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THE SECURE ACT: WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

By ashea | January 29, 2020

Overview On Dec. 20, 2019, President Trump signed into law the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act as part of a year-end appropriations package. This bill is designed to help employers sponsor more effective retirement plans for their employees and update some individual retirement plan rules. The provisions of the SECURE Act went into effect on Jan. 1, 2020. “To a large extent, the SECURE Act is a hodgepodge of a lot of little retirement policy initiatives that have been on the minds of policymakers for the last several years.” Retirement Plan Contributions Historically, one of the problems with retirement plans is that contributions are limited each year; unlike taxable accounts, which allow you to generally invest…

2019 GOES OUT WITH AN ECONOMIC BANG

By ashea | January 24, 2020

2019 Goes Out With an Economic Bang After a strong Q3, momentum continued throughout Q4 as we repeatedly hit new highs to close out the year. Q4 market drivers were the same we’ve seen all year; namely the China trade talks, the Federal Reservice, and political turmoil in Washington. The U.S. and China returned to the negotiating table this quarter, eventually reaching a Phase 1 agreement that suspended additional tariffs scheduled to take effect in mid-December but leaving existing tariffs in place. While China agreed to buy more agricultural products from the U.S., the most difficult discussions remain, including those related to forced technology transfers, intellectual property theft, currency manipulation, government subsidies to Chinese businesses, etc. It remains to be…

MONEY MANAGEMENT TOOLS

By ashea | January 17, 2020

Overview There’s an app for seemingly every financial transaction or budgetary needconsumers have. In fact, there are likely dozens if not hundreds from which to select for each type of activity, from tracking your spending to investing. Some tools are focused on a particular goal. For example, a micro savingsapp may automatically transfer small amounts of money from one account to another on a regular basis, while another may round up the total on each of your purchases and redirect the change to a separate savings account. There are apps that track your credit reports, offering additional tips andinformation on paying off debt and improving your credit score. There are apps that allow you to invest on the fly, including…

INVESTOR TIPS FOR THE NEW YEAR

By ashea | December 13, 2019

Overview We approach the new year with indications of a potential economic decline in the near future. Given the continued strength of the economy to date, there are mixed views on when and how severe a possible recession may hit the U.S. As the accompanying graph demonstrates, it’s perfectly normal for economic cycles to ebb and flow. History of U.S. Economic Cycles We’re actually quite overdue for a correction. Notice on the chart that the longest running economic expansions in U.S. history — nearly 10 years each — have occurred over the past 20 years. The expansion that started in 1991 lasted until 2001. There was another expansion that started later in 2001 and lasted until early 2007. Then the…

NEW OUTLOOK: WHAT TO DO IN A SLOW-GROWTH ECONOMY

By ashea | December 6, 2019

Overview Technically, economists define a recession as a prolonged period of economic decline, often precipitated by two consecutive quarters of negative gross domestic product (GDP) growth. In the second quarter of 2019, the U.S. economy growth rate dropped to 2%,down from 3.1% in the first quarter. Preliminary estimates from the Commerce Department show that third-quarter GDP growth reduced further to 1.9%. Moving forward, analysts at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco(FRBSF) forecast a growth rate between 1.5% and 1.75%, signaling furtherdeclining growth. For perspective, this projection is significantly lower than the most recent 10-year average of 2.4% and well below the 4% that was predicted would result from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. United States GDP…

RECESSION OR NO RECESSION: IS THAT THE QUESTION?

By ashea | October 4, 2019

Overview In November 2007, Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve Chairman at the time, publicly announced inflation was likely to start inching up and economic growth may weaken but remain positive. The consensus of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) was that the U.S. economy was not headed for recession. One month later, the worst economic decline since the Great Depression commenced. To say it’s difficult to predict the timing of a recession is an understatement. A recession can be triggered by any number of different factors, even manmade ones. For example, President Richard Nixon is credited with causing the recession in 1973 by calling for a price and wage freeze two years earlier in order to stifle inflation. The events…