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Market News Client Letters

March 2021 Client Letter: The Return of Normal is Approaching

March 4, 2021

Dear Valued Investor:

It’s now been over a year since COVID-19 first hit American shores. While the pandemic has affected everyone to varying degrees, we can all agree that everyone’s life is different today than it was a year ago. It’s difficult to remember what normal looks like at this point.

Now that Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine has been approved, we have three vaccines available in the United States—and some semblance of normal is fast approaching. COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have dropped significantly over the past two months. More businesses have reopened. Kids are going back to school. More diners are headed to restaurants. Air travel has picked up.

The US economy—though not back to normal yet—is poised to potentially recover all of its lost output from last year’s recession during the first half of this year. Shoppers are doing their part as retail sales jumped 5.3% in January—the strongest month-over-month increase in seven months. Consumers’ coffers were replenished by the federal government’s roughly $900 billion stimulus package passed in December 2020. US household savings are now $1.4 trillion above last year’s levels, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, which should provide fuel for more pent-up spending after restrictions are lifted.

The bridge policymakers began to build a year ago to the end of the pandemic is getting even stronger. Congress is expected to pass another fiscal stimulus package in mid-March, potentially worth over $1.5 trillion and including more direct aid to consumers and supplemental unemployment insurance. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve continues to provide unwavering support for the economy. Our economy’s resilience, coupled with this significant fiscal and monetary support, has enabled stocks to do even better than normal—and early in bull markets, normal is pretty good.

Some fear the economy has too much support. A healing labor market with about 10 million fewer jobs than a year ago suggests that more help is needed. But, as the economy fully opens, we will have to watch inflation closely for signs of overheating. The Federal Reserve may have to pump the brakes sooner than anticipated.

Normal is approaching—or at least the post-pandemic version of normal—and it’s looking pretty good. Stocks and bonds are both telling us we have a lot to look forward to as the economy moves closer to a full reopening. COVID-19 still presents risks of course, and stocks may be due for a pause after such a strong run. But ultimately, we believe the backdrop of improving economic growth, supportive fiscal and monetary policy, rebounding corporate profits, and improving COVID-19 trends will be a favorable one for stocks over the balance of the year.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Important Information

This material is for general information only and is not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. There is no assurance that the views or strategies discussed are suitable for all investors or will yield positive outcomes. Investing involves risks including possible loss of principal. Any economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and are subject to change.

References to markets, asset classes, and sectors are generally regarding the corresponding market index. Indexes are unmanaged statistical composites and cannot be invested into directly. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment and do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results.

All data is provided as of March 4, 2021.

Any company names noted herein are for educational purposes only and not an indication of trading intent or a solicitation of their products or services. LPL Financial doesn’t provide research on individual equities.

All index data from FactSet.

This Research material was prepared by LPL Financial, LLC. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however LPL Financial makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy.

 

Categories
Market News Client Letters

February 2021 Client Letter: Stay The Course

Dear Valued Investor,

“In the short-term, the market is a popularity contest. In the long-term, the market is a weighing machine.” Warren Buffett

2021 is under way, as our nation and the rest of the world look to begin to put the global pandemic behind us. The path forward for the US economy, as well as that of the global economy, will continue to depend heavily on the success of combating the virus.

While many of the risks presented by the outbreak of COVID-19 persist, it appears we may be in the later innings of the pandemic. Following increased restrictions to quell the holiday surge, new daily COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have peaked, and are down significantly the past few weeks (source: COVID Tracking Project). Reopening is taking place as well, highlighted by New York City’s plans to bring back indoor dining by Valentine’s Day. Meanwhile, the distribution of currently approved vaccines is well underway—and accelerating. The United States has added over 1 million shots per day over the past week (source: CDC) and 1.5 million per day is quite possible soon. Adding to this optimistic trend, new vaccine candidates from Johnson & Johnson and Novavax have also shown efficacy in combatting the effects of the virus and new mutations. If these two candidates are authorized for use as most experts expect, the boost in supply will be a welcome development in the US and abroad.

Despite the positive trends in COVID-19 data, volatility began to return to the stock market in the final days of January, as retail traders set their eyes on GameStop (GME) stock and other heavily shorted securities, captivating the nation’s imagination. As Warren Buffett explained above, while many of these securities may be popular now, the real winners will likely be investors with longer-term horizons. While these developments could be another sign of excessive optimism in certain segments of the equity markets, we do not believe they represent a sign of a broader market bubble or indicate a major correction is forthcoming.

