Was Feb. 19 the TSP’s best day for a while?

While the short-term impact is obvious — check the headlines, check your blood pressure! — the long-range impact of the coronavirus scare on the world economy, the stock market, and your Thrift Savings Plan nestegg is yet too be determined. Do you believe the White House? Or the CDC? What has China failed to tell us? Lots of questions. Few, if any, answers. For now. Maybe for a long time yet.

Is the 10-plus year bull market finally over? And If so for how long? Weeks? Months? Years? Has, or will, the spreading coronavirus virus bring it down? As in way down? And if so, for how long? Weeks? Months? Years? Unless you are an incredibly cool, calm investor, or unless you have a long time until retirement, the uncertainty and growing panic — deserved or not — is definitely real.

Feb. 19, two Wednesdays ago, may have been the high point for the U.S. stock market. Or not. But these are nail-biting times for millions of Americans who must depend on Social Security and their 401k plans to carry them through retirement. Things are better for millions of current or retired federal and military personnel who will be entitled to a federal annuity too. And the government 401k plan, the Thrift Savings Plan, which includes matching contributions from Uncle Sam. When the new Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) was setup in the 1980s, it provided a less generous lifetime government annuity. Estimates at the time said investments in the TSP would provide anywhere from one third to one half the total income in retirement. A growing number of workers and retirees have, or had, TSP balances of more than a million dollars. Most after nearly 30 years of investing. Many more have passed the half million dollar amount and were heading upward. Until now.

So the question is what now? The “right” answer depends of course on what happens over the next few months. Maybe years. And of course, your age. How much longer you will work for the government? How much time do you have to recover from any recession/depression that might happen. Might have already started! Who knows? Also at one age do you plan to start tapping your TSP account after you retire. Some people, mostly Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) retirees, may never need to touch their TSP. Others may wait years. Others will need the money from day one of retirement.

Should you sell C, S and I stock-indexed funds now? Or better yet, two weeks ago. Put the money in the F bond or G-funds for safekeeping. Until any recession/depression is over. Assuming you know when that will be. Or should you consider any market down temporary, but also a buying opportunity when stocks are on sale. Like much of the last 10 years.

Taking the long view of the stock market — always based on looking backward at what has happened — is helpful, for some. Disturbing for others. This a photograph of the stock market by the Wilshire 2020 Factoid. It was taken Wednesday Feb. 26, 2020. It tracks the ups and downs — the paper wins and paper losses — daily from the low point of the Great Recession (March 9, 2009) until Wednesday of this week. Check it out. When you figure out where the market is going—not where its been—please let me know ASAP:

February 26, 2020 FACTOIDS:

  • The Wilshire 5000 Total Market Index (W5000) closed today at 31,741.79 down -179.56 points or -0.56%.
  • This represents a paper loss for the day of approximately $200 billion.
  • The Wilshire 5000 fell for the fifth trading day in a row.
  • This is the longest losing streak of 2020 and the longest string of negative days since September 24, 2019 also concluded with five negative days in a row.
  • The Wilshire 5000 had a five-day loss of -2,792.16 points or -8.09% for a paper loss of approximately $2.9 trillion.
  • For the month, the Wilshire 5000 index is down -3.34% or approximately $1.2 trillion.
  • For the quarter, the Wilshire 5000 index is down -3.48% or approximately $1.2 trillion.
  • Since the February 19, 2020 market high, the Wilshire 5000 index is down -8.09% or approximately $2.9 trillion.
  • Since the recent, December 24, 2018 market low, the Wilshire 5000 index is up 31.43% or approximately $8.0 trillion.
  • Since November 6, 2018, the close on the day of the 2018 Election, the Wilshire 5000 has gained 11.50% or approximately $3.4 trillion.
  • Since January 20, 2017, the close on the day of the Trump Inauguration, the Wilshire 5000 has gained 33.68% or approximately $8.8 trillion.
  • Since November 8, 2016, the close on the day of the 2016 Election, the Wilshire 5000 has gained 43.20% or approximately $11.0 trillion.
  • Since December 15, 2015, the close before the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time since June 29, 2006, the Wilshire 5000 index is up 50.44% or approximately $12.2 trillion.
  • Since September 12, 2012, the close before Bernanke revealed QE3, the Wilshire 5000 index is up 111.07% or approximately $19.2 trillion.
  • Since August 26, 2010, the close before Bernanke revealed QE2, the Wilshire 5000 index is up 189.27% or approximately $23.9 trillion.
  • The Wilshire 5000 is up 362.81% or $29.9 trillion from the Financial Crisis low of March 9, 2009.
  • Since the old, October 9, 2007 market high, the Wilshire 5000 index is up 100.81% or approximately $19.9 trillion.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

The word maverick actually became part of common lexicon after a Texas cattle rancher named Samuel Maverick. Maverick refused to brand his cows, unlike everyone else, thus the term maverick.

Source: Texas Standard 

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Nov 30, 2020 Close Change YTD*
L Income 22.0426 -0.0377 1.01%
L 2025 10.9118 -0.0426 -
L 2030 37.7239 -0.183 0.12%
L 2035 11.2251 -0.0599 -
L 2040 42.0825 -0.2458 -0.21%
L 2045 11.4379 -0.0718 -
L 2050 24.8569 -0.167 -0.56%
L 2055 11.8630 -0.0976 -
L 2060 11.8631 -0.0975 -
L 2065 11.8632 -0.0976 -
G Fund 16.4964 0.0012 0.82%
F Fund 21.1668 0.015 6.30%
C Fund 53.8426 -0.2398 2.69%
S Fund 69.1907 -0.7648 3.97%
I Fund 33.8194 -0.4237 -10.53%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at tsp.gov
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.