The week after Labor Day often feels like a new beginning, New Year's without the cold and ice. Maybe it is those old back-to-school reflexes, or the beginning of football season. Those of us who are a little older remember September as when the new television season kicked off. Whatever the origins, September remains a good time to re-position and reconsider what the year has brought so far and what we need to do to get ready for year-end and beyond. September 2022 is a particularly good time to evaluate our investment objectives and how we are positioned to achieve these objectives. Stock indices are down uniformly, even after a late summer move up followed by a lesser decline back down. The news is full of reasons for these declines -- inflation, interest rate hikes, the war in Ukraine -- and it has been easy to be unduly swayed by every passing headline. But an investor always needs to have a long term perspective. Sometimes to do this all that is needed is a simple historical fact -- over the past 50 years, the S&P 500 has returned an average of 10.49% (6.26% after inflation). Imagine that, over a 10% return, through good times and bad, Vietnam, Watergate, the 1982 recession, the booming 1990's, 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis, and most recently COVID-19. Indeed, a friend recently said that five or ten years from now, an investor looking at a graph of stock market returns may barely see a blip in the long term growth of US stock market indices and related returns despite all the anguish and volatility so far in 2022. The reason why this will probably be the case is the reason why it has always been the case, an investment in stocks, particularly in the most solid and successful companies, is an investment in the long term growth of the American economy and the businesses and industries that drive that economy. These investments are not always without volatility, just as the economy itself is not without ups and downs and periods of fear. Yet through it all, investors are rewarded for perseverance and pragmatism, for level headedness, and, just a little bit of foresight as to those companies and industries at the forefront of economic growth and progress.
With that bit of historical context in mind, here is a list of factors to weigh as we head into the last quarter of 2022: