Currently more than half of the S&P 500 is lower on the year (281 names or 56.2% to be exact), and the S&P 500 is hinting at another push lower. If we were to think of these 281 names as a portfolio, this portfolio would be down 15.51% on the year but would have paid a total dividend of 2.66%. If this sounds a little confusing, just know that it's not good.
The problem with the way the markets have recently moved lower boils down to one word: volatility. All but two of the 11 sectors in the market have seen a double-digit increase in volatility. Think of volatility as how scared investors get. You know how you feel when the markets have a strong down day and all you see is red on the TV screen and your account ledgers? You know that everything will be okay in the long run, but you can't help but feel a little anxious? That is volatility. When the markets get volatile, investors get anxious, and when you get anxious, you make poor decisions.
Now, some investors - like Warren Buffet - will see this as opportunity and search for their next great investment, and some will succumb to the volatility and sell off their investments, convinced that they'll be able to buy the bottom. Some of you may remember the 2008-2009 decline. Many investors walked away from the markets at the worst possible time and many regretted it. Hold steady, don't panic, and keep an eye out for opportunities.