Weekly Market Notes – July 27, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of July 27, 2020

The Markets

Stocks fell Friday, ending a volatile week of trading and marking the first weekly decline in four weeks. Negative factors included rising concerns of another tech bubble, escalated China-U.S. tensions, worse-than-expected jobless claims and a new coronavirus milestone. Known coronavirus cases surpassed 4 million in the U.S. For the week, the Dow fell 0.74 percent to close at 26,469.89. The S&P lost 0.27 percent to finish at 3,215.63, and the NASDAQ dropped 1.33 percent to end at 10,363.18.

Returns Through 7/24/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) -0.74 -6.00 -0.53 9.71 11.24
NASDAQ Composite (TR) -1.33 16.10 25.82 18.61 16.58
S&P 500 (TR) -0.27 0.62 8.62 11.37 11.36
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) 0.41 7.40 9.91 5.55 4.47
MSCI EAFE (TR) 0.41 -7.31 -1.00 1.65 2.75

Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

 

End of This Week — The extra $600 per week of federally funded unemployment benefits that was provided in the March 27 CARES Act ran out as of Saturday, July 25, or Sunday, July 26, depending upon the state of residence of the out-of-work individual. State-funded jobless benefits continue for at least 30 weeks in 46 of the 50 U.S. states (source: CARES Act, BTN Research).

Blame It on COVID-19 — Crude oil production in the United States has fallen from 13.1 million barrels a day as of March 13 (the day President Trump declared a pandemic-driven national emergency) to 11 million barrels a day as of July 10 (source: Department of Energy, BTN Research).

Last Month, Last Year — The U.S. government suffered an $864 billion budget deficit during June, i.e., $241 billion of tax receipts vs. $1.1 trillion of outlays. The U.S. government had a $984 billion budget deficit for the entire 2019 fiscal year (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Making Things Easier for a Surviving Spouse

While it’s difficult to imagine, even the most devoted couple will eventually be separated by a death. That’s why it’s important to take steps to reduce your spouse’s burdens in case you die first. Here are some to consider.

If your Social Security benefits will be larger than your spouse’s, delay drawing them until you’re 70 in order to leave your spouse with a greater monthly survivor benefit. A widowed spouse can draw their deceased spouse’s benefits once they turn 60, but the benefits will be decreased by up to 28.5 percent if they don’t wait until their full retirement age. Survivor benefits do not increase by waiting beyond the survivor’s full retirement age.

Plan for a potential long-term care event by setting aside sufficient funds to pay for extended care without depleting your portfolio, or consider a special insurance policy or annuity with a long-term care rider.

Maintain your own credit cards to build strong individual credit scores. As an added benefit, most states don’t hold a widow or widower responsible for a balance on a card that only has their deceased spouse’s name on it.

Ensure your spouse will have immediate access to adequate cash – through their own bank account or a joint account. If you maintain a separate account, putting it in a trust or adding a beneficiary will make it easier for your surviving spouse to acquire it.

Keep records of financial accounts in one easy-to-access place, ideally, a safe or fire-proof metal box. Add estate documents or contact information for the law firm where they are filed, along with passwords and access codes to digital accounts. If you are the primary bill payer, include a list of what you pay and when and how. Make sure your spouse has the key or combination.

Invite your spouse to meetings with your attorney, financial professional and accountant, so they’re up-to-date on your finances and involved in planning for the future. If they prefer not to participate, place a list of your advisors and their contact information in your safe.

This year’s events have demonstrated the importance of planning for the unexpected. Give us a call if you’d like to review your emergency, retirement or estate plan. While we can’t provide legal or tax advice, we are happy to work with your attorney and accountant.

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* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright July 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3178041.1

Weekly Market Notes – July 20, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of July 20, 2020

The Markets

Stocks were mixed Friday. Despite surging coronavirus cases, investors appeared relatively optimistic about potential vaccines for COVID-19 and a post-pandemic economic recovery. For the week, the Dow rose 2.32 percent to close at 26,671.95. The S&P gained 1.27 percent to finish at 3,224.73, and the NASDAQ fell 1.08 percent to end the week at 10,503.19.

Returns Through 7/17/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) 2.32 -5.30 0.44 9.80 10.76
NASDAQ Composite (TR) -1.08 17.67 29.64 19.75 16.35
S&P 500 (TR) 1.27 0.89 10.22 11.64 10.93
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) 0.23 6.96 9.67 5.53 4.44
MSCI EAFE (TR) 2.20 -7.69 -1.00 1.51 2.36

Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

 

Textbooks Aren’t Always Right — Economic textbooks agree, creating too much money that chases too few goods will lead to inflation. But it did not happen after three quantitative easing programs in 2008-14. U.S. inflation averaged just 1.8 percent per year over the five years from 2015-19 (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, BTN Research).

Still Down But Coming Back — As of March 27, the date the CARES Act was signed into law, total spending by American consumers was down 30.2 percent from total spending in the country in January. As of July 1, total spending by American consumers had rebounded and was down just 9 percent from total spending in January (source: Opportunity Insights Economic Tracker, BTN Research).

Where Did They Go? —The number of publicly listed companies, i.e., companies traded on an exchange, has dropped from 8,090 in 1996 to just 4,397 today (source: theglobaleconomy.com, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Potential Pandemic Positives

A crisis can leave us better or worse. As most of us long for things to return to the way they were before COVID-19, observers from various fields believe our lives may actually improve in some areas after the virus is controlled, such as:

Work: Many employers have been pleasantly surprised by the productivity of employees working remotely, and over half of teleworkers prefer working at home.1 Companies that allow more employees to work from home permanently will need less office space, reducing overhead. Eliminating geographical limitations will widen their pool of qualified applicants.

Business: As comfort with virtual meetings has grown, businesses will probably spend less on travel going forward. Recent supply chain disruptions have companies considering bringing manufacturing closer to home and using better software-based management. Since machines don’t fall ill, businesses will employ more automation – hopefully, retraining employees for new positions providing e-commerce related services or managing new machines or systems.

Technology: Technology use has exploded during the pandemic. Some governments, school districts and corporations are closing the digital divide by providing internet access to families who can’t afford it. This digital focus will undoubtedly persist and expand, with new tech hubs likely springing up around the country.

Healthcare: Doctors now provide a wider range of services virtually, saving patients time and allowing caregivers to participate more easily. Better digital solutions could connect information systems, enabling electronic records to follow a patient throughout their care journey. Researchers are using artificial intelligence to discover possible treatments and vaccines for COVID, which may create a path for future solutions.

Personal finance: Americans have learned to save better; CNBC recently reported the personal savings rate hit a historic 33 percent in April.2 Homeowners who refinanced will save for years to come. Before the pandemic, stocks were expensive. Lower prices could lead to higher future returns.

No one can predict the future, but problems often spur innovation, which leads to growth. In the meantime, we’ll do our best to prepare you for potential challenges and opportunities. If you have questions or concerns about our economic environment or your personal financial situation, don’t hesitate to call.

1https://www.aarp.org/health/healthy-living/info-2020/coronavirus-lifestyle-effects.html

2https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/16/americans-appear-ready-to-shop-again.html

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* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright July 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3168740.1

Weekly Market Notes – July 13, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of July 13, 2020

The Markets

Stocks rose Friday, and the NASDAQ reached a record high as investors weighed positive and negative headlines. U.S. coronavirus cases broke a record for a single day increase on Thursday while Gilead Sciences reported remdesivir, its experimental drug to treat the virus, significantly reduced fatalities. For the week, the Dow rose 0.98 percent to close at 26,075.30. The S&P gained 1.79 percent to finish at 3,185.04, and the NASDAQ climbed 4.02 percent to end the week at 10,617.44.

Returns Through 7/10/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) 0.98 -7.44 -0.52 9.34 10.66
NASDAQ Composite (TR) 4.02 18.95 30.77 21.07 17.57
S&P 500 (TR) 1.79 -0.38 8.53 11.66 11.18
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) 0.42 6.71 9.51 5.59 4.48
MSCI EAFE (TR) 0.50 -9.68 -3.09 1.48 2.32

Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

 

He Said It — Scott Pelley of 60 Minutes asked Fed Chair Jay Powell on May 17, “Where does it (the new money flooding our system) come from?” Powell responded, “We print it digitally.” So as a central bank, we have the ability to create money digitally. And that actually increases the money supply (source: 60 Minutes, BTN Research).

Low Cost — The 2008-14 quantitative easing programs were designed to lower long-term rates for mortgages and other debt after the nation’s 2008-09 recession. It worked. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note and the average interest rate on a 30-year fixed rate mortgage both fell to all-time lows in 2012 (source: BTN Research).

Money Multiplier — When the Fed acquires assets from banks, e.g., Treasury securities, the Fed issues electronic credits to the banks in exchange for the assets. Banks can then use the money from the asset sale to make loans equal to 10 times the amount of money digitally created by the Fed (source: Federal Reserve, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Consolidating Retirement Accounts

Job changes can leave a chain of stranded 401(k)s under former employers’ plans until retirement. But that may not always be the best strategy. Consolidating can reduce paperwork and make it easier to balance investments, monitor their progress, plan a withdrawal strategy and update beneficiary changes. It may reduce administrative fees, which can add up over time, especially when factoring compound interest.  Consolidating may also qualify investors for price breaks based on asset and trading thresholds.

While employer plans often accept rollovers from previous accounts, it’s wise to weigh the pros and cons of rolling former employer accounts into a personal IRA. Many 401(k) administrators don’t dispense individual advice to ensure investors make optimal choices for their situations. IRAs usually offer more personal control and flexibility. Typically, 401(k) plans include a few dozen funds to choose from, while IRAs encompass thousands of investment choices.1,2

IRA accounts can also provide more freedom in passing on funds. Under federal law, surviving spouses automatically receive their deceased spouses’ 401(k)s – unless the survivor has signed a waiver. IRAs usually allow multiple or contingent beneficiaries. The SECURE Act recently eliminated stretch IRAs, which allowed children and grandchildren to take minimum distributions from an inherited IRA over their lifetimes. However, there won’t be any tax on Roth withdrawals.

On the other hand, 401(k)s carry some unique benefits. They are protected from all types of creditor judgments. Traditional and Roth IRA assets up to $1,362,800 are shielded from bankruptcy claims, but safeguards from creditors in other types of lawsuits vary from state to state. If you leave your job after the age of 55, you can take penalty-free withdrawals from a 401(k) account. The minimum age for withdrawing from an IRA without a penalty is 59½. You can take up to a five-year loan from a 401(k); an IRA only affords a 60-day, tax-free rollover option. (The CARES Act provides some exceptions for early withdrawals from 401(k)s and IRAs and increases 401(k) loan amounts in 2020.)

Of course, it’s crucial to consider potential fees and tax implications before consolidating. It’s particularly wise to consult a tax professional if your 401(k) includes employee stock, as special tax rules may apply. Our office would be happy to help you decide if consolidating your accounts would be beneficial and to help you weigh advantages and disadvantages of rolling 401(k)s into a personal IRA.

1https://401kspecialistmag.com/how-many-investment-options-are-in-the-typical-401k-plan/

2https://www.investopedia.com/articles/retirement/08/11-things-to-know-iras.asp

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* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright July 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3159789.1

 

Weekly Market Notes – June 22, 2020

For the Week of June 22, 2020

The Markets

Stocks were up and down Friday as investors digested news of virus resurgences in pockets around the globe. At the close, the NASDAQ was up slightly, while the Dow and S&P were down. All three major indexes made gains for the week; the S&P achieved its fourth positive week in five. For the week, the Dow rose 1.07 percent to close at 25,871.46. The S&P gained 1.88 percent to finish at 3,097.74, and the NASDAQ climbed 3.74 percent to end the week at 9,946.12.

Returns Through 6/19/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)1.07-8.220.058.8610.18
NASDAQ Composite (PR)3.7411.3925.8318.0715.50
S&P 500 (TR)1.88-3.197.9910.2510.22
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.205.928.925.154.20
MSCI EAFE (TR)2.05-10.27-2.660.911.87
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Not Inflation, But Deflation — The Consumer Price Index fell 0.1 percent on a month-over-month basis in May, the third consecutive month of negative inflation. The last calendar year in which inflation was negative, i.e., deflation, was 1954 (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, BTN Research).

The CARES Act Effect — The nation’s 13.3 percent jobless rate as of May 31 (released on June 5) would have been an estimated 16.3 percent if the workers who were being paid wages from funds obtained through a Payroll Protection Program loan were counted as temporarily laid off instead of actively employed (source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, BTN Research).

Great Time to Buy — The average interest rate nationwide on a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.15 percent on Thursday, May 28, the lowest ever recorded in U.S. history. That means home buyers would pay just $430 per month in principal and interest payments for every $100,000 borrowed (source: Freddie Mac, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Short-Term vs. Long-Term Crises

It’s difficult to address a long-term issue in the midst of an immediate crisis. With millions unemployed and news of firms going bankrupt because of COVID-19, the latest report on the health of the Social Security Trust Funds received little attention.

According to the report, Social Security’s costs will exceed its income beginning next year, and the fund’s reserves will be depleted around 2034. However, Andrew Saul, commissioner of Social Security, said the projections didn’t reflect the drop in payroll taxes because of lost jobs.

Countless solutions to address the shortfall have been proposed, but Congress has largely ignored them because most are politically risky. Here are a few basic ideas:

1) Raise the full retirement age from 67 (for those born in 1960 or later) to 69. In light of extended life expectancies, this seems reasonable for those who are able to keep working. But health issues already prevent many individuals from working until their full retirement age.

2) Either cut cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) for wealthy individuals or for everyone. But benefits already don’t keep pace with seniors’ rising expenses since the COLA is based on the general Consumer Price Index and doesn’t reflect the disproportionate rate at which housing, medical expenses and health insurance are increasing.

3) Increase payroll taxes for everyone. (Employers and employees each currently pay 6.2 percent of wages.) Or, raise the cap on earnings taxed by Social Security, which is now $137,700. Because benefits are capped at $3,011 at full retirement age, higher earners would not get more back.

