Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

No No, I Really AM a Long-Term Investor! 10.15.2021

“I’m definitely a long-term investor.”

“I don’t get worried about the negative news headlines.”

“Declines happen – I get it.”

We have heard these lines uttered by the most well-intentioned and intelligent investors time and time again. Sometimes, they hold true to their word. Sometimes, the polar opposite. Saying you are a long-term investor is easy; behaving like a long-term investor is much more difficult, as this is clearly easier said than done. 

Put differently, as the great boxer Mike Tyson said: 

Mike Tyson

When things are relatively “normal,” investing seems easy. However, when things get (pick your favorite adjective): crazy, volatile, unbelievable, explosive, unpredictable, turbulent, harrowing, and/or unsettling, it becomes much more difficult to tolerate, endure, and absorb a major body blow to your “nest egg” (read: a consequential drop in value). Watching your money SHRINK can be a very emotional and traumatizing experience. And while there is no perfect recipe for becoming a successful long-term investor, at Towerpoint Wealth we believe it all starts with three basic ingredients: 

  1. Consistent objectivity
  2. Measured behavior
  3. Disciplined thinking and execution

In addition to the inherently emotional nature of money, there are a myriad of uncontrollable variables populating the external environment we live in: The movements of the stock market. The vicissitudes of the US and global economy. The fickle nature of the political winds. Increases and declines in interest rates, income taxes, and inflation. Just a few examples from a very lengthy list of items that are out of our control. And while it is human nature for us to think (even to outright believe) that we have some control over many of these things, the truth is, if we want to truly be a successful long-term investor, we must recognize and accept the things we do not control.

At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe that the most successful long-term investors and wealth-creators have a somewhat-unique capability, a skill, that allows them to maintain appropriate perspective, to exhibit a high degree of humility, and to be laser-focused on the bigger picture. Fortunately, this is a skill that can be coached, cultivated, and learned, and is something that we have a relatively high degree of control over.

Long-Term Investor

Investment Strategy

Let’s make this more tangible – below are seven key principles that, at Towerpoint Wealth, we believe are necessary to be a successful long-term investor:

  1. Be humble, be aware of, and accept, things that are out of your control
  2. Keep your emotions in check, and be acutely self-aware of the fear and greed that we may feel when considering our finances and investments, especially in periods of extremes
  3. Plan to live a long life, which we do have some control over!
  4. Einstein was right: The power of compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it; he who doesn’t, pays
  5. Volatility should be expected, embraced, and taken advantage of, not feared nor averted
  6. Unless you have the unique ability to consistently AND accurately predict the futurestay properly invested and diversified, regardless of what you believe may happen in the market and in the economy
  7. Have a plan and a strategy, and be disciplined in sticking to it, regardless of the things you have no control over
Investment Strategy

In opining about what we believe it takes to be a successful long-term investor, we would be remiss if we did not directly integrate Warren Buffett’s (aka the “Oracle of Omaha”) wisdom on this subject into this newsletter. Please click below to watch an excellent YouTube video, featuring a 2016 CNBC interview of Warren, where he outlines his FIVE best tips for successful long-term investors:

Do you have a plan to properly manage and coordinate all of your financial affairs and a strategy to grow and protect your wealth and investment portfolio, even during turbulent times?

If so, are you being disciplined in consistently following it? If you have concerns, or simply would like to discuss how you can apply the long-term investment principles discussed above, we welcome having a conversation with you. Click HERE to message us, as we regularly have no-strings-attached conversations about these issues, and are happy to be an objective resource for you as you begin to consider your personal and financial circumstances further.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Nathan P. Billigmeier Director of Research and Analytics

Our Director of Research and Analytics, Nathan Billigmeier, took last Friday off to spend time in Wheatland, CA at Bishop’s Pumpkin Farm with his two boys, Ethan and Grayson, specifically helping Grayson celebrate his 2nd birthday!

Philly cheesesteak

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, devouring a Philly cheesesteak (the only way a cheesesteak should be ordered, a “wiz, wit”) before jumping on a flight back to Sacramento earlier this month. Fuhgeddaboudit if you think you will find a better cheesesteak than Pat’s!

Graph of the Week

Yikes – inflation is at a 13 year high!

If you have any exposure to bonds in your portfolio, we strongly feel that it is time to take a hard look at:

How you are allocated within bonds

Your exposure to interest rate fluctuations (specifically, to rates going UP) due to inflation

Whether the risk you are taking is appropriate for your set of unique personal and financial circumstances

At Towerpoint Wealth, we have been successfully modeling what the value of a client’s portfolio would look like if interest rates INCREASE by ½, 1, or even 1 ½% over the next year or two. Message us by clicking HERE if you would like this custom analysis done for you.

