Studying the history of stock market returns relative to midterm elections will give you a sense of how impactful they are to your own portfolio’s potential gain or loss.
This article was written by Dimensional Fund Advisors and can be found HERE.
It’s almost Election Day in the US once again. For those who need a brief civics refresher, every two years the full US House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for reelection. While the outcomes of the elections are uncertain, one thing we can count on is that plenty of opinions and prognostications will be floated in the days to come. In financial circles, this will almost assuredly include any potential for perceived impact on markets. But should long-term investors focus on midterm elections?
We would caution investors against making short-term changes to a long-term plan to try to profit or avoid losses from changes in the political winds. For context, it is helpful to think of markets as a powerful information-processing machine. The combined impact of millions of investors placing billions of dollars’ worth of trades each day results in market prices that incorporate the aggregate expectations of those investors. This makes outguessing market prices consistently very difficult.¹ While surprises can and do happen in elections, the surprises don’t always lead to clear-cut outcomes for investors.
The 2016 presidential election serves as a recent example of this. There were a variety of opinions about how the election would impact markets, but many articles at the time posited that stocks would fall if Trump were elected.² The day following President Trump’s win, however, the S&P 500 Index closed 1.1% higher. So even if an investor would have correctly predicted the election outcome (which was not apparent in pre-election polling), there is no guarantee that they would have predicted the correct directional move, especially given the narrative at the time.
But what about congressional elections? For the upcoming midterms, market strategists and news outlets are still likely to offer opinions on who will win and what impact it will have on markets. However, data for the stock market going back to 1926 shows that returns in months when midterm elections took place did not tend to be that different from returns in any other month.
Exhibit 1 shows the frequency of monthly returns (expressed in 1% increments) for the S&P 500 Index from January 1926–June 2022. Each horizontal dash represents one month, and each vertical bar shows the cumulative number of months for which returns were within a given 1% range (e.g., the tallest bar shows all months where returns were
between 1% and 2%). The blue and red horizontal lines represent months during which a midterm election was held, with red meaning Republicans won or maintained majorities in both chambers of Congress, and blue representing the same for Democrats. Striped boxes indicate mixed control, where one party controls the House of Representatives, and the other controls the Senate, while gray boxes represent non-election months. This graphic illustrates that election month returns were well within the typical range of returns, regardless of which party won the election. Results similarly appeared random when looking at all Congressional elections (midterm and presidential) and for annual returns (both the year of the election and the year after).
In It For The Long Haul
While it can be easy to get distracted by month-to-month or even one-year returns, what really matters for long-term investors is how their wealth grows over longer periods of time. Exhibit 2 shows the hypothetical growth of wealth for an investor who put $1 in the S&P 500 Index in January 1926. Again, the chart lays out party control of Congress over
time. And again, both parties have periods of significant growth and significant declines during their time of majority rule. However, there does not appear to be a pattern of stronger returns when any specific party is in control of Congress, or when there is mixed control for that matter. Markets have historically continued to provide returns over the long run irrespective of (and perhaps for those who are tired of hearing political ads, even in spite of) which party is in power at any given time.
Equity markets can help investors grow their assets, and we believe investing is a long-term endeavor. Trying to make investment decisions based on the outcome of elections is unlikely to result in reliable excess returns for investors. At best, any positive outcome based on such a strategy will likely be the result of random luck. At worst, it can lead to
costly mistakes. Accordingly, there is a strong case for investors to rely on patience and portfolio structure, rather than trying to outguess the market, to pursue investment returns.
- This is known as the efficient market theory, which postulates that market prices reflect the knowledge and expectations of all investors and that any new development is instantaneously priced into a security.
- Examples include: “A Trump win would sink stocks. What about Clinton?” CNN Money, 10/4/16, “What do financial markets think of the 2016 election?” Brookings Institution, 10/21/16, “What Happens to the Markets if Donald Trump Wins?” New York Times, 10/31/16.
