Registered Investment Advisor
900 Walt Whitman Road, Suite 208
Melville, NY 11747
 (631) 923-2485
Investment Newsletter - Q1 2020
Greetings!

Welcome all to 2020, the start of a new decade! To many people, the dawning of the 21st century in some ways does not seem like 20 years ago (remember the concern over Y2K??), yet in many other ways, seems like a lifetime ago. The thought then that people would not only walk around with portable phones, but portable computers, as well as the proliferation of the internet, would have been hard to picture back then.

Onto the economy and the stock market, we give you our thoughts, specifically on the past quarter and outlook further below. If you would like, we also have a link to outlooks for 2020, that goes into much further detail. To see Vanguard's "2020 Outlook at a Glance", click here . To read Russell Investments executive summary of their "2020 Global Market Outlook", click here , and if you would like to read the full report of their "2020 Global Market Outlook", click here .

In this issue of our Investment Newsletter:

  • Our current investment topic is: Asset Equalization Among Spouses: Why It's Important

  • A recap of the SECURE Act, new legislation that makes some significant changes that impact retirement plans for all Americans, and while there are some benefits of the legislation, there are definitely some major negatives.

  • An overview of recent market activity, along with Our Perspective...

  • A recap of the performance of major market indices from the past quarter 

  • Financial Resolutions in the New Year - CARPE DIEM!

  • Upcoming Economic Calendar

You will find past investment articles, by clicking the Articles tab above, or directly on our website, found under Periodicals. 

If there is a topic of interest you would like to see covered in the future, please reply back to this email to let us know, or  click here . Likewise, if you have any questions on this or anything else, feel free to reply back.
Investment Topic

Asset Equalization Among Spouses: Why It's Important

For our investment topic, " Asset Equalization Among Spouses: Why It's Important " we attempt to give a high-level overview of the topic. To learn more, please click here

On December 20th President Trump signed into law the SECURE Act, a bill which received a significant amount of bipartisan support in the United States Congress. The new legislation makes some significant changes that impact retirement plans for all Americans.  Like all legislation, there will be pros and cons. If interested in a recap, it is posted on our website under Articles, or you can simply click here .
Our Perspective on Recent Market News and Activity
Our synopsis of the past quarter, a look ahead, and putting it all in perspective:
As Forrest Gump’s mother famously said, “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get”.  Well the same could be said about the stock market. After a disappointing 2018 that saw stocks drop sharply at the end of the year on worries about slowing global growth, 2019 surprised many in its rebound. Major indexes ended the year in a very different place than they began. 

Stocks clinched their best year since 2013 with Tech dominating. An improving economic outlook, progress between the U.S. and China on trade talks, and three interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve have renewed investors' faith that the expansion can continue and that this old bull may have more time to run.  

The turnaround was driven primarily by a shift in monetary policy at the Fed, which cut rates for the first time in a decade in July and lowered them again in September and October. Since then, the stock market's gains have been broad and the S&P 500 set 35 record closes in 2019, the most since 2017.  

The U.S. economy appears to be in a spot where gross domestic product is growing at about the 2% rate it has had for most of the past decade, and earning's growth is expected to be somewhere in the high-single digits. The 2019 rally wasn't just limited to U.S. stocks. The Stoxx Europe 600 gained 23%, its best performance in a decade. China's Shanghai Composite was up 22%, while Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 18%. Traditionally safer assets such as gold and bonds have also soared. Gold futures were up 18%, their best performance in a decade, while a bond rally has pushed the yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note down more than three-quarters of a percentage point. 