Inflation Hits 2021

Cartoon of the Week

Issues with global supply chains will impact the holiday season…

Cartoon long term investor

As the 24/7 news cycle churns, twists, and turns, 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 (916-405-9140info@towerpointwealth.com) with any questions, concerns, or needs you may have. The world continues to be an extremely unsettled and complicated place, and we are here to help you properly plan for and make sense of it.

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

We love social media, and are always actively growing our social media community!

Follow us on any of these platforms you use, and then message us with your favorite charity, and we will happily donate $10 to it!

Click HERE to follow TPW on LinkedIn

Click HERE to follow TPW on Facebook

Click HERE to follow TPW on Instagram

Click HERE to follow TPW on Twitter

Investing Tips

Twenty Tips for No-Nonsense Investing

Read Story

Disclosure

Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

The Biggest Stock Market REVERSAL in History

It is normal for the stock market (in this case defined as the S&P 500) to experience intra-year declines. To wit: From the all time highs it set early in 2020, the S&P 500’s deep 34% decline in March.

And while stating that the stock market goes up and down is not at all profound, in this context it has a lot of meaning and important context. Just how common are these intra-year declines?

Put differently:

And while there are still three weeks until we turn the page on 2020 (HOORAY!), the tremendous swing we have experienced since the above-mentioned huge losses in March to the 15.5% gain through yesterday will likely make history as the largest stock market intra-year reversal in history. Did anyone see this coming?

Most of us continue to reel from and deal with a myriad of COVID-19-related challenges, but at Towerpoint Wealth we feel the light of optimism at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, and anticipate:

In summary, while things certainly feel and look bleak right now, there are many reasons for cautious optimism heading into next year. To quote A Wealth of Common Sense:

The stock market can look like a raging lunatic in the short-term but that doesn’t mean you have to invest like a raging lunatic as well.

…not panicking, even when stocks are down big, remains one of the best investment strategies on the planet.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Please help us welcome our new Client Service SpecialistMichelle Venezia! We feel fortunate to add Michelle to our Towerpoint Wealth family, as she brings over 30 years of wealth management industry and operations experience to TPW. Our PresidentJoseph EschlemanDirector of OperationsLori Heppner, and Director of Research and AnalyticsNathan Billigmeier, are all keenly aware of Michelle’s skills and experience, having worked side-by-side with her for a number of years at Wells Fargo Advisors.

Michelle is a huge Denver Broncos fan, and enjoys traveling and wine tasting when not spending time at home with her two “fur babies,” Sissy and Mr. Blue. Please call (916-405-9140) or email her (mvenezia@towerpointwealth.com) with any service-related questions or needs, or simply to offer her a warm TPW welcome!

Michelle’s official signing day!

Lori and Michelle, deeply involved in a training session.

Decorating the office for the holidays!

TPW Service Highlight – Cash Management Consulting

Holding cash provides safety, stability, and liquidity / immediate availability (a.k.a. “dry powder“), or in other words, peace of mind. On the other hand, in today’s ultra-low interest rate environment, holding too much cash can be extremely unproductive, as most banks and credit unions are paying next-to-nothing in interest to account holders.

Towerpoint Wealth can help you make intelligent decisions regarding holding and managing your cash balances, working to maximize the interest you are receiving, while aiming to maintain the benefit of the “emergency blanket” that cash provides. In addition to providing clients with customized due diligence on the highest yielding local and national checking, savings, and money market accounts (and CD rates), we also leverage partners such as MaxMyInterest and Reich and Tang, as well as help clients evaluate cash equivalent exchange traded fund (ETF) strategies such as PIMCO’s MINT and First Trust’s FTSM. All of these can potentially put consistent additional interest into your pocket. Reach out to us by clicking HERE to discuss your circumstances further.

Investment return and principal value will fluctuate with most cash equivalent strategies, so fund shares may be worth more or less than their original cost when sold. Past performance is no guarantee of future results, and most cash equivalent strategies are not FDIC insured.

Chart of the Week

Despite the ugly-sounding acronym, FAANG stocks (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google) have earned significant attention his year – understandable, considering their performance has had a substantial influence on the overall return of the stock market in 2020.


The chart below is a microcosm of this FAANG influence – Apple’s $2.1 trillion market capitalization (a common measure of the size of a company) is more than double the size of the “market cap” of the entire energy sector!  

As always, we sincerely value our relationships and partnerships with 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.

– Joseph, Jonathan, Steve, Lori, Nathan, Matt, and Michelle

CLICK Here To Download Towerpoint Wealth PDFs
Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

No Outcome? No Surprise. No Problem!

We expected it to be this way, right? Historically, the market has always gotten a bit crazy both before, and after, the election:

Since Election Day on Tuesday, the S&P 500 has rallied 4%, and has enjoyed its best start to the month of November ever, up 7.4% in four days.

