Retail sales rose 0.6% month over month in August following July’s downwardly revised 0.9% advance, but sales fell short of Bloomberg’s consensus expectation for a 1% increase. The retail sales control group, which excludes building materials, autos, and gas, fell 0.1% month over month and also missed estimates (source: US Census Bureau).
I hope this finds you and your family doing well!
Part of our communication protocol is to reach out to you when the equity markets enter bear market status – down more than 20% at closing from a previously established high. We did that near the end of last week on both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500. You will note that we sent a similar communication when we entered correction territory (down 10%) on February 28th. The S&P 500 needed only 16 days to go from a new all-time high, on February 19th, to a bear market, resetting the previous record of 28 days.
You may be wondering why it’s called a bear market. The term bear market gets its name from the way a bear attacks its prey, swiping its paws downward. Similarly, the bull market, an upward trending market with an absence of a 20% decline, gets its name from the way a bull attacks, thrusting its horns into the air. The present bear market brought to an end the longest bull market in history at just over 11 years, almost to the day. And here’s the kicker… both bull and bear markets are arbitrary, made-up numbers to fit nicely in a box so we can understand them. To me, the decline we experienced from September to December of 2018, down 19.8%, sure felt like a bear market, although it did not technically qualify. And, neither did April to December of 2011, when the equity markets fell 19.4%. At this point, the definitions are irrelevant. The fact is the markets are down and so are our accounts.
I hope you and your family are well! Yesterday, March 9th, was the eleventh anniversary of the final bottoming process of the bear market from 2007 to 2009. How ironic that the world elected to celebrate this iconic anniversary with, you guessed it, another panic attack.
In a move in which the timing was more compelling than the decision itself, the Federal Reserve (Fed) announced this morning that it unanimously decided to cut its policy rate by 50 basis points (0.5%) from the 1.5-1.75% range to the 1-1.25% range. The surprise move marked the Fed’s first rate action outside of a regularly scheduled meeting since October 2008.