Stimulus Bill Analysis

Stimulus Bill Analysis

The New Stimulus Bill

President Biden just signed another stimulus bill, aimed to help those affected by the virus (and to deal with a few other matters found in the 5,593 pages of legislation).

So discerning investors might ask two questions: (1) What’s in it? and (2) What’s in it for me?

What’s in It?

Totaling $1.9 trillion, the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 features jobless help, child tax credits, stimulus checks, vaccine-distribution money, healthcare subsidies, and aid for struggling restaurants.

A Mountain of Money Is on Its Way

As of March 29, 2021, the IRS and the Department of the Treasury have sent out 127 million checks for $1400 each. And 30 million more checks are on their way.[1] These checks will hit the mailboxes or bank accounts of adults, children, and adult dependents such as college students and elders. Adult dependents didn’t receive checks the last time around, so that’s good news for some college students and elders.

What’s in It for Me?

So who’s scooping up all these checks?

An individual filer who earns $75,000 or less — or joint filers earning $150,000 or less — plus members of their household will receive a check for $1400 each.[2]

Also, those who file as heads of households may earn up to $112,500 and still receive a full payment.

But the money disappears quickly: an individual who earns $80,000 or a couple who earn $160,000 will find their mailboxes empty.[3]

What Income Numbers Does the IRS Use?

The key number is your adjusted gross income. If you’ve already filed your taxes for 2020, the IRS will use that number. If you haven’t filed yet, then your 2019 adjusted gross income will govern.

But the true governing number is your adjusted gross income this year. Thus, if you’ll earn less this year than last, and this year’s total puts you under the limits, you’ll be able to claim missing payments on next year’s tax return.[4]

Adjusting Your Adjusted Gross Income

Some legal ways can help you slide just under the $75,000 and $150,000 limits. You can contribute more to certain tax-favored retirement or health savings accounts and lower your adjusted gross income. Or if you’re thinking of selling stock or other taxable asset at profit this year, you can wait until next year. Then, using this year’s adjusted gross income, you can zero in on that “missing payments” bonanza.

Other Goodies

The new stimulus law extends enhanced unemployment benefits through September 6. Thus, those who claim jobless benefits will get $300 each week in addition to the payments they get from the state.[5]

Also, under the new law, some unemployment income now escapes taxation. An individual earning less than $150,000 can shield $10,200 in unemployment benefits. Married couples who both received unemployment can shield $20,400. But the $150,000 limit still applies.[6]

Upping the Child Tax Credit

The child tax credits go up for one year under the new law. Children under 6 — $3600. Between 6 and 17 — $3000. One-half of the credit is available as advance monthly payments the IRS will start sending to families this coming July.[7]

Phaseouts for this benefit begin at $75,000 of single filers, at $112,500 for heads of households, and at $150,000 for joint filers. But phased-out individuals who earn less than $200,000 ($400,000 for married couples) can still claim the customary $2000 child credit.[8]

Health Costs Drop

The cost of health insurance will drop on health exchanges. Under current rules, if you buy health insurance on the federal exchange or on state marketplaces (for two years), your cost is limited to 9.78% of your income. Now that percentage drops to 8.5%. Your costs will thus go down.[9]

Complexities Galore

An already complex tax code continues to get, as Alice would say, “curiouser and curiouser.” Many rules have changes. Uncertainty swirls around the heads of millions of tax experts and CPAs. The IRS will have to step forward and issue guidance on many of the gray areas.

Of course, all of this takes place while bill drafters on Capitol Hill prepare a slew of suggested tax hikes. Meanwhile, the economy doesn’t know which way to go. Optimistic estimates predict an economy that grows 6.5% this year. If that happens, then IRS coffers will overflow — even though federal spending will far exceed tax receipts. If the good times do roll, tax increasers will be licking their chops.

So now, quite obviously, is a good time to start planning ahead.

Give Me a Call

Although we don’t pretend to be tax experts and although we don’t give out tax advice, we always stand ready to guide you with your investments. Sales of stock or sales of other appreciated assets will affect tax exposure now and in the future. We can certainly help guide you in these decisions on holding or selling various assets.

My cell phone stands ready — 240-401-2355.

Always feel free to call me personally.