After the powerful snapback of economic growth seen in the third quarter, the economy continued to grow at a solid 4% in the fourth quarter despite the holiday surge in COVID-19 cases. This improving economic backdrop has provided tailwinds to corporate profits, which should help stocks grow into their elevated valuations. S&P 500 Index earnings for the fourth quarter are impressively tracking 9 percentage points ahead of consensus expectations, while more than 80% of companies have beaten earnings estimates (source: FactSet). Meanwhile, housing remains extremely strong nationally and manufacturing data continues to show an economy that is firmly on the mend.

The improving economic backdrop, along with US government and Federal Reserve policies designed to boost the economy, suggest the environment for risk assets may remain favorable in 2021. Don’t get complacent though; after the S&P 500 Index rallied more than 70% since the March 2020 lows, some volatility would be perfectly warranted. Remember, they say that the stock market is the only place where things go on sale, yet people run out of the store screaming. Have a plan in place to be ready to take advantage when the sales come, and don’t run out screaming.

Stay healthy and please contact me with any questions.

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Client Letters Education

Getting Ready for the Upcoming Tax Season

GETTING READY FOR THE UPCOMING TAX SEASON

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We recommend that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor

Tax Season is approaching and being prepared is the best way to make this tax season your easiest yet. Following are important information and tools to help you get ready. As always, meeting with your financial advisor early and often will ensure your questions are answered, so reach out to your financial advisor today.

Why are there different mailing dates for 1099 Consolidated Statements?

During the 2020/2021 tax season, LPL will mail 1099 consolidated statements in four waves (similar to other major financial firms) to meet all IRS deadlines, reduce errors, and cut down on the need to mail corrected forms.

See “Important Tax Season Mailing Dates”  for a full list of mailing dates. Certain investment types are more likely to experience income reclassification (sometimes referred to as income reallocation) and other adjustments made by issuers each year after original financials are reported, which will result in your tax statement not arriving on the anticipated February 12 date. In these cases, your 1099 tax statement will be mailed between February 19 – March 12, 2021.

Reclassification: What is it and what do I need to know?

Income reclassification (sometimes called income reallocation) is an annual process where security issuers change the tax characterization of distributions that were paid during the tax year. Often, the result of income reclassification is a more favorable tax treatment. The income reclassification process takes place after the end of the tax year, during the first quarter, when security issuers announce their income reclassification for the previous tax year. The income reclassification process affects income distributions you may have received during the previous tax year. The IRS requires final income reclassification to be reported to you on Form 1099.

Please note: Reclassification is an industry-wide activity. All financial industry firms receive reclassified data from the issuers.

Should I file an extension?

It is always a good idea for you to maintain an open line of communication with your financial advisor and your tax advisor throughout the year to ensure the best tax strategy and outcomes for you. This dialogue will help you decide if filing an extension is the best course of action. There are many reasons why filing an extension might make sense for you. For example, the volume of data or complexity of certain transactions inside or outside your account may require additional time to address. Also, if you are expecting to receive your 1099 in the fourth mailing wave in March, it may be reasonable to consider filing an extension to allow sufficient time for your tax advisor to accurately complete your tax return forms.

If you are unsure about your holdings, be sure to discuss them with your financial or tax advisor.

Corrected Forms: What do I need to know if I receive a corrected tax form in the mail?

Further delayed reporting and reclassification from security issuers can sometimes occur with our staggered mailing system, which will result in you receiving corrected 1099 forms after the referenced mailing dates. The IRS requires that a corrected form must be sent for any adjustments received from the security issuers after the original tax form is produced.

Security types most likely to reclassify are:

  •  Regulated investment companies (mutual funds)
  • Unit investment trusts (UITs)
  • Real estate investment trusts (REITs)
  • Widely held fixed investment trusts (WHFITs)

There is not an IRS cutoff or deadline for providing corrected 1099 forms. If you need to file an amended tax return, it’s recommended that you discuss the situation with your tax advisor prior to refiling so they can determine the best course of action based on your individual circumstances.

For more help answering tax season questions and finding additional saving opportunities, contact your financial advisor.

When can I download my documents on TurboTax®?

