ECONOMIC COMMENTARY (11-09-2018)
Every month we share our personal commentary on economic forces challenging your money. It's not "gospel" but it's what we think. Have thoughts? Please share in the comments below.
I. BEST FINANCIAL PLANNING PRACTICES
- Open Enrollment. Let us review your work benefits! For some of you there’s still time to adjust your work benefits. Contact us!
- Meet with your CPA. With all tax deadlines behind us, now is the best time to meet with your CPA to anticipate what your new tax bill/refund will be next year. Don’t have a CPA? We can refer one to you.
- Frequent Flyer Points/Flexible Spending Accounts. It’s November which means a lot of little things will “expire” if you don’t use them over the next couple of months. Check your Frequent Flyer Points program and your FSA.
II. ECONOMIC COMMENTARY
- Markets. October was tough on your portfolio balances. All of the averages of market performance were down for the first time since maybe a couple weeks in February. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DOW) was down by - 5.07%, the S&P 500 was - 6.94% and the NASDAQ was - 9.20%. You might be wondering: “What do I pay you guys for if when the market is down my account balance is down; and when the market is up my account balance is up?” Good question. You pay us to apply a philosophy of investing consistently over periods of “up markets’ and “down markets.” A philosophy of investing that has produced positive results over the past 50+ years. We expect our diversified long-term portfolios to produce a little over 6 to 7% returns on average after 10 years of being in our models. Always contact us if you have questions.
- Interest Rates. The Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell was decidedly unremarkable is his latest remarks about plans to raise rates for the foreseeable future. The Federal Open Markets Committee (FOMC) meets about 8 times a year to determine monetary policy. Chairman Powell is 1 of 12 members and it is these meetings they determine what should be done with rates to affect monetary policy. There’s one more meeting scheduled for December and it’s expected rates will go up ¼ of a point. It’s also expected that rates will go up 3 more times in 2019 for about a ¼ of a point each time. But much like war, events will be determined by what actually happens versus the original plan. For this reason, we find Chairman Powell reasonable and look forward to seeing rates “normalize.” Normalized rates mean high enough interest rates to earn us real money in our savings accounts. Higher rates also give the Fed flexibility with monetary policy to help our economy should the U.S. Congress abdicate its role in fiscal policy. We like that too.
- Politics. Democrats have taken over the U.S House of Representatives and Republicans have maintained the U.S. Senate. Republicans also have control of the U.S. Presidency and if looked through a partisan lens, the U.S. Supreme Court. As of this writing Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has been admitted to GW Hospital for observation after a fall that broke a few ribs. The latest reports read that she is up and walking around. Elections have consequences and so do injuries. During this Supreme Court season, “the court” will have a 5:3 conservative majority as cases are debated. All of this “news” will affect the markets but not substantially, over the long term. Balance in the legislative branch however could prove to be beneficial for sustainable economic growth.
Jason Howell is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional and former U.S. Congressional candidate. He became a financial planner out of concern for the economic future of Generation X. And he is President of Jason Howell Company: an independent, fiduciary, wealth management firm that specializes in planning for the long term financial health of Gen X parents and their children.
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