“The downturn in the financial markets over the past few days have been a stark reminder to all of us that while stocks move upward, they also can move down. After more than a decade of increases, the substantial downturn, especially so rapidly, has been a major wake-up call for many investors.
After a week when investors suffered deep losses at a rate not seen since the Great Recession more than ten years ago, it is important to understand that this situation is far from normal. However, fear is a strong motivator and has been the primary impetus behind the market losses recently.
To put things in perspective, the fear surrounding the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak caused the Dow to decline 12.4%, the S&P 500 to drop 11.5%, and the Nasdaq, which actually closed Friday with a marginal gain, to decline by 10.5%, all in just five days of trading last week. Since all three stock indices have dropped at least 10% from their peak, we have technically entered a market “correction.” To enter a true “bear market,” the indexes would have to drop 20% from their peaks. We certainly hope that does not occur.
While some have suggested that we were due for a correction, the speed of this correction has caused many to worry about where we go from here. Even more concerning is that this correction was not caused by market-driven events, such as bad earnings reports, inflationary concerns, or excessive regulatory actions. Instead, fear of a coronavirus outbreak, with less than 100,000 cases globally, caused a massive sell off. While broken supply chains and the inability to obtain component parts from China have certainly been worries, in reality those problems have not yet occurred on a wide scale. However, in this case it seems that perception has become reality.
Not only did the stock market suffer but oil prices declined as well. Because the demand was so great from investors trying to get out of “risk” investments, such as stocks, into “non-risk” investments, the yield on the 10-Treasury note dropped to an all-time low, closing out the week at 1.127%. So, the entire “market” has suffered.
While you have heard all this from the countless commentators on your favorite news channel, I know that your primary concern is about your own personal investments, and particularly your account in the Ministers’ Retirement Plan at the Church of God Benefits Board. I wish that I could tell you that all is going to be great so do not worry. However, I do not have a crystal ball that provides me with that information.
MAKE WISE INVESTMENT CHOICES
All of us have 20/20 vision in hindsight. We only wish we had taken our gains from 2019 and gotten out of the stock market. However, since we did not make that choice, we now must make choices based upon our current environment. Getting out of the stock market completely now means that you turn your “paper” losses into realized losses.
If the markets begin to recover, your “paper” losses could be made back in a few weeks or months. On the other hand, you do not want to ride down a sinking ship, especially if you are near, or in, retirement.
So, my advice is to seek guidance from our Heavenly Father and then make your investment choices based upon what is pleasing to your soul and on what allows you to sleep at night in perfect peace.
WE HAVE BEEN HERE BEFORE
Just two years ago in late January and early February of 2018, we experienced a similar rapid drop in the stock markets. However, as you recall, since that time the markets have done nothing but climb, with only momentary setbacks. Will we experience recovery that fast this time or will the markets continue to drop? I wish I knew the answer to that question, but I do not.
However, I do know the One that knows that answer!
While I certainly do not want to overly “spiritualize” your investment decisions, I truly believe that we serve a God that cares about every concern that touches our lives. So, during this time of market volatility, join with me in prayer for guidance as we all make investment decisions regarding our future.”
Arthur D. Rhodes
President and Chief Executive Officer
Church of God Benefits Board, Inc.
(Note: The staff at the Church of God Benefits Board will be happy to assist you, but we cannot guide you in your investment allocation. We are specifically prohibited by law from providing investment advice.)