Investors in the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) are having a good year. The C fund is up 19.64% for the year; the S fund is up 23.72% for the year and the I fund is up 8.98%. The G fund is always up, at least a small amount, and it has a positive gain of 0.94% for the year. The only fund that is down is the F fund which has a negative return of 2.15% for the year.
The F fund being down has led to several emails from unhappy investors wondering why the F fund managers are not doing a better job. As we have explained in earlier articles, when interest rates go up, the value of bond funds goes down. The F fund invests in government, corporate, and mortgage-backed bonds. It does not jump from bonds and into the stock market even if the fund manager thinks bonds are likely to go down in the near future.
The F fund is a bond fund and, unlike the G fund, it does not have special bonds issued just for the TSP which guarantees at least a small positive return each month. Of course, investors were not complaining when the F fund returns were beating the G fund month after month as the Federal Reserve was holding down interest rates with its program of “quantitative easing” which held down interest rates and provided a higher rate of return for bond funds like the F fund. (See Your TSP, Sequestration and Winning TSP Funds in May)
The positive rate of return for stocks in July is unique and certainly welcomed by stock investors. Since 1946, the S&P 500 index has provided a positive return for July only 53.7% of the time—well below the 58.7% average for all months. The more recent positive returns may be more because of money managers feeling left behind and now putting money into stocks rather than increasing stock prices based on earnings growth. Many investors are expecting a “correction” in the stock market but, to date at least, that has not happened and those who have remained invested have been rewarded with higher returns so far this year.
Also, the Federal Reserve said this week that it would keep pumping money into the economy as part of its economic stimulus efforts because of modest growth of the U.S. economy, higher mortgage rates and low inflation. Until there are rumors of a change in this policy, interest rates are likely to remain relatively low and stocks may remain in positive territory in the absence of other negative news. Eventually, the pumping of large amounts of money into the economy will have to end and it is not clear how or when this policy will end or the ultimate impact on investors.
Here are the results for all of the TSP funds for July and for the year-to-date:
|G Fund||F Fund||C Fund||S Fund||I Fund|
|L Income||L 2020||L 2030||L 2040||L 2050|
The FERS participation rate has been stable at 86.8% but the total number of active FERS participants (contributing and non-contributing) dropped to approximately 2,386,000 – a twelve-month low. The plan balance also remained stable at $358 billion. The balance includes nearly $804 million in assets that are held by 9,876 beneficiary participants.
Beginning in December 2010, beneficiary participant accounts have been established for spouses of deceased TSP participants. Spousal beneficiaries may withdraw their accounts or leave their money invested in the TSP.
In June, TSP investors moved money out of the TSP and into the G fund and the lifecycle funds. About $1.5 billion was withdrawn from the F fund and $1.8 billion into the G fund. Substantial withdrawals were also made from all of the underlying TSP stock funds in June.
TSP rates by day, month and year are available at TSPDataCenter.com. Just click on “rates” once you go to the home page for this free feature and then select your preference to see current and historical rates of return for all TSP funds along with illustrative graphs of performance data.
For those who want to track their personal rate of return for their TSP investments, you can enter and track your rate of return for one or more investment portfolios at TSPDataCenter.com. When you go to the TSPDataCenter.com site, you will have to create a new account if you do not have one to track your TSP investments. (Remember that this is not your official government TSP account; it is one you will create and the only data will be the data that you enter.) If you do not have an account, just click on “register” to create your account. Once you have created your account and logged into it, click on “start new portfolio” feature to begin entering your TSP investments and tracking your TSP investments.