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Will Today’s Inflation Lead to Your Portfolio’s Devastation? 08.13.2021

Have you tried to rent a car lately?

Car Rental Rates Inflation This Year

Inflation Chart 2021

Go out to eat?

Going Out To Eat Inflation Chart 2021

Inflation Chart This Year

Take an Uber or Lyft?

Taking An Uber Inflation Chart 2021

As our economy continues to open up after massive lockdowns, there is no question we are feeling the effects of inflation.

Now at a 13 year high, the overall measure of CPI for the month of July matched the highest reading of headline CPI since 2008 – an estimated rise of 5.4% over last year!

What does inflation mean? Is inflation good or bad?

How can inflation affect interest rates? All important questions, especially in the current environment of rising prices that we find ourselves in.

Opinion remains divided on whether consumer and producer price inflation rates will be “transitory” or “enduring” in the months ahead, and at Towerpoint Wealth, we believe the jury is still out in terms of arriving at a definitive conclusion. Putting aside our skepticism about the ability of experts to accurately predict the future, a late June, 2021 survey of 52 economists found that 70% estimated the likelihood of inflation exceeding 3% in 2022 to be “somewhat unlikely” or “very unlikely.”

Economists expect Fed To Keep Inflation Under Control

The answers to the questions “What does inflation mean?” and “Is inflation good or bad” can be succinctly summarized like this:

  1. Inflation erodes purchasing power, as it represents a decrease in the purchasing power of a currency due to a rise in prices
  2. Inflation encourages spending and investing, as people buy and invest now, rather than later
  3. Inflation raises the cost of borrowing, as interest rates tend to increase when inflation occurs (good for savers, bad for borrowers)
  4. Inflation reduces unemployment, as unemployment falls, employers are forced to pay more for workers, and as wages rise, consumers tend to spend more
  5. Inflation increases growth, as consumers and businesses have an incentive to spend and invest today, rather than tomorrow, when prices are assumedly higher

Before the pandemic, inflation had been in a secular decline since the 1970’s:

Secular Decline Inflation Inflation Good Or Bad

Clearly 2021 has been different, and at least for the time being, this secular decline is over. Understanding that inflation is an important force that can dictate the performance and stability of an economy, we have our fingers crossed that the “slow and steady” inflationary environment of the past three decades returns, subsequent to our economy continuing to normalize after the roller coaster it has been on since March of last year.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Our Client Service Specialist, Michelle Venezia, moved from crabbing to clubbing while on her Norwegian Cruise Line cruise through Alaskan waters earlier this month, with Ketchikan being the port of call!


You look great in both photos Michelle, glad to see you having so much fun on your vacation!

Michelle Norwegian Cruise Line Towerpoint Wealth
Michelle Norwegian Cruise Line Towerpoint Wealth

Alaska has definitely been the theme at Towerpoint Wealth, as our Director of Tax and Financial Planning, Steve Pitchford, went on an epic adventure with his partner, Katie, touring and hiking through Denali National Park and Preserve late last month!

Alaska Trip Director of Tax and Financial Planning Steve Pitchford Fun
Alaska Trip Director of Tax and Financial Planning Steve Pitchford & Katie Fun

Illustrations/Graphs of the Week

Think long term. Patience pays…

Patience With Inflation This Year What Inflation Means

Broken record – think long term – patience pays! How to Build Wealth

How To Build Wealth Towerpoint Sacramento Financial Advisor

Trending Today

As the 24/7 news cycle churns, twists, and turns, there have been a number of trending and notable events that have occurred over the past few weeks:

Click here to Download

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 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

Towerpoint Wealth Sacramento Independent Financial Advisor
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“Will the Big Blue Wave Leave You Money to Save?”

It seems ridiculous in times like these to write a newsletter about finances and money, but we feel it is our responsibility at Towerpoint Wealth to do so, even if only to provide some respite from politics to our growing family of readers and Trending Today subscribers. We have heard from a few clients that, for a number of good reasons, you already feel like this: 

And while we understand that it has been a tumultuous week, let’s not be too quick to throw in the towel on 2021!


2020 ended with a record close for both the the S&P 500 (3,756.07, representing a +16.3% price gain for the year) and the Dow Jones Industrial Average (30,606.48, representing a +7.2% price gain for the year). So far in 2021, equity prices have continued their upward trend, even with concerns including:

  1. The economic implications of the Democratic wins in both Georgia Senate runoff elections and the tumultuous events in our nation’s capital on January 6th
  2. The likely trajectory of a resurgent third coronavirus wave
  3. Expectations of additional public health-driven economic restrictions and/or lockdowns
  4. A deflation of the currently high levels of investor optimism
  5. Growing levels of speculative activity in some quarters of the market (high volumes of options trading, a robust IPO calendar, and the popularity of cryptocurrencies)  
  6. An interval of market consolidation following such an annus mirabilis as investors have experienced over the past 12 months in the financial markets.

