A Personal Note from Cam – Dated June 16, 2021
I was reminded of a childhood experience during a recent conversation.
When you were a kid, did you ever ride your bike, or perhaps a scooter or skateboard down a steep hill only to figure out that you were going too fast and as you continued to gain more speed, the wheels started to vibrate and you realized that you were out of control? What did you do?
If you were anything like me, you slammed on the brakes or pushed a foot to the ground and hoped like the dickens you would slow down before you crashed!
The scare that comes to us when we are in a situation when we are out of control is part of human nature.
I would like to suggest that we are starting to feel speed wobble in the U.S. economy right now.
It is not difficult to notice the obvious things. Gas prices have risen sharply since the first of the year. Raw materials like lumber, steel and industrial copper have all increased significantly in price due to production halts during the COVID-19 pandemic. The cost of labor from record unemployment exacerbated by the government paying people $17.25 an hour to stay home is being passed on to consumers. Speed wobble.[i]
As the economy begins to reopen, I can pretty much guarantee that the cost of almost everything is going to increase. Small-business owners have been warning for months that if they had to raise wages to compete with government handouts (think increased unemployment benefits), those costs would have to be passed on to consumers, when and if they are able to rehire once again. That time has come and now they are attempting to rehire.
Here is an example of a hiring situation faced by a local small business owner in my community.
A couple Sunday’s ago, Jane and I played golf with a gentleman that joined our twosome on the first tee. By profession he is a medical doctor, and, I should add, a good golfer and nice gentleman. As we walked and talked, he shared the challenges his son, a restaurant owner, is currently faced with.
First, the head chef no longer wants to work as a salaried W-2 employee, as was the case pre-COVID. Rather, he now wants his working relationship to “off-the-books,” with a 50% increase in his weekly salary if he returns to his position! Speed wobble.
More startling to me was a story about a prospective table busser. The prospective busser, a 20-something young man, had recently arrived in America through Mexico with the help of a Coyote.
He came to America because he wanted a better financial future. Based on what I heard, he seems to be a hard worker. At the time of the interview, he had two jobs and was hoping to get another busser position so he could work 7 days a week. He shared he still owes his Coyote over $12,000. The sooner he could pay-off this debt, the better.
Currently he is working as a busser at two well-known non-chain restaurants in the Glendale-Pasadena area. Jane and I have eaten at both of them over the years. As the story goes, he is being paid $22 cash per hour at one restaurant and $20 at the other. Since he does not have “official papers or proof of citizenship” he is seeking work only if he will be paid in “cash” and he wants a minimum of $20 per hour. Speed wobble.
My point in sharing this story about one local restaurant owner attempting to reopen his business is that costs are going up in the labor market, along with the cost of food and other goods, and each of us will be paying more in the months ahead as we begin to venture out.
A Return to “Normal” Amid Uncertainty
I continue to expect a robust recovery.
In my opinion, the American economy, with a recovering job market, a sharp rise in consumer spending and the widespread vaccination of Americans are all leading to one of the biggest economic booms in decades.
I also expect this recovery will have a number of major bumps in it. The reason is simple. To the greatest extent, the future is unknown.
The economy may be humming along and then comes a bolt out of the blue – think Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, 9/11, the collapse of Bear Stearns or the worldwide spread of COVID-19 – each of these recent events certainly upset the financial markets and unless you were following a well-thought our financial plan, you could have potentially wrecked even the best-laid investment plans over the short term.[ii]
Currently on Capitol Hill, the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus – yes, believe it or not, Republicans and Democrats are actually working together – are proposing a compromise Infrastructure Package, splitting the difference between the big-spending Biden White House plan and the more diminutive GOP structure. At $1.25 trillion overall ($959 billion over the first eight years), it’s heavy on things like road repair but does not include things like broadband or child care.
In an effort not to let politics destroy attempts of elected lawmakers to provide needs to the American public, the compromise solution offers more than $800 billion to fix roads, bridges, airports and water ports, with around $200 billion allotted toward energy, water, telecom and veterans’ housing. Much of this plan addresses infrastructure that is badly in disrepair after decades of neglect. It also provides money for climate change initiatives like wind, solar and even grants $25 billion to electrical vehicles.
Will it be enough to pass a calcified, bifurcated Congress? That’s the $64 million (or “billion”) question. If compromise were to be hashed out, it would provide further stimulus to the U.S. labor force in addition to increasing safety and accommodation in modernizing our transportation throughways. This, in turn, may suggest that a bipartisan Congress may materially improve our American lives, and turn our so-far “Good” Reopening to a “Great” one.[iii]
The Wealth Development System™
Trevor and I have learned over our careers that we can have had rip-roaring bull markets and treacherous bear markets during both Republican and Democratic administrations. The same is true with and without supporting majorities in the House and Senate.
We also know that to be successful with your own financial plan over the long-term, you must accept two basic premises – that the future is unknown and that “normal” changes over time.
Because the future is unknown, we believe that disciplined investing means spreading out your risks and bets.
For over 30 years, we have relied on our proprietary program known as The Wealth Development System™ to help you fulfill your lifetime goals.
The Wealth Development System™ is a customized and wide-ranging wealth growth and preservation process that enables us to assist you in trying to achieve your lifetime goals by eliminating the guesswork from financial planning. At its very core, The Wealth Development System™ preaches discipline, diversification, patience and adherence to long-term investment principles.
In financial terms, we create core portfolios following an asset allocation approach to investing. The concept with asset allocation is to spread risk among different types of equities – growth and value stocks, large and small cap stocks, foreign and domestic stocks – as well as different types of fixed income investments such as high-grade bonds and inflation-adjusted Treasury securities.
In addition to asset allocation, you can reduce your risk by diversifying within each asset class. That, in our book is smart, disciplined investing.
On behalf of Trevor and our entire team, I wish you continued abundance. Thank you for allowing each of us the ongoing opportunity to help you and your family navigate through life’s challenges.
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[i] West Coast Settlements. Tony Abbadessa. May 21, 2021, Speed Wobble.
[ii] Liberty Through Wealth. Alexander Green. May 21, 2021, What if You’re Wrong?
[iii] Zacks Advisor Insights. Zacks Professional Services. June 14, 2021.