A Historic View of Volatility

Investment Strategy

A Historic View of Volatility

When markets react, consider a broader historical perspective before changing your financial course.

February 6, 2018

Periods of market volatility – especially pullbacks – can trigger emotional responses in investors. You may feel upset or worried about the results of the election. It happens. And it’s normal. Volatility can also appear as rapid upswings causing sometimes-unbridled euphoria that can also impact judgment. That’s why the best response to market volatility is to contact your advisor for a heartfelt conversation about what the numbers really mean.

Pullbacks Throughout History

Pullbacks can make investors want to pull up stakes and pull out – a common reaction and a common mistake, especially for long-term investors. The right knowledge can help us avoid this mistake, and when we are willing to learn, there’s no better teacher than history.

By looking at the market over a long period of time, we’re provided with a true testament of resiliency. Each decline along the way felt terrible. And declines today feel just as bad. But when we track the overall growth the market has achieved, we learn a lesson in persistence, patience and commitment.

Remember:

  • The stock market is cyclical.
  • You will likely encounter numerous pullbacks and/or corrections as a long-term investor.
  • A study of the stock market shows its resilience.
  • The upturns have always been stronger than the downturns in the long run.


Source: Morningstar.

Over Time, Returns Have Been Positive

For every action, there’s a reaction. While Newton applied this law in the physical world, it also holds true in the realm of human emotion. When we perceive that things aren’t going our way, we react. And when coping with seemingly unpredictable returns, knowledge and time can once again be our allies. As shown in the chart below, returns over short periods of time have been typically unpredictable. But things tend to become less volatile when you expand the time horizon to five years or more using rolling returns.

Rolling returns show the behavior of returns for holding periods like those experienced by long-term investors. In the chart below, we see positive returns over every 20-year period in the S&P 500. Remembering your long-term time horizon can help when facing short-term disappointments.

Remember:

  • Returns have been less volatile over longer holding periods.
  • Returns over time have been positive.
  • Dollar-cost averaging can help take advantage of volatility.


Source: Morningstar.

Especially during declines, your advisor can act as a sounding board for your concerns. By talking about current events in light of your overall financial plan, your advisor can help provide reassuring perspective to help you stay the course, even when the market seems relatively tumultuous.

 

Past performance may not be indicative of future results. There is no assurance these trends will continue. The market value of securities fluctuates and you may incur a profit or a loss. Investing involves risk including the possible loss of capital.  This analysis does not include transaction costs which would reduce an investor’s return. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks. An investment cannot be made directly in this index. Real estate securities are susceptible to the many risks associated with the direct ownership of real estate. International investing is subject to additional risks such as currency fluctuations, different financial accounting standards by country, and possible political and economic risks, which may be greater in emerging markets. Commodities are generally considered speculative because of the significant potential for investment loss. Fixed income investments may involve market risk if sold prior to maturity, credit risk and interest rate risk. Dollar cost averaging does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss. It involves continuous investment regardless of fluctuating price levels of such securities. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels.



View more


Back to Top

Boston
Boston READ READ

Pullbacks, Indicators, Barometers, and Fear
Pullbacks, Indicators, Barometers, and Fear READ READ

Undercut Lows Can Be Painful
Undercut Lows Can Be Painful READ READ