At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe there are a few reasons for this big jump:

  1. While investors do expect a fiscal stimulus package out of Washington D.C. in the near future, perhaps before January, the size of a deal reached in a divided Congress is likely to be much smaller than it would be under a Democratic-controlled Congress. However, sometimes bad news equals good news on Wall Street, and this had led investors to believe that more pressure will be on the U.S. Federal Reserve (“the Fed”) to pump more funds into the financial system, theoretically supporting stock prices. Just yesterday, Fed Chair Jerome Powell said more stimulus is “absolutely essential” to economic recovery.
  2. Assuming Republicans hold the Senate, the likelihood of significant increases in both regulations and income taxes is significantly decreased.
  3. Interest rate and inflation expectations have recently dropped:
         Interest Rates       
Inflation

Additionally, as the Chart of the Week towards the bottom of this newsletter indicates, gridlock has historically been good for the equity markets. And while ballots are still being tallied, and Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Pennsylvania remaining in focus, it does appear that Joe Biden is on the brink of victory, and that we are much closer to having a clear winner, possibly by tomorrow or Sunday. The betting markets on the Presidency sure seem to agree:

There are many reasons for us here at Towerpoint Wealth to be paying close attention to events out of our control, but no reason to be reactionary to any of them. In addition to the recent interest rate and inflation-expectation adjustments, some of the other post-election, split-Congress items bearing scrutiny include:

  1. Renewed weakness in the financial sector
  2. Growth stocks outperforming value stocks
  3. Industrial and materials sector stocks lagging
  4. The volatility of the U.S. dollar
  5. Strengthening emerging market stocks
  6. Continued strengthening of technology sector stocks
  7. Potential weakness in tax-free municipal bond prices
  8. Weakness in healthcare sector stocks
  9. Weakness in renewable energy stocks


All of these moving parts and variables can make it tempting to consider second-guessing your investment strategy and philosophy. The constant struggle between the desire for growth and protection is natural, and the goal of managing a well-diversified portfolio is to be prepared for any market environment or political change.


Ultimately, when we put aside all of those “uncontrollables,” we keep the following graph in focus (hopefully the trend is an obvious one):

What’s Happening at TPW?

The Towerpoint Wealth family enjoyed an afternoon of teambuilding and camaraderie on the Sacramento river earlier this week, taking a quick voyage on the Sacramento Brew Boat up and back to the iconic Virgin Sturgeon restaurant for lunch.

While on their adventure, they also helped our newest family member and wealth advisor, Matt Regan, celebrate his birthday!

TPW Service Highlight – Morningstar Portfolio “Instant X-Ray”

Often enough, clients ask us what stocks they have exposure to within the various mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs) that comprise their portfolio. We now have a sophisticated tool available to us that not only does a deep-dive in evaluating your specific asset allocation and sector weightings, but also the actual individual underlying holdings you have exposure to.

Think you are properly diversified? There is only one way to find out for sure – ask us to run a Morningstar portfolio Instant X-Ray report, and we will dissect your portfolio to uncover concentrated positions, areas of unexpected overlap, and provide detailed insights into your portfolio’s diversification, illuminating what is truly driving your portfolio’s risk and performance.

Chart of the Week

The odds right now seem to favor a Biden presidency, a Republican Senate, and a Democrat House. The chart below, from LPL Financial Research, shows how a split Congress has been historically good for the stock market.

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.

CLICK Here To Download Towerpoint Wealth PDFs

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

Towerpoint Wealth Our Team Sacramento Wealth
Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

Should We Fret Over the Threat of $27 trillion of U.S. Debt?

$27 trillion. That is where the United States’ current debt load currently stands as of 10:40 a.m. today:

The budget deficit is expected to be $3.3 trillion just for 2020, as the Federal government seeks to provide stimulus to our economy in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. This has added $2 trillion to our national debt, on which in most months we are spending more than $1 billion a day just in interest. 

For perspective, here is a sobering infographic (yes, that is a football field in front of the Statue of Liberty) depicting what $20 trillion looks like. Each pallet, or “brick,” represents $100 million:

Infographic courtesy of www.demoncracy.info

Unless there is some new economic or societal model that none of us are aware of, our country’s debt will almost assuredly never be paid back. Politicians love promising us the world, and when the cash is not there to keep their promises, our government borrows money. Paying back this debt would require making extremely difficult decisions, and concurrently, losing votes. It is much easier to avoid this problem, kick the can down the road, and borrow from our children’s future than responsibly address it.

The politicians’ solution? Inflate our way out of the problem. The path of least resistance is to manufacture (read: print more) money to pay the debt back. By doing so, we are able to meet and satisfy our debt obligations (at least on paper). However, what this means is the holders of U.S. debt will receive back less than they loan in real dollars, as the purchasing power of a dollar declines as inflation occurs.

Most economists agree with and are untroubled by such massive amounts of borrowing, understanding our economy is currently in peril. The national debt was barely a concern when we passed the CARES Act, a cornerstone $2.2 trillion coronavirus economic stimulus bill, almost unanimously in March.