Sincerely,

Jack Reutemann, Jr. CLU, CFP®​

Weekly Market Commentary 4.26.2021

Weekly Market Commentary 4.26.2021

How Are Your Investments Doing Lately?  Receive A Free, No-Obligation 2nd Opinion On Your Investment Portfolio >

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

April 26, 2021

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

It wasn’t just the price of pork chops.

Last week, as investors weighed the news, strong corporate earnings were offset by higher grocery prices and rising numbers of global coronavirus cases.

Solid corporate earnings weighed favorably.
So far, 25 percent of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s (S&P) 500 Index have reported first quarter earnings, and 84 percent said profits grew faster than expected, reported John Butters of FactSet. The blended earnings growth rate for the S&P 500 (which includes estimated earnings for companies that have not yet reported and actual earnings for companies that have) was 33.8 percent last week. For context, the 5-year average earnings growth rate (actual earnings) for the S&P 500 was 6.9 percent as of last week.

It’s important to remember the impact of earnings is often muted as earnings expectations – good or bad – tend to be priced into the market long before they are reported.

Inflation expectations weighed unfavorably.
Investors were concerned about inflation – and so were consumers. While the Federal Reserve and many economists believe we’ll see a fleeting uptick in inflation, others think the increase will persist. “…A consistent drumbeat of price hikes from major companies, consumer reports, and market data suggest the world may not be going along with their conclusion,” reported Dion Rabouin of Axios.

It is likely markets may pay particularly close attention to Federal Reserve statements about inflation and interest rates this week.

Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases around the world tipped the scales.
Concerns about India’s coronavirus surge, Japan’s state of emergency, and rising numbers of cases around the world caused investors to reassess expectations and some sold shares of companies that were expected to benefit from the re-opening of world economies. Yun Li and Maggie Fitzgerald of CNBC reported:

“The sell-off in shares that are tied to a successful reopening came as the World Health Organization warned that global coronavirus infections were edging toward their highest level in the pandemic. In the United States, while the country is maintaining a pace of 3 million reported vaccinations per day, about 67,100 daily new infections are still being recorded.”

Despite uncertainties, most (67 percent) professional investors who participated in Barron’s Big Money Poll said they were bullish on the outlook for stocks in the next 12 months. Just 7 percent were bearish.

Major U.S. stock indices finished the week flat or slightly lower. U.S. Treasuries rallied briefly before finishing the week flat.

A capital gains tax hike has been proposed.
Another factor that influenced last week’s stock market decline was the proposed capital gains tax hike. Investors’ response was a bit surprising since the tax increase wasn’t really news. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s reported:

“President Joe Biden made no secret of his plan to raise capital-gains taxes on the very wealthy. It was a campaign pledge, one that got enough attention for Goldman Sachs to release a note looking at the historical impact of previous increases on the stock market. (The answer: not very much.)”

According to Steve Goldstein of MarketWatch, the Goldman note reported the wealthiest U.S. households sold 1 percent of their equity assets prior to the 2013 capital gains tax increase. As a result, the S&P 500 Index experienced a short-lived loss six months prior to the tax hike and, six months after the tax hike, the Index was back in positive territory.

While the long-term impact on stock markets may be relatively small, the effect on high income investors could be significant.

The administration proposal, as written, would nearly double the capital gains tax rate for people with adjustable gross income of $1 million or more. (That’s about 0.3 percent of American taxpayers.) The current top long-term capital gains tax rate would increase from 20 percent to 39.6 percent, reported Laura Davison and Allyson Versprille of Bloomberg.

The capital gains tax increase is a proposed change. It has not been finalized, and there are indications the final tax may be lower if the bill is passed.

If you’re concerned about the potential tax increase and would like to learn more, please get in touch.