In USD. Indices are not available for direct investment. Their performance does not reflect the expenses associated with the management of
an actual portfolio. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Diversification does not eliminate the risk of market loss.
There is no guarantee investment strategies will be successful. Investing involves risks, including possible loss of principal. Investors should
talk to their financial advisor prior to making any investment decision. There is always the risk that an investor may lose money. A long-term
investment approach cannot guarantee a profit.
All expressions of opinion are subject to change. This information is intended for educational purposes, and it is not to be construed as an
offer, solicitation, recommendation, or endorsement of any particular security, products, or services.
Dimensional Fund Advisors LP is an investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
- This is known as the efficient market theory, which postulates that market prices reflect the knowledge and expectations of all investors and that any new development is instantaneously priced into a security.
The Cost of Living Adjustment, or COLA, from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is announced every fall and has major implications for the 66 million people who receive benefit checks. With inflation surging, retirees need help maintaining purchasing power. The agency announced its 2023 COLA will be 8.7%, the highest since 1981.
For those concerned about medical costs eating into this increase, Medicare – the health insurance plan for older Americans – said last month it would drop its premiums next year by about 3% for its Medicare Park B Plan.
For more information and context, please read this article from CBS News.
For instructions on how to sign up for a “my Social Security” account with the SSA, which is the fastest way to find out when and how much you will receive, watch the video below:
Ahead of National Women’s Equality Day on August 26th, this article shares key data points highlighting why women must take a different approach to their financial strategy than men.
Women continue to earn less
Despite an increased presence in the workforce, the average woman working full-time earns $0.82 for every $1 earned by her male counterpart.¹
Women live longer
A man reaching age 65 today can expect to live, on average, until age 84, while a woman the same age can expect to live almost 87 years.² As a result, women generally need to rely on retirement income for a longer span. They also face higher health care costs than men during their retirement years.³
Women are more likely to be single later in life
In 2020, 70% of men age 65 and older were married, compared to just 48% of women.⁴ Single women don’t have the opportunity to capitalize on the resource pooling and economies of scale accompanying a marriage or partnership.
Women are time-starved
In their many roles as workers, wives, mothers, and daughters, women are responsible for more than three-quarters of unpaid domestic work.⁵ This includes housekeeping duties and care-taking responsibilities for children, aging parents or disabled family members.
Women are paying the price for going back to school
American now hold over $1.75 trillion in outstanding student loan debt with women holding almost two-thirds of that debt.⁶
For many women, financial independence is the number one concern. But what steps can a woman take to help her achieve this throughout her life? Here are a few key action steps you can take to help create financial confidence in your retirement years:
1. Keep Money In Your Name
Every woman needs a pot of money to call her own. This means that in addition to joint financial accounts you may have, you should consider keeping some financial accounts in your name only. Also, make sure you maintain an individual credit history. You can do this by holding a credit card or personal loan issued just to you.
2. Confront Your Fears
Are you controlling you money, or is it controlling you? Are your ideas about money and money management keeping you from becoming financially confident? As women increase education levels and continue to take on expanded roles in the workforce, they control more wealth. As a result, traditional views about finances need to be redefined, and women need to face financial decisions head-on.
3. Share the Decisions
If you share finances with someone else, you need to start talking. This way, you’ll know if you share the same goals and dreams for the future, as well as whether you are on track to meet those goals. Also, remember that disagreements are bound to happen; good communication is key to working through those disagreements and getting you back on track financially as a couple.
4. Maintain Access To All Financial Documents
Keep your financial records accessible and easy to gather when you need them. This could include brokerage accounts, insurance policies, retirement plan statements, tax returns and other important documents. Keep a record of who owns each account. Be sure to notify the person responsible for handling your estate where all your documents are and whom to contact in the event of your passing.
5. Pay Yourself First
Fund your IRA, 401(k) or other retirement account to the maximum. This will reduce your taxable income and allow you to benefit from tax-deferred compounding. When you leave a job, working with a Certified Financial Planner™ can help you determine if rolling your 401(k) funds into an IRA is right for you. An IRA account balance can continue to grow tax-deferred, and you will gain the ability to choose from a broader array of investments than what is likely available in your employer’s plan.
