuals create
retirement strategies using a variety of insurance and investment products to
custom suit their needs and objectives. This material is intended to provide
general information to help you understand basic financial planning strategies
and should not be construed as financial or investment advice. All investments
are subject to risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment
strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining

The information contained in this material is believed to be
reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed; it is not
intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions. If you are
unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links
provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired