Financial Insights

News and Updates from MVWM

Monthly Update

 Monthly Market Summary

  • The S&P 500 Index gained 3.3% in July but underperformed the Russell 2000 Index’s 6.1% increase. All eleven S&P 500 sectors traded higher, led by the Energy, Communication Service, and Financial sectors. 
  • Corporate investment grade bonds produced a 0.1% total return in July, underperforming corporate high yield bonds’ 1.1% total return. 
  • The MSCI EAFE Index of developed market stocks rose by 2.7%, underperforming the MSCI Emerging Market Index’s 6.0% return.

 Monthly Market Summary

  • The S&P 500 Index gained 3.3% in July but underperformed the Russell 2000 Index’s 6.1% increase. All eleven S&P 500 sectors traded higher, led by the Energy, Communication Service, and Financial sectors. 
  • Corporate investment grade bonds produced a 0.1% total return in July, underperforming corporate high yield bonds’ 1.1% total return. 
  • The MSCI EAFE Index of developed market stocks rose by 2.7%, underperforming the MSCI Emerging Market Index’s 6.0% return.
Figures 1-5

 S&P 500 Trades Toward its All-Time Closing High from January 2022

The S&P 500 extended its winning streak to five months in July, bringing its year-to-date total return to 20.5%. The S&P 500 has now recovered most of its losses from 2022 and is currently trading less than 5% below its all-time closing high set in January 2022. On a related note, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, which tracks 30 prominent U.S. companies, recorded a 13-day winning streak in July – its longest since 1987. Like the S&P 500, the Dow Jones is also trading less than 5% below its all-time closing high, set back in January 2022.

What is fueling the stock market’s gains? In one word: expectations. The U.S. economy has defied expectations for a recession, with job growth, consumer spending, and corporate earnings remaining resilient despite higher interest rates. The recent downward trend in inflation data is adding to the optimism, with investors hopeful that the Federal Reserve can achieve a soft landing or potentially avoid a recession altogether. Despite the favorable trends in the first half of 2023, there is concern that the Fed may need to keep raising interest rates due to recent increases in home prices and commodity prices.

Gasoline Prices Rise to a 3-Month High, Prompting Inflation Concerns

Gasoline prices are rising again, sparking concerns among consumers and central bankers alike. According to AAA, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline reached a three-month high of $3.75 on July 31st. The recent rise in oil prices is driving this increase, with West Texas Intermediate crude hitting $80 per barrel. Other contributing factors include supply cuts by OPEC and Russia, extreme heat disruptions at refineries that are leading to lower gasoline inventories, and overall optimism about the global economy and demand for oil. While current prices are still below the level of $4.22 per gallon one year ago, the rise in fuel costs could slow the Fed's progress in curbing inflation and may even require additional interest rate hikes by the central bank. Markets will pay close attention to the energy and overall commodity markets in the upcoming months as the situation unfolds.

Monthly Update | May 2023

Consumers Remain Resilient as the U.S. Economy Slows in Q1

Monthly Market Summary

  • The S&P 500 Index gained +1.6% in April, outperforming the Russell 2000 Index’s -1.8% return. There was limited sector return dispersion, although defensive sectors broadly outperformed cyclical sectors.
  • Corporate investment grade bonds produced a +0.6% total return, slightly outperforming corporate high yield bonds’ +0.2% total return. 
  • The MSCI EAFE Index of developed market stocks gained +2.9%, outperforming both the S&P 500 and the MSCI Emerging Market Index’s -0.8% return.

Strong Consumer Spending Offsets Weak Housing & Business Investment

The U.S. economy grew at a +1.1% annual rate in the first quarter of 2023, marking a decline from the +2.6% growth rate in the fourth quarter of 2022. It was the third consecutive quarter of growth, but it was also the second consecutive quarter where the rate of growth slowed compared to the prior quarter. Looking at the numbers, the data shows there are pockets of strength in the U.S. economy, such as strong consumer spending on goods and services and increased government spending. However, other areas remain challenged, such as single-family housing and business spending on computers, equipment, and restocking inventories.

The first quarter GDP report sends mixed signals. On one side, the slower growth indicates the Federal Reserve’s plan to raise interest rates is working. The central bank’s goal is to slow the economy enough to ease inflation without tipping the U.S. into a recession. Striking the right balance is difficult, but a +1.1% growth rate could be a step in the right direction. However, on the other side, consumer spending remains resilient even with higher interest rates, which suggests the Fed's plan might not be working well enough. Now, the Fed must decide whether it should continue to raise interest rates or pause and assess the situation. The decision is tricky, because it usually takes time for higher interest rates to affect the economy.

