In the show Stranger Things, they refer to their alternative mirror world as the “upside-down.” Because of how strange it’s been, we have been calling our new, post-covid world, the “leap forward.” The metaphorical “leap forward” is to identify how quickly the adoption of innovation and technology has come since last March. Per a recent McKinsey global study, the Covid crisis has accelerated the digitization of businesses by over seven years globally. Seven years in 12 months! What do seven years of acceleration look like?
Let’s look at an abridged version of the last 20 years from some of the most recognizable retail changes. There’s an important reason why we’re looking back -- you know full well that the earliest investors in these innovative companies are reaping whirlwinds right now.
2000 – Camera phones and text messaging made their debut
2001 – Apple iPod released
2003 – Skype launched the beginning of video calling
2004 – Facebook starts in a Harvard dorm room
2005 – Amazon.com was first incorporated
2006 – The first tweet was sent
2007 – Apple iPhone released
2008 – First Tesla car debut
2009 – Ridesharing Uber debuts in San Francisco
2010 – Apple iPad was created
2012 – VR Oculus was created on Kickstarter
2014 – Amazon creates its Echo system
2015 – Space X’s Falcon9 re-lands back on earth, the first reusable rocket
2015 – CRISPR first used successfully in gene editing
2017 – AI adoption in phone apps
2018 – You can get an ECG on an Apple iWatch
2020 – 5G Networks have arrived
Although it’s commonplace to us now, imagine if I told you in 2000 that the following ideas would be a reality by 2020: Self-driving cars, downloading movies in minutes onto your phone, global social networks that have the power to influence elections, health advancements that you can wear on your wrist, a world developed and managed on the “cloud”, purchasing almost any item by asking Alexa to do so, having the power of a supercomputer in your pocket.
What really gets us amped up when we look at this abridged 20-year timeline is considering what will fill the next 10 years. What themes will play the biggest roles? What companies will benefit? And most importantly, how can we leverage our investment strategies now to take advantage of the inevitable growth these industries are primed for? Some things to keep an eye on:
Artificial Intelligence, dubbed AI, will change how we interact with augmented reality, robotics, and software interfacing.
Quantum Computing and the processing of data at lightning-fast speeds.
Blockchain and the storage and maintenance of data.
Genome Sequencing advancing healthcare through individualized and customized medications and solutions for curing diseases, preventing disease, and longevity of life.
Fuel Storage allowing us to do more with less waste, smaller capacity, and greater efficiency, affecting travel, logistics, exploration, device sizes, and usage.
Communication advancements allowing us to move large data securely and seamlessly in seconds.
So, I ask, are you ready for the leap forward? If this sounds as exciting to you as it does to us at Green Ridge Wealth Planning, contact us to schedule a call to see how your investments can become modernized into the new era.
You can schedule an appointment by:
“I had no idea my investments were tanking.”
April is financial literacy month. And for us, being financially literate starts with knowing what you have and where you have it. If you don’t know where your accounts are, you probably have no idea how your investments are performing. Neglecting your investments is a great way to sabotage your long-term financial goals.
We have found that the hardest part of financial planning with clients is the lag time between when we decide we are moving forward and when we actually start the process of planning. The reason being is that most people don’t know if they use paper or e-statements, what institutions hold their accounts, where to find their paper statements, or the login information used to access their e-statements. The most important aspect of being financially literate is understanding what you have and where you have it.
Our Advice - Get Organized
Accounts- Keep a running list of the institutions and account types you have: checking, savings, joint, individual, Roth IRA, IRA, 401k, 403b, 457, etc. If you are unsure of which each account type is, check out our blog about the different account types. If it’s easier, you can label them as cash, retirement, or non-retirement. Be sure to list them in a spreadsheet to keep everything organized. If you are concerned about the safety of your information, just include the basics - like the name of the institution and the name of the account, as a point of reference.
Statements- Understand which institutions provide your statements electronically or via paper statement. Often, clients forget when they have accounts at multiple institutions, and how they receive them. If you keep a running list, you can always refer back to where you can look for the information.
