Consumers Turn to Credit Cards as Inflation Pressures Finances

This month’s charts examine the trend of increasing consumer credit usage. Figure 1 charts the amount of outstanding revolving consumer credit, and Figure 2 charts the year-over-year percentage growth of revolving credit. Revolving credit, such as a credit card, allows the accountholder to borrow money repeatedly up to a set credit limit while making monthly payments. The charts show credit usage initially decreased during the pandemic as consumers used government stimulus checks and savings from fewer discretionary purchases to pay down debt.

After declining during the pandemic, data shows consumer credit usage is rising again and now back above pre-pandemic levels. The increase in credit usage started during 2021 as the effect of stimulus checks faded and the economic reopening released a wave of pent-up demand. Credit usage continues to increase during 2022 as inflation increases the price of everyday necessities, such as gas, groceries, and housing.

The increase in consumer credit usage raises an important point. Credit cards are an easy and common way to borrow money, but they are also one of the most expensive forms of borrowing. Most credit cards charge a variable interest rate tied to the prime rate, which is linked to the federal funds rate. This year’s interest rate increases by the Federal Reserve are intended to ease inflation pressures, but they also make carrying a credit card balance more expensive. An increase in the federal funds rate increases the prime rate, which in turn increases the interest rate charged on credit cards. According to a recent survey by Bankrate.com, the average credit card interest rate reached 17.96% at the end of August, which marks the highest level since 1996.

The increase in mortgage and auto loan rates is getting all the attention this year, but the increase in credit card interest rates is more impactful to everyday life. Credit cards are a valuable tool to manage your personal finances, such as building up a credit score, increasing your purchasing power, and earning rewards. However, credit cards can also create negative issues, such as overspending, high balances, and high interest expenses, when misused and mismanaged. Now is an important time to review your financial plan and make sure you’re sticking to it.

Important Notices & Disclaimer

The information and opinions expressed herein are solely those of PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC (PFG), are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended as recommendations to buy or sell a security, nor as an offer to buy or sell a security. Recipients of the information provided herein should consult with their financial advisor before purchasing or selling a security.

The information and opinions provided herein are provided as general market commentary only, and do not consider the specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any one client. The information in this report is not intended to be used as the primary basis of investment decisions, and because of individual client objectives, should not be construed as advice designed to meet the particular investment needs of any investor.

The comments may not be relied upon as recommendations, investment advice or an indication of trading intent. PFG is not soliciting any action based on this document. Investors should consult with their financial adviser before making any investment decisions. There is no guarantee that any future event discussed herein will come to pass. The data used in this publication may have been obtained from a variety of sources including U.S. Federal Reserve, FactSet, Bloomberg, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, iShares, Vanguard and State Street, which we believe to be reliable, but PFG cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of data used herein. Any use of graphs, text or other material from this report by the recipient must acknowledge MarketDesk Research as the source. Past performance does not guarantee or indicate future results.   Investing   involves   risk,   including   the possible loss of principal and fluctuation of value. PFG disclaims responsibility for updating information. In addition, PFG disclaims responsibility for third-party content, including information accessed through hyperlinks.

No mention of a particular security, index, derivative or other instrument in the report constitutes a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold that or any other security, nor does it constitute an opinion on the suitability of any security, index, or derivative. The report is strictly an information publication and has been prepared without regard to the particular investments and circumstances of the recipient.

READERS   SHOULD   VERIFY   ALL   CLAIMS   AND   COMPLETE    THEIR    OWN RESEARCH AND CONSULT A REGISTERED FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE INVESTING IN ANY INVESTMENTS MENTIONED IN THE PUBLICATION. INVESTING IN SECURITIES AND DERIVATIVES IS SPECULATIVE AND CARRIES A HIGH DEGREE OF RISK, AND READERS MAY LOSE MONEY TRADING AND INVESTING IN SUCH INVESTMENTS. PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is a registered investment advisor.

Providing Context on Recent Market Volatility

Monthly Market Summary

  • The S&P 500 Index returned -4.1% during August, underperforming the Russell 2000 Index (-2.0%) for a second consecutive month.
  • Energy (+2.7%) was the top-performing S&P 500 sector during August despite oil prices falling -9.7%. Utilities (+0.5%) was the only other sector to produce a positive return. Technology (-6.2%) was the worst performing sector as interest rates rose, followed closely by Health Care (-5.8%) and Real Estate (-5.6%).
  • Corporate investment grade bonds generated a -4.4% total return, slightly underperforming corporate high yield bonds’ -4.3% total return.
  • The MSCI EAFE Index of global developed market stocks returned -6.1% during August, underperforming the MSCI Emerging Market Index’s -1.3% return.

