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04Jan
How Long Can the Tech Rally Last?
Economy

Of course, no one can definitively answer this question.  Recently, the Wall Street Journal shared a very encouraging article on this topic.

Much of the tech. rally and the overall success of the economy is linked to the global technology sector. Names that continue to dominate the headlines are Apple Inc., International Business Machines Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, and Tencent Holdings Limited – the Chinese internet company.

Paul Markham, a global equities portfolio manager at Newton investment management, states: “The narrow nature of this rally has to be seen as something of a concern, but these are cash-generative companies who are being seen as the bedrock of the new economy.

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26Dec
Inflation Risk & Impact on Retirement Assets – Part 2 of 2
Economy

This is the second part of a two-part blog on inflation. May I encourage you to read Part One if you have not yet done so?

What is the Primary Risk of Inflation?

The primary risk in inflation is that you lose purchasing power over time.  Therefore, this is a topic we choose to emphasize and thoroughly explain to clients and their families.

Here are some examples I hope you will find interesting:

Year   What $1 buys                                          Money Supply*

1907     1 pair patent leather shoes                       $7 Billion

1913      1 Woman’s house dress                            $13 Billion

1930     16 Cans of Campbell’s Soup                    $46 Billion

1940     20 Bottles of Coca Cola                            $55 Billion

1960     2 Movie Tickets                                       $211 Billion

1987     1 Bottle Heinz Ketchup                             $1,560 Billion

2000    1 Wendy’s Hamburger                              $4,917 Billion

2010     1 Song on iTunes                                 $13,291 Billion

 

* the total amount of money in circulation or in existence in the U.S.

(Source: Jeff Desjardins Visual Capitalist 4-9-2017)

Retirement assets need to increase in value beyond inflation levels.  Those retirement assets need to last 18.8 years for a 65-year old male and 21.2 years for a 65-year old female.  (Source:superlike.com)

Of course, these are average life spans…. What does this mean for the person or couple who live into their 90’s?

Planning for longevity and the increased cost of health care is critical.  The assumptions made for inflation and portfolio return have a huge impact on planning outcomes.  If you do not yet have a retirement plan in place, please make it a priority.  The peace of mind and sense of security a plan provides is priceless.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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15Dec
Inflation Ahead: Beware! – Part 1 of 2
Economy

One of the observations I have from creating projections for funding future goals such as college or retirement is that it is often very hard for clients to understand the impact of inflation. So, I decided to write a two-part blog about inflation. Part One covers the causes of/and multiple definitions for inflation. Part Two discusses the risk and impact of inflation, because we are living longer.

What causes inflation?

There are several possible answers.  The recent damage caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and California wild fires results in higher prices because there is a temporary shortage of goods.  Therefore, prices are bid up as people compete to obtain what they need.  Fortunately, these situations are temporary.  Inflation is also caused when businesses purposefully restrict supply thereby artificially raising prices.  This happened in the 1970’s when OPEC agreed to limit oil production in an effort to increase oil prices.

The primary cause of inflation is an increase in the money supply.  You have probably heard the phrase, “Too much money chasing too few goods and services increases prices.”

What is the difference between inflation and the Consumer Price Index (CPI)?

The CPI is an index… or “a number used to measure change”.  It measures the change in prices paid by consumers for goods and services.  It reflects the spending patterns of urban wage earners, consumers and clerical workers.  Interestingly, the CPI does not include the spending habits of people living in rural (non-metropolitan) areas, people in the Armed Forces, and anyone incarcerated or a patient in a mental institution. (Source:InflationData.com)

Price Inflation (what we simply call inflation) is the “percentage increase in the price of the basket of goods and services over a specific period of time”.

The key to this definition is knowing what is in the “basket” that is being measured.

Interestingly, it is “all items less food and energy”.  This means the basket includes goods and services such as transportation, medical care, vehicles, clothing, and housing.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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06Dec
Why Is There So Much Excitement About International Stocks?
Economy

BlackRock’s Chief Equity Strategist Kate Moore notes the following:

While BlackRock prefers stocks over bonds, they are neutral on U.S. stocks and overweighting internationals – specifically Europe, Japan, and emerging markets.

