Letter to Stakeholders, November 2023
Tuesday, November 7th, 3:53 pm EST. In 2000, I dated a girl from Haifa, Israel. Before we met, she served the mandatory 2 years in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). She was a musician but studied law at the University of Cambridge. When she moved to New York I met her at Penn Station on her first day. Some people don’t believe the Holocaust was real. Nikki didn’t believe God was real; because “a real God wouldn’t have allowed the Holocaust” to happen. She was Israeli but wouldn’t claim to be Jewish. Over 20 years ago, Nikki introduced me to the complexity of her culture.
The shocking, heinous, terrorist attacks on October 7th, 2023 were on people. Most were civilians, some were soldiers; but those were people too. Like Nikki. I am not in a position to change anything to do with the war between Israel and Hamas, but I am capable of learning from complicated people in history:
First, they came for the socialist, and I did not speak out
– because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak out
– because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out
– because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me –
and there was no one left to speak for me.
To our clients and friends who are people that just happen to be Jewish, I am with you.
War in the Middle East will have an effect on your portfolios (if it hasn’t already). There are already a few billionaires predicting recession and unfortunately even Jamie Dimon, CEO of the world’s largest bank has been quoted saying, “Now may be the most dangerous time the world has seen in decades.” Undoubtedly conflicts in Gaza, and Ukraine are contributing to this narrative.
Russia and China’s friendliness and hopes are tied to a “New World Order” that doesn’t include leadership by the United States – as it has been since the Bretton Woods System was created in 1944. Then was the creation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank. At that time the U.S. Dollar was pegged to gold and everyone else’s currency was pegged to the US. Dollar. When President Richard Nixon’s administration decoupled the U.S. Dollar from gold in the Summer of 1971, our world economy changed from supporting a fixed currency exchange rate to a floating rate. Despite that happening the U.S. Dollar retained the status of being the “reserve currency” of the world. China would like to see that change to the Chinese yuan. And so would Russia. The odds of the Chinese yuan replacing the U.S. Dollar are currently unlikely but the mere discussion is news. This is why government shutdowns and debt downgrades matter: to preserve the long-term leadership of the United States economy we’ve enjoyed since 1944. As financial advisors, we can’t change macroeconomics, but we will continue to adjust your portfolios for balance through the end of the year.
Am I Too Old to Save the Planet?
The short answer, according to our client, author and future Speaker Series guest Lawrence MacDonald is “No!” Lawrence is author of the recently published, “Am I Too Old to Save the Planet: A Boomer’s Guide to Climate Action” and will join us as a guest speaker to talk about his professional experience, his activism and how to feel helpful rather than helpless when it comes to climate action. Join us!
Oh and if you live in Virginia and received $200 - $400 recently from the Virginia Department of Taxation, this is why.
Happy Veterans Day. Happy Thanksgiving.
Jason J. Howell, CFP®, CPWA®, CSRIC®
Jason Howell Company is an independent, family wealth management firm that offers first generation accredited investors the confidence to overcome financial imposter syndrome.
Jason J. Howell, CFP®, CPWA®, CSRIC® and Douglas W. Tees, MBA, CFP® CAP®, CBDA have spent a lot of time in the Washington, DC area, and are aware that many people who are first generation wealth suffer from a kind of "financial imposter syndrome." Successful entrepreneurs are always looking over their shoulder; government contractors worry about the next contract; former Capitol Hill staffers privately wonder if they should "feel bad" for the money they now make. Imposter syndrome is common among people who work for the many corporate headquarters based in this area as well. These feelings get in the way of properly managing wealth. We empower them to get organized, build a team of advisors and make decisions.
Our typical "first generation wealth" families include dual income parents who work, save and have just the right amount of fun. They trend a little older - Baby Boomers (born 1946 - 1964) and Gen-Xers (born 1965 - 1980) - but we're starting to see more Millennials (born 1981 to 1996) who don't want to wait until it's too late. They earn impressive incomes and have accumulated a good bit of savings. As bona fide experts themselves, they expect fiduciary expertise from people they hire. They are just not sure about the "big box" brokerage firms that advertise one thing and seem to do another.
First generation wealth accumulators realize that they:
- Need to “do something” with the cash in their checking/savings
- Need an investment strategy for “up” and “down” markets
- Need a plan to mitigate market, credit, inflation, and political risks
- Need to start tax planning instead of just tax paying
- Need to be sure they are choosing the right work benefits
- Need to reduce financial miscommunications between partners
- Need to separate business finances from personal finances
- Need to plan for money while alive and for what happens after death