6. Choose The Right Financial Professional For You
It’s important to work with a Certified Financial Planner™ you trust. Ask for referrals and interview several to find rapport. Don’t be shy about asking for references, and check their credentials. An experienced Certified Financial Planner™ can help you look for the right solutions at every stage of your life and help you build confidence in your ability to take control of your finances.
7. Put Your Strategy In Writing
Ask your Certified Financial Planner™ to help you create a formal, written, long-term retirement income strategy. A written strategy will provide the framework for defining your financial goals and shaping your decisions. It also will help you set your sights on those goals in the long-term and help you keep on track regardless of economic conditions or unexpected life events.
8. Have A Backup Plan
Speaking of life events, don’t let a critical life change – such as marriage, divorce, widowhood or illness – derail your goals. Your Certified Financial Planner™ can work with you to create a strategy to address the unexpected and keep you moving toward your goals.
9. Understand What You Own
Although working with a Certified Financial Planner™ is vital, you must also know and make sense of the financial products you hold. Educate yourself on basic financial principles by taking classes, reading books or financial trade journals, and doing research.
10. Plan For Your Family’s Future
When planning your estate, you can create a strategy designed to take care of your heirs while optimizing your retirement income. Work with a qualified estate planner and Certified Financial Planner™ to design a strategy for passing on wealth to your loved ones while enjoying the fruits of what you’ve worked hard to earn throughout your lifetime.
Financial independence starts with determining your financial goals and putting in place a strategy designed to help you reach them. By implementing the steps outlined here, you can be well on your way to creating financial confidence for yourself, both now and in your retirement years.
¹ Payscale. March 15, 2022. “The State of the Gender Pay Gap 2022.” https://www.payscale.com/research-and-insights/gender-pay-gap/. Accessed May 17, 2022.
² Social Security Administration. “Important Thins to Consider When Planning for Retirement: What is Your Life Expectancy?” https://www.ssa.gov/benefits/retirement/planner/otherthings.html. Accessed May 17, 2022.
³ RegisteredNusing.org. Dec. 28, 2021. “Here’s How Much Your Healthcare Costs Will Rise as You Age.” https://www.registerednursing.org/articles/healthcare-costs-by-age/. Accessed May 17, 2022.
⁴ Administration for Community Living. May 2021. “2020 Profile of Older Americans.” Page 6. https://acl.gov/sites/default/files/Aging%20and%20Disability%20in%20America/2020ProfileOlderAmerican.Final_.pdf. Accessed May 17, 2022.
⁵ Free Network. Dec. 20, 2021. “Global Gender Gap in Unpaid Care: Why Domestic Work Still Remains a Woman’s Burden.” https://freepolicybriefs.org/2021/12//20/gender-gap-unpaid-care/. Accessed May 17, 2022.
⁶ AAUW. “Deeper in Debt: Women & Student Loans 2021 Update.” https://www.aauw.org/app/uploads/2021/05/Deeper_In_Debt_2021.pdf. Accessed May 17, 2022.
Content provided by Advisors Excel. © 2022 Advisors Excel, LLC
This article, written by Franklin Distributors, LLC, provides great insight on how to approach today’s investment environment.
1. Watching from the sidelines may cost you
When markets become volatile, a lot of people try to guess when stocks will bottom out. In the meantime, they often park their investments in cash. But just as many investors are slow to recognize a retreating stock market, many also fail to see an upward trend in the market until after they have missed opportunities for gains. Missing out on these opportunities can take a big bite out of your returns. Consider that on average, for the 12 months following the end of a bear market, a fully invested stock portfolio had an average total return of 38.3%. However, if an investor missed the first six months of the recovery by holding cash, their return would have been only 8.0%¹. The chart below is a hypothetical illustration showing the risk of trying to time the market. By missing just a few of the stock market’s best single-day advances, you could put a real crimp in your potential returns.
