Comments and Opinions
At the beginning of January, 2020 we were entering what would become a global pandemic with far reaching personal, social, political, and economic consequences. At the beginning of January, 2021 we began to see the long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel. Optimism rose over the increased availability of vaccines, another round of financial stimulus, and supportive monetary policy from the Federal Reserve. Consumer confidence rose with the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions and the expectation of pent-up demand and businesses re-opening.
Stock markets performed well after a volatile period in January. The S&P 500 closed up 5.77% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 7.76% for the Quarter. The large tech / growth stocks that led the market out of the March, 2020 lows fell out of favor while value investments in the energy, financial, and industrial sectors performed well. Real estate prices continued to rise reflecting high demand and low inventory. Source: Nasdaq.com
The first Quarter saw some investors willing to take on outsized risk as we watched an army of online traders and retail investors – fueled by a social media movement – band together, ignore fundamental financial data, and push several companies’ stock values to incredible highs. We also saw a wave of investment in virtual currencies and collectibles. Although interesting, these types of investments are extremely volatile and come with very high risk. We believe a well thought out, personal financial plan is the foundation for reaching your goals and providing for retirement.
The economic outlook for the rest of the year is positive based on the re-opening of the economy and the liquidity created through the trillions of Dollars distributed through stimulus packages. These packages provide among other things: Grants and loans for small business, funding to re-open schools, an adjustment to the child tax credit, funding for state and local government, and infrastructure development. However, there is concern that the increase in the money supply and continued borrowing by the Federal Government and will drive up inflation, interest rates, and taxes in the future.
The Importance of Financial Literacy
Financial Literacy is the ability to understand and use various financial skills, including personal financial management, budgeting, and investing. Financial Literacy provides knowledge to assist in managing money effectively, achieving financial stability and reaching one’s financial goals.
In 2019, before the effects of the pandemic, a report on the Economic Well-Being of U.S. Households by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System found that many Americans are unprepared for retirement. One-fourth of those taking part in the survey reported they have no retirement savings and less than 4 in 10 of those not yet retired felt that their retirement savings are on track. Among those who have self-directed retirement savings, nearly 60% admitted to feeling low levels of confidence in making retirement decisions. Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, May 2020
According to research by the TIAA Institute, only 19% of Millennials (the largest share of the American workforce) answered questions about fundamental financial concepts correctly. More than half lack an emergency fund to cover three months’ expenses, and 37% are financially fragile (defined as unable or unlikely to be able to come up with $2000 in the event of an emergency). Millennials also carry large amounts of student loan and mortgage debt – in fact, 44% say they have too much debt.
Source: “Millennials and Money”, TIAA Institute, February, 2020
As of February, 2020 only 21 US states have a personal finance requirement for high school curriculums.* With the educational system lacking, it falls to families to talk to young people about finances. The sooner the better. Teaching children the basic principles of saving and investing helps to build good habits for their financial futures. *Source: New York Times
There are many resources available to assist teaching children how money works. The Council for Economic Education, the National Endowment for Financial Education, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provide online age-appropriate materials to help families teach children about money and prepare them for a successful financial future. Call our office with any questions you may have. We would be happy to assist you.
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Securities offered through National Securities Corporation, member FINRA/SIPC. Advisory services offered through National Asset Management, an SEC registered investment advisor. Fixed Insurance Products offered through National Insurance Corporation. Investing involves risk including loss of principal. The information provided is not directed at any investor or category of investors and is provided solely as general information about products and services or to otherwise provide general investment education. None of the information provided should be regarded as a suggestion to engage in or refrain from any investment-related course of action as neither National Securities nor its affiliates are undertaking to provide you with investment advice or recommendations of any kind.