In retrospect, 2017 was an extraordinary time for investors. The American stock market rose steadily, and it never declined sharply, not even once. It was easy to make money in stocks, and to do so with relatively little skill or worry.
That’s not what it has been like so far this year. Stocks have been bouncing up and down, and while they haven’t really fallen that much by historical standards, the nine-year-old bull market stumbled in February and hasn’t entirely recovered. Bonds, which are typically a source of stability when stocks fall, lost ground, too, though not as much as bonds.
Still, even for people with diversified portfolios and a long-term outlook, 2018 has been a trying time. This may be a good moment to get some perspective.
We’ve chosen nine articles with reporting and analysis on where the markets have been and some clues on where they may be heading. As always in these quarterly reports, the selection provides an introduction to investing. And we hope that at least some of these articles will entertain you as well.
A Trade War Could Leave Investors With Few Places to Hide
Stocks remain fragile after fears of protectionism and inflation helped produce the first quarterly loss since 2015, as equity and bond funds both fell. What happens from here may hinge on the Federal Reserve and on the prospects of a rapprochement — or a trade war — between the United States and China.
Finding Emerging Markets Stocks With Social Consciences
It’s possible to invest in emerging markets by focusing only on companies whose environmental, social and governance records adhere to core principles. What’s more, early evidence suggests that these feel-good funds may be able to outkick their conventional kin.
With a Falling Dollar, Investors Should Look Abroad (Carefully)
International stock funds are enjoying a currency advantage, but the weaker dollar could spell trouble for foreign-based exporters. It may make sense to focus on firms that are domiciled abroad but whose profits are not going to be affected by any further decline in the dollar.
Looking for an Easy-to-Win Trade War of My Very Own
The president says trade wars are “good” and “easy to win.” Our columnist decided to get in on the fun. But it turns out that winning is not that simple.
Three Funds Find Ways to Excel in Rough Times
Three stock mutual funds benefited from the coffee of a doughnut king, the renaissance of a tech stalwart and renewed growth in Brazil.
Focusing on a Manager’s Best Ideas May Not Be a Great Idea
Managers of so-called focus funds, which have only 30 or 40 holdings, say broad diversification isn’t so great. But as a group, neither are those funds, though there are some apparent exceptions.
Warren Buffett Isn’t a Fan of Bonds. But They May Be Good for You.
Bonds lost value along with stocks in the first quarter. But holding them still makes sense for many people.
Bulging Debt May Spell Trouble for Energy, Telecom and Retail
Debt needn’t be a big problem for companies with strong cash flow. But in those three industries, some companies are facing stress.
A Personal Finance Book Based on Happiness Instead of Money
An updated version of a classic asks readers if more is really better and suggests that they weigh purchases against the work needed to make them.