The two major concerns about carrying such a major debt load (higher interest rates and higher inflation) have not yet come to pass, as interest rates are extremely low and inflation remains quite muted. And because of that, our government is able to focus on providing the above-mentioned stimulus to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, and not have our national debt constrain our response. Seeing that we have been “forced” to borrow aggressively, at least we have been able to do so quite cheaply!


Make no mistake about it, questions remain about what the actual impact of this aggressive borrowing and economic stimulus will be. At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe the politics will eventually have to switch towards reining in the deficit. As this occurs, expect potentially massive implications for government spending, focused in areas like pension and medical spending, especially as our economy and our citizens age.


However, while we do feel there may be a transition to and an increased focus on debt reduction here in the United States at some point, the way we see it for the foreseeable future:

  1. The U.S. economic engine will remain a powerful one
  2. The urgency of the COVID-19 crisis will continue to underscore the demand for “safe haven” assets like U.S. Treasurys 
  3. The U.S. dollar will remain the world’s reserve currency
  4. The U.S. Federal Reserve will continue to print vast amounts of money to buy our debt
  5. Once business start to reopen and growth returns to more “normal” levels, tax revenues will increase substantially.

What’s Happening at TPW?

It was great to have a Towerpoint Wealth quorum downtown yesterday, with everyone looking good and dressed nicely to boot!

She said yes!

Our Partner, Wealth Manager, Jonathan LaTurner, *finally* popped the question to his long-time partner, Katie McDonald, while at Carmel by the Sea this past weekend.


A huge congratulations to both Jon and Katie, we can’t wait for your wedding!

TPW Service Highlight – Concentrated Stock Management

Have you amassed personal wealth through equity-based compensation, the inheritance of a large single-stock position, or from receiving stock as part of the sale of a closely-held business? Does this stock represent more than 10 or 15% of your overall portfolio? Do you recognize and are you concerned about the risk that this position may represent to your overall net worth? If the stock has appreciated, are you worried about the potential income and capital gains tax consequences of selling it?

We are experts in helping our clients manage and mitigate the risk and tax consequences of owning a concentrated stock position – click HERE or scroll to the bottom of this newsletter to download the white paper we recently published on this very important issue.

Graph of the Week

Researchers around the world are working around the clock to find a vaccine against COVID-19. In addition to a number of individual companies, the pandemic has created a number of unprecedented public/private partnerships in search of promising vaccine candidates:

  • BioNTech / Pfizer
  • Oxford / AstraZeneca
  • GSK / Sanofi
  • Novavax
  • Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology
  • Moderna
  • Sinovac
  • Janssen
  • Valneva
  • CureVac

Below you will find a chart that outlines these current major partnerships and companies, as well as geographic distribution of the anticipated vaccine.

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, Jonathan, and Matt

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor
Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

The *Unreal* Real Estate Market of 2020

For a myriad of reasons, 2020 has been both a surreal and unreal year, and the growth in the value of residential real estate is illustrative of that. According to USA Today and the National Association of Realtors (NAR), despite the hard economic times caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, home prices rose in the first quarter of 2020 in 96% of U.S. metro markets. A few of the local Sacramento-area agents we work with have commented that “this [real estate] market is even hotter and crazier than it was at its peak in 2006.

The environment 14 years ago was very different – during the U.S. housing bubble, real estate prices were artificially inflated due to speculative fervor, lax lending standards, and arguably negligent regulations. But when we fast forward to 2020, we find four reasons for this red hot market:

Historically LOW interest rates. Money is extremely “cheap” right now, as interest rates on mortgages continue to hit record lows.

Cheap money is analogous to low interest rates, meaning it doesn’t “cost” much to borrow. Mortgage rate cuts have given house hunters ~ 25% more buying power in less than two years, and that does not appear to be ending soon. The less it costs to borrow, the more a buyer may be inclined to do so when buying a home. Alternatively, the less it costs to borrow, the lower the homebuyer’s monthly mortgage payment. Adding this all up provides major stimulus to and demand for buying real estate.

Urban exodus. Just a few years ago, demand for city living was high, and people were piling into major metropolitan areas throughout the United States; now, the opposite is happening, and they are filing out in favor of suburban life.

Rent decreases are accelerating, as seven of the top ten priciest rental markets saw apartment prices drop 5% over the same time last year. Cultural and social opportunities that often draw people to metropolitan areas have largely shut down due to coronavirus. The perceived health concerns associated with public transportation and dense city living, high city taxes, the safety concerns and stress caused by demonstrations devolving into riots and other increases in crime, the desire for more space, and the ability to work remotely have all created a huge outflux from the cities, and concurrently, an influx of cash that has pushed up real estate prices in the ‘burbs.

