Wealth Management Economic Update March 25, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • In a unanimous decision, the Federal Reserve has dropped “patient” from their description of their philosophy regarding raising interest rates. The committee ruled out the chances of a hike during its next meeting in April, seeming to indicate that the first move could come as early as June. However, the Fed acknowledged that there has been a soft patch in U.S. economic data and that, “the Committee anticipates that it will be appropriate to raise the target range for the federal funds rate when it has seen further improvement in the labor market and is reasonably confident that inflation will move back to its 2% objective over the medium term.” Adding that, “This change in the forward guidance does not indicate that the Committee has decided on the timing of the initial increase in the target range.”
  • brazil_280Brazil’s government will present a package of anti-corruption measures after more the 1 million people took to the nation’s streets in protest, many of them calling for President Rousseff’s impeachment. In the midst of the biggest corruption scandal in the country’s history, higher taxes and increased prices for government regulated goods are further fueling the discontent of Brazilian citizens. Brazil’s currency has fallen to its weakest level in 12 years and its benchmark stock index has fallen over 15% since Rousseff was re-elected last October.

Markets

  • Equity markets rallied this week following the seemingly dovish message sent by the Federal Reserve despite the dropping of the “patient” language. The S&P 500 rose 2.65%, closing at 2,108, while the Dow Jones climbed 2.13% and closed at 18,127. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are up 2.84% and 2.29%, respectively.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets moved downward after the Fed downgraded its view on the economy. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 1.93% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.41%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose a bit this week, gaining 1.96% this week, closing at $45.72 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 14.17%.
  • The spot price of Gold rose by 2.16% this week and closed at $1,183.47 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are virtually unchanged.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims rose a bit from last week, coming in at 291,000 vs. consensus estimates of 293,000. The Labor Department noted that no special factors affected claims this week. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 304,750.
  • Housing starts plunged 17% in February vs. expectations of only a 2.4% decline. This was the largest decline since February 2011. The data may have been skewed by a colder and snowier than normal February, as data from the Midwest (-37%) and Northeast (-57%) were extremely poor.

Fact of the Week

  • According to the Urban Institute, an average ‘high income’ U.S. couple (defined as joint income over $125,000) that will retire in 2020 will have paid $909,000 in Social Security taxes in their lifetime, but only receive $756,000 of Social Security benefits. This is the equivalent to receiving $0.83 in benefits for every $1 put into the system.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update March 16, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • The European Central Bank kicked off its quantitative easing program this week which calls for monthly purchases of €60 billion of government bonds. As a result, the Euro continued its steep decline against the U.S. Dollar, falling to new 12-year lows around $1.05 per €1, appearing to be on course for Euro/Dollar parity in the near future.
  • South Korea this week joined the 24 other countries across the world to ease monetary policy so far in 2015. After lowering economic growth forecasts for the next year from 3.9% to 3.4%, the central bank cut its base rate by 0.25% to a record low of 1.75%.
  • iceland_300Iceland dropped its bid to join the European Union this week. Its original application was submitted six years ago. Prime Minister Gunnlaugsson stated, “Participating in EU talks isn’t really valid anymore. Both due to changes in the EU and because it’s not in line with the policies of the ruling government to accept everything that the last government was willing to accept.”

Markets

  • Equity markets moved lower this week, the result of several volatile trading sessions. The S&P 500 lost 0.81%, closing at 2,053, while the Dow Jones fell 0.52% and closed at 17,749. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are up 0.19% and 0.16%, respectively.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets drifted downward this week, following last week’s upward spike. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 2.12% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.59%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil fell to a new 52 Week Low this week, falling 8.40% this week, closing at $45.12 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 16.80%.
  • The spot price of Gold fell by 0.94% this week and closed at $1,156.36 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are down 2.36%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims fell from last week, coming in at 289,000 vs. consensus estimates of 305,000. The Labor Department noted that no special factors affected claims this week. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 302,500.
  • Headline retail sales unexpectedly fell 0.6% in February, while expectations were for a 0.3% gain. Core retail sales, which are used by the Commerce Department to estimate consumer spending in the GDP calculation, were flat in February vs. expectations of +0.4%. Gasoline station sales rose 1.5% in the month, reflecting higher prices at the pump.
  • The University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey disappointed expectations, coming in at 91.2 in March, down from 95.4 in February. Both consumers’ assessment of current conditions and expectations for the future worsened. Despite the recent downtick, likely due to the recent rise in gas prices, consumer sentiment remains solidly above average levels over the last couple of years.

