By Patrick Olsen, Special Care Planner, Financial Services Professional | Olsen Financial
Life changes and priorities have a way of shifting. But one thing stays the same, how important family is and our desire to protect them. That’s why having life insurance is an important financial decision. It means your loved ones could be OK financially if something happened to you.
Ensuring the financial security of the people who matter most to you is an important responsibility. This means protecting the value of what you provide for them on a day-to-day basis. You don’t have to wait for a big life moment to put this important protection in place. The time for life insurance is now. Contact me today and let’s get you the coverage you need.
Since our establishment in 1985, the Scott Community College (SCC) Foundation has worked to provide financial resources to support students and our college community. Each year we utilize the generous gifts we receive from our board members, faculty and staff members, area businesses, and many others to offer scholarships, acquire new instructional equipment, and launch special projects.
In addition to scholarships, we also support students through our Student Assistance Program. The program provides emergency funding to help with unexpected student expenses such as internet access, textbooks, laptops, or even transportation. This fund helps to ensure our students’ success and their degree completion.
We currently support students at several Quad Cities locations including: the Urban Campus, Blong Technology Center, West Davenport Center and Belmont Campus. Each student has a unique story and a unique set of strengths and challenges. Some students begin classes with a clear career goal, others discover their passion through their education. Despite all of the obstacles our students face, they all share a desire to learn, master new skills, become better providers, employees, and members of the community.
We value the strengths of the Northwest Bank Investment Management Group as they make it effortless for us to remain focused on our mission to serve our students and the college, while they help us achieve our financial goals. The team is very responsive to all our needs, quick to act when questions arise, and they make the most complicated reports and long-term planning strategies straightforward for our Investment Committee and Board Members. We greatly value their support and look forward to growing with them.
By Keith Bonjour, Vice President, Portfolio Manager
The stock market continued to show gains through the summer months, but has stalled a bit for the month of September. This is not an unusual event with the upcoming U.S. elections weighing on the minds of investors, and September has a reputation for being one of the worst months of the year for stock performance historically. The Federal Reserve has signaled they will remain accommodative for the foreseeable future, which will continue to hold down interest rates and weigh on the yields for cash and fixed income investments. The U.S. unemployment rate has continued to come down from peak levels in the early stages of the lockdown, but still remains at elevated levels. We think this will continue to take time to heal the labor market especially in the hardest hit sectors such as travel, leisure, and restaurants, which have a tough road ahead of them to return to pre-pandemic levels.
After Congress passed a large stimulus measure earlier this year called the CARES Act, expectations were high that they would pass another piece of legislation to continue to support the economic recovery. So far, the House and Congress have been at an impasse for how large the bill should be. Democrats are favoring a much larger scaled up version where Republicans favor a much smaller more targeted approach. We will have to continue to wait and see if they are able to compromise before the upcoming elections, but time is quickly running out. Consensus is that the U.S economy could use additional stimulus measures in order to help sustain the recovery thatis currently in place. Worries are that if additional stimulus measures are not implemented, this could weigh on an already fragile recovery.
The market is turning its attention to the upcoming elections, which tend to add more volatility to the stock market, and we think this election cycle will be no different. We do recommend continuing to stay the course with your long-term investment objective since elections tend to have a short-term impact on the stock market historically. There should be more news regarding several high profile COVID-19 vaccine trials before the end of the year. The markets will be looking to see if one or multiple vaccines are able to show strong safety and efficiency in preventing the transmission of coronavirus as they complete their Phase 3 trials. Hopes are that we could see one or multiple vaccines approved by the end of 2020, but consensus points to first quarter of 2021 being more likely. If we do see one or more vaccines approved, the next step will be to see how quickly manufacturing capabilities can be ramped up to provide vaccines to all those individuals who want to be vaccinated. The CDC has estimated that this timeframe will probably be around the 3rd quarter of 2021. We continue to view this as an important piece of the puzzle to get the economy back on track and allow the economic recovery to sustain itself.
While we have seen a nice recovery in the market after the COVID-19 induced sell-off, it is important to look forward and be mindful of the risks that the markets face. We continue to recommend staying the course with your investment objective and to continue to rebalance your portfolio by selling strengths and buying into weaknesses to adjust to movements in the market over time. We also recommend determining any short-term cash needs that will be needed over the next six to twelve months and to set this cash aside to protect against short term moves in the market. We recommend maintaining a more longterm focus on investment goals and objectives, and not reacting to short term up or down movements in the market.
While we have seen a nice recovery in the market after the sell-off, it is important to look forward into 2020 and be mindful of the risks that the markets face. We continue to recommend a more neutral stance on equities favoring U.S. stocks over International stocks and higher quality companies with strong balance sheets. We also recommend determining any short-term cash needs that will be needed over the next six to twelve months. We continue to recommend a more long-term focus on investment goals and objectives, and not reacting to short term up or down movements in the market.
The stock market staged a strong rebound in the 2nd quarter of 2020, after the large selloff caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and measures taken to lock the most global economies down to reduce the spread of the virus. The swift and massive stimulus measures implemented by the Federal Reserve along with the stimulus bills passed by the US government helped to provide the liquidity and relief that the US markets and economy desperately needed. So far, these measures have proven to be strong enough to help both stocks and corporate bonds recover a large portion of the losses they suffered during the early stages of the economic shutdown. We have seen signs over the last two months that many businesses have begun to bring their employees back to work in the office. We are also seeing many employers rehire those workers who were laid off with a big increase in the reported jobs numbers of the last two months. However, the unemployment rate is still hovering a little over 11% so there is still a ways to go and a long road ahead before we see unemployment numbers return to a more normal level.
In the US, COVID-19 cases are on the rise again. It will be important to watch how things progress over the next few months to see if states are able to continue with their re-opening plans in a safe manner. We do expect the market and economy to go through fits and starts as the situation continues to develop for the remainder of the year. On the plus side, there is a huge race for treatments and vaccines with many companies showing some good early indications for a potential vaccine. We continue to view this as an important piece of the puzzle to get the economy back on track, however we acknowledge that this is going to take time and do not expect to see any vaccine approvals and mass production until sometime next year. In the meantime, it will be important to watch how corporate earnings shape up in the second half of the year to see how companies are able to manage their businesses and try to return to profitability as the economy slowly recovers.
The increase in unemployment benefits is set to expire at the end of July so we will be watching to see if Congress is able to pass any additional stimulus measures in July or August to continue to help consumers and businesses weather the COVID-19 pandemic. There continues to be talk, both in the House and Senate, regarding additional stimulus, but so far no new agreements have been reached. Without additional stimulus measures, the growth outlook in the US could be constrained especially if COVID-19 cases continue to rise through the summer months, which will weigh on the economic recovery. Globally, COVID-19 trends have been improving in most developed European and Asian economies. South America is experiencing large outbreaks of COVID-19 similar to what we are seeing in the U.S. This will be important to monitor going forward to see if both Europe and Asia are able to show better economic growth than the US and South America.