You will need to have an active AccountView profile to upload your tax data into TurboTax®. Forms will be available for download once all of the forms for your account(s) are available. We recommend you wait to download your tax forms until you have received your tax statements in the mail to compare the data and ensure the TurboTax® download is complete and accurate.

For technical questions, please contact Intuit TurboTax® or visit http://turbotax.intuit.com/support/.

Important Tax Season Mailing Dates

Becoming familiar with the mailing schedule is one of the most important ways to stay organized for tax season. During the 2020 tax season, to meet all IRS deadlines, reduce errors, and reduce the need to mail corrected versions, LPL will be mailing the 1099 Consolidated Statements in four phases.

Click here for a copy of “Important Tax Season Mailing Dates”.

Click here for a copy of “Getting Ready for the Upcoming Tax Season”.

 

 

 

Securities and advisory services offered through LPL Financial (LPL), a registered investment advisor and broker-dealer (member FINRA/SIPC). Insurance products are offered through LPL or its licensed affiliates. To the extent you are receiving investment advice from a separately registered independent investment advisor that is not an LPL Financial affiliate, please note LPL Financial makes no representation with respect to such entity.

Not Insured by FDIC/NCUA or Any Other Government Agency | Not Bank/Credit Union Guaranteed | Not Bank/Credit Union Deposits or Obligations | May Lose Value

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Market News Client Letters

January 2021 Client Letter: 2021 Brings A Fresh Start

Dear Valued Investor:

Happy New Year!

A new year offers a welcomed turn of the calendar and a fresh start. However, it’s difficult to put 2020 completely behind us just yet because the COVID-19 pandemic still presents a significant threat. Healthcare workers continue to perform heroically, while the rest of us must continue to make sacrifices until vaccines are widely distributed.

Despite the ongoing threat of COVID-19, it’s important to remember the tremendous progress the US economy has made in its recovery so far:

  • The US economy has created more than 12 million jobs since April 2020—more than half the number of jobs lost during the spring lockdown—and has brought down the unemployment rate from 14.7% in April to 6.7% in November.
  • Holiday shopping was up a better-than-expected 3% year over year according to MasterCard data. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that a 49% increase in online sales was the big driver. This growth is impressive when we remember how different the world looked in late 2019 when businesses were fully open without restrictions, shoppers freely visited brick-and-mortar stores, and unemployment was near record lows.
  • The manufacturing sector has staged a strong recovery. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index in December tied for its second highest reading in 15 years and has registered above 50—the dividing line between expansion and contraction—for seven straight months.

The economy lost some momentum as 2020 ended with more rapid COVID-19 spread and renewed restrictions. Still, the US economy appears poised to grow through the end of the pandemic, bolstered by the new $900 billion fiscal stimulus package passed December 27, 2020, which provides much-needed aid for small businesses, consumers, schools, and the healthcare system. US gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to grow 4.6% annualized in the fourth quarter of 2020, followed by 2.5% in the first quarter of 2021 (source: Bloomberg).

A better economic backdrop may mean better corporate earnings. Analysts’ consensus estimates for S&P 500 Index company profits have been rising steadily in recent months (source: FactSet) amid the improving economic outlook. S&P 500 companies are expected to return to 2019 profit levels in 2021—a remarkable achievement if realized.

Thanks to the remarkable work of medical researchers and doctors, the end of the pandemic is approaching, and the outlook for the economy and stock market appears promising. But the road ahead may not be smooth. The vaccine rollout is still in its early stages and has significant logistical challenges. US-China tensions aren’t going away any time soon. Higher interest rates and a pickup in inflation could put pressure on stock market valuations at some point. Divisiveness in America is at an extreme. And following the Georgia Senate elections, tax increases may be likely—probably in 2022.

One thing 2020 has taught us as investors is the importance of sticking to a long-term investment plan. That may be easier said than done when volatility arrives—and we had our fair share of that in 2020. Investors who stayed with their plans in 2020 benefited as volatility presented opportunities.

Best wishes for a successful 2021, and please contact me if you have any questions.

Categories
Market News Client Letters

December 2020 Client Letter: Outlook for 2021

Dear Valued Investor:

As 2020 comes to a close, we are already looking forward to a new year—and to a world very different from the one we’re leaving behind. Areas of the economy have been damaged and may never fully recover, but other areas will adapt, reinvent, and help reinvigorate growth.

