1. TWO MONTHS – The S&P 500 gained +6.6% (total return) during the first 2 months of 2013, 67% of the average annual total return achieved over the last 50 calendar years.  The S&P 500 is an unmanaged index of 500 widely held stocks that is generally considered representative of the US stock market (source: BTN Research).

2. ANOTHER YEAR – 7 of the last 10 bull markets for the S&P 500 stock index have reached at least 3 years in length and 5 of the 10 lasted at least 5 years.  The current bull market is the 11th bull for the S&P 500 since 1950 and it will reach 4 years in length as of Saturday 3/09/13 (source: BTN Research).  

3. MORE TO GO – The S&P 500 fell 57% from peak to trough during the index’s 2007-09 bear market, its 10th bear market in the last 60 years.  In the aftermath of the 9 previous bear markets (defined as an S&P 500 tumble of at least 20%), the index recovered each time and closed above the previous bull market high.  The average length of time to bounce-back (from its bear low) and close at a new record high is 23 months.  This upcoming Saturday (3/09/13) marks the 4-year anniversary (i.e., 48 months) of the low close from the 2007-09 bear market.  The index must gain another +3.1% from last week’s close to reach a record high (source: BTN Research).

4. DOUBLE PLUS – The S&P 500 bottomed on 3/09/09 at 677 at the end of a 17-month bear market.  In the 4 years since then, the stock index has gained +124% to close last Friday (3/01/13) at 1518 (source: BTN Research).

5. NEVER? – 31% of working Americans at least age 25 have never expressly saved for their eventual retirement.  65% of French workers at least age 25 have never expressly saved for retirement (source: HSBC: The Future of Retirement Survey).

6. ANXIOUS – 6 out of 7 Americans surveyed (85%) are either “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about the current state of the US economy and how existing conditions may impede their ability to retire (source: National Institute on Retirement Security).

7. HOME SWEET HOME – Single-family home prices in the USA increased by +121% on average over the 15 years from 12/31/91 to 12/31/06.  Over the next 5 years (12/31/06 to 12/31/11), single-family home prices fell 19%.  Last year (12/31/11 to 12/31/12), home prices rose +5% (source: Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight).

8. IMPROVEMENT – At the end of 2010, 9.0% of mortgages had at least 1-payment past due and another 4.6% of mortgages were in the foreclosure process.  At the end of 2011, 8.2% of mortgages had at least 1-payment past due and another 4.4% of mortgages were in the foreclosure process.  As of the end of 2012, 7.5% of mortgages had at least 1-payment past due and another 3.7% of mortgages were in the foreclosure process (source: Mortgage Bankers Association).

9. A CULTURE OF OVERSPENDING – Total annual government outlays have averaged 20.1% of GDP since 1950.  Total annual revenue collected by the government has exceeded 20.1% of GDP only once (in fiscal year 2000) since 1950 (source: Office of Management and Budget).

10. LOW RATES – The government paid $359 billion of interest expense on our country’s outstanding debt during fiscal year 2012, i.e., the 12 months ending 9/30/12, a 21% decrease from 2011 (source: Treasury Department).

11. DOWN ON THE FARM – Net farm income in the USA was $112.8 billion in 2012 (i.e., gross income less expenses), up +79% in the last 3 years.  The $112.8 billion was the 2nd largest annual total, exceeded only by a $117.9 billion profit from 2011 (source: Department of Agriculture).

12. START OVER – Of the 1.22 million Americans that filed for personal bankruptcy in calendar year 2012, 69% filed under Chapter 7, 30% filed under Chapter 13 and only 1% filed under Chapter 11.  Filing under Chapter 7 can afford an individual the ability to eliminate his/her unsecured debts while maintaining a certain protection over some of his/her assets.  Please consult a qualified advisor for details (source: American Bankruptcy Institute).

13. MOST DON’T – Only 42% of American consumers that charge purchases on a credit card pay off their credit card balance each month (source: Adam J. Levitin, Georgetown University Law Center).

14. FIFTY PERCENT INCREASE – An American baby born in 1913 had a life expectancy at birth of 52.5 years.  An American baby born in 2013 has a life expectancy at birth of 78.7 years (National Vital Statistics Reports).

15. JUST PRACTICE – The Toronto Blue Jays had the best record in major league baseball during the 2012 spring training season (24-7, 0.774 winning percentage).  However, the Blue Jays finished baseball’s 2012 regular season at 73-89, 22 games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East Division (source: MLB).