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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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Hope for Immunity in Our Community? 03.12.2021

A year ago yesterday, on March 11, 2020, the WHO officially declared COVID-19 to be a global pandemic. Later that night, the NBA pulled the plug on two scheduled games (including the Pelicans/Kings game here in Sacramento), and then immediately suspended its season after Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell both tested positive for the disease:

NBA Immunity

The battle against coronavirus has unquestionably been a difficult, painful, arduous, and seemingly constant one over the past 12 months, with the underlying question constantly on everyone’s mind: “When will we reopen and get back to normal?” And while we are by no means at the finish line yet, at Towerpoint Wealth we believe we are much closer to the end of the pandemic than we are to the beginning of it.

Why the hope? We will let the visuals support a number of key reasons for our optimism:

Huge declines in COVID-19 cases, deaths, and hospitalizations

Widespread vaccine distribution

Extreme fiscal stimulus

Measured re-opening of the economy

Pending herd immunity

At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe it is also time to look forward, without letting our guard down, with expanding optimism and appreciation for what the future holds. Understanding we will always remain pragmatic, and avoid cockeyed optimism, we do believe that the marathon is almost at its conclusion.

What’s Happening at TPW?

Our lovely Director of Operations, Lori Heppner, along with her Bella. 🙂

Our Partner, Wealth Advisor, Jonathan LaTurner, spent a few days last month in Tulum, Mexico, doing some wedding venue due diligence with his bride-to-be, Katie McDonald. Yes, we’re all very jealous of you two, walking Tulum Beach and both looking great!

TPW Service Highlight – Charitable Giving

It used to be (and still can be) as simple as writing a check and mailing it off to your favorite charity. However, simply giving cash may not be the best, nor the most beneficial or impactful, way to be philanthropic. Fortunately, today’s donors have a myriad of gifting strategies that can increase the economic benefits of their gifts, both for the charity, as well as for you.

From charitable remainder trusts, charitable lead trusts, and private foundations, to donor advised and pooled income funds, and from IRA qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) to charitable gift annuities, there are many options for those who are inclined towards philanthropy. Determining which charitable strategy is best for your personal circumstances can be challenging, and as experts in this field, we stand ready to help you better understand the advantages and disadvantages of each as we develop the most appropriate gifting strategy for you. Click HERE to talk more with us about your philanthropic intent and charitable gifting plan.

Issuance of Amended 2020 Form 1099s – Don’t File Too Early!

Have you received your 2020 Form 1099s in the mail or via email? Have you already received amendments to your original 1099s? Scroll down to read a newly-published report authored by our Director of Tax and Financial Planning, Steve Pitchford, to find out why we recommend NOT actually filing your tax return until early April!

The Frustrations of Form 1099 | It's Tax Time

Chart of the Week

It’s not unusual to see -2%, -5%, and even -10% pullbacks in the stock market. Frankly, we should *expect* them to happen, remain objective and not worry about them when they do, and have a plan and the flexibility to make tactical portfolio adjustments to take advantage of them when they occur.

Trending Today

In addition to shots and stocks, 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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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

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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
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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