Turn on the television, pick up the newspaper, search the Internet and you will find story after story about Greece, JP Morgan, austerity, job growth, or the Facebook IPO. Just about every bit of the coverage is negative.
Combine that with historical lows on the 10-year Treasury note, a Dow Jones that has given back the gains of the first quarter, political uncertainty….and you get the picture. For three years, the news has been relentlessly bad and I find the more headline news there is, the more likely investors are going to panic and make a mistake with their asset management and retirement planning.
The conventional wisdom is to worry. Our lifestyle is to run, run, run. We watch the headlines, but fail to slow down and read the full news report. We operate on our first emotion, not on well thought out knowledge. News has become entertainment, electing to report 'a quick sell' more so than what is relevant.
My job is to dive a little deeper though. And quite frankly, the headline news is starting to sound like nonsense lyrics to me. It's the same story, over and over. Allow me to instead focus on the news I find relevant. We have seen 11 straight quarters of growth in our economy. Consumer spending is up (retail sales have been up 21 of the last 22 months). Private payrolls are up 26 consecutive quarters. Production is up. Commercial and industrial loans are up. Corporations are as profitable as they have ever been. But…that news doesn't sell.
I liken our economy to a plow horse. It continues to move through the stumps and rocks and mud. It moves slowly despite all the fears, all the government spending and all the debt. It moves forward, it gets the job done. It's certainly not I'll Have Another, who, with one more win, can take the Triple Crown. But it ain't headed for the glue factory either.
I know the plow horse doesn't have a catchy name. It won't make the news. Nor is it going to gain enough momentum to get people excited about the opportunities out there for growth right now. But, there are still trillions of dollars sitting idle on the balance sheets of corporations, banks, and individual investors. So as long as we continue to see economic growth here in America, I feel there is propensity for those dollars to be reinvested in our economy and our markets, and we may break the harness and let the horse run free. That's the real news here - unending pessimism being defeated by the American entrepreneurial spirit.
The fact is we have a sustainable, self-reinforcing economic recovery. Could it be better? Absolutely. But amazingly, the plow horse keeps moving forward. So don't get lost in the headlines. Dive a little deeper and stick to your retirement plan. Understand where your money is and be thoughtful about your decisions. Follow the theme of the plow horse. It's not meant to sprint. Your retirement isn't a sprint either. You'll go through thousands of different headlines in your lifetime, so take the time to understand the very few that will make a difference for you. If you need help sifting through the stumps and rocks and mud, I'm a phone call away.
Benjamin Haas a Fleetwood resident and graduate of Kutztown Area High School.He is a Financial Advisor and Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM with Gerhart, Haas & Associates, a financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. 3800 Sierra Circle, Suite 210, Center Valley, PA 18034. (484) 201-2309. email@example.com. ameripriseadvisors.com/benjamin.n.haas.