The preference in the U.S. is for technology and financial stocks – especially those companies that are committed to growing their dividend.

In Europe, BlackRock expects the euro to continue to strengthen slightly before stabilizing.

BlackRock is also overweight in emerging markets – namely China, India, and Mexico.

We would be happy to discuss any of these topics in more detail with any of you who are interested in learning more.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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28Nov
How Is Automation Impacting Job Creation?
Economy

The November 16, 2017 issue of the Wall Street Journal contains an article which addresses this topic.  I found it to be of interest and hope you do, too.

Well-known entrepreneur Elon Musk predicts that the advance of artificial intelligence and automation will dramatically reduce the number of available jobs.

The Wall Street Journal shares a new report from IT-services and consulting firm Cognizant Technology Solutions which offers a much more positive prediction.

The study sites that there will be at least 21 new job categories created within the next 10 years.  Titles such as “genetic diversity officer,” “virtual store sherpa” and “personal memory curator” represent three of these new job categories.

Other opportunities called “walker-talkers,” represent workers to answer calls to assist and provide companionship for a growing elderly population.  Another new position is called “data detectives”.  This represents work to dig into their employer’s data stockpiles and generate new business recommendations.

In summary, the report projects that 19 million positions in the United States will be automated out of existence in the next 15 years.  However, the same report also predicts that about 21 million new roles will be created.

(Source: “A Future without Jobs?  Think Again” by Kelsey Gee.)

Welcome to the growing world of artificial intelligence and automation!

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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20Nov
What Do Auto Loans Have to Do with Me?
Economy
According to Manning and Napier’s September 28 Market Commentary the answer is “a lot”.

First the facts:

U.S. auto debt swelled to a record high $1.2 trillion at the end of the second quarter.  This is the 25th consecutive quarter of auto loan growth, with the total outstanding balance now up 70% from a post-crisis low of $700 million in 2010. The surge in auto loans is a growing burden that we are monitoring both in terms of the challenges it may pose to the consumer, as well as to our outlook for the U.S. economy more broadly.

Since the beginning of the decade, the growth in auto loans has been strong enough to outpace the growth in overall household debt.

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13Nov
Thoughts on Preparing for a Stock Market Correction
Economy

No, I am not suggesting I have a crystal ball which allows me to predict the next stock market correction.  However, we all know that a correction will come.

(As a reminder, a correction is defined as a decline of 10% of current market value.)

What we know is that, as the stock market begins to drop in value, it can be very tempting to “go to cash”.  A recent study by Betterment who analyzed 58,000 IRA account holders from 2008 to 2012 found that those who went into cash had an average return of about 1 percent per year less than investors who stayed the course.

Here are our recommendations to prepare for a coming correction:

  1. Determine how much of a contingency fund you want to have on hand.  In this way, when “you have a need to cover unexpected expenses”, you already have the cash in place.  This helps prevent you from having to sell an asset while it is down in value.
  2. In addition to a contingency fund, for those of you who receive monthly income from your investment portfolio, it’s important to decide how many months or years of your income you want to have readily available.  For example, you might decide to keep one year’s worth of income needs in cash at all times.
  3. Be sure your “revolving replacement fund” is also adequately funded.  This is a fund that is used for predictable expenses such as the need to replace appliances and automobiles from time to.  Again, it is important to determine how much money you want to have in this revolving replacement fund.Having adequate cash set aside or each of these possibilities helps allow you to stay invested during the correction.
  4. Now let’s talk about the money that is invested in the U.S. and/or international stock markets.  First, we want to be sure that you are taking the amount of risk that is appropriate based on your age, health, time horizon and risk tolerance.  It is very important that you understand the potential “drawdown” on your portfolio.  The potential drawdown shows you how much your account could lose on paper during a correction.  Again, you need to be sure that you are comfortable with the amount of drawdown exposure in your portfolio.  This helps allow you to stay invested if/when the portfolio declines in value on paper.

