It’s difficult to ignore the rumblings under the asset store floor. Intexchange answers a number of the most often demand questions regarding an impending downturn.
In the summer of 2007, since the backpage columnist for Money magazine, so I did something I beat myself around for several years. The Dow Jones industrial average had been charging forward; following a volatile rush, it’d run from approximately 12,500 and kept on moving. It was somewhere about 14,000 once I put pencil to paper (or even more correctly, fingers to keyboard) to declare I wasn’t going to worry about this – and suggested my readers do likewise.
I wrote something to the effect of: Over the short-term, stores go up and stores go down. Over the long-term, stores have historically gone up. As long as the money you’re investing is money that you’re not going to use for the next five or more years, you should keep investing no matter what the stores are doing. Turn off the television, I suggested. Or follow my lead, and when you think your human nature is going to obtain the best of you, go out for a run.
I no longer regret that column. I followed my own advice and continued purchasing. People who did the equal have big fat balances in their 401(k)s.
And then… well… we all know what happened. The Dow dropped into the mid-6,000s. It wouldn’t reach 14,000 again till 2013. And now, to mepersonally, it seems somewhat like deja vu all over again. However, although a lot of things have changed (such as the simple fact that Money magazine not publishes a printing variant ) you know everything? I regret that pillar. I followed my own advice and lasted purchasing. Individuals who did exactly the equal possess large fat accounts in their 401(k)s. The Warriors were the men and women who offered and couldn’t figure out when to obtain back in.
Which brings me to today. Understandably, you’ve got questions. Here are the answers – and my suggestions for what to do next.
I keep reading we’ve got an "inverted yield curve" and that that’s a signal of a recession coming. What’s a yield curve? What does it mean that it’s inverted? And will we have a recession?
When we talk about yields, we are talking about bonds. (In your investment portfolio, you have three big categories of investments: assets or stocks in publicly traded companies, bonds or debt from those companies or the government, and cash.) The yield is the amount earned in an investment for bonds. Right now, the bonds in question are treasury bonds – debt issued by the U.S. government. These are considered the safest of the safe investments after all the U.S. government always pays its bills.
Still with me? OK, now switch gears for a second and think about what happens when you deposit money in a bank. You earn interest. Why? Because you’re letting the bank essentially borrow your money, and the bank is paying you for that. When you put money in your savings account you earn very little interest, and that’s because you could take the money right back out again – you’re making the bank a very short-term loan. But if you put your money in a CD where you agree not to take it out for 3 months, you earn more because you’re agreeing to let the bank use the money for longer. The bank can make plans with that money, and that’s worth something. And the longer you leave the money there, the more you typically earn.
Treasury bonds work the equal way. The yield/interest you earn for purchasing a 2-year bond (essentially lending your money to the government) is usually lower than the yield/interest you earn for purchasing a 10-year one. Except right now, it isn’t. It turned out, or, since you’ve already been hearing, even inverted. And’s a indication that people have significantly less confidence in the authorities’s capacity to cover its invoices in 10 years than in two years – that represents an overall lack of optimism in the market. This inverted yield curve also has called recessions previously, according to Mark Zandi, Chief Economist in Moody’s Analytics. "It’s historically been a very prescient leading indicator of future recession," he states. "While there may be reasons why this indicator may be a bit off this time and a recession doesn’t strike, it might be advisable for all of us to heed its own counselor and become somewhat more careful in spending, investing and saving. "
How can things be bad when they’ve been so good?
You’ve heard that the economy is doing well and unemployment rates are near historic lows, right? While that may be true, often we don’t understand that we ‘re in a downturn before it’s previously in effect. This manner, the market isn’t always as good of a communicator as we’d like it to be – we know, we’re frustrated, too.
The published economic reports aren’t necessarily the ideal manifestation of the market at a specified period in time since much of the info used in these accounts comes in polls from companies and families, and that advice could ‘t be translated into data very quickly. Sometimes there are months-long lags in the middle data being collected and data being published, which means big changes in the economy aren’t picked up as quickly as we’d prefer them , such as information of something as large as a downturn.
"It moves so quickly that it’s hard to keep up with," states Diane Swonk, Chief Economist and Managing Director at Grant Thornton. Thus yes, what are feeling great at the moment, but doesn’t mean that we’re totally in the clear.
OK, so what do I do now?
First, take a deep breath. Second, there are a few things you can do right now to ensure your financial security.
1) Be cautious in your spending. Eat out less, and put off that vacation you’ve been dying to take, Zandi advises. And triple-check that your employment is secure before even thinking about making a big buy, like a car or a house.
2) Save more. This might seem like a no-brainer in times of financial turmoil, but according to a recent Fed survey, 40% of Americans have less than $400 cash in their emergency fund right now. If a recession takes hold, you may need more than that, so start to bulk up that stash now.
3) Invest cautiously. Especially if you’re close to or in retirement. Now is not the time to take any risks, Zandi warns. Even if you’re not close to or in retirement, investments you’re making for any shorter term goal (like a down payment or college tuition) should be treated similarly. Otherwise, go on putting money away for retirement in your company 401(k) or an IRA.
4) Refinance. If you have the opportunity to save some money every month by refinancing your mortgage now, you should do it. Don’t even await the ideal speed. This’s where you obtain burnt.
With Rebecca Cohen