It all started with maple syrup and an angel ornament made from a gourd. But first, one needs a bit of background: [A brother in Wisconsin has a maple syrup hobby – he sends it to Washington State – White Raven Financial1 gives the syrup as an annual client gift – grandkids sell excess syrup during the holiday season saving profits to help pay for college – all handmade ornament sales are donated to the Parkinson Foundation.]
Last month, a few weekends to go until Christmas, a lady stopped at our annual syrup stand to buy a pint of syrup and an ornament. This day one of our granddaughters is at the stand, taking home whatever profit she makes to put towards college. Unfortunately, the lady discovered too late that she had neither cash nor a check to pay and internet access wasn’t working for the credit card machine. My granddaughter and I thought she seemed like an honest, trustworthy, and an overall nice person. Not a problem for the sellers; she was told she could take her purchases and send a check when she got home. A few days later, a check arrives in the mail with double the amount! A note was included: “Because of your trust & generosity, I am adding to the amt. due as an additional donation for Parkinson’s Charity. Love my Angel”. We’ve trusted people in the past and have only been ‘burned’ (as the saying goes) once in all the years that the grandkids have been selling. But it is the first time we’ve been met with such generosity. It made my husband and I stop and think how kind the world has been to us – we in turn decided to make an extra donation to the local food bank for the holidays.
We have been very fortunate at White Raven Financial to have wonderful clients. We hope that they never feel taken for granted. In the fall of 2021, we had a local lawyer came into our office to help those who had procrastinated with putting together a will. We plan to have the same event in early 2022. Diane2 and Brett3 also use their knowledge and skills to help those who find themselves in a bit of a bind. After receiving the generous donation from the lady in the story above, we are thinking we can do a bit more. We are working on our goals for 2022 – stay tuned to learn what we come up with!
Here in the U.S., those who are on Social Security should feel a bit more prosperous with their 5.9% cost-of-living increase4 slated to begin this month. Granted, it does not offset the year-over-year inflation rate posted at 6.8%5 in November 2021, but we hope it helps. In their 2022 U.S. Economic Outlook6, Capital Group wrote that they expected the U.S. to have solid economic growth in the range of 2.5% to 3.0% with waning stimulus and inflationary headwinds. They further noted how distortions in the economy occurred due to stimulus-induced demand in conjunction with COVID-restricted supplies. Something we all seemed to have experienced when we purchase groceries or other sundries. The Institute of Supply Manufacturing (ISM) index7 seemed to authenticate the growth predictions: The December ISM Index clocked in at 58.7 (readings over 50 indicates an expansion). And everywhere we read, we find writings that discuss the Federal Reserve (Fed) and the great balancing act that they have been tasked to do. The GlobalX team of Maier, Cluver, Delledonne and Reddy8 recently mentioned that sentiment in the equities and fixed income markets could be affected by how the Fed provides guidance and responds to possible additional sustained inflation pressures.
Andrew Pease, Global Head of Investment Strategy, provided uplifting words in the Russell Investments 2022 Global Market Outlook9. Mr. Pease, in his introductory statement, wrote that he felt that the global economy is poised for another year of above-trend growth although not quite as good as 2021. He also noted that they expected inflation to be mostly transitory. To add a contrarian viewpoint to our writing: Jeffrey Kleintop, Director of International Research for Charles Schwab, wrote in a late November 2021 Insight10 that he felt the top five global risks were: Shortages turning into gluts, rate hikes coming in slower than expected, China going from cracking down to propping up, new COVID waves not resembling the waves of 2021, and there could be geopolitical surprises! A great reminder to always stay diversified and balanced in our portfolios within our risk tolerances.
Trying to be sustainable in our lives can be prosperous. With the recent cold spells, it may be a good time to look at your furnace filter. According to GreenPath11, your furnace is responsible for about 50% of your energy bill. Changing an unclean filter can lower the energy used by as much as 15%.
For the markets, December decided to celebrate the holidays in style. The blue-chip barometer (the Dow)* brought out all the lights and lit up with a 5.38% gain. The S&P 500 (SPY)* brought out the ribbons and decked out a 4.36% gain. The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite (COMPTR)* only found a single ornament to decorate and posted a 0.69% gain for the month. (*After linking, click on Quarterly & Monthly Total Returns, “Monthly” tab). On Tuesday, December 28th, the Dow Jones Indices released the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller13 report. The report showed that for the reporting month that although home prices continue to increase – growth is slowing. The October 20-city composite Home Price Index13 reported a 18.4% year-over-year gain; down 0.7% from the previous month year-over-year posting. Before seasonal adjustments, month-over-month data had the month of October showing a 0.8% increase over the prior month of September for the 20-city composite index.
Regards and thank you (as always) for reading,
The Team at White Raven Financial
Advisory services offered through White Raven Financial Services, Inc. a Registered Investment Advisor in the State of Washington.
*Indexes are unmanaged and do not reflect service fees, commissions, or taxes. You cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance is not necessarily indicative of future results. Returns for the DOW, S&P 500 and the NASDAQ are the total return (price only) provided by Morningstar as December 31, 2021. Diversification and asset allocation do not assure or guarantee better performance and cannot eliminate the risk of investment loss.
*The Standard and Poor’s 500 is an unmanaged, capitalization weighted benchmark that tracks broad-based changes in the U.S. stock market. This index of 500 common stocks is comprised of 400 industrial, 20 transportation, 40 utility, and 40 financial companies representing major U.S. industry sectors. The index is calculated on a total return basis with dividends reinvested and is not available for direct investment.
*The Dow Jones Industrial Average covers 30 blue chip U.S. companies selected by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. The Dow represents about 25% of the NYSE market capitalization and less than 2% of NYSE issues.
*The NASDAQ is a market-value weighted index that measures all NASDAQ domestic and foreign common stocks.
- * https://Morningstar.com (index)