As always, we would welcome the opportunity to answer any questions or discuss any concerns about your portfolio before the next correction.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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07Nov
Vital Information for Hurricane Victims
Economy

I am hopeful that the information in this blog will be helpful to anyone who sustained damage from Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and/or Maria.  We want you to know that Resonate stands ready to serve as a resource for you.While we are not tax advisers, the information below is a matter of public record.  We are simply committed to offering timely information for you.

Hurricane victims are entitled to take casualty losses even if they do not itemize.

Uninsured personal losses in excess of $500 may be deducted without regard to the “10%-of-AGI ” offset.

If anyone lost tax records, they can use the free “Get Transcript” online tool, which prints a summary of key tax information.  Of course, any Resonate clients using the offered online services of the RESLink Vault and/or Everplans would already have these records stored electronically for easy access.

If actual returns are desired, send a written request to the IRS by using Form 4506.

To expedite a reply, in red ink at the top of the form write the name of the hurricane that impacted you.

For our philanthropically motivated clients, the 50% of AGI limitation is suspended for cash donations to qualified charities serving hurricane victims.

Please contact a tax professional for additional information prior to pursuing any idea contemplated herein.

We hope this information is of value.  Please contact us with any questions.  We are here to serve.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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20Oct
The “Greenspan Put” Is Now In China’s Hands
Economy

Recently, one of the lead stories on Bloomberg proclaimed: “The Greenspan put is now the Zhou Xiaochuan put.”  Alan Greenspan, of course, was the long-serving Fed chairman, whose tenure started in August 1987.  Zhou will soon be retiring after 15 years as head of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

The point of the Bloomberg article was that today it’s China’s central bankers who, by raising or lowering rates, can exert the greatest control over the global economy, taking over a role that used to be held by the U.S.  It’s an observation that echoes what I’ve been arguing for the last two years, i.e., that today the most important economy when it comes to our financial markets isn’t ours, it’s China’s.  Events have backed up that view: as I’ve pointed out before, our stock market throughout this year and even in 2016 has clearly been swayed in significant part by the economic data generated in China.  And there’s good reason to believe that will continue to be the case.

Recent news reports confirming that China plans to start trading an Eastern oil benchmark denominated in yuan backed by gold – something we have been predicting China is almost certain to do – sounds right on target to us.  And it casts a dark shadow over Western hegemony, in that such a benchmark, which you could label “petro-yuan” as opposed to “petrodollars”, easily could threaten the dollar’s role as the world’s primary reserve currency.  Such a shift would almost surely mean that sharp gains in oil would be much more felt by those holding dollars than those holding yuan, inflicting pain on the U.S. economy and on Americans.

Our message: the U.S. can rely on China only up to a point.  After that, if we don’t rely on ourselves and focus on building our infrastructure and ensuring ongoing access to critical natural resources, our next crisis may end up with a world in which we find ourselves clearly playing second fiddle to China.

(Source: The Complete Investor, 10/10/17, Stephen Leeb)

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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09Oct
What May Happen to Prices in 2018
Economy

I read some predictions in the August 25 Kiplinger Letter which I thought might interest you.

  • Energy prices are on the rise. Crude oil is expected to increase “a few dollars a barrel”.  Natural gas could increase as much as 10% and electricity about 2%.
  • Employers can expect to pay an additional 4% for health insurance while prescription drugs could increase by 10.3%.  This is actually down from the 11.6% increase in 2017!
  • Airfares and freight costs will increase by about 2%. Hotels up about 2.2% and car rentals by 3%.
  • UPS and Fed Ex are expected to increase their rates by 3-5%.

So is anything expected to decrease in cost?  YES! Technology and telecom costs will continue to slide; smartphone, tablets, PC’s and printers may decrease by as much as 10%!

As Wall Street reaches new highs, hopefully it will provide a means for you to handle the higher prices.

Barbara A. Culver
CFP®, ChFC®, CLU, AEP®
Resonate, Inc.
(513) 605-2500

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