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Weekly Market Commentary, August 12, 2021

The Markets
 
Are we there yet?
 
For months, investors have wondered when the Federal Reserve (Fed) might begin to “normalize” its policies, a process that will eventually lead to higher interest rates. Last week, a better-than-expected unemployment report – showing a gain of almost a million jobs – sparked speculation about whether we’ve arrived at that point. It’s difficult to know.
 
When the pandemic arrived, the Fed adopted policies that stimulated growth. It cut short-term interest rates to zero and began buying Treasuries and agency mortgage-backed securities to keep long-term rates low, too. Low rates make borrowing less expensive for businesses and individuals, reported the Brookings Institute. That’s important in economically challenging times.
 
In late July, the Fed said it would continue to keep rates low and buy bonds until it saw “substantial further progress toward maximum employment and price stability [inflation] goals.”
 
The Fed may have already achieved its inflation goal. Its favorite inflation gauge is called Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE), excluding food and energy. It’s a statistic that reflects changes in how much Americans are paying for goods and services. In June, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that PCE was up 3.5 percent year over year. That’s well above the Fed’s two percent inflation target; however, the Fed’s new policy is to overshoot its target before raising rates.
 
If July’s employment numbers satisfy the Fed’s expectations for progress on jobs, the Fed may begin the process of normalizing monetary policy. The first step would be purchasing fewer bonds, a practice known as tapering. “Many market watchers are looking for [Fed Chair] Powell to discuss tapering at the central bank’s big policy meeting at Jackson Hole, Wyo., this month,” reported Randall Forsyth of Barron’s.
 
Major U.S. stock indices finished the week higher, reported Barron’s, and so did the yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries.
 
 
WHAT’S MAKING US MORE PRODUCTIVE? While the United States has not yet recovered all of the jobs lost during the pandemic – 22 million were lost and 16.6 million have returned – productivity is higher than it was when more people were employed.8 The Economist reported:
 
“Though output reached a new high in the second quarter, employment remained more than 4 percent below its pre-pandemic level… . At present, America is producing more output than it managed just a year and a half ago, with roughly 6 [million] fewer workers.”
 
Higher productivity undoubtedly reflects the ingenuity of American businesses. The pandemic forced companies to find ways to remain productive. In response, many adopted new technologies, implemented new patterns for working, and changed their business models.
 
However, not all companies have experienced gains in productivity, reported Eric Garton and Michael Mankins in the Harvard Business Review. Those that proved to be the best at managing time, talent and energy – the top 25 percent of companies – were 40 percent more productive than other companies. (The productivity of companies in the lower quartiles was averaged to make the comparison.)
 
Not all sectors of the economy are equally productive, either. “The surge in output per worker also reflects the changing mix of the workforce. Employment in the leisure and hospitality industries, where productivity tends to be low, remains about 10 percent below the pre-pandemic level, compared to a 3 percent shortfall in the higher-productivity manufacturing sector,” reported The Economist. As less productive sectors recover, productivity may return to previous levels.
 
In the meantime, some employees have been wondering whether it’s necessary to return to the workplace when productivity has been high while they’ve been working remotely. In an early July survey conducted by The Conference Board, a majority (56 percent) of employees asked whether returning to the workplace was wise, but just 18 percent of chief executive officers shared the concern.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell 'em, 'Certainly I can!' Then get busy and find out how to do it.”
—Theodore Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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.
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Weekly Market Commentary, August 3, 2021

 The Markets
 
The Chinese dragon cast a shadow over free trade and foreign investment last week.
 
For decades, investors have recognized the investment potential of China. Since the country opened to foreign trade and investment in 1979, its economy has grown rapidly. Through 2018, its gross domestic product (GDP), which is a measure of economic growth, increased by 9.5% a year, on average, according to the United States Congressional Research Service.
 
The country’s gradual economic development lifted millions out of poverty. In 2020, about 20 percent of the world’s middle class lived in China. China’s middle class has an appetite for goods and services that rivals that of America’s middle class, creating demand for a wealth of goods and services, reported the Brookings Institute.
 
In recent months, investors have been unsettled as Chinese authorities aggressively implemented new regulations for its online education industry and its technology companies. Austin Carr and Coco Liu of Bloomberg reported:
 
“President Xi’s government has outlined sectors it wants to prioritize, including semiconductors and artificial intelligence. Xi has called the data its tech industry collects ‘an essential and strategic resource’ and has been pushing to tap into it for years.”
 
In early July, the Cyberspace Administration of China launched an investigation of the nation’s largest ride-hailing service company for monopolistic behavior. A month before, the company had raised $4.4 billion when it listed shares on the New York Stock Exchange. Jing Yang of The Wall Street Journal recently reported the company is considering delisting in an effort to placate Chinese authorities and compensate investors for losses.
 