Fact of the Week

  • Individual Retirement Accounts, or IRAs, were established in the U.S. by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974, with the first year of contributions happening in 1975. A lot has changed for these retirement savings vehicles in their 40 year history. They were originally only available to workers who weren’t covered by employer retirement plans and the contribution maximum was $1,500. In 1981, a new tax law let anyone under the age of 70 ½ contribute to them. In 1986, the Tax Reform Act phased out the deductibility of IRA contributions for high income workers who were also covered by employer plans. Now, IRAs have a contribution limit of $5,500 per year or $6,500 if you’re over 50 years old. Over 43 million Americans now have one or more IRAs and the vast majority of IRA balances are from rollovers from previous employer plans. According to the Federal Reserve, at the end of 2014, there were $3.1 trillion in pension plans, $5.3 trillion in 401(k)-type defined contribution plans and $7.2 trillion invested in IRAs.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update March 10, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • All 31 banks that were tested passed the Federal Reserve imposed stress test on minimum levels of capital. The Fed simulated an economy that faced severely adverse conditions in order to determine if major banks were capitalized enough to remain solvent in those conditions. Next week, the Fed will release the results of the Comprehensive Capital Analysis and Review (CCAR) and will either approve or disapprove of the banks’ capital return plans.
  • india_coin_200The Reserve Bank of India surprised markets by cutting rates for the second time this year. Citing inflation and weakness in the economy, the central bank lowered its benchmark rate by 0.25% to 7.5%. Also joining in the worldwide trend of monetary easing, China also cut their benchmark interest rate by 0.25%. In the last few months, China has seen signs of slowing growth, with GDP dipping to 7.3% in the 4th quarter, its slowest rate of growth in over 20 years.

Markets

  • Equity markets moved lower this week following the release of the monthly non-farm payrolls report. The S&P 500 lost 1.55%, closing at 2,071, while the Dow Jones fell 1.52% and closed at 17,857. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are up 0.99% and 0.67%.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets moved up significantly this week after the better than expected jobs report pushed forward expectations of the Fed’s first rake hike. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 2.25% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.70%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil was up 0.93% this week, closing at $49.26 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 8.40%.
  • The spot price of Gold fell by 3.79% this week and closed at $1,167.24 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are down 1.45%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims jumped up from last week, coming in at 320,000 vs. consensus estimates of 295,000. The Labor Department noted that no special factors affected claims this week. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 305,000.
  • The February jobs report showed a gain of 295,000 non-farm payrolls, beating estimates of 235,000. There was no significant negative weather effect apparent in the data.
    • The unemployment rate dropped to 5.5%, beating expectations of 5.6%. This drop was aided however by a 0.1% drop in the labor force participation rate to 62.8%.
    • Average hourly earnings rose 0.1% in the month, below expectations of 0.2%. Over the last 12 months, wages have grown a subdued 2.0%.
  • The PCE Price index (the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation) fell 0.5% in January, in line with expectations. This was largely due to a 10% drop in energy prices. Core PCE (excludes food and energy) rose 0.1% in the month, also in line with consensus. Core prices are up 1.3% over the last year, well below the Fed’s 2% inflation target.

Fact of the Week

  • The NASDAQ Composite traded over the 5,000 threshold this week for the first time since March 2000. In the 15 years it took to regain this level, the composition of the index has changed quite a bit. One difference is the valuations of the representative companies are drastically different. Today the NASDAQ has a price to earnings ratio (price per share of stock for every $1 per share of earnings) is 21.5 compared to 107 in 2000. Some of the top 10 stocks in the NASDAQ in March 2000 were WorldCom, Dell, Sun Microsystems and JDS Uniphase.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update March 2, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • Greece submitted its list of economic reform plans to the Eurozone finance ministers just before Monday’s deadline. While the list was approved, clearing the path for a four month extension to Greece’s bailout funding, the finance ministers warned that the reforms must be expanded in detail before new bailout funding would be released.
  • Following months of negotiations, West Coast ports have been reopened and are working at full speed after a new five year labor contract agreement was reached. Port officials estimate that it will take at least three months to clear the backlog of containers that have been piling up during the labor stoppage. The strike has disrupted shipments for companies across the country as merchandise has been sitting idle in stacked containers, waiting to be unloaded.
  • world_internet_000003759439_320The FCC has approved net neutrality restrictions on the internet, reclassifying broadband services under the Telecommunications Act. The vote for the measure was 3 to 2 and went down party lines with the Democrats carrying the vote. The new rules will prevent internet service providers from prioritizing the speeds of service they provide to customers and charging higher rates for ‘fast lanes’ of the internet. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the action was an “irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the internet.”

