How To Protect Yourself From A Possible Recession

You may soon start hearing pundits talk about the dreaded term “recession.” It’s one of those words used by finance people that comes across as ominous and foreboding. When people discuss recessionary times, it conjures up fears of long lines at the gas station, a fading economy, high inflation, job losses and general malaise.

A recession is a decline in GDP for two or more consecutive quarters. Although it’s not a perfect science, there is an old joke about economists who often get things wrong— “He’s predicted nine of the past five recessions”—implying the prognosticator is merely guessing and missing the mark on too many occasions to be taken seriously.

The Signs Of An Upcoming Recession

The United States is starting to see some of the warning signs of a recession. When the stock market plummets by 20%, it’s called a “bear market” and the massive losses contribute to a recession, as people lose faith in the economy and curtail expenditures. When people invest in the market and realize substantial profits, there is a wealth effect created. The windfall from investing emboldens people to spend more money, as they are confident that the good times will last forever.

When dramatic declines in stocks, bonds and cryptocurrencies happen, it has the opposite effect. Fear and panic take hold. Risk-taking is over and people go into survival mode, ruthlessly curtailing expenses.

Another factor for a recession is that inflation is raging to 40-year highs, further causing Americans to lose confidence. To pour more cold water on the economy and stock market, the Federal Reserve plans on continuing to raise interest rates. There is a fear that all of the strides the U.S. has made since the economy reopened will evaporate.

Many, if not all, of the stock gains from the meme subreddit Wallstreetbets crowd over the last year have already been lost. The same holds true for other investors too. If you have a company-sponsored 401(k) plan or IRA account, don’t look at the statements, as it will ruin your day.

Deutsche Bank economists wrote in a report to clients last month, “We will get a major recession,” becoming the first major bank to bearishly predict a U.S. recession. Bank of America has publicly stated that the mood in financial markets has been “recessionary.” Goldman Sachs said the tight labor market has “has caused a meaningful increase in the risk of recession.”

What Happens In A Recession

Recessions are usually characterized by job losses. You may think to yourself that is not indicative of the current labor market. Within the past year, the job market has seen a robust recovery. Last Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that 428,000 jobs were added in April, with the unemployment rate remaining steady at 3.6%.

Job openings hit a record 11.5 million in March. That same month, a historic 4.5 million people quit their jobs, showing that Americans feel confident enough to quit their positions, as they believe there are plenty of other opportunities available.

Nevertheless, depending upon how things progress, there could be further downsizings in other industries, as the U.S. has seen in the tech sector. As there has been so much hiring due to the buoyant economy, it could turn out the executives were too optimistic and now need to trim the staff.

Concerns over a slowing economy could take the steam out of the venture capital engines that have been producing numerous unicorn startups. The unprofitable outfits may not gain further funding and resort to layoffs.

What happens is that the U.S. could enter a situation in which things spiral downward. Rapidly rising unemployment is also another driver of a recession. As more people lose their jobs and business conditions deteriorate, those who find themselves in between roles will find it harder and take longer to procure a new role.

Fear Takes Over

It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fear of a recession prompts businesses to cut costs to conserve financial assets. They want to have the cash to get through the rough patches. The aggressive cost-cutting measures usually include pay cuts and job losses. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence. The economy goes through these boom-and-bust cycles fairly regularly. For many people, there are not many other choices than to hunker down and ride it out until better times arrive.

There is a behavioral component too. As there is an eroding level of confidence in the economic and financial system, demand for goods and services declines. There comes a point in which the business cycle reverses course, due to the toxic confluence of rising inflation, loss of faith, joblessness, plunging stock market and housing prices, followed by a fear of further losses, making the economy contract.

How To Get Through A Recession

Now is the time to hyperfocus on your job and career. Make sure your position is secure. Lock in any verbal agreements for a raise, promotion and bonus. It will be awkward and uncomfortable, but ask your boss about how stable the company is and where you fit in. Ask them if they view you as irreplaceable and a future rising star.

If the answers are not to your liking, don’t sulk. Take action. Immediately go into job-hunt mode. Get in touch with top recruiters in your space. Speak with career coaches and résumé writers. Start networking on LinkedIn. Now is not the time to be shy. Push yourself to ask everyone in your network for job leads and introductions.