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Share prices fluctuate more than share values.”
–Sir John Templeton, Investor, banker, and asset manager

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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.
* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

 

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

 

Sources:
https://www.barrons.com/articles/the-feds-inflation-blind-spot-already-surging-grocery-and-housing-prices-51619209825 (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-26-21_Barrons-The_Feds_Inflation_Blind_Spot-Already-Surging_Grocery_and_Housing_Prices-Footnote_1.pdf)
https://insight.factset.com/sp-500-earnings-season-update-april-23-2021
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/19/stock-market-futures-open-to-close-news.html
https://www.axios.com/inflation-federal-reserve-price-hikes-63588a9a-92cd-4764-8cd0-28778cf57c57.html
https://www.barrons.com/articles/india-and-japan-are-seeing-covid-surges-why-that-wont-derail-the-global-recovery-51619208829 (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-26-21_Barrons-India_and_Japan_are_Seeing_COVID_Surges-Why_That_Wont_Derail_the_Global_Recovery-Footnote_5.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/articles/stocks-have-more-room-to-rise-says-barrons-big-money-poll-51619222301?mod=hp_HERO (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-26-21_Barrons-This_Bull_Market_is_Far_from_Over_Pros_Say-Where_Theyre_Investing_Now-Footnote_6.pdf)
https://www.barrons.com/articles/why-did-the-dow-drop-this-week-it-got-spooked-by-old-news-51619221366?mod=hp_LEAD_2_B_1 (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-26-21_Barrons-The_Stock_Market_got_Spooked_by_What_It_Already_Knew-Heres_Next_Weeks_Surprise-Footnote_7.pdf)
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/get-ready-for-178-billion-of-selling-ahead-of-the-capital-gains-tax-hike-these-are-the-stocks-most-at-risk-11619174251
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-23/biden-aims-at-top-0-3-with-bid-to-tax-capital-gains-like-wages (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-26-21_Bloomberg-Biden_Aims_at_Top_0.3_Percent_with_Bid_to_Tax_Capital_Like_Wages-Footnote_9.pdf)
https://www.azquotes.com/author/14517-John_Templeton

Weekly Market Commentary 4.26.2021

Weekly Market Commentary 4.19.2021

How Are Your Investments Doing Lately?  Receive A Free, No-Obligation 2nd Opinion On Your Investment Portfolio >

Weekly Financial Market Commentary

April 19, 2021

Our Mission Is To Create And Preserve Client Wealth

Where are Treasury bonds going?

The direction of bond yields is influenced by investors’ expectations for economic growth, among other factors. When economic growth is expected to weaken, bond yields tend to move lower. When economic growth is expected to strengthen, bond yields tend to move higher.

Last year, U.S. Treasury yields began to climb higher on optimism that vaccines, in tandem with fiscal and monetary stimulus, would strengthen economic growth. The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose more than 1 percent in just a few months, from 0.54 percent at the end of July 2020 to 1.75 percent at the end of March 2021.

Last week, Treasury yields moved lower. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s explained it’s “…possible that after yields nearly doubled to start the year, investors were simply waiting to see that the move higher was over before buying again. Of course, nearly everyone was predicting a 2 percent yield on the 10-year, while often forgetting that rarely does anything in financial markets move in a straight line.”

There are reasons for investors to be optimistic about what may be ahead and there may be reasons for concern:

·         Corporate earnings are positive, so far. Corporate earnings are encouraging. Almost 10 percent of Standard & Poor’s 500 Index companies have reported first quarter earnings. Earnings show how profitable a company was during a given period of time. So far, 81 percent of the companies have reported higher than expected earnings per share, reported John Butters of FactSet.

·         Vaccine rollouts offer mixed messages. As of last weekend, about 50 percent of Americans 18 and older had received at least one dose of the vaccine and about 32 percent were fully vaccinated, reported the Centers for Disease Control.

There is trepidation about the effectiveness of mass vaccinations and the pace at which people in other regions of the world are being vaccinated, reported Chris Wilson of Time. In the United States, the pause in distribution of single shot vaccines caused some investors to be concerned, reported Hope King of Axios.

 ·         Economic data was compelling. U.S. economic data released last week showed declines in weekly unemployment claims and strong retail sales numbers. The news strengthened expectations that economic recovery remained on track, reported Simon Jessop and Hideyuki Sano of Reuters.

Other issues that may be weighing on investors include uncertainty about infrastructure spending and sanctions on Russia.

No one is ever certain what the future will bring. It’s one reason for having a well-diversified portfolio.

 

What’s on the benefits menu? The impact of COVID-19 on workplaces has been profound. As we move toward a new normal, it is likely work as we once knew it will be changed forever. Employer benefits is one area in which there may be significant change.