2. Dollar-cost averaging makes it easier to cope with volatility
Most people are quick to agree that volatile markets may present buying opportunities for investors with a long-term horizon. But mustering the discipline to make purchases during a volatile market can be difficult. You can’t help wondering, “Is this really the right time to buy?”
Dollar-cost averaging can help reduce anxiety about the investment process. Simply put, dollar-cost averaging is committing a fixed amount of money at regular intervals to an investment. You buy more shares when prices are low and fewer shares when prices are high. And over time, your average cost per share may be less than the average price per share. Dollar-cost averaging involves a continuous, disciplined investment in fund shares, regardless of fluctuating price levels. Investors should consider their financial ability to continue purchases through periods of low price levels or changing economic conditions. Such a plan does not guarantee a profit or eliminate risk, nor does it protect against loss in a declining market.
3. Now may be a great time for a portfolio checkup
Is your portfolio as diversified as you think it is? Meet with your financial professional to find out. Your portfolio’s weightings in different asset classes may shift over time as one investment performs better or worse than another. Together with your financial professional, you can re-examine your portfolio to see if you are properly diversified. You can also determine whether your current portfolio mix is still a suitable match with your goals and risk tolerance.
4. Tune out the noise and gain a longer-term perspective
Numerous television stations, websites and social media channels are dedicated to reporting investment news 24 hours a day, seven days a week. What’s more, there are almost too many financial publications to count. While the media provides a valuable service, they typically offer a very short-term outlook. To put your own investment plan in a longer-term perspective and bolster your confidence, you may want to look at how different types of portfolios have performed over time.
- Source: © 2022 Morningstar, Inc., 12/31/21. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar and/or its content providers; (2) may not be copied or distributed; and (3) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Neither Morningstar nor its content providers are responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Stock investments are represented by equal investments in the S&P 500 Index, Russell 2000® Index, and MSCI EAFE Index, representing large U.S. stocks, small U.S. stocks, and foreign stocks, respectively. Bonds are represented by the Bloomberg Barclays U.S. Aggregate Index. Cash equivalents are represented by the FTSE 3-Month U.S. Treasury Bill Index. Portfolios are rebalanced annually. Indexes are unmanaged, and one cannot invest directly in an index. They do not reflect any fees, expenses or sales charges.
5. Believe your beliefs and doubt your doubts
There are no real secrets to managing volatility. Most investors already know that the best way to navigate a choppy market is to have a good long-term plan and a well-diversified portfolio. But sticking to these fundamental beliefs is sometimes easier said than done. When put to the test, you sometimes begin doubting your beliefs and believing your
doubts, which can lead to short-term moves that divert you from your long-term goals.
To keep a balance perspective, we recommend that you contact your financial professional before making any changes to your portfolio.
Five Steps to Declare Your Financial Independence
Are you ready to revolutionize your fiscal plan and attain financial freedom?
In 2019, an AARP study found that 53% of adult households in the United States did not have an emergency savings account. The pandemic applied even more pressure to struggling Americans, exacerbating that anxiety. The fear of not having financial security can feel overwhelming, but you can take this moment to embrace the nation’s ethos of “land of the free and home of the brave” and apply it to your money management plan. Read on for five steps to follow to reach your personal money goals and achieve financial independence.
1. Expect the Unexpected with an Emergency Fund
It’s always been a smart idea to set aside some money in a savings account for the unexpected. The COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic and employment downturn it spurred, turned that theoretical possibility into a reality for many Americans. Having emergency cash in the bank can give you back the financial freedom that comes from having peace of mind. In the event of a global issue, the loss of your employment, or even an unexpected car repair or medical bill, an emergency fund is there to help. Though we’re all hopeful to soon put the pandemic and its effects fully behind us, one of the lasting lessons we can take away is that an emergency fund is a critical financial strategy.
