If there was any doubt that the stock market remained dependent on the Federal Reserve, it was proven twice again. Last week, Chairman Ben Bernanke said the central bank could begin pulling back on stimulus measures, commonly referred to as quantitative easing, if officials see evidence of "sustained" economic growth. Those comments along with a flurry of good economic reports knocked the S&P 500 down by 1.1% as traders worried that the Fed might soon release the market to swim on its own.
There is a danger in rising (and falling) markets that is so subtle we can easily overlook or ignore it. In fact, it is so integrally woven into our human fabric that separating the logical strands from the emotional ones is nearly impossible.
Boxcars roll steadily in a column, bound front and back to others, with their graffiti facades, pulled and pushed by locomotives they never meet, along steel rails that take them to and from places they've rolled many times before. Ever feel like you are plodding endlessly along familiar tracks, pushed and pulled by forces you don't understand, to places that no longer excite you?
For the next 19 years, 10,000 baby boomers a day turn 65 - the traditional age to retire. Not surprisingly, many are asking questions like: If we left our salary, have we saved enough to see us through? Is there enough time to make up the difference? What is that difference, or how much is enough?
When I was growing up my family didn’t have a lot of money to spend on luxuries. In fact, I can remember rooting around in our couch cushions trying to find spare change to buy gas for my '69 VW Bug. With a 10 gallon tank and 90¢ gas you’d be surprised how far I could go after a little scavenging. Thankfully, today I can fill my Honda Accord’s gas tank without having to tear through our living room couch cushions, but, I still have a tendency to view money as a very limited resource. Some would say I'm frugal, others stingy. Either way my past experiences directly impact the conversations I have and the decisions I make with my finances.
Next week's economic reports may test investors' resolve as closely-watched reports on retail sales, housing, jobs, manufacturing, and inflation are released. The most important is retail sales, which drives 70% of our economy. It is likely to show a second month of contraction, according to economists tracked by Bloomberg.