Domestic and International Markets

Both domestic and international markets gave a rousing introduction to 2016, as you probably noticed. This seems to be mostly a reaction to what we will call China’s rather opaque financial and economic reporting.

On the economic front, the DOL reported a non-farm payroll increase of 292,000 in December, and an unemployment rate unchanged, at 5.0%. Employment gains occurred in professional and business services, construction, healthcare, and the restaurant sub-set of retail.

Domestic indices are in correction territory from their 2015 highs. Correction territory is off by 10%, which is about 1925 for the S&P 500, and 16,400 for the DJIA. A bear market kicks in at 20%, which is about 1700 for the S&P 500, and 14,500 for the DJIA.

2016 will likely offer some of the best opportunities we have had since 2011 to invest in public markets. If I were sitting on cash, I’d divide it by ten, and put 10% to work, at the beginning of each month, from February 1st through November 1st, and dollar cost average into what will likely be a volatile year. Allocation would align with my risk tolerance, spread across short term and intermediate term bonds, and domestic and international stocks.

Emily Tuttle, the daughter of friends, has spent much of the last five years serving those in dire need, all over the world. At the moment, she is in Greece, working with an NGO which provides food, clothes, and basic shelter to refugees from the Middle East and Northern Africa. These refugees are running from the terrorists who control much of that region. Following is a post she made recently. By way of introducing the post, she had posted a picture of an infant, with the following story below the picture.

This precious little baby has known nothing but change in his short life. But he will grow up in Europe with opportunities his siblings haven’t had, and most importantly, the chance to live.

His father is an amazing man who I had the privilege of spending time with yesterday at the camp. He and his family had just landed on the shore of Lesvos after an incredible journey fleeing for their lives.
They are from the Afghan city of Kunduz. Back in October the Taliban took control of their city and began persecuting many people, including him.

He has a law degree and works for an American NGO fighting for the legal rights of children at risk of trafficking. Because he works with the Americans, the Taliban was after him. So one night after dark, he gathered his wife and four children and they ran for their lives. Their neighbors told them the next day the Taliban came for him, but he made it out in time.

They walked for three months across Afghanistan, Iran, and Turkey, climbing mountains and sleeping in the woods. Even the little children made the journey on foot. They finally reached the west coast of Turkey and waited for a boat to Greece.

Yesterday, after two hours on the sea, they set foot in Europe, and for the first time in months they are safe. His relief was so evident, and he kept thanking us for the food and clothing. After a career fighting for the lives of children, he fought for his own children, and they made it.
I asked him what he dreams for his family. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, “I just want life for them. I want them to be safe, for my daughters to be educated, and for us to live.”
Isn’t that what we all want – the chance to live?

Quote of the week:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived, and lived well.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson


Randy Brunson
Randy Brunson is the founding shareholder of Centurion Advisory Group. Mr. Brunson
has invested most of his thirty five year career in the area of financial services.

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