If you lose your job, make sure you put money aside to get through the time between now and when you secure another position. Keep expenditures down and pay down your credit card and other balances that charge ludicrously high interest rates. Switch investments from risky assets to something more secure or dividend-paying.

Consider going back to school to learn a new profession that is marketable and pays well. This is what happened after the dot-com bubble burst, the financial crisis and the beginning of the pandemic. People took shelter, not only at home, but in colleges, MBA programs and law school.

They used the economic downturn to learn and earn more, once they’ve finished their education. You could also take on gig work, start a side hustle or pivot toward starting a business. Use the time wisely to reevaluate what you really want to do with your work-life.

I am a CEO, founder, and executive recruiter at one of the oldest and largest global search firms in my area of expertise

Source: Don’t Panic: How To Protect Yourself From A Possible Recession

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Buffett’s Berkshire Buys Citigroup and Several other Stocks, Slashes Verizon

May 16 (Reuters) – Berkshire Hathaway Inc on Monday said it added new investments in Citigroup Inc and several other companies in the first quarter, as Warren Buffett’s conglomerate took advantage of volatile stock markets to invest $51.1 billion that had largely been sitting in cash.

In a regulatory filing describing its U.S.-listed equity investments as of March 31, Berkshire reported new stakes in Ally Financial Inc, chemicals and specialty materials company Celanese Corp, insurance holding company Markel Corp, drug distributor McKesson Corp and Paramount Global, formerly known as ViacomCBS.

Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire said it sold nearly all of an $8.3 billion stake in Verizon Communications Inc that it had amassed in late 2020.

Berkshire also finally exited Wells Fargo & Co, a 33-year-old investment that Buffett soured on after finding it too slow to address revelations that employees had mistreated customers, including by opening unwanted accounts.

Buffett’s company ended March with $106.3 billion of cash and equivalents, down from a near-record $146.7 billion three months earlier, largely reflecting the new investments.

These included previously disclosed stakes in Chevron Corp and Occidental Petroleum Corp, computer and printer maker HP Inc and video game maker Activision Blizzard Inc, the latter an arbitrage bet.

Stock sales totaled $9.7 billion, and also included drugmakers AbbVie Inc and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co .

Citigroup, where Berkshire invested nearly $3 billion, has embarked on a multiyear plan to boost performance and a share price that in recent years has lagged larger rivals JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of America Corp, the latter a major Berkshire investment.

Some investors have described Markel as a small-scale version of Berkshire, and Buffett in March committed $11.6 billion to buy another insurance holding company fitting that description, Alleghany Corp.

Berkshire also owns several companies specializing in Celanese’s sectors. Monday’s filing does not say which investments were made by Buffett and his portfolio managers Todd Combs and Ted Weschler.

Most large Berkshire investments are Buffett’s. Stock prices often rise after Berkshire reveals new stakes because investors view the investments as a stamp of approval.

At Berkshire’s annual meeting on April 30, Buffett said investors were too focused on flashy stocks, causing markets at times to resemble a casino, allowing him to focus on stocks that Berkshire understands and which add value.

Analysts have also viewed Chevron and Occidental as a way for Berkshire to benefit from rising oil prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“I wish the rest of the world worked as well as our big oil companies,” Berkshire Vice Chairman Charlie Munger said at the annual meeting.

More than three-fourths of Berkshire’s $390.5 billion equity portfolio on March 31 was in American Express Co, Apple Inc, Bank of America, Chevron, Coca-Cola Co and Kraft Heinz Co. Berkshire owned 26.6% of Kraft Heinz. (Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Chris Reese, Bernard Orr).

By Jonathan Stempel

Source: UPDATE 1-Buffett’s Berkshire buys Citigroup and several other stocks, slashes Verizon

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A New Idea To Reduce Wealth Inequality: Tax Capital Gains At Death At A Higher Rate Than During Life

Senate Finance Committee Chair Ron Wyden (D-OR) have proposed different ways to tax unrealized capital gains every year. Their shared goal is understandable, with trillions of dollars escaping income tax under current law. But each plan raises serious administrative and legal problems. My colleague, Rob McClelland, and I suggest a simpler, more effective approach: Tax unrealized gains of the wealthy at death at a higher rate than if assets are sold or given as gifts during life.

