Will Inflation And The Stock Market Conspire To Kill The 4% Rule?

1-23-1

A recent WSJ headline sent chills down the backs of every retiree—”Cut Your Retirement Spending Now, Says Creator of the 4% Rule.”

In the article, the WSJ quoted the father of the 4% rule, William Bengen, as saying that “there’s no precedent for today’s conditions.” Stock and bond prices are still at record highs. Mix in a reference to 8.5% inflation, and the WSJ starts to sound like an insurance salesperson pitching indexed annuities.

So are things really that bad? And do retirees need to rethink the 4% Rule? I don’t think so, and here’s why.

The 4% Rule is Now the 4.4% Rule

In the article, Mr. Bengen said he believes a safe initial withdrawal rate is 4.4%. Yes, that’s an increase from his initial findings in his 1994 paper.

In his 1994 paper, he assumed retirees invested in the S&P 500 and intermediate Treasury bonds. That’s it. Since then he expanded the asset classes to include mid-cap, small-cap, micro-cap and international stocks. This diversification caused him to increase the safe withdrawal rate from 4% to 4.7%. Because of the unprecedented conditions noted above, however, new retirees might want to start at 4.4%, he said.

As far as I can tell, the 4.4% rate is not based on data. Still, it represents a 10% increase, not decrease, from his initial 4% rule. That doesn’t sound so bad.

“The combination of 8.5% inflation with high stock and bond market valuations make it difficult to forecast whether the standard playbook will work for recent retirees,” said Bengen. He’s even gone so far as put 70% of his personal portfolio in cash. When the father of the 4% rule cashes out, shouldn’t we?

I don’t think so. For starters, it’s important to understand how Bengen developed the 4% Rule. He examined 50-year retirement periods dating back to 1926. For each, he identified the highest withdrawal rate one could take in the first year of retirement, adjusted for inflation in subsequent years, without running out of money for at least 30 years.

As you might imagine, every year had a different initial withdrawal rate. Some years the starting rate was twice what it was in others. Here’s the key point. He didn’t average all of these initial withdrawal rates to come up with the 4% rule. He took the absolute worst year—1968.

Here’s more on how the 4% Rule works.

What does this mean? It means the 4% Rule has survived the stock market crash of 1929, the Great Depression, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the inflation of the 1970s and early 1908s, the 1987 market crash, 9/11, the Great Recession and Covid-19.

Stock Prices

No matter how difficult past times have been, current conditions feel awful in ways that history never can. One need look no further than Robert Shiller’s CAPE (cyclically adjusted price-to-earnings ratio) of the S&P 500 to raise concerns. It stands at roughly twice its average and at historic highs. It’s only been higher once, and that was during the tech bubble.

Yet as “unprecedented” as this may seem, it’s not for two reasons. First, most portfolios don’t have the same PE as the S&P 500, even if measured using CAPE. Add in mid-cap, small-cap and international stocks, and the PE comes down significantly.

Second, and more important, the CAPE of the S&P 500 would fall to average with a 50% decline in the S&P 500. This wouldn’t be fun, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented, either.

As noted above, the market lost 90% to kick off the Great Depression. And going back to the tech bubble, the market lost 9%, 12% and 22% from 2000 to 2002. That’s not quite a 50% total loss, but close. And from peak to trough during the Great Recession (2007-2009), the market lost more than 50%. The 4% Rule survived like a cockroach.

Bond Prices and Inflation

Bond yields were at historic lows. I say “were” because that’s no longer the case. The roughly 3% yield on the 10-year Treasury is still below average, but there are plenty of years dating back to the 1800s when they were lower. And when Bengen published his 1994 paper, TIPS were three years away and the first I bond was still four years away. So at least now we can keep up with inflation.

Here’s the key. The 4% Rule has survived Treasury yields as low as 1 to 2%. It also survived inflation of more than 13% and a decade of inflation at 6% or higher. And like the Energizer Bunny, it keeps going and going (or ticking for you Timex fans).

Final Thoughts

Some year might come along that is worse than 1968 for new retirees. Maybe 2022 will turn out to be a worse time to retiree since the late 60s. Perhaps in 30 years we’ll know that for 2022, the initial safe withdrawal rate was 4.2% instead of 4.4%.