December also brings LPL Research’s annual market outlook Outlook 2021: Powering Forward, which reviews what happened in 2020 and what to expect in 2021. It covers stocks and bonds, the economy, and a post-election policy environment built on new challenges, new opportunities, and new politics.

2021 is primed to deliver advances to further limit the impact of COVID-19, and the goal remains keeping the economy as open as possible while keeping people safe. Continued progress in the response to COVID-19, including further stimulus measures by the government, will be key to sustaining the economic recovery. As the pandemic subsides, restrictions are lifted, and consumers’ daily lives return to something close to normal, the pace of the recovery most likely will pick up speed—probably in the middle of 2021.

Another major milestone will be moving past the market uncertainty caused by presidential elections. Historically, the post-election environment has been positive for the stock market. S&P 500 Index returns have been strongest with a divided Congress—one party controlling the House of Representatives and the other party controlling the Senate. A split Congress with President-elect Joe Biden in the White House could be viewed as friendly to the markets.

The makeup of the Senate will have significant policy implications. A fifth COVID-19 relief bill may be the first priority for the new administration, but to be approved by a Republican-controlled Senate, it most likely will need to be smaller than previously discussed. With an effective vaccine coming soon, Republican Senators may balk at another trillion dollar package. That would leave the Federal Reserve potentially as the only other policy support in Washington, DC, if COVID-19 causes further financial and economic stress.

Biden’s proposed corporate tax changes would potentially cut S&P 500 earnings by 10% or more in 2021, but a divided government most likely would take those proposals off the table. Smaller, targeted tax increases might still be possible to fund a scaled-down version of Biden’s green energy and infrastructure investment programs, something that has bipartisan support.

Also, Biden’s administration might reduce or eliminate tariffs, which could grease the wheels of global trade and provide a boost to corporate earnings. Greater clarity on trade may make it easier for some companies to do business, but there’s the potential of a more challenging regulatory environment as well.

Looking back, one constant in this difficult year has been the value of personal and professional relationships. Sound financial advice charted a long-term path for many investors that kept them from getting off course in a turbulent 2020. There still will be risks to navigate in 2021, but it’s important to remain focused on long-term investing goals, stay on course, and power forward.

Happy holidays, and please contact me if you have any questions.

Categories
Market News Client Letters

November 2020 Client Letter: Election Clarity For The Markets

Dear Valued Investor:

Former Vice President Joe Biden has been elected the 46th President of the United States, defeating President Donald Trump in a tight race and bringing an end to the highly contested 2020 election. The new president-elect benefited from high voter turnout and solid support among independent and suburban voters. At the same time, Trump kept the race close, which likely helped put Republicans in a strong position to keep narrow control of the Senate. With the presidential election behind us, we can continue battling COVID-19, healing our economy, and bridging our divides as a society.

President-elect Biden will inherit an economy that is improving nicely. Based on gross domestic product, the US economy grew by a record 33% annualized in the third quarter as the economy reopened (Bureau of Economic Analysis), likely bringing the US recession—one of the shortest ever—to an end.

The strength of the US consumer has been a key driver of this recovery, with retail sales already eclipsing their pre-pandemic highs. But it’s not just the consumer driving the rebound. Manufacturing activity has been on the upswing; investment in technology equipment has surged; most housing markets across the country are booming; company results during third quarter earnings season have been much better than expected; and S&P 500 Index earnings are expected to increase significantly in 2021—potentially by more than 20% (FactSet).

Meanwhile, COVID-19 remains a threat as cases and hospitalizations continue to rise. Although the numbers may go higher in the short run, cases are skewing younger and treatments have improved significantly, greatly improving patient outcomes. While widespread shutdowns are unlikely, renewed restrictions in Europe in response to its latest outbreak provide a reminder that this battle is not yet over. Safe and effective vaccines may be identified within the next month or two and become widely available sometime in mid- to late-2021.

Turning to policy, negotiating a stimulus package with Senate Republicans to help fortify the economic bridge to a COVID-19 vaccine likely will be among the first priorities after inauguration day, though a smaller package in the lame duck session of Congress may be possible. With Republicans potentially in control of the Senate, Biden then may turn to scaled-down versions of his key spending priorities—including renewable energy, infrastructure, and healthcare—as major tax increases may be off the table.