With low unemployment, low interest rates, and strong wage growth, most observers expect the markets to maintain their trajectory. The strong rally though seems to be outpacing fundamentals, at least in looking at U.S. equities. Many say it is difficult to pinpoint what exactly could trip up the rally in 2020. There are a number of uncertainties that investors say they will be watching: The U.S. and China haven't completed a trade deal yet, the U.K is set to leave the European Union at the end of January and there is a U.S. presidential election in November. The global economy has also cooled, with factory activity in particular taking a hit around the world this past year. But the level of anxiety that investors say they have about each of these threats seems far more subdued than was the case a year ago. Fears of a U.S. recession have eased, thanks to a resilient labor market and signs of solid consumer spending. Economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal forecast the economy will grow by 1.8% in 2020.  
Our perspective is that investing and staying invested in the broad based markets over time, is a proven recipe for long-term success. However, that does come with the ups and downs that the markets may provide, especially during periods of extreme volatility. Investors should enjoy a year like 2019, however one should never become too exuberant to the point where they feel a need to develop what we call “Bull Market Muscles”. This basically means feeling the need/desire to take on more risk than one might normally take, just because the market is doing well. Conversely, when markets are experiencing volatility to the down side, one must avoid the temptation to try and time getting out of the markets during declines. Consistency is the key, because markets will always remain very unpredictable over short periods of time. Achieving diversified market like returns over time for most investors will be more than enough to help ensure that assets will last through out retirement and even possibly leave a nice nest egg for future generations should that be the goal.  

Please remember that all investments carry some level of risk, including the potential loss of principal invested. They do not typically grow at an even rate of return and may experience negative growth. As with any type of portfolio structuring, attempting to reduce risk and increase return could, at certain times, unintentionally reduce returns.
Major Market Indices
Below is the Q4 '19 and 2019 price return performance of some of the major indices:
Financial Resolutions in the New Year - CARPE DIEM!  
As a new year begins, it is often a time that people are reflective, and look to make resolutions for positive changes going forward. Many people use the expression "carpe diem" ("seize the day") to inspire them to make the most out of the day. We thought we would apply that for helping to set your financial year for success:

C reate a plan: A basic plan will include explicit, attainable actions, specifically stating how to get from Point A to Point B.
A ssess your situation/portfolio: Are you actively saving and investing to reach your goals? It is not too late to get your savings and investing on the right track. 
R e-assess your situation/portfolio and adjust as needed: The only constant in life is change. We cannot direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails.
P repare for the unexpected and the unavoidable: Do you have a will, living will, health care proxy, etc.? Enough insurance coverage?
E mergency fund: Things happen. There should be money not invested in stocks or bonds that is easily accessible, that can last a number of months. 

D iscipline: Maintain perspective and long-term discipline. Do not over-react to short-term events. Ignore the temptation to chase last year's winner. 
I mplement the plan: The best plan will do you no good unless you take action and implement it. "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step." 
E fficient: Manage your portfolio for tax efficiency. It's not what you make, but what you keep. 
M onitor and Track: "I have a sound plan and implemented it. Can't I just leave my portfolio alone?" You or your advisor needs to make sure that you are proactive and reactive, when needed. A loss avoided can be better than a gain.
On the Investment Horizon
Upcoming Key Dates on the Economic Calendar 

  • First Friday of each month: Unemployment report for the prior month, released at 8:30AM.

  • Monday, January 20 - Martin Luther King Jr. Day: NYSE closed.
  • Tuesday, January 28 - Wednesday, January 29: The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets, and releases their announcement on Wednesday at 2PM.
  • Thursday, January 30 at 8:30AM - GDP, 4th quarter and Year 2019 (advance estimate).

  • Monday, February 17 - Presidents Day: NYSE closed.
  • Wednesday, February 19 - Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) releases minutes of previous meeting at 2PM.
  • Thursday, February 27 at 8:30AM - GDP, 4th quarter and Year 2019 (second estimate).

  • Tuesday, March 17 - Wednesday, March 18 - The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meets, and releases their announcement on Wednesday at 2PM.
  • Thursday, March 26 at 8:30AM - GDP, 4th quarter and Year 2019 (third estimate); Corporate Profits, 4th quarter and 2019.
If you desire an appointment, have any questions on any of this material, or any other financial subjects may relate to your own financial circumstance, please reach out to us at the contact information below:
 
 
Sincerely,
 
Brian Cohen, CCO; email:  brian@landmarkwealthmgmt.com ; phone: 631-923-2487
Chris Congema, CFP®;  email:  chris@landmarkwealthmgmt.com ; phone: 631-923-2486
Joe Favorito, CFP®; email:  jfavorito@landmarkwealthmgmt.com ; phone: 631-930-5336

Direct office email:  info@landmarkwealthmgmt.com  
Direct phone: 631-923-2485


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 Landmark Wealth Management, LLC
900 Walt Whitman Road, Suite 208
Melville, NY 11747
 (631) 923-2485