Know the frequency to which you should be receiving statements – monthly, quarterly, or annual are typical. It’s a lot easier to compare how you are doing if you have all of your statements in one spot, software that aggregates positions from different institutions, or a professional that will help you keep track.
For all electronic logins, keep a password-protected list of your usernames and passwords. Some apps that will store and protect private information include RoboForm, 1password, keeper, NORPAC, and others.
For paper statements, keep a basket or drawer designated for all financial statements that come in the mail. This way, they are organized and easy to find when you need to reference them.
Help Us Help You
The purpose of financial planning is to map out a path based on what we know today. We take what you make and subtract what you spend to determine excess or deficit in spending. Then, we take that number and reference it to what you own to maximize the output over time. We NEED to know what you have to make that successful, and you should know that too.
If you want to understand what your path to wealth maximization can look like, schedule an appointment by:
Different Account Types and Taxation
There are a number of different types of accounts, and understanding them all, let alone choosing which one is right for you, can be tricky without the help of a financial advisor. Below, we have broken down different types of common accounts and the unique benefits they can bring to you.
The Most Common Types of Accounts and What They Mean
These accounts are created and contributed to with money that has already been realized as earned or received post-tax deductions. Meaning, you made the money and paid taxes already, so the IRS will not try to tax you on those dollars again. Your original contribution is called your tax basis, and it is used to determine your gains and losses. The amounts above or below your tax basis are your gain or loss for annual tax purposes. At the end of each year, you will receive a 1099-D which declares your gains and losses. Gains on investments that are held for less than one year are taxed at your ordinary income tax rate, also known as short-term capital gains. Investments sold after one year are taxed at a lower tax rate and are known as long-term capital gains. After you pay taxes on the gains, your cost basis will go up proportionately.
Types of taxable accounts:
Individual – an account with one owner
Joint with Rights of Survivorship – an account with two owners whereupon the surviving owner receives the entire account
Joints Tenants in Common – an account with two owners whereupon the descendants designated beneficiary or their estate receives the proceeds of their portion
Transfer on Death (TOD) – an account designation where a beneficiary can be added to the account, avoiding probate if the account owner dies and directing the account to the person intended to receive it
These are accounts where the contributions made are post-tax, but unlike a taxable account, you never pay taxes on any of the gains.
Roth IRA – an individual retirement account that you can withdraw from after the age of 59 ½ or for qualified withdrawals, including buying your first home, the birth of a child, adoption expenses, or paying for college. While you can take out your contributions tax- and penalty-free before the age of 59½, any gains that you withdraw prematurely will be subject to taxes and penalties.
529 Account – must be used for qualified education expenses in order to enjoy tax-free benefits. These accounts can be transferred to blood relatives if the funds are not being used in the account holder’s name. If the funds are withdrawn for non-qualified expenses, there will be a penalty fee and taxes on any gains.
Tax-Deferred Retirement Accounts
These accounts are specifically designed for retirement, with limitations on when you can withdraw (59 ½ years old) from them and have mandates on when you have to withdraw (72 years old) from them. The contributions you make to tax-deferred retirement accounts go in before you are taxed. These accounts grow over time with no annual tax payments or benefits, however, any withdrawals that are made from the account are subject to taxes and are treated as income for the year. While these accounts are interesting vehicles in low tax environments and low-income tax rates, their benefit is limited if your tax rates are higher during retirement. This is where having tax knowledge or having a professional advisor with tax knowledge comes in handy. There is a difference between tax reporting (filing your annual taxes) and tax planning (planning to reduce tax payments over your lifetime) that needs to be considered. Taking a tax break now to pay taxes in the future isn’t a simple no-brainer like many people would like you to believe, because we don’t know what taxes will look like in the future.
Individual Retirement Account (IRA) – As you may have gathered by its name, it is an account for one person and cannot be transferred into another person’s name. These accounts lose their tax contribution benefit as you exceed certain income thresholds, which are set annually. The tax benefit is recognized at the time of filing, not at the time of contribution, like the employer plans listed below.
