Thursday, December 29, 2011

2011: The Year of Going Nowhere!

2011 was a very volatile year for the stock markets. The high for the S&P 500 was 1370.58 and the low was 1074.77. That is a difference of more than 25% from high to low. This surely reminds us: buy low and sell high, not buy high and sell low. The year started out with the S&P at 1271.87 and, as I am writing this blog, it stands at about 1260, a slight reduction from the beginning of the year. If you had gone to sleep at the beginning of the year and just woke up, you’d think, “Not much happened in 2011.” For those of us who lived through it, we know this was not the case. With job creation looking better, plus consumer confidence rising, the overall economy of the U.S. looks relatively good going forward. Morningstar Inc. reported in August 2011 that since 12/31/26 thru 12/31/10 the economy had 60 up years, 12 with growth between 0% and 10%, and 48 with growth over 10%. During the same period, 24 were down years, with half of them between 0% and -10%. This appears to be one of those down years. Will 2012 be an up or a down year? I am hoping for an up year, but still am concerned about the situation in Europe. Have a Happy New Year! Ed Mallon

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Santa Claus Rally

Each year we wait to see if we will have a “Santa Claus Rally” in the markets. If we have one, it’s usually an indicator that the coming year will be a good one. If we don’t get the Santa rally, the following year is usually flat or bad. Given the volatility of the current market, it is hard to tell at any one time whether we are having a rally, but let’s say Santa has shown up to lead the way into 2012! At the beginning of 2011, our expectation (as noted in “Outlook for 2011”) indicated a growth rate in GDP of 2.4% for the year and this appears to be the case. The first quarter GDP growth was 0.5%, second quarter 1.5%, third quarter 2.3% and fourth quarter is likely to be in the rage of 3+%. All in all, not too bad. Unemployment, which stood at 10% at the beginning of the year, is now down in the 8% range as we also predicted. Europe did indeed turn out badly¬¬–much worse than predicted. While the U. S. economy has been faring well, we are concerned about our national debt and the sovereign debt of European countries. The new year should be interesting, as I am sure politics will be part of the economic equation. I’d like to remind everyone that, if you are eligible to make a contribution to your IRA for 2011, do so before April 15th. On a final note for the year, I hope each of you has a happy and safe holiday and that the coming year will bring good health and happiness. Ed Mallon