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Prospects for Investing in the 2020s

The third decade of the 21st century started out with a vigorous economy, record low unemployment levels, and benign inflation. But late in the first quarter over the span of two weeks, investors faced the fastest stock market correction in history. With an unpredictable assailant like a global virus, short-term actions by Congress and the Federal Reserve will need time to see if they are effective. Ultimately, the fate of the U.S. and global economies, which in turn will impact the investment markets, is dependent on how long the COVID-19 outbreak continues and if there is a second wave. Clearly, both supply and demand have been dramatically reduced, with a… Read More

The Economic Impact of Coronavirus

In the days ahead, the COVID-19 pandemic will likely be described in economic terms as a Black Swan. This phrase is used to describe an event that: 1) was unpredictable; 2) causes severe and widespread consequences; and 3) in hindsight was determined to be wholly predictable. What will be interesting going forward is how much the virus, and its impact on the economy and financial markets, ultimately affects individual portfolios. It’s worth noting that many economists spent the whole of 2019 cautioning that a recession and market correction was imminent. To what extent investors took heed and repositioned their portfolios is yet to be seen. As predicted, the Federal Reserve… Read More

SECURE Act Seeks to Help Americans Save More for the Golden Years

At the end of 2019, Congress passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act as part of a year-end appropriations package. This bill is designed to address specific issues related to retirement savings plans in an effort to help Americans save more for retirement. Retirement Plan Contributions People are living longer, and a decrease in employer-sponsored pensions has resulted in retirees relying more on Social Security benefits than in the past. So first, the SECURE Act eliminated the age limit on traditional IRA contributions so that people who work into their 70s and beyond may continue to contribute to the traditional IRA up to the annual limit.… Read More

Safety vs. Probability: Planning For Retirement

As we progress through life, we find there are certain things we can control and others we cannot. However, even with the things we can’t control, we can exercise good judgement based on facts, due diligence, historical patterns and a risk/reward calculation. These strategies play an important role in retirement planning. When it comes to accumulation, spending and protecting your nest egg, financial analysts rely heavily on safety and probability planning strategies. For example, a probability-based approach generally refers to investing. In other words, prices of stocks and bonds will vary over time, and as investors we do not have control over the factors that cause those price swings –… Read More

Economic Correlation: Cyclical and Non-Cyclical Stocks

A rising tide might lift all boats, but the same cannot be said for the economy. When the U.S. experiences robust economic growth, certain sectors of the stock market tend to rise while others hold steady or even decline by comparison. The stocks of companies that experience higher revenues are typically categorized as cyclical. In other words, their good fortune rests mainly on consumers being gainfully employed and having ample discretionary income with which to buy more goods and services. Take, for example, auto manufacturers. Sales typically increase when more people can afford to buy a new car. But that’s not all the time, because the economy is cyclical –… Read More

Gross Domestic Product: A Primer

The economic indicator known as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) represents the dollar value of all purchased goods and services over the course of one year. It is comprised of purchases from all private and public consumption, including for profit, nonprofit and government sectors. There are four components that are added to calculate the GDP: Consumer spending Government spending Investment spending (this includes business, inventory, residential construction and public investment),   Net exports, meaning the value of goods exported minus the value of goods imported The government calculates and publishes the GDP rate on a quarterly basis and for the entire year. What Affects GDP? There are different ways GDP is measured.… Read More

What to Expect and How to Prepare for a Recession

Economists generally determine that the country has fallen into a recession after two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth. Since 1967, the United States has experienced seven recessions. The thing is, predicting a recession is a little like predicting a tornado. Experts are never exactly sure if or when one will occur, but they can cite when conditions a ripe for one based past experience. The good news for predictors is that the economy follows a similar pattern of indicators in the months leading up to a recession. The bad news is that many those indicators have recently emerged. For example: Inverted Yield Curve – This is… Read More

How to Inflation-Proof a Retirement Portfolio

Statistics indicate that the average life expectancy is longer than it used to be, but empirically we see this every day among elderly people who have lived much longer than they probably expected. This phenomenon spotlights a particular component of retirement planning that was not as significant in the past as it is now: long-term inflation. While we’ve not experienced annual inflation rates this century as high as the latter part of the 20th century, inflation can balloon at any time. But what can be even more devastating to a retiree on a fixed income is cumulative inflation over time. It’s also important to recognize that specific consumer product inflation… Read More

Lost Inheritance: How To Find a Deceased Parent’s Assets

If you have a relative who recently died and left you in charge of his or her finances, you are not alone. You probably have colleagues at work in the same boat. A neighbor or two (or 10) and even your millennial yoga teacher might very well be working through a quagmire of wills, probates and assets nobody can find. You are definitely not the only one. The internet has made it much easier to keep track of our checking, savings and investment accounts. But the elder generation generally missed out on the convenience of dashboard consolidation and app trackers. What most of them leave behind are file cabinets full… Read More

Proposed Changes For Retirement Plans

Laws regarding retirement savings plans don’t change all that often or all that much. Occasionally, new regulations are issued mandating disclosures that no one ever reads – and inflation-adjusted contribution limits tend to inch up each year. However, there is one phenomenon that has been increasing over the past decade, and Congress is finally starting to address it. This phenomenon is that retirees are living much longer than in the past. According to Olivia Mitchell, Wharton professor of business economics and public policy, demographers have reported that the baby who will live to be 200 has already been born. Because few people plan on 40 years (or more) in retirement,… Read More