401(k) – an employer plan that allows tax-deferred contributions as a payroll deduction, usually with higher limits than your IRA. Those limits are based on your plan type and are not always the maximum contributions dictated by ERISA rules. Some plans offer a Roth option, allowing the participant to contribute post-tax dollars with tax-free appreciation. Unlike a regular Roth, there are no income limitations to make contributions in an employer-sponsored Roth 401(k).
403(b)-a retirement plan established for the benefit of employees of public schools and certain tax-exempt organizations. These plans accept payroll-deducted contributions for participant-directed investing and are intended to help the employees meet long-term objectives, such as generating retirement income.
457 Plans – deferred compensation plans. There are "B" and "F" plans that have different contribution limits and rules, but are both subject to income tax at distribution. These are typically used in compensation packages to help defer out taxes to the recipient.
Profit-Sharing – distributions of profit to employees by employers based upon the contributions the employer wants to make and calculated by ERISA rules around employer plans.
Separate Employee Plan(SEP) IRA – created by business owners with contributions made solely by the employer, not the employee. Contributions are made as a percentage of income that is determined by the employer and maxes out at 25%, with a cap on the income that percent can be contributed toward.
How Do You Choose?
As you can see, there are a number of different accounts, each with its own tax treatment and limitations. The strategy is to accumulate funds and have an exit plan, both adding contributions, and withdrawing distributions, over time and in retirement, in the most tax-efficient way.
If you need help crafting your strategy, schedule an appointment by:
Calling us at 973-554-1770
Emailing us at email@example.com
Texting us at 862-217-5344
Make more and keep more through GREAT planning!
New Administration, New Taxes
Does your household make over $400k?
If you are filing with a household income that exceeds $400k or has a large net worth with intentions of leaving a legacy, we want to share some perspective on the taxes that could impact your returns. Below we will get into where and what to look for to plan to save money, without getting into any other components of the tax laws or the social and economic impact of such tax changes.
Taxes are often a controversial topic for people. Before your blood pressure gets too high, know that this plan has not been approved and is subject to change without appropriate Congressional support. Regardless of what side of the aisle you favor, when a new administration comes in, they try to make their tax mark. I have met people that are content with paying their fair share of taxes, those who contest, and those who say they are content but silently contest. My perspective on the topic of taxes is simple: We have to play the hand we are dealt, so let’s play it to win.
How do we win? Plan around it! Tax reporting is not tax planning. Typically, when you meet with your CPA for that April 15th deadline (this year, May 17th), you aren’t looking at the impact of those changes in the future. There is much more to tax planning than the immediate gratification of a current-year tax break.
What will the rates look like?
Currently, if your income is between $400k and $418,850 your rate is 32%. If your income is between $418,851-$628,300, your rate is 35%. Above that, you are at a 37% tax rate. The proposed tax plan will consolidate these three brackets, putting any income over $400k at a tax rate of 39.6%. That’s a big jump!
Potentially, long-term capital gains will be taxed as income at the highest rate for income earners over $1M. If you make over $1M, tax-free instruments like municipal bonds, as well as long-term appreciable assets liken non-dividend stocks, could be a more appealing portion of your long-term investment strategy. If you make under $1M, think about the demand for these investments as an opportunity if you get in early on.
How to plan
There are a few ways to prepare and plan for these changes:
If you are able, take more income this year. If you have been pushing off taking income through a business or deferred compensation, use the current tax codes in your favor.
Convert IRA money to Roth money. Do some tax calculations to determine the long-term impact of taking a hit on the taxes now to grow your investments tax-free.
Consider investments with flexible deductibilities, such as investment real estate.
Push off larger deductions when your tax rates are higher.
Energy tax credits for things like solar can go from 26% to 30%.
If you are a business owner, look to re-invest in your business using deductible expenses.
The right retirement plan can allow you to put over $100,000 away, tax-deferred, if your income will remain consistently high over the next few years.
