This Time It’s Different

After more than 30 years in the financial services industry, it is clear that the Media will always focus on the short-term, negative and sensational. 2020 is no different – the media would have you believe that we are facing new issues ranging from Coronavirus to the impact of social media.  


Newsweek wrote a post-recession article that said:

“The economy is booming, and Americans revel in prosperity after bouncing back from a recession, although not everyone is participating. Advancements in technology are changing the way we live, and there is hope that the new century will bring even more progress. But anxiety lurks beneath the New Year’s optimism. Will these new technologies change the world beyond recognition? Has the environment been dangerously damaged? A global epidemic is raging, with no cure in sight. And in the business world, the public wavers about whether to admire or hate a tycoon who’s somehow gained control of one of the most important economic engines of the century.”


Sound familiar? Did you think the reporter was writing about social media and the Coronavirus?  This article was actually written in December of 1899, 121 years ago! The business titan mentioned was John D. Rockefeller (not Donald Trump), the technology concerns that were discussed had to do with the Industrial Revolution, not social media and the internet. The “global epidemic” was Polio, not Coronavirus.

Sir John Templeton famously said, “The four most dangerous words for investors are ‘This Time It’s Different.’” Markets move up when people are investing and move down when there is a concern. Not only does the pattern, repeat but the types of events and concerns do as well – whether fear of a pandemic or concerns about new technology or immigration. The issues people worried about 121 years ago, and farther back, are not that different from those that people are concerned about today- technology, pandemics and even immigration. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

In addition to the concerns of the Polio pandemic, Immigration was also a concern in 1899. Many were concerned with the large influx of immigrants. The cities were rapidly filling up with settlers from Poland, Russia, Germany, Ireland and Italy and many viewed this as a threat.

Increased Volatility Is Likely

As we move toward the November 2020 election, we expect to see increased volatility in the broader markets, which is reflected in your portfolio. We have developed and refined a process that accounts for this volatility. Although many firms have moved to standard models, we continue to take a customized approach to your planning, so we are prepared for any expected needs you may have.

It’s important to note that as portfolios and the level of the broad indices have increased in size, relatively small changes reflect as larger dollar or point swings.

No doubt the media will focus on the larger point swings with apocalyptic headlines portending doom and gloom and that the changes may not be more than normal movements.

For example, on August 14, 2019, the headlines were dire:
  • “Dow Plummets 800 Points on Worsening Global Recession Fears” (Fox Business)
  • “Dow Plummets More Than 800 Points on Recession Red Flag” (New York Post)
  • “Dow Tanks 800 Points in Worst Day of 2019 After Bond Market Sends Recession Warning” (CNBC)

Yet the drop was only about 3% – If we look at market corrections over the 90 years from 1928–2018 we see that corrections of 5% – 10% are very common:

  • 5 percent—About every 2 months
  • 10 percent—About every 8 months
  • 20 percent—About every 30 months
    (Source: DOW Jones/ Wikipedia)

The recent market volatility is attributed to concern about the Coronavirus. While we don’t know what the human or financial impact will be at this point, we can look at other more recent epidemics and the longer-term impact they have had. 

While market dips can be disconcerting, they can also provide several opportunities for longer-term investors:

  1. Dips may provide the chance to add to investments or purchase new ones at lower prices.
  2. Dips may provide the opportunity to convert IRAs to Roths with less tax impact.
  3. Dips may allow for tax swaps to generate write-offs while remaining invested.

Politics as Usual

We saw an increased onslaught of media attention for the 2018 midterm election. We expect to continue to see this, with regard to politics, in general, this year, with a continuation of polarized and partisan reporting.

We believe the economy is strong, as reflected by record-low unemployment, high corporate profits, and growth of the economy.

We are often asked what we feel the markets will do. We believe this may not be the right question. A more appropriate question is, “How will what the markets are doing affect me?” With proper planning, the month-to-month swings in broader markets, regardless of how extreme, should not impact your ability to live the life you want.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize — Your Dream for the Future

You have heard me say, “Never has the pace of change been this fast, and never will be it be this slow again.” We are being inundated with information and are required to make more decisions than ever as we face new challenges, both financially and personally. When our firm was founded 30 years ago, a large part of what we did was provide access to information. Now a large part of what we do is sort through massive amounts of information and provide access to what is relevant to you.

Our team is here to help you achieve your personal vision, while simplifying your life. As always, we are here to discuss any questions, concerns or ideas you may have.

We believe in a proactive approach to wealth management, tax planning and helping you achieve your vision. Although we do not have a crystal ball about the markets—no one does—we plan based on your personal goals and vision. We call this Personal Vision Planning®.  This process takes into account the type of volatility we are experiencing and expect in the coming months.  

We will continue to face a number of challenges in the future, including a more complex tax and investment-planning climate, potentially higher interest rates, inflation, pandemics, to name just a few. Regardless of what happens, we stand by the simple vision on which our firm was founded in 1990: making people’s lives better. Although much has changed with the world, the economy and investments, our commitment to this important goal remains steadfast.

Please contact our team whenever we may be of service to you, your family or your friends.  We look forward to speaking with you.

This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of the professionals at Carver Financial Services, Inc., and not necessarily those of Raymond James. The performance shown is not indicative of any particular investment. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Individuals cannot invest directly in any index. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the U.S. stock market. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal.