Why some fear can be healthy for investors


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A dose of healthy fear is good for investors, even during bull markets.

The year 2017 was a good year to be an investor. The Dow Jones Industrial Average just passed through the 24,000 level for the first time ever. The S&P 500, a broader measure of the market, finished higher in November, making it 13 months in a row of gains, also a record. Both indices are more than 20 percent higher than where they started the year.

It seems that every day, the headline on CNBC reads “Markets Hit New Record High.” In fact, we are in a bull market that is now eight-and-a-half years old, the second longest in history.

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That’s good, right? As an investment manager, we think it’s great for our clients to see gains in their portfolio each month. But as an investment manager with more than a few years of experience, we also think it’s a little bit scary. Markets aren’t supposed to go straight up all the time.

The economy is doing fairly well and is starting to show some signs of stronger growth. Unemployment is low, which means more people are working and spending money, which helps to spur the economy. Corporate earnings have been pretty good, and the holiday retail season seems to have started off well.

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