While recognizing the cogency and reality of these concerns, at Towerpoint Wealth we have maintained an essentially constructive view of equity prices, based upon the following factors:

  • Continuing monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve, with ultra-low policy interest rates and $120 billion per month in “Quantitative Easing” money printing, augmented by significant growth in the M-2 money supply, which tends to produce a stimulative environment for consumer prices, GDP, and financial assets (as shown below, over the past year, the U.S. M-2 money supply has increased at +25.2%, the highest rate of growth in four decades!);

Although we believe stock valuations are elevated and investor optimism is high, equity prices were well aware of and already somewhat discounting the possibility of the outcome of the Georgia Senatorial runoff elections tilting Democratic. Additionally, after a possible short-term pullback/correction, the stock market can continue to move higher, with extra caution and care called for, and perhaps even with some cash raised that can stand ready to be invested on a disciplined basis during a market retrenchment.

Implications of the Georgia Senatorial Elections

In our opinion, assuming no defections from party lines, a Democrat-controlled Senate appears likely to produce:

  1. Higher Taxes: Tax increases may not necessarily materialize to the degree that markets may have feared earlier, given that the Senate is likely to feature essentially a 50-50 Democratic-Republican tie — with Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in a position to cast a tie-breaking vote in favor of the Democrats, and with Senator Joseph Manchin III (D, WV) and/or others possibly voting to weaken or reject the tax increases. With some delays and/or dilutions, higher corporate, payroll, income, capital gains, and estate taxes may eventually be on the horizon for many taxpayers (the proposed levies in the Democratic platform amount to $4 trillion, with something in the neighborhood of half that amount deemed likely to be passed). The essential tie in political power in Congress may limit the extent of any changes in tax policy, and an important consideration to be kept in mind is the effective date of any tax increases, including the possible likelihood of retroactivity to January 1st, 2021. 
  2. More Spending: With proposed spending increases amounting to $7 trillion stretched out over a decade, the new Administration favors entitlement expansion, healthcare, climate, and green infrastructure initiatives (to accelerate the use of clean energy in the power sector, building construction, and transit); hiking the minimum hourly wage to $15 (which could support household incomes and augment growth in consumption); housing; education; and infrastructure. President-elect Biden has several times expressed support for drug price reforms. 
  3. Increased Regulation: Through job appointments, executive action, and legislation where feasible, the Biden administration may favor increased restraints on the financial sector and some portions of the healthcare sector, with continued antitrust and market dominance scrutiny applied toward mega-cap technology and social media companies. Statements by President-elect Biden have indicated that his administration might limit pipeline approvals and curtail drilling activity on federal lands.
  4. Spotlight on Relations with the Judiciary: Although we deem such actions unlikely, President-elect Biden may possibly favor certain proposals from within his party to attempt to curtail the Supreme Court’s authority over specific laws by attempting to: (i) impose term limits; (ii) expand the size of the Court; or (iii) through legislative action, divest the Court of its authority over contentious social issues (referred to in academic circles as “jurisdiction stripping”). Any proposed limitation of the Supreme Court’s own powers will very likely spark intense and determined pushback via lawsuits by the Supreme Court as well as by battling parties on either side of the issues involved. 

“Blue Wave” Affected Sectors

Democratic control of the White House, the House of Representatives, and (even if by the narrowest of margins) the Senate (a so-called “blue wave”) could be deemed favorable to large managed-care organizations, renewable energy firms, and the ESG space (companies reflecting and/or supporting Environmental, Social, and Governance initiatives and ideals). Other perceived sectoral beneficiaries of a “blue wave” include, among others: the weakening of the U.S. dollar versus foreign currencies; tax-exempt state and local government municipal bonds; high-yield bonds, small-cap stocks; construction and engineering, manufacturing, materials, industrial machinery, and related firms focusing on the U.S. transportation, maritime, and aviation infrastructure; renewable energy (including wind farms, solar projects, and high-voltage direct current transmission facilities); healthcare equipment and supplies; and cannabis-related companies.

Sectors perceived to be less favorably affected by a slim-margin “blue wave” include: large firms that benefited from the 2017 corporate tax cuts; large-cap pharmaceutical stocks; content liability-protected social network companies (currently shielded by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act); dominant technology antitrust targets; the oil and gas sector; tobacco companies; aerospace and defense firms; health insurance companies; student loan servicing companies, asset managers, credit rating firms, and stock exchange operators; precious metals and precious metals mining shares; and labor-intensive enterprises sensitive to minimum wage increases (e.g., retail and grocery companies, restaurant and fast food chains, for-hire ride-sharing companies, and courier and package delivery firms).

