We hope you enjoyed your holidays and were able to spend some warm moments with friends and family.
The financial markets shrugged off several shocks in 2016. The year began with the worst start for the stock market in history. Last January, our U. S. Federal Reserve Bank had just raised interest rates for the first time in 9 years, oil prices were continuing to move lower, corporate earnings were falling and stock prices were declining sharply. After energy prices bottomed in mid-February, stock markets regained their footing and began to recover. Gold investments experienced their most robust gains since 2012, thanks to the surge early in the year when global economic uncertainty moved interest rates lower. After Great Britain voted to leave the European Union in late June, markets around the world had a dramatic, but brief, two day sell-off. With negative interest rate pervasive internationally, our U. S. Government bonds hit their all-time low yield in July and now are trending upward. Then the November elections arrived. The only thing more surprising than Donald Trump’s victory was the stock market’s reaction to the prospect of a new president with business friendly policies. Investors believe our slowly growing economy will be boosted with Trump’s plans to lower both corporate and personal income taxes, deregulate the energy, healthcare and banking industries and increase infrastructure spending. The long-awaited optimism helped boost stock market values into year-end, while interest rates moved higher. The new political reality in Washington D. C. has certainly changed the landscape for most financial markets.
We are navigating this new landscape and have positioned our portfolios for the year ahead. The Developed World’s Central Bank bond-buying programs, aka, Monetary Stimulus, have been the primary support for the global economy and the driver of market appreciation over the last 7 years. In 2017, we see these monetary policies still being supportive but beginning to wane, giving way to structural tax law change and increases in fiscal spending. We believe investors’ perspectives are still very much in the “honeymoon” camp, regarding their outlook for the proposed changes of our President-Elect. While we, too, embrace this optimism, we believe disciplined risk management remains prudent. Some of these drivers of growth could be moderated by a stronger U. S. $ and the political shift away from globalism, toward populism and protectionism. Current stock valuations are on the higher end of the spectrum and earnings growth will become increasingly important as we progress through the year.
Heading into 2017, our country has a lot of reasons for optimism. The United States remains uniquely positioned as a culture that encourages individualism, non-linear thinking and entrepreneurial innovation. Only time will tell if a new president can move our tepid economy out of the malaise we have experienced over the last decade. We anticipate the slow and steady growth continuing into 2017. At a minimum, we expect plenty of drama and an interesting year ahead.
Meanwhile, Pacific Wealth Management continues implementing proactive changes to grow and preserve our clients’ wealth. Please give us a call if you have any questions or comments.
We wish you a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!
Sound Management For A Secure Future ™
This commentary contains forward looking statements and opinions. These opinions may not develop as predicted. It is our goal to help investors by identifying changing market conditions. However, investors should be aware that no investment advisor can accurately predict all of the changes that may occur in the market.