Stock & Bond Markets Endure a Bumpy August After July’s Gains

The S&P 500 produced a -4.1% return during August, but the headline number doesn’t tell the full story. Equity markets initially rallied during the first half of the month, with the S&P 500 gaining +4.2% through August 16th as July’s market rally continued. However, the second half of August marked a sharp reversal as the S&P 500’s gave back all its gains plus more. Credit markets also experienced a reversal during August as interest rates reversed higher and bonds produced negative returns. The increased volatility across stock and bond markets is being attributed to a wide range of investor views creating a tug of war effect in markets, as well as uncertainty regarding how long the Federal Reserve will continue to raise interest rates.

Federal Reserve Chair Pushes Back Against Hopes for Policy Pivot

The Federal Reserve held its annual August Jackson Hole meeting, and Chair Powell used his speech to forcefully push back against the notion the Fed will pivot and cut interest rates if economic data starts to weaken. Powell emphasized the central bank’s “overarching focus right now is to bring inflation back down to our 2 percent goal” and cautioned, “Reducing inflation is likely to require a sustained period of below-trend growth … [and] will also bring some pain to households and businesses.”

Investor hopes for a Fed pivot were one of the primary catalysts that propelled the stock market higher during July and August. Chair Powell’s speech dashed those hopes and sent the S&P 500 down more than -3% on the day of his speech. Why? Two lines from Chair Powell’s speech underscore the Fed’s goal, “There is clearly a job to do in moderating demand to better align with supply. We are committed to doing that job.” This focus on lowering demand for goods and services may increase portfolio volatility during the months ahead as investors debate how long it will take the Fed to achieve its goal and the impact tighter policy will have on the economy.

Important Notices & Disclaimer

The information and opinions expressed herein are solely those of PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC (PFG), are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended as recommendations to buy or sell a security, nor as an offer to buy or sell a security. Recipients of the information provided herein should consult with their financial advisor before purchasing or selling a security.

The information and opinions provided herein are provided as general market commentary only, and do not consider the specific investment objectives, financial situation or particular needs of any one client. The information in this report is not intended to be used as the primary basis of investment decisions, and because of individual client objectives, should not be construed as advice designed to meet the particular investment needs of any investor.

The comments may not be relied upon as recommendations, investment advice or an indication of trading intent. PFG is not soliciting any action based on this document. Investors should consult with their financial adviser before making any investment decisions. There is no guarantee that any future event discussed herein will come to pass. The data used in this publication may have been obtained from a variety of sources including U.S. Federal Reserve, FactSet, Bloomberg, Bank of America Merrill Lynch, iShares, Vanguard and State Street, which we believe to be reliable, but PFG cannot be held responsible for the accuracy of data used herein. Any use of graphs, text or other material from this report by the recipient must acknowledge MarketDesk Research as the source. Past performance does not guarantee or indicate future results.   Investing   involves   risk,   including   the possible loss of principal and fluctuation of value. PFG disclaims responsibility for updating information. In addition, PFG disclaims responsibility for third-party content, including information accessed through hyperlinks.

No mention of a particular security, index, derivative or other instrument in the report constitutes a recommendation to buy, sell, or hold that or any other security, nor does it constitute an opinion on the suitability of any security, index, or derivative. The report is strictly an information publication and has been prepared without regard to the particular investments and circumstances of the recipient.

READERS   SHOULD   VERIFY   ALL   CLAIMS   AND   COMPLETE    THEIR    OWN RESEARCH AND CONSULT A REGISTERED FINANCIAL PROFESSIONAL BEFORE INVESTING IN ANY INVESTMENTS MENTIONED IN THE PUBLICATION. INVESTING IN SECURITIES AND DERIVATIVES IS SPECULATIVE AND CARRIES A HIGH DEGREE OF RISK, AND READERS MAY LOSE MONEY TRADING AND INVESTING IN SUCH INVESTMENTS.

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is a registered investment advisor.

Is The Sky Really Falling?

“Record Economic Plunge”1
“Second-Quarter GDP Plunged by Worst-Ever 32.9%”2
“U.S. Economy Contracted at Record Rate Last Quarter”3
It sure sounds like the sky is falling.

Is it really? Let’s take a step back and put the news in perspective.

