As you read in our newsletter earlier this week, our team made the move on Tuesday to work from home. We are fully operational and have team huddles via video conference. We want to thank all the clients who have reached out to tell us they are ok. We love hearing from you! We are also so grateful that each and everyone one of you has checked in on us, we really appreciate it.
Be sure to follow our Facebook and Instagram pages. Today we debut the first “Sarah’s Book Club” video, a discussion of recent events and how they affect the chapters of your life. This week Sarah is also going to give you an idea of how to spend your time at home with a demo of starting seeds for a vegetable garden. Be sure to tune in!
WHAT HAPPENED THIS WEEK? A lot! Let’s dig in.
THE FED FUNDS RATE
The Federal Reserve has cut the Fed Funds rate to 0% and will increase asset purchases by $700 billion in the latest effort to boost confidence and liquidity in the financial system.
What does that mean?
• The Fed Funds Rate is a benchmark for setting interest rates. It allows banks to borrow at lower rates and meet reserve requirements, necessary for liquidity.
• A decrease in rates is intended to stimulate the economy through lower interest lending and increased consumer spending. What is the downside?
• For conservative investors it means declining yields, or income.
• Long term it stirs up inflationary concerns and many others, but since the Fed is thinking short term this is a necessary move.
2019 TAX FILING DELAYED
The government announced today that the Federal Income tax return filing deadline has been extended to July 15th, no interest or penalties. Announced yesterday, Indiana State income tax returns have delayed the filing date to July 15th, 2020. Please reach out to your tax advisor for how this affects you.
COVID-19 RESPONSE BILL
We expect this to be an ever-changing landscape as the impact of Coronavirus is realized but here’s what we know so far:
- Free testing. Free testing for everyone who needs a COVID-19 test, including the uninsured. Additional funds are appropriated for states to cover costs for Medicaid patients.
- Unemployment assistance. Additional funding for states that experience a 10% increase in unemployment. This is the first in what we expect multiple efforts to provide additional state and local funding. Funding is estimated at $1 billion.
- Food assistance. $900 million in nutrition assistance will be provided for students who are out of school and assistance for food banks and seniors. Work requirements for certain food benefits are suspended during the pandemic.
- Paid sick leave.
- Expanded Family and Medical Leave (FMLA).
- Healthcare worker protections.
- Up to $1,200 for a single filer, $2,400 for joint, $500 for each child
- Phase out begins for AGI of $75,000 single, $150,000 for joint
- Based on 2018 tax return
There is also much discussion regarding the suspension of foreclosures for homeowners and evictions for renters, along with utility bill payment relief. Be sure you understand what resources are available to you.
RAYMOND JAMES HEALTH CARE POLICY ANALYST
Raymond James Health Care Policy analyst Chris Meekins shares 4 response scenarios, with two of the four having the highest odds.
- The “Stop Everything” scenario: a shut down of all non-essential activities, individuals stay home! In this case, we could see a peak in new cases by approximately late April but only if implemented soon. In this scenario, equities may be near the low now.
- The “Eventually We Get It” Scenario if the country takes longer to implement Scenario 1, with the public ignoring warnings until the death rate ticks up. Then moving to the “Stop Everything” scenario could see new cases could continue to peak until Memorial Day.
- If we follow one of these two, the economy can start to directionally show signs of recovery by the Fall and into back half of the year.
So this could be viewed as a buying opportunity for long term investors, but be patient as the number of new cases accelerates in the short term. We are watching buying opportunities closely but feel it is critical that our communities act swiftly to stem the spread of COVID-19.
FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS
The Federal Government has temporarily waived all interest on Federal student loans and borrowers can suspend payments for at least the next 60 days.
The news changes daily and we encourage you to stay alert and apply changes to your personal situation. Then take a break! Watch Sarah’s Book Club then get out and dig in the dirt, it is scientifically proven to boost your mood and immunity. You can thank us for your delicious tomatoes later!
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Review your budget in detail and ensure you have reserve funds necessary. If you face potential job loss or income decline, know your resources and how it will affect your household.
- With low interest rates you may consider a mortgage refinance or debt consolidation. There are many factors to consider with this evaluation so be sure to give us a call to discuss.
- If you have student loan debt, be sure to understand what type of loan you have and how your payments are affected.
- Have a plan for how you will use Recovery Funds. Pay off a credit card? Put into savings? Donate to a business or non-profit?
- Consider a Roth IRA conversion. Give us a call to discuss!
We want to reassure everyone that there is not a basic needs supply issue. The general public is treating this pandemic like a weather event, preparing for a hurricane or snowstorm, because that’s what we know. Grocers are confirming that there is supply, it takes time to transport and stock shelves. Be patient and take a true use inventory in your home.
WHERE TO BE CAUTIOUS
- Please be diligent about scammers right now! People are receiving utility shut off notices and even having scammers come to the door. If it feels off, then trust your gut and call a family member or call us.
- A word of caution for everyone who continues to travel at this time. International air travel has already been severely restricted, you will likely not be able to get back into the US if you leave. Canada and Mexico have agreed to suspend all non-essential travel, all borders will be closed as of midnight tonight. We also ask you to think about future restrictions domestically that may restrict your ability to return home or your ability to receive healthcare. We know it’s hard to miss out on a vacation, but we urge you to reconsider your plans and reschedule for a later date. It can make a difference to your community in stemming the spread and preserving resources for those who critically need it.
- Selling low or panic selling. There is an urge to stop the losses but what really happens when you sell is that you lock in those losses and forfeit the ability to recover with the market. Statistically, if you missed the best 60 days out of the last 20 years, your average investment returns would be negative versus staying invested. We know it’s hard to hear “do nothing,” or to “stay the course.” This isn’t empty advice. Markets recover but that’s always easier to accept in hindsight.
We get it, this is painful. But we have experienced down markets and contracted economies before and every time have said, “this time is different.” We believe that ingenuity and resolve of individuals and corporations will find a way to rebound. If you have questions about your personal situation, please reach out.
This pandemic will be the tale of two stories. We feel confident that markets will recover in time, we know that our neighbors may be more severely impacted. So if you have blessings you can bestow upon others, please do. If you need help, please ask. Because we survive, grow, and thrive together.
Please follow us on Instagram and Facebook for news, up to date information and getting to know our team on a personal level. As always, we are grateful for our financial planning clients and community. Have a peaceful weekend!
The Bookends Financial Planning Team
- Mike Wetzel, Financial Adviser, Principal: Mike.Wetzel@bookendsfp.com
- Sarah Boston, Financial Planner, Investment Consultant: Sarah.Boston@bookendsfp.com
- Chandy Wilcoxon, Financial Adviser: Chandy.Wilcoxon@bookendsfp.com
- Mindy Christian, Operations Manager: Mindy.Christian@bookendsfp.com
- Bridgett Mueller, Operations Assistant: Bridgett.Mueller@bookendsfp.com
- Tina Barrow, Client Services: Tina.Barrow@bookendsfp.com
- Heidi Hargis, Chief Compliance Officer: Heidi.Hargis@bookendsfp.com
- Gene Trueblood, Chartered Financial Analyst
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