Staying Sane in Wild Markets

It’s been a neck-snapping, stomach-churning, headache-inducing few weeks for savers and investors. The speed with which the market went from a record-high close on February 12 to the worst week for stocks since the Great Recession by the month’s end was mind-numbing. In the ensuing days and weeks, investors have continued to veer wildly between extreme worry over the potential for the coronavirus to tip the country and the world into recession and cautious optimism that global leaders would come up with a unified plan to slow the spread of disease and contain the fallout.

Even an emergency interest-rate cut from the Federal Reserve in early March, two weeks ahead of its regularly scheduled meeting, didn’t serve to reassure—and with good reason. Says David Lebovitz, a global market strategist with J.P. Morgan Asset Management, “It’s just impossible for anyone to know whether the worst is over or there’s more carnage to come.”

That uncertainty about what the future holds is deeply unsettling, not just for Wall Street money managers and people in the 1 percent but for regular folks too—people who are contributing to 401(k)s and IRAs for retirement, socking away money for their kids’ college education in 529 plans and building savings in investment accounts for other long-term goals.

“What makes

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