4) Wait until Social Security’s reserves are depleted and cut benefits by up to 24 percent (the projected deficit after payroll taxes) or dramatically raise taxes. Since solving the shortfall will become more difficult as time goes by, voters should press their representatives to work on a better solution soon.

We all may face future circumstances beyond our control. But as the old adage says, “You do what you can do.” That includes prudently saving and wisely investing. Call our office if you’d like to review your retirement plan.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright June 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3134940.1

Weekly Market Notes – June 15, 2020

For the Week of June 15, 2020

The Markets

It was a choppy week on Wall Street amid fears of a second wave of coronavirus infections as states reopen and crowded protests continue. Stocks saw their worst sell-off since March on Thursday after Fed Chair Jerome Powell warned of possible long-term joblessness, but stocks rose Friday. For the week, the Dow fell 5.51 percent to close at 25,605.54. The S&P lost 4.73 percent to finish at 3,041.31, and the NASDAQ dropped 2.27 percent to end at 9,588.81.

Returns Through 6/12/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)-5.51-9.200.948.9910.09
NASDAQ Composite (TR)-2.277.3824.3517.0414.96
S&P 500 (TR)-4.73-4.987.769.959.98
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)0.725.719.425.164.27
MSCI EAFE (TR)-4.21-12.07-4.030.511.37
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Keeps Going Up — The S&P 500 had gained 43.4 percent (total return) through the close of trading on June 5, since falling to a bear market low close on March 23 (source: BTN Research).

Not Buying It — 39 percent of investors surveyed as of Thursday, June 4, were bearish on U.S. stocks for the upcoming six months (source: American Association of Individual Investors, BTN Research).

So Low — As of the close of trading on June 5, the yield on the 10-year Treasury note (0.91 percent) had been below 2 percent for 212 consecutive trading days, i.e., since Aug. 1, 2019, the longest stretch below 2 percent in U.S. history. The highest closing yield for the 10-year Treasury note in history was 15.84 percent on Sept. 30, 1981 (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – It’s Official

Since the March coronavirus collapse, stocks have bounced and plunged like a bungee cord ride that won’t seem to end. Chronic volatility has left many asking if we are in a recession, while jobless claims and business closings have caused others to wonder if we are in, or headed for, a depression. The confusion is understandable. Definitions for recessions and depressions aren’t exact.

A recession is a significant economic decline, usually over multiple months, typically caused by economic factors. For instance, the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009 started with the subprime mortgage crisis, which led to the housing market collapse and a banking crisis. In contrast, our economy appeared healthy prior to COVID-19, which created a slowdown in a matter of weeks.

A depression is an extreme recession with severe contraction that generally extends at least three years. The Great Depression started with a stock market crash in 1929 and ended around the time World War II started (1939). U.S. industrial production fell nearly 50 percent, and 25 percent of the workforce was unemployed. Near the end of the depression, safeguards were put in place to prevent similar devastation in the future.

Last week, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) stopped the guessing when it announced the U.S. entered a recession in February. Although a recession is usually marked by two quarters of negative growth in domestic production (GDP), the NBER based its decision on rapid economic decline over a variety of factors, including GDP, real income, employment, and retail and manufacturing sales.

Still, there are reasons for hope. Since the recession was caused by the virus, many analysts believe the economy could recover quickly once effective means to combat it are found. And medical researchers are working round the clock to find them. The World Health Organization recently reported 124 potential COVID-19 vaccines are under development.1 And the Milken Institute’s tracker shows researchers are testing more than 130 drugs as possible treatments.2 In the meantime, The Federal Reserve has taken an array of measures to limit economic damage, and Congress has passed multiple stimulus packages, with more expected.

During these stressful times, we appreciate the trust you have placed in us, and we are available to answer questions or address concerns you may have.

1 https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/09/dr-anthony-fauci-says-coronavirus-turned-out-to-be-my-worst-nightmare-and-it-isnt-over.html?__source=newsletter%7Ceveningbrief
2 https://www.sciencenews.org/article/coronavirus-covid19-accelerated-vaccines-treatments-drugs

The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright June 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3126082.1

Weekly Market Notes – June 8, 2020

For the Week of June 8, 2020

The Markets

Stocks rose sharply Friday after the Labor Department reported the U.S. economy added 2.5 million jobs in May and unemployment dropped to 13.3 percent – compared to an expected surge to 19.8 percent. Airline stocks jumped as the industry added more flights. For the week, the Dow rose 6.85 percent to close at 27,110.98. The S&P gained 4.96 percent to finish at 3,193.93, and the NASDAQ climbed 3.44 percent to end the week at 9,814.08.