Remote work options may be necessary for employers to remain competitive, according to the Pulse of the American Worker Survey:

“…a “war for talent” may be looming if companies don’t address workers’ needs…[the] war will be won by companies who affirm their standing as a top destination for both current and future talent. These employers will cultivate cultures that reflect what is most important to workers, such as remote-work options and flexible work arrangements, opportunities for career development and mobility, and comprehensive benefits that foster employee health and well-being and build financial resiliency.”

Financial wellness has become a top concern for Americans – at work and at home. Two-thirds of survey participants said they spent more time thinking about their finances in 2020 than they have in prior years, and they identified key barriers to financial security which included:

72%     Lack of retirement savings
65%     Lack of emergency savings
65%     Not enough invested to grow
64%     Too many bills
58%     Not enough financial “know-how
55%     Too much debt

Some employers are considering new benefits that help address these issues, including emergency savings programs and other financial wellness options.

If you have concerns about any of these issues, please get in touch.

Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I’m not there, I go to work.”
–Robert Orben, Comedian

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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.
* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* All indexes referenced are unmanaged. The volatility of indexes could be materially different from that of a client’s portfolio. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. You cannot invest directly in an index.
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow,” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of The Wall Street Journal.
* The NASDAQ Composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system.
* International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging markets.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* The foregoing information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee it is accurate or complete.
* There is no guarantee a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.
* Asset allocation does not ensure a profit or protect against a loss.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* To unsubscribe from the Weekly Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject.

 

Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

 

Sources:
https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/061715/how-can-bond-yield-influence-stock-market.asp
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/08/11/treasury-yields-rise-as-stimulus-hopes-us-china-tensions-persist.html
https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/DGS10#0
https://www.barrons.com/articles/stock-market-ends-week-higher-as-strong-economy-trumps-tumbling-bond-yields-51618619077?refsec=the-trader (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-19-21_Barrons-The_Stock_Market_Climbed_Because_Tumbling_Bond_Yields_Dont_Mean_What_They_Used_To-Footnote-4.pdf)
https://insight.factset.com/sp-500-earnings-season-update-april-16-2021
https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccinations
https://time.com/5953007/covid-19-mass-vaccination/
https://www.axios.com/reopening-stocks-digest-johnson-johnson-vaccine-pause-8bca92af-f906-4319-8f25-34a476dbb202.html
https://www.reuters.com/world/china/global-markets-wrapup-4pix-2021-04-16/
https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-the-bond-market-isnt-blinking-so-far-at-bidens-plan-to-spend-trillions-on-infrastructure-11617651906
https://news.prudential.com/increasingly-workers-expect-pandemic-workplace-adaptations-to-stick.htm
https://news.prudential.com/presskits/pulse-american-worker-survey-road-to-resiliency.htm (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-19-21_PrudentialNews-Pulse_of_the_Amerian_Worker_Survey-Footnote_12.pdf)
https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/robert_orben_103699

Stimulus Bill Analysis

Trending Now-2021-S&P Hits 4000

milestone (noun)1

  1. a stone functioning as a milepost
    2. a significant event or stage in the life, progress, development, or the like of a person, nation, etc. The S&P 500 closed above 4,000 on Thursday, April 1, marking a major post-recession milestone.

Perhaps you’ve heard by now that the S&P 500 recently topped 4,000 for the first time ever.1  It took sixty-four years to get there – the index as we know it today began on March 4, 1957 – and we’ve had to weather market bubbles, bear markets, and recessions to see it.  Frankly, it’s astonishing that it happened this soon.  After all, it was just over a year ago that the markets crashed due to the onset of the pandemic.

But what is the significance of 4,000?  To be honest, not much.  The number is mainly psychological. It’s large, it’s round, it stands alone. But the market isn’t really any different at 4,000 than at, say, 3,827. That’s why the number is less important than the way we respond to it.

You see, the markets are driven by many things, but foremost is confidence. The funny thing about confidence is that the more you have, the more you’re likely to gain. Confidence begets confidence, just as fear breeds fear. We see evidence of that every time the market surges, or every time it drops. So, if the S&P reached 4,000 because of increasing investor confidence, it’s very possible it’ll rise higher – at least in the short term – because those same investors will see the number and think, “Things are great! We made it!”

The question we need to ask ourselves, is “Made it where?” Look at the definition at the top of the page again. If we consider 4,000 as a milestone, then we must remember that this is just a stage. A marker. 4,000 is not a destination. It’s just one more step on a long road to your financial goals.

