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Inflation - How Big a Risk Is It?

The exponential rise in the national debt since COVID began by the tune of more than $3.8 Trillion of stimulus monies was inevitably going to lead to a wave of hard asset inflation as well as consumer inflation. The only question was "how much"?

In the last couple of days, the markets woke up to the fact that inflation might be worse than the federal reserve predicted. The CPI (Consumer Price Index) numbers released for April 2021 rose 0.8% versus an expected rise of 0.2% month over month. Should we be alarmed and worried? In the short term, the answer is "not really". If you have been tracking first quarter earnings calls, you will have heard many CEO's describing how tight supply chains are right now. Higher costs of raw material inputs are being passed onto the consumer. As COVID restrictions ease and consumer demand for goods and services rise alongside tight supply chains operating on "just in time" demand cycles, the natural consequence of greater demand and tight supplies is higher price increases.

It is difficult to say how inflation numbers will fare over the coming months as it will take time for supply chains to re-calibrate and meet rising demand.  However, as this occurrs, inflation numbers will likely decrease as supply increases. Overall, however, we expect the inflation trend to show up as net higher consumer prices across most hard and soft asset categories, compared to before the pandemic.

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Part 2 - Bubbles, Bonds & The Allocation Dilemma

As we mentioned in part one of this article last week, wealth management firms are managing a cross-section of economic conditions and asset classes that each carry comparative risk. We define comparative risk as the "opportunity cost" of asset allocation in which "yield" is the primary measure by clients.

How much "risk on" or "risk off" is the asset allocation question in the midst of what are inevitably "unknown timeframes" and economic conditions that can outlast any rational mind.

In this article we will talk about some other dilemna's facing wealth management firms and their clients:-

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De-Fi: What is it & How It Is Changing the Financial Landscape?

De-FI is an abbreviation for Decentralised Finance and it is changing the global financial landscape. So, what exactly is decentralized finance? De-Fi has arisen in sync with the blockchain revolution and a smart contract platform called "Ethereum" which is an entire universe or the first world computer providing a base technology layer on which every conceivable application is being built to transact business in a secure, borderless and efficient manner. Decentralized Finance or the ability to trade stock, token or asset transactions on decentralized exchanges "peer to peer" without a middleman such as a traditional stock exchange, dramatically lowers the fee structure of what you would pay on a traditional exchange.  

You can now trade stocks, tokens and soon, every type of commodity, asset and collectable "peer to peer" directly without a "trusted middle party" e.g. a bank or stock exchange.These new decentralized platforms also known as DEX's are "Peer to Peer" and "trustless" meaning they do not require Person A knowing and trusting Person B to make a trade or exchange. The Decentralized Exchange (DEX) itself provides the mechanism for a secure exchange.

The Gamestop debacle has opened people's eyes to the fact that not only are "free trading" platforms such as Robinhood not free, they are also subject to censorship rendering the retail investor powerless when it suits the centralized exchanges. Retail buyers and sellers may not know it, but they pay a mark-up or mark-down in the price of any financial instrument (when they buy or sell) essentially paying a premiium for each transaction which is pocketed by the exchange and its partners. Furthermore, as Gamestop investors found out, once losses to a select number of hedge funds became too acute, Robinhood stepped in - under pressure from its peers - to halt or limit trading to the detriment of retail investors.

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Wealth Management Plans While Markets Sour

If you have been reading the market headlines this week, Gamestop and AMC's meteoric stock price increases have been in the news as the "revenge of retail" makes it's mark on the hedge fund industry. This incident has rattled the markets along with a more circumspect re-examination of expectations for a second half 2021 economic recovery given the new South Africa COVID-19 variant and delays in the vaccination supply. The dizzying rallies in Gamestop alongside new market highs and souring expectations has given pause for thought. Have the markets come too far, too soon!

In one of our earlier articles, we outlined why we think that 2021 could be a strong year for the market based on the massive stimulus that has been injected into the economy coupled with close to zero interest rates. We also noted that delays with the vaccination roll out and potential mutations could prolong the "COVID Blues" and delay an expected economic recovery. There are other potential issues such as an escalation of economic tensions with China. These "uncertainties" provide ample fodder for market corrections in a likely continuation of the bull market.

One Professor, Jeremy Siegel, author of "Stocks for the long run" shares a similar ooutlook and is not blinking an eye in the midst of this market correction, standing firm with his latest prediction that the Dow will reach at least 35,000 in 2021.

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Market Trends for 2021

First of all, Happy New Year to you! May we all look forward to seeing COVID in the rear mirror at some point in 2021. No doubt, getting enough of the population vaccinated will take longer than we all hope, but it will happen and science will help us put COVID behind us. There is a known variant circulating, first identified in South Afria and then in the UK and Europe and now in the USA. While it is not certain whether the current vaccines on the market account for this variant, they will find a vaccine for this one too if the current vaccines do not.

Due to the inevitable mutations of viruses, it is quite possible (but still unknown) that we may need to get a COVID vaccine each year to ensure we have maximum protection from potential variants. While this is something none of us look forward to, it is no doubt better than the alternative. Obviously medical science is far from perfect and there will always be a small percentage of people who have adverse events to any vaccine. However this is just about the case with every medicine on the planet. The majority will benefit.

The certainty of a vaccine alongside a more unknown supply and vaccination schedule means it is just a matter of time before we return to a new normal. How much time is the unknown.

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Phone: 925-906-9800
Fax: 925-906-9884
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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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