But can we really predict that based on current conditions, when the 4% rule has survived much worse? I don’t think so.

Rob is a Contributing Editor for Forbes Advisor, host of the Financial Freedom Show, and the author of Retire Before Mom and Dad–The Simple Numbers Behind a Lifetime of

Source: Will Inflation And The Stock Market Conspire To Kill The 4% Rule?

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Why The Dow Plunged More Than 1,000 Points? Should I Wait For Stocks To Sink Lower

What a difference a day makes. Fresh off the best percentage gain for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.30% since Nov. 9, 2020, the blue-chip index got clobbered, along with the rest of the stock market, including the S&P 500 SPX, -0.57% and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, -1.40%.

Not even U.S. Treasurys were safe, with the 10-year Treasury note TMUBMUSD10Y, 3.127% climbing above 3% as prices fall.

Some experts attributed Wednesday’s rally to a statement by Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell that a 75-basis-point increase wasn’t being actively considered by policy makers at the central bank at coming meetings.

The remark came after the Fed on Wednesday delivered the first half-percentage-point interest-rate hike, as had been widely expected, since 2000, in the final months of President Bill Clinton’s second term.

The Fed has been hiking rates to combat a surge in inflation that materialized in the aftermath of the COVID-19 shutdowns and dislocations, and which has been exacerbated by bloody conflict in Ukraine following Russia’s invasion in late February.

Some industry watchers peg Thursday’s selloff partly to fears that inflation will continue to dog the economy in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.

Data on Thursday showed that the productivity of American workers and businesses sank at an 7.5% annual pace in the first quarter, marking the biggest drop since 1947, amid supply shortages and production bottlenecks.

“It was a setback for our Roaring 2020s scenario of a technology-led productivity growth boom offsetting the chronic shortage of labor,” according to Yardeni Research, a provider of global investment strategy founded by Ed Yardeni, a MarketWatch contributor.

Meanwhile, Greg Bassuk, CEO at AXS Investments in New York, said the day’s action reflects “a continuation of 2022’s market roller coaster of high volatility, with this session’s strong spiral downward erasing yesterday’s gains.”

Bassuk told MarketWatch that “investors are selling today on renewed concerns regarding the plethora of continued uncertainties.”

The AXS CEO pointed to tensions with China, Russia’s siege in Ukraine, as well as a mixed bag of corporate earnings and nagging concerns about COVID-19 hamstringing a more powerful recovery in parts of the world.

Recession fears and inflation worries have been the centerpiece of the current bout of bearishness on Wall Street. “There’s no doubt that inflation, rising rates and volatility will continue to characterize the market environment in [the second quarter] and beyond,” Bassuk said.

“What is really interesting about these markets is that there are these every-other-day changes in either direction where investors are outrageously bullish, or outrageously bearish the next day,” said Sylvia Jablonski, chief executive and chief investment officer at Defiance ETFs in New York.

Indeed, MarketWatch’s Bill Watts wrote that, with the exception of 2020, the S&P 500 has already topped or is on track to exceed annual totals of 2%-or-greater moves for every year stretching back to 2011.

“Inflation may have peaked, growth may be slowing, but it is still positive. The consumer is still spending, [and] employment is at all-time highs,” she said, going on to point to the up to $2 trillion in excess savings said to have been amassed during the pandemic.

Market Extra (July 2021):

The volatile state of the market is stoking confusion about the outlook. Is this time to jump into stocks, or should investors wait for a better entry point? Or should we heed billionaire investor Paul Tudor Jones’s advice and stay clear of traditional markets altogether?

History suggests that you can’t time the market and that, over a long period, the market wins. The big question is what’s your time frame what’s your tolerance for pain?

The slump in bonds, with yields rising as prices fall, is complicating matters for some investors. Treasurys, notably the benchmark 10-year U.S. government bond TMUBMUSD10Y, 3.127%, traditionally are seen as a refuge in times of uncertainty, but they also have been undone given the Fed’s current rate-hike plan, which has led to selling in bonds in the hope of richer yields to come.

Source: Why the Dow plunged more than 1,000 points? Should I wait for stocks to sink lower? Here’s what some pros think. – MarketWatch

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Barron’s: JD.com and NIO Face More Delisting Concerns. The Stocks Are Falling.

