Sustainvest 4th Quarter 2014 Newsletter

istock image of root and plant paid forInside

Economy

Companies Committed

Education: Risk vs Return

Shareholder Activism

Non-Profit of the Quarter

Economy

With 2013 behind us, let’s take a little time to digest and reflect back on the year and the 4th quarter.  Stocks sort of barreled through the year, notwithstanding a fairly large crisis in Europe along with the complacency of our elected officials in Washington.  In March, the S%P 500 surpassed the highs of October 2007 (before the crash) showing that a buy and hold strategy can sometimes be the correct approach.  The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Affordable Care Act, a fairly large historical moment considering the number of Americans on food stamps has grown to about 47 million people, twice the total a decade ago.  The word of the year was “taper” (referring to the Federal Reserve pulling back on its bond-buying program) keeping interest rates at historical lows and keeping liquidity in the economy.  In December, Mr. Bernanke decided to pull back $10 billion in monthly purchases showing signs that economists are becoming more confident in the direction of our economy.

And of course, we can’t forget the billions of dollars the big banks paid to clean their dirty hands of mortgage charges including JP Morgan’s $13 billion settlement. It does seem as if the average American is becoming more confident with the markets as well. The portion of household financial assets in stocks has risen to about 39%, still below the high of 53% in 2001 but above 2009 levels.  Real estate prices continue to move northward with San Francisco and the bay area leading the country’s recovery.  Even Christmas-tree sales surged 12% versus the past decade’s 5% average. But considering this bull market is now about 4 ½ years old there is concern.

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About Dale Wannen