Stock Market Commentary
For the week of September 29, 2008
Wall Street ended a tumultuous week with gains on Friday, but the major indexes were down for the week as attention focused on efforts by Congress to stabilize the nation’s financial markets. The Dow ended the week down 2.13 percent to 11,143.13. The S&P lost 3.32 percent to close the week at 1,213.27, and the NASDAQ dropped 3.98 percent to finish the week at 2,183.34.
Source: Morningstar.com. * Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three and five-year returns are annualized. The S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, is a reflection of return to an investor, by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax.
Voting Booth – The greatest percentage participation by Americans in any presidential election dating back to 1932 took place during the 1960 race between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard Nixon. Sixty-three percent of voting-age Americans cast a vote in the 1960 race. Fifty-six percent of voting-age Americans voted in the 2004 race (Source: Statistics of the Presidential and Congressional Election, Table 406, BTN Research).
Depends – An individual with $1 million invested 100 percent in the S&P 500 as of Jan. 1, 1973, withdrawing an inflation-adjusted $100,000 at the beginning of each year would have been out of money in nine years. An individual withdrawing an inflation-adjusted $100,000 beginning on Jan. 1, 1982, would have an accumulation of $4.5 million still remaining after 26 years (i.e., as of Dec. 31, 2007). This calculation ignores the ultimate impact of taxes on the account which are due upon withdrawal, is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended to reflect any specific investment or performance. Actual results will fluctuate with market conditions and will vary (Source: BTN Research).
From Senate to White House – Either Senator Barack Obama (IL) or Senator John McCain (AZ) will become the 44th president of the United States following our nationwide Nov. 4, 2008, election. Since 1960, when Senator John F. Kennedy (MA) won the presidential election, every U.S. president has either been a governor or the vice president before becoming president (Source: White House, BTN Research).
Honoring Honest Abe – In honor of the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth, the U.S. Mint will introduce four new versions of the penny, each representing a milestone in Lincoln’s life: the Kentucky log cabin where he was born, his younger years working as a rail splitter in Indiana, his years at the Illinois State Capitol and his work to preserve the union during the Civil War. The first design will debut Feb. 12, Lincoln’s birthday and the 100th anniversary of the original Lincoln penny. A commemorative Lincoln silver dollar will also be released next year.
WEEKLY FOCUS – Charitable Crunch
When consumers begin to feel a crunch in their budgets, they often reduce or eliminate charitable contributions. Already many nonprofits, particularly smaller organizations, have reported declines in donations and revisions to 2009 budgets as a result.
Picking and choosing among your favorite charities can be difficult. Here are some tips for weighing which nonprofits to continue to support and which to at least delay.
Prioritize: Chances are some of the charities you support have greater importance to you than others. Create a list of all the groups you donate to and rank them. Then decide how many you can continue to support.
Bang for your buck: Consider where your dollar does the most good, both long term and short term. You may want to continue supporting groups with an immediate need and making larger donations to groups with a long-term goal when you can again afford it.
Go local: While large national organizations can accomplish great things with pooled resources, in the short-term you may decide that local causes come first, particularly if you are in an area directly impacted by a natural disaster or other situation, like the loss of a major employer.
Time versus money: If you decide you can no longer donate cash, consider donating your time or doing pro bono work for an organization. They may be paying for services that you can provide free.
Get specific: Fund a project with immediate and visible results, like a drive to restock the local food bank.
Donate goods: Cut some coupons, scan the grocery circulars and purchase items for a food pantry, homeless shelter or other group. Don’t forget these organizations often need personal hygiene items and infant products like diapers and wipes.
If you can’t live with eliminating one or more charities from your donation roster, consider a percentage decrease across the board. And remember that this situation will be temporary. When the economy begins to gain forward momentum, you can increase your charitable donations to previous levels – or possibly higher.
Evaluating charities can be difficult and in the end is a personal choice, but if you need assistance obtaining financial information on a charity or if you need to re-examine your own situation to determine what you can afford to give, please feel free to call our office. We can also work with your tax advisor to help you and your favorite causes get the most benefit from your donations and bequests.
* 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 Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Written by Securities America. SAI# 287919