Child Care Deductions
If you have children currently, the more the merrier as far as tax credits go. Those tax credits will be tightening under the new plan.
Estate taxes could go up, lifetime exemptions can go down. Top rates could go up to 45% and limitations can be at $3.5 million. If you have a high net worth and you are looking to leave a legacy, now is the time to plan. We are advising clients with legacy wishes and high net worth to plan around these higher rates while they are here.
SALT(State and Local Tax) Deductions
We may see some relief from the capped state and local tax deductions of $10,000. That means you won’t get double taxed on any dollars above the current SALT cap to the new SALT cap.
Everyone’s circumstances are different—this should not be construed as tax, legal or financial advice. Use this as an opportunity to speak with your financial team to see what works best for you and your family. If you do not have a financial team, or you have questions and need to talk through them, reach out to us at Green Ridge Wealth Planning to gain some perspective on how you turn the hand you have been dealt into a winning hand!
April Monthly Update: Trade vs. Investment Strategy
Trade vs. Investment Strategy
I am at an interesting point in life as a person and an investor. I am old enough to remember pulling over to make a call on the payphones when my beeper went off, sprinting to the bathroom during commercials, and humming to the tune of the dial-up internet sound when logging in online. However, I am young enough to have been part of an ever-changing technology boom, not complacent in old ways of doing things, and embracing “who moved my cheese?”. I make this point because I believe many investors are still looking at the trees and missing the forest.
The World Reopens
The market seems to believe that we are reopening and going back to normal. As we stated in a few of our older commentaries, COVID-19 has not changed the direction we were going in. It has just accelerated it. We have experienced a leap forward, because we, as a global society, were forced to take action. We acted in a way where operations, communication, and the way we lived our lives needed innovation and technology to move at a faster pace to account for the shortfalls and limitations we’ve faced over the past year. Now, we are seeing vaccination rates go up, and a sense of normalcy - new normalcy - is actually in reach. So, now that we are opening, are we looking for companies to invest in that are rebounding off lows because they have just been so low for the past year in anticipation of reopening? Or, are we looking to continue to invest in and identify new businesses that will provide us success in this new normalcy? Technology has been growing 10%+ per year with accelerated growth opportunities as adoption rates grow. Technology solves our problems - that gets us excited!
Let’s go through a few thoughts and basic examples of companies that everyone knows.
Apple’s 52 week high was $143 per share. It has recently been trading around $120 per share. Over the past five years, Apple is up 348.95%. They have been a consistent leader in tech and have moved their business away from hardware and have shifted their focus to services, which are far more profitable. Some would say Apple hasn’t had a superior hardware product in over a decade, with the launch of the iPad. However, what about some of the new health components in the Apple Watch, Apple Pay, self-driving cars, and their commitment to renewable energy, as well as their easy-to-use and attractive product that markets to lifestyle and their hip, “Apple”, way? Do we think they will build on this or go backward?
Exxon Mobil (XOM)
A darling in the energy space. Has been adorned for their consistent dividend. Its 5-year high was in July of 2016 and has been trending downward for the past five years. If we go back 10 years to March 25, 2011, it traded at $83.62, and March 25, 2016, traded at $83.98 - FLAT! The cost of doing business, including capital expenditures and regulatory costs, in the energy space, has risen dramatically versus profitability, shrinking margins. Add to that the shift toward alternative energy and a global focus on lowering our carbon footprint.
Currently trading at $57 per share, do we think in the short term, XOM will outperform AAPL? Maybe, maybe not. But which company has you excited about their ability to make an impact over the next 5-10 years?
Additionally, you can think about Amazon versus AMC Theaters. Now, I know AMC got caught up in the whole Reddit news cycle but let’s look at it more recently. The general consensus is that movie theaters will open back up and life will soon return back to normal. Will people be jammed into theaters, feet up, eating popcorn, ordering mozzarella sticks, and perhaps even a few cocktails? Again, maybe, to some degree. But companies are judged based on forward earnings.
