The past several years have been anything but ideal with regard to the economy and lifestyle of Americans. We started with a deep recession which included a collapse of home values which were increasing at an unsustainable pace. The way out of the recession was anything but painless. It was slow and tedious at best as the recovery has felt like we were running in slow motion. However, as slow as the recovery has been, it has proceeded over all obstacles and there were plenty of obstacles from natural disasters to political issues and world conflicts. Steadily the recovery plowed ahead.
The two bright spots of the recovery have been stocks and interest rates. We have experienced record low rates for years while the stock market has continued to advance from the depths of the recession. One reason for the success of stocks has been the existence of low rates. For many investors, the returns of leaving money in cash made little sense since there was little or no rate of return with rates so low. Meanwhile, it was assumed that rates, as well as oil prices, would increase as the recovery started “heating up.” Thus far, this has not happened. Rates and oil prices have not risen in 2014 even as we have recovered from our latest natural event — the harsh winter of earlier this year. Continue reading