­­­­­­­

The Ricks Report

May 1, 2017

Numbers of $ignificance

  • AFTER TAX REFORM – Following the 10/22/86 signing of the “Tax Reform Act of 1986,” the US economy grew by an average of +3.8% per year for the subsequent 3-years, i.e., 1987-88-89 (source: Department of Commerce).
  • GAMES THEY PLAY – The Congressional procedure of “reconciliation” (i.e., passage of a bill with a “simple majority” instead of a “three-fifths” majority) can be used only if the legislation has been “scored” to show that the bill will not increase the country’s deficit beyond 10 years. For this reason, past tax reform legislation has included tax changes that “expire” within a 10-year period of time (source: Congress).  

Winning at Life with Gregory Ricks

Tune in to every weeknight from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm and every Saturday from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm!  We are now on News Talk 99.5 WRNO and News Talk 104.9 WBUV, as well as Facebook LIVE, Periscope (GregoryRicks) and the iHeart app.  Gregory Ricks and James Parker will be live in studio talking about some great current events and financial solutions.

The Markets

It was a good week to own stocks.

Not all financial news was good news last week, but that didn’t prevent U.S. stock markets from moving higher. Barron’s reported on the good news:

“This past week, welcome political news from Europe, a batch of stellar corporate-earnings reports, and a concrete tax proposal to cut corporate and some personal rates sharply gave the bull even more reasons to rally. By Friday’s close, the Dow Jones industrials and other market measures were standing near all-time highs.”

Overall, corporate earnings were quite strong during the first quarter of 2017, according to FactSet. With 58 percent of the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index reporting in, earnings are showing double-digit growth for the first time since 2011.

That’s exhilarating news for investors.

Economists had less to celebrate. The Commerce Department’s first estimate indicated the U.S. economy got off to a slow start during 2017. Gross domestic product (GDP), which measures the value of all goods and services produced, came in below expectations and grew at the slowest rate in three years. Bloomberg reported:

“The GDP slowdown owes partly to transitory forces such as warm weather and volatility in inventories, which supports forecasts for a rebound as high confidence among companies and consumers and a solid job market underpin growth. Even so, the weakness at car dealers could weigh on expansion, and further gains in business investment could depend on the extent of policy support such as tax cuts.”

Keep an eye on Congress and the Federal Reserve. Changing fiscal and monetary policies are expected to have a significant influence on markets and the economy.

 

Data as of 4/28/17 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) 1.5% 6.5% 14.9% 8.5% 11.3% 4.9%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. 2.3 9.5 9.6 -0.7 3.1 -1.1
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.3 NA 1.8 2.7 1.9 4.6
Gold (per ounce) -1.2 9.3 0.8 -0.8 -5.2 6.5
Bloomberg Commodity Index 0.1 -4.0 -1.8 -15.4 -9.9 -7.0
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index -2.3 3.0 6.8 9.8 9.8 5.0

S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

What did you say? If you find yourself tuning-out in loud restaurants, asking people to repeat themselves frequently, or cupping an ear in an effort to better understand what a friend or colleague is saying, then you may be interested to learn that hearing loss is one of the most prevalent health issues for older Americans. It ranks third, right behind arthritis and heart disease, according to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

Hearing loss isn’t just an issue for older Americans, though. Twenty percent of American teenagers experience hearing loss, and it’s a significant issue for combat soldiers and veterans. The Washington Post reported:

“A study by the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which covered over 90,000 veterans of Afghanistan and Iraq seeking VA care from fiscal 2006-2007, may serve as a general guide. Among male veterans seeking VA care, 16.4 percent to 26.6 percent suffer from serious hearing loss and tinnitus, and 7.3 percent to 13.4 percent of female veterans are affected. How much of this is combat-related or due to environmental factors such as background noise, training, and even medication is unknown.”

Remarkably, many people ignore their hearing loss. Just 16 percent of Americans (age 69 or younger) with hearing issues use hearing devices. It’s a decision that can have serious consequences since studies have linked hearing loss and cognitive decline, reported NPR.

A new generation of hearing devices, called personal sound amplification products (PSAPs), may help reduce the stigma attached to wearing hearing aids. They’re designed to look like stylish fashion accessories or ear buds, and they’re controlled with smartphone apps.

The real selling point may prove to be that PSAPs are far less expensive than traditional hearing aids.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“Most of the successful people I’ve known are the ones who do more listening than talking.”

Bernard Baruch, American financier and statesman

 

Best regards,

Gregory Ricks

 

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address.

Gregory Ricks & Associates is a Registered Investment Advisor which offers services and charges fees as set forth in Form ADV, a copy of which you should obtain prior to investment. 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.  Investments involve risk and unless otherwise stated, are not guaranteed.  Be sure to first consult with a qualified financial advisor and/or tax professional before implementing any strategy discussed herein. 

                                   

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

* Past performance does not guarantee future results.

* You cannot invest directly in an index

Sources:

http://www.barrons.com/articles/poll-top-money-managers-favor-tech-finance-1493438722 (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/05-01-17_Barrons-Poll-Top_Money_Managers_Favor_Tech_Finance-Footnote_1.pdf)

https://insight.factset.com/hubfs/Resources/Research%20Desk/Earnings%20Insight/EarningsInsight_042817.pdf (Pages 1-2)

https://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/national/gdp/gdpnewsrelease.htm

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-28/u-s-economy-expands-at-slowest-pace-in-three-years

http://www.hearingloss.org/sites/default/files/docs/HearingLoss_Facts_Statistics.pdf

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/checkpoint/wp/2016/04/12/we-treat-hearing-loss-as-an-inevitable-cost-of-war-it-shouldnt-be/?utm_term=.2e6442644b83

http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/04/24/524946910/is-it-time-for-hearing-aids-to-be-sold-over-the-counter

https://www.inc.com/dave-kerpen/15-quotes-to-inspire-you-to-become-a-better-listener.html