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Can You Keep Your Poise and Tune Out the Noise?

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

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

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

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

Excellent illustration courtesy of Napkin Finance

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

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

What’s Happening at Towerpoint Wealth?

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

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

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

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

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

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Special Coronavirus Alert – Stock Market Pullback

What happened? A little more than a week ago, on February 19, the S&P 500 closed at a record high of 3,386.16. Yesterday, it closed at 3,128.21, suffering a brutal -7.6%decline in only four days, and turning negative for all of 2020. Since last Wednesday’s high, $2.138 trillion of stock market value has been erased. And we all know the reason why – fears about the current COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) outbreak.

Clearly the spreading virus has sent shockwaves through the global financial markets, as declines of this magnitude are by no means ordinary, especially after the stock market just hit an all-time high. Understandably, all anyone can seem to think about right now are the potential negatives of the coronavirus emerging in the U.S. and in other major economies; however, we are confident that eventually the bad news will give way, positives will emerge, and today’s worst placed fears will not come to fruition. Considerations:

  1. There will ultimately be a vaccine, as there is already a drug that will combat COVID-19 moving toward first phase clinical trials. And as a testament to advances in drug technology, it took only three months in 2020 for this to happen, versus 20 months for SARS back in 2002-2003
  2. According to Worldometer, there have been 30,597 coronavirus cases with an outcome (2,699 deaths and 27,898 recoveries). The total active cases now stand at 49,923, a drop of 15% from the peak on February 17.

While one death is too many, let’s put these numbers into perspective: According to the World Health Organization, just in the US alone for the ’19-’20 Flu season, there have been 15,000,000 flu illnesses, 140,000 hospitalizations, and 8,200 deaths. Imagine if everyone with an internet connection followed the spread of the annual flu, case-by-case, hour-by-hour…

We are by no means cockeyed optimists here at Towerpoint Wealth, and we fully understand that equity markets react unpredictably to the unknown. However, we also recognize that historically, Wall Street’s reaction to epidemics and fast-moving diseases is often short-lived, and we feel that today’s current coronavirus fears will be no different. At Towerpoint Wealth, we believe it is not “if” but “when” the markets recover; and that is likely to be when investors believe the impulse of new coronavirus cases has peaked.

Additionally, we firmly believe the US consumer is on solid footing and will continue to be one of the key drivers of US economic growth in 2020. Some have suggested that the 1918 Spanish Flu, which killed hundreds of thousands in the US, could happen again. And despite the severity of the 1918 event, the relatively small amount of research done on the economic effects of that pandemic indicate that they were short term. We all recognize that the US rebounded from the Spanish Flu when all was said and done, and 2020 is certainly not 1918. Technology and medicine are light years ahead of where they were a century ago, and news today is now instantaneous. We suspect that any drop in corporate earnings and economic activity will be short-lived, and more than made up for over the remainder of the year to come.

Put differently, it is not time to hit the panic button. Stay invested, systematically rebalance your portfolio, remain disciplined and faithful to your plan and investment philosophy.

If after reading this you continue to have concerns, and/or do not currently have a thoughtful financial and investment plan or strategy in place, please message us (info@towerpointwealth.com) to talk further. The world continues to be an extremely complicated place. We are here for you, and look forward to connecting with, helping, and being a direct, fully independent, and objective expert financial resource for you.

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