What’s Happening at TPW?

Our Director of Research and Analytics, Nathan Billigmeier, and Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner, slipped away yesterday to play a round of golf at the #1 public golf course in America, Pebble Beach Golf Links!

Our President, Joseph Eschleman, found a good (albeit chilly) lockdown activity to do with his family last week, watching The Croods: A New Age at the West Wind Drive-In in Sacramento!

TPW Service Highlight – Client Family and Culture

In addition to providing them with the economic peace of mind that comes with the suite of comprehensive wealth management services we provide, as “family members” Towerpoint Wealth clients have also come to expect us to host regular, fun, and unique client appreciation and education events, which we happily deliver on. If you aren’t currently a client, here is what you have been missing out on (!):

Chart of the Week

As mentioned above, the news yesterday of the Democrats taking control of the Senate led investors to believe that the government will boost fiscal stimulus, which would in theory boost consumption and economic growth, and in turn, inflation.

The chart below compares the relative performance of stocks that benefit from inflation (blue) vs. those that benefit from deflation (black).

Trending Today

In addition to history making and money making, a number of trending and notable events have occurred over the past few weeks:

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

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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
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Reaching First Base AFTER Shelter-In-Place

As we trend towards gaining back the freedoms we surrendered in the name of saving lives and flattening the curve, the slow unwind of sheltering-in-place is beginning:

We are continuing to witness the COVID-19 pandemic re-order virtually every industry in the world, and concurrently, many aspects of our formerly “normal” lifestyles. And as we have adapted to today’s slower lifestyle and “new normal,” we have been reminded of just how important our homes have become – as a safe haven, a de facto schoolhouse, an impromptu remote office, and a warm family nest. However, as much as we have learned (a bit forcibly) to love being at home, and as integral as home has been in this new normal, most of us would agree that being at home this much has gotten a little long-in-the-tooth.

There are many more chapters yet to be written about the COVID-19 crisis, and as much as we love our “warm family nests,” this next chapter in the story is one that we all have been anxiously awaiting – the safe and sturdy return to shared communal life, outside of our homes.

As the dawn of the decline of the shutdown approaches, we are all eager to regain the ability to step outside our homes and see friends and family again, to shop at our favorite stores, to eat at our favorite restaurants, and yes, to trade in our trusty sweat pants for our favorite work attire as we begin to head back to work. But make no mistake about it, what our lives will look like as summer approaches will be markedly different that the way we lived our life in February. A “new normal” is upon us, and being adaptable, and socially, economically, and physically aware, is paramount.

A summary of our views:

  • We are all working more hours now than before the COVID-19 outbreak – expect it to continue
  • Companies will begin bringing employees back to work over the next two to six weeks, with strategies for doing so being differentiated and customized based on geography and industry
  • People are starving for connection, and content, and while we yearn for and need physical connection with each other, the transformation of digital communications and social media has been monumental
  • We are optimistic that, as a country, we can and will find the right balance between a compassionate and pragmatic democracy
  • Debt, both personal and governmental, will finally become a central economic and political theme
  • Public confidence levels are quite low, but the condition will be temporary as we continue to learn about the virus and make irregular progress in defeating it
  • Serious concerns surrounding public transportation will lead to a longer timeline for people getting back to work in larger cities
  • We are not planning to see even the possibility for a COVID-19 vaccineuntil mid-2021, at the absolute earliest
  • If there is a significant resurgence in COVID-19 cases this fall, the fatigue of the situation will be extremely painful and we could retest market lows
  • The crisis has been devastating to lower income families, and could cause further longer-term disparity and danger to their well-being
  • Expect taxes to increase, regardless of who wins the 2020 presidential election, as our massive stimulus programs need to be paid for
  • Crises accelerate trends, and there will be larger moves in businesstowards technology, consolidation, and outsourcing, with less need for real estate
  • A New Deal-like infrastructure program will be a central component in additional Federal stimulus borrowing and spending

On a much lighter note, and for anyone who is a fan of Billy Joel (who isn’t?), click HERE (or below) to spend four minutes listening to/watching a VERY entertaining “social distance-sing project” where the Phoenix Chamber Choir performs The Longest Time – the adapted lyrics and instruments are great!

Tragically, some have lost loved ones during this time, and we acknowledge that will change life for them even on the upside of this pandemic. But for most of us, these times of separation will pass and we will be back together, in person, with those we have been missing. 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

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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 : If you wait for the robins, spring will be over.

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