Many Americans think they know the story of Thanksgiving. It typically involves Pilgrims, Native Americans, cornucopias, and turkey. But the true origins of Thanksgiving as a national holiday began in the cold autumn of 1863. In that year, President Abraham Lincoln had little for which to be thankful. At the time, the U.S. was mired in the Civil War— to this day, America’s deadliest war. Roughly 625,000 soldiers died in the Civil War. That’s more Americans than died in both World Wars, Korea, and Vietnam combined. This amounted to two percent of the population at the time, which would be the equivalent to about six million Americans dying today. Despite these dire times, Lincoln issued a proclamation for a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise.” In 1941, in the midst of World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed into law a bill that formally established Thanksgiving as a national holiday.
Perhaps the tortured path that led to such a celebrated day is a strong reminder of just how fortunate we truly are. Thanksgiving is time to acknowledge life’s richness — and we have so much for which to be grateful. Consider some context:
- If you earn greater than $32,400 a year, you are in the top 1% globally by income.
- If you have wealth exceeding $1 million you are in the wealthiest 0.0244% of the world’s population.
- The wealthiest 1% of people in the world own 48% of the world’s total wealth, more wealth than the poorest 50% of people on the planet (3.5 billion people) combined.
So, despite all of the stress, commotion, and hubbub associated with the holidays, we should always reflect on how truly fortunate we are to have such lives of abundance.
Following the tragic attacks in Paris, if your Thanksgiving conversations turn to broader geopolitical, economic, or investment topics, here is a quick summary of how BSW is currently building resilient portfolios so that your wealth endures.
- Look abroad. Currently, European and Japanese markets offer more value for investors than US markets. US markets have been on a streak since 2009, but now may struggle to overcome a rise in interest rates, stretched valuations, and weakening breadth. Europe and Japan, on the other hand, should benefit from looser monetary policy, business spending, and more reasonable valuations
- Be hedged. Although foreign markets look attractive, the US dollar is likely to strengthen further. Consequently, investors should mitigate their foreign currency risk through hedging.
- Have a plan. Stick to it. Markets may (and will) rise and fall, but if you have a plan, all of the zigs and zags are just noise.
As we gather together with family and friends, may we cherish this special time with loved ones, give thanks for the year, and look forward to 2016. From all of us at BSW, we wish you and yours a healthy, fun and enjoyable Thanksgiving.