Last week, “The selloff in Chinese stocks went from an orderly pullback to a full-blown panic…after China told its for-profit education companies that they would have to become nonprofits,” reported Ben Levisohn of Barron’s.
 
The Securities and Exchange Commission responded by announcing that it would stop processing registrations of U.S. IPOs and other sales of securities by Chinese companies until specific requirements were met.
 
The Shanghai Composite Index finished the week lower, as did major U.S. stock indices, reported Barron’s. The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries closed lower, too.
 
 
READY TO COMPETE? Watching the Olympics sparks the competitive spirit in many people. If you’re looking for a way to compete, try taking this financial literacy quiz. If you like, you can create your own event by having family and friends test their knowledge, too.
 
1.   Which of the following does Experian say is the most important to your credit score?
a.   Payment history
b.   Amount owed
c.    Credit history length
d.   New credit applications
 
2.   Which has the most risk, according to Investopedia?
a.   Owning a diversified portfolio of small, large and mid-sized company stocks
b.   Owning the stock of a large company
c.    Owning a portfolio of technology company stocks
d.   Owning a portfolio of small company stocks
 
3.   If you put $100 in an account that earned 5 percent interest each year, how much would the account be worth after 10 years?
a.   About $105
b.   About $150
c.    About $160
d.   About $180
 
4.   When shopping for chicken noodle soup, which of the following is the best value?
a.   The store’s brand
b.   The can with the highest discount
c.    The can with the lowest price per ounce
d.   The can with the lowest price in the size you need
 
You’ll find the answers below. When you have any financial or money questions, please get in touch.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
 —Benjamin Franklin, American statesman
 
(1) A; (2) B; (3) C; (4) C
 
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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.
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Weekly Market Commentary, July 14, 2021

The Markets
 
There was a gapers’ block in financial markets last week as equity investors slowed to see what the United States Treasury bond market was up to. 
 
U.S. Treasury bonds rallied last week. Yields on 10-year Treasuries dropped from 1.43 percent at the start of the week to 1.27 percent on Thursday. The rally was quite a surprise, reported Randall W. Forsyth of Barron’s. “After all, the economy has been booming, accompanied by rising inflation – exactly the opposite of what would be conducive to lower [bond] yields and higher [bond] prices.”
 
As 10-year Treasury yields reached the lowest level since February, stock investors took time to consider what might have caused yields to retreat. Lower yields often suggest slower growth ahead. There may be potential for global growth to slow if:
 
A new wave of COVID-19 swamps the global recovery. Twenty-four U.S. states saw the number of COVID-19 cases move higher by 10 percent or more last week, reported Aya Elamroussi of CNN. The Delta variant of the virus accounts for more than one-half of all new cases. Last week, the global death toll reached 4 million and Japan, host of the 2020 Olympic games, declared a state of emergency.
 
China’s banking system is in trouble. There was another surprise last week. “…China’s central bank announced a half a percentage point cut to banks’ reserve ratio requirements, potentially increasing the profitability of their loans but also stirring concerns about the health of their balance sheets following a debt-fueled property boom,” reported Naomi Rovnick, Thomas Hale, and Francesca Friday of Financial Times.
 
U.S. economic growth falters as monetary and fiscal stimulus recede. “…the bond market is now adjusting to the prospect of more moderate growth in the second half, with reduced fiscal largess and no $1,400 or $600 stimulus checks. And it’s looking ahead to the eventual prospect of the Federal Reserve throttling back its securities purchases, which currently pump $120 billion a month into the financial system,” reported Barron’s.
 
Investors shook off the bond market’s signal and took advantage of buying opportunities created by the dip, reported Financial Times. Major U.S. stock indices finished the week at record highs. On Friday, 10-year Treasury yields finished at 1.36 percent.
 
 When was the Euro 2020 tournament played? If you’re a soccer fan, you know the answer is last month. The tournament took place in 2021, although the name was not changed because the tournament was intended to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the European Football Championship, which occurred in 2020, reported Joe Sommerlad of The Independent. Also, the merchandise had already been produced with a 2020 logo.
 
The tournament final (England vs. Italy) had yet to be played when this was written, but it’s never too early for tournament trivia. See what you know about Euro 2020 by taking this brief quiz.
 
