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Why Has The Fed Shifted to A New Policy Framework?

The Fed monetary policy is changing, focused now on the "broad based and inclusive goal of full employment". The long held belief that low unemployment was a signal for potential inflation turned out to be a "false" belief. Prior to COVID-19 when the USA apprached its lowest level of unemployment in 50 years economists were surprised to see that there was little to no spike in inflation. The measure(s) of inflation however are complex and an entire paper can be written on the obfuscation of the truth hidden in over 15 different measures of the money supply and how increases in rent, food, health and education expenses are factored into the measure of inflation. We will also not dwell on the fact that trillions of dollars in newly minted currency has entered the economy via the stimulus bills and Fed underpinning of the economy.

For the purposes of this post, we will take the Fed at its word that inflation has been held to less than 2%. That goal however is now going to be sacrificed for the sake of stimulating the economy, job creation and the goal of full unemployment. Forecasts, at this point in time, do not see unemployment falling to less than 5% until the end of 2023. The damage to business and the conomy caused by the coronavirus is going to take time to rectify. The big winners resulting from COVID-19 are the tech businesses that have seen trillions of dollars added to their market cap in less than 6-9 months. It is worth pointing out that ten years ago tech may have represented approximately 16% of the S&P 500 whereas today it comprises almost 37%. That is an enormous shift. At some point "tech" stocks will inevitably correct and with it the S&P 500 to a greater degree given the heavier tech weighting it now bears.

In practice this new Fed policy shift means that they will not consider raising interest rates unless inflation rises above 2% and even then, may continue to keep interests rates low for the purposes of encouraging business investment and a stronger labor market. While this will inevitably mean higher food prices, new asset bubbles forming and who knows what else, the goal of full employment is worth the cost, at least that it is the new theory or belief. This new belief also assumes that if individuals and businesses believe that inflation is inevitable and will result in a dilution of their future dollar spending power, they will be incentivized to borrow, spend and invest their money sooner, leading to a virtuous cycle of stimulating the economy, job creation and rising markets.

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COVID-19 and The Implications of Rising National and Corporate Debt

The arrival of COVID-19 has caused the greatest disruption in the global economy since World War 2. It has exposed significant weaknesses in the modern day global economy and in the healthcare systems to respond to such a pandemic.

This article is going to focus on the impact that COVID-19 is having on the national debt, both globally and nationally and on corporations as well as the potential implications of the latter, especially as we do not know how long COVID-19 will be with us or when an effective vaccine will be proven out, distributed and administered.

At this stage in the pandemic we can point to actualities. The International Monetary Fund estimates that public debt as a percentage of GDP will rise above 130% in 2020 and 2021. It will exceed levels only seen during and after World War 2. Global debt is close to 331% of GDP or a staggering $258 Trillion and in more mature markets it is estimated to be as high as 393% of GDP. These numbers are hard to digest. Britain's national debt for example is forecasted to be at 418% of GDP in 2070. Only 4 years ago economists were forecasting it would be 87%.

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How Much Do You Need To Retire On?

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to answering the question: "how much money will you need to comfortably retire on"? It is entirely dependent on your retirement goals, desired lifestyle and how flexible you are. 

The most common wisdom that you will find on the internet will tell you that the number is 70% of your pre-retirement income. That number will of course vary depending on your expenses which in turn will depend on where you are living. The good news is that - if you are flexible - there are different retirement options for almost every budget if you are willing to move where the costs can accomodate your income. For example an article in MoneyWise covers 20 different countries where you can retire on a lot less than you may think is possible.

Countries such as Portugal, Uruguay, France, Costa Rica, Portugal, Thailand are covered in the article where yes, appartment rentals can be found ranging from $350 to $750/month. If you have a retirement income of $2500-$3000/month for example, you may find that one of these countries could serve up a workable and enjoyable retirement. 

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Wills, Trusts & Retirement - Is Your House In Order?

With so much economic and health risk in the new COVID-19 era, most people in the 50 and over category (especially those with serious pre-existing conditions) are thinking about their retirement plans, income and nest eggs as well as their Will, Trust and legacy to their next of kin.

You may be asking yourself questions such as:

Is my will and trust up to date? Is it optimized and compliant with the latest tax changes and laws?

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The Investors & Retirees Reality - Living With Uncertainty & What to Do About it

"I dont understand why the Market is acting the way it is"? We hear this question all the time. It's a perfectly natural question and if someone gives you an answer, just know that there is at least a 50/50 probability that they are either correct or incorrect. No one, not even the so called experts know with certainty why the market acts the way it does. Yes, we can arrive at rational conclusions some of the time. For example, once the markets figured out that there would not be an easy short-term fix to the coronavirus and that this would have a negative impact on the economy, stocks fell dramatically. After the Federal Reserve and government promised to provide an almost unlimited backstop of financial support to calm the bond and credit markets, the markets shook off the downside and rallied back to what is now, not far off from the old all-time highs.

On the other hand, we are faced with the highest unemployment numbers since the great depression, the additional unemployment benefits are set to run out at the end of July, we are seeing record missed rent and mortgage payments and a coronavirus that is creating havoc to people health and the economy in hot spots all over the USA with no concensus on how to safely re-open the economy. The market has high hopes for a coronavirus vaccine, but what if those hopes are significantly delayed or dashed altogether? How long can the government and the Federal Resever keep funding everything as record defecits shoot even higher? How long can cities, states, schools survive without their staple revenue sources. And what about inflation? How will this impact the dollar, the economy and our every day lives?

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1600 South Main Street, Suite 190
Walnut Creek, CA 94596
Phone: 925-906-9800
Fax: 925-906-9884
info@hawleyadvisors.com

 

 

Hawley Advisors is an investment advisor, registered with the State of California. Any investment ideas or strategies on this website are for the purposes of education and general information only and should not be construed as specific investment advice. For more information about our firm please check the SEC Public Disclosure website: https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/

 

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