Welcome To Our Hawley Advisors Blog

We hope you find the articles on our blog informative and helpful. You are always welcome to chat with us if you have any questions about your personal financial situation.

How Much Do You Need To Retire On?

There is no "one size fits all" when it comes to answering the question: "how much money will you need to comfortably retire on"? It is entirely dependent on your retirement goals, desired lifestyle and how flexible you are. 

The most common wisdom that you will find on the internet will tell you that the number is 70% of your pre-retirