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Potholes in the Rear View Mirror, Smoother Roads Lie Ahead

Any concerns about the economic carnage seen in the rear view mirror were overshadowed again this morning by the hope and optimism of the economic recovery that is seen when looking out the front windshield.

Yesterday, we were not surprised to receive confirmation from the U.S. Department of Commerce that an economic contraction of historic proportions occurred in the second quarter of this year, as the coronavirus-induced shutdowns battered the United States economy:

Yes, the U.S. economy shrank by one third just in the second quarter alone. Here is a graphical depiction of this GDP plunge:

With a headline number this horrific, one might expect the financial markets to immediately tank, and panic to ensue, exacerbating the depth and darkness of the hole that our economy cratered into between April and June of this year. However, chaos, fear, and a huge selloff were anything but the case.


Three reasons why the economy tanked but the financial markets have recovered:

  1. We are coming out of the crater, not driving into it (front windshield, not rear view mirror)
  2. Demand for technology companies, and tech stocks, continues to explode
  3. A large economic/GDP bounce back is expected in the third quarter:

FacebookAmazonApple, and Google (Alphabet) all reported their quarterly earnings results yesterday afternoon, and all four companies beat already-high expectations. Facebook posted 11% revenue growth and issued stronger-than-expected sales guidance for the current quarter. Amazon’s sales soared, and operating income nearly doubled compared with the big drop that analysts had expected. Apple easily exceeded sales and profit estimates, and announced a 4-for-1 stock split. And Alphabet investors, while tolerating the company’s first year-over-year decline in advertising revenue, had sales from its cloud-computing segment come in well above expectations.

Through yesterday, Amazon is up 61% and Apple is up 31% for the year (and both stocks appear set for additional gains based on trading so far today), while Facebook and Alphabet have both gained 14% so far in 2020. Truly a historic run for these tech behemoths.

We believe this outperformance should not come as a huge surprise, given the work-from-home trend the pandemic has advanced, further accelerating technology’s leadership position; however, the pace, and scope, of this outperformance has certainly been noteworthy.

All is certainly not well for the U.S. economy – far from it. And while a full economic recovery is still a long way off (we do not expect an unemployment rate below 4% until at least 2023 or 2024), the economy is at least generally headed in a better direction. And, while assuming the recovery will be anything but a smooth ride, we are confident that we are driving away from the worst of it, and looking at a better road ahead.

What’s Happening at TPW?

For many people, spending time in Mother Nature has been a welcome respite during the COVID-19 lockdowns, and this has held true true for several of us here at Towerpoint Wealth.

Our Partner, Wealth Manager, Jonathan LaTurner, in the throes of enjoying a large dose of the great outdoors in Mammoth Lakes, hiking and fly fishing on the San Joaquin River with his partner, Katie McDonald.

Our Director of Tax and Financial Planning, Steve Pitchford, on an eight mile hike on the Salmon Falls Bridge / Darrington Trail in El Dorado Hills.

TPW Service Highlight

Are you eligible for a 401(k)403(b)457TSPprofit sharing plan, or an employer-funded defined benefit (pension) plan through your employer? Do you have a Roth option available within your defined contribution retirement plan? Have you qualified for a single or multiple grants of restricted stock units (RSUs) or non-qualified stock options? Do you have an employee stock purchase plan (ESPP) available to you, perhaps offering a discount on shares of your employer’s stock? Is employer-sponsored (group) life insurance and long-term care insurance part of your benefits offering?

We welcome working side-by-side with you to conduct a thorough deep-dive and audit of all of the various perks and benefits your employer offers. Analyzing, leveraging, and maximizing your employee benefits package could be one of the most impactful decisions you make in the service of your longer-term economic health, and we stand by ready to offer our counsel, expertise, and experience in this multi-faceted and oftentimes confusing area. Click HERE to find out more.

Graph of the Week

Investing in the stock market can be volatile. For this reason, we believe it is important to keep proper perspective when stocks rise or fall over shorter periods of time. History has shown that the odds of achieving a positive return are dramaticallyincreased the longer the investment time horizon.

We think First Trust’s illustration below does an excellent job of conveying this ideal.

