Happy New Year, and welcome to 2022! Let’s take a moment to summarize what happened in the markets and wrap up 2021.
Omicron is here. While the jury is still out on the relative severity of this strain, it appears to be a continuing challenge for healthcare systems across the U.S. If omicron didn’t impact your holiday plans, it’s likely that travel delays and cancelations did. In fact, all holiday travel is proving to be problematic with at least three cruise ships blocked from ports due to positive COVID tests on board. While holiday travel was no treat, consumers appeared not to notice with festive shopping at higher sales levels than we’ve seen in nearly two decades.
While the market continues to be impacted by COVID-19, the impact is slowly lessening. Despite the introduction of the omicron variant in Q4, both the population and economy have shown signs of adaptation to the pandemic. As society adjusts in many ways including lifestyle and increased safety measures, the economy realized a direct benefit with an increase in participation during the holiday season. This in turn created a welcomed dip in the unemployment rate. While many indicators point to continued difficulty in 2022, such as the likelihood of less government support, predictions are that we will ultimately see a much healthier economy than we have seen in the last two years.
Bonds proved to be a headwind this year, with major bond indexes losing ground in February, September, and again in December. Even for a fairly bad year for bonds, the US Aggregate Bond Index was down a modest 1.54% for the year. Ultimately, our bond positions only gave up part of the 2020 gains and we believe a healthy allocation is still appropriate as protection from unforeseeable market shocks.
And with that, we step into 2022.
We’re grateful to have you as a client and wish you a joyous and successful new year. If there’s anything you need, please schedule some time with our office.