A Quick Recap of Year-to-Date Market Trends

Stocks and bonds are off to a positive start in 2023 after a tough 2022. Large cap stocks lead the way, with the S&P 500 gaining +9.2% YTD compared to the Russell 2000’s +0.8% gain. Large cap stocks’ performance is mainly due to the big technology companies like Microsoft, Google, and Apple, with the Nasdaq 100 returning +21.3%. In credit markets, investment grade corporate bonds have generated a +5.3% total return, outpacing high yield’s +3.9% total return. Looking at the headlines, inflation dropped to a 5% annualized pace in March, home sales rose during the spring months, and oil prices are significantly below their peak from last June. However, the path forward may be challenging and volatile. Investors are concerned about the impact of higher interest rates on the economy and banking system, the number of job openings is shrinking, and Congress is debating the debt ceiling. 


Real Estate – The Great Migration

How a manufacturing renaissance is affecting the housing market.

COVID changed the way we work forever by introducing the mandatory work-from-home phenomenon. While employees hold onto their home office and leisurely commute, management is questioning the merits of the production and collaboration of WFM and other policies championed during that time. We believe other factors - affordability and job creation, will play a bigger role moving forward. 

The Pandemic Altered Population Redistribution Trends in Both Rural and Urban America  - ‘The turbulent economic, social, and epidemiological conditions fostered by COVID altered traditional demographic trends in both metropolitan and nonmetropolitan America….there is evidence of renewed population gains in many parts of nonmetropolitan America between April 2020 and July 2022. This modest nonmetropolitan population increase occurred because a net migration gain… ‘ Source

Why? Affordability and Jobs - The virtuous cycle

Another two factors that often get overlooked are affordability and jobs. Many places that have attracted people are cheaper with less restrictive new housing policies. More jobs typically equal more people. More jobs aren’t just being caused by people moving headquarters but by the manufacturing resurgence. Supply chains are just in the beginning phases of reshoring, forced upon them by the shocks that left them without inventory and geopolitical barriers.

The recent bills passed will only accelerate the migration. Many areas have already benefited from new growth but should continue to prosper. The recent bill passed by Congress will only induce further investment. 

Don’t hesitate to contact us to receive our upcoming complete report or if you have any questions. 






It’s Time To Review Your Tax Returns

During the months of March and April, we want to help you identify planning opportunities (and spot potential issues) with your tax returns

drawing of Uncle Sam pointing at several tax letters

Reviewing your tax returns now is opportune because there is still time to address issues before next year (and you may have time to amend returns if needed). If we work together now, we can help identify…

  • If there was a change in your finances last year and you are paying excess estimated taxes;
  • Additional ways to reduce your tax liability for this year; and
  • Possible omissions or mistakes made by the tax preparer.

Tax returns can be daunting and challenging given the many state and federal complexities and often changing rules. Tracking your exposure to various taxes (e.g., ordinary income tax, capital gains tax, the alternative minimum tax, the net investment income tax, etc.), and your rights to various credits and deductions require time and effort.

To assist you in reviewing your filings, we have a checklist for retired taxpayers and one for taxpayers who are still working. Each list outlines nearly two dozen considerations to help guide you through your returns and circumstances.

While the checklists can help you spot great ways to identify all the different opportunities to consider, we are always available to meet with you and discuss your finances and goals and determine your best options.

Please contact us today to schedule a time to discuss this further.


Meet Max

Meet Max

For those looking to earn more on their FDIC Insured savings accounts - I’m happy to share with you Max, where you can earn up to 4.21%.

Who is Max? Max is an intelligent cash management service designed to help you earn more on your cash.

How does Max work? Max proposes to you allocations of funds among your own bank accounts to maximize yield and FDIC insurance coverage. When banks change rates, Max periodically proposes to you reallocations of your funds to help you earn the highest yield. If you do not adjust, postpone, or reject Max’s proposed optimization, Max will send your funds transfer instructions to your bank on your behalf to implement the proposed optimization. Your banks will then execute funds transfers between your bank accounts in accordance with your transfer instructions.

How long does setup take? With Max, you can open new high-yield savings accounts in as little as 60 seconds.

Starting Off on the Right Foot

Starting Off on The Right Foot

What does that even mean? Apparently in ancient times, for those that were superstitious, it was thought that the right foot was luckier than the left.  Today, most of us understand it to mean making a successful start.

Superstitious or not, we can start this year off on the right foot.  To do that, let's look ahead and think about some key financial planning considerations.

Goals: Take a look at the progress made toward your goals.  Do you have updated or new goals? Now's a good time to prioritize and incorporate them into your overall plan.

Balance Sheet:  Life circumstances change. Is your balance sheet positioned to take advantage of market opportunities? Provide a safety net in case of an emergency? It's important to review your assets and debt.

Cash Flow: The beginning of the new year is a good time to evaluate your actual income and expenses, and adjust your spending plan as necessary. Positive cash flow leads to increased savings.