Markets

  • Equity markets were mostly flat this week. The S&P 500 lost 0.24%, closing at 2,104, while the Dow Jones gained 0.02% and closed at 18,033. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are up 2.57% and 2.22%.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets moved down this week. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 2.00% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.50%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil fell this week, losing 3.05% and closing at $49.26 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 9.21%.
  • The spot price of Gold rose by 0.92% this week and closed at $1,213.00 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 2.41%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims jumped up from last week, coming in at 313,000 vs. consensus estimates of 290,000. The Labor Department noted that no special factors affected claims this week. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 294,500.
  • The Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.9% in December vs. consensus estimates of a 0.6% increase. Appreciation was seen across all 20 of the cities monitored in this index. Over the past year, home prices have risen 4.5% as measured by the index.
  • The headline Consumer Price Index (measure of inflation) fell 0.7% in January, pushed lower by an 18.7% drop in gasoline prices. Core CPI, which does not include food or energy, rose 0.2%, better than the expected 0.1%. Despite this better core CPI number for January, the one year rate of change stands at a subdued 1.6%.

Fact of the Week

  • On July 15, 2014, Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen stated in her scheduled testimony to Congress that, “Equity valuations of smaller firms as well as social media and biotechnology firms appear to be stretched…” This sort of sector specific commentary from a Fed Chair was highly unusual and questioned at the time. Her call on social media stocks was good, as since then, those stocks have returned -1.11% (as measured by the Global X Social Media ETF, SOCL) compared to the S&P 500 return of 7.9% during that time. However, her biotech call doesn’t look so good as those stocks have gained 52.3% (as measured by the SPDR Biotech ETF, XBI) in that time. Yellen was back in front of Congress again this week but didn’t provide any asset class valuation calls this time around.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update February 24, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • After a full week of contentious negotiations, a tentative agreement has been reached between Greece and Eurozone finance ministers, which would provide for a four month extension of Greece’s bailout program. This would allow Greece to access €10 billion of funding the country desperately needs. New Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras had been seeking a six month extension and a roll back of the austerity measures the original bailout had been contingent upon, instead winding up with only four months and no change to austerity. Greece must provide an action plan on Monday outlining steps they will be taking to improve its fiscal situation in order for the deal to be complete.  Additionally, Greece will be subject to reviews by the IMF and the ECB to ensure they are following the terms of the agreement, conditions which the country had been fighting against. Temporarily preventing Greece from exiting the Eurozone, this ‘kick the can down the road’ agreement will likely lead to the situation being revisited in four months.
  • russia_000057310942LargeThe U.S. has accused Russia of violating the ceasefire in Ukraine. This is amid reports that Ukrainian troops are pulling out of the key railroad hub town of Debaltseve after separatist forces fought their way into the key railway junction on Tuesday. Vice President Joe Biden strongly condemned the violence and warned the “costs to Russia will rise if it continues to violate the Minsk agreements.”
  • Minutes from the January Fed meeting showed the committee to be a bit more dovish than consensus believed. There was no clear indication that most participants thought that ‘patience’ should be removed from the upcoming Fed statement as it pertains to when an initial rate hike will come. Many still believe the Fed is on track for a June or September initial hiking of the Fed Funds rate, as long as employment and inflation data continue to improve.

Markets

  • Equity markets continued to rise this week following the four month Greek extension as both the S&P 500 and Dow Jones closed the week at new All-Time Highs. The S&P 500 gained 0.67%, closing at 2,110, while the Dow Jones gained 0.69% and closed at 18,140. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are up 2.80% and 2.17%.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets continued to creep upwards this week. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 2.12% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.60%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil fell this week, losing 4.62% and closing at $50.34 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 5.50%.
  • The spot price of Gold fell by 2.23% this week and closed at $1,229.66 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 1.51%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims decreased from last week, coming in at 283,000 vs. consensus estimates of 290,000. The Labor Department noted that some states had to have their claims estimated due to severe weather. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 283,250.

