Stock market heading south? Nervous TSP investors want answers

Before the advertising community created Black Friday, the big sales day after Thanksgiving, there was Black Friday in October 1929, when the US stock market crashed triggering the Great Depression.

Few people alive today have any memories of the Depression, but there are millions of investors, some nervous in the civil service, who are wondering how much longer this record bull market can last. Or perhaps it is already over and we just don’t know it? Take Monday, Nov. 12, please!

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped more than 600 points on the day after Veterans Day. Experts blamed the drop on the strong US dollar, the somewhat puzzling Armistice Day gathering of world leaders in Paris and, closer to home, declines in the value of Amazon and Apple.

NBC News said the 2 percent drop in the S&P 500  — the C fund of the federal Thrift Savings Plan — was a result of reports about Malaysia and an alleged complex money-laundering scheme. Oh, and tobacco stocks which are very big overseas suffered because of rumors that the Food and Drug Administration is thinking about banning menthol cigarettes.

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Complicated stuff and difficult, nearly impossible for the average person to understand, much less track. Also, how correct are the alleged experts? How do they “know” when or if the market is tanking, rising or both, based on short-term performance?

Conclusions you may draw based on the ups and downs of the stock market are often based on your temperament, your timeline of when you’ll start spending the money from your TSP nest egg, how often you check the market performance and what you compare it to. For example, look at what happened Monday: The Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index closed at 28,104 — down 563.98 points or 1.97 percent. Put another way, that represents a paper “loss” of $600 billion. That’s no chicken feed to be sure.

And the decline Monday was the third day in a row and the fourth time in the past seven trading days that the market index was down. Again, not so good, right?

On the other hand, as of last Monday the Wilshire 5000 index was up 0.44 percent for the month of November, or roughly $125 billion. It sounds good until you look at the quarterly returns which, as of Nov. 12, were down 7.12 percent which translates into $2.3 trillion which is a lot by anyone’s standards. Paper loss or not. Then again if you look at the yearly returns through the close of business Nov. 12 you will see they are up 1.18 percent, or approximately $125 billion.

What’s the conclusion? All of the above definitely means something, but what?

Should you buy, sell or hold and if so, for how long? If you retreat from the TSP’s C, S and I funds, which many have or are planning to do, when do you come back if ever? The G fund is looking awfully good to some investors.

Thoughts?

Questions about TRICARE’s first-ever open season? We’re listening.

As Federal News Network reported last week, the Defense Department is currently holding its first-ever open season for TRICARE to let recipients pick between two healthcare plans. DoD said it is a better way for beneficiaries to pick their healthcare plan, but some military family advocates fear it could leave participants stuck in a lackluster plan.

TRICARE Chief Patrick Grady will speak with Mike Causey later this week and we want to hear from you. Send any questions on TRICARE for Grady to mcausey@federalnewsnetwork.com until noon today for the chance to get your answer on the air.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

On a clear day, from the highest point of Capulin Volcano National Monument in New Mexico visitors can see Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and some claim Kansas.

Source: National Park Service

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