Where is the Opportunity?
Do we think we have more opportunity with AMC, or Amazon, or even Disney? Streaming services, going direct to your TV. Disney has theme parks, sports (ESPN), AND streaming. Look at Netflix too and tie that back to the fact that all their editing and streaming is done through AWS (Amazon). Amazon and the impact they are looking to make in the communications industry with global Wi-Fi, or SpaceX (Tesla’s Elon Musk) Starlink. Knowing that about Amazon and SpaceX, what do we now think about AT&T? Viacom? Comcast? What about 5G?
So, what is your plan? Are you seeing the forest between the trees?
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Want to see if we can help? Email, call or text Bobby at 201-240-5995.
Can Investing in Innovation Companies be a Hedge?
In the past month or so, we have seen a lot of volatility in growth companies and technology. There are a few main storylines that are carrying a short-term shift from some of the top performers with fast-growing revenues to older companies with limited future growth potential but trading at lower valuations:
“Inflation is going up! Buy stocks that make the stuff that is going to cost more!”
“Interest Rates are going up! Higher interest rates make investors less patient to wait for future growth.”
“Valuations are crazy in growth stocks! Better to buy cheaper stuff….it is safer!”
Any of that sound familiar? Let’s tackle ‘em one by one…..
Inflation is going up!
Sure, it is pretty hard for inflation to not go up in the short-term. About this time last year, oil prices went negative! Yeah, it is likely that we will see some higher inflation now that the economy is on stronger footing, but technology and innovation are often cost reducers, so it would make sense that as prices go up, the demand for having cost reducing technology would also go up.
A perfect example here could be cutting the cable cord. If you are like me, you probably have cable, Netflix, Disney +, and so on. But at the end of the day, I watch VERY little cable. The conversation of cutting the cord happens here and there, but if gas prices and lumber prices rising is effecting our budget then we will be looking for places to reduce our spending. Say bye-bye to the cable. Poof, my cheap streaming solution (growth and technology) wins against my old stogey cable company (value).
At their heart, technology is used because of the benefits it brings in either making things easier, better, or cheaper.
Interest Rates Are going up!
Interest rates in the U.S. have risen this year to the levels we were at before the COVID pandemic hit this time last year. This makes sense as we have put a lot of stimulus into the economy and things seem to be improving. And, there seems to be an idea that as interest rates go up, indicating a strong economy, that cyclical companies will do much better and people will want to discard their beloved technology companies.
But wait, don’t value companies have a lot of debt on their balance sheets? What if they have to refinance that debt at higher rates? Wouldn’t that hurt their earnings?
The other aspect here is as we reopen, technology becomes a less important resource. Once we all get the vaccine, goodbye Zoom and hello flying and cruises and eating indoors, right!? Well, yes, of course we will do more of that, but many of these technology tools are now part of our lives and are unlikely to disappear. They also have been making a ton of money over the past year and have the flexibility to pivot, whereas many of these companies that are reopening have exhausted their reserves and don’t have any money laying around to invest.
So sure, we will all be excited for a return to something more recognizable as normal, but things are still going to be changing, and we rather stick with the companies that can afford to change with them instead of the ones that keep crossing their fingers that the past will return.
Valuations are crazy!
This is true; it is hard to argue that the market is not trading at an elevated valuation to its historic levels, and that some growth companies are also trading at levels that might seem “nosebleed”.
But when things are in high growth, it is harder to assess the right value because of compounding. If a company grows at 7.2% a year, it doubles revenue in 10 years. It used to be considered very rare for a company to grow at 15% for an extended period, and unheard of for a large company to grow at such a rate.
But then we all have to think about how Amazon has grown revenue at 24.4% per year for the last 10 years……or Alphabet (Google) has grown revenue at 18.1% in the last 10 years, or Facebook at a whopping 42.3% over the last 10 years.
The point is, with significant growth can come some crazy valuations. With that also comes volatility. Helping manage that is what we try to do, but we think that regardless of interest rates or inflation, you want to find growth and benefit from its compounding.
