August was a relatively quiet month, with trading volumes below historical averages and equity share prices experiencing modest appreciation. We continued to see a sector rotation out of defensive sectors ( healthcare, staples, utilities) into more cyclical sectors (technology, industrials, financials), presumably given the somewhat dovish message from the Federal Reserve that conditions are not yet perfectly aligned to support another rate hike. Simply put, in a low interest rate, low growth world, investors continue to seek growth wherever they can find it. In the case of August, investors sought small cap and emerging market equities as well as more equity-like high yield bonds; investment grade bonds and developed market equities were flattish.
Over the previous several newsletters, we explored the security and privacy pitfalls of our increasingly digital world. The convenience and ease created by the technology we use each and every day has made our personal and confidential information increasingly vulnerable to theft and misuse. Despite the vast catalog of tools and software designed to help us protect our digital data, none of them can help when we, the end user, are ultimately the weakest link. Our own bad habits and lack of awareness of the threats facing us every day are often a major factor in the theft of our personal data / identity. Luckily, better habits and greater awareness around our privacy needs and the threats we face are both within our grasp. To this end, below we explore several simple, yet effective, information handling best practices that we hope you consider when trying to protect your digital identity.
Global markets continued to rally throughout the month of July, with investors brushing off Brexit concerns and focusing on favorable economic and market data. Domestic equities generated strong results, with gains broad-based across sectors and market capitalizations on improving earnings and continued strength in job gains. Energy stocks were a modest detractor during the month, as crude oil prices weakened due to heightened inventories and production increases. Abroad, European and emerging market equities also experienced significant gains while investment grade and corporate bonds continued to benefit from declining global interest rates.
When it comes to protecting your digital identity, your first, and often only, line of defense is sadly something we’ve all grown to detest: the dreaded password. A password or a PIN are required for nearly everything we access these days. Whether you are simply checking an email or accessing your bank account from you mobile device, the list of passwords we’re forced to maintain seems to grow by the day. This exhausting process of creation, memorization, update and repeat, is sometimes more than we can handle and often leads to password fatigue.
The market narrative in June was largely driven by the referendum in the UK on whether to stay or leave the European Union, the so called “Brexit” vote, with the leave vote shocking markets and causing global equity markets to sell-off over the subsequent days. Markets were quick to recover and rallied into month-end, with emerging markets leading the charge based on the strength of the global commodity recovery. U.S. equities ended flat to positive, led by utilities and energy. International developed equities suffered mild losses given uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit of the EU and its impact on Eurozone trade. Bonds posted strong returns across the board, benefitting from a flight to safety trade.
Technology & digital information are increasingly interwoven into our day-to-day lives. From what we purchase, where we go, and even the entertainment we enjoy, digital information about our life is collected and stored by an ever growing list of third-parties. This data generation is especially true for our financial lives, as rarely does a day go by in which we don’t make at least one purchase, and unless we use cash for everything, it’s all recorded. This exponential increase in our digital lives has proven to be fertile ground for criminals looking to steal both our money and our identities.
Domestic equities continued to stabilize during May following a volatile Q1. Results were led by technology stocks, which have lagged recently due to a rotation away from growth in favor of more defensive stocks. International developed and emerging market equities were negative, as a strengthening dollar coupled with the “Brexit” vote in June weighed on stock prices abroad.
Umbrella liability insurance (ULI) can provide liability protection above and beyond the basic coverage that homeowners/renters and auto insurance policies offer, ULI can protect you against the catastrophic losses that can occur if you are sued. Although ULI can be purchased as a separate policy, your insurer will require that you have basic liability coverage (i.e., homeowner’s/renter’s insurance, auto insurance, or both) before you can purchase an umbrella liability policy. ULI is often referred to as excess coverage. If you are found to be legally responsible for injuring someone or damaging someone's property, the umbrella policy can pay for the part of the claim in excess of the limits of your basic liability policy, or pay for certain losses that are not covered.
April was another positive month for global equities, with shares benefitting from the strong recovery in crude oil prices and the Federal Reserve’s decision to again delay raising interest rates. Further, positive data out of China showed increases in industrial output, fixed asset investment, and retail sales. International developed equities benefitted the most from this backdrop, as did energy-related equities. A notable detractor during the month was the tech-laden Nasdaq, which has lost -4.6% in '16, as investors have repriced the sector based on earnings potential, not top-line revenue growth. Investment grade bonds were largely unchanged while high yield bonds delivered another strong month on further spread compression.
Social Security is more than just a retirement program. Its scope has expanded to include other benefits as well, such as disability, family, and survivor's benefits. In fact, over 64 million people today receive some form of Social Security benefits. (Source: Fast Facts & Figures About Social Security, 2015).