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Navigating Market Turmoil: Insights from the December Downturn

December 20, 2018

Click the video to watch David Reyes, The Retirement Architect share the latest in the market and how the year is ending for 2018!

In the ever-fluctuating world of finance, understanding market dynamics is crucial for investors and financial enthusiasts alike. Recently, the stock market experienced a significant downturn, drawing comparisons to historical financial crises. This post delves into the key factors contributing to this decline and offers a perspective on managing investments during such turbulent times.

The December Decline: A Historical Context

December witnessed a sharp decline in stock market values, marking it as one of the worst Decembers since 1932, during the Great Depression. This drop is notable in its severity, considering the historical resilience of markets during this month traditionally. The decline wasn't isolated to the United States; it was a global phenomenon, with significant downturns in major economies.

  • US Market: The market experienced a 10% drop in December, contributing to an overall 14% decline from its peak in September.
  • German DAX: Germany's major stock index saw a downturn of over 20%.
  • Chinese Market: China's market was particularly hard hit, with a decline of over 35% from its peak.

The Role of the Federal Reserve and Interest Rates

A critical factor in this downturn was the actions and policies of the Federal Reserve. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting held in the same month played a significant role:

  • Interest Rate Hike: The Federal Reserve raised interest rates by 25 basis points. This decision was part of a series of increases that began in 2016.
  • Future Projections: The Fed also indicated that it might continue to raise rates two more times in 2019.

Historically, there's a correlation between rising interest rates and declining stock markets. Higher interest rates generally lead to increased borrowing costs for individuals and businesses, which can dampen economic activity and reduce corporate profits. Additionally, higher rates make bonds and other fixed-income investments more attractive compared to stocks, potentially leading to a shift in investment allocations.

Managing Investments in Volatile Markets

Despite the turmoil, there are strategies for managing investments effectively during such periods. Investors who have diversified portfolios and a long-term investment strategy often fare better in weathering market volatility. It’s crucial to understand that market fluctuations are a normal part of the investment cycle and that overreacting to short-term movements can be detrimental to long-term investment goals.

  • Diversification: Having a mix of assets (stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.) can help mitigate risk. Diversification doesn't guarantee against loss but can be an effective strategy to manage risk and reduce the volatility of an investment portfolio.
  • Long-Term Perspective: It’s essential to maintain a long-term perspective and resist the urge to make impulsive decisions based on short-term market movements.
  • Professional Guidance: Working with financial advisors can provide tailored advice and reassurance, helping to navigate through market uncertainties.

The Importance of Financial Advisory in Turbulent Times

In challenging market conditions, the role of financial advisors becomes even more critical. They offer guidance and expertise in reallocating and adjusting investment portfolios to align with changing market conditions and individual investment goals. Advisors also play a key role in providing emotional reassurance, helping clients stay focused on their long-term objectives and avoid making decisions driven by fear or market panic.

Looking Ahead: Market Predictions and Trends

While predicting the future of the stock market with certainty is impossible, analyzing current trends and economic indicators can provide some insight. 

Investors and analysts will be closely monitoring the actions of the Federal Reserve, geopolitical developments, and economic data in the coming months to gauge the market's direction.

  • Economic Indicators: Key indicators such as GDP growth, unemployment rates, and consumer spending can provide insights into the health of the economy and potential market trends.
  • Global Developments: Geopolitical events and international trade policies can significantly impact markets. Investors should keep an eye on these developments for potential risks and opportunities.


The recent downturn in the stock market serves as a reminder of the inherent uncertainties and risks in investing. However, by understanding the factors that influence market movements, adopting a diversified and long-term investment strategy, and seeking professional guidance, investors can navigate these challenging times more effectively. 

As history has shown, markets have a tendency to recover over the long term, and maintaining a balanced and informed approach is key to successful investing.


The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments may be appropriate for you, consult with your financial advisor.
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