Needless to say, the first 6 months of this year have brought forth a plethora of news items that, when filtered down, will affect us in one way or another. On the domestic front, it's mostly healthcare and tax reform. Without getting into judgement or opinion, lets look a bit at each of these two issues:
Healthcare: the insurance we can't live without. As we all know, the healthcare industry has spiraled out of control for years and years: I remember going for a doctor's appointment maybe 25 years ago and being billed $100 for a 3-minute appointment. Now, as feedback I've gotten from a physician, the doctors are getting paid less for a general appointment than they were 25 years ago due to insurance maximums and controls. On the other side of the fence is the consumer- you and I- paying our increasing premiums and getting less coverage in return. Personally, I recently got a notice that our premiums are going up for 2018 by 20.1%, over a 16.8% raise last year. Much has been bandied about the Affordable Care Act, it's positives and its negatives, which I won't get into here. The one thing I will say on the matter is we are mired in a health care crisis the likes of which we as Americans have never experienced before. Throwing politics into the equation, the ones suffering are all of us- seemingly pawns in the healthcare chess game.
The tax reform issue is easier to address- since there is nothing to address. We wait...and wait...and wait...for our politicians to come forth with a new plan to help us all. While we would all like to see our taxes go down, we are also cognizant of the need to repair our infrastructure, of which in part our tax go to. It is truly a paradox: how do we keep paying our taxes in control while accruing billions and billions to repair our roads and bridges? It is truly a paradox, and definitely above my paygrade.
The first 6 months of the year has showed an increasing stock market leading to the title "The Trump Bump," which started the day of Election Day. The fact is that the raise in the averages are brought to us by more mundane reasons than the election- company earnings. The last quarter of 2016 and first quarter of 2017 showed improved company earnings, which led to seeing the market in general increase to the average of the DOW (as an example) to 21000. As of this writing in mid-July, it seems that the steam has come out of the markets in general of the past month, and things have leveled out to a relatively flat market, even with all the adverse news we see every day. The key here is to remember while you may see the DOW rise dramatically on the 6:00 news, it's important to remember that the DOW is a grouping of just 30 stocks out of the tens of thousands of stocks out there. If only one or two have a very good day, it could account for a high percentage of the performance of the DOW for the day. Hence, we think it was a great day, but the reality is it was a great day for perhaps a few stocks in the DOW...the rest of the world may not have reacted for the day the same way. So, we think it was an "up day" for the market, but the bulk of the stocks were down. Disappointment follow exuberance...it's a daily mantra of the market. The moral to the story is until you dig, don't believe everything you hear- it's all about the facts.
In my recollection of the history of politics, it is my humble opinion the world-not just American politics- is in a place never before seen. It's important to remember that all the world markets are
connected as we are truly a world economy. Events happening in China, or Russia, South America, or anywhere in the world will affect the domestic markets as so many American companies are involved in manufacturing and other business all around the world. The car you drive may have parts made in 5 or more countries, the clothes you are wearing may have a zipper from China, a button from Japan, and material from America- the world is a global market. This makes it harder and harder to determine the direction of the markets and predict the future. We will continue to monitor the craziness we see daily in the news, and draw our conclusions by separating the noise from the facts, and acting accordingly. Any input is welcomed from you all.