Returns Through 6/05/201 WeekYTD1 Year3 Year5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR)6.85-3.908.7911.1711.42
NASDAQ Composite (TR)3.449.8730.9217.1915.42
S&P 500 (TR)4.96-0.2615.3111.6511.08
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR)-0.494.958.774.864.13
MSCI EAFE (TR)7.07-8.202.021.532.53
Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

Spending More — In April 2020, 45 percent of 1,008 adults surveyed said they increased their monthly spending while quarantined due in part to costs related to groceries and streaming services (source: TD Ameritrade, BTN Research).

Lots of Borrowing — By the end of fiscal year 2020, i.e., the 12 months ending Sept. 30, 2020, the U.S. Treasury anticipates it will have issued $4.5 trillion in new debt, more than triple the $1.28 trillion of new debt issued in fiscal year 2019 (source: Treasury Department, BTN Research).

A Jackson a Day — Retail sales in the U.S. in April were $403.9 billion, down 16.4 percent or $79.5 billion from just a month earlier. The monthly decline is equal to every U.S. household (124.4 million) spending $21 less per day during April than the dollar amount they spent per day in March (source: Commerce Department, BTN Research).

WEEKLY FOCUS – Mid-Year Reviews More Important Than Ever

Mention summer and most of us picture swimming, boating, camping, backyard barbecues and scenic vacations. In contrast, the summer of 2020 evokes many challenging and painful images due to our ongoing battle with COVID-19 and rising social unrest. But even when life doesn’t feel the same, it’s important to maintain normal routines to safeguard our personal and family’s well-being.

One routine that is more important than ever is a mid-year financial review. Reviews are particularly vital when situations change. While you may not have experienced a typical life event this year – a marriage, birth, move, death or job loss – current events and circumstances in our nation and throughout the world have likely impacted your financial plans in one way or another.

Social distancing has affected supplies, and consequently, prices. Economic concerns have reduced demand for other products and services, which may have directly impacted you or your community. Increased costs or reduced income could require adjustments to your business or personal budget. Or, you might want to help a family member in need.

If market volatility has altered the ratio of your investments, you may want to think about rebalancing your portfolio. In light of coronavirus-related legislation and rules changes, you might contemplate changes in your giving, health coverage, retirement plan or estate plan. While no one knows the future, some commentators expect eventual tax hikes to recoup massive stimulus spending to prop up the economy during the pandemic. So, you might consider a Roth rollover while taxes are historically low.

Along with considering updating your will or beneficiary information, reviewing your insurance coverage now can help you protect your assets. A disability or untimely death could cause financial hardship for your family.

Taking the time to periodically monitor, and if necessary, alter your plans will leave you in a better position to build financial security. While I do not provide legal or tax advice, I can work closely with your attorney and accountant to help ensure a well-rounded plan. If you’d like to schedule a mid-year review or you have questions about the market or how recent legislation impacts you, please give me a call. I’m here to help.

Securities America and its financial professionals do not provide tax or legal advice. Coordinate with your tax advisor or attorney regarding your specific situation.

*The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright June 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3117037.1

Weekly Market Notes – May 18, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of May 18, 2020

The Markets

The market was volatile on Friday as investors digested a record drop in retail sales and  increased trade tensions with China as the Trump administration imposed new restrictions on Chinese telecom giant Huawei. Stocks edged up by closing but still suffered big losses for the week. For the week, the Dow fell 2.61 percent to close at 23,685.42. The S&P lost 2.20 percent to finish at 2,863.70, and the NASDAQ dropped 1.15 percent to end the week at 9,014.56.

Returns Through 5/15/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) -2.61 -16.27 -5.37 6.60 7.92
NASDAQ Composite (TR) -1.15 0.84 16.44 14.82 13.56
S&P 500 (TR) -2.20 -10.69 2.47 8.16 8.37
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) 0.33 4.86 10.01 5.14 3.85
MSCI EAFE (TR) -3.18 -20.81 -12.02 -2.62 -1.29

Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

 

Less Needed — 26 percent of 305 chief financial officers surveyed in late April anticipate their firms will reduce their real estate footprint when work life resumes some level of normalcy (source: PricewaterhouseCoopers, BTN Research).

Shortfall —The Congressional Budget Office forecasted on April 24 our nation’s fiscal year 2020 budget deficit, i.e., the 12 months ending Sept. 30, will be a record $3.7 trillion, equal to 18.1 percent of our economy. That would be our largest deficit-to-GDP percentage since the U.S. hit 21 percent in 1945 (source: CBO, BTN Research).

Help for Borrowers — Pandemic-impacted homeowners who have mortgages that are owned by Fannie Mae have access to a forbearance plan that allows them to reduce or suspend their monthly mortgage payment for up to 12 months. Homeowners are allowed to establish a repayment plan to catch up gradually or modify the entire loan but are not required to make a lump-sum payment at the end of 12 months. Homeowners need to contact their mortgage servicer to determine if they qualify (source: Fannie Mae, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Tips for Working From Home

As U.S. governors plan to reopen their states and medical researchers across the globe scramble to create an effective vaccine or treatment for COVID-19, it’s natural to wonder how different our lives might look after the virus is under control.

