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March 30, 2017 - Investment Commentary

| March 30, 2017
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The Markets

You’ve read it before – and it’s true. Markets hate uncertainty.

Failure to pass the American Healthcare Act, which was supported by Republican leaders in Congress and President Trump, may have spooked U.S. stock markets last week.

In an article titled, “How To Make Investing Decisions Based On Politics: Don't,” Nasdaq.com reported controversy over the bill was “raising questions about [Republicans’] ability to focus on and pass policies that the market has been eagerly anticipating, such as tax reform and infrastructure spending.” Financial Times concurred:

“The post-election stock market rally has been largely powered by hopes Donald Trump’s administration would swiftly launch a bevy of aggressive economic stimulus measures, including tax cuts, deregulation, and infrastructure spending. However, Mr. Trump’s difficulty in Congress over the government’s healthcare plan has prompted some reappraisal by investors of the prospect of significant stimulus arriving later this year.”

Financial Times pointed out it’s likely other factors played a role in investors’ decision-making, as well. Some professionals have become concerned about market valuations. About 34 percent of fund managers believe global equity markets are overvalued and 81 percent say U.S. equities are the most expensive in the world, reported Fortune Magazine citing Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s survey of fund managers.

In addition, estimates for corporate earnings have been revised lower for the first quarter of 2017. Take that with a grain of salt, though. FactSet wrote, “In terms of estimate revisions for companies in the S&P 500, analysts have made smaller cuts than average to earnings estimates for Q1 2017 to date…” 

Politics is one factor affecting markets, and partisanship may be affecting consumer sentiment. Richard Curtin, chief economist of University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers, said consumers’ expectations about future economic growth were split along party lines in March. “…among Democrats, the Expectations Index at 55.3 signaled that a deep recession was imminent, while among Republicans the Index at 122.4 indicated a new era of robust economic growth was ahead.”

GPS STRATEGY UPDATES: The Dow recently experienced its first 9 successive day decline in almost 30 years according to CNBC. While the decline was limited to about 2%, it’s clear the market is absorbing the ability of what the new administration can get through based on their campaign promises. We did take some profits from our infrastructure play in our models the past week. While we still hold infrastructure investments and may again add to them. With the velocity of the gains since the election we felt it prudent to take some profits and see how/if the administration can get the enormous spending proposal through congress.

It will be interesting to see what does come out of Washington. The market could grind higher based on optimism of getting tax-cuts, infrastructure spending, defense spending (on our radar for a portfolio play) and more of these and other bills are passed. We are also looking at “contrarian” investment styles for PARTS of certain accounts. This is where assets with better valuation metrics are invested as compared to the highly valued asset classes – which there are many. According to the Shiller Cape valuation model the market hasn’t reached this much of an over-valuation since 1929 and is higher than 2007 and was very high in 1999 – all good times to be a contrarian. Here is an interesting video: Shiller Cape Valuation This does not mean stocks will not continue to go up, it just is an inflection point where having some contrarian ideas could make sense.

We continue to see international and emerging market stocks are more attractively valued as well as select areas of the bond market. Certain alternative strategies remain attractive and are in place in our models. We continue to research for portfolio additions that can add value based on each client’s needs. An interesting video from an analyst about contrarian investing is here: Contrarian video. Many investors such as Warren Buffet have done well being “contrarians’ occasionally and this may or may not be an appropriate part of a portfolio for all investors. That said, the political environment, the hopefulness of an improving economy has us remaining in US stocks and select bonds.

“IT AIN'T WHAT YOU DON'T KNOW THAT GETS YOU INTO TROUBLE. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so,” wrote Mark Twain.

In 2016, NerdWallet commissioned a survey* to get a better handle on Americans’ thoughts about lying when money is involved. It’s interesting to note which money-saving lies participants found acceptable. The list included:

  • Logging on to someone else’s retail or media account to avoid subscription fees (33 percent) 
  • Not reporting under-the-table income to avoid taxes due (24 percent) 
  • Lying about your age or your child’s age to receive a discount at a restaurant or retailer (21 percent) 
  • Lying about annual mileage to lower auto insurance rates (20 percent) 
  • Lying about income on a loan or credit card application (12 percent) 
  • Lying about smoking tobacco to lower life insurance rates (11 percent) 

(The number in the parentheses reflects the percent of those surveyed who said the lie was okay.) 

The survey found far more men than women believe it is acceptable to tell lies to save money. For instance, 30 percent of men said it was okay not to report under-the-table income to the IRS. Only 18 percent of women agreed. One-fourth of male survey participants thought it was okay to fudge annual mileage to receive lower auto insurance rates, while just 16 percent of female respondents agreed.

Age also makes a difference. Americans who are age 65 or older were far less likely to find financial dishonesty acceptable:

“The survey found that 11 percent of seniors say it is acceptable to use someone else’s paid account for online movies, music, or articles to save on subscription costs, compared with 39 percent of Americans ages 18-64. Just 7 percent of Americans ages 65 and older think it’s acceptable to lie about annual mileage for lower auto insurance rates compared with 23 percent of Americans ages 18-64. Among all of the lies in the survey, the one that gets the most support from those 65 and older is not disclosing under-the-table income to the IRS in order to pay less in taxes – 14 percent say that’s acceptable.”

When it came down to it, “For all questions, retirees had the lowest rates of acceptance of lies compared with students, employees, and the unemployed.”

*The survey included 2,115 Americans, ages 18 and older, and was conducted February 18-22, 2016, by Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet. This survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“I believe that there is a subtle magnetism in Nature, which, if we unconsciously yield to it, will
direct us aright.”

--Henry David Thoreau, American author

Best regards,

The Jim Goodland Team at GPS

P.S. Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would
like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask
for their permission to be added.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. 
* Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features. 
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index. 
* All indices referenced are unmanaged. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment. 
* The Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. Index covers approximately 95% of the market capitalization of the 45 developed and emerging countries included in the Index. 
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market. 
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce. 
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998. 
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones. 
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods. 
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance. 
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful. 
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. 
* You cannot invest directly in an index. 
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision. 
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:

[1] http://www.nasdaq.com/article/how-to-make-investing-decisions-based-on-politics-dont-cm764637 [2] https://www.ft.com/content/aa4efa32-0f37-11e7-b030-768954394623 (or go to https://s3-us-west- 2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/03-27-17_FinancialTimesWhy_are_Investors_On_Edge_Over_Trumps_Healthcare_Vote-Footnote_2.pdf) [3] http://fortune.com/2017/03/21/stock-market-value-bank-of-america-merrill-lynch/ [4] https://insight.factset.com/hubfs/Resources/Research%20Desk/Earnings%20Insight/EarningsInsight_032417.pdf [5] http://www.sca.isr.umich.edu (or go to https://s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/peakcontent/+Peak+Commentary/03-27- 17_Univ_of_Michigan-Survey_of_Consumers-Footnote_5.pdf) [6] https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/marktwain109624.html [7] https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/men-students-parents-money-lies/ [8] http://www.nemoequipment.com/25-inspiring-nature-quotes-to-make-you-want-to-go-outside-and-explore-nature/

Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Spire Wealth Management, LLC), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this commentary will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.

Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this commentary serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Spire Wealth Management, LLC. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing. Spire Wealth Management, LLC is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of the website content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the Spire Wealth Management, LLC’s current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.

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