By Lee Sherbakoff, CPA/PFS, CFP®, RICP®
It’s almost hard to believe that the last year and a half was actually our reality. The unexpected entrance of COVID-19 was a rude awakening for all of us, a harsh reminder that we cannot predict the future, nor do we truly have much control—over anything. How we work, go to school, and even how we interact with loved ones was turned upside down. The ongoing chaos and confusion led most of us to enter 2021 with apprehension.
Although we didn’t know what to expect, believe it or not, we’re now halfway through the year. And it finally seems we are on our way to putting the coronavirus behind us. July is a great time to reflect and review what’s happened so far in 2021 as we continue to recover—emotionally and economically—from the pandemic.
Stock Market Performance
As vaccine rollouts have allowed many businesses to return to normal, some experts believe we may be entering a booming economy. (1) Stock market performance has been mildly volatile in the first half of this year with an overall trend toward growth. The S&P 500 reached its highest level this year on May 7, with a year-to-date return of 16% as of June 30. (2) The Dow Jones has also shown overall growth this year and is up 14% as of June 30. (3)
Meanwhile, the NASDAQ has shown greater volatility with a yearly low of -2.17% in early March, up to 9.7% at the end of April, and climbing higher to 14.22% as of June 30. (4) Many experts have warned that while they are optimistic about market performance in 2021, that performance will likely be riddled with volatility throughout 2021 and in the coming years. (5)
A Shaky Return to Normal Employment Levels
It has been generally expected that as businesses reopen to full capacity, the number of unemployment claims and levels of unemployment will return to normal. As many of us have seen in the news, however, this is currently not the case. (6) Along with other businesses in the hospitality industry, restaurants are especially struggling to replace their workers and remain understaffed in the face of increasing demand from consumers.
Some commentators believe workers are reluctant to return to work because of continued unemployment assistance from federal and state governments. Others argue that many workers are unable to return to work yet because they are still wary of the coronavirus, are unable to find affordable childcare, or now have the time to look for more stable, higher-paying work outside of the hospitality industry.
Whatever the reason for the worker shortage, worker benefits and wages may undergo drastic changes in 2021 and beyond as the economy returns to normal. In any case, getting workers back into the workforce remains a key component of the U.S. recovery plan.
Interest Rates and the Federal Reserve
Interest rates continue to remain low, as the Federal Reserve has promised. In an effort to encourage consumers to keep borrowing, the Fed has kept interest rates near zero since the onset of the pandemic. They have stated they will likely not raise rates again until 2023, when it is more likely that inflation rates will reach desired targets. (7)
For now, the near-zero interest rates may be attracting first-time homebuyers who have been able to weather the economic pressures from the pandemic. However, home prices have surged 13.2% over the past year, (8) igniting some fears that a housing bubble may be looming.
How Should You Respond?
We’ve always known that predicting market performance with accuracy is impossible. But 2020 and 2021 have shown us that market performance may be impossible to predict at all. Although we can’t fully know what lies ahead, don’t let that prevent you from taking the steps to protect yourself and pursue financial freedom.
Setting financial goals is wise, but don’t stop there. Now more than ever, it’s essential to make the right financial decisions to move you closer to achieving those goals. The global pandemic, along with all its resulting social distancing guidelines, reminded us of the value of personal attention—and this absolutely extends to financial matters. We know that choosing a financial advisor to manage your wealth is one of life’s most important decisions; let The Nalls Sherbakoff Group be your guide. As your strategic partner, we will integrate all aspects of your financial life and align day-to-day decisions with a long-term financial plan to move you toward financial independence.
Set up a complimentary appointment so we can see if our services are the right fit for you by calling us at (865) 691-0898 or contacting us online.
Lee Sherbakoff is principal and financial advisor with The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC, an independent, fee-only financial planning and investment management firm. He specializes in serving pre-retirees and retirees, helping them create and execute financial plans and retirement income plans that lead to sustainable long-term, real-life returns that meet their deepest and most important financial goals and objectives. Lee has a Bachelor of Science in Finance from The University of Tennessee and a Master of Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College as well as the Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®), and Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) credentials. Lee spent over 31 years in the U.S. Army Reserves, including serving at the Army’s highest levels on the Department of Army staff at the Pentagon and being deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm (1991) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (2008-2009). When he’s not loyally serving his clients, Lee enjoys giving back to the community and to his profession, acting as a council member of the Tennessee Society of CPAs and a member of the American Institute of CPAs. In addition, he is past President of the Knoxville Chapter of Tennessee Society of CPAs and past President of the East Tennessee chapter of the Financial Planning Association. To learn more about Lee, connect with him on LinkedIn.
DISCLOSURES: The information provided is for general informational purposes only and should not be considered an individualized recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product, and should not be construed as investment, legal, or tax advice. The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC makes no warranties with regard to the information or results obtained by third parties and its use and disclaim any liability arising out of, or reliance on the information. These indexes reflect investments for a limited period of time and do not reflect performance in different economic or market cycles and are not intended to reflect the actual outcomes of any client of The Nalls Sherbakoff Group, LLC. Past performance does not guarantee future results.