Chances are, parents will continue accessing online educational resources for their children, and geographically distanced families and friends will continue to gather on Zoom. Businesses will likely spend less time and money traveling to meetings, and medical professionals will still offer telehealth care. But many believe the widest-reaching change will be a greater acceptance of working from home. With that perspective, taking the following steps to improve your work-from-home experience may pay off now and in the future.

First and foremost, ensure your workspace fits your body. Your elbows should be close to a 90-degree angle when you’re typing, and your wrist should not be hinged. If that’s not the case, you may need to raise your chair or lower your keypad with a pull-out tray under your desk. Similarly, your neck shouldn’t be bent. If your monitor or laptop is too low, consider risers. If your back hurts, consider a different chair, a lumbar support pillow or an orthopedic seat cushion. A footrest can help if your legs are short.

Next, establish boundaries. Keep consistent hours. Let family and friends know you are not available during those times. Protect your free time as well. Stop and stretch every 20 minutes. Take a couple 10-minute breaks during the day and a short walk outside over your lunch hour. Take a sick day if you’re not well. And, don’t check emails once you’re off the clock.

Overcommunicate. Remind coworkers when you’re not going to be available. Let your team know when you complete an important task. Make your presence known on conference calls. Since tone is harder to discern in digital communications, err on the positive side. In informal emails, you may want to include an exclamation point or a friendly emoji.

Don’t forget to socialize. Interacting with colleagues is important for your career and your emotional well-being. So, join Zoom happy hours and, once it’s safe to do so, attend meetings, trainings and conferences in person from time to time.

Please take care of yourself and stay well. And, as always, if you have financial concerns or questions you want to discuss, feel free to call my office.

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*The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI# 3090721.1

Weekly Market Notes – May 11, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of May 11, 2020

The Markets

Stocks rose Friday despite the worst jobs report on record; the Labor Department reported the nation lost 20.5 million jobs in April. However, investors were encouraged by plans to begin reopening the country and a statement from Chinese and U.S. leaders saying they expected to meet their obligations in the phase one trade deal signed in January. For the week, the Dow rose 2.67 percent to close at 24,331.32. The S&P gained 3.57 percent to finish at 2,929.80, and the NASDAQ climbed 6.05 percent to end at 9,121.32.

Returns Through 5/08/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) 2.67 -14.03 -3.87 7.54 8.62
NASDAQ Composite (PR) 6.05 2.02 16.09 15.58 14.03
S&P 500 (TR) 3.57 -8.68 3.85 9.04 8.94
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) -0.33 4.52 10.20 5.13 3.79
MSCI EAFE (TR) 0.87 -18.21 -9.99 -1.38 -0.36

Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

 

Not This Year — The CARES Act has provided sponsors of defined benefit pension plans a one-year holiday from their required annual pension contribution, i.e., they do not have to contribute to their pension plans during calendar year 2020 (source: CARES Act, BTN Research).

Market Rally or New Bull Market? — The S&P 500 gained 12.8 percent (total return) in April, its first double-digit gain since October 2011 and its best month since January 1987. The S&P 500 consists of 500 stocks chosen for market size, liquidity and industry group representation. It is a market value weighted index with each stock’s weight in the index proportionate to its market value (source: BTN Research).

In the Year 2034 — Social Security trustees announced on April 22 that the trust fund backing the payment of Social Security benefits (OASI retirement benefits) would be zero in 2034. A zero trust fund does not mean the payment of Social Security benefits would also go to zero, but rather would drop to 76 percent of their originally promised levels through the year 2095. When the trustees released their report in 2010, the Social Security Trust Fund was projected to be depleted in 2040 (source: Social Security Trustees 2020 Report, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – A Great Time to Make a Difference

As we digest today’s sobering headlines, conflicting reports and startling predictions related to COVID-19, it’s easy to feel rather powerless. Across the globe, researchers are scrambling to learn about the disease and leaders are struggling to protect their citizens’ health and their nations’ economies. On an individual level, our normal routines have been shattered, and we wonder what the future will hold.

In these uncertain times, the compulsion to hoard money, food or even toilet paper is natural. Building up our reserves may restore a small sense of control. Certainly, it is prudent to save more and stock up on some things. But giving may actually do more to ease feelings of helplessness. Instead of dwelling on what we can’t change, giving focuses on the difference we can make.

Needs are particularly great now. Many nonprofits, particularly those that provide safety net services, are facing the greatest demand they’ve seen. Increased requests are coming at the same time organizations are unable to hold normal fundraising events, some donors are unable to give and others are supporting candidates in this year’s political campaigns.

