“We are grateful for the blessings of faith and health and strength and for the imperishable spiritual gifts of love and hope. We give thanks, too, for our freedom as a nation; for the strength of our arms and the faith of our friends; for the beliefs and confidence we share; for our determination to stand firmly for what we believe to be right and to resist mightily what we believe to be base; and for the heritage of liberty bequeathed by our ancestors which we are privileged to preserve for our children and our children’s children.”
-John F. Kennedy, October 27, 1961
On October 19, 2017, the Internal Revenue Service announced cost of living adjustments affecting dollar limitations for pension plans and other retirement-related items for the tax year of 2018.
Highlights of Changes for 2018
The contribution limit for employees who participate in 401k, 403b, most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan is increased from $18,000 to $18,500.
The income ranges for determining eligibility to make deductible contributions to traditional Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs), to contribute to Roth IRAs and to claim the saver’s credit all increased for 2018.
Click here to view the 2018_plan_limits
The Real Income™ portfolio strategy does not use leverage, derivatives, or short-selling. Portfolios are constructed with 25-35 securities consisting of various types of liquid REITs.
The property types include apartments, regional malls, shopping centers, lodging, office, industrial, self-storage, data centers/tech, and a variety of health care related facilities. All portfolio companies are classified into one of three categories, and portfolios maintain allocations to each within the following risk categories:
- Core (40% to 70%): Companies with superior balance sheets, established track records, and moderate growth
- Value Add (20% to 50%): Companies with moderate leverage, established track records, and high growth potential, both internal and external
- Opportunistic (0% to 25%): Companies with high leverage, unproven track records, and high growth potential, both internal and external.
For the most recent portfolio update, click this link: Real Income Portfolio 09-30-2017
During the crisis, central banks lowered interest rates dramatically during the stock market crash. The Fed Funds Rate went from 5.25% July 2007 to 3.0% March 2008 (when Bear Stearns failed, most people remember Lehman, which failed in September). That summer Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae failed and the FFR was lowered to 2% and then 1% in September and finally 0% was the official rate in December 2008. All the while financial asset prices kept falling and the economy was hemorrhaging. Soon after hitting 0% as the cost of money to the banking system, the Federal Reserve started Quantitative Easing, where the Federal Reserve would buy mortgage backed securities (as well as other tax-payer insured instruments) to provide ‘liquidity’ to the markets. The stated goal was to increase the prices of assets (stocks, real estate, bonds) so that the “wealth effect” would spur people to spend money rather than save it. Given the anemic pace of economic expansion, the primary effect QE has had has been to push up stock prices well beyond normal valuations.
While the US has ceased QE, raised interest rates off the 0% mark, and laid out a plan to shrink its balance sheet (taking liquidity away from the market); the European and Japanese central banks continue to buy assets. The Europeans buy corporate bonds and the Japanese buy everything including equities. The ECB has expressed a desire to cease its purchases (stopping new liquidity into the market) starting in 2018, but have not committed to a schedule. The chart above combines all the central bank’s asset purchases and projections into 2019 overlaid with global equities. On the chart below, notice how the EM (emerging markets withdrew liquidity late 2015 to 2017—emerging market stock indices (EEM) fell 39% from Sept 2014 through Jan 2016). Additionally we can observe the effect central bank purchases have had on interest rate spreads, giving investors the most meager additional interest for taking on additional risk.
The chart shows the Fed’s net reductions in liquidity and the Swiss, Japanese and Europeans declining levels of new liquidity to the marketplace. Given that adding liquidity boosted asset prices, as additional liquidity slows and possibly reverses, it is not unreasonable to assume markets will become much more volatile as we approach that time. We will likely see the effects of Quantitative Tightening (QT) beginning in, and throughout 2018. One way to counteract this, would be for private investors to save/invest rather than spend this difference (approx. $1.2 trillion), but a reduction in consumer spending would bring its own problems.
Click to view or download Adam Waszkowski’s updated Observation and Outlook.
Observations and Outlook October 2017
For more information, please contact us.
Adam Waszkowski, CFA