While political change may cause market volatility, US political and economic systems are resilient and can, after a period of adjustment, adapt to new realities. Most of our investment horizons extend far beyond this election and any political cycle. Now that the election is over, the focus continues to be on providing independent investment advice and helping you stick to your long-term investment strategies. The commitment to you will not change, regardless of who is in office.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Categories
Market News Client Letters

October 2020 Client Letter: Signs of Strength in the Economy

Dear Valued Investor:

Autumn has arrived, with students back in school, baseball playoffs beginning, and football in full swing. Life is trying to get back to as normal as possible despite the ongoing impact from COVID-19. While the number of new daily cases and hospitalizations from COVID-19 has steadied in the United States, cases in Western Europe are increasing again, and many are concerned the United States could follow Europe with another spike higher.

Although there are still reasons to worry, a number of positives are on the horizon. A major vaccine breakthrough possibly could be here by the end of the year. The US government has plans to ship 100 million Abbott Labs 15-minute COVID-19 tests over the next several weeks to help accelerate reopening of the economy. Meanwhile, Pfizer’s clinical trial is expected to produce conclusive results later this month, with Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorization potentially coming soon thereafter. Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is in the final stages of testing, and promising vaccines from AstraZeneca and Moderna are in the pipeline as well. All of these point to the potential for an improving global economy in 2021.

In another sign of strength, the S&P 500 Index rallied 60% off its March 23 bottom through early September, although it has pulled back some over the past several weeks. After such a strong rally, a 10% correction is perfectly normal and to be expected. Add to this seasonal weakness—the historically poor stock market performance typical of September and October—and investors’ pre-election jitters, and this pullback could be viewed as an opportunity for suitable investors to consider adding to longer-term holdings.

Technology stocks have shown strength during the pandemic, but this group also has pulled back lately, causing many to claim this might be another “tech bubble” similar to the late 1990s. This seems unlikely, as the technology sector has experienced explosive growth, with tech earnings estimates above their pre-pandemic levels, justifying the valuations.

While the economy is showing signs of improvement, it also continues to reflect areas of concern. Initial jobless claims have remained stubbornly high. Dave and Buster’s reported revenue in the second quarter was down 85%, and Live Nation’s revenue was down 98%, as no one was seeing live shows. On the other hand, existing and new home sales both recently hit 14-year highs, and manufacturing has increased for four consecutive months, suggesting the recession is likely over. Amazon has announced it will hire 33,000 new employees at an average salary of $150,000. Certain industries may be years away from fully recovering, while others are moving along like nothing is wrong.

The contrasts in Washington are evident as well, with the presidential election only one month away, but all isn’t lost. There’s growing optimism that a new coronavirus relief package may still be possible before the end of the year. The Federal Reserve also is doing what it can to help spur confidence and liquidity in the markets. November’s winner will inherit an improving economy and one that will likely see strong growth in 2021, as multiple vaccines and therapeutics help spur the economy to open up more fully.

These signs of market and economic strength tell us that better times likely are coming in 2021. Stay safe these final months of what’s been a very challenging year. And please contact me if you have any questions.

 

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Client Letters

Brighthouse Change Letter

If you have an annuity through Brigthouse (previously MetLife), you may have recently received a rather confusing letter from them. I’ve linked that letter here for your reference.

Brighthouse Letter

It’s quite obvious that this letter was written by a legal team, because at best it’s confusing and at its worst, it might even appear like your annuity may be changing to a new carrier.

I have been in communication with Brighthouse and from what I’ve learned, the only thing that’s going on, is that Brighthouse has hired a new third-party administrator in order to execute client service requests. Therefore, from your perspective, this is a non-issue. But they really composed quite a scary letter, to be frank, in order to information about a very simple change.

In any event, please let us know if you have questions.

Categories
Client Letters

September 2020 Client Letter: Covid-19, Stock Markets, and Election Season

September 3, 2020

Dear Valued Investor:

Back to school this year will be different. On the one hand, like other years, it marks the end of summer, the arrival of cooler weather, kids hitting the books again, and Labor Day gatherings. But unlike other years, going back to school carries unique concerns because of COVID-19. This year, we’re all getting an education in remote learning, working from home, and social distancing.

