Giving back to the community is important to us here at White Raven Financial. The Arlington Garden Club (AGC), is a favorite 501(c)(3) for Diane (president of White Raven Financial) and her husband, Mike. One of the great things about giving time and energy to the community is that is gives back to you in many ways as well. Community groups give you the chance to be a part of something you value and believe in. One of the AGC’s major donations is a scholarship for local high school seniors, as Diane and Mike strongly believe in the value of higher education. Another benefit is the long-lasting friendships you make. This past Labor Day, Mike and Diane held an event at the Stump Farm which was attended by many of their AGC friends. They felt is was the perfect way to celebrate the bountiful harvest that the summer has provided.
While the AGC is made up a group of people who have come together because they enjoy gardening; they are also diverse in so many other ways. When it comes to careers – or retired careers – there are firefighters, electricians, bookkeepers, managers, analysts, bankers, bartenders, court reporters, pilots . . . the list goes on. The conversations are never boring (that is unless the group gets talking about gardening and you are one of the few spouses who does not enjoy gardening). The AGC, like so many community groups, allows us to find commonality where we might otherwise have only seen difference.
At White Raven Financial, we believe diversity makes us better and stronger. We truly enjoy learning about our clients. It provides us a window into who they are, and it helps us learn more about personal risk tolerance. Our background in life is truly a blueprint layered over the many facets of who we are.
Not all of summer though was about celebrating bountiful harvests and diversity. There were also quiet nights filled with reading and trying to keep up with the news whirlwind! There were days when the news was optimistic, filled with the continuation of the forward-looking U.S. business cycle and positive current financial data. Then, as we turned the page to the next day, it appeared that the forward-looking economic predictions were filled with pessimism. On the optimistic front, Blackrock Investment Institute reminded us that the U.S. consumer is still strong noting that personal consumption continues to be positive. Blackrock also does not predict a near-term recession. Schroder Investment Management Australia Ltd. recently discussed the bond rally and felt it may have gone too far and is being driven by sentiment rather than fundamentals. On the pessimistic side, news of recession grumblings appeared (on some days) to be the norm. In a recent Research Affiliates’ interview of Jim Masturzo, we learned why Mr. Masturzo considers a reverse yield curve to be theoretically bad news for stocks. On September the 3rd, the Institute of Supply Management (ISM) Index checked in at 49.1. A number above 50.0 indicates an expanding manufacturing sector.
Internationally, optimism flashed when Hong Kong said it will withdraw its extradition bill; it appeared to bring a sigh of relief to many. And the latest news on the Brexit turmoil has the British pound rallying; but that could change again with the next edition. The U.S. / China trade dispute continues and appears to lack any sign of resolution. Diversity appears to be the key both domestically and internationally (the U.S. does have trade agreements in place with other countries).
The major markets were quite turbulent throughout the month of August and appeared to sympathize with some of the international unrest. As the month came to a close, the major indices ended with a down-turned nose. The blue-chip barometer (the Dow)* did a slow turn backward and was down -1.72%. The S&P 500 (SPY)* lagged further behind and was down -1.81% for the month. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* hit further turbulence and finished August -2.6% lower in value. (*After linking, click on Quarterly & Monthly Total Returns, “Monthly” tab.) On Tuesday, August 27th, the Dow Jones Indices released the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller report; the report showed that home price increases have slowed to near a seven year low. The 20-city composite Home Price Index in June reported a 2.1% annual gain; down 0.3% from the unrevised 2.4% posted the previous month. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of June posting a 0.3% increase over the prior month of May for the 20-city composite index.
Regards and Thank you,
The Team at White Raven Financial
*Indexes are unmanaged and do not reflect service fees, commissions, or taxes. You cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Return for the DOW, S&P500 and the NASDAQ is the total return (price only) provided by Morning star Inc. as of 2019August31. Diversification and asset allocation do not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment loss.
*The Standard and Poor’s 500 is an unmanaged, capitalization weighted benchmark that tracks broad-based changes in the U.S. stock market. This index of 500 common stocks is comprised of 400 industrial, 20 transportation, 40 utility, and 40 financial companies representing major U.S. industry sectors. The index is calculated on a total return basis with dividends reinvested and is not available for direct investment.
*The Dow Jones Industrial Average covers 30 blue chip U.S. companies selected by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The Dow represents about 25% of the NYSE market capitalization and less than 2% of NYSE issues.
*The NASDAQ is a market-value weighted index that measures all NASDAQ domestic and foreign common stocks.