Lifestyle

Just Give Me that Countryside…

The Markets

Like an unexpected gust of wind that blows the hat off your head or flips your umbrella inside out, last week’s stock market performance startled investors.

Looking back, it’s easy to identify some of the factors that may have contributed to investors’ unease and shaken confidence in the markets. Ben Levisohn of Barron’s offered a brief rundown that included:

  • The yield on 10-year Treasuries rising to a seven-year high. As interest rates move higher, bonds become more attractive to investors who prefer to take less risk. They move money from stocks into bonds and that can push stock prices lower.

  • Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell suggesting the Fed funds target rate could move higher. Investors worry the Federal Reserve is too hawkish and will raise rates too high, too quickly, causing economic growth to stumble.

  • A speech by Vice President Mike Pence indicating tensions with China may persist. Companies that export to China or manufacture goods in China are at risk if relations between China and the United States don’t improve. Poor relations could affect profits, share values, and economic growth.

  • Earnings reports showing tariffs negatively affecting some companies’ profit margins. FactSet reported, “the term ‘tariff’ has been mentioned during the earnings calls of 12 S&P 500 companies to date, with six of these 12 companies citing a negative impact linked to tariffs.”

  • The International Monetary Fund (IMF) lowering its economic growth projections. Concern about the impact of trade tensions on companies around the world led the IMF to lower some of its economic growth estimates for 2018, especially in Asia and emerging markets.

Some analysts believe a desire to take profits also helped fuel the downturn, according to Barron’s Randall W. Forsyth.

Are You a Subscriber?

Are You a Subscriber?

In the olden days, the word ‘subscription’ typically was applied to just magazines and newspapers. Today, that’s not the case. Americans are buying everything from meal kits to baby products to vitamins by subscription. A McKinsey & Company survey found:1

“Although streaming-media subscriptions have been popular for some time – 46 percent of consumers in our survey subscribed to an online streaming-media service…shoppers are now also turning to subscriptions for consumer goods…Male shoppers are more likely than women to have three or more active subscriptions – 42 percent versus 28 percent, respectively…”

In general, consumers pay monthly fees to receive goods or services that have tangible benefits.

Insurance Needs Assessment: For Empty Nesters and Retirees

Insurance Needs Assessment: For Empty Nesters and Retirees

With the children now out of the house, financial priorities become more focused on preparing for retirement. At this stage, you may very likely be at the height of your earning power and fast approaching peak savings as you lay the groundwork for retirement. During this final leg to retirement—and throughout your retirement period—wealth protection is critical.

The preservation of your assets will not be solely a function of your investment strategy, but will include a comprehensive insurance approach to protect you against an array of financial risks, most especially health care.

In addition to wealth protection, you may also now be seriously contemplating a number of important estate and legacy objectives.

 

Budget Check Up: Tax Time Is the Right Time

Budget Check Up: Tax Time Is the Right Time

Every year, nearly 150 million households file their federal tax returns.¹ For many, the process involves digging through shoe boxes or manila folders full of receipts; gathering mortgage, retirement, and investment account statements; and relying on computer software to take advantage of every tax break the code permits.

It seems a shame not to make the most of all that effort.

Tax preparation may be the only time of year many households gather all their financial information in one place. That makes it a perfect time to take a critical look at how much money is coming in and where it’s all going. In other words, give the household budget a check-up.