While the COVID-19 fight is not over, more progress has been made recently. New cases and hospitalizations in the United States have been falling steadily since mid-July. Several promising vaccine candidates have entered phase-three trials in the United States, and the FDA could potentially fast-track approval for emergency use later this year. Abbott Laboratories has developed a $5 COVID-19 test that the company claims can produce reliable results in only 15 minutes. The fruition of pandemic developments may be getting us closer to the end of the pandemic.

The stock market has responded to these promising developments with fresh record highs for the S&P 500 Index and its strongest August performance since 1984. Stocks have also received a boost from surprisingly strong recent economic data, which already may have brought an end to the “lockdown recession.”

The brightening economic picture helped second quarter corporate earnings beat estimates by an average of 23%, more than in any quarter since FactSet began tracking earnings statistics in 2008. Estimates have risen to the point where analysts expect 2021 S&P 500 earnings to surpass the 2019 level.

But even if the recession may be over technically, the path forward may be challenging. MGM, American Airlines, Coca-Cola, and other major corporations recently announced thousands of layoffs. If lawmakers can’t agree on another stimulus package soon, the road ahead will get tougher.

Now that the Democratic and Republican national conventions are behind us, election season is in full swing—and with that comes the potential for increased market volatility. September historically has been the weakest month for S&P 500 stock performance, but during election years, it switches to October, when policy anxiety typically peaks. With stocks pricing in significant optimism after such a strong rally from the March lows and these seasonal headwinds on the way, the potential for a pullback may be high.

At the same time, it’s possible we’re in the beginning stages of a new bull market, which suggests additional gains for stocks may be forthcoming. That’s why it probably makes sense for suitable investors to be patient, stick with their target allocations—particularly those with multiyear time horizons—and resist the urge to get more defensive. Stocks appear to be expensive, but so do bonds. Even though stock market volatility may increase and stock returns potentially may fall below long-term averages, stocks may continue to outperform bonds over the next 12 months.

Good luck with the transition back to school, to a new season, and to the new norms—and stay safe. As always, please contact us with questions.

Categories
Market News Client Letters

August 2020 Client Letter: Positive Territory

Dear Valued Investor:

The battle versus COVID-19 continues. The spread in some of the recent hotspots like California and Florida is slowing, while states in the Northeast and Midwest are now experiencing increases in cases. According to the World Health Organization, 27 vaccines are in human trials, and the chances of an approved vaccine by late this year or early next year are quite high. By staying on the side of scientists, and through humankind’s resolve as the entire world is working together, it’s possible to believe we will beat this latest adversary.

In good news, the S&P 500 Index has moved into positive territory for the year (as of August 5) after being down more than 30% in March, making 2020 one of the largest reversal years ever. Going back to 1950, however, August and September historically have been the two worst months of the year for stocks. In addition, signs of recent weakening in the job market, based on stubbornly high jobless claims, combined with evidence of reduced consumer mobility from several high-frequency data points suggest the stage could be set for stocks to take a well-deserved break.

At the July 29 Federal Open Market Committee meeting, Federal Reserve (Fed) Chair Jerome Powell made it very clear that the Fed has additional tools to support the recovery, and that low interest rates may be here to stay well beyond this year and next. The economy has improved off the March lows, but it isn’t near the record-breaking levels we saw earlier this year. Powell also noted that further relief from Congress was “essential” to help support the economy.

Meanwhile, Congress is inching closer to a new COVID-19 relief bill, but parties remain at odds over several key elements. Although the two sides appear far apart, a deal likely may be struck at the eleventh hour—consistent with typical Washington theater. At this time, Congress is expected to agree to a stimulus package in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion, bringing the total US fiscal stimulus to more than $4 trillion.

Signs that the economic recovery may be leveling off have not prevented corporate America from delivering earnings well above expectations. Leaders like Apple, Amazon, and Facebook reported extremely strong results in the second quarter, helping these influential stocks move significantly higher. FactSet consensus estimates of future earnings have ticked higher as well, suggesting corporate America may be confident in the eventual economic rebound.

Baseball Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra said, “If you torture numbers enough, they will tell you anything,” which fits well with what we’re seeing right now in 2020. Some data appears good, while some data appears troubling. This journey is not over yet, and there may be more twists and turns before society and the economy can fully recover from COVID-19. But like all journeys, this one has an end date, and we will get there.

Until then, please remain diligent and strong, and contact me with any questions.