Telecommuting / virtual working. Before COVID-19, only about 5% of workers did their jobs remotely. That figure has jumped to nearly half. Google, Twitter, and Facebook have led Silicon Valley in announcing plans to let, or even require, employees to work from home, at least for the next year, if not indefinitely. New York-based financial giants J.P. Morgan and Morgan Stanley have offered their employees a similar option. Telecommuting is no longer a trend, it is a full-blown movement. And that has allowed, or better put, freed people to live where they desire, and not feel geographically-tethered to their job location.

Inventory shortage. There is an imbalance. There are more buyers than sellers. Postponed purchases from March and April due to home-buying restrictions have created intense demand. Families are looking to upgrade, and, understanding we are all spending more time in our homes that before, people simply want more space. There was a nationwide industry shortage even before the pandemic hit, and the COVID-19 crisis has only exacerbated the problem. U.S. home values grew to $256,663 in August, an 0.7% increase from July, the largest increase since 2013, and inventory is 29.4% lower than a year ago! Builders are racing to catch up with demand, and rising prices should encourage more potential sellers to come off of the sidelines and list. But until those things occur, the shortage of inventory will continue to tilt the housing market in favor of sellers. Economics 101: When demand outstrips supply, prices go up.

How long this lasts remains to be seen. At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe that things will only begin to change in the real estate market when the uncertainty surrounding the job market, economy, and COVID-19 epidemic begin to subside.

What’s Happening at TPW?

The TPW crew enjoyed a “robust” teambuilding potluck earlier this week, highlighted by grass fed tri-tip marinated in “The Sauce for All Seasons,” Pearson’s Premium!

Our Partner, Wealth Manager, Jonathan LaTurner, our Director of Research and Analytics, Nathan Billigmeier, our new Wealth Advisor, Matt Regan, and our Director of Tax and Financial Planning, Steve Pitchford, enjoyed an early morning TPW team-building golf outing at William Land Golf Course!

TPW Service Highlight – Roth IRA conversions

While 2020 will rightfully be remembered for the challenging and unprecedented COVID-19 battle we have all been impacted by, at Towerpoint Wealth, we have continued to proactively work with clients to identify economic opportunities presented by the coronavirus crisis. Specifically, we have identified a “silver economic lining” tax planning strategy this year, one that is designed to take advantage of today’s low income tax rates, which we feel are temporary, while at the same time leave our clients better positioned for tomorrow’s higher income tax rates, which we feel are inevitable.

Below you will find 2020: The Perfect Year for a Roth Conversion, our newly-published white paper that discusses what a “Roth conversion” is, who may benefit from a Roth conversion, why 2020 is a potentially great year to do a Roth conversion, and how to utilize important tax planning tools to evaluate this opportunity.

Graph of the Week

While we obviously need to continue to remain disciplined, and understanding there is still more work to be done, the United States COVID-19 hospitalization numbers below, from Bespoke Investment Group, are encouraging. Less than one person per 10,000 population (or less than 100 people per 1MM population) is currently hospitalized with coronavirus.

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, Jonathan, and Matt

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor
Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

Will Who We Elect Make the Market Correct

It’s right around the corner, and it isn’t going to be pretty, so let’s discuss the election’s impact on the stock market now and get it out of the way.

For a good part of this calendar year, we have counseled you that it is prudent to give advance thought to the range of potential economic, regulatory, taxation, spending, budget deficit, societal, and financial market implications of the national election results, depending on whether Republicans or Democrats win one or more of the White House, the House of Representatives, and the Senate

After Labor Day, the campaign is likely to reflect increased amounts of political vociferousness, perhaps some degree of vehemence, and even apportionments of vitriol (we hope and pray not too much), with the potential to cause meaningful shorter-term shifts in financial asset prices. That is precisely why we recommend forming beforehand, and sticking to, a well-reasoned and disciplined asset allocation plan and investment strategy tailored to your personal and financial circumstances, time horizon, objectives, and temperament.

November 2020: The 59th Quadrennial Presidential Election

September, October, and then, the Election: With the VIX volatility index (see the Graph of the Week below) having risen an average of four points ahead of each of the last seven presidential elections since this measure was created, important issues to consider in the upcoming weeks ahead include:

  • How clearly (and energetically) each political party’s convention message was received, perceived by, and responded to by their respective loyal voter bases;
  • The nation’s reactions to the anticipated three presidential debates and one vice presidential debate;
  • Assessments of the strength of party identification among various segments of the voting population, as well as in the composition of the overall electorate; at the same time, taking into account the ability of each ticket to generate serious backing from less-supportive voter populations; 
  • Which candidate voters (considering demographic attributes, where they live, how they classify themselves on the political spectrum, and other characteristics) think can better confront America’s broad challenges, including the coronavirus pandemic, the economy, social issues, and pressing global concerns;  
  • The effectiveness of voting procedures, trust in mail-in balloting, the degree of putative social media and foreign-based election interference, actual voter participation, and the perceived veracity and legitimacy of the results; and 
  • The potential consequences of prolonged uncertainty associated with a contested election (should it occur) for social order and the financial markets.

