This year has been a rollercoaster ride. COVID has dominated the headlines and impacted every aspect of our lives. It has shut down businesses, schools, and workplaces. It’s changed the way we interact and socialize. And of course, it has deeply impacted the economy and the financial markets.
It can be hard in 2020 to find the good news, but there actually are a few economic developments for which we can be grateful. There’s also quite a bit of uncertainty ahead of us. As we approach the end of 2020, now may be a good time to reflect on what has transpired over the past 11 months, and what steps you may need to take to prepare for what comes next.
Below are three positive developments that you may want to consider as you prepare for 2021:
The Markets Rebound
COVID ended the longest bull market and longest economic expansion in history. The previous bull market started in 2009 and lasted for nearly a decade before crashing in just a few short weeks over February and January of this year.1
Between February 19 and March 23, the S&P 500 fell 33.93%. Since that point, though, the markets have surged. From March 23 through October 29, the S&P 500 is up 47.94% and is nearly back to its pre-COVID levels.2
As mentioned, though, there is still uncertainty ahead. The COVID pandemic is far from over. There’s also uncertainty about how the results of the election will impact the markets, the economy, and the country’s COVID response.
While the market's rebound is a fortunate turn of events, there’s no guarantee that it will continue. Now is a good time to evaluate your strategy and lock-in any gains before another potential downturn occurs. A financial professional can help you explore options.
In the second quarter, GDP fell by 31.4%, the largest quarterly drop in history. In the third quarter, it rebounded by 33.1%, the largest quarterly gain in history. That number easily beat the previous record of 16.7% in the third quarter of 1950.3
Much of the rebound was driven by the service industry and the reopening of much of the economy. Of course, the continuing rise in COVID cases may threaten the economic rebound. Twenty-nine states hit record levels for daily new cases in October. Forty states had an increase of 10% just in the last week of October.4
CARES Act Financial Flexibility
The COVID pandemic and its economic fallout have created financial challenges for millions of Americans. While the government is still debating a second round of stimulus, the first round, known as the CARES Act, continues to provide financial flexibility for those facing difficulties.
As part of the CARES Act, you can withdraw up to $100,000 from your 401(k) or IRA without facing early distribution penalties. The taxes on the distribution can even be spread out over a three-year period.5
Granted, withdrawing money from your 401(k) or IRA isn’t the best strategy for your retirement. However, it is an added measure of flexibility that didn’t exist prior to this year and it could be a blessing if you’re struggling due to the COVID pandemic.
The end of 2020 is approaching. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but there have been some positive developments, especially in the second half of the year. Let’s talk about how to protect what you have and limit your exposure to future risk and uncertainty. Contact us today at Carstens Financial Group and let’s start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency.
The recovery in the financial markets hit some turbulence in October, as investors wrestled with anxiety about increasing COVID cases. However, a surge in gross domestic product (GDP) in the third quarter may signal that the economy is on the rebound.1
Through October 28, all major indexes had mostly recouped most of their losses from the COVID crash in March. However, all were down for the month of October. Below is each index’s return from October 1 through October 28:
S&P 500: -2.73%2
Here are the year-to-date returns of the major indexes:
S&P 500: 0.40%2
What spooked the markets in October? There are a few factors, but as is the case with most things in 2020, COVID may be the primary factor.
COVID Cases Ramp Up
The COVID numbers are surging in the United States, suggesting that the end of the pandemic may be nowhere in sight. On Wednesday, October 28, the seven-day average for new daily cases hit an all-time high of 71,832, an increase of more than 20% in only a week.5
Twenty-nine states hit record levels for daily new cases in October. Forty states had an increase of 10% just in the last week of October.6 Thirty-six states had increases of at least 5% in COVID-related hospitalizations in the final week of October.5
The surge in cases is leading to a new round of business closures and regulations. Illinois recently stopped indoor dining at bars and restaurants.7 Investors may be spooked by the prospect of a second round of closures and its impact on the economy. A new report from Yelp found that 60% of businesses that were shutdown for COVID will never reopen.8
The uncertainty of a second stimulus may also be a drag on the markets. In fact, Gary Cohn, former president and CEO of Goldman Sachs and former White House National Economic Council Director, says it is a primary factor driving the markets’ poor performance in October.9
He added in a recent interview that, “no one thinks we’re going to have stimulus until after the election,” and that, “we know that the markets do not like unpredictability.” He said that there was “100% probability” that stimulus won’t happen until after November 3rd, and possibly not until after the inauguration.9
Some recent data on mutual fund flows may provide insight into how investors feel about the financial markets. Through October 21, equity funds (including mutual funds and ETFs) saw net outflows for 11 consecutive weeks. That means more money flowed out of these funds than flowed into them.10
On the other side, taxable fixed-income ETFs have seen four straight weeks of net inflows. That may mean that investors are leaving equities for fixed income securities, even with interest rates near zero.10
GDP Surges in 3rd Quarter
On a positive note, GDP surged by 33.1% in the third quarter, beating analyst expectations of 32%. The third quarter number is the largest quarterly GDP gain on record, easily beating the previous high of 16.7% in the third quarter of 1950.11
Of course, the third quarter surge comes after a 31.4% decline in GDP in the second quarter. Even with the increase in the third quarter, the economy is still projected to contract by 3.5% in 2020.11
The markets and the economy have rebounded, but the future is still uncertain. This may be a good time to explore options that can protect your assets from market volatility. Contact us today at Carstens Financial Group. We can help you explore these options and implement a strategy to protect your financial future. Let’s connect today and start the conversation.
Licensed Insurance Professional. This information is designed to provide a general overview with regard to the subject matter covered and is not state specific. The authors, publisher and host are not providing legal, accounting or specific advice for your situation. By providing your information, you give consent to be contacted about the possible sale of an insurance or annuity product. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting insurance professional. The statements and opinions expressed are those of the author and are subject to change at any time. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, presenting insurance professional makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. This material has been prepared for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, accounting, legal, tax or investment advice. This information has been provided by a Licensed Insurance Professional and is not sponsored or endorsed by the Social Security Administration or any government agency. 20420 - 2020/9/18
Carstens Financial Group focuses on providing comprehensive asset management, estate planning and life insurance solutions. Allow us to help you secure your financial future.