The Dow Dropped Again, Jobs Growth Was Strong—and What Else Happened in the Stock Market Today

College enrollment is falling. Here’s how it could impact the economy

‘The pandemic boom in home sales is over’: Mortgage rates soar to highest level since 2009 as the Fed pressures the housing market

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Dollar soars as Bank of England’s grim economic forecast gives investors reason to sell off Treasurys, stocks

A rough 4 months for stocks: S&P 500 books the worst start to a year since 1939. Here’s what pros say you should do now.

China-focused ETFs sink as Blinken reportedly plans to affirm that China is the main U.S. rival

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Microsoft Boosts Revenue Forecast, Alphabet Growth Slows

It was a tale of two tech companies and their quarterly results after the bell on Tuesday.

Microsoft reported the tech equivalent of a hat trick. For the quarter, Microsoft reported profit and revenue that topped expectations, and the company forecast double-digit revenue growth for the next fiscal year.

The key driver being demand for cloud computing services, and its shares jumped about 4%.

Microsoft forecast Intelligent Cloud revenue of $21.1 billion to $21.35 billion for its fiscal fourth quarter. That is compared with a Wall Street consensus of $20.933 billion, according to Refinitiv data. Microsoft & Google’s parent Alphabet recorded results on Tuesday

“It was a record third quarter, driven by the continued strength of the Microsoft Cloud, which surpassed $23 billion in revenue, up 32% year-over-year,” said CEO Satya Nadella, in the post-earnings call. “Going forward, digital technology will be the key input that powers the world’s economic output.”

The company reported revenue of $49.36 billion, compared with $41.7 billion a year earlier. Analysts on average had expected revenue of $49.05 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data.

Net income rose to $16.73 billion, or $2.22 per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from $15.46 billion, or $2.03 per share, a year earlier. That topped analyst targets of $2.19.

In contrast, Google parent Alphabet Inc reported that Google Cloud’s growth rate in the first quarter fell slightly to 43.8%, from 44.6% in the 2021 fourth quarter. Alphabet’s first-quarter revenue came in below expectations.

Shares were down 4% in after-hours trading after the company posted its slowest quarterly revenue growth since 2020.

Alphabet’s revenue during the January-March period totaled $68 billion, a 23% increase from the same time last year. The figure fell about $40 million below the average estimate among analysts polled by FactSet Research.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MSFT MICROSOFT CORP. 270.22 -10.50 -3.74%
GOOGL ALPHABET INC. 2,373.00 -88.48 -3.59%

The first-quarter profit drooped 8% from last year to $16.4 billion, or $24.62 per share. That was also below the average analyst projection of $25.47 per share, according to FactSet.

CLICK HERE TO INVEST MORE ON TECH STOCKS

Google’s ad sales totaled $54.7 billion, during the first quarter, a 22% increase from the same time last year.

Source: Microsoft boosts revenue forecast, Alphabet growth slows | Fox Business

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Critics:

By: Peter Cohan

Wall Street’s favorite FAANG is mired in its worst monthly stock performance in two years and analysts are counting on earnings to pull it out of the tailspin. Google owner Alphabet Inc. is down about 13% in April, erasing $237 billion in market value as jittery investors dump growth stocks amid fears of bigger and faster rate hikes thanks to rising inflation.

Investors still love shares of companies that beat expectations and raise guidance. So it’s no wonder that Alphabet shares were up some 11% to an all-time high in pre-market trade on February 2.

The catalyst is the company’s fourth quarter revenue and earnings — which exceeded investor expectations. According to CNBC, Alphabet’s revenue increased 32% to $75.33 billion — $3.17 billion more than expected while its earnings per share of $30.69 was 12% above the Refinitiv consensus.

Alphabet has another advantage when it comes to boosting its stock price — most people in the world use its services many times a day. Those satisfied customers might be inclined to follow the dictum of Fidelity Magellan ex-honcho, Peter Lynch, and invest in what they know.

Sadly, that has been difficult in the last several years because of Alphabet’s high stock price. But that problem could be alleviated through Google’s plan for a July 15 “20-for-1 stock split in the form of a one-time special stock dividend,” according to Bloomberg.

