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Observations & Insights (6/26/2020) Thumbnail

Observations & Insights (6/26/2020)

This week, we are excited to formally announce that Rachel Bunnell & Jelena Radvanji have become junior partners in our practice! Rachel has been with the Team since 2007 and Jelena joined the Team in March of 2019 from Baird's Denver branch. More information about Rachel & Jelena visit can be found here.

The stock market was mixed this week and COVID-19 cases rose and some states paused their reopening...

  • COVID-19: Political and business leaders are beginning to slow reopenings in several states. Apple closed seven stores in Houston, days after temporarily closing stores in Arizona and three southern states. Disneyland delayed its reopening date amid surging cases in California. North Carolina, Maine and Louisiana have paused plans to ease restrictions and California is preparing to "revert back" to stricter containment measures if necessary. Meanwhile, hospitals in Texas' biggest cities are coming under stress with ICU beds in Houston-area hospitals projected to exceed capacity as soon as Thursday. New York, New Jersey & Connecticut announced Wednesday that they would require a 14 day quarantine for any incoming travelers from locations with significant community spread.
  •  Jobs: Initial jobless claims continue to show signs of improvement, but remain well above the pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, weekly initial jobless claims averaged 218,000 compared to an average over the last ten weeks of 2.5 million. Perhaps the bright spot in the jobs data yesterday was the decline in continuing claims. Around 47.2 million people have filed in the last thirteen weeks, and 12.3% of the US labor force was receiving UI benefits as-of June 13th per Bespoke Investments.
  •  Trade Rhetoric Increases: The Trump administration is weighing new tariffs on $3.1 billion of exports from Eurozone, adding to an arsenal of measures it is using against the EU that could spiral into a wider trade fight later this summer. The move is part of the U.S. response to the most recent ruling in the very long-running fight at the World Trade Organization on aircraft subsidies; the WTO may give Europe the green light to retaliate as soon as July.
  •  US-China Trade: President Trump tweeted Monday evening that the US-China trade is "fully intact." The comments came after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox News that the pact was "over," driving a selloff in US equity futures. Navarro himself said the comments were taken "wildly out of context" and had nothing to do with the trade deal. Just last week, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the House Ways and Means Committee that the US-China phase one trade deal remains on track despite the heightened tensions between the two sides over the coronavirus pandemic, Hong Kong, and agriculture purchases.

Planning Idea for the Week...

  • Education Planning: A 529 Plan is a tax-deferred education savings investment that has many advantages (i.e income tax, estate and gift tax benefits, flexibility and various state and federal tax benefits). Although your contributions are not deductible on your federal tax return, your investment grows tax-deferred, and distributions to pay for the beneficiary's qualified education costs, up to $10,000 annually for K-12 public, private or religious school tuition, apprenticeship program costs and a maximum lifetime $10,000 student loan repayment come out federally tax free.  

We would be happy to discuss how this planning idea can help with your specific financial situation.

Music in the time of COVID...

  • With in person gatherings impossible, the Sitka Summer Music Festival decided to take the annual festival online this year! This week wraps up the festival, but they have all of the concerts available from the comfort of your living room. The final evening concert of the 2020 Festival features pianist Natasha Paremski and cellist Zuill Bailey! You can enjoy it at 7:30pm this Saturday, June 27th here.

Good News From Around the World

  • Mother-of-four who became the first US patient to have her genes edited with groundbreaking CRISPR tool to treat sickle cell disease is doing better than doctors expected after one year. In July of 2019, Victoria Gray underwent a procedure where  scientists removed cells from her bone marrow and use CRISPR to edit a gene, which enables the cells to produce a special protein. The hope was that restoring production of this protein would compensate for the defective hemoglobin produced by sickle cell patients. The hope was that, ultimately, 20% of the hemoglobin in her system would be from this protein, but one year on and that number is actually 46%.
  • Researchers at Oxford University in the UK announced last week that a low-dose steroid treatment—which costs about $6 per dose and is widely available—can reduce the risk of death by one-third for patients on ventilators, and by one-fifth for those on oxygen. 
  • A charitable foundation, VING, is helping to inspire the next generation of humanitarians by giving away $1,000 dollar checks to teenagers. The money is not for the kids to keep, however, it’s for them to give away to someone they feel is deserving. To receive money from the foundation, the youngsters are asked to submit a 2-minute video to the foundation explaining why they want to give money to their nominee. If the videos are accepted by the charity, then the $1,000 check is sent directly to the teen so they can present it to their nominee. In the month of April alone, the VING Project—which was named after the latter part of the word “giving”—gave away more than $250,000 in checks to teens.
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