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2024 Q1 Market Commentary: All-Time Highs

Investment markets started the year much the same way they ended 2023. US Large-Cap Stocks led the way again with a 10.6% return in the quarter, with developed market international stocks and US Small-Cap stocks not far behind at 5.8% and 5.2%, respectively. Those three asset classes posted the strongest returns in 2023 as well. Growth stocks continued to outperform Value stocks, though the margin narrowed from last year. Volatility remained quite low in the markets, with the Volatility Index (VIX) at the lowest level since 2017.

Lessons Learned from Heart Surgery

On Tuesday, January 23, 2024, I had minimally invasive heart surgery to repair mitral valve prolapse at University of MD, St. Joe's Medical Center (SJMC). I had known for over six years that this would eventually need to be done, but my annual echocardiogram did not indicate any worsening …..until last September. While I still really did not have any symptoms, an echocardiogram and other tests showed the condition had worsened, and it was time to talk to surgeons about options.

2023 Q4 Market Commentary: Predictions

In a year where nearly every “expert” predicted a continued decline in the market, almost every area of the stock market posted double-digit positive returns. US Large Cap Growth stocks led the way after suffering the worst losses in 2022, bouncing back with a 47% return. Value stocks lagged badly behind growth stocks but were still up 12% on the year. Even international stocks had a very strong year, with developed market stocks up 18% and emerging market stocks up 12%.

Health Savings Account Planning

We’ve written about HSAs before, calling them a hidden gem that more people should use to help put away money for retirement. These accounts are “triple tax-advantaged” as contributions are tax-deductible, earnings grow tax-free, and distributions are tax-free as long as they are used for qualified medical expenses. We have many clients who utilize HSAs, and I personally fund my own each year. As we head into the end of the year, I thought it would be helpful to provide a review of HSAs, along with some of the planning tips I picked up from Kelley’s presentation.

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Up, Up and Away

My wife and I have talked about doing a hot air balloon ride for years. I’m not the adventure-seeking type and am not a big fan of heights, but she is. I will never be jumping out of airplanes with her, but this felt like something I could handle. We also knew we wanted to try to see another solar eclipse after our last incredible experience in 2017. So when I noticed that there was a solar eclipse crossing Albuquerque this year, the same weekend they were holding their annual Balloon Fiesta (the largest in the world!), I knew we had to be there!

2023 Q3 Market Commentary: Taking a Breath

After nine months of sprinting, the equity markets took a break to catch their breath in the third quarter. The S&P 500 posted a loss of about 3% after three straight quarters of positive returns over 7%. US Small Cap stocks were down about 5% in the quarter, while international developed market stocks were down 4%. Despite the negative returns this quarter, the 12-month return numbers still look great, with the S&P 500 up 21%, US small caps up 9% and international developed market stocks leading the way with a 26% return.