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Merry Christmas, Wall Street! But There’s No New Year’s Day Holiday For The Stock Market This Year—Here’s Why

1Blame it on an obscure rule. For the first time in a decade, there will be no stock market closure in observance of New Year’s Day. U.S. markets will be closed on Christmas eve on Friday because the holiday falls on a Saturday but equity markets will be open on Dec. 31, or New Year’s Eve, and operators of the New York Stock Exchange aren’t designating Jan. 3, the first Monday in 2022 as New Year’s Eve observed.

The last time this sort of calendar event transpired was New Year’s Eve Dec. 31, 2010. How rare is this calendar event. Assuming that it was applied since 1928, it would have occurred 13 times from 1928.

Dow Jones Market Data

The lack of a New Year’s Day respite for stock trades is the result of NYSE Rule 7.2, which stipulates that the exchange will be closed either Friday or the following Monday if the holiday falls on a weekend, unless “unusual business conditions exist, such as the ending of a monthly or yearly accounting period.”

In this case, the last day of December is a trifecta of accounting dates, including month-end, quarter and year-end dates and comes after markets have experienced a bout of volatility in recent days.

On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, +0.64% sank 433 points, while the S&P 500 SPX, +0.82% and the Nasdaq Composite COMP, +0.85% indexes both registered sharp declines and their third straight drop on the back of omicron-fueled uneasiness and concerns about global economic expansion in the coming year.

By Tuesday afternoon, however, markets had made up for those losses and then some and the 10-year Treasury note yield TMUBMUSD10Y, 1.458%, was hanging near 1.50% after putting in a 3 p.m. Eastern Time finish at 1.418%, according to Dow Jones Market Data.

It is worth noting though that, the U.S. Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, a trade group, recommends a 2 p.m. ET close for trading in Treasurys on Dec. 31. The holiday schedule for markets isn’t likely to alter the mood on Wall Street, however.

“I don’t see it mattering in a meaningful way,” Baird market strategist Michael Antonelli, told MarketWatch. “The final few sessions of the year have traditionally been very quiet, and the fact that we don’t have a specific holiday for New Year’s likely won’t change that at all,” he said.genesis3-2-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1

For Christmas, the bond market will close early on Dec. 23 and remain closed on Friday, Dec. 24, Christmas Eve. Meanwhile, the New York Stock Exchange and Nasdaq will observe regular hours on Thursday Dec 23, closing at 4 p.m. Eastern Time and remain closed on Christmas Eve, Dec 24.

Our call of the day says investors have much to get excited about in 2022. Put growth stocks at the top of that list.

3

By: Mark DeCambre

Mark DeCambre is MarketWatch’s markets editor. He is based in New York. Follow him on Twitter @mdecambre.

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S&P 500 Closes At New Record Despite Inflation Hitting Nearly 40-Year-High

The stock market moved higher on Friday—extending this week’s rally—despite consumer prices surging 6.8% last month, the highest inflation reading in nearly 40 years, according to data released by the Labor Department.

Key Facts

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.6%, over 200 points, while the S&P 500 gained nearly 1% and the Nasdaq Composite 0.7%.

While markets took a hit after the first case of omicron was reported in the United States last week, stocks have recently bounced back as investors grow less fearful about the Covid omicron variant—with the S&P 500 hitting a new record high on Friday.

Even a bad inflation reading on Friday morning wasn’t enough to spook investors: Consumer prices rose 6.8% in the 12 months ending in November, according to Labor Department data, which shows inflation at a nearly 40-year high.

Some investors who expected an even higher inflation reading were relieved by the news and sent stocks up, while others remain optimistic about the ongoing economic recovery boosted by a strong labor market recovery.

Shares of tech giant Oracle jumped over 15%, a day after beating quarterly earnings estimates, while shares of at-home fitness company Peloton added to the previous day’s losses, falling over 5% on Friday.

Vaccine maker Moderna’s stock, meanwhile, fell nearly 6% as investors await more data and updates on the efficacy of the company’s Covid treatments against the omicron variant.

Big Number: $15.1 Billion

That’s how much Oracle cofounder Larry Ellison’s net worth jumped on Friday, to $135.7 billion, according to Forbes’ estimates. He is now the fifth richest person in the world.