The good news is, the CARES Act, the $2 trillion stimulus package President Trump signed on March 27, increases federal tax deductions for qualifying charitable donations. Under CARES, even taxpayers who do not itemize on their return (an estimated 85 percent of us) can deduct up to $300 for charitable cash contributions.1 To ensure an organization qualifies, enter its Employer Identification Number at apps.irs.gov/app/eos/.

CARES also removes the limit on deductions for charitable cash gifts if you itemize. Previously, you could not deduct more than 60 percent of your adjusted gross income. Under CARES guidelines, you may donate your entire taxable income to qualified organizations and not owe federal taxes on that income.2 Contributions to private foundations or donor advised funds do not apply.

Contact our office if you need help weighing how much to donate to your favorite cause or to schedule a joint meeting with your other professional advisors.

Securities America and its financial professionals do not provide tax advice. Coordinate with your tax advisor regarding your specific situation.

1https://taxfoundation.org/standard-deduction-itemized-deductions-current-law-2019/

2https://www.forbes.com/sites/morgansimon/2020/04/08/now-is-a-great-time-to-give-new-charitable-rules-incentivize-generosity-during-covid-19/#61dadf266d2e

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* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3080678.1

Weekly Market Notes – May 4, 2020

Weekly_Market_NotesFor the Week of May 4, 2020

The Markets

Even though the drug remdesivir received emergency use authorization for treating hospitalized coronavirus patients, stocks fell on the first day of May amid disappointing earnings reports and growing tensions between China and the U.S. The day before, the market ended April with its best monthly surge in over 30 years, with the S&P up 12.7 percent and the Dow up 11.1 percent for the month. For the week, the Dow fell 0.22 percent to close at 23,723.69. The S&P lost 0.19 percent to finish at 2,830.71, and the NASDAQ dropped 0.33 percent to end the week at 8,604.95.

Returns Through 5/01/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) -0.22 -16.26 -8.00 6.79 8.28
NASDAQ Composite (PR) -0.33 -3.80 8.06 13.42 12.71
S&P 500 (TR) -0.19 -11.83 -1.22 7.96 8.27
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) -0.12 4.86 10.68 5.21 3.84
MSCI EAFE (TR) 3.07 -18.92 -12.70 -1.11 -0.38

Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

 

In the Year 2034 — Social Security trustees announced on April 22 that the trust fund backing the payment of Social Security benefits (OASI retirement benefits) would be zero in 2034. A zero trust fund does not mean the payment of Social Security benefits would also go to zero, but rather would drop to 76 percent of their originally promised levels through the year 2095. When the trustees released their report in 2010, the Social Security Trust Fund was projected to be depleted in 2040 (source: Social Security Trustees 2020 Report, BTN Research).

Just Sitting Somewhere — 64 percent of the commercial aircrafts operated by airlines worldwide have been removed from daily usage and are in storage (source: Upgraded Points, BTN Research).

People Are Not Spending — Retail sales in the United States in March declined 8.7 percent  from the previous month to $483 billion. The worst month-over-month decline in retail sales during the 2008-2010 mortgage crisis was a drop of just 3 percent in December 2008 (source: Census Bureau, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Estate Planning in a Pandemic

While the majority of the 60,000 U.S. deaths caused by the coronavirus have been individuals at higher risk due to age or pre-existing health conditions, we have all seen reports of younger, seemingly healthy men and women who have become very ill and in some cases, even succumbed to COVID-19.

Witnessing a new virus turn life upside down in such a short time demonstrates the importance of having a thorough, up-to-date estate plan. Considering how difficult – if not impossible – it could be to create estate documents during the isolation imposed on COVID hospital patients creates an even greater urgency. In addition to being isolated, seriously ill patients may be put into a medically induced coma, so they can be connected to a ventilator. Without an advanced care directive or a health care proxy, the patient won’t be able to influence their care.

If you have an advanced care directive, you may want to make sure ventilation is only ruled out in situations that appear hopeless – since thousands of COVID patients have been saved through intubating. A HIPAA Authorization should also be included in health care directives to ensure medical professionals can share information with a designated family member – crucial if a health system is overwhelmed and staff have little time to work out privacy issues.

In addition to health-related documents, even a basic estate plan should include a durable power of attorney (POA) to handle financial matters, a letter with instructions and final thoughts to loved ones and a simple will designating an executor and directing the distribution of assets. It’s important to ensure the will agrees with beneficiary designations on all accounts and wise to ask your financial institutions if they require their own POA form.

While working with an attorney is always the ideal, sites like FiveWishes.org, MyDirectives.com, LegalZoom.com and LawDepot.com can help you create a temporary solution in this crisis. But social distancing may make getting documents witnessed and notarized difficult. Some states allow online notarization using webcam. If yours doesn’t, you can probably sign documents inside your car with a notary witnessing through the windshield. Some states even accept unwitnessed, handwritten wills.

