The U.S. stock market is back to beating global markets. Riskier U.S. assets have been strongest lately and interest rates remain low. In this environment we've just got too much short and too much abroad to keep pace with the U.S. market.
The dramatic rebound seems to be running out of gas—or rather, oil. Recently, corporate earnings have been weak while stock prices have been strong. This can't continue for long. Either earnings will have to head back up or prices will have to head down—otherwise, we'll have late-1990s-style high P/E ratios, only without the expectation for high earnings growth. That's not going to happen.
The market slide turned around in mid-February but still left the S&P 500 down a fraction for the month. In the grand scheme of market slides, this is more of a snowslip than an avalanche — at least here in the U.S. Our stock market has largely avoided major drops since 2009, so this drop might seem a little more dramatic than it is.
In Wall Street lore, the January effect is the historical pattern where stocks do well in January relative to other months for dubious reasons that include year-end tax loss selling and reinvestment. The first few weeks of 2016 have turned out to be the worst start of any year on record.
It was a rough-and-tumble 2015 - a year in which most funds fell. Very few total portfolios of bonds and stocks posted gains in 2015. We've made some changes to keep portfolio downside risk low for the time being, and we're taking some winnings off
For the year, our Aggressive Portfolio managed a market-beating 3.06% return, while our Conservative Portfolio slid 1.36%, largely weighed down by bonds and ill-fated stock funds. There are over 1,000 unique fund of fund mutual funds (funds that own other funds to build a total portfolio like our model portfolio). Nobody that owned stock and bond funds was up more than 3.06% in 2015.
While we have stock funds that did well, with a large weight to bonds, shorts that lost money, and foreign funds that are still lagging the U.S. market, we'll have to settle for just so-so performance in October, relatively speaking.
The stock market continues down, but in September bonds did well again, notably longer-dated government and investment grade bonds. This bond boost, plus our short positions, kept us falling less than the market — even with many foreign funds underperforming the S&P 500.