Nothing Recedes Like Recession

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Read the weekly economic commentary from Chief Economist Scott Brown.

January 4, 2019

Financial market volatility remained elevated in the first few days of 2019, but it’s much more palatable when it is to the upside. Market participants remained concerned about a number of issues (global growth, trade policy, dysfunction in Washington), and fear remains a key factor in the outlook. Whether that fear abates or intensifies will tell the tale.

The employment report is composed of two separate surveys. The establishment survey (which covers 149,000 businesses and about 651,000 individual worksites) generates estimates of payrolls, wages, and hours. The household survey (of some 60,000 eligible households) yields reasonable estimates of the unemployment rate and labor force participation but terrible estimates of the monthly level of employment. The establishment survey covers the pay period that includes the 12th of the month (which can vary from firm to firm). The household survey is taken during the week of the 12th. The December Employment Report included annual benchmark revisions to the household survey data, but this was a very mild revision. The annual benchmark revisions to the establishment survey data (which ties the payroll estimate to actual payroll tax receipts) will be released next month, but early indications from the Bureau of Labor Statistics suggest that this will be a relatively modest revision.

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THOUGHTS ON THE MARKET

RAYMOND JAMES

Fighting Fear with Facts
Larry Adam, CFA, CIMA, CFP, Chief Investment Officer, PCG

Why have the markets been so volatile lately? Chief Investment Officer Larry Adam shares his thoughts about the recent market activity.

December 10, 2018

Good afternoon,

Times of market volatility often bring feelings of apprehension and uncertainty which makes it all the more important to take stock of the underlying market data. The below piece from our Chief Investment Officer Larry Adam does just that.

Thank you,
Judy & Hadyn

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Making the Most of Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period

With open enrollment season upon us, ask yourself a few questions to make sure you’re getting the most from Medicare.

October 4, 2018

Medicare’s open enrollment season is upon us. That means between October 15 and December 7, you are able to make changes to your Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage.

During this time, you can change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan or vice-versa or switch from one Medicare Advantage Plan to another Medicare Advantage Plan. You can also join a Medicare advantage or Medicare prescription drug plan for the first time or drop your drug coverage completely.

Even if you’re satisfied with your current plan, open enrollment presents a great opportunity to make sure you’re getting the most out of Medicare. Every year you should compare your current plan to other plans in your area in case another plan offers better health and/or drug coverage at more affordable prices.

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How Do College Savings Affect Aid Eligibility?

Learn more about how savings contributions affect your student’s financial aid eligibility.

September 5, 2018

As you save for a child’s or grandchild’s future education, you might wonder what impact that saving will have on their chances of qualifying for financial aid. There are several types of financial aid (federal, state and institutional), but federal aid is the most widely dispersed and is based solely on financial need.

 

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Protecting Your Business from Cyberattacks

As the number of cyber breaches increases, efforts to safeguard your business should increase, too.

August 1, 2018

A recent report on data breaches says that 58% of malware attack victims are categorized as small businesses. And the attacks are increasing: 61% of small businesses have experienced a cyber breach in the past 12 months – up from 55% in 2016.

With this kind of data, it’s no wonder that the MAIN STREET (Making Available Information Now to Strengthen Trust and Resilience and Enhance Enterprise Technology) Cybersecurity Act of 2017 has been proposed. Once law, it will require the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to provide cybersecurity resources specifically geared for small businesses.

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Social Security Taps Trust Fund; Should You Be Worried?

For the first time since 1982, Social Security is dipping into its trust fund to pay benefits. What does this mean for future recipients?

June 11, 2018

The board of trustees for Social Security recently issued their 2018 annual report. Once again, this year’s report provided a dark reminder that the fiscal health of the program has further deteriorated. Like last year’s report, Social Security’s trustees said the program’s trust fund would be depleted in 2034. However, unlike last year, for the first time since 1982, Social Security has to dip into the fund to meet its obligations. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement that “lackluster economic growth in previous years” and an aging population have contributed to the shortage.

Double-Check Before Filing Your IRS Return

It may seem like common sense, but going back over the information you enter may be the most important part of your tax filing duties.

March 6, 2018

It’s tax time. And as you work with your advisor or tax preparer to maximize your refund, or at least minimize what you owe, keep in mind that one of the most important things taxpayers can do to limit errors is to double-check the information they input into software or a printed form.

It may seem like common sense, but going back over the information you enter may be the most important part of your tax filing duties. As you know, it’s very easy to put a figure on the wrong line – in fact, one of the most common errors is not putting in the right Social Security numbers for you, your spouse and your dependents. An error like that can cause a significant delay in the processing of your return or, even worse, could trigger an audit.

So do make an effort to recheck what you’ve entered before moving to the next line or screen. While you’re going back over your return for wrong entries and typos, take the time to look up numbers such as cost basis for investments sold and real estate tax paid, rather than estimating. And double-check your math, too, because simple miscalculations can commonly lead to errors as well.

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Benefit from Your Birthdays

The road to and through retirement is dotted with time-sensitive financial planning milestones.

January 23, 2018

Not all birthdays are about a driver’s license, getting to vote or toasting with a glass of wine. Some are important to your comfort in retirement, too. No matter who you are, the years leading up to and during retirement contain a number of key financial planning opportunities worth capitalizing on. You and your spouse may hit these dates at different times, so be sure to coordinate before making any decisions.

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Done Deal: Tax Bill Takes Effect

Ed Mills, Washington Policy Analyst, breaks down the major components of the new tax legislation.

January 11, 2018

The tax bill lowering the corporate tax rate and making a number of adjustments to the individual tax code was signed into law on December 22, 2017. The final tax bill sets a corporate tax rate of 21% starting January 1, 2018, and makes a number of changes to individual tax rates (including lowering the top individual to 37%). Key changes on the individual side include doubling the standard deduction ($12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for joint filers) but the bill reduces and/or removes many existing deductions. On the corporate side of the bill, businesses will have the benefit of 100% depreciation of qualified capital expenditures for the next five years, repeal of the corporate AMT, and a shift towards a territorial tax system (from a worldwide tax system). The bill also repeals the individual mandate of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In this report, we review the changes to the corporate and individual tax code and cover next steps on tax legislation in 2018.