Bear Market: A New Normal
If you turn on any news network, you'll see that it's a pretty scary world out there: the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down by a whopping 8.25% in the first 18 days of 2016. Naturally, because it's January, this sets a pretty ominous tone for the rest of the year. At the same time, earnings season is starting up again and analysts will be honing in on earnings expectations for the next 12 months. I happen to think that many companies won't bother to make forecasts about the next year since we are in a pretty uncertain state with the stock market right now, the Federal Reserve may go back on its promise to raise interest rates, the jobs market is still quite lousy, and energy prices are plummeting once again.
Needless to say, it will not be easy to adjust to a "new normal" because it's never easy. It may be hard to do, but it will happen. There is no choice.
I happen to think that the Federal Reserve may re-think their decision to raise interest rates at a time when none of their growth targets have been met. With oil prices declining even further, and thousands of Americans are soon to be out of a job thanks to lower domestic oil demand, this would most certainly be in their best interest to consider.
On the other hand, the most recent jobs report is nothing to get overly excited about when you consider that the prior month's report showed lousy growth so naturally December had to be a better month. In addition, thousands of temporary openings jobs opened up for the holiday shopping season, but very few of these actually manifested as permanent positions.
The last piece of this sad puzzle is oil: a fundamental growth component of the U.S. economy, but one of the biggest sources of angst at the moment. Foreign oil remains so painfully cheap that it is unlikely that the price of oil will rise much higher above $30 per barrel for the rest of the year...or even the next few years.
So is this a time to be scared? Not at all. I'll provide some examples of how to combat this later in the week, but what you should know for now is that it is NOT a time to panic. When the market is crashing, get your Buy List ready. This is always something to have ready when investing - you don't want to buy stocks after they have already reached their peak. Long-term investors can especially benefit from a market pullback because it is unlikely that prices will drop this low again for a while still.
Don't be afraid of the Bear...the market is simply adjusting to a new normal and it will get there.