What we must consider is the ground on which our road is laid. Is it sturdy or shaky?  After all, there are certainly things to feel wary about. New variants of the coronavirus, rising inflation – the list goes on. But there’s lots of good news, too.  Hitting 4,000 may be just a milestone, but it’s a promising one. It’s an event in a series of events that suggests we’re heading in the right direction.  If this were just a unique, out-of-the-blue number, we’d all dismiss it out of hand. But it’s a part of the steady improvement we’ve been seeing since last spring. Unemployment is lower.2  Federal stimulus is driving more economic activity. Over 55 million Americans have been fully vaccinated. President Biden’s goal of distributing 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office was accomplished 42 days early.3  (Biden has now set a goal of distributing 200 million by the end of April.3 )  Combine all those factors, and you can see why consumer confidence levels are at their highest since the pandemic started.4 So, there are reasons for optimism.

But the most important thing to remember is the opportunity this news presents. The opportunity to demonstrate sound principles. While some people might see 4,000 and throw caution to the winds, we’re going to emphasize the basics of successful investing.  We’ll keep following our long-term strategy, making decisions based on what’s right for you instead of chasing rabbits or overreacting to headlines. Continued progress toward your dreams is always our goal. Rational thinking is always our guide. Not the ups and downs of the market.

So, as you listen to the pundits on TV, or read their commentary in the newspaper, remember: 4,000 is a milestone. No more, no less. Like all milestones, it shows how far we’ve come…but it’s up to us to remember the road that still lies ahead.

If you have any questions about the markets, or if you just want to chat, please feel free to give our office a call at 301-294-7500. We always love to hear from you!

1 Julia Horowitz, “The S&P 500 shoots above 4,000 points for the first time ever,” CNN Business, April 1, 2021. https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/01/investing/sp-500-4000-points/index.html
2 Jeff Cox, “Weekly jobless claims tumble to lowest level in more than a year,” CNBC, March 25, 2021. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/25/weekly-jobless-claims.html
3 “Tracking the Coronavirus,” NPR, updated April 1, 2021. https://www.npr.org/sections/healthshots/2021/01/28/960901166/how-is-the-covid-19-vaccination-campaign-going-in-your-state
4 Xavier Fontdegloria, “U.S. Consumer Confidence Hits Highest Point Since Pandemic Started,” The Wall Street Journal, March 30, 2021. https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-consumer-confidence-hits-highest-point-since-pandemic-started-11617118100

Weekly Market Commentary 4.26.2021

Weekly Market Commentary 4.12.2021

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Weekly Financial Market Commentary

April 12, 2021

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Investors didn’t stumble over inflation last week. Why not?

Inflation – rising prices of goods and services – can be measured in a variety of ways. For example, the Consumer Price Index considers changes in the amount consumers pay for goods and services – a bag of carrots, a gallon of gas, or a doctor’s appointment. The Producer Price Index (PPI), on the other hand, considers changes in the amount producers – such as farmers, manufacturers, or physicians – charge for goods and services.

Last week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the PPI increased by 1 percent month-over-month in March 2021. It was twice the increase forecast by economists. On a year-over-year basis, the PPI was up 4.2 percent, which was the biggest gain since 2011, reported Reade Pickert of Bloomberg.

It’s important to pay attention to comparisons. The year-over-year PPI reflected prices from last March, after the pandemic had affected demand and prices dropped lower. Bloomberg explained the phenomenon may continue for several months:

“Given major inflation metrics declined at the start of the pandemic, year-over-year figures will quickly accelerate – a development referred to as the base effect. The upward distortion will also appear in the closely-watched consumer price index report on Tuesday.”

Last week, Fed Chair Jerome Powell talked about inflation, too. He didn’t focus on year-over-year comparisons. Powell told an International Monetary Fund panel inflation may increase as the U.S. economy reopens because supplies are tight. However, he expects the increase to be relatively short-lived. “Persistent inflation that goes up year after year…tends to be dictated by underlying inflation dynamics in the economy, as opposed to things like bottlenecks. The nature of a bottleneck is that it can be resolved.”

