I don’t have to tell you it’s been a rough six months financially. You know that. Anyone who’s seen a cash register or gas pump recently knows that.
What’s striking, though, as the second quarter and first half come to a close, is that the stock market is posting its worst first six months in decades — since at least 1970, to be specific.
The S&P 500 index has plunged by about 20% since peaking in early January (which seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it?).
Every sector of the market but one is down so far this year.
The one sector doing well? That would be energy, thanks to the high oil and natural gas prices that are making life miserable for consumers but prompting much back-slapping among industry execs.
Economic data out Thursday reinforced the bad news: Inflation remains at a 40-year high and the likelihood of a recession grows stronger every day.
So what do little fish such as ourselves do when the economy and financial markets seem to be spinning out of control?
Some investment gurus will tell you to seek out buying opportunities, and there’s merit (and risk) to that idea.
Me, I side with more financially conservative types such as Warren Buffett, who advise standing pat during difficult times. Timing the market, they say, is a game you probably won’t win.
Like many Americans, my retirement funds are tied up in stocks and bonds through my 401(k). I take solace in the knowledge that, historically speaking, the S&P 500 returns about 8% a year.
Yes, there are hills and valleys. But over the long haul, the key market index has been a friend to small investors, and there’s no reason to think this won’t remain the case going forward.
Not that this makes current circumstances any easier to stomach.
But it’s nice to know that, unlike a trip to Vegas (or the crypto market), the odds are on your side.