11-02-2017 Columns

Stampeding bull market may slow down… so be prepared

 As you know, we’ve been enjoying a long period of steadily rising stock prices. Of course, this bull market won’t last forever – and when it does start losing steam, you, as an investor, need to be prepared. Before we look at how you can ready yourself for a new phase in the investment environment, let’s consider some facts about the current situation:

Length – This bull market, which began in 2009, is the second-oldest in the past 100 years – and it’s about twice as long as the average bull market.

Strength – Since the start of this long rally, the stock market has produced an average annualized gain of 15.5% per year. While these figures are impressive, they aren’t necessarily predictive – so how much longer can this bull market continue to “stampede”? No one can say for sure, but there’s no mandatory expiration date for bull markets – in fact, they don’t generally die of old age, but typically expire either because of a recession or the bursting of a bubble, such as the “dot.com” bubble of 2000 or the housing bubble of 2007. And right now, most market experts don’t see either event on the near-term horizon.

Still, this doesn’t mean you should necessarily expect an uninterrupted streak of big gains. Some signs point to greater market volatility and lower returns. To navigate this changing landscape, think about these suggestions:

Consider rebalancing your portfolio. If appropriate, you may want to rebalance your investment mix to ensure you have a reasonable percentage of stocks – to help provide the growth you need to achieve your goals – and enough fixed-income vehicles, such as bonds, to help reduce your portfolio’s vulnerability to market volatility and potential short-term downturns.

Look beyond U.S. borders. At any given time, U.S. stocks may be doing well, while international stocks are slumping – and vice versa. So, when volatility hits the U.S. markets – as it surely will, at some time – you can help reduce the impact on your portfolio if you also own some international equities. Keep in mind, though, that international investments bring some specific risks, such as currency fluctuations and foreign political and economic events.

Develop a strategy. You may want to work with a financial professional to identify a strategy to cope with a more turbulent investment atmosphere. Such a strategy can keep you from overreacting to market downturns and possibly even help you capitalize on short-term pullbacks. You could invest systematically by putting the same amount of money in the same investments each month. When prices go up, your investment dollars will buy fewer shares, and when prices drop, you’ll buy more shares. And the more shares you own, the greater the potential for accumulation. However, this strategy, sometimes known as dollar cost averaging, won’t guarantee a profit or protect against all losses, and you need to be willing to keep investing when share prices are declining.

During a raging bull market, it’s not all that hard for anyone to invest successfully. But it becomes more challenging when the inevitable volatility and market downturns appear. Making the moves described above can help you keep moving toward your goals – even when the “bull” has taken a breather.

This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Diabetes awareness

 November is National Diabetes Month. Make it your time to take charge of your type 1 or type 2 diabetes for a longer, healthier life.

Preventive care for people with diabetes—and for the risk factors that cause related health problems—has improved significantly over the past 20 years, and people are living longer and better with the disease. But living longer can mean having other health problems longer, too. Good management over a lifetime is the key, starting with the day you’re told you have diabetes.

More than 29 million people in the United States have diabetes, but 1 out of 4 doesn’t know they have it. Most people with diabetes—9 out of 10—have type 2 diabetes. With type 2 diabetes, your body doesn’t use insulin well and is unable to keep blood sugar at normal levels.  If you have any of these risk factors, ask your doctor if you should be tested for diabetes. The sooner you find out, the sooner you can start making healthy changes that will benefit you now and in the future. Risk factors include: Being overweight; being 45 years or older; having a parent or sibling with type 2 diabetes; being physically active less than 3 times a week.

Race and ethnicity also affect your risk. African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at particularly high risk for type 2 diabetes.

Managing diabetes from the beginning can mean fewer health problems later on. It’s a balancing act—food, activity, medicine, and blood sugar levels—but one you can master. Manage your diabetes throughout the day by: Following a healthy eating plan, including eating more fruits and vegetables and less sugar and salt. Getting physically active—10 to 20 minutes a day is better than only an hour once a week. Taking diabetes medicine as prescribed by your doctor. Testing your blood sugar regularly to understand and track how food, activity, and medicine affect your blood sugar levels.

Living with diabetes is challenging, but it’s important to remember that making healthy choices can have a big effect on the course of the disease—and your quality of life.

Resources for veterans

 As we near Veterans Day, it is an important time to reflect on the tremendous debt of gratitude we owe to the brave men and women who have served our great nation. As the wife of one of these men, I truly understand that we enjoy the blessings of freedom because of our veterans. When they return home, it is our duty as their fellow citizens to provide them with the resources and services they have so rightfully earned.

The Michigan Veteran Resource Service Center operated by the Michigan Veterans Affairs Agency (MVAA) is a great resource for veterans and their families and one that I wanted to make sure all of the readers of this paper know about. MVAA, in conjunction with the Governor and Legislature, has been working over the last several years to ensure that veterans are able to more easily learn about, and access, the various state and federal benefits they have earned. Veterans and their families can reach the Veterans Resource Service Center by phone at 1-800-MICH-VET or 1-800-642-4838. The MVAA website at www.michiganveterans.com is also a great resource.

As a Navy wife, I can assure you that helping our active military members and veterans is a top priority of mine. While the state has made strides towards better programs and care for veterans, it is incumbent upon us, especially elected officials, to keep our commitment to our veterans and military personnel. If you ever have any questions about veteran services or benefits, or other state government questions, I encourage you to contact me via phone toll free at 800-577-6212 or via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.

Beginning of the end for the opioid epidemic

 Last week, we doubled down on ending the opioid epidemic that has affected so many of our neighbors, friends, and family members here in Southwest Michigan and across the country.

Last Congress I championed the landmark, bipartisan 21st Century Cures Act, which allocated $1 billion in resources to help states to address opioid addiction, treatment, and prevention. The first round of funding was allocated this year and Michigan received more than $16 million. This grant, with more on the way, will go a long way to help those suffering, but it is just the beginning.

On Thursday, I attended the bipartisan White House announcement for President Trump declaring a Nationwide Public Health Emergency to address the opioid crisis. I applaud the Administration for taking decisive action to address this epidemic. But there is more work to be done, clearly. And here in Congress we will continue to take steps to address this epidemic. We should all work together to advance meaningful, bipartisan legislation that will make a difference. Together, we can take on this “silent epidemic” and bring it out of the shadows.

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).

Celebrating STEM education

 Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education is key to our future because it prepares students for careers in critical fields.

National STEM Day is Nov. 8. It’s a day to inspire kids to explore these important subjects.

STEM contributions are all around us and shape our lives every day. To continue leading the world in STEM innovations, we must encourage more kids to look at STEM-related fields.

Michigan’s economy is growing and creating jobs, yet many positions remain unfilled. As a member of the governor’s MiSTEM Advisory Council, I know that STEM education can play a key role is addressing our skilled jobs gap by providing our students with education in fields where positions exist.

I sponsored Senate Bill 343 to give our students vital information for helping them plan their future. The bill would require schools to provide students with the most recent available analysis of in-demand occupations for their economic forecast region.

The “Hot Jobs” outlooks for each of Michigan’s 10 regions are available at milmi.org/research/Regional-Hot-Jobs-for-2024.

According to the Hot Jobs outlook for Southwest Michigan, the careers with the highest projected growth from 2014 to 2024 in the region are computer-controlled machine tool operators, nurse practitioners and software developers.

I also sponsored SB 344, which would allow a student to receive a STEM certification as an incentive for taking additional STEM courses. Michigan could be the first state to allow such a STEM certification opportunity.

National STEM Day and my bills are both about ensuring that every student receives the education and information they need for their future.

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.