“What are I Bonds?” Thank you to a growing number of curious and smart clients, friends and colleagues for hammering this question enough over the past several months to warrant a TGIF 2 Minutes dedicated to I-Bonds. The “I” in I Bonds stands for inflation, which is why these bonds are so HOT at the moment. (Note: inflation overall is clearly not a good thing; I Bond interest rates may be one of the only things that benefit from skyrocketing inflation.)
Inflation is higher in 2022 than it has been in over 40 years – longer than lots of TGIF 2 Minutes readers may have been alive, and certainly longer than lots of readers have been working for, earning, and spending “real money”.
Stagflation. An economic condition not experienced since the 1970’s – which was also the last time that inflation was as high as it is today.
Stagflation is an understandable word: stagnated growth coupled with persistent, high inflation. Often high unemployment is also part of the picture but presently is not the case. The reason stagflation is currently in the conversation is that in addition to current high levels of inflation, there are potential factors that could weigh even further on the US economy: tax increases and greater government spending. Stagflation could result – or could be inevitable no matter what.
This week brought long-awaited although not unexpected news from the US Federal Reserve Board: Fed officials expect to raise interest rates from the current level of “near zero” by the end of 2023 instead of sometime in 2024. Earth-shattering? NO. Cause for paying attention? YES. Even though 2023 seems fairly distant, interest rates have already begun to increase. It is not too early to pay attention to, review, and understand your overall Asset Allocation. Thus, today’s title, “CYA”. Cover Your Asset Allocation.
As quick background, the US Federal Reserve System, or the “Fed”, has as its mandate to maximize US employment and allow for stable prices. Its primary tool for accomplishing these goals is the setting of short-term interest rates – which then translate into to interest rates for anything from 30-day Treasury bills to 10-year Treasury notes, to 15- and 30-year mortgages. Even debt issued globally watches the Fed’s interest rate policy.
The real title this week is, “Selling Real Estate in a White-Hot Market”.
Future topics include:
Real Estate (in general) in a White-Hot Market
How to Handle Real Estate as an Asset in Any Market
Renting versus Buying in a White-Hot Real Estate Market
ALL of these topics have come up in conversations with friends and clients over the past year, even more so in the past five months. There is no question that real estate – especially around major cities like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, Raleigh/Durham, and Atlanta – is sizzling hot. Even cities such as Atlanta where there are residential areas inside of a sprawling city, those “suburban feel” areas are also on fire.
Low and near-zero interest rates have become a fact of life. Rates could likely remain low for the foreseeable future based on the economic and US Federal Reserve environment. This statement is not meant to be a predictor of where interest rates are going. Still, the fact of near-zero interest rates needs to be on investors’ radar screens, as boring as the topic may sound!
The bond market and interest rates involve far, far more complicated math than stocks. Trying to predict bond prices and interest rates is mostly not worthwhile.
It is only fair that if there was an edition two weeks ago titled “Biggest Losers” there be an accompanying edition, “Biggest Winners.” Because there are A LOT of winners out there. But the financial and news media do not sell advertising talking about winners.
Here are the most obvious Winners, especially financially speaking:
Stocks are now officially virtually “the only game in town.” As of Thursday’s announcement by the US Federal Reserve, their benchmark interest rate will remain at near-zero for the foreseeable future. The “foreseeable future” has been indicated as at least 2022 and perhaps beyond. The “benchmark interest rate” set by the Fed dictates interest rates on most money markets, bonds, and CDs – and most mortgages. This discussion is focused on bonds, CDs, and money markets versus stocks.
Calling it a “New World” is a bit of an exaggeration but since this week the yield on the 10-year US government bond topped 3% for the first time in four years, it was kind of a big deal in the investing world.
The 10-year US government bond is a benchmark and indicator for a number of things including:mortgages, companies borrowing to grow, the price of oil … and, yes, stock prices. We all know that the “financial crisis” is now 10 years in the past and for the past 10 years interest rates have been super LOW. This has been both positive and negative for investors. Continue reading “New World… Of Higher Bond Yields”
We have already had more volatility in the first three months of 2018 than we saw in ALL of 2017 and most of 2016 combined. Snow? On the first day of Spring! Driverless cars on the road… What’s next?
The snow wasn’t the worst part of it. Facebook stumbled this week amidst legitimate concerns of how honest it is with protecting its user data. This is not the first time Facebook has faced the issue of deceiving its users: back in 2012 under a decree with the FTC Facebook had to agree to get user consent in order to share users’ personal data with others.