Fact of the Week

  • Since the beginning of 1986 through close today, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has risen from 1,547 to 18,140, a price increase of 1,072%. Breaking down when these gains occurred results in a pretty interesting finding. The combined gains on the index on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays comes to 988.46%, while the combined gain of Thursdays and Fridays is just 8.95%. The Dow has been doing its work early in the week and been taking four day weekends for 30 years. (Source: Eddy Elfenbein, Crossing Wall Street)

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update February 16, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • After unsuccessful meetings this week in Brussels, Belgium, European finance ministers put off decisions on Greece’s bailout terms until they reconvene next week. Greece is trying to negotiate a €10 billion bridge loan to keep the country solvent as it works with its creditors. Greek officials are promising they will make every effort to reach an agreement on conditions for a new support program although new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras continues to vow to roll back austerity measures in the country, jeopardizing its ability to renegotiate.
  • A ceasefire between Russia and Ukraine has been reached and will begin on February 15th. This was the result of a 17 hour meeting between leaders of Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany. The new deal revives a failed September agreement and includes commitments from each side to pull back heavy weapons. Should this agreement fail, many Western nations are considering increased sanctions against Russia.
  • Sweden has joined the fray when it comes to central bank easing as its Riksbank cut its repo rate into negative territory, down to -0.1%. Riksbank also announced a 10 billion kronor ($1.2 billion) quantitative easing program in which the bank will purchase Swedish government bonds.

Markets

  • Equity markets continued to rally this week, with the S&P 500 gaining 2.09% and closing at a new All-Time High of 2,097. Likewise, the Dow Jones gained 1.26% and closed at 18,019. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are up 2.11% and 1.47%.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets continued to creep upwards this week. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 2.04% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.53%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil continued to rise from very low levels, gaining 1.64% and closing at $52.54 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 2.16%.
  • The spot price of Gold fell by 0.35% this week and closed at $1,229.66 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 3.82%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims increased from last week, coming in at 304,000 vs. consensus estimates of 287,000. The Labor Department noted that some states had to have their claims estimated due to severe weather. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 289,750.
  • Headline retail sales declined 0.8% in January, more than the 0.4% decline that was expected. The drop was largely due to a 9.3% drop in gasoline station sales due to lower prices. This indicates that consumers are not yet spending the savings they’ve been enjoying at the gas pump, but this is not terribly surprising as oil price declines have historically affected the economy with a lag.

Fact of the Week

  • According to the Treasury Department, the average interest rate paid by the US government on the country’s interest-bearing debt has fallen by more than half over the last 8 years, dropping from 5.03% at the end of 2006 to 2.37% at the end of 2014.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update February 11, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • The second full week of the Syriza Party’s power in Greece was another tumultuous one that first started with Germany ruling out any debt write downs for Greece and an ECB policymaker threatening to cut off funding to Greek banks if Athens doesn’t agree to renew its bailout package. Fears were calmed a bit when Greece proposed ending the confrontation with its creditors by swapping outstanding debt for new growth-linked bonds, running a permanent budget surplus and targeting wealthy tax-evaders. However, later in the week the ECB put more pressure on Greece by revoking a waiver that allowed banks to use Greek government debt as collateral for loans. All of this is to say, stay tuned to the Greek situation.
  • australia_000047410124_300The Reserve Bank of Australia has joined the easing party, becoming the latest global central bank to cut interest rates in response to slowing inflation and concerns about economic growth. The RBA’s cut was its first change since August 2014 and lowered its benchmark rate by 0.25% to a new low of 2.25%

Markets

  • Equity markets rallied this week, with the S&P 500 gaining 3.09% and closing at 2,055. Likewise, the Dow Jones gained 3.86% and closed at 17,824. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are virtually unchanged.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets spiked up this week, especially after a solid employment report seemed supportive of a Fed rate hike during the summer. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 1.97% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.49%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil continued to bounce from very low levels, rising 8.37% and closing at $52.28 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 2.64%.
  • The spot price of Gold fell by 3.88% this week and closed at $1,234.04 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 4.19%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims increased a bit from last week but remained quite low, coming in at 278,000 vs. consensus estimates of 290,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors affecting the report. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 292,750.
  • The January nonfarm payroll employment report showed a gain of 257,000 jobs vs. expectations of 228,000. Job gains for November and December were revised up by a combined 147,000, bringing the three month average gain to 336,000 jobs.
    • The headline unemployment rate ticked up from 5.6% to 5.7%. However, the labor force participation rate increased 0.2% to 62.9% which is what pushed the unemployment rate up.
    • Another positive sign was average hourly earnings rising 0.5% vs. expectations of 0.3%. The 1 year growth in average hourly earnings now stands at 2.2%.