To help you further in making that successful start on that right foot, we've included a checklist of other considerations you may want to review.

If we can be of any assistance or answer any questions you may have, don't hesitate to contact us. We welcome the opportunity to get you on your way to a successful start to this new year.



“It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” 

-Yogi Berra

In finance, it’s popular to make forecasts about the year ahead. Since we’re not in the business of predicting the general stock market fluctuations, here is a list of some of Wall Street’s most venerable banks' 2023 forecasts. Attempting to forecast future short-term movements is equivalent to predicting market timing—both proven to be an inefficient use of investors’ time and a risky foundation on which to base capital allocation decisions.

In lieu of making any predictions, I’ve put together a short list of investment tenets you should keep in mind for 2023:

Expect the Unexpected

The effects of politics, wars, market crashes, and technological innovations are magnified because they confound our expectations of the world as an orderly place. In a world of disruptions, it’s important to remember just how much we will never understand. Many events which affect markets lie beyond our realm of normal expectations. Due to recency and hindsight bias, we are prevented from adequately learning from the past. The next financial crisis will not typically resemble the previous.  Nevertheless, people tend to concoct explanations for them which makes them appear more predictable.

More random surprises lie ahead. When, where, and how is to be determined.

Focus on What Doesn’t Change

“I very frequently get the question: 'What's going to change in the next 10 years?' And that is a very interesting question; it's a very common one. I almost never get the question: 'What's not going to change in the next 10 years?' And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two -- because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. ... [I]n our retail business, we know that customers want low prices, and I know that's going to be true 10 years from now. They want fast delivery; they want vast selection. It's impossible to imagine a future 10 years from now where a customer comes up and says, 'Jeff I love Amazon; I just wish the prices were a little higher,' [or] 'I love Amazon; I just wish you'd deliver a little more slowly.' Impossible. And so the effort we put into those things, spinning those things up, we know the energy we put into it today will still be paying off dividends for our customers 10 years from now. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

- Jeff Bezos

Propensity to Consume

In agricultural societies of the past, farmers were mostly self-sufficient. They worked a lot but consumed little. Today, the work-to-consumption ratio has been inverted. Due to human nature, when living standards rise, most beneficiaries are never content with what they have or where they happen to be. There is always a better home, a better car, better furniture, a better vacation, and so on. Aspiring to lead a more luxurious life keeps consumers working and constantly working harder. The appetite to consume leads to acquiring more debt in order to acquire more stuff. Good for businesses and the owners (stock) of those businesses.

Think Long Term

There are no guarantees when it comes to investing in the stock market. The stock market does NOT work like a casino. The more time you spend at the casino, the more likely you are to lose. Contrary, history shows the longer you own a collection of businesses (being invested in the stock market), the greater your odds of success when it comes to generating a positive return on your investment. Since the mid-20th century, if you randomly picked one day during this period and chose to invest for just those 24 hours, the probability of making money is about the same as a coin toss - 50%. However, the longer you increase your holding period, the higher the probability of success. Investing for any one year would have generated a positive return almost 73% of the time, while investing for 10 years increased your chances to over 94%.

The ability to think and act for the long term is one of the few advantages left in the markets.

Be Greedy When Others are Fearful

“Bad news is an investor’s best friend. It lets you buy a slice of America’s future at a marked-down price…During such scary periods, you should never forget two things: First, widespread fear is your friend as an investor, because it serves up bargain purchases. Second, personal fear is your enemy. It will also be unwarranted.”

-Warren Buffett

Free Lunch

Free Lunch

In investing, there is no profit without risk—there is no “free lunch.” However, in personal finance, there is free money—sometimes, it only costs a little bit of time and effort.

Below I’ve compiled a list of ideas that should take minimal time and effort while helping you save, earn, or find cash.


What is the current interest rate your bank is offering on your savings? Most banks are still paying less than a quarter of a percent. If your cash is earning less than 3 percent, now might be a good time to shop around. Most large banks have continued to hold rates on deposits very low. Brokers aren’t much better; the “High” Yield Savings account at Schwab pays .43%. Some online banks are averaging over 3% here, here, or here.

MVWM is now utilizing a service that will keep your extra cash safe in FDIC-insured accounts while earning up to a 3.91% yield.

Let us know if you’d like to review your options.

Free Money

When checks from companies aren’t deposited (think cable, utilities, etc.) or lost trust accounts from that rich relative go unclaimed, that money is transferred to the relevant State Treasury. There are billions of unclaimed checks, stocks, and credit balances. Most people come up empty-handed, but we’ve witnessed a few have success.

You can try your luck here.


If you’re a business owner or have the ear of the CFO, this company can help your business find and apply for available tax credits for business activities that involve Research and Development.