1.   There were more ‘own goals’ in Euro 2020 than in all other European championships combined. How many were there before the final match?
a.   5
b.   6
c.    9
d.   11
 
2.   What is the nickname of the Italian national team?
a.   Il Nerazzurri (The Black and Blues)
b.   Gli Azzurri (The Blues)
c.    Le Rondinelle (The Little Swallows)
d.   Il Toro (The Bull)
 
3.   How many major tournaments had the English national team, nicknamed The Three Lions, won before the Euro 2020 final?
a.   1
b.   2
c.    3
d.   4
 
4.   Euro 2020 prize money was about 10 percent higher than Euro 2016 prize money. Every team that participated in the tournament earned about £8 million (about $11 million). How much did the team that lifted the winning trophy earn?
a.   About £12 million (about $17 million)
b.   About £17 million (about $24 million)
c.    About £24 million (about $33 million)
d.   About £33 million (about $46 million)
 
The Economist explained the importance of European football like this, “On a continent where the facets of nationhood are disappearing, be they banal (customs arrangements), the everyday (currency) or the emotive (borders), football is a way of clinging on.”
 
Answers: (1) d; (2) b; (3) a; (4) c
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“A champion is someone who does not settle for that day's practice, that day's competition, that day's performance. They are always striving to be better. They don't live in the past.”
– Briana Scurry, Former goalkeeper, U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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.
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Weekly Market Commentary, June 16, 2021

The Markets
 
It’s transitory. It’s not transitory. It’s transitory. It’s not transitory.
 
Media analysts were plucking the inflation daisy petals last week. On Thursday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics released the Consumer Price Index Summary, which showed prices were up 5 percent year-to-year.
 
“Investors are debating whether the surge in prices at both a producer and consumer level will prove transitory, as the U.S. Federal Reserve believes, or become entrenched. Much of the angst over medium term inflation pressure becoming hotter is fueled by the backdrop of aggressive fiscal and monetary policy. This potentially combustible mix has a policy additive from a Fed prepared to tolerate a higher pace of inflation beyond its target of 2 percent for an unspecified period,” reported Michael Mackenzie of Financial Times.
 
Last week, investors took inflation data in stride. Barron’s reported the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index closed at a new all-time high on Friday. The Nasdaq Composite also finished higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Index was slightly lower. The yield on longer U.S. Treasuries moved lower, too, which was notable. In theory, rising inflation and rising interest rates should go hand in hand.
 
Rising inflation remained a top concern for consumers in June, according to Richard Curtin, the University of Michigan Surveys of Consumers chief economist:
 
“Fortunately, in the emergence from the pandemic, consumers are temporarily less sensitive to prices due to pent-up demand and record savings, as well as improved job and income prospects. The acceptance of price increases as due to the pandemic makes inflationary psychology more likely to gain a foothold if the exit is lengthy.”
 
Inflation psychology occurs when consumers believe prices will continue to rise over time and begin to spend money as soon as they receive it, according to Investopedia. There is a remedy, according to Curtin. “A shift in the Fed's policy language could douse any incipient inflationary psychology, it would be no surprise to consumers, as two-thirds already expect higher interest rates in the year ahead.”
 
(The one-year numbers in the scorecard below remain noteworthy. They reflect the strong recovery of U.S. stocks from last year’s coronavirus downturn to the present day.)
 
Necessity is the mother of invention…Businesses have been finding innovative solutions to labor issues forever. For example, dogs were once bred to cook, according to Popular Science’s podcast, The Weirdest Thing I Learned This Week.
 
When people relied on fire to roast meat, the spit was an invaluable tool. However, turning a spit for hours wasn’t a popular job, so dogs were bred and trained to turn spits. “The first mention of the turnspit dog…was in 1576…The long story short here is that people bred terrier-like dogs to…fit easily into these treadmills that powered various kitchen aids, but primarily the roasting spit.”
 
By some accounts, the poor working conditions of turnspit dogs in New York hotels contributed to the founding of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).
 
Today, pandemic labor shortages have sparked innovation. Companies that are having difficulty finding workers are adopting technological solutions. For example:
 
  • Modern-day food automats. A vast improvement over food vending machines, some restaurants are using technology to replace servers. Patrons order on a screen and the food is delivered in numbered cubby holes. The kitchen staff is in the back preparing the orders.
 
  • Grab-and-go groceries. People scan an app before they enter a grocery store that has no cashiers. As they shop, cameras and sensors track what they remove from shelves or bins. “…the technology had to be tweaked to account for how people squeeze tomatoes to test for ripeness or rummage through avocados to find just the right one,” reported Joseph Pisani of the Associated Press. (Tip: When shopping in grab-and-go groceries, don’t take items off high shelves for other shoppers – you may be charged if the person you helped leaves the store with the goods.)
 
  • Bricks-and-mortar online shopping. A women’s clothing boutique outfitted its new stores with screens so shoppers may select the clothes they want to try on. Then, the shopper is escorted to a dressing room where the clothes are hanging in a wardrobe. “Another touch screen in the dressing room lets you request even more items and sizes, but instead of awkwardly trying to hail a salesperson in your underwear, you just close the wardrobe, and someone in body-con Narnia adds it through the back,” reported Emilia Petrarca of The Cut.
 
