03-15-2018 Columns

What should investors know about volatility?

As you may have heard, the stock market has been on a wild ride lately. What’s behind this volatility? And, as an investor, how concerned should you be? What caused the steep drop in stock prices we experienced on a few separate days? Essentially, two main factors seem to be responsible. First, some good economic news may actually have played a significant role. A 17-year low in unemployment and solid job growth has begun to push wages upward. These developments have led to fears of rising inflation, which, in turn, led to speculation that the Federal Reserve will tighten the money supply at a faster-than-expected rate. Stocks reacted negatively to these expectations of higher interest rates. The second cause of the market volatility appears to be simply a reaction to the long bull market. While rising stock prices lead many people to continue buying more and more shares, some people actually need to sell their stocks – and this pent-up selling demand, combined with short-term profit-taking, helped contribute to the large sell-offs of recent days.How concerned you should be about this volatility, consider these points: Sell-offs is nothing unusual. We’ve often experienced big sell-offs, but they’ve generally been followed with strong recoveries. Of course, past performance is not a guarantee of future results, but history has shown that patient, persistent investors have often been rewarded. Fundamentals are strong. While short-term market movements can be caused by a variety of factors, economic conditions and corporate earnings typically drive performance in the long term. Right now, the U.S. economy is near full employment, consumer and business sentiment has risen strongly, manufacturing and service activity is at multi-year highs, and GDP growth in 2018 appears to be on track for the best performance since 2015. Furthermore, corporate earnings are expected to rise this year. What’s your next move? Here are some suggestions: Review your situation. You may want to work with a financial professional to evaluate your portfolio to determine if it is helping you make the progress you need to eventually achieve your long-term goals. Reassess your risk tolerance. If you were unusually upset over the loss in value of your investments during the market pullback, you may need to review your risk tolerance to determine if it’s still appropriate for your investment mix. If you feel you are taking on too much risk, you may need to rebalance your portfolio. Keep in mind, though, by “playing it safe” and investing heavily in vehicles that offer greater protection of principal, but little in the way of return, you run the risk of not attaining the growth you need to reach your objectives. Look for opportunities. A market pullback such as the one we’ve experienced, which occurs during a period of economic expansion and rising corporate profits, can give long-term investors a chance to add new shares at attractive prices in an environment that may be conducive to a market rally. A sharp market pullback, such as we’ve seen recently, will always be big news. But if you look beyond the headlines, you can sometimes see a different picture – and one that may be brighter than you had realized. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Local jobs and economy remain top priority

My top priority in Congress remains promoting local job creation and economic growth. In some good news last week, the U.S. Labor Department announced that American employers added 313,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate held at 4.1 percent, a 17- year low. A big reason for this boost has been the implementation of tax reform. For the past number of decades, our local small businesses have been urging Congress to tackle comprehensive tax reform in order to help create local jobs. We were able to accomplish that overhaul late last year. Since then, I’ve heard numerous stories of wage increases, bonuses, benefit expansion, and job creation right here in Southwest Michigan. Last week, I joined colleagues from the Michigan and Illinois delegations on the House floor to share stories of the positive impacts tax reform is having on real families and businesses here in Southwest Michigan.I am proud we were able to get the job done and of the real and measurable positive impacts it’s having on folks here at home. The Tax Cuts & Jobs Act is just one more example of how we’re working to get our economy moving, and putting more dollars in the paychecks of American workers including those here in Southwest Michigan. To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Making reporting in Michigan easier

As I have investigated Michigan State University’s handling of the Larry Nassar case, one thing has become very clear – we need to remove more barriers for reporting sexual offenses. To help correct this issue, I introduced House Bill 5539 (2018) which would amend the “Student Safety Act” by adding sexual abuse, assault, or rape to the state of Michigan’s OK2Say program. Ok2Say is a platform that allows anyone to confidentially report tips or criminal activities directed at Michigan students, school employees, or taking place on school grounds. The victims of Nassar stated repeatedly that they felt bullied or prevented from having a voice. This legislation provides another anonymous option to report this illegal behavior in the hopes that something like what happened on MSU’s campus will never happen again. Our state’s reporting laws needed an update when it comes to hospice care and opioid abuse as well. I recently cosponsored House Bill 5668 to exempt hospice care providers from complying with bills introduced last year that required health care providers to report to the Michigan automated prescription system (MAPS). The MAPS program was created to track controlled substances, and the legislation was intended to generate a report from MAPS for doctors to utilize before prescribing or dispensing a controlled substance. Last year’s bills were intended to combat the state’s opioid epidemic and eliminate doctor shopping, the process of seeing multiple treatment providers to procure prescription medications illicitly. I fully support efforts to put an end to the opioid crisis; however, the specific mandate should not pertain to hospice providers because these patients are admitted for end-of-life care. Hospice and palliative care providers already have the delicate task of ensuring pain symptom relief for the terminally ill and I do not believe the state should further impede their ability to make dying patients as comfortable as possible. Both of these bills will protect our vulnerable populations.

2018 #SWMISpirit tournament is underway

I am proud to once again sponsor the Southwest Michigan Spirit Tournament to give local students and alumni a chance to show their school spirit and tell everyone what makes their school great. The 2018 competition began March 5 and will span five weeks, ending at noon on Friday, April 6. The 31 area high schools in the tournament were divided into four brackets named for features that characterize Southwest Michigan. Like in the NCAA tournament, the schools compete in a single-elimination bracket contest and those with the most points move on to the next round each week. The first round was last week, so here are the matchups for the Sweet 16: Bridgman vs. Michigan Lutheran; New Buffalo vs. Lake Michigan Catholic; Watervliet vs. River Valley; Brandywine vs. Grace Christian; Buchanan vs. Berrien Springs; Centreville vs. Coloma; Cassopolis vs.  Edwardsburg; and Marcellus vs. Howardsville Christian. There are several ways to earn points, such as voting in polls or submitting unique photos about your school. For complete contest rules, visit www.SenatorJohnProos.com/Southwest-Michigan-Spirit. Visitors to my Facebook page, John Proos Supporters Page, can also upload photos and earn bonus points when others “like” their school’s photo album. Another way to earn points is to follow me on Twitter and send a tweet to @JohnMProos that includes the school name and the hashtag #SWMISpirit. Over the years, the response to this tournament has been phenomenal. I encourage everyone to show once again that no one has more school spirit than Southwest Michigan. As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

HPV Vaccination

Human papillomavirus (HPV) is the most common sexually transmitted infection in the United States. You can get HPV by having oral, vaginal, or anal sex with someone who has the virus. It is most commonly spread during vaginal or anal sex. HPV can be passed even when an infected person has no signs or symptoms. Anyone who is sexually active can get HPV, even if you have had sex with only one person. You also can develop symptoms years after you have sex with someone who is infected making it hard to know when you first became infected. In most cases, HPV goes away on its own and does not cause any health problems. But when HPV does not go away, it can cause health problems like genital warts and cancer. HPV can cause cervical and other cancers including cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis, or anus.  You can do several things to lower your chances of getting HPV:  Get vaccinated. HPV vaccines are safe and effective. They can protect males and females against diseases (including cancers) caused by HPV when given in the recommended age groups. HPV vaccines are given in three shots over six months; it is important to get all three doses.  Get screened for cervical cancer. Routine screening for women aged 21 to 65 years old can prevent cervical cancer. All boys and girls ages 11 or 12 years should get vaccinated. Catch-up vaccines are recommended for males through age 21 and for females through age 26, if they did not get vaccinated when they were younger. For more information on HPV and the vaccination, contact the Berrien County Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit them online at www.bchdmi.org.