With about one month left in 2019, it might be dangerous to hazard a view as to how 2019 turned out. But it’s still worth looking at where we’ve come from since last Thanksgiving.

Last year at this time conventional wisdom held that rising interest rates and trade tensions could easily tip the global economy into a recession. Even though a number of slow-growth economies flirted with recession, the worst fears failed to materialize.

The sharp downturn in equities during last year’s fourth quarter was so brief that advisors escaped a deluge of phone calls from clients. But if clients were panicking as 2019 began, the general public wasn’t spending either, as January’s retail sales figures indicated. The drop-off in sales revealed how sensitive wide cross-sections of the American consumer have become to equity price levels.

If the year winds up as one to fondly remember, 2020 is unlikely to play out the same way. Presidential election years are generally favorable for the economy and stocks, but next year promises to bring more uncertainty than most.

Many observers say the time is propitious to invest abroad, and they may well be right. Foreign equities are priced at far more reasonable levels than their American counterparts.

Sound logic may underlie these valuations. The instability erupting in South America makes our political climate look sleepy and complacent. Brexit is only one of Europe’s many problems. If that’s not enough, I’ve heard a few China experts question whether that nation’s leader, Xi Jinping, will remain president for life—or even the next decade.

For many advisors, it’s been business as usual. How long that lasts is another question.

Those who are wondering how things might change in the decade might want to read Eric Rasmussen’s profile of Lido Advisors on page 40. And for any advisor who questions whether clients will remain as copacetic in the future as they have behaved in recent months, Ross Levin’s column on page 33 is a must read.

See you in 2020.        

Email me at [email protected] with your opinion.