What’s your favorite pandemic innovation?
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
“Before you become too entranced with gorgeous gadgets and mesmerizing video displays, let me remind you that information is not knowledge, knowledge is not wisdom, and wisdom is not foresight. Each grows out of the other, and we need them all.”
―Arthur C. Clarke, Writer
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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.
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Weekly Market Commentary, June 4, 2021

 The Markets
 
Are we at a tipping point?
 
One side effect of the pandemic was a collapse in demand for oil, which led to “the largest revision to the value of the oil industry’s assets in at least a decade,” reported Collin Eaton and Sarah McFarlane of The Wall Street Journal.
 
Last week brought another reckoning for big oil as a court ruling and shareholder influence made it clear companies need to revisit their strategies for emissions reductions and clean energy. Here’s what happened:
 
1.   Do it faster. In the Netherlands, a court ruled an Anglo-Dutch oil producer would need to lower its emissions by 45 percent from 2019 levels by 2030, far more quickly than the company had intended.
 
“Analysts said the…ruling could set a precedent for similar cases against the world’s biggest corporate polluters, which may now face related lawsuits and be forced to overhaul their business models,” reported Derek Brower and Anjli Raval of Financial Times.
 
2.   Change direction. For weeks, a U.S. oil supermajor had done battle with an investment group that holds 0.02 percent of its shares. The investment group wanted the company “to gradually diversify its investments to be ready for a world that will need fewer fossil fuels in coming decades” rather than focus on carbon capture and storage solutions, reported Sarah McFarlane and Christopher Matthews of The Wall Street Journal.
 
To that end, the investment group nominated four outside board-of-director candidates stating, “A Board that has underperformed this dramatically and defied shareholder sentiment for this long has not earned the right to choose its own new members or pack itself in the face of calls for change…shareholders deserve a Board that works proactively to create long-term value, not defensively in the face of deteriorating returns and the threat of losing their seats.”
 
Other shareholders agreed and, in a highly unusual outcome, two of the four candidates were elected to the board, reported Ben Geman of Axios.
 
3.   Less is more. Two other multinational energy companies experienced shareholder uprisings recently, reported Sergio Chapa and Caroline Hyde of Bloomberg. Shareholder proposals to aggressively reduce emissions and limit pollution by a company’s customers were approved despite the companies’ boards urging shareholders to vote against the changes.
 
Major stock indices in the United States finished last week higher.
 
(The one-year numbers in the scorecard below remain noteworthy. They reflect the strong recovery of U.S. stocks from last year’s coronavirus downturn to the present day.)
 
How much is a CEO worth? The COVID-19 pandemic created enormous losses for many companies so it might seem logical some CEO pay packages would decline along with companies’ profits. In fact, a number of CEOs announced high-profile salary cuts last year, reported Axios.
 
The stinger is salary is often a small part of CEO compensation. While executive compensation packages vary from company to company, they often include:
  • Base salary
  • Short-term incentives such as bonuses
  • Long-term incentives such stock options
  • Benefits such as health and life insurance, retirement plans, and paid vacations
  • Perquisites (perks), such as financial counseling, tax preparation, security, cars and drivers, corporate aircraft, and country club fees
 When all aspects of CEO pay are considered, the majority of CEOs received higher pay in 2020.
 
“Fortunately for those CEOs, many had boards of directors willing to see the pandemic as an extraordinary event beyond [CEOs’] control. Across the country, boards made changes to the intricate formulas that determine their CEOs’ pay – and other moves – which helped make up for losses created by the crisis,” reported Stan Choe of the AP.
 
As a result, median pay for CEOs at companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index was $12.7 million, according to data analyzed by Equilar for the AP. That’s a 5 percent pay increase over 2019 levels. In contrast, wages and benefits for non-government workers who were employed went up by 2.6 percent in 2020.
 
“Companies have to show how much more their CEO makes than their typical worker, and the median in this year’s survey was 172 times. That’s up from 167 times for those same CEOs last year, and it means employees must work lifetimes to make what their CEO does in just a year,” reported AP.
 
Weekly Focus – Think About It
 
“Consumption is the sole end and purpose of all production; and the interest of the producer ought to be attended to, only so far as it may be necessary for promoting that of the consumer.”
--Adam Smith, Economist and philosopher
 
Best regards,
 
Lee Barczak
President
 
* 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. * The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. 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.
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Morgan Kenwood Advisors, LLC
5130 West Loomis Road
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Phone: (414) 423-4020
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