No Lump of Coal

No Lump of Coal

Mark Lazar’s December 2019 Newsletter

“Fra-gee-lay? It must be Italian!” A Christmas Story

Despite the hot mess in Washington, we have a lot to be thankful for. The list is long but here are a few of the highlights:

  • This is the longest economic expansion in U.S. history.
  • Investors and pension plans are benefiting from the longest bull market in history.
  • At nearly $117 trillion¹ (about an $8 trillion increase since Q4 2018), U.S. household wealth and prosperity is the highest in history.
  • Unemployment, at 3.5%, is at a 60-year low.
  • Wages grew 4.89% year over year.
  • The U.S. isn’t just the biggest energy producer in the world; it’s now also the biggest producer of oil, recently surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.
  • Oil has dropped from $94.60 barrel in December 2009 to $59.07, or nearly a 38% drop
  • Inflation is currently 1.5%, year over year.
  • At $3.64 trillion, federal tax revenues for 2019 are forecast to be the most in history—of course, federal spending will hit $4.5 trillion, which isn’t so great.

Black Friday online sales hit a record high, up 14% from a year ago, following a 17% increase on Thanksgiving Day itself. Black Friday sales at brick and mortar stores were up 4.2% year over year. Shopping centers are full, restaurants are packed, and help wanted signs are everywhere.

 

Item
Data Point
S&P 500 Return YTD
26.51%
Bond Index Return YTD
8.78%
Foreign Index Return YTD
17.73%
Emerging Market Index YTD
7.33%
U.S Forecast GDP 2019
2.30%
Unemployment Rate
3.50%

*All hyperlinked data as of 12/7/2019

Regardless of the latest headlines, the U.S. economy is robust, employment is full (and then some), wages are rising, and consumer confidence is approaching a twenty year high. Barring an exogenous shock, 2019 has been a fantastic year for investors. With roughly two weeks to go, there doesn’t appear to be a lump of coal in the stocking. We might actually get that coveted leg lamp after all.

What a perfect time to take stock of our many blessings and enjoy quality time with our loved ones. Happy holidays and all the best to you in the year to come!

Mark Lazar, MBA
Certified Financial Planner®
www.pathwaytoprosperity.com

¹Household net worth was $113 trillion in Q2, plus an estimated $4 trillion increase between Q2 and Q4.