“Can’t We All Just Get Along?”

Didn’t November and December stink????

Well, not the holiday stuff . . . but the market sure made my stomach do some somersaults!  And, what was particularly frustrating was that the year-end sell-off of stocks had almost nothing to do with the state of the economy.  In fact, the economic numbers continued to project robust growth in almost all the important sectors.

No – this market realignment, from where I sit, was triggered purely and simply by our federal government and their unwillingness to find any common ground that would allow the two parties to work together.  The partisan politics, which have been a hallmark of the Washington scene for as long as I can remember, just seem to be getting worse.  Our elected officials appear intent to dig in, trapped by their own one-sided ideology, with little regard for the electorate and with a strong unwillingness to compromise.  They all want to stop the “game,” take their ball and go home!

And, this is so hard for me to comprehend.

I thought we sent folks to Washington to legislate – to espouse their ideals and their strong feelings, but, ultimately, to set aside partisanship long enough to negotiate legislation designed to move the nation ahead.

Instead, we get two parties on the far ends of their ideological divide, a painful government shutdown and little optimism that anything will change any time soon on Capitol Hill.

Still, the capital markets are resilient, and, despite the occasional correction, continue to move upwards and to the right, as they reflect the good fortunes of the great industrial companies in the United States and the world.  Certainly, the tremendous surge in stock prices in January of this year (the best January in 32 years!) is a great indicator that the fundamentals that drive investment performance have not really been compromised, despite what we all experienced in the last quarter of 2018.

As of this writing, I remain optimistic in the near-term outlook for stock prices, and see no real value in pulling too much risk off the table.  But, the one “wild card,” in my opinion, that could have a real negative impact on our investments, is continued drama in our nation’s capital.

I’m pretty sure we send our representatives to Washington to actually get something done . . . and, while neither side is ever completely happy with the final results, we typically do see some important legislation that comes out of the House and the Senate and eventually crosses the President’s desk.

I really hope that we will see a little more of this bi-partisan cooperation in the coming months.

One of my favorite all-time quotes is from President John F. Kennedy.  In 1962 he said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

I, for one, would welcome this type of “grown-up” approach to governing, and pray that some common human maturity and decency finds its way back to Washington soon.