2019 was a year of tumultuous news headlines of trade wars, the slowing global economy, and political investigations and impeachment. Yet, with that scary backdrop the markets had a fabulous year. The Russell 3000, a broad stock index, rose a stunning 31.20%. International developed stocks as measured by the MSCI EAFE Index were up 18.44%, lower, but still outstanding. Stocks worldwide rebounded from a sharp correction at the end of 2018 and eventually pushed to record highs at the close of the year.
The U.S. bond market also did well as the Bloomberg Barclays Aggregate Bond Index was up 8.72%. Municipal bonds as measured by the Bloomberg Barclays Municipal Bond Index were up 7.54%. These are also excellent returns and reflect the rally in bonds from the mid-year growth scare as any inflation worries abated and yields plummeted. As yields dropped, the prices of bonds went up as they are inversely connected. So higher prices, coupled with interest, led to great returns for bonds.
We certainly can't expect returns like this every year but are delighted when they occur. Here's hoping the headlines this year are a little more sanguine and markets continue marching on. To start the year off right, I have included a lot of positive news and fun articles to get everyone in a positive frame of mind. Wishing you a productive, prosperous and happy 2020!
- 2020 Predictions: I keep using the word solid to describe the economy. Sturdy, stable, and sound also come to mind. But basically I am trying to describe a scenario that is not weak and not spectacular. Most pundits seem to agree as estimates for next year's GDP growth tend to come in at about 2.0% and companies earnings growth estimates are in the high single digits. As I said, solid. Greg Valliere Yardeni Research Forbes
- We're Surrounded by Good News! It may not feel like it when watching the news, but there are plenty of things happening that are improving the lives of many on a daily basis. Over the last decade there is less crime, fewer smokers, better cancer detection and treatment, more income, and even more honeybees! Here is a list of 20 things that have improved over the last decade. USA Today
- A Better You in 2020: The start of the new year is always a good time to take stock and think about how to improve and live better. Here is a smorgasbord of articles for ideas on how to be your best in the new year:
- Wanna Get Away? I couldn't help myself from using the Southwest Airlines tagline, but at some point in any year we all want to get away. Here are lists of top destinations for 2020: Islands to Visit - Conde Naste 50 Places to Travel – Travel & Leisure 27 Best Places to Travel - Forbes
- Top Ten Scientific Breakthroughs of 2019: Want some more optimism going into the new year? Then read up on the biggest scientific discoveries and inventions over the last year such as a black hole confirming Einstein's theory of relativity, a robotic arm controlled by your mind and origami-inspired solar panels! Goodnewsnetwork.org
- The Winter Army: I am not the greatest of skiers (understatement of the year), but I do like to hit the slopes to get outside and active during the cold months. I did not realize that much of the ski industry can trace its roots to the US Army 10th Mountain Division created for alpine battle in WWII. After the war, many of the soldiers went on to create the ski resorts and industry so many of us enjoy today. Along the way, they also earned the distinction of the only unit in the history of the US military to use wartime skills to promote a civilian pastime. This will be a great read for apres ski at Loon this season! WSJ Amazon
Thank you for reading The Friday Buzz! Happy New Year and have a great weekend!