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Optivest Updates

2Q2015

US ECONOMY:  After years of tightly banded earning results for public companies, second quarter 2015 earnings are showing large discrepancies in results due to our strong US Dollar, drastically lower oil prices and a tightening wage market. This has caused a wider disparity in price returns that favor smaller, domestic companies that look more like Main Street. The US economy is enjoying continued modest growth but both US stock and bond prices are near all-time high valuations and are vulnerable to setbacks if the fine balance of ultra-low inflation and exceptionally high profit margins gets disruptive. (See our Important Economic Update from April 1st.)

CLICK TO READ MORE: Second Quarter 2015 Newsletter

 

 

According to the Wall Street Journal, over the next 20 years, approximately $25 trillion will be passed to women through divorce, death of spouse or inheritance. Currently, women make up just under half of the nation’s millionaires. If their earning potential continues to grow on track, they will account for up to two thirds of the nation’s wealth by 2030.

Family Lesson Inspires Unique Model for Corporate Giving; Changing the Lives and Hearts of Employees and Charities Around the World

Unlike most financial advisors, Mark Van Mourick did not earn his stripes on the back of a client’s portfolio. He lost both parents in a plane crash at the age of 12 and bounced around several foster homes,

When is a 50/50 divorce settlement not really equal?

In many divorces, former spouses split their combined assets down the middle. But because of market trends, taxes and other factors, the ex-wife often ends up with the short end of the stick.

“Conscientious divorce attorneys want equitable outcomes for their clients,” says Sven Buncher, Managing Partner of The Buncher Law Corporation. “And achieving that often requires a more in depth analysis of the divorcing couple’s assets.”

April 1, 2015

RE: Important Market Update

Dear Client,

All good things must come to an end, even if just temporarily. The stock market has climbed admirably since March of 2009 and is now at all-time high valuations according to a number of ratios in the attached charts. Calling tops is dangerous as the market has always come back and eventually made new highs, yet there are certainly good times to take profits and become less vulnerable to stock market pullbacks… 

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US Economy

2014 started with a 1.9% drop in the first quarter GDP, increased 4.6% (revised) in the second quarter, and further gained 5.0% (revised) in the third quarter. This 5.0% gain was the best quarter since 2003 (Reuters) and the fourth quarter of 2014 is expected to be strong as well. Consumer sentiment has steadily increased along with business and consumer spending; the economy is finally in a healthy recovery mode. Low inflation (helped by lower inflation in Europe and a drop in commodity prices) allowed interest rates to drop back to 2% levels on the 10-year Treasury Bond. We have now moved from a fragile economy which was threatened by rising inflation to a healthy economy likely to enjoy relatively low inflation over a couple more years. The financial markets responded with the average US stock fund rising 7.6% and most other asset classes gaining 1-5% (WSJ).

CLICK TO READ MORE: First Quarter 2015 Newsletter

 

US Economy –

With residential home prices at multi-year highs and the US stock market near all-time highs, you would think that inflation has picked up. However, it has not. A stronger dollar, lower energy costs, weak wage growth and 1% – 2% inflation worldwide has led to a stubbornly low 1.7% – 1.9% US inflation. Our dollar has strengthened despite our low interest rates (US 10-Year Bond yield is < 2.4%) because our interest rates are higher than in Europe and Asia and the US is a better credit risk. The Fed’s tapering of its bond buying program will end next month with very little of the “taper tantrum” that was feared.

US Economy –

The US Economy took an unexpected GDP drop of 2.9% in the first quarter. The blame was on our tough winter weather, the start of Obamacare, and uncertainty over the Fed’s tapering policies. While the economy recovered to an estimated +2% in the second quarter, most forecasters lowered their full year estimates down from the 3% range back to our recent muddle through 2% growth. Since the recession’s bottom in 2009, we have only gained a total of 11% GDP growth in 60 months – the weakest U.S. recovery ever, despite the most expansive monetary and fiscal stimulus in history.

It has been a very busy and productive first quarter at Optivest:  asset allocation and manager changes with SageView, a breakfast meeting with Mohamed El-Erian (departing CEO at PIMCO), interviews with the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, high level real estate discussions with large local owners including Rick Caruso, launching a Retirement Strategies department, joining Tiger 21 and meeting with 8 New York investment bankers conducting due diligence on our nearly $1 billion REIT.

US Economy –

After a vigorous 3rd quarter in 2013, the economy has fallen back to 6 months of slow growth and uncertainty as the new Fed Chairman, Janet Yellen, continues tapering the artificial support of the monetary system. The year has started exactly as we forecasted in our last newsletter – with a wobbly/sideways stock market and virtually every other asset class (see below) showing only slight gains of 1-3% which are the opposite of 2013. Interest rates have dropped slightly and are holding for now, but Mrs. Yellen has signaled that she expects short-term rates will rise to 3% by the end of 2015 and 4% by the end of 2016. This would only happen if the economy actually picks up organically after the Fed has stopped current stimulus.

(As reported in WSJ.com on February 27, 2014) By Kevin Noblet:

“It’s all too common a situation: A client has beloved possessions that he or she thinks the children will treasure someday, too. But have they ever been asked if they really want the house, antique furniture or whatever it is dad or mom held so dear? No, they haven’t. California wealth manager Mark Van Mourick relates just such a case to Wealth Adviser at WSJ.com. The client had $250,000 in Asian art she and her late husband spent 50 years collecting. She didn’t want it sold off after she died but, when asked at the adviser’s suggestion, the kids said they were likely to do just that. Mr. Van Mourick helped with an estate plan which took that reality into consideration.” READ FULL ARTICLE HERE