Bull market dead at age 11: What next?

Managed to finish two horror novels last Thursday. The bad news is they were both true, as near as we can tell. And so far, except for frequent hand-washing and avoiding crowds, there isn’t much we can do.

For folks who missed the Great Recession of 2008-2009 welcome to the club. Will it be worse? How long will it last? What will it do to any retirement nest egg based on the stock market or on good economic times, which appear to be on hold for an indefinite period?

From the front page to the sports and lifestyle sections, newspapers across the country are filled with almost exclusively bad news. Four of the six front page stories in The Washington Post last Thursday were about the health and economic crises: The World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a global pandemic, mounting job losses because of virus fears, the response overseas and the NBA suspending its season all were above-the-fold in the newspaper. The other two stories were about Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s strategy and the 23-year prison sentence given to Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

In local news the Post reported that the National Cathedral and 200 other local churches were closing for at least two weeks. And the the Cherry Blossom festival won’t be the same this year. That plus lists of local school closings and so-called in-person classes eliminated. The Style Section also got into the act with a front page piece entitled, “Virus Makes Dating Even More Complicated.”

You get the idea.

The New York Times financial section made it official: “Bull Market Reaches End As DOW Falls Exceeds 20 Percent.” A correction of that size usually happens much more often, which is why this one, although long overdue and long predicted, came as such a shock to so many. That same story pointed out that $5 trillion in stock market wealth is incinerated in less than a month. Thanks for putting it into perspective. Another piece said that working from home, which may be the new normal for many of us, has its drawbacks because not being around people and coworkers “can hurt the creative process.” Another happy story was headlined, “Coronavirus Could Ignite A Debt Bomb.” And so on.

So what’s your plan, your next step? Have you put retirement plans on hold? Is your 2020 vacation likely to be much, much closer to home?

What about your Thrift Savings Plan? Is it disappearing before your very eyes? Is it time to retreat to the “safety”of the treasury securities G fund which, while it never has a loss, is barely paying anything. Did you bail out of stocks during the Great Recession and stop buying during an extended period when they were on sale, big time? And when people who stayed the course and kept buying the C, S and I funds saw their account balances skyrocket?

Do you have the nerve to do that again, now that you are 11 years older and much, much closer to retirement or is this time different?

Let us know what you are doing and thinking. Maybe the wisdom of the crowd will help some of us. Can’t get any worse, right?

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

In 2015, the Swedish blood donation service Blodcentralen began an initiative to text a thank-you message to donors whenever their blood was used by a patient. It was meant to retain new donors, especially younger ones.

Source: World Health Organization

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Dec 02, 2020 Close Change YTD*
L Income 22.0966 0.0086 4.04%
L 2025 10.9727 0.0095 -
L 2030 37.9832 0.04 8.24%
L 2035 11.3094 0.0129 -
L 2040 42.4264 0.0524 9.51%
L 2045 11.5374 0.015 -
L 2050 25.0875 0.0347 10.56%
L 2055 12.0009 0.0208 -
L 2060 12.0010 0.0208 -
L 2065 12.0011 0.0208 -
G Fund 16.4972 0.0004 0.89%
F Fund 21.0772 -0.0166 7.35%
C Fund 54.5530 0.1026 13.93%
S Fund 69.4698 -0.1311 22.95%
I Fund 34.2669 0.1097 3.37%
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.