It's the Dow 20 K or Bust article!
Is the suspense just killing you? I mean, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is teasing us investors with the 20,000 milestone. Why are we so close but not over that level? Because investors have to take one more collective breath before they buy more stocks ahead of what will become the major over/under mark of benchmark averages for possibly a long time to come.
Not everyone will agree if this benchmark is important, but I think it is. Any round number is important if it affords you a reflective look back at what you have learned, how far you've come, and how far you have to go in order to reach your goals. Measuring progress is part of the job of being an investor.
March of 1999 was when the Dow first reached 10,000. I'll never forget those Dow 10 K hats worn by NYSE traders as they roared gleefully about it as if it were a major victory. In a sense, it was exactly that. So many people participated in the wealth creation machine of the '90's. It was the peak in ratings for financial TV, income, and in many ways, people's dreams. Sorry that my reflecting back on the last 17 years isn't 100% positive; we mustn't forget the dear price we paid to arrive at this point. Thousands of Americans lost their lives on 9/11 and thousands more were lost in wars in the Middle East since then. The after effects of the Great Recession linger; lost productivity, lost opportunity, lost retirements, and for many, lost belief in the American dream leave us all a little poorer, no matter how high the major averages climb. That's the lesson from the Presidential election last month, right?
I know we usually don't think of financial markets in this way, but there's a difference between a milestone and a celebration. Don't get me wrong; I am thrilled that this year has turned into a relatively decent year for investors. Breaching 20 K on the Dow would be a nice way to cap off the year. Even if we have to wait a little longer, it'll still be important and we'll still talk plenty about it.
But what doesn't change is the day to day activities of being an investor or a financial advisor. The actual day that the Dow 20 K milestone happens, like every day before it, should only serve to reinforce a mix of knowledge, memories, sensitivity, lessons, and experiences. It's called perspective. You gain more of that, then you are the better for it. Now, that would be worth breaking out the Dow 20,000 hats.
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Mitchell O. Goldberg, AAMS, President | Investment Professional
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