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When Rates Go Up, Do Stocks Go Down?

Should stock investors worry about changes in interest rates?

Research shows that, like stock prices, changes in interest rates and bond prices are largely unpredictable.1 It follows that an investment strategy based upon attempting to exploit these sorts of changes isn’t likely to be a fruitful endeavor. Despite the unpredictable nature of interest rate changes, investors may still be curious about what might happen to stocks if interest rates go up.

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The Impact of Inflation

When the prices of goods and services increase over time, consumers can buy fewer of them with every dollar they have saved.

This erosion of the real purchasing power of wealth is called inflation. Inflation is an important element of investing. In many cases, the reason for saving today is to support future spending. Therefore, keeping pace with inflation is a crucial goal for many investors. To help understand inflation’s impact on purchasing power, consider the following illustration of the effects of inflation over time. In 1916, nine cents would buy a quart of milk. Fifty years later, nine cents would only buy a small glass of milk. And more than 100 years later, nine cents would only buy about seven tablespoons of milk. How can investors potentially prevent this loss of purchasing power from inflation over time?

Exhibit 1. Your Money Today Will Likely Buy Less Tomorrow

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Doing Well and Doing Good

Growing interest in the impact of fossil fuels on the global climate may spark questions about whether individuals can integrate their values around sustainability with their investment goals and, if so, how.

As citizens, individuals can express their political preferences around sustainability through the ballot box. As investors, they also can express their preferences through participation in global capital markets. One key question these investors face is how to do this without compromising their desired investment outcomes. For instance, how can they reduce their portfolio’s environmental footprint while maintaining sound investment principles and achieving their investment objectives?

Investors can express their sustainability preferences through participation in global capital markets.

Sustainability preferences are not generally restricted to greenhouse gas emissions. Many investors may also have concerns about land use and biodiversity, toxic spills and releases, operational waste, and water management, among other issues.

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Sailing With the Tides

Embarking on a financial plan is like sailing around the world. The voyage won’t always go to plan, and there’ll be rough seas. But the odds of reaching your destination increase greatly if you are prepared, flexible, patient, and well-advised.

A mistake many inexperienced sailors make is not having a plan at all. They embark without a clear sense of their destination. And once they do decide, they often find themselves lost at sea in the wrong boat with inadequate provisions.

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