Snow in the Desert

Saint George, Utah, is often listed as one of the top retirement cities in the country. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth, surrounded by National and State parks with breathtaking scenery. The beauty is magnified by the temperate climate with mild winters. According to the Chamber of Commerce, the city enjoys over 300 sunny days per year.
Every February the local home builders put on a huge “Parade of Homes” that draws nearly 30,000 visitors, mostly from colder northern cities. Many of these are looking for a warmer climate to move to. Judging by the rapid growth of the area I suspect the home builders have been very successful in their efforts.
As I sat to write my column this week I found myself looking out my picture window at the snow covered palm trees sagging in my backyard. An unusual cold front has come through town and for the second day has blanketed the whole valley in cold, wet snow. The home show is in progress this week and I have been wondering how our northern visitors have been feeling about the weather. Certainly mother nature is not cooperating with the home builders this year. I suspect there will be some who have come looking for a warm winter retreat who might decide to keep heading a bit further south. One such visitor even commented to me about all the “Climate change.” I wondered if they were comparing these times to some magical time in the past when the climate was always the same.
In meeting with clients over the past few years I am hearing more often some version of the phrase, “The stock markets have sure been volatile lately.” Even professional analysts have referred to all the recent volatility, as if there was some magical time in stock market history when everything just went up every day. I have followed the stock market since I was in high school and I can never remember a time when its movements were not volatile.
Stocks are much like the weather. Even though there is an average temperature, or average days of sunshine, it doesn’t mean that every week will meet the average. The volatility in the weather and in stocks averages out over time and helps you decide if it is a good place for you, but in the short run sometimes the weather and stocks just don’t cooperate. 
Southern Utah has wonderful weather and it would be a shame if someone missed the opportunity to live here just because they happened to show up for a home show on a rare snowy day. The stock market has a long tradition of growing wealth and providing investment benefits.  Historically the stock market ends the year up over 70% of the time. It would be a shame if someone missed out on its potential benefits just because they decided to judge it by the less common bad years, or the occasional snowy day.