Key Background:

After the emergence of the omicron variant led to a sell-off last week, stocks are now on pace for a solid weekly rebound. All three major indexes have risen by nearly 4% this week as investor concerns about the new variant abate amid news that vaccines are effective against it.

Crucial Quote:

“The inflation print from this morning will reinforce the Fed’s resolve to accelerate tapering,” predicts Anu Gaggar, global investment strategist for Commonwealth Financial Network. “With the strength in the economic recovery, it is time to take the crutches away,” he says, adding, “supply and labor shortages will keep aggregate prices elevated for longer, keeping inflation higher than the Fed target for a while.”

What To Watch For:

While December has historically been a great month for the stock market, the new omicron variant is causing “major volatility” and complicating the inflation outlook, says Ryan Detrick, chief market strategist for LPL Financial. Despite the myriad of challenges facing markets in 2022, he remains “optimistic” that stocks will finish the year on a solid note.

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Send me a secure tip.

I am a senior reporter at Forbes covering markets and business news. Previously, I worked on the wealth team at Forbes covering billionaire

Source: S&P 500 Closes At New Record Despite Inflation Hitting Nearly 40-Year-High

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More Contents:

Inflation Spiked Another 6.8% In November—Hitting 40-Year High As White House Tries To Temper Price Concerns

Stocks Rally For A Second Day—Dow Gains 500 Points—As Investors Shake Off Omicron Fears

This Vaccine Maker Can ‘Dominate’ The Covid Market For Years To Come, Wells Fargo Predicts

The Number Of Americans Filing For New Unemployment Benefits Just Fell To A 52-Year Low

Amazon shares dropped 2.1% after the e-commerce giant badly missed earnings and revenue expectations for the third quarter. Apple stock fell 1.8% after the tech giant’s quarterly revenue fell short of expectations amid larger-than-expected supply constraints on iPhones, iPads and Macs. It was the first time Apple’s revenues have missed Wall Street estimates since May 2017.

However, Microsoft rose 2.2% to surpass Apple as largest listed company in the world by market cap. Nike and Intel also had solid days to boost the Dow.

Despite the disappointing results from Big Tech, the stock market has been raking in records amid solid earnings even with global supply chain concerns. About half of the S&P 500 have reported quarterly results and more than 80% of them beat earnings estimates from Wall Street analysts. S&P 500 companies are expected to grow profit by 38.6% year over year.

“So far, I think it is fair to say that companies have managed to navigate these headwinds effectively, of course having the benefit of strong demand,” said Angelo Kourkafas, an investment strategist at Edward Jones. “But they are not immune to it. These input cost pressures will show up as reduced revenue or potentially lower profit margins.”

“But I think so far, with about half to the S&P 500 companies having reported, the initial assessment is that profitability has remained fairly resilient because of strong demand and pricing power,” he added.

Shares of Exxon Mobil and Chevron rose on Friday after the energy giants topped earnings expectations. Starbucks, however, was under pressure after revenue from China missed expectations.

All three major averages posted their fourth positive week in a row and finished solidly higher for the month. The Nasdaq gained 7.2% for October, while the S&P 500 gained 6.9%. The Dow rose 5.8% for its best month since March. The month marked a rebound from September, where the major indexes declined.

Market sentiment was also helped by developments in Washington. On Thursday, President Joe Biden announced a framework for a $1.75 trillion social spending deal. The agreement, which is expected to make it easier to pass the separate infrastructure spending bill currently stalled on Capitol Hill, came in lighter on spending and taxes than earlier proposals.

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Yung-Yu Ma, chief investment strategist at BMO Wealth Management, said the deal appeared to be in a “sweet spot” and should create more optimism among investors.

“The tax portion of it is looking like it’s going to come in probably below all of the original expectations. So the burden for specifically corporate taxes is going to be lower than the concerns and the expectations in the marketplace were,” Ma said.

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen spoke to CNBC on Friday morning, saying she was hopeful that the administration’s infrastructure package would be approved soon while saying she does not believe it will add to the inflation problems the U.S. has been experiencing.

“It will boost the economy’s potential to grow, the economy’s supply potential, which tends to push inflation down, not up,” Yellen said during a live “Worldwide Exchange” interview.

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