Exactly how much you should set aside is a personal equation based on what you can afford today and your cost of living, but a good rule of thumb is to put away three to six months of expenses. You can sock it away in any savings account, but an FDIC- (or NCUA-) insured account at your bank or credit union is ideal. Set a monthly goal for how much you can contribute to savings and look for ways to automate the process.
Looking for a way to level up your emergency fund? Once you build it up to a certain amount, you may want to consider having your money work for you. If you exceed your emergency fund goals, keep saving and set aside some to invest in a low-risk fund to maximize yield.
Deciding to save into an emergency fund is a great way to regain control over your financial wellness and boost your overall well-being. Financial freedom can give you peace of mind that’s truly priceless.
2. Curb Spending and Increase Calm
Feeling financially free isn’t about being able to spend whatever you want today. It’s about knowing that you’ve saved enough that you don’t have to worry in the future. Setting a budget does force you to curb spending in the short term but setting up those fiscal guardrails is one of the surest paths to financial independence.
Having a realistic budget gives you a deep sense of calm and reassurance. Once you know how much money is coming in and how much you can spend, you have a holistic picture of where your money is going. Think of a budget as a road map. You wouldn’t set out on a cross-country trip without any idea of which road to follow. Living without a budget is like driving blind. Setting targets, defining priorities, and giving every dollar a job can help you get to where you need to go by putting you in the driver’s seat. What better way is there to achieve financial freedom?
3. Make a Debt-Free Declaration
Being debt-free is one of the best markers of financial freedom. Getting out of debt and staying out permanently can help you save the money you need to have a stable future.
However, not all debt is created equal. There’s a difference between good debt and bad debt—the former can help you complete your education or buy a dream home, while the latter can bog you down with high-interest rates and unnecessary monthly payments. A 2020 Experian report showed that the average American owes approximately $92,727 in total debt—the highest amount ever recorded. If you’re in debt, you’re not alone. There are several strategies and steps that can help, but whichever path you take, make sure it’s both attainable and sustainable.
Before you buy something that will come with a high-payment plan, ask yourself if you a) need it and b) can actually afford it. Using an auto loan calculator or mortgage calculator can help you determine what fits into your budget.
4. Retirement Plan to Brighten Your Future
What is the ultimate financial freedom goal? For many people, it’s being able to have a secure, comfortable retirement in your later years. Here are a few simple things you can do today to help prepare for a great tomorrow:
- Maximize contributions to any tax-advantaged retirement savings accounts, like an IRA or a 401(k) plan
- Take advantage of any employer matching contributions so you can receive the full amount offered
- Diversify your investment portfolio with a mix of asset classes
It can be difficult to make short-term sacrifices in the name of a more comfortable future but keep your eye on the ball and remember you’re giving yourself the gift of financial independence.
5. Pay it Forward and Let Freedom Ring
If you’ve already accomplished all the items on this list and feel secure in your financial freedom, consider celebrating this July 4th holiday by helping others. Determine how much you can set aside for charitable giving and help support the missions and people who are important to you.
If you have younger loved ones, you can help set up or fund their 529 college savings account. It’s a great way to promote financial independence for the next generation, and maybe even help yourself along the way—some states let you claim a tax deduction for that kind of donation.
If you don’t have relatives that need help, consider donating to a child-focused charity, particularly one with a focus on education. Investing in the next era of earners can help us all enjoy more financial freedom in the years ahead.
Financial Independence on July 4th and Beyond
Freedom means many things for many different people, but on the fourth day of the seventh month of the year, we all come together to celebrate how lucky we are to be able to have the opportunities associated with independence. Financial security can help you feel more confident, in control, at peace, and, of course, free to live the life of your dreams.
Illuminated Advisors is the original creator of the content shared herein. I have been granted a license in perpetuity to publish this article on my website’s blog and share its contents on social media platforms. I have no right to distribute the articles, or any other content provided to me, or my Firm, by Illuminated Advisors in a printed or otherwise non-digital format. I am not permitted to use the content provided to me or my firm by Illuminated Advisors in videos, audio publications, or in books of any kind.