Was the fourth quarter of 2018 just a bad dream for investors? It sure looks like it now. With just two trading sessions left in the month, the S&P 500 is on track to close out the first four months of the year with its best results in 32 years (1987), has rallied more than 20 percent from the December lows, and has also bested its previous all-time high!
It used to be that the last couple of weeks in August were slow ones for investors. Well, not this year. Neither the double whammy of Michael Cohen’s pleading guilty and Paul Manafort’s conviction, nor the escalating economic problems in emerging markets (Venezuela and Turkey) could keep stock market indexes from reaching new highs.
What happened to the tax cut bump to economic growth? After expanding by a brisk 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and the 3.3 percent rate in the third quarter, the economy decelerated a bit in the first quarter to an annualized pace of 2.3 percent, consistent with good, not great growth.
What better way to celebrate the ninth anniversary of the bull market than with a strong employment report? The economy created a better than expected 313,000 new jobs in February, higher than the anticipated 200,000. The strength was seen across a variety of sectors: retail increased by 50,300, construction was up 61,000, manufacturing added 31,000 jobs and professional & business services employment added 50,000.
We knew that a stock market correction was coming, but why then did everyone seem so shocked when it arrived on Februarys 8th? Corrections, defined as 10 percent drops from the recent highs (January 26th), usually occur every year or so. Until last week, it had been two full years since the major US indexes had corrected. In other words, we were overdue for a drop.
A wild week on Wall Street came to an end with a small rally on Friday. I joined CBS This Morning to explain why such volatility might not be a bad thing.
Wall Street opens after the Dow suffered its second-worst points drop ever. It closed more than 1,000 points lower Thursday. The worst drop in history, nearly 1,200 points, happened Monday. I join CBS This Morning to discuss why the market is in correction territory.
First a quick PS: If you enjoy the radio show, please check out our podcast, Better Off. It's very similar and you'll hear more personal finance calls with our listeners.
On to this week's show...
Stock investors are coming off one of the rockiest stretches in two years, leading to the inevitable question: What should I do when the market drops? The answer for long-term investors is clear: nothing. Still, when you hear about big point and percentage losses, especially as the second longest bull market on record tempts some to call the market top, it’s hard not to feel butterflies. So listen to the start of the latest show and let me calm your nerves!
Hour one also featured an interesting call from Dee in Seattle who wanted a second opinion on some advice that she and her husband recently received from their financial advisor. Given the recent market gyrations, it was a very timely call!
Bitcoin, bitcoin, bitcoin is the theme of hour two. Since the end of 2017 and now into 2018 it’s been hard to avoid the mention of the now wildly popular cryptocurrency. From Cassandra's, who warn that the meteoric rise is a bubble (hello, Jamie Dimon!) to true believers, who think Bitcoin will go to $100,000, it seems that the rest of us better brush up on what’s behind the mania.
My first Bitcoin story aired on CBS in 2011, but I certainly don’t consider myself an expert on all things crypto. Thankfully our guest today, Dan Roberts, senior writer at Yahoo Finance, is a total crypto geek and has been covering the wild ride from the beginning.
We started by discussing Dan’s recent piece about the biggest misconceptions when it comes to bitcoin. (This is a great primer for any of you who have read headlines, but are now ready to peel back the first layer of the onion.) For instance, one of the great appeals of cryptocurrencies, for better or worse, has always been that it’s not traceable. Wrong! As Dan explains, it is very much traceable. I had no idea. And it all ties back to the blockchain technology that powers digital currencies.
I also didn’t know that coinbase, the most common exchange used to buy cryptocurrencies, is FDIC insured up to a maximum of $250,000. Like brokerage accounts, the FDIC protect against the failure of the institution, not against trading losses.
Additionally, while it might sound like the Wild West, but the world of cryptocurrencies is more regulated than you would think. Dan notes that legit Bitcoin brokerages are all licensed in some manner: either with Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) and all of the exchanges now offering bitcoin futures and options are overseen by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
Does that mean you should sell your stocks and plunge into cryptocurrencies? SLOW DOWN, TURBO...Consider this: on the day we taped this interview, Bitcoin tumbled nearly 20 percent, so you would be wise to listen to Dan discuss his number one fear before pulling the trigger.
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