We can work with you, your attorney and your accountant to ensure your current estate plans take into consideration all the wills and won’ts you desire. Call our office to schedule a virtual appointment with us and your other trusted advisors. Securities America and its representatives do not provide legal advice; therefore it is important to coordinate with your legal advisor regarding your specific situation.

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* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright May 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3070672.1

Weekly Market Notes – April 27, 2020

Weekly_Market_Notes

For the Week of April 27, 2020

The Markets

It was a choppy week on Wall Street as investors digested the ongoing oil crisis, manufacturing stress, staggering jobless claims, a new economic aid package and slowing coronavirus hospitalizations in New York and New Jersey. On Friday, oil prices clawed back some of their losses and stocks ended in the green. But stocks still slipped for the week. For the week, the Dow fell 1.90 percent to close at 23,775.27. The S&P lost 1.30 percent to finish at 2,836.74, and the NASDAQ dropped 0.18 percent to end at 8,634.52.

Returns Through 4/24/20 1 Week YTD 1 Year 3 Year 5 Year
Dow Jones Industrials (TR) -1.90 -16.08 -8.38 7.12 8.26
NASDAQ Composite (PR) -0.18 -3.49 7.72 14.22 12.40
S&P 500 (TR) -1.30 -11.66 -1.13 8.24 8.22
Barclays US Agg Bond (TR) 0.24 4.99 11.01 5.18 3.68
MSCI EAFE (TR) -2.02 -21.34 -14.83 -1.84 -1.16

Source: Morningstar.com. *Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three- and five-year returns are annualized. The Dow Jones Industrials, MSCI EAFE, Barclays US Agg Bond, NASDAQ and S&P, excluding “1 Week” returns, are based on total return, which is a reflection of return to an investor by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax. (TR) indicates total return. MSCI EAFE returns stated in U.S. dollars.

 

It’s Raining Now — All 50 U.S. states maintain a rainy-day fund that may be accessed as a result of an economic emergency. As of July 1, 2019, California had $19.2 billion set aside, Texas had $7.8 billion, New York had $2.5 billion while Illinois had just $4 million (source: National Association of State Budget Officers, BTN Research).

Get a Whole Row to Yourself — 95,085 travelers went through TSA screening at U.S. airports last Thursday, April 16, down 96 percent from the 2,616,158 screened passengers on Tuesday, April 14, 2019, or one year earlier (source: Transportation Security Administration, BTN Research).

Will They Look to Washington for Help — 88 percent of more than 2,400 city officials across the U.S. anticipate the economic impact of the COVID-19 virus will result in budget shortfalls that will force them to reduce services and cut staff. The loss of sales tax and fee revenue occurred because businesses have closed and travel and tourism has disappeared (source: National League of Cities, BTN Research).

 

WEEKLY FOCUS – Defeat the Villains

To say we all have a lot on our minds these days is a massive understatement. Unfortunately, bad actors and scammers know we are preoccupied. And, as they often do in a crisis, they’re ramping up their nefarious activities. There has been an increase in email and text message phishing, social media posts and fake websites designed to steal information and distribute malware. Here are some steps to head the bad guys off at the pass:

Be early. Yes, you have until July 15 to file your 2019 taxes. But one of the best ways to avoid identity tax theft is to file your taxes soon (if you haven’t already) to give thieves less time to file a fake return.

Be skeptical of requests for donations to help people who are ill or to fund a treatment or cure. Be wary of ads from unknown companies selling face masks or hand sanitizer or offers to invest in companies claiming to solve pandemic problems. To avoid clicking on a scammer’s COVID-related headline, get your news from reputable sites.

Be deliberate. Slow down. Scam artists create a sense of urgency to keep you from evaluating the situation. So, don’t be too quick to click a link or open an attachment – even if it’s in an email from a friend. If someone claiming to be a bank or company you associate with contacts you and asks for information, hang up and call them directly. If you receive information on an investment opportunity, ask a financial professional you trust for their opinion.

Be a little anti-social: Monitor your privacy settings on your social media profiles. Don’t accept friend requests from anyone you don’t know. Don’t share risky personal information (like your mother’s last name or your birthdate) on your profile. Use strong passwords. Don’t access your accounts on public wi-fi.

Be vigilant. Back up personal data, keep your devices secured and updated, and use multi-factor (MF) authentication when you can. (MF requires a security code sent to a second device.) Delete programs you don’t need. Monitor your credit cards, bank accounts and credit reports for activity you don’t recognize.

If you would like more information about identity theft and protecting your confidential and important information, please contact our office.

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* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment-grade, fixed-rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America, Copyright April 2020. All rights reserved. Securities offered through Securities America, Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. SAI#3060760.1