Markets, we thought we knew you. But now that we’ve hit the seven-year (bull market) mark in our relationship, we’ve noticed that you’ve grown increasingly moody. Unpredictable. Unstable, even. And quite volatile. There, we said it.
The wine, flowers and chocolates you’ve been sending after your benders are nice and all. But someday that’s not going to be enough. Our fortunes are tied to yours, and you’re beginning to scare us. If we’re going to make this long-term relationship work, we need to discuss five things we observed about you in 2016.
1. We get it, you hate the dark winter months
When you showed up for work at the beginning of the year, disheveled, unshowered and in quite a mood, our hopes of a January effect — when stocks start the year with a rally — were immediately dashed. In short order it was clear that this wasn’t just a mild case of the Mondays. Your sudden weight loss, one of the worst opening weeks in history, followed by weeks of irritability had us bracing for a bleak 2016.
In March, the extra hour of sunshine from daylight saving time worked its magic. Investors who stood by their stocks — the best investing strategy for a volatile market — were rewarded for their patience. By the end of March, the S&P 500 and Dow Jones industrial average were behaving as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened.
2. We’re not thrilled with the effect your British friends have had on you
In June, once again it seemed that our bull market honeymoon might come to an abrupt end when your buddies in Britain decided they needed space to work through some things and voted to unfriend the European Union.
We know you were blindsided by the breakup. But did you really have to join your fancy international friends in their depressive stupor? Did you even consider how your behavior would affect us? Have you ever seen someone ugly-cry over their Roth IRA?
You even managed to make investors nostalgic about January’s sell-off. Thankfully the Brangelina breakup refocused your attention stateside, which leads us to …
3. On a positive note, we’re proud of how quickly you sobered up after the election shocker
All of us here on planet Earth were ready to react to a Hillary Clinton win the day after the election, even you. Then in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, Carl Icahn excused himself from the president-elect’s victory party to join the rowdy international investing crowd already trading on the shocking news. Global markets plunged, and S&P 500 futures fell 5%.
Thank you for not checking Twitter in the middle of the night. That, and the time zone difference, meant that we all woke up to a recovering market. By the time we got around to checking our 401(k) balances, both the Dow and the S&P 500 looked no worse for wear.
4. Also, congratulations on being totally right in (March June September) December about the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates
Brilliant strategy: Just keep making a prediction and eventually you’ll get it right. This was totally the year, you said. It wasn’t your fault that Brexit, China, cheap oil and a “meh” job-growth report were among the reasons the Fed bided its time. On Wednesday, Dec. 14, when everyone was definitely, absolutely 100% (actually, 98%) positively sure that the Federal Reserve Board would pull the trigger, we were tickled when you acted surprised for a couple of minutes for show and then made happy hour plans at a low-key bar around the corner.
5. We really, really hope that this isn’t one of your manic phases
Apologies, but we have to ask: Was the no-good, very bad start to 2016 just a head fake? Have you been pulling a classic “underpromise and overdeliver” maneuver so we’ll excuse your behavior earlier this year? Have you and the traders on the floor of the NYSE been working out and exchanging protein-shake recipes?
Don’t get us wrong, you’re looking great. As of this typing, the Dow Jones industrial average is ThisClose to hitting 20,000, your S&P 500 Index teammate is perched at 2,274, and your tech-savvy Nasdaq Composite buddy is benching 5,481. But how much longer can you keep it up without driving us, and you, batty?
Let’s agree that we don’t need more drama in our relationship in 2017. OK, then? Good chat, love.
Dayana Yochim is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.Twitter: @DayanaYochim.