Some Implications of Potential Scenarios

Roughly one in five workers are currently receiving jobless benefits, and early expectations of a V-shaped recovery have been hindered by renewed coronavirus outbreaks. Regardless of who wins the 2020 election and in what manner, financial asset valuations appear to be reflecting expectations that whenever the coronavirus pandemic ends, some degree of economic acceleration is likely to take place in the U.S.

As we have counseled for some time, it is important to devote thought and attention to the taxation, regulatory, economic, asset allocation, and investment strategy implications of the three leading potential electoral outcomes outlined below (while noting that both political parties have expressed interest in promoting the development of generic drugs, lowering drug prices, and containing healthcare costs; and the two parties have also been focusing on antitrust, platform liability, and privacy issues relating to many of America’s biggest technology enterprises):

  1. If President Trump is re-elected and wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Republicans keep control of the Senate, such an outcome would likely favor securities in the following sectors: technology, defense, finance, healthcare, and energy, while potentially putting pressure on sectors and companies that could be harmed by further deterioration in  U.S-China relations;
  2. If Vice President Biden wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Republicans keep control of the Senate, such an outcome would likely favor companies and sectors that would be deemed to have thereby avoided increased taxes and a heavier regulatory burden;
  3. If Vice President Biden wins the White House, Democrats keep control of the House of Representatives, and Democrats take control of the Senate(sometimes referred to in the media as a “blue wave”), such results would substantially raise the odds of higher taxes. Offsets to the latter outcome could come in the form of substantial additional spending on infrastructure, education, and healthcare. Securities in the following sectors, among others, are perceived to be disadvantaged by a “blue wave” Democratic sweep: defense, healthcare, financials (via increased regulation) and energy (with expectations of restricting fracking and limiting drilling on federal lands in Texas/New Mexico’s Delaware Basin and Southeast Montana/Northeast Wyoming’s Powder River Basin), while giving a lift to sectors and companies that could be helped by improving U.S-China relations.

The Pre- and Post-Election Tax and Spending Outlook

As shown in the panel below, the current taxation and spending policy positions of Vice President Biden contain numerous base-broadening elements that increase taxes by approximately $4 trillion, while increasing spending to the tune of approximately $6 trillion in areas including healthcare, infrastructure, education, energy research, and other initiatives.

Released on Wednesday, July 9, the 110-page report of the Unity Task Forces (created and staffed by individuals designated by Vice President Joe Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders) contains a detailed set of policy recommendations in six domestic policy areas: 

  1. Health care (while not supporting Medicare for All, the report proposes a public option, a government-administered plan “like Medicare” that would be available to all Americans; on drug pricing, the report recommends appointing a government board to set prices that Medicare would pay for new drugs);
  2. The economy (with $400 billion pledged for procurement of domestically made goods and $300 billion to support high-tech research);
  3. Climate change (here, a total of $2.0 trillion over four years is earmarked to shift millions of jobs into clean energy, with the goal of cutting emissions from power generation to zero by 2030, having net zero emissions by 2050, and introducing new fuel-economy standards);
  4. Criminal justice (proposing reforms to law enforcement and policing practices);
  5. Education (including universal preschool for three- and four-year-olds, at a cost of $775 billion over a decade), and 
  6. Immigration (proposing to end travel restrictions against 13 countries, and to maintain protections from deportation for approximately 700,000 young immigrants known as “Dreamers”).

Should Vice President Biden win the White House, financial asset prices in general, as well as specific industries and companies, are likely to be affected by the speed and degree to which the new Administration and Congress (whose degree of support depends on which party controls the House of Representatives and which party controls the Senate) might be able to implement priorities in these and other areas.

For further granularity, the following panel sets forth eight elements of personal taxes and four elements of corporate taxes: (i) under the current U.S. tax regime, which would not currently be expected to change much under President Trump (although the President has endorsed the idea of payroll tax reductions; tweeted about a potential capital gains cut; and vowed to extend the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which capped the so-called SALT (State and Local Tax) deduction at $10,000); and (ii) as currently outlined as taxation policy under a Biden administration.

Given that the process of turning taxation proposals into law takes time, it is likely to be at least June 2021 for new tax legislation to be enacted. On several aspects of tax planning (including the timing and forms of income and expenditures; tax gain-loss harvesting; and retirement, estate, and gifting strategies), it may be sensible to postpone any major moves until a judicious assessment can be made of the makeup of the post-election government and its specifically-expressed legislative agenda.

Regardless of the fireworks, and ultimate outcome, of the election, we will always believe that good, well-run, profitable companies will remain good, well-run, profitable companies, independent of a Trump or Biden win.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Happy to have him aboard, contributing, and part of the Towerpoint Wealth family, the TPW team has been indoctrinating Matt Regan, a.k.a. “the new guy,” over the past two weeks:

Our new Wealth Advisor, Matt Regan, connected with our President, Joseph Eschleman, and our Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner, for an enjoyable business lunch at the historic Sutter Club in downtown Sacramento earlier this week.

