Don’t be duped. Monday, after Standard and Poors downgraded the nation’s debt, for what seems to be highly political reasons instead of financial ones, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined 634 points. The headlines the next morning in the Wall Street Journal read, “Downgrade Ignites Global Selloff”. Of course, there were similar headlines around the news-scape.
Now if you read these headlines with little to no context, you might be ready to cash in your 401k and bury your money in the back yard. You’d reason, “634 points?!?! The sky must be falling. Better get liquid!” In fact, I know some of your financial advisors have even advised you to move your long-term money to cash. Excuse me but this is really awful advice, especially for your long-term funds.
Context is what is needed. Although a 600+ point drop is significant, it hardly matters. The drop on Monday represented a 5.5% decline. That is not even close to making the top 20 percentage drops in the DJIA’s history. But the headlines would have you believe otherwise. It’s percentages that matter, not points. The market, as a rule, goes up and down… daily. From 1926 to 2002, the S&P 500 was up 52% of the trading days and down 46%. There was little change the other 2% of the trading days. Like I said, up and down. Deal with it.
Your asset allocation decisions are important when it comes to managing the volatility in your portfolio. I won’t get into that much in this post except to say, your long-term money should typically be in stocks. Your short-term money should typically be in bonds and cash (treasuries). If you have that squared away, volatile days like these last few are buying opportunities and a chance to make money. Not sell out of misguided fear and lock in unnecessary loses.
“20 Largest Percentage Losses in DJIA History” by FoxBusiness.com
“The Revenge of the Rating Agencies” by Jeffrey Mann; New York Times
One year chart of eBay (EBAY) vs. the iShares S&P 500 ETF (IVV)
“Stocks at ‘fire sale’ prices after bloodbath” by Hibah Yousuf; CNN Money
CrossFit Sports Series WOD-SUP Queens by CrossFit, Inc