Fact of the Week

  • According to World Bank, if the state of California were a country, its $2.2 trillion economy would rank as the 8th largest in the world, ahead of Russia, Italy, India, Canada, Australia and Spain.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update February 2, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • The left-wing, anti-austerity Syriza party won the general election in Greece on Sunday, raising concerns over the country’s future status as member of the European Union. Party leader Alexis Tsipras has already moved to form a coalition that will work to reverse years of austerity measures imposed by the Troika. The Syriza government also came out against increasing sanctions on Russia for escalating violence in Ukraine. This could be very problematic for EU foreign policy, as further sanctions must be unanimously voted upon by all EU nations.
  • Just about a week after President Obama floated the idea of ending the tax advantage of 529 College Savings plans, the administration has decided to scrap the proposal. Amid outrage from a broad range of Americans, Obama has decided that the plan is a “distraction” and will seek to raise revenue in other ways.
  • ruble_320Ratings agency Standard and Poor’s downgraded Russia’s credit rating to junk, due to weak economic growth prospects, low oil prices and sanctions from the West. The move sent the Russian currency, the ruble, plunging to new lows.

Markets

  • Equity markets tumbled this week with the S&P 500 falling 2.75% and closing at 1,995. Likewise, the Dow Jones lost 2.87% and closed at 17,165. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are down 3.00% and 3.58% respectively.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets remained at very low levels this week. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 1.65% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.17%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil reversed course after a sharp bounce on Friday, rising 4.89% and closing at $47.82 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 10.95%.
  • The spot price of Gold fell by 0.79% this week and closed at $1,283.92 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 8.41%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims declined sharply from last week, coming in at 265,000 vs. consensus estimates of 300,000. This was a new low mark for the recovery. While the Labor Department noted no special factors affecting the report, the holiday shortened week (MLK Day) may have skewed the data. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 298,500.
  • The Case-Shiller home price index rose 0.7% in November vs. expectations of 0.6%. This represents the strongest monthly gain since March. Over the last 12 months, home prices as measured by the index have risen 4.3%.
  • The first estimate of GDP showed 2.6% growth vs. expectations of 3%. Growth was aided by a strong 4.3% increase in consumer spending but was suppressed by increasing import activity. Full year 2014 GDP growth now stands at 2.5%, which is a solid gain especially given the -2.1% number posted in the 1st quarter of 2014.

Fact of the Week

  • Apple reported earnings this week, showing that the company has $178 billion in cash reserves on its balance sheet. The size of this cash component alone would rank it 5th in size in the entire S&P 500. This amount of cash would be enough to give each American $556 or purchase every pro sports franchise in the NFL, MLB, NBA and NHL.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

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Wealth Management Economic Update January 26, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • President Obama delivered his State of the Union address this week, declaring that the economy has recovered under his leadership and discussed several measures that he would like to see enacted during his final two years in office. Among them, he called on Congress to impose new taxes on high-income earners and new fees on large financial institutions. Obama also reiterated his plan to offer free community college that would be funded by the federal and state government, but is seemingly seeking to discourage individuals from saving for their child’s college by eliminating the tax advantages of Section 529 and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. Many of the issues he raised have little to no chance of passing in the Republican controlled House and Senate.
  • European Central Bank President Mario Draghi announced this week that the central bank plans to expand its purchase of European government bonds to €60 billion per month until at least September 2016. While additional quantitative easing was expected, the size of the program was larger than consensus expectations. The goal of the plan is to reverse deflationary pressures that are weighing on the Eurozone as many of the country’s economies have stagnated recently.
  • oil-rig_000003751456_250King Abdullah, 91, of Saudi Arabia died this week, calling into question the future of the Saudi’s strategy for crude oil production. Historically, the country has been the oil market’s swing producer, altering production volumes based on demand in order to keep prices stable, but this has not been the case during the current plunge in oil prices. Abdullah’s half-brother, Crown Prince Salman has been declared King and a key indicator of the future Saudi oil policy will be whether Salman retains oil minister Ali Al-Naimi, who has driven the decision making since 1995.

