by John Hartley
With apologies to George Gershwin, not so much if you're into equities. Rollercoasters are great for summer vacations, but not so much for your investment portfolio. Climatological summer - June, July, August, straddle the second and third quarters of the calendar year. And for the past 5 years, equity performance in those two middle quarters has been more exciting, or scary than any amusement park rollercoaster.
In the 9 Q2's and Q3's since 2008, 5 of those quarters have exhibited negative returns in equities, ranging from around -4% to -14%. "Wait a minute John", you might say, "that leaves 4 quarters of positive returns." Yes, but only 3, as one quarter was actually flat, and those 3 were quite good, in the 11% - 16% range. But 6 of the 9 quarters have had double digit moves, up or down, hence the rollercoaster reference. ("Is he finished with all those numbers yet?" Yes, I think so.)
So where does this leave us for the remainder of 2012? The players are all too familiar - the European debt situation, slowing growth in China, stubborn unemployment, political paralysis in Washington (with little hope of anything constructive before election day). But on the positive side, a turnaround in housing, improved credit health, stable energy prices and supportive interest rates around the world could encourage additional risk-taking. With negative real rates on cash and additional fixed income opportunities tenuous at best, equities have additional room to grow, if you like rollercoasters!