News & Insights
February 1st, 2019

By The Numbers February 2019

1. BAD THEN GOOD – The S&P 500 gained +8.0% (total return) in January 2019, a performance that ranks in the top 4% of monthly returns in the last 30 years. Ironically, the S&P 500 lost 9.0% (total return) in December 2018, a performance that ranks in the bottom 2% of monthly returns in the last 30 years. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market value weighted index with each stock’s weight in the index proportionate to its market value (source: BTN Research).

2. ALMOST ALL WERE UP – 458 individual stocks in the S&P 500 were up during the month of January 2019, including 40 stocks that were up at least +20% for the month (source: BTN Research).

3. ROLLER COASTER – The best stock in the S&P 500 during January 2019 was up +42.8% for the month. This follows a 32.2% loss for the stock during 2018, a +26.7% gain in 2017 and a 17.9% loss in 2016 (source: BTN Research).

4. YELLEN vs. POWELL – During the 4-years that Janet Yellen served as Fed Chair (i.e., 2/03/14 to 2/02/18), the S&P 500 gained +72.4% on a total return basis (an average of +14.6% per year) and achieved 156 record closing highs. The first year for Jerome Powell serving as Fed Chair ends today (2/05/18 to 2/04/19). Over the last year, the S&P 500 has set 5 all-time closing highs while losing 0.04% (total return)(source: BTN Research).

5. REQUIRED MINIMUM DISTRIBUTIONS – If you turned age 70 ½ sometime in 2018, then you must begin taking annual withdrawals from your IRA accounts no later than 4/01/19. If you delay your 1st withdrawal until 4/01/19, you must also take a 2nd distribution by 12/31/19 (source: Internal Revenue Service).

6. ESTATE TAXES – An estimated 2.8 million Americans died in 2018. Of the 2.8 million deaths, an estimated 4,000 of those deceased individuals (i.e., 1 in every 700 deaths) died with an estate worth more $11.2 million, the maximum dollar amount that can be passed estate tax-free per decedent with proper tax planning (source: Tax Policy Center).

7. HOW LONG COULD YOU LAST? – Just 29% of working Americans surveyed in the summer 2018 had emergency savings set aside that would allow them to survive at least 6 months without any current cash flow from a job (source: Bankrate’s Financial Security Index).

8. ONE ESPRESSO PLEASE – 27% of 1,000 Millennials surveyed in July 2018 spend more money on coffee each month than what they set aside and invest monthly for their eventual retirement (source:

9. BACK AT WORK – American employers reported an increase of +304,000 new net jobs in January 2019, the 100th consecutive month of jobs gains in our country, i.e., from October 2010 through and including January 2019. An average of +202,000 new jobs each month have been created over the100-month run (source: DOL).

10. CHINA WEAKNESS – US exports to China were $110.6 billion in 2012, rising +18% (i.e., +3.3% per year) to $130.4 billion in 2017. US exports to China are $102.5 billion YTD through 10/31/18, reflecting the impact of tariffs and a slowing Chinese economy (source: Commerce Department).

11. TWO TIMES TO THREE TIMES – Estimated mandatory expenses of the US government are twice as large as discretionary expenses during the current 2019 fiscal year, i.e.,$2.695 trillion to$1.334 trillion. Estimated mandatory expenses of the US government are 3 times as large as discretionary expenses during the 2029 fiscal year, i.e., $4.584 trillion to$1.530 trillion (source: Congressional Budget Office).

12. BACK IN BUSINESS – Greece issued 2.5 billion Euros of 5-year sovereign debt on Tuesday 1/29/19, the first debt issued by Greece’s government in 9 years (source: Financial Times).

13. FROZEN – The low temperature in Chicago in the early hours of Wednesday 1/30/19 fell to -23 degrees, tied for the 5th coldest day in the city’s history. The record is -27 degrees set on 1/20/85. Weather records have been maintained in Chicago since 1872, i.e., for the last 147 years (source: CBS Chicago).

14. SUPER BET – Prior to the 2/03/19 Super Bowl # 53, the underdog in the big game had won just 17 of 52 games but had won 7 of the last 11 games. The Los Angeles Rams were 2 ½ point underdogs in 2/03/19 football game vs. the New England Patriots (source: BTN Research).

15. SAME CITIES – The Boston Red Sox beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in 5 games to win the 2018 World Series, winning the clinching game on 10/28/18. Just 98 days after winning baseball’s title, the New England Patriots faced off vs. the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl # 53 (2/03/19) in Atlanta (source: BTN Research).


IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: The information contained in this material has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute investment advice. Any mention of particular stocks or companies does not constitute and should not be considered an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. Any forward-looking statements presented in this material are inherently uncertain and cannot be relied upon as statements of actual performance.
Reproduction Prohibited without Express Permission – Copyright © 2019 Michael A. Higley. All rights reserved.