So, can technology and innovation be a hedge to these market concerns? Seems like we have an argument to answer, "yes, it can".
Market Update: March 2021
It is mind blowing to think that we are right around the one year mark before Covid 19 changed our world as we know it. While 12 months seems like a lifetime ago, it is worth putting some perspective on how things are different, how some things are the same, and just generally get a grip on what is going on.
This is especially true with the heights the market has hit in early 2021, taking account of some of the good things going on in the economy, and also paying mind to some of the warning signs that may be flashing.
In this commentary we ask some of the questions we have been hearing from clients and hearing in financial media.
Topics within include:
Are we in a strong economy?
Interest rates: what are we looking at and where are they headed?
Inflation: The impact on investing
Is the market too expensive?
What are we doing in accounts looking into the next few months?
We hope you enjoy, and if you have any questions, we hope you reach out and ask!
What’s going on with the Economy?
Despite the major decline in economic activity, GDP is expected to regain its pre-pandemic level by March 2021. Pretty impressive that we have recovered in just 1 year, but without the major fiscal and monetary help we have seen and continue to see, it is unlikely we would be where we are right now.
But this also explains a lot. Monetary policy is like a shotgun, and fiscal policy is meant to be more like a sniper rifle. But with much of the fiscal stimulus being pointed directly to consumers through federal checks and unemployment benefits, fiscal policy looked like a shotgun as well, hitting all parts of the economy.
And this is essentially why we see the difference in performance between new technology companies and older more classic economy companies. New technology companies benefitted from both the changes in the way we live our lives and from the stimulus fired into the economy. Classic economy companies needed that stimulus to survive, and many business models remain permanently impaired with some of the long-lasting changes we are likely to see (work from home, shopping online, digital solutions).
So, with that, we think the shotgun is still firing with the recent passing of the 1.9 trillion stimulus bill, and the benefactors will be everyone, but better to stick with the companies that don’t need it to survive (like technology companies) than the companies that do!
Interest Rates; How high will they go, and what does it mean for stocks?
Below is a text message chain we intercepted from a CNBC talking head and a professional trader: (note, this is a parody)
CNBC Talking Head: OMG, did you hear about that crazy spike in interest rates!!!!! Just take a look at a 1 year chart!!!
Professional Trader: Wait, but how does the rate compare to the last 25 years?
CNBC Talking Head: Oh!!! So it is still at historic lows. I guess we might be making a big deal out of nothing…….
Professional Trader: Probably. It also looks like it is bumping up against a long-term resistance level around 1.5%.
CNBC Talking Head: But if I can’t complain about interest rates, how will I help CNBC sell advertising slots?
Professional Trader: I don’t know, maybe talk about Gamestop……
CNBC Talking Head: Great idea! Thanks for that…..TTYL, XOXO
The resurgence of Inflation; How concerned should we be?
I can’t help but chuckle when I hear concern about inflation….we hear it at least every other year when oil or some commodity spikes. Everyone starts thinking about 1980, or back in the post war era, and how inflation was a major problem. I certainly understand that, and we study and talk about those times in economics day in and day out. But inflation has been incredibly low in the last 25 years, and while we have a spike here and there, it has remained on an average under 2% since the turn of the century.
The Fed made it abundantly clear that they are not concerned about inflation for the foreseeable future, and additionally, said if it runs above its target of 2%, it would not consider that an issue because it is making up for all the below target inflation we have experienced.
To keep it short and simple: The Fed isn’t worried about inflation, and it will take a lot of inflation to change their mind.
But what about all the debt and money printing?!?!
Let’s run a quick hypothetical scenario on our friend Mr. US Economy, and let’s imagine that our national debt level is a mortgage on a house. Instead of using actual GDP numbers, we will make up some numbers.
US Economy makes $200,000 per year; he is in a low growth but steady job, and his salary only goes up 2% a year for the prospective future (like GDP).
