Believe it or not, we started the year quite smoothly. Yes, we were expecting some excitement due to the fact that we had a Presidential election coming our way, but there didn’t appear to be much else on the horizon. Little did we know that the primaries would take a back-seat to something much larger. It took just a few weeks to go from a smooth ride to one of the biggest roller coasters in history. If you are keeping score here is what we have thus far:
After hitting record highs this year, the stock market has had record one-day increases and decreases – right after one-another. Overall, we have seen a retrenchment of over 25% in the major indices reached within days after the latest moves by the Fed. Obviously, actions by the Federal Reserve have not calmed the markets. Not to be outdone, oil prices and interest rates have also plunged. Oil has moved down well over 50% from recent highs and now we have gas prices we have not seen for years. Refinances are soaring in response to lower interest rates, though mortgage rates have been very volatile. Finally, gold prices have been very volatile as well.
The Fed followed its emergency rate cuts with a press conference in which Chairman Powell said the Fed would be patient before lifting rates again. “We will maintain the rate at this level until we’re confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve our maximum employment and price stability goals,” Powell said. Even if we don't have a huge pandemic here, our economy will be affected by the preventative measures in place. The only question is, how bad will it get? The good news is that we have one of the stronger world economies going into this crisis, giving us some cushion. Let's hope the effects are fairly short-lived so we can get off this roller coaster quickly.