Seymour Zises, President and co-founder of Family Management, writes bi-monthly opinions on issues and observations of relevance to clients and investors.
What a bonanza!!! If you die this year, you can pass the blessings of your bounty on to your heirs tax free, maybe… If Congress decides to reinstate the estate tax retroactively, maybe you shouldn’t get yourself sick about the economyoh well, just another day in D.C.! The Great De-leveraging continuesAmericans are saving more and consuming lessthe addiction to credit is waning steadily. What troubles us is that every legislator is focusing on the consumer and his spending.
If one believes The Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the unemployment rate climbed above 10% for the first time since 1982. Do you believe this number to be truthful? Do you trust our government to give us honest and correct information? Whether it be protecting our shores, our environment, our financial soundness, our soldiers (internally or abroad), our consumers at P.C Richards or J.P. Morgan, the question is this: Is our government still competent? As I speak with clients and friends, there is a growing frustration in the American psyche that our government is no longer able to perform its “job functions”.
It’s roughly one year since the financial meltdown started. I do not know if anyone could have predicted the series of events that has occurred since that time, but certainly there are some lessons to be drawn from the “Great Recession,” which, contrary to the press, is by no means over. Lesson 1: Don’t borrow too much money. Lesson 2: Don’t think that your risk tolerance is higher than it really is.
The Wall Street Journal reported that “the percentage of homes that are vacant fell 2.25% in the second quarter to about 18.7 million units, the lowest rate since mid-2006 and a sign that housing market conditions are gradually improving.” That is really good news – what is not good news is that the government is piling on debt like never before. Our thinking is although short-term interest rates are likely to stay low for some time, longer term interest rates will inch higher as investor expectation of increasing amounts of debt and inflation spooks the credit markets.
What is the price to earnings multiple on hope? The stock market advanced as soon as President Obama said that it was a good buy. Did he mean a “good-bye”? Maybe the President should head for Wall Street after his career in government. As the markets have surged over 30 percent in the last few months, we find ourselves saying “where’s the beef?”
In referring to the economy, Larry Summers, a former Treasury Secretary and the current Director of the National Economic Council, said that it no longer feels like a ball falling off a table. So does it feel like a ball bouncing once it has fallen off a table?