Trending Today
In addition to confirming it looks bad in the rear view mirror (and looking at the road ahead) and avoiding indoor recreation to spend time in nature, a number of trending and notable events have occurred over the past few weeks:

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

– Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, and Jonathan

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How Do We Unlock the Lockdown

At least 316 million people (or more than 96% of the U.S. population) in 42 states are currently under a stay-at-home or shelter-in-place order as the coronavirus pandemic continues to upend life as we know it. However, as California’s Governor Gavin Newsom stated just last month, “This is not a permanent state, this is a moment of time,” and the good news is that we are seeing hopeful time-frames for reopening:

In the meantime, our economy is in an absolute tailspin due to the national lockdown, and Great Depression-esque numbers are expected for the second quarter:

  1. A total of 26 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits in the past five weeks. That translates to a national unemployment rate expected to be as high as 15 or even 20% as a result of the pandemic that has forced millions of businesses to shutter and lay off employees, significantly higher than the 10% peak seen during the 2008 financial crisis.
  2. The U.S. economy is facing its biggest contraction ever, as GDP for the second quarter is expected to show an annual rate decline of 40%! As a comparison, the biggest drop in growth in U.S. history occurred in 1932, when the economy contracted by 12.9% during the worst year of the Great Depression.

And while it might sound crazy to say, understanding these are nothing short of horrific numbers, there is a clear light at the end of the tunnel.

Why is the stock market (as measured by the S&P 500) up 29% over the past month? One simple answer: The stock market is not a reflection of the current economy. Investors are forward-looking and future-oriented, and they are buying in advance of, and belief in, better days ahead. It can be confounding to grasp when the current state of affairs seems so grim, but it is an essential point for longer-term investors to note and internalize. Since 1953 (with one exception), the S&P 500 stock index has bottomed anywhere from three to 11 months prior to the official end of a recession. In other words, as Warren Buffett said:

We encourage you to read Policy and Portfolio Impact of COVID-19 – A Talk With Dr. Ben Bernanke, as forceful actions by the Fed and bi-partisan Congressional stimulus packages have both led to a backstopping of the financial markets and a temporary de facto safety net for our economy.

The fact that the upcoming ugly U.S. economic figures and data are EXPECTED is especially important to note. While horrific, these numbers will come as no surprise to savvy investors, who understand that stocks almost always rebound before the economy does, and who understand that the market expects the pain experienced by the U.S. economy to be temporary. Questions remain about the shape of the economic recovery and the shape of our new lifestyles, but fortunately the correlation between the temporary nature of our economic pain and the temporary nature of our current shelter-in-place lifestyles cannot be denied.

In addition to anticipating the end of conscientious sequestering and the slow birth of economic recovery, there have been a number of non-COVID-19 newsworthy events over the past few weeks that you may have missed:

As we have mentioned previously, it is important to take comfort that better days are set to return. We will be with our full families again. We will be with our friends and colleagues again. Together. And as always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. We encourage you to reach out to us at any time (916-405-9140, info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place, and we are here for you.

– Nathan, Raquel, Steve, Joseph, Lori, and Jonathan

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor
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Can You Keep Your Poise and Tune Out the Noise?

The drumbeat of unnecessary, repetitive, and extraneous information and news (read: noise) will always be a constant part of our lives. The challenge is to define and identify what information is truly meaningful, and what is false or useless, and then how to deposit it into our personal knowledge bank. Finally, and we believe most importantly, is the pursuit and application of wisdom, or the ability to think and act using our knowledge, insight, understanding, and common sense, growing slowly with experience over time.

Instead of being distracted, worried, and reactionary, one of our central goals at Towerpoint Wealth is to help our clients be more confident and purposefulinvestors, which ultimately leads you to gain greater economic peace-of-mind. However, as we are all now acutely aware, the global public health and economic uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus/COVID-19 disease makes the attainment of this economic peace-of-mind a much more difficult endeavor.

Reducing and even flat-out ignoring noise is a difficult thing to do, as it oftentimes is a battle against deeply-entrenched habits. Our smartphones, our friends, and the media are regularly our greatest economic enemies, and at Towerpoint Wealth, we believe that a large part of our legal fiduciary obligation to each of our clients is to help you properly tune out. The discipline needed to filter is one of the primary determinants along the path to successfully building and protecting longer-term wealth. And as we continually nurture our client relationships at TPW, we not only set the expectation that we will be explicitly objective about the importance (or lack thereof) of newsworthy external events and the glut of immediately-available information (even if they may not like what they hear from us), but also act as an “information filter,” taking our knowledge and experience and having it translate into the wisdom our clients desire.

