Weekly Market Commentary August 13, 2018

Fast Facts

Staying Focused- Americans are a surprisingly industrious workforce, according to research from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics conducted from 2013 through 2017. The department found that 92.3 percent of time spent at the workplace was actually spent working. The most common activities when not working were eating and drinking, and then…working on assignments from another job.

Sky High- A Seattle man celebrated his 100th birthday in a truly daredevil fashion: by falling out of a plane at 14,000 feet. Having gone skydiving the previous year in near-secrecy, Stu Williamson decided to mark his centenary with a second tandem jump, this time with dozens of relatives and friends watching on the ground. Described by family as a quiet man who never showed much interest in sports, Williamson has now set his sights on becoming the world’s oldest parachutist—a record currently held by an Englishman who performed a tandem jump at 101 years and 38 days old. “If I live another [year] and two months,” Williamson says, “I’ll bump him out of his place.”

Liquor Before Beer- Fewer Americans, especially those between 21 and 27, are choosing beer when they consume alcohol, as the popularity of wine and cocktails grows. Drinkers chose beer 49.7 percent of the time last year, down from 60.8 percent in the mid-’90s.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“Take time for all things: great haste makes great waste.”
–Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father

The Markets

Let’s talk Turkey!

So, how did a country that represents just about 1.4 percent of the world’s economy spark a global selloff?

Turkey was once a rising star. The country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan took office in 2003 and his “conservative, pro-business policies helped pull the country back from an economic crisis,” reported Financial Times.

As Turkey’s economy strengthened, investors saw opportunity. Investments from outside the country averaged about $13 billion a year, according to World Bank figures cited by Financial Times, although investment slowed after terror attacks in 2015.

Bloomberg reported Prime Minister Erdogan has become more authoritarian since being re-elected in 2018, giving himself power to name the head of Turkey’s central bank. Financial Times reported the Prime Minister’s “…unorthodox views on interest rates…has proved disruptive for monetary policy, leaving…Turkey’s central bank, struggling to contain inflation that is running at close to 16 percent.”

Lack of central bank autonomy concerned investors. The Turkish lira began to weaken against the U.S. dollar, making it costly for businesses to repay dollar-denominated debt.

Politics have factored into the situation, as well. During 2018, negotiations were underway to secure the release of an American pastor who was arrested on “farcical terrorism charges,” reported The Economist. However, talks collapsed early in August. Asset freezes and sanctions followed, along with promises of additional tariffs on Turkish goods imported by the United States.

The subsequent steep drop in the value of Turkish lira sparked concerns that rippled through global markets. Financial Times reported:

“Turkey’s deepening crisis punished emerging market currencies and sparked a global pullback from riskier assets on Friday…The S&P 500 fell 0.7 percent in New York on Friday. Treasury yields also moved lower, with the 10-year dipping below 2.9 percent for the first time this month, as investors sought safe assets…Investors’ shift from risky assets knocked equities across Europe, with Germany’s Dax, France’s CAC 40 and Spain’s Ibex all about 2 percent weaker.”

For quite some time, investors have appeared immune to geopolitical risks. Perhaps that is beginning to change.

3 THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CLAIMING SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS: TIMING, SPOUSAL BENEFITS, AND WORK STATUS. Most Americans understand they can choose when to begin receiving Social Security benefits. The choices are fairly straightforward:

  • Early (age 62 to full retirement age). People who decide to collect benefits early typically receive a smaller monthly benefit than they would if they waited until full retirement age. The reduction in monthly income may be as large as 30 percent. However, they receive benefits for a longer period of time.
  • Normal (full retirement age). An American’s full retirement age is determined by his or her date of birth. For someone born in 1960 or later, full retirement age is 67 years. The amount of income a person receives at normal retirement age is determined by the amount earned during his or her working years.
  • Delayed (after full retirement age to age 70). By delaying the start of Social Security benefits, a person can increase his or her monthly benefit by accruing delayed retirement credits. For Americans born in 1943 and after, credit accrues at a rate of 8 percent each year.

While it’s important to understand timing options for Social Security benefits, choosing when to take benefits may not be the most important decision you make, especially if you’re married.

There are several different claiming strategies that may help married couples optimize their benefits and the benefits available for children who are minors or have special needs. These options should be carefully considered before filing for benefits.

Your filing decision may also be affected by your work status and income. If you file early while still working, and your earnings exceed established limits, then a portion of your benefit may be withheld. In addition, your income will help determine whether your Social Security benefit is taxable.

If you would like to discuss your options for claiming Social Security benefits, give us a call.

Best regards,

John Klevens, CFP

Sources: The Week Magazine, Qz.com and The Wall Street Journal
Portions of this newsletter has been prepared by Peak Advisor