May 6, 2013
Weekly Market Commentary
May 6, 2013
Like athletes testing their limits, the Standard & Poor’s 500 and the Dow Jones Industrials Indices both hit new highs last week. The S&P closed the week above the 1,600 level for the first time, while the Dow climbed above the 15,000 mark on Friday before closing lower. Strong corporate earnings, gains in the housing market, and good news from Europe helped support last week’s strong performance.
Corporate earnings season – the period when companies’ managements tell shareholders how well the companies have performed during the previous quarter – is almost over. Seventy-two percent of the companies in the S&P 500 have beaten analysts’ expectations, according to information provided by FactSet and reported on MarketWatch. Since 1994, about 63 percent of companies have beaten expectations on average.
Housing market news was largely positive last week. The Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller 20-city index of home prices was up 9.3 percent year-over-year through February which was the largest gain in almost 7 years. Generally, cities that had seen big price declines during the housing crisis realized the biggest gains, including Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Atlanta. Cities experiencing strong jobs growth, such as San Francisco, Seattle, and Dallas, also showed significant price gains.
In Europe, Italy’s elected leaders finally resolved their political impasse and formed a government. The highly-diverse coalition includes a record number of women, as well as Italy’s first non-white minister. The new cabinet was sworn in on Sunday, April 28. On Monday, Italy’s FTSE MIB, an index which reflects the performance of the Italian stock market, the MSCI World Index, and several U.S. stock markets moved higher.
DOES MONEY BUY HAPPINESS... OR DOESN'T IT? Many years ago, Richard Easterlin, a Professor of Economics at the University of Southern California, studied the relationship between happiness and money. He found that, over shorter periods of time, happiness and income tend to move in tandem. “Happiness tends to fall in economic contractions and rise in expansions.”
Over longer periods of time, he found satisfaction with life (i.e., happiness) had little relationship to rates of economic growth (i.e., people having more money). The conclusion was once people have enough money to meet basic needs, they are as happy as they are going to be.
A recent paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research, written by economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers of the University of Michigan, appears to cast doubt on Easterlin’s happiness-income paradox. The authors relied on data from Gallup polls which asked people throughout the world how much they earned and on which rung of the happiness ladder they were perched. While people in some countries appeared to be happier than people in other countries, everyone – no matter how much money they had – was happier when they had more money.
So, does more money translate into more happiness or doesn’t it?
It may all come down to your definition of happiness. After all, well-being is subjective as Princeton’s Professor of Psychology and Public Affairs, Daniel Kahneman, and its Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Angus Deaton, pointed out in a 2012 paper. The pair evaluated two measures of happiness: life evaluation (satisfaction with your place in the world) and emotional well-being (day-to-day happiness). The researchers found that life evaluation increases steadily with income, while day-to-day happiness maxes out an annual income of $75,000. They concluded “high income buys life satisfaction but not happiness, and low income is associated both with low life evaluation and low emotional well-being.”
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“All I ask is the chance to prove that money can't make me happy.”
--Spike Milligan, British comedian
Suzanne H. Christian, CFP
P.S. Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.
Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.
- This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.
- The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.
- The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
- Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.
- The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
- The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
- Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
- Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
- Past performance does not guarantee future results.
- You cannot invest directly in an index.
- Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.