On July 3, the Dow topped 17,000. As I write this, it is hovering at 18,040 and the leading headline on the WSJ is that the US economy has grown at the fastest pace in a decade with a revised third quarter GDP number of 5%. And while most of the year the markets have been choppy, with almost everyone waiting pensively for the dreaded “correction” that never technically came, the coming and going of the big drop in October has seemed to ameliorate most investors concerns, at least for the time being. Adding to the enthusiasm from the upbeat market data, we also view the decline in prices of oil to be, generally speaking, a darn good thing for the US economy and the American household and enterprise. Political implications aside, in the simplest analysis, cheaper oil means cheaper fuel which means enhanced efficiency of cash flow and more dollars spent on other things or saved. Indeed, while there continue to be many threats to economic stability, mostly from abroad, we appear to be ending the year much more optimistically and, dare I say it, more happily than I can recall for some time.
This isn’t a looking through the world with rose colored glasses situation either. We recognize that the bull market is very long in the tooth and that a bear, perhaps also with long teeth, is out there beyond the reach of the firelight. We also recognize that at anytime some other macro event could come along and threaten our cherished current financial balance. For example, a pair of concerns that occur to me is Mr. Putin and that silly, yet oddly menacing little fellow in North Korea. My concern regarding the former is that, faced with his country’s economic malaise and few legitimate solutions, he may look to additional military action to kick up some constructive destruction. My concern regarding the latter is that he’s a crazy, spoiled, petulant child at the helm of a fascist nation, and a nuclear fascist nation at that. Who knows what someone like that may do. Hopefully, the CIA & associates can keep him locked in his room until a viable long-term solution can be found.
And, of course, there have been many other dramatic, sorrowful and worrisome events this year. Just think about all the terrifying and morally outrageous events covered by the news media in 2014. And our Federal government, our embarrassing and ineffectual Federal government … uff da. I have a twelve year old daughter to whom I am trying to teach basic personal finances. I dread the day when she asks me about what the Federal deficit is and why our elected officials are apparently incapable of creating budgets in which the government spends about equal to, or less than, what it pulls in. Surely such a sustained commitment to fiscal dissipation will ultimately lead to the collapse of our country. But of course, one of the glories of modern America is that despite genuine disagreements, political gridlock, and even apparent incompetence, we’re still expected to be professional, cordial, respectful, and even our elected politicians generally adhere to that standard. Perhaps we have the capability to manage our way out of these problems in the future… surely we’re all operating on faith that we do.
Today, the Dow is over 18,000. GDP is good. Unemployment is down. Consumer confidence is up. The truth is, from where we sit here in the beautiful Willamette Valley, things are good and, despite all the evils of the world, we have much more to be grateful for than we realize.
Wishing you the merriest of Christmases and a Happy New Year.
– Chad Campbell