Please do not mistake our commentary about noise as being at all insensitive or tone-deaf to the seriousness of the coronavirus situation. More than 100,000 worldwide infections, and at at least 3,383 confirmed deaths do to COVID-19 are sobering figures, and we recognize there are many unanswered questions about what may lie ahead. Additionally, we certainly do not advocate clients walk around with their head in the sand, as it is important to have an awareness and understanding of what is happening. We simply want to help you avoid and ignore the shorter-term distractions that none of us have any control over. Put differently:

Excellent illustration courtesy of Napkin Finance

As mentioned in the Special Report we issued on February 26 (Coronavirus and the Stock Market Pullback), we firmly believe the US consumer is on solid footing, and will continue to be one of the key drivers of US economic growth in 2020, and that any drop in corporate earnings and economic activity due to the COVID-19 disease will be more than made up for over the remainder of the year. Additionally, we encourage you to click on our March 2020 Monthly Market Commentary found below for our updated outlook and details.

In summary, we think you will enjoy (and ask you to think about) Barry Ritholz’s tongue-in-cheek list below:

What’s Happening at Towerpoint Wealth?

Our esteemed Client Service Specialist, Raquel Jackson, stopped by the office last weekend to do some over-and-above work, and enlisted the help of her three daughters, Zaida (18), Zenia (14), and Daijah (3), while doing so!

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, and Director of Operations, Lori Heppner, enjoyed a delicious lunch together at Tiger on the K Street Mall (now known as “The Kay”).

In addition to filtering information, washing hands, and appreciating the good people we have around us, a number of trending and notable events occurred over the past few weeks:

Lastly and as always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth, and encourage you to reach out to us (info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place. We are here for you, and look forward to connecting with, helping, and being a direct, fully independent, and objective expert financial resource for you.

– Nathan, Raquel, James, Joseph, Lori, Steve, and Jonathan

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Room to Run – There’s Plenty in ’20!

Senescence – the process or condition of deterioration with age.

While logical and sensible when it comes to biology, it is extremely important to understand that senescence is completely irrelevant to economies and to the stock market. Economic expansions do not die from old age, they die from negative shocks. Or put more bluntly by Former Fed Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, “they get murdered,” usually by central banks like our Federal Reserve tightening the money supply and raising interest rates.

As we head into the new year and as is always the case, there are indicators supporting both sides of the “Will the U.S. economic expansion continue?” question. On the positive: Jobs have increased for 110 straight months (!)wages at every level are growing faster than inflation, and real manufacturing output is at all-time highs. On the negative: GDP growth has slowed to +1.9%the U.S. Treasury yield curve recently inverted (oftentimes a recessionary precursor), and the uncertainty created by U.S. trade disputes and tariffs.

Independent of these pros and cons, at Towerpoint Wealth we feel the most salient economic point heading into 2020 is that many analysts and investors continue to cling to the flawed thinking that expansions have to come to an end because of old age alone. Instead, we encourage you to let other people’s fears be your friend,know that senescence is nonsense when it comes to the economy, and invest with confidence knowing that monetary policy remains very loose and accommodative, both here in the U.S. and globally. Put differently:

TPW Celebrates the Holidays!The TPW family had a blast last week celebrating the holiday season together, first with a round of mini golf at Flatstick Pub, and then at a festive dinner at Echo & Rigin Sacramento’s new Downtown Commons (DOCO)!

We all feel very fortunate in the culture we have created here at Towerpoint Wealth, as not only our TPW team members, but also our valued clients, appreciate the care and the sincerity we put into our work – and also when we let our hair down a little and have fun together!

Mutual Fund Expenses – Not Fake News

Credit to Carl Edwards at the Behavior Gap.

Trending Today

In addition to holiday fun and the inevitability of human (but not economic) aging, a number of trending and notable events occurred over the past few weeks:

Also, we wish you a Happy New Year! We sincerely value our relationships with each of you, as well as your trust and confidence in us here at Towerpoint Wealth. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and prosperous beginning to the Roaring ’20’s – a decade of opportunity and potential!

Lastly and as always, we encourage you to reach out to us (info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place. We are here for you, and look forward to connecting with, helping, and being a direct, fully independent, and objective expert financial resource for you.


– Joseph, Jonathan, Lori, Nathan, Steve, Raquel, and James