The coronavirus shutdown thumped the economy, businesses, and workers badly over the last two quarters, and it’s uncertain how quickly we’ll recover.
We knew that Q2 GDP numbers (Gross Domestic Product) were going to be horrible. In fact, in May, the Federal Reserve thought they were going to be even worse.4
So, ~33% down is actually better than expected.
But, despite the headline, we didn’t actually “lose” 33% of economic production last quarter. The Commerce Department reports data on an “annualized” basis to make it easier to compare; so, if you looked at it quarter-over-quarter, the economy lost 9.5% since Q1.5

That’s still an eye-watering blow to the economy, but it’s not an apocalypse.
The largest contributing factor to the economic losses was a steep drop in personal spending, particularly on services, which makes complete sense in a shutdown.6
Three points before we move on:

  1. This is an advance estimate for Q2, and we will see revisions as more data is finalized.
  2. Though this is the sharpest drop in the shortest time in history, it was caused by the shutdown, and we’re already climbing out of it.
  3. 63.8% of economists think Q3 is when we’ll see the recovery really pick up steam, and the current forecast is for 15.2% annualized growth this quarter.7

So, what’s up with markets?
We think markets are being driven by a few big trends.
In a previous note, we mentioned what a Nobel-laureate economist calls “FOMO mania” by investors who fear missing out on the bounce. We think that’s still in effect as investors continue to pile into stocks, especially in the tech sector.8
We also think the market is being supported by massive government spending and Federal Reserve intervention.
And thirdly, we think a lot of traders are betting heavily on the recovery. If states have to shut down again, the collective delusion may collapse and trigger a correction. We’re watching for that.

How long will the rally last? That’s anyone’s guess. We’ve seen many cheerful forecasts predicting new all-time-highs. We’ve also seen plenty dolefully predicting the next crash.
With so much unknown, they’re all guesses. Even in less-murky circumstances, the market gurus are only accurate about 47% of the time.9
So, since we can’t predict what’s going to happen in Q3 and Q4, we’re staying agile and focusing on the fundamentals of good planning.

We know, it’s a really boring answer. But that’s how we give ourselves the best opportunity for success in chaotic times

We thank you for your trust and look forward to continuing to serve  you. If you have specific questions regarding your account, please contact your advisor. 

P.S. Apple recently announced a four-for-one stock split.10 Here’s what that means: Stock splits are “cosmetic,” meaning they don’t change anything fundamental about the company. Splits just make the stock more accessible to investors by lowering the price (like getting four quarters for a dollar). If you currently own Apple stock, you’ll receive three more shares for every share you own in late August. Have questions about it? Let us know.
1https://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-biz-us-economic-plunge-20200730-t25tj4pzdvcmrirdufstpla2nm-story.html
2https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/30/us-gdp-q2-2020-first-reading.html
3https://www.wsj.com/articles/us-economy-gdp-report-second-quarter-coronavirus-11596061406
4https://www.newyorkfed.org/research/policy/nowcast
5https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/07/30/did-third-economy-really-vanish-just-three-months/
6https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/30/us-gdp-q2-2020-first-reading.html
7https://www.wsj.com/graphics/econsurvey/
8https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/28/paul-krugman-sees-mania-by-stocks-investors-driven-by-fomo.html
9https://www.cxoadvisory.com/gurus/#aggregate
10https://www.cnbc.com/2020/07/30/apple-just-announced-a-stock-split-heres-what-that-means-for-investors.html

Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only.
Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. This material and information are not intended to provide tax or legal advice.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance. 

Navigating A Market Correction

Corrections are anxiety-provoking.

They make us wonder if we got it wrong. If we’re going to be ok.

If this time is “different.”

After all, the S&P 500 plunged “at unprecedented speed,” and this was the “worst point drop in history.”1

Should we give in and get out? Sit on the sidelines until it all blows over?

No.

Market corrections are completely, boringly normal.

Whether it’s an epidemic, geopolitical saber-rattling, natural disaster, or a financial event, corrections happen regularly. They’re a natural part of the market cycle.

Here’s the historical take: Markets experienced 26 corrections between 1946 and 2018. On average, markets declined 13.7% and took four months to recover.2

To a long-term investor, a correction is a speed bump.

We can’t predict how long or how deep this correction will be, but we’ve been here before.

And markets have recovered.

Corrections are not something to panic about. Even when panicky headlines are everywhere. The 24-hour media cycle is all about stoking fears to draw eyeballs and shares.

The biggest mistake a long-term investor can make right now is to give in to the fear and make a big change in response to the selloff.

Emotional reactions to markets — whether it’s euphoria during a rally or anxiety during a correction — are deadly to long-term success as an investor.

It’s easy to answer a risk tolerance questionnaire and commit to a strategy when the market’s up.

It’s much harder to stick to the strategy when your portfolio drops. When it’s gut check time.