Markets

  • Equity markets ended positively this week following the ECB’s announcement of an increased quantitative easing program. The S&P 500 rose 1.62% and closed at 2,052. Likewise, the Dow Jones gained 0.95% and closed at 17,673. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are down 0.26% and 0.73% respectively.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets remained at very low levels this week. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 1.79% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.31%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil plunged again this week, falling 7.63% and closing at $45.32 per barrel. In 2015, WTI Oil prices have fallen 15.49%.  According to AAA, the national average gas price is now $2.04/gallon as compared to $3.29 a year ago.
  • The spot price of Gold rose by 1.09% this week and closed at $1,294.39 per ounce. Year to date, gold prices are up 9.29%.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims declined from last week, coming in at 307,000 vs. consensus estimates of 300,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors affecting the report. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 306,500.
  • Housing starts rose 4.4% in December against expectations of 1.2%. Rising 7.2% in the month, the increase was primarily from the single-family home category which is a more positive signal.
  • China reported that its economy grew by 7.4% in 2014, its slowest pace since 1990 when growth was only 3.8% as a result of international sanctions following the Tiananmen Square massacre. The slowing growth pace has prompted speculation that the People’s Bank of China may undergo additional support measures.

Fact of the Week

  • The economy of the United States is estimated to be $17.5 trillion, representing 23% of the $77.6 trillion global economy. The 19 countries that make up the Eurozone and use the common currency collectively have an economy of $13.2 trillion, or 17% of the global economy.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management

Wealth Management Economic Update January 20, 2015

U.S. and World News

  • Switzerland_swiss_250The Swiss National Bank shocked markets this week when it unexpectedly scrapped the cap that it had placed on its currency, the Swiss Franc, relative to the price of the Euro (€). The move is an attempt to fight recession and deflation threats in Switzerland that has resulted from overall economic weakness in Europe. The cost of defending that cap had become extraordinarily high, and with speculation that the European Central Bank could be announcing a large Quantitative Easing program, costs would continue to go up as the Euro would surely continue depreciating. After the announcement, the Swiss Franc nearly immediately appreciated by almost 30% against the Euro and 15% against the US Dollar.
  • India’s central bank also surprised the market with an unexpected cut in interest rates in an effort to improve growth in the country. Central bank Governor Raghuram Rajan lowered the repurchase rate in India to 7.75% from 8%, the first rate reduction in two years, as lower food and energy prices have eased inflationary fears.
  • As of Friday, Americans will be able to visit Cuba without obtaining a license from the Treasury Department. Many US airlines announced plans to seek regular service to and from Cuba. The issue of the 54 year old trade embargo with Cuba remains, as this can only be lifted by Congress and prohibits American companies from doing business in the country.

Markets

  • Equity markets ended with another volatile week. The S&P fell 1.24% and closed at 2,019. Likewise, the Dow Jones trickled down 1.27% and closed at 17,512. Year to date, the S&P and Dow Jones are down 1.92% and 1.75% respectively.
  • Yields in the Treasury markets continued their downward trend. The 10 year Treasury bond now yields 1.84% and the 5 year Treasury bond yields 1.30%.
  • The spot price of WTI Crude Oil rose slightly by 0.23% and closed at $48.47 per barrel. Year to date, the spot price of WTI Crude Oil is down 9.01%.
  • The spot price of Gold rose by 4.68% this week and closed at $1,280.45 per ounce.

Economic Data

  • Initial jobless claims rose from last week, coming in at 316,000 vs. consensus estimates of 290,000. The Labor Department noted no special factors affecting the report. The four week moving average for claims now stands at 298,000, an increase of 7,000.
  • Headline retail sales fell 0.9% in December vs. expectations of -0.1%. Expectedly, gasoline station sales were a drag on retail sales, falling 6.5% in the month.
  • The headline Consumer Price Index declined 0.4% in December, which was in line with consensus. Much of the decline was due to a 4.7% fall in energy prices. Core CPI which excludes food and energy was unchanged in December. Over the past year, both headline and core prices have been very subdued, rising only 0.8% and 1.6% respectively.

Fact of the Week

  • In March 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected that the taxpayer cost of the August 2008 TARP bailout would be $356 billion. However, a report by the Treasury Department in December 2014 showed an overall $15 billion profit from the TARP program.

Please contact a member of the Wealth Management Department if you have any questions about this information.

Rich Gartelmann CFP® – (630) 844-5730 rgartelmann@oldsecond.com
Jean Van Keppel CFA® – (630) 906-5489 jvankeppel@oldsecond.com
Brad Johnson CFA® – (630) 906-5545 bjohnson@oldsecond.com
Joel Binder, SVP – (630) 844-6767 jbinder@oldsecond.com
Jacqueline Runnberg CFP® – (630) 966-2462 jrunnberg@oldsecond.com
Tamara Wiley, CFP® – (630) 844-3222 twiley@oldsecond.com
Ed Gorenz, VP – (630) 906-5467 ejgorenz@oldsecond.com

Visit Old Second Wealth Management