Powell emphasized price stability is one of the Fed’s mandates and, if inflation becomes concerning, the Fed will act. The Fed’s other mandate, full employment, is the more pressing concern. Powell said, “The unemployment rate of the bottom quartile of earners is still 20 percent. The higher end of the labor market has virtually recovered, but not the people in the bottom 20 percent…It amounts to nine or 10 million people…who were working in February of 2020 and are now unemployed.”

Last week, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index opened above 4,000 for the first time and finished the week higher, reported Alexandra Scaggs, Barbara Kollmeyer, and Jacob Sonenshine of Barron’s.

April is financial literacy month. It’s also National Canine Fitness, National Fresh Celery, and International Guitar Month (among so many other designations), but let’s not get distracted.

So, what is financial literacy? In 2008, the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy defined financial literacy as “the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being.” A lot of skills fall into that category, including budgeting, saving, and investing.

One aspect of financial literacy that is becoming more important is the way memory and aging affect financial decision making. Prior to the pandemic, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation and the Rush Memory and Aging Project explored this issue from several perspectives and discovered:

·         Confidence in financial literacy appears to be good for brain health. One study found “…confidence in financial literacy is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s dementia and slower decline in cognition, above and beyond objectively measured financial literacy…While it is not completely clear why this relationship exists, it could be that confident people are motivated to engage with the world and actively seek to acquire new information.”

·         Overconfidence about financial knowledge may lead to risky financial behaviors. Older Americans are responsible for a significant portion of our country’s wealth. Common wisdom holds that risk tolerance declines with age. However, a separate study found this was not always the case. In particular, overconfident people – those who believed their financial knowledge was higher than it actually was – reported being more tolerant of risk. There was no evidence overconfidence made them more susceptible to scams or fraud.

 ·         Loneliness in tandem with low cognition can lead to poor decisions. A third study found loneliness, on its own, generally doesn’t appear to result in poorer decision making. However, loneliness in older people with low cognition may result in poor financial (and healthcare) decisions. The study accounted for differences in depressive symptoms, social network size, medical conditions, and income.

Financial decisions often become more complex as we get older. From retirement plans to estate plans, and from the cost of prescription drug benefits to the expense of chronic disease management, older Americans are asked to weigh outcomes and make financial (and healthcare) decisions. Being financial literate can help – and so can understanding the factors that may affect decision making as we age.

Weekly Focus – Think About It 

“It’s paradoxical that the idea of living a long life appeals to everyone, but the idea of getting old doesn’t appeal to anyone.”
 –Andy Rooney, American television writer

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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.
* This newsletter and commentary expressed should not be construed as investment advice.
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Investment advice offered through Research Financial Strategies, a registered investment advisor.

 

Sources:
https://www.bls.gov/news.release/cpi.t01.htm
https://www.bls.gov/ppi/ppifaq.htm#1
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-09/u-s-producer-prices-increased-by-more-than-forecast-in-march (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-12-21_Bloomberg-US_Producer_Prices_Increased_by_More_than_Forecast_in_March-Footnote_3.pdf)
https://www.c-span.org/video/?510608-1/federal-reserve-chair-jerome-powell-discusses-global-economic-policy (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-12-21_C-Span-Federal_Reserve_Chair_Powell_on_Global_Economic_Policy-Footnote_4.pdf)
https://finance.yahoo.com/quote/%5EGSPC?p=%5EGSPC
https://www.barrons.com/articles/global-stocks-mixed-as-bond-yields-creep-up-and-china-inflation-spikes-higher-51617962327 (or go to https://resources.carsongroup.com/hubfs/WMC-Source/2021/04-12-21_Barrons-Stocks_Close_at_New_Highs_as_Inflation_Readings_Top_Forecasts-Footnote_6.pdf)
https://nationaldaycalendar.com/april-monthly-observations/
https://www.treasury.gov/about/organizational-structure/offices/domestic-finance/documents/exec_sum.pdf
https://www.finrafoundation.org/sites/finrafoundation/files/confidence-in-financial-literacy-and-cognitive-health-in-older-persons_1.pdf
https://www.finrafoundation.org/sites/finrafoundation/files/does-overconfidence-increase-financial-risk-taking-in-older-age_0.pdf
https://www.finrafoundation.org/sites/finrafoundation/files/relation-loneliness-cognition-financial-decisions.pdf
https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/tag/aging

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