On June 23 the citizens of the U.K. voted to leave the European Union. Markets were jolted, with the U.S. stock market losing 3.7% the day after the vote. But just a week later the market had rebounded, ending the quarter almost exactly at its level just prior to the vote.
The event serves as a reminder that capital markets react quickly to news, good and bad. Based on headlines, it may seem that bad news has predominated in recent years. Indeed as the 21st century has dawned investors have endured a remarkable series of disturbing events and trends including:
- The housing boom, peak and collapse.
- The greatest financial crisis and most severe recession since the 1930s.
- Surging oil prices said to threaten global prosperity (remember “peak oil”?)
- Tumbling oil prices said to threaten global prosperity.
- The rise of ISIS and increase in the number of terrorist attacks worldwide.
- Severe natural disasters including hurricanes Sandy and Katrina.
- A collapse in emerging market economies and stock markets.
- The European debt crisis surrounding Greece (Grexit.)
- A multitude of banking and financial scandals.
It is important, however, to consider data that paint a far brighter picture:
- Over the last 25 years, 2 billion people globally have moved out of extreme poverty.1
- Over the same period, mortality rates among children underthe age of 5 have fallen by 53%, from 91 deaths per 1000 to 43 deaths per 1000.
- Globally, life expectancy has been improving. From 2000 to 2015 the global increase was 5.0 years, with an even larger increase of 9.4 years in parts of Africa.2
- Global trade has expanded as a proportion of GDP from 20% in 1995 to 30% by 2014, signaling greater global integration.3
- U.S. energy-related carbon dioxide emissions fell by 12% between 2005 and 2015, thanks mostly to technological advances in natural gas production, as well as renew- able sources.4
- Access to financial services has greatly expanded. Among adults in the poorest 40% of households within developing economies, the share without a bank account fell by 17 percentage points on average between 2011 and 2014.5
- The world’s biggest economy, the US, has been recovering. Unem- ployment has halved in six years, from nearly 10% to 5%.6
- While these profoundly positive if unspectacular facts tend to escape media attention, capital markets appear to be more astute; over the last 25 years ending May 2016 one dollar invested in a global portfolio of stocks would have grown to more than five and a half dollars.
That is good news for investors, period.
Also In this Issue of Investment Guide
Quarterly Review of Capital Markets
Why Your Returns May Differ from Fund Performance
Recent Market Statistics
The Dow Jones Industrials Ranked by Yield
Recommended Investment Vehicles
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