Keep Calm and Carry On

October
13

Written by: Jon McGraw

The slogan comes from a United Kingdom Ministry of Information propaganda poster designed to boost morale if the United Kingdom was invaded during World War II. Despite its current popularity, the poster was never distributed.

The slogan offers some sound advice for anyone who was unnerved by last week’s stock market volatility. Investor optimism caught fire when Federal Open Market Committee meeting minutes indicated economic growth might not proceed quickly:

“Most viewed the risks to the outlook for economic activity and the labor market as broadly balanced. However, a number of participants noted that economic growth over the medium term might be slower than they expected if foreign economic growth came in weaker than anticipated, structural productivity continued to increase only slowly, or the recovery in residential construction continued to lag.”

Slower economic growth could translate into delayed monetary policy tightening (lower interest rates for a longer period of time), and that notion sparked the biggest rally of the year on Wednesday with U.S. stock markets making significant gains.

What goes up must come down. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Okay, the laws of physics generally don’t apply to stock markets. That said, a lot of folks saw Wednesday’s market highs as an opportunity to take gains off the table, according to Barron’s. Consequently, we saw steep stock market declines on Thursday with major U.S. markets losing 2 percent or more.

Yields on longer-term Treasuries also fell last week. Reuters reported weak economic data in Germany, which raised concerns about growth in the Eurozone, and revised forecasts from the International Monetary Fund indicating global growth may be lower than expected, caused investors to seek the safety of U.S. Treasuries.

Data as of 10/10/14 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) -3.1% 3.1% 12.6% 16.8% 12.1% 5.4%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.3 NA 2.7 2.1 3.4 4.1
Gold (per ounce) 2.0 1.5 -6.1 -9.8 2.9 11.2
Bloomberg Commodity Index 0.2 -6.0 -7.8 -6.4 -2.2 -2.8
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index 1.4 15.6 13.8 16.5 16.4 8.5

Collaborative Consumption is Causing Creative Destruction!

Back in 1942, economist Joseph Schumpeter said creative destruction is the way of the free market. It’s messy but as an entry in The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics explained:

“Lost jobs, ruined companies, and vanishing industries are inherent parts of the growth system. The saving grace comes from recognizing the good that comes from the turmoil. Over time, societies that allow creative destruction to operate grow more productive and richer; their citizens see the benefits of new and better products, shorter work weeks, better jobs, and higher living standards. Herein lies the paradox of progress. A society cannot reap the rewards of creative destruction without accepting that some individuals might be worse off, not just in the short term, but perhaps forever.”

At first, the collaborative or sharing economy was thought to be a response to the Great Recession. Some people needed to reduce costs and others needed to make money, so they found ways to use resources more efficiently by making the most of available time and assets. This is affecting companies in a variety of industries:

  • Transportation: Ride-sharing apps connect people who want rides with people who are willing to use their personal cars to provide rides. (If you’ve wondered about autos sporting big pink mustaches, they belong to a particular app’s drivers.) These apps are taking money out of the pockets of cab companies.
  • Hotels: You can reduce travel costs by renting someone’s spare bedroom, castle, or villa through an online community marketplace. The downside, according to one study in Texas, is traditional hotels have lost revenue as these communities have gained popularity.
  • Finance: When banks and traditional lenders made borrowing a challenge, peer-to-peer lending and crowdfunding platforms provided individuals and entrepreneurs with a new way to source capital. A report from the Cleveland Fed found, “Since the second quarter of 2007, the total amount of money lent through bank-originated consumer-finance loans has been declining on average 2 percent per quarter… Meanwhile peer-to-peer lending has been growing rapidly at an average pace of 84 percent a quarter.”

Whether you want to provide or consume goods or services – cooking meals or eating them, running errands or having them run, hosting a pet or leaving one behind while you vacation – there is probably someone out there who is willing to share their resources.

Weekly Fun – Think About It

“Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else.”

–Margaret Mead, American cultural anthropologist