US Economy owns a nice home with an all-interest mortgage of $270,000. His current interest rate on that mortgage is around 1%, and his loan term is 6 years, so he pays ~$2,000 per year for his mortgage (we are in low interest rate environment).
US Economy has about 17.5% of his income to spend on his mortgage and other obligations, otherwise he would have to take on more debt to pay for his lifestyle.
US Economy does not mind taking on more debt to maintain his current lifestyle, but he realizes at some point he needs to find financial discipline or get a new, higher paying job!
Mr. US Economy sounds like a normal situation, right? Well, as silly as this sounds, that is a pretty good picture of what the actual U.S. Economy looks like; just change $200,000 in income to about $20 Trillion in GDP, change the mortgage to the national debt of $27 trillion, the interest rate and loan term is the effective maturity of outstanding US debt and the average yield on that debt, and 17.5% is the tax receipts that the U.S. government collects. IN SUMMARY: When we look at the U.S. Economy like a neighbor down the street, it hopefully becomes a bit clearer. As long as his job is good, he can keep rolling his debt, the interest rates are low, and he maintains some responsibility around his spending, he is in fine shape.
30 years of U.S. Debt to GDP (macrotrends.net)
So, while there is a lot of doom and gloom about all the borrowing Mr. US Economy is doing, and how much money he is spending on his credit card, his bills remain paid and his situation is fine. The important thing is that he spend money on productive things like education, home improvements, and useful tools; we just need to make sure he does not waste it on booze and gambling!
OK, so the Economy is on good footing, Inflation seems contained, Interest Rates will likely remain below historic norms, and the debt level is manageable…….BUT certainly valuations are stretched, right?!
The answer is simply “Yes, yes they are.” But it is rare valuation itself causes are market downturn, and sentiment and bullish trends are incredibly strong. The issue is, when valuations are stretched, volatility picks up and declines are more dramatic.
So, expect strong markets with higher volatility, more drastic corrections, but an overall positive slope. It is going to be challenging because of all the uncertainty and the fact that we are pushed up against extremes in all directions, but with a good plan, smart observations, and a clear discipline on how to take advantage of anomalies, we think this is a great time to invest and look forward to the future!
Stay calm and trade on!
Jordan Kaufman, CFA, CFP®
CIO, Green Ridge Wealth Planning
Bubbles and Overvaluations??
We were all so happy to get out of 2020, we didn't realize that we stepped out of one crazy cab and into a train wreck! Can't we have a slow news cycle for 1 month?
With a strong stock market that threw many for surprise in 2020, we think people are underestimating the return potential in 2021. Look how bad the news cycle has been on a political front, botched vaccine roll out, increases in lock down measures, and so on, yet the market shrugs it all off. In fact, technology, small cap stocks, and emerging market stocks had a great start to the year (coincidentally our tactical investments).
We now hear a lot of concern over bubbles and valuation. We appreciate these concerns, and using traditional metrics, it is hard not to have that concern.
However, as we discussed in our webinar, we live in a digital age, and we are just entering a phase of exploring the real potential to what that means.
In particular, we would point to a few things that are difficult to measure in a digital age and with significant innovation:
1) inflation: the impact is lower prices, but not because of lower demand. As we use resources more intelligently, become more informed and smarter consumers (both individuals and corporations), and find better and cheaper ways to solve problems, prices go down.
2) GDP: usually measured by consumption, GDP goes lower if prices go lower. If we consume the same amount year over year, but buy it at a 10% discount, then gdp would fall 10%. GDP is still measured using industrial age metrics, but in the age of innovation and digital solutions, some aspects of economic growth and prosperity may go undetected.
Overall, there are a lot of things on motion today, and with a strong economic backdrop, enthusiasm over fiscal and monetary policy, and record earnings, we think it is best to remain focused on well thought out goals and objectives and to not get caught up in GameStop excitement.