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, and his wife, Megan Eschleman, hosted Matt and his lovely wife Alyssa for an enjoyable evening of tri-tip, corn on the cob, chicken skewers, and Frank Familycabernet.

TPW Service Highlight – Social Security Optimization

Many investors are not prepared for retirement, and have not properly planned for how to structure their post-retirement income. With the popularity and availability of pension plans quickly waning, and rock bottom interest rates making it difficult to derive enough interest income from bonds, the importance of Social Security has never been greater.

Through careful planning and the development and utilization of a custom Social Security optimization analysis, our aim at Towerpoint Wealth is to help our clients structure a plan to ensure that they are not leaving any money on table when it comes to their Social Security benefits. According to the Annual Statistical Supplement to the Social Security Bulletin, 70% (!) of all retired workers started taking benefits before their normal retirement age. For some this may make sense, but for many, this will result in the forfeiture of tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime.

Let us help you scientifically analyze the myriad of Social Security claiming strategies available to you, and develop a customized plan to ensure you have properly maximized this hugely important retirement income benefit.

Graph of the Week

The market anticipates some pretty incredible fireworks (as we probably all do) leading up to November’s elections. With Joe Biden’s lead over President Trump drifting lower since the late summer, there is now even more expected volatility around Election Day, and things almost assuredly will only heat up further as we get closer to November.

The graph below reflects the historical activity and pricing of the VIX, a popular index that measures future stock market volatility, used by investors to hedge against it. Currently, November’s election is the most expensive event risk on record. With many more absentee and mail-in ballots expected to be cast in this election, the possibility certainly exists that we do not know who the winner is on Wednesday, November 4.

Quoting Cameron Crise, Bloomberg macro strategist, “In the history of VIX futures contracts, we’ve never had an event risk command this sort of premium… That obviously suggests that markets anticipate some pretty incredible fireworks.”

Don’t say you haven’t been warned, keep your seatbelt firmly buckled, and most importantly, don’t be surprised nor overreact to the upcoming craziness!

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, Jonathan, and Matt

Towerpoint Wealth Team : Sacramento Financial Advisor
Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

President Joseph Eschleman Cited As Expert

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, recently penned a white paper for Towerpoint Wealth that discussed 14 different strategies to consider during the coronavirus crisis. Joseph was cited as an expert by MutualFunds.com for his work and content on the subject, who published his commentary on their website on June 11.

Towerpoint Wealth No Comments

24 Karat Shine or Pyrite for Your Portfolio?

By: Nathan Billigmeier, Director of Research and Analytics 

From ancient civilizations to modern society, humans have always had a fascination with gold. The yellow metal has been used as currency, as jewelry, and incorporated within various other industrial applications. Gold also helped shape United States history when it was discovered in the Sacramento Valley in 1848 sparking the California Gold Rush. But does it belong in your investment portfolio? We will discuss some of the benefits and drawbacks below. 

1) Store of Value

Famed financier J.P. Morgan once stated, “Gold is money, everything else is just credit.” This quote strikes at the core of the “gold as a store of value” argument. But what exactly is a store of value and what qualifies gold to be viewed as such? 

By definition, a store of value is an asset that maintains its value without depreciating. Gold’s ability to maintain wealth by preserving purchasing power has been well documented. Civilizations throughout history have turned to gold as a means of exchange as well as a hedge against currency devaluation. 

Gold’s finite supply also helps boost its appeal as a store of value. To date, all the gold mined throughout history would fit into two and a half Olympic-sized swimming pools. According to the US Geological Survey (USGS), approximately 187,000 metric tons of gold has been mined in total, with 57,000 metric tons remaining underground. 

Critics of gold state that it is an antiquated means of exchange with little utility or industrial application, outside of jewelry, and should therefore not be considered a store of value. Specific to utility, their argument could be viewed as valid. But what gold lacks in utility, it makes up for in investor psychology. Humans have long placed value in gold. While this value may very well be due to its historical reputation, until this connection is broken, gold will remain one of the primary assets used to preserve wealth 

2) Low Correlation to Other Investments

One key aspect of a properly diversified portfolio is owning investments that have a low correlation to each other. What does this mean, and why is it important? Correlation is a numeric value from -1 to +1. The closer that two different investments are to having a +1 correlation, the higher the likelihood their respective market values will move in tandem with each another. Vice versa is true for investments with a -1 correlation. Investments with a correlation of 0 are completely unrelated, meaning the price movement of one has no relation to the price movement of the other.For longer-term investors, it is important to have the correlation between the various asset classes (read: stocks, bonds, alternatives, cash, etc.) held in their portfolio be as close to zero as possible. This allows investors to better manage the risk of their portfolio and increases the likelihood that the share price of investments held in different asset classes will not move in the same direction in response to current economic and market trends. 

