Light At The End Of The Tunnel?
I am writing to update you on the virus, the economy and your portfolios. First and foremost though, our hearts go out to those directly impacted by this virus. As the number of confirmed cases and death toll rises it can be hard to look at the news sometimes. We are hopeful, however, that the curve will bend and we will see a levelling off in the growth rate soon. Europe is starting to show signs and by most accounts and projections we are a couple weeks behind them.
So, what are we doing and how are we managing portfolios? We remain defensive, but constructive – selectively adding equity exposure to great companies that are likely to show strong earnings in the stay at home and combat the virus world we currently live in. In reality, the required measures we’re implementing to fight this pandemic are accelerating long-term trends, like working remotely, buying online and home delivery. As I’ve said before, there will be winners and losers.
So, what about the virus and its effect on the economy?
Last week we heard dire predictions of exploding contagions and 100,000 to 200,000 American deaths. Fortunately, thanks to the efforts of many Americans to remain at home and be socially distant, we are starting to see infection curves flatten in some areas of the country. And thanks to the efforts of our military, medical community and scientists we are beginning to develop treatments, vaccines and mobilize critical resources. In fact, because “instant” testing has been created we are in a much better position to identify and isolate infected individuals even if they show no symptoms. It should really help us accelerate our way back.
But where is the economy at?
You’ve probably heard about the huge jump in unemployment claims and loss of jobs in many industries. And, we believe the numbers will get worse before they get better. Fortunately, Congress recently passed a massive $2.3 Trillion stimulus plan and has vowed to do more if necessary to help Americans and our businesses weather this storm. Here are some highlights:
- Individuals and families are getting significant cash payments to help tide them over
- Businesses are getting forgivable loans to cover payroll costs and rent
- Unemployed workers are eligible for greatly expanded jobless benefits
- There is even relief for student loan borrowers
In addition, the relief legislation has even introduced several temporary changes to individuals retirement savings accounts. They have put the required minimum distributions on hold and are allowing $100,000 withdrawals without incurring the usual 10% early withdrawal penalty for those impacted by COVID-19. They are allowing larger 401(k) plan loans and allowing repayments to be delayed for up to one year. Even the deadline for filing Federal income tax returns and paying taxes has been delayed to July 15th.
So, we are fighting back. And while I know trying to take in all of this information is – as Jim said – like trying to drink from a firehose, remember, we are here 24-7 to help. You probably realize there’s a lot more detail than I can highlight here today. Opportunities abound and they should be optimized for your individual circumstances – and that’s what we do.
Stay strong, stay united. Call us with any questions or concerns. As always, thank you for your trust and confidence. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Donald J. Phillips, CFP®
Chairman of the Board
Greater Midwest Financial Group, LLC.
3222 Rice Street
St. Paul, MN 55126-3047
Phone: (651) 490-9790 Fax: (651) 490-9788
Greater Midwest Financial Group, LLC is not affiliated with Kestra IS or Kestra AS. Securities offered through Kestra Investment Services, LLC (Kestra IS), member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Kestra Advisory Services, LLC (Kestra AS), an affiliate of Kestra IS.
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