Join Us- 2021 And Innovation
Disruption: Capitalize on how a Global Pandemic is leading to Global Innovation
Join us for a 30 minute discussion to go over what happened in 2020 and how it has altered the way we look at opportunity moving into the future
Choose a date & time that works for you below and RSVP using the links below
As we approach the end of this twilight zone period, we try and focus on the positive. Clearly, financial markets are looking to the light at the end of the tunnel, and economic forecasts for 2021 are supportive. But as we look forward to brighter days, let us not forget all the incredible sacrifices and incredible acts of volunteering, adjusting, and community support we experienced in the last 10 months. While there is no shortage of negative news out there, and our hearts go out to those who had unfortunate loses during this difficult time, we also urge people to look at all the great things that happened and we experienced this year. "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty." – Winston Churchill
We are not out of the woods yet…..
While equity markets are clearly getting ready for a return to normalcy, we still have a tough number of months ahead. Fitch Ratings, well known for rating bonds, recently revised up its global growth forecast to 5.3% for 2021, with the U.S. being a strong contributor to that upward revision (to 4.5% annual GDP from 4.0% in September). These forecasts take into account continued weakness in the immediate months ahead, but stronger growth in the second half of 2021.
Fitch also revised up its 2022 global growth forecast to 4.0% from 3.6%. This is really a great story for the future, and we think sets the foundation for continued strength in markets. Even though we know case rates will continue to climb, economic estimates for the future continue to move higher and extend for longer. If we do see a sell off over the next few months, don’t be surprised if “buy the dip” is the mantra you hear and the action you see in the markets.
To say it simply, markets are on a tear and seem to already have developed COVID immunity. Since the end of the election and positive news toward the vaccine, we have seen higher prices in equities across the board, and also in some other risk assets like cryptocurrencies (shameless plug digression; don’t forget to check out our post on cryptocurrencies).
Further confirming the strength and likely follow through of this rally is poor performance in safety assets. We have watched bond yields rise over the past few months and gold waffle. This is not entirely intuitive since monetary and fiscal policy is still expected and required to support the economy in its current fragile state.
Common Questions We Have Been Hearing
Countries are still not 100% open and the economic impact has been hard. How can the market keep going up? For the most part, the companies that are outperforming on ones that have solid business models in a pandemic world, have adapted to succeed in the pandemic, have had a lot of cash in their reserves, and were not as impacted by de-globalization that has transpired over the past 9 months. These companies are valued on forward earnings, meaning what they are anticipated to earn in the future. With interest rates near zero and low risk assets giving no real ability to outpace inflation, risk on assets like stocks have adjusted as well. The earnings are now based on a post Covid world, a timetable that keeps shifting out to justify the prices being paid. Some of these valuations have rightfully gotten out of line, which we are aware of. However, some of these companies/industries that are trading on new multiples deserve it, each for their own reasons.
Stocks seem pricey and there has to be a correction. What would you invest in?Similar to the response in the above question, some stocks have gotten a bit rich in their valuation. There are also some stocks that have and continue to be undervalued. However, just because they are undervalued does not mean that they are a good buying opportunity. Most of why they are undervalued is because of their ability to adapt, they are in a dying market and they simply don’t have the growth opportunities they may have once had. Look for a lot of M&A activity, which is another market segment our tactical clients have exposure in.
Taxes are going to go up in the new administration, how can company valuations and Wall Street sentiment remain high?Most companies are not as impacted by the rise in the corporate rate, and the rate anticipated is still a very low rate. A tax overhaul has a lower likelihood in the next 2 years if the republicans retain control of the Senate. Companies will find ways of utilizing profit in a tax favorable way for shareholders. This isn’t a large concern of ours.
There has been no additional COVID-19 Relief. What about all the bankruptcies that have yet to happen?As long as the Federal Reserve supports the economy, which it has done a great job of doing since the pandemic, we believe the companies that trade in the stock market will continue to fare well. We have an incoming Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, who in her time as Fed Chair was known as being very dovish. This means the likelihood of lower rates and focus on propping up the economy is high. Whether or not this will become a burden for later generations to bear will be a future tale, but if Modern Monetary Theory wins the day, the impact the Fed is having on todays economy will be a win for Americans.