If you’re going to make a purchase, you might as well use a payment method that will let you earn rewards, cash back, or miles. There are a lot of websites that can help you find the card that will help you maximize rewards based on your spending habits.

Start here.

Shopping (2.o)

Let tech clip your coupons. Once an extension is added, they’ll provide you with promotional codes for checkout. Three of the most popular are onetwo, and three.


If you have any questions or money-saving ideas, please share.

The Fed & Inflation

The Fed & Inflation

More work to be done

Over the past year, central bankers have assured us they’re not behind on inflation.

  • Feb 3: Bailey (BOE) - We are not behind inflation
  • May 11: Bostic - I do not think the Fed is behind inflation
  • May 7: Bullard - The Fed is not as far behind as the 2-year suggests
  • May 24: Lagarde (ECB) - We are not behind inflation
  • June 16: Quarles - We are not behind the curve on the inflation front
  • Aug 5: Pill (BOE) - We are not behind the curve on inflation

Sounds like they’re trying to convince themselves and us. Let’s take a look…

The Fed is not only behind, but they’ve also been behind, and what’s worrisome is it looks like they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them. Sure, they’ve raised rates, and you can now earn some interest on your savings, but you’re still losing 4-5% net of inflation.
To put it in context, they need to raise rates almost 5 times the amount they did yesterday to catch up with inflation. Yes, monetary policy is getting tighter, but we’re nowhere close to a tight state. Real rates are still negative.

What else is behind the curve?

The 30-year fixed rate mortgage. With all the tumult over higher mortgage rates, you can still borrow at a negative 1 percent rate. Perhaps this is an unintended consequence of the policy reaction to the pandemic. I found this chart fascinating.

Where does the Fed want to see economic growth slow?

  1. The jobs market
  1. They would like to see more slack in the jobs market, but good news is bad, and we still have close to 11 million job openings. That is almost 2 openings for every person actively searching. The jobs market has been extremely resilient.
  2. Real Estate
  1. It looks like they might be taking a sledgehammer to 20% of GDP via the housing market - that’s one way to slow the economy.

Our take from the Powells press conference yesterday: The Fed made it clear they will not stop until inflation falls. Even if that means pushing the economy into a recession - and that is what the yield curve is telling us as well.

The yield curve is an expression of current policy and where investors’ expectations for future inflation, rates, and growth intersect. An inverted yield curve is a signal for caution ahead.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or further discussion.



October 2022 – Quarterly Update

October 2022 — Quarterly Update

FROM THE VAULT 10/14/22: October 2022 / Quarterly Update


After the close on September 30, 2022, the S&P is down over 25% for the year. This marks the 6th worst calendar year of returns over nearly the past century. For equity markets, drawdowns are common and to be expected. In other words, this is normal. As Ben Carlson noted:

The average drawdown over this 94-year period is -16.5%.

In 59 out of those 94 years, losses were over 10%.

In 24 out of those 94 years, losses were over 20%.

In 10 out of those 94 years, losses were over 30%.

In 6 out of those 94 years, losses were over  40%.

Stocks (Equity)

For those nearing retirement (especially without a plan), reading the headlines combined with declines in statement values can be upsetting. However, if you’re still in the process of accumulating wealth, you should be grateful for a lower entry point. When discounts are offered, take advantage. To receive equity-type returns, you have to take an equity-type risk. This risk is usually associated with volatility. We have recently seen heightened volatility, but time is your friend, and history shows that indices travel higher over time. It’s essential to be part of that journey. Volatility is the price of admission.

The only years with greater volatility at this point are:

1930 (2x - Great Depression, WWII)

2002 (Dot-Com Crash)

2008 (Financial Crisis)

2020 (Covid)

Bonds (Credit)

One of the most popular methods for limiting volatility and smoothing returns is to diversify among uncorrelated assets within a portfolio. The most popular portfolio construction among financial advisors includes dedicating a portion of a portfolio to bonds (particularly, US Treasuries) to hedge against the volatility of equity markets. US Treasuries are favored because they are broadly considered the ‘safest’ investment in the world as they are backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government. The bond/stock hedging strategy has traditionally been successful because never in the history of an extreme drawdown in stocks, have treasuries gone down more than stocks…until now.

We made the tactical decision to mitigate these risks for our investors over the past few years by substituting the bond portion of this strategy for cash or very short-term bonds. This did not work during the beginning stages of COVID, but we did not feel the few extra basis points in yield were worth the duration risk. However, with rates where they are today, we now feel that you can put together a bond portfolio that pays enough interest to warrant exposure across portfolios.

Feel free to reach out with any questions or further discussion.

- Brandon



Nothing in the site constitutes professional and/or financial advice, nor does any information on the Site constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law relating thereto. The firm is not a fiduciary by virtue of any person's use of or access to the Site or Content.

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