An unrealized gain is the increase in the value of an asset, like stock, which has not yet been sold. Taxing these gains is important because unrealized gains now account for more than half of the staggering amount of wealth of the very richest Americans, those with at least $100 million of net worth.

Current law encourages the wealthy to hold their assets until death, when those gains escape income tax permanently. This happens for two reasons. First, current law does not treat a bequest as a sale so no income tax is due at death. And, second, heirs are allowed a “stepped-up basis” where they never pay tax on any increase in the value of property during a decedent’s lifetime.

The results: Government loses a massive amount of revenue, wealth inequality is perpetuated through generations, and investors are encouraged to retain (or “lock-in”) poorly balanced, and less productive, portfolios. More than fifty years ago, two leading tax experts described the failure to tax gains of property transferred at death as “the most serious defect in our federal tax system.”

To fix this longstanding flaw, our plan would tax unrealized gains at death for the very rich (couples with more than $100 million and singles with more than $50 million) at the tax rate for ordinary income—currently 37 percent. But profits from sales or gifts of assets during life would still be taxed at 23.8 percent. Transfers to spouses would be tax exempt. And the very rich would be allowed to deduct their income taxes at death from their estate taxes.

Our proposal turns the existing incentive for appreciated assets on its head. Instead of encouraging people to hold their appreciated assets until death to avoid income taxes, our proposal encourages them to sell these assets before they die.

For example, imagine an entrepreneur who owns $100 billion of his company stock, for which he paid nothing when he founded the firm. Under our proposal, if he holds his stock until death, he’d owe $37 billion in income tax. But if he sells during life, he would owe $23.8 billion. And, if he wants to transfer his stock to his children without paying the $37 billion, he could give his stock to them during his life and pay $23.8 billion.

To determine the reach of our proposal, Rob reviewed data from the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances, which he combined with Forbes 400 information (which is excluded from the survey). He estimated that taxpayers subject to our proposal have unrealized gains totaling about $7.5 trillion in 2022.

If these households realize $6 trillion of their $7.5 trillion of that gain during their lifetimes, and the remaining $1.5 trillion at death, our proposal would raise almost $2 trillion over time. Over the next 10 years alone, our plan could raise several hundred billion dollars, just like Biden’s and Wyden’s plan. (Our plan could raise more than theirs eventually, as our tax rate at death is higher than Biden’s and Wyden’s.)

For simplicity, we assumed the unrealized gains don’t grow over time, which likely makes our estimates conservative.

Taxing the wealthiest households on their unrealized gains at death is much easier to administer than Biden’s or Wyden’s plans to tax them annually. Our plan would rely on existing estate tax returns, and valuations, which the rich already file, while Biden’s and Wyden’s plans would require new annual filings for taxpayers during their lifetimes.

While few taxpayers would pay Biden’s or Wyden’s tax, many more would need to value all their assets annually, as taxpayers close to the line might move in and out of the regimes over time. How would the IRS determine whether all these taxpayers filed properly?

Finally, our proposal to collect taxes on transfers by gift or bequests is well -established under the US Constitution, but collecting taxes outside of transfers during their lifetimes raises unresolved legal issues.

Today, older, wealthier taxpayers often hang on to appreciated assets during their lifetimes, waiting to transfer them at death. Our plan encourages them to realize gains during life, which could lead to better balanced portfolios, broaden ownership of these assets, and generate much-needed tax revenue.

I am a Senior Fellow in the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center. I research, speak, and write on a range of federal income tax issues, with a focus on business

Source: A New Idea To Reduce Wealth Inequality: Tax Capital Gains At Death At A Higher Rate Than During Life

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Crude Oil Price Forecast Slam Into the Top of a Triangle

WTI Crude Oil Technical Analysis

The West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil market rallied significantly during the trading session on Friday to reach the $110 level. The downtrend line, of course, comes into the picture and offers a lot of selling pressure. If we can break above the highs of the last couple of weeks, the market is likely to continue going higher, perhaps reaching the $120 level. Alternately, if we could see this market turn around and fall back to the 50 Day EMA.

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It will be interesting to see how this plays out but pay close attention to those highs that we are approaching because that will be key to telling you where we are going in the short term. Longer-term, it almost certainly looks as if oil will at least try to go higher.

Brent Crude Oil Technical Analysis

Brent markets also have slammed into the top of a triangle, showing signs of trying to break out as well. Ultimately, this is a market that I think given enough time will probably pull back into the triangle, but I believe that the 50 Day EMA should come into the picture for support, as well as the uptrend line of the triangle.