Gold is a unique asset in that it has a low, or sometimes even negative correlation to the other primary asset classes typically included in a properly diversified portfolio. In fact, as you can see from the above graph, it tends to have a negative correlation to US equities, hence sometimes being described as a “flight to quality” asset. 

3)Portfolio Insurance

Just as you purchase home or auto insurance to protect your assets against unforeseen events, you should consider doing the same with your investment portfolio. As recent events have shown us, market and economic crises can and do happen. 

Given its negative correlation to US equities, gold can provide needed insulation to your portfolio, helping it to better absorb these inevitable pullbacks. While it will not completely offset equity losses, gold can help reduce volatility and provide “downside insulation” to a portfolio. 

As the chart below shows, with the exception of two instances, the 1997 Asian financial crisis and 2013’s “Taper Tantrum,” gold has achieved positive returns during times of equity unrest. It also has a tendency to outperform US Treasuries during these downturns, which many view as another safe haven asset. 

4) But What About Income? 

Gold is not without its faults. One of the main arguments against gold ownership is the lack of a dividend or interest payment and the fact it has little to no industrial production value. 

One of the most famous investors in the world, Warren Buffet, is an outspoken critic of gold ownership for these very reasons. He has been quoted as saying, 

“Gold gets dug out of the ground in Africa, or someplace. Then we melt it down, dig another hole, bury it and pay people to stand around guarding it. It has no utility. Anyone watching from Mars would be scratching their head.” 

…and Mr. Buffett would be correct. Gold has little to no real economic utility, does not generate sustainable cash flow, and does not pay a dividend. 

What it does offer is relative stability and the potential for price appreciation. During turbulent economic times when company cash flows decline and dividends are cut or reduced, gold tends to shine, as investors try to preserve capital and fear the inevitable stimulus measures taken by central banks and/or government could stoke inflation and decrease the purchasing power of their currency.

More recently, financial markets have also been grappling with historically low interest rates, with some countries even experimenting with negative interest rates (i.e. investors paying the government interest, instead of receiving it, when owning government-issued bonds). This has significantly lowered the opportunity cost of owning gold (which pays no interest) versus owning government-issued bonds (which pay interest) as investors look for safety during times of market unease. Gold has been a direct beneficiary as the declining interest rate trend has gained steam, particularly in countries issuing bonds with negative interest rates. Why would an investor choose to pay interest to own a government bond when they could own gold instead, achieving the similar end goal of capital preservation? 

4) What happened to gold with the COVID-19

COVID-19 market pullback in March of 2020, gold suffered sizable declines along with equities. In fact, it suffered its largest weekly decline since 1983 while equities dipped into bear market territory in a record-shattering 20 days. Doesn’t this fly in the face of all the previous arguments for owning gold?

It depends on what you believe. Some have argued that the declines in the price of gold, at the exact same time equities were dropping precipitously, debunks the theory that gold should be viewed as a safe haven asset during times of market turmoil. Especially coupled with the fact that US Treasury bonds and the US dollar remained strong throughout the collapse in equity prices.

Proponents of gold have argued that the price decline the metal suffered in March, 2020 was due to the rapid shock the US economy experienced as virtually all of us entered lockdown. This forced many investors to raise cash as rapidly as possible, and gold, being a very liquid asset, provided easy access to needed cash. These proponents would challenge that the price of gold acted similarly during the 2008/2009 financial crisis before ultimately touching all-time highs, not too different to what has happened over the last three months. 

By analyzing the above chart, we are able to see that initially gold did maintain its strength as equities began to move lower. As the equity losses accelerated, gold prices declined before beginning a steady march higher prior to the March 23 low in equity prices. This does lend credence to the claim by gold “bulls” that the metal was used as a source of cash by investors during the selloff, and in doing so, helped them limit their losses.

In Summary

While critics may remain unconvinced, it is hard to deny that gold has maintained its luster throughout history as a go-to asset during times of uncertainty. Its ability to provide ballast to a portfolio allows your longer-term financial goals to remain upright and on course. We are by no means advocating that investors transition 100% of their assets into gold. However, we feel that a modest allocation of 3-7% in gold does have a place in a properly diversified investment portfolio. 

How Can We Help? 

At Towerpoint Wealth, we are a legal fiduciary to you, and embrace the professional obligation we have to work in your best interests 100% of the time. If you would like to discuss your circumstances further, we encourage you to call (916-405-9170) or email (nbilligmeier@towerpointwealth.com) to open an objective dialogue. 

Sacramento Wealth Management Nathan Billigmeier Director of Research and Analytics

Nathan Billigmeier Director of Research and Analytics 

Towerpoint Wealth, LLC is a Registered Investment Adviser. This material is solely for informational purposes. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Towerpoint Wealth, LLC and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. Past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Investing involves risk and possible loss of principal capital. No advice may be rendered by Towerpoint Wealth, LLC unless a client service agreement is in place