But you can’t reap the rewards of long-term investing if you don’t take the bad days along with the good.

We created your strategies to withstand turbulent markets. To pursue your long-term goals in all market environments.

We’re watching markets closely and will communicate with you if calculated changes to your portfolio are necessary.

Right now, we’d like you to do 3 things:

  1. Take a deep breath and remember that you’ve got a team of professionals behind the wheel.
  2. Trust the process. Remember the conversations we had about your goals and the reasons behind the choices we made together.
  3. If you’re experiencing anxiety, turn off the news, stay off social media, and go do something fun.

If you need a pep talk or to discuss your investment strategy, please reach out to your advisor. We’re here for you and happy to talk.

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC
813-286-7776
www.pfgprivatewealth.com

1https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/28/investing/premarket-stocks-trading/index.html
https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/27/stock-market-today-live.html

2https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/27/heres-how-long-stock-market-corrections-last-and-how-bad-they-can-get.html

Risk Disclosure: Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance does not guarantee future results.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation with respect to the purchase or sale of any security. The content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information; no warranty, expressed or implied, is made regarding accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of any information. Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. For illustrative use only. The S&P 500 is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. Indexes are not available for direct investment. The performance of the index excludes any taxes, fees and expenses. Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. This material and information are not intended to provide tax or legal advice.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.  Insurance products and services are offered and sold through Perry Financial Group and individually licensed and appointed insurance agents.

Year-End Donations & Giving

A list of things to consider as you think about year-end charitable donations

With its blinking lights, family traditions, and festive music, December is the most wonderful time of the year. And according to Charity Navigator, the month of December really is wonderful because December sees approximately 30% of all annual charitable giving occur.

Unfortunately, despite the greatest of intentions, many will inevitably make mistakes in how they give, especially if they wait until the last minute. So, here is a list of things for you to think about as you consider your year-end charitable donations.

Make a Plan
Last year, donations from America’s individuals, estates, foundations and corporations reached approximately $410 billion, according to Giving USA in their Annual Report on Philanthropy. Hoping that 2020 is similar, that means you and your neighbors will donate over $120+ billion dollars in December alone!

How much of this was more impulse-giving vs. a well-thought-out charity plan?

Ideally, at the beginning of every year – with your financial advisor – you would map out a plan to maximize the tax benefits of your giving. Really think through what is important to you and what you want to support. Is it an organization that supports literacy? Or provides food? Or shelter for families? Creating a plan will help you be less reactive and feel less boxed in when friends ask for your charitable support.

Research Your Charity
It’s easy to get fooled by a charity’s name so you need to do your homework. And beware of scam artists pretending to represent an organization that doesn’t exist. Read a charity’s financial statements to see how they spend their (your) money. Even better, volunteer before you write a check.

Donating Stock
If you have owned stock for more than a year and it has appreciated, then don’t sell it first and then give the cash to charity. Those appreciated assets can be donated directly to charity without you or the charity incurring capital gains taxes (consult your tax professional to be sure).

Selling Your Personal Info
Quite a few charities will rent or sell the addresses, phone numbers, email addresses and detailed social media profiles of their donors, which means you might start getting a bunch of unwanted calls, emails and friend requests. Make sure you review a charity’s privacy policy before you give them your information. And many times, you have to actively “Opt Out” to ensure your personal information is not used.

Ask for A Receipt
Remember, for charitable contributions of $250 or more, you need a donor’s acknowledgement letter. And generally it’s a good idea to obtain receipts, especially when donating goods.

Don’t Delay
Shockingly, a whopping 12% of all giving occurs in the last 3 days of the year! But if you mail a check postmarked after December 31st, then you might run into trouble. Make it easy on yourself and don’t wait until the last minute.

Money Can’t Buy Happiness, But Maybe Donating to Charity Can?
Consider research from Elizabeth Dunn of the University of British Columbia, Lara Aknin at Simon Fraser University and Michael Norton at Harvard Business School. Essentially what they found in their study is the following:

  • Spending money on other people has a more positive impact on happiness than spending money on oneself
  • Spending more of one’s income on others predicted greater happiness

Discuss with Your Financial Advisor
If you have any questions or need help mapping out your Charitable Plan, set an appointment to discuss with your financial advisor.

PFG Private Wealth Management, LLC is a registered investment adviser.  Information presented is for educational purposes only and does not intend to make an offer or solicitation for the sale or purchase of any specific securities, investments, or investment strategies. This material and information are not intended to provide tax or legal advice.  Investments involve risk and, unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial adviser and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. Past performance is not indicative of future performance.