At this point, the market continues to show a lot of volatility, and I think that given enough time we will more than likely will find a “buy on the dip” type of situation. The market will continue to pay close attention to these trendlines and make a bigger move once we finally break out. At this point, it certainly looks as if the buyers have much more momentum than anything else.

Oil Price Forecast 2025 to 2050

The EIA predicts that by 2025 Brent crude oil’s nominal price will rise to $66/b. By 2030, world demand is seen driving Brent prices to $89/b. By 2040, prices are projected to be $132/b. By then, the cheap oil sources will have been exhausted, making it more expensive to extract oil. By 2050, oil prices could be $185/b.

WTI per barrel price is expected to rise to $64 per barrel by 2025, increasing to $86 by 2030, $128 by 2040, and $178 by 2050.The EIA assumes that demand for petroleum flattens out as utilities rely more on natural gas and renewable energy. It also assumes the economy grows around 1.9% annually, while energy consumption decreases by 0.4% a year.

The Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Russia is the third-largest producer of liquid fuels and petroleum, so when the country invaded Ukraine in late February 2022, it had immediate impact on Brent crude oil futures prices. As the conflict continued, the prices of crude oil settled in out on an upward trajectory, reaching nearly $130/b in early March, and staying well above $100/b into April.

US Oil Supply

The coronavirus pandemic and natural events are still affecting oil demand and supply. The U.S. experienced a drop in production following Hurricane Ida in September as the storm shut at least nine refineries.

The EIA estimates that U.S. crude oil production will average 12.01 million b/d in 2022 and 12.95 million b/d in 2023.11

Diminished OPEC Output

Oil price increases also reflect supply limitations by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and OPEC partner countries. In 2020, OPEC cut oil production due to decreased demand during the pandemic. It gradually increased oil output through 2021 and into 2022. Supply chain disruptions in late 2021 affected global trade as well.

At its most recent meeting in December 2021, OPEC stated it would continue to gradually adjust oil production upward by 0.4 million barrels per day (mb/d) in January 2022.

Natural Gas

Countries in Asia have relied on coal to generate power, but recent shortages have turned them to natural gas. Higher temperatures in parts of Asia and Europe have led to high demand for natural gas to generate power.

COVID-19 has hampered Europe’s natural gas production, and a colder-than-expected heating season in early 2021 reduced supplies further.

As a result, natural gas prices soared in 2021 and are expected to remain high in 2022, and affected countries have turned to gas-to-oil switching to reduce power generation costs.

Global Inventory Draw

As a reduction in oil production continues globally, countries are forced to draw from their stored reserves (not including the strategic petroleum reserves). This steady draw of oil is contributing to the increase in prices, because inventories are decreasing.

By: Christopher Lewis

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Where Do Millionaires Keep Their Money?

Where do millionaires keep their money? High net worth individuals put money into different classifications of financial and real assets, including stocks, mutual funds, retirement accounts and real estate. Most of the 20.27 million millionaires in the U.S. did not inherit their money; only about 20% inherited their money. More than two-thirds of all millionaires are entrepreneurs. Here are some of the places the genuinely rich keep their money.

Cash and Cash Equivalents

Many, and perhaps most, millionaires are frugal. If they spent their money, they would not have any to increase wealth. They spend on necessities and some luxuries, but they save and expect their entire families to do the same. Many millionaires keep a lot of their money in cash or highly liquid cash equivalents.

They establish an emergency account before ever starting to invest. Millionaires bank differently than the rest of us. Any bank accounts they have are handled by a private banker who probably also manages their wealth. There is no standing in line at the teller’s window.

Studies indicate that millionaires may have, on average, as much as 25% of their money in cash. This is to offset any market downturns and to have cash available as insurance for their portfolio. Cash equivalents, financial instruments that are almost as liquid as cash. are popular investments for millionaires. Examples of cash equivalents are money market mutual funds, certificates of deposit, commercial paper and Treasury bills.

Some millionaires keep their cash in Treasury bills that they keep rolling over and reinvesting. They liquidate them when they need the cash. Treasury bills are short-term notes issued by the U.S government to raise money. Treasury bills are usually purchased at a discount. When you sell them, the difference between the face value and selling price is your profit. Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, has a portfolio full of money market accounts and Treasury bills.

Millionaires also have zero-balance accounts with private banks. They leave their money in cash and cash equivalents and they write checks on their zero-balance account. At the end of the business day, the private bank, as custodian of their various accounts, sells off enough liquid assets to settle up for that day. Millionaires don’t worry about FDIC insurance. Their money is held in their name and not the name of the custodial private bank.

Other millionaires have safe deposit boxes full of cash denominated in many different currencies. These safe deposit boxes are located all over the world and each currency is held in a country where transactions are conducted using that currency.

Real Estate

For more than 200 years, investing in real estate has been the most popular investment for millionaires to keep their money. During all these years, real estate investments have been the primary way millionaires have had of making and keeping their wealth. The trend started with buying a primary home and then other residences, usually for tenants. After buying some personal real estate, then they have started buying commercial real estate like office buildings, hotels, stadiums, bridges and more.

Millionaires often have large real estate portfolios. Once they have established themselves as a buyer in the real estate market, real estate agents start bringing them deals and they find it easy to obtain financing. Large investors have many millions tied up in real estate. Real estate is not an investment to depend on for cash, but it is a lucrative investment in the long run and a tried and true investment for millionaires because they like passive income and find that real estate provides it.

Stocks and Stock Funds

Some millionaires are all about simplicity. They invest in index funds and dividend-paying stocks. They like the passive income from equity securities just like they like the passive rental income that real estate provides. They simply don’t want to use their time managing investments.

Ultra-rich investors may hold a controlling interest in one or more major companies. But, many millionaires hold a portfolio of only a few equity securities. Many may hold index funds since they earn decent returns and you don’t have to spend time managing them. They also have low management fees and excellent diversification.

Millionaires also like dividend-paying stocks for the passive income they provide. Of course, they are also interested in capital appreciation but, for some, that’s less of a concern than generating current income.

Private Equity and Hedge Funds

Unless you are a multimillionaire, you may not participate in a hedge fund or buy into a private equity fund. Public equity is well known since its shares trade on stock exchanges. One of its advantages is its liquidity. You can readily liquidate your public equity or shares of stock. Private equity funds, on the other hand, generally gets their investments from large organizations like universities or pension funds.

Investors of private equity funds have to be accredited investors with a certain net worth, usually at least $250,000. Accredited investors can be individuals as well as organizations, but they are defined by regulations. In other areas, private equity funds do not have to conform to as many regulations as public equity does. Some of the ultra-rich, if they are accredited investors, do invest in private equity.

Hedge funds are not the same as private equity. Hedge funds use pooled funds and pursue several strategies to earn outsized returns for their investors. Hedge funds invest in whatever fund managers think will earn the highest short-term profits possible.

Commodities

Commodities, like gold, silver, mineral rights or cattle, to name a few, are also stores of value for millionaires. But they require storage and have a level of complexity that many millionaires simply don’t want to deal with.

Alternative Investments

Some millionaires, along with the ultra-rich, keep a portion of their money in other alternative investments like such tangible assets as fine art, expensive musical instruments or rare books. Also, there are millionaires and the ultra-rich that have investments in intellectual property rights such as the rights to songs or movies. These can be very lucrative investments.

Cryptocurrency

It is estimated that there are around 100,000 cryptocurrency millionaires out there with the majority holding Bitcoin. To try to make your fortune in cryptocurrency, you have to be willing to take on some risk and many millionaires don’t have an appetite for risk.

You can take a small portion of a millionaire’s wealth and invest in one of the different cryptocurrencies. Plenty of people have become millionaires this way. Some have lost their money. More and more, cryptocurrency is becoming accepted as a legitimate investment that deserves a look when trying to accumulate wealth.

The Bottom Line

Millionaires have many different investment philosophies, so it’s difficult to generalize concerning where they keep their money. However, all of the above are legitimate investments for millionaires. They have a desire for a reduction of their risk, so many prefer diversified investment portfolios. More than one of these investments can be combined to try to enhance wealth.

Tips on Investing

Would you like to investigate how your investments are growing? Check out SmartAsset’s free investment calculator.

Do you have questions about how to start investing? It’s wise to begin by consulting a financial advisor. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals

By:

Source: Where Do Millionaires Keep Their Money?

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