My Baby Wrote Me a Letter

"Give me a ticket for an aeroplane
I ain’t got time to take no fast train
Oh, the lonely days are gone
I’m coming home
Oh, my baby she wrote me a letter"

. . . The Box Tops: The Letter

So, we obviously entertain hundreds of emails daily. Even more so since Andrew Adams has left. Unfortunately, we cannot respond to all of them, however, we do a pretty good job. Recently, our email box has been filled up with questions like this one from one particularly bright Raymond James financial advisor, namely, Michael McCormick of the venerable Chicago-based money management firm of McCormick Retirement Group, who wrote, and we responded:

"I’ve been very interested in your comments regarding the fact that we are in the midst of a secular bull market. I’m fortunate enough to have been an advisor during all of the previous ones from 1982-2000 and believe strongly that they occur following extended flat markets and generally last for a considerable amount of time. I’m curious what gives you so much conviction that we are in a secular bull. How do you differentiate between a bull market move in a flat market like 2003-2007 and what we are in currently?"

(Response) 2003 to 2007 was not a flat market, the S&P 500 went from 789 to 1576 for roughly a 100% gain.

"In the last secular bull there were 3 bear markets: 8/25/87-12/04/87, 7/16/90-10/11/90, and 7/17/98-8/31/98. There average length was a little over 2.6 months and the average decline was 24.6%. None were decimating except 87, as I remember all too well."

(Response) Those were not bear markets unless you define a bear market as a 20%+ decline. I do not use that metric to define a bear market. A bear market was seen in the 1973 – 1974 swoon, the 1980 – 1982 affair, the 2000 – 2003 decline, and 2007 – 2009 period where an S&P 500 index fund lost some 56% of its value.

"1949-1968 was basically the same."

(Response) 1949 to 1966 was a secular bull market where the DJIA gained over 500%.

"Knowing that this market won’t be the same as the other two I’d guess it will be similar. My clients are long-term retirement income driven investors. I know that the only way for them to stay ahead of a constantly rising cost of living is to own a significant amount of equities. It seems to me that it would be foolish on my part to try to 'time' the market by raising cash. We know if you do that you have to be right twice."

(Response) I do raise cash from time to time even though I think this secular bull market has years left in it. I raised cash at the end of January 2018 and recommitted some of the cash at the “undercut low” by the S&P 500 (SPX/2599.95) on February 9, 2018. I raised cash again with the traders’ “sell signal” of October 2, 2018. Hereto, I have put some of that cash back to work.