The election is over! Votes have been tallied and now we wait as the current President is not officially recognizing the President-elect. It was a perilous time before the election, and although one box can be checked, and it is a big box, many more remain. Each day brings big news reflecting the two sides of a coin.
- Today Moderna announced preliminary results for its Covid-19 vaccine trial and the news was great
- Though still significant hurdles in distribution and compliance). Almost a 95% effectiveness rate
- Challenges await as far as manufacture, distribution, and injection of Americans, not to mention distribution to the rest of the world.
- Apparently two injections will be required and there are certainly still questions to be answered about side effects, longevity of immunity and more, but encouraging.
The not so great:
- Infections surge to levels not seen before and hospitalizations increasing dramatically as we enter into the winter months.
- Pandemic fatigue is real and these stats seem to affirm the sentiment.
The biggest challenge, even with a vaccine on the horizon, is persuading individuals to practice safe public health behavior: wear masks, social distance, wash hands, avoid indoor gatherings. Next week’s holiday tradition to gather with family and friends presents a big hurdle with the latter of these behaviors. An economist in the NY Times has a column discussing the fact that Americans will not be compliant enough with good public health behavior and that is just a fact. Her fallback to recognizing this fact is a comprehensive testing program. In SF we can access testing with next day results for free by signing up online. This is the best we can do right now.
The stock market certainly thought so as it continued its climb to record levels. Compared to history, valuations of stocks are almost 2 standard deviations above average, although below levels right before the dot.com bomb. A good time to be cautious. However, markets seem to like the idea of a divided government and an end to the chaos strategy of the White House.
The next 65 days will continue with surprises both good and bad I am sure. President-elect Biden is being measured, patient, forward-moving and acting Presidential and taking the reins of government. This week he led a meeting with both Business Roundtable members as well as Labor Union leaders. Business leaders recognize reality and are ready to move on and acknowledge and work with the President-elect. Free and fair elections are at the heart of our democracy and trust in the electoral process is more important than any individual. All that being said we should not be surprised at what is happening. The loser in this process is American democracy. That being said, imy bet is we will survive. This too shall pass.
We are now hoping for significant fiscal intervention by Congress and the White House maybe before the inauguration in January 2021. The previous stimulus has long expired and Americans are hurting. What would get Republicans in Congress’ attention to pass a stimulus would be a big stock market decline like in March 2020. With the stock market at current highs and some forward-looking indication of economic recovery, they are likely to consider that enough has been done already.
However, the stock market is not the economy and therefore insufficient to withhold help based on the vacuum of Wall Street. Just this past week Jobeth and I ate at two restaurants we regularly patronized that are now closed for good. Local eateries are not alone, boarded up empty downtown SF retail spots display that many establishments have either closed or are closing as well.
Monique on her way to drop off her daughter at preschool was confronted with a “pay or quit” notice on the preschool door- with lower numbers of children in attendance the school has become behind on rent since April. Adjusting households to remote employment and job losses, crunched budgets, and career shifts to stay-at-home (willingly or not) have meant fewer preschoolers and less preschool revenues to sustain the costs for the preschool.
Unemployment remains high at 6.9% and the Federal Reserve chairman and business leaders are saying more federal help is needed. The Fed will try to do more by increasing its bond buying but that hardly addresses the needs of main street America.
Next week is Thanksgiving. Though we know this year’s holiday will be in stark contrast to what previous years have looked like, we hope you enjoy the holiday with your pandemic crew safely. We will pick up with our newsletter the week after Thanksgiving. Till then, we are grateful for you and wish you a lovely and TASTY Thanksgiving week.
Client Reminder: End of Year Planning Considerations There are two important dates for taxes: tax day in April and December 31st. As we approach the end of the calendar year, there are areas of financial planning worth reviewing to best anticipate your tax planning needs which may include:
- charitable giving which may include establishing a Donor Advised Fund
- capital gains harvesting
- prepaying any expenses