With 2015 in full swing, now is a good time to look ahead and see how economic factors might affect your personal financial plan this year. To help get you started, here are AAFMAA Wealth Management & Trust's three key takeaways from the 2015 Market Outlook.
Although the 2008 financial crisis is increasingly further away in the rearview mirror, the bulging national debt and anemic recovery of consumer confidence left in its wake will continue to act like an anchor on economic growth in 2015. It would be worse, however the recent dramatic decline in oil prices is somewhat of a wild card. Although prices have recovered somewhat already, associated gasoline prices are still at multiple-year lows, helping to prop up growth, for now at least. The same factors holding back the economy — lower energy prices, persistent unemployment, and Fed policies will also limit inflationary pressures in 2015.
2. Stock prices will follow earnings. Bonds show cause for concern.
Stocks are fairly valued. The market is already trading near historical average price to earnings multiples (P/E) for the current inflation range, which means stock prices will be driven mostly by earnings. Bonds on the other hand are overvalued due to the ongoing effects of Fed policy. They now have the daunting task of unwinding their policy actions at a pace that the market can digest. Interest rates are so suppressed at this point that bond prices would crater if they were allowed to just snap-back to "normal" historical yields. We remain defensive toward bonds in 2015.
3. Above all, ignore the noise.
The secret to successful long-term investing is establishing your own individual target asset allocation based on your specific situation, and then sticking to it. Ignore short-term events and market volatility. This "noise" can only distract you from your long term plan. The market is volatile by nature — it is normal and unpredictable. So ignore it and stick to your plan.
For a more in-depth review, visit the webinars page of the AAFMAA website and watch the 2015 Market Outlook webinar in its entirety.