April 10, 2012

Must be the Weather

When in doubt, blame it on the weather.

It's human nature to want to ascribe a reason to everything that happens in the world. Rather than feeling like it's all random, we always want to know why the market went up or why bats hang upside down or why white is the most popular car color.

And, last week's employment report is no different. The government said the economy added 120,000 new jobs in March, however, that was well below the 210,000 increase expected by economists surveyed by MarketWatch. So, to what did some economists attribute the smaller than expected increase? You guessed it, the weather!

Unseasonably warm winter weather in many parts of the country may have disrupted the normal winter hiring pattern. According to MarketWatch, "Companies kept workers on or hired people in January and February who otherwise would have been added in March or April."

In addition to hiring, weather was also a key driver behind recent strong retail sales. Bloomberg reported that, "Retailers are benefiting from warm weather that boosted demand for spring products..."

Over time, the effects from weather will likely even out so there's no need for us to add a meteorologist to the team. But, just so you know, it's not always dollars and cents behind changes in the markets. Sometimes you just have to stand outside and check out the weather.

Data as of 4/5/12 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks) -0.7% 11.2% 4.8% 18.7% -0.6% 2.2%
DJ Global ex US (Foreign Stocks) -2.3 8.4 -12.7 13.6 -4.7 5.1
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.2 N/A 3.5 2.9 4.7 5.2
Gold (per ounce) -1.9 3.6 13.8 23.3 19.4 18.4
DJ-UBS Commodity Index -0.2 0.7 -17.3 8.2 -4.0 3.7
DJ Equity All REIT TR Index -1.1 9.2 9.9 35.1 -0.6 10.1

Notes: S&P 500, DJ Global ex US, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron's, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

Work Happier

DON'T WORRY, BE HAPPY is apparently more than just a cliché. Research over the past 10 years shows there is a direct link between happiness and business outcomes. Author and researcher Shawn Achor says "happiness" raises sales by 37 percent, productivity by 31 percent, and accuracy on tasks by 19 percent. He goes on to say, "The single greatest advantage in the modern economy is a happy and engaged workforce."

So, how do you become happy at work?

Achor says you have to train yourself and start developing new, positive habits. For example, he challenges his clients to implement one of the following positive exercises everyday for 21 days:

  • Write down three new things you are grateful for each day.
  • Write for two minutes a day describing one positive experience you had over the past 24 hours.
  • Exercise for 10 minutes a day.
  • Meditate for two minutes, focusing on your breath going in and out.
  • Write one quick e-mail first thing in the morning thanking or praising someone in your social support network (family member, friend, old teacher).

By following one of these exercises, Achor says your happiness will rise and so will your business success.

The tiny Himalayan country of Bhutan has taken this idea of happiness even further. Four years ago, the country launched a "gross national happiness" measure to guide public policy. According to The Guardian, Bhutan's "constitution mandates that at least 60% of the country remains under forest cover in perpetuity and its stated policy is to be 100% organic in its agricultural production."

Now, Bhutan's definition of happiness is a little different than our typical Western definition. The Bhutan government says, "it refers to the deep, abiding happiness that comes from living life in full harmony with the natural world, with our communities and fellow beings, and with our culture and spiritual heritage, in short, from feeling totally connected with our world."

Well, no matter how you define it, it looks like it "pays" to be "happy."

Weekly Focus - Think About It

"Rules for Happiness:
something to do,
someone to love,
something to hope for."

     —Immanuel Kant, German philosopher

Best regards,
Sean M. Dowling, CFP, EA
President, The Dowling Group Wealth Management

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  • 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 DJ Global ex US is an unmanaged group of non-U.S. securities designed to reflect the performance of the global equity securities that have readily available prices.
  • 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.
  • This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance.
  • 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.

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