It often doesn’t take much for investors to become panicky. Despite reaching historically high bench marks, investors are waiting for the other shoe to drop.

What goes up eventually comes down, right?

So it’s not without reason that the looming government shutdown could put a brake on the current bull market.

“The U.S. government could shut down later this week and that could spell trouble for investors in the near term, history shows,” CNBC reported this week.

The bump down is typically small. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index falls an average of 0.3 percent one week after a shutdown, by historic standards. While the market in the past has quickly rebounded, an interruption in government services might still spook investors.

“Stocks failed to hold strong gains Tuesday as the possibility of a government shutdown loomed over investors’ minds,” CNBC’s Fred Imbert reported. “The Dow Jones industrial average erased a 283 point gain, closing down 10.3 points. The S&P 500 also saw its advances evaporate, closing 0.4 percent lower after rising as much as 0.8 percent.”

And shutdowns aren’t cheap.

“Although the government would stop paying federal workers, S&P predicts a shutdown would increase the deficit because of the added cost required to stop and start federal programs,” the Washington Post’s Jeff Stein reported last month. “The last three government shutdowns — two during President Bill Clinton’s administration and a third under President Barack Obama in 2013 — cost the federal government $4.25 billion, according to the Office of Management and Budget.”

If the past is any indication, here’s what you can expect if the government closes:

— You’ll get your Social Security check. “Social Security is a mandatory program that will continue even if Congress fails to pass a spending bill,” USA Today reports.

— Going on vacation and waiting for your passport? You trip may be derailed if the spending impasse goes on too long. “If the shutdown lasts for more than a few days and you need to renew or apply for a passport, you could run into problems,” Consumer Reports says. “Without workers, the State Department would have to stop processing applications.”

“Even if you’re not a government employee, the screeching halt of federal operations can affect you,” wrote Kelly Anne Smith for The Penny Hoarder.

The year of Trump

We are coming up on the first-year anniversary of the Trump administration. There are a lot of opinions of how well he’s done when it comes to the economy.

Color of Money question of the week
Do you feel you are worse or better off financially since Trump was elected? Send your comments to Please include your name, city and state. All opinions are welcome, but please keep your comments civil.

Live chat today
Let’s talk. My guest today will be Carter Dougherty, communications director at Americans for Financial Reform, a coalition of more than 200 consumer advocates, civil rights groups, labor unions, faith organizations and community activists. Of course, I’ll be taking your personal finance questions, but I’d like to specifically discuss the future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

As CBS reported, “The Trump-appointed acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau said Wednesday that he’s launching a review of all the federal consumer watchdog agency’s policies and priorities. This is the second major step taken this week by Mick Mulvaney, who took over as acting director in late November, to reshape the bureau. On Tuesday, the bureau announced a review of its recently enacted rules for payday lending.”

On Twitter, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights said the bureau may be on a mission to silence the voices of consumers.

Join the discussion live from noon to 1 p.m. Here’s the link.

Ready for the 2018 tax season? It starts Jan. 29 and here’s why you should file early.
Last week I asked: Are you planning to file earlier than you usually do because of concerns about identity theft?

Beth wrote, “I do worry about identity theft, and I’d really like to be able to file on January 29, but I have investments in brokerage accounts, and those companies have until mid-February to send me form 1099s.”

“I usually file as soon as I get all my information (1099s, etc.),” wrote Mary Zawoysky of
Woods Hole, Mass.
“A few years ago I filed electronically before the filing date even opened and I was glad because someone tried to use my Social Security number to file. Since I had already filed they could not get theirs in and the IRS has given me a special code ever since to avoid someone filing an illegal tax return in my name. It’s worth filing early!”

“Yes, we are planning to file earlier this year,” wrote one reader from Salem, Virginia, who asked not to be named. “We were victims of a phony tax return filing last year. We filed individual returns in early March using an online tax preparation package which we’ve utilized for several years. The federal return was rejected because another return using our tax ID had been submitted a few days earlier. We followed government recommendations for reporting this through local law enforcement, FTC, state tax authorities, and subsequently submitted paper returns. We have been fortunate that the scope of the identity theft has been limited to an attempt to use our identity at an out-of-state bank (with which we have no relationship), which was immediately detected and shut down by their security team. Though both federal and state tax departments have sent us additional credentials to use when filing this year’s taxes, early filing still seems a wise choice.”

Color of Money columns this week
Knowledge isn’t power. The right knowledge is power.

Stay informed about your money.

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Have a question about your finances? Michelle Singletary has a weekly live chat every Thursday at noon where she discusses financial dilemmas with readers. You can also write to Michelle directly by sending an email to Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more Color of Money columns, go here.

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