Up until now, I haven't lost any of my contributions. But now that it's fallen below my total contribution amount, I'm feeling a little bit queasy in my stomach.
In my prior post, I discussed the reasoning behind my current 401k target allocations which are:
|Investment Fund (Classification)||Target %|
|DODFX (Int'l Multi-Cap Value)||20%|
|DODGX (US Large-Cap Value)||20%|
|BTIIX (S&P500 Index)||20%|
|NBGEX (Small-Cap Blend)||20%|
|PTRAX (Intermediate Term Bond)||15%|
|MLTXX (US Treasury Fund)||5%|
Based upon my target allocation, I should have 80% in equity funds, 15% in bond funds and 5% in Treasury funds.
But now, my allocations look like:
I'm going to reiterate that I'm not going to do anything other than to realign my investments to match my target allocations at the end of the year, if necessary.
But here's where I need to do a serious gut check: I am anticipating a long-term (i.e., 10-year to 20-year) stagnation or worse, a downward trend in the market. The current market crisis is caused by over-leveraging and excessive risk-taking by both individuals and businesses. When access to easy money gets cut off, the ability to invest also declines. The recent passage of the $700 billion
In this Los Angeles Times article, Harry Holzer, a labor economist at Georgetown University and a fellow at the Urban Institute commented, "[T]here's a good chance this [recession] will be more severe than [in 1990 and 2000, which lasted 8 months], because the last two were not accompanied by the widespread financial crisis that we have now."
This Marketwatch article validates my worries as well. The article argues that the Investment Rate measures the demands for investments over long-term cycles and thus forecasts future market cycles.
The article states:
[I]f demand is increasing over extended periods of time, over the course of many years, we could rationally assume that the market and the economy will fare well. In fact, this has been the case since 1981. Every year, between 1981 and 2007 the demand for investments increased annually. More people had money to invest, and reason to invest it at the same time. During that upward sloping cycle in the Investment Rate market declines and economic downturns were short lived, buy-and-hold strategies worked extremely well for passive investors, and buying the dips made sense religiously. This was true during every major down cycle, including the "crash" of 1987.
However, at the end of 2007 the upward sloping cycle which began in 1981 came to an end. A new era began at the end of 2007, an era representing diminishing demand for investments going forward. The Investment Rate identified this in 2002, when it was first offered to the public.
The declines that began at the end of 2007 relate directly to the Great Depression and the Stagflation period of the 1970s because, in all three instances, overall demand for investments on a consumer level was shrinking. The average duration of a major down cycle is 11 years.
The third major down period in history has only just begun.
I am wondering: If this is true, can I really stick to my current plan over the course of 10+ years of diminishing returns? I realize that this is how fortunes are made. In the famous words of Warren Buffet: "Be greedy when people are fearful and be fearful when people are greedy."
During this time, though, I wonder what kind of psychological toll this will take on me?