In this economic and political environment, investors are being forced to cope with unprecedented circumstances. At the same time that our economic recovery appears to be slowing, the S&P downgrades the U.S. credit rating for the first time. Confidence that government policymakers can do anything significant to help improve the environment is low.

Here are two realities to give you an appropriate perspective on the challenges that lie ahead:

  1. The economy is being tested, but a repeat of 2008 is not inevitable.

Recent memory can have a significant impact on investor behavior. The fall 2008 financial crisis that pushed the global economy to the brink (and contributed to a 50 percent-plus drop in the value of the S&P 500 stock index) remains etched in most of our memories. Now, as European governments (Greece, Ireland and Spain to name a few) try to manage their debt, fears grow that the U.S. may face a similar situation soon. But it is not a foregone conclusion that we’re headed for the same result as three years ago. Circumstances are different today. For instance, many of the economic problems in the last downturn were related to the housing market bubble and excessive consumer debt. Today, housing prices are dramatically lower and consumers have begun to wind down their debt. There are other challenges facing the economy today, but a “double-dip” recession in the U.S. is far from certain.

2. Market gyrations should not overtake your investment strategy.

Are you a long-term investor? Most everybody should be, at least with a portion of your portfolio. Even if you are retired or close to it, you may need to invest some of your money in stocks to help meet increasing income needs over the course of what could be a long retirement. If you are uneasy with your current asset mix, review your holdings to determine if there is a more appropriate investment for your circumstances. Keep your portfolio well diversified. Avoid putting too much of your money into a single asset or asset class. This will limit the risk of a dramatic change in its price.

Yes, there’s a lot of unnerving financial news out there, but don’t let today’s headlines overwhelm your long-term investment decisions.

For more information, please contact Michael W. Yee at (808) 952-1240.

Advisor is licensed/registered to do business with U.S. residents only in the states of Hawaii. Brokerage, investment and financial advisory services are made available through Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA and SIPC. Some products and services may not be available in all jurisdictions or to all clients.© 2010 Ameriprise Financial, Inc. All rights reserved.