The S&P 500 Index generated a total return of ‐9.0% in December, which was the worst December return since 1931 in the midst of the Great Depression. The quarterly return of the S&P 500 Index was ‐13.5%, representing the worst fourth quarter return since 2008, which was in the midst of the Financial Crisis. Outside of cash, there was no place to hide for investors in 2018, which was just the opposite of 2017 when nearly every asset class generated a nicely profitable return. Judging by the December decline in market prices, it appears that the wheels may be coming off the bus.
I wouldn’t touch an S&P 500 Index product such as the Vanguard 500 Index Fund (VFINX, $234.91) with a 10-foot pole. It’s a passive index full of overvalued momentum stocks and overweight the most overvalued momentum stocks.
“The four most expensive words in the English language are ‘this time it’s different.’” It’s different this time, and it’s …
“Sure, the opportunity cost of holding gold given where stocks are isn’t great, but the long-term reasons to own gold are just as real as they were months ago, as a store of value with low correlation to stocks,” said Adam Strauss, CFA, with Appleseed Capital.
The purpose of this whitepaper is to highlight areas of concern so that the Morningstar’s Sustainability Rating may improve its methodology and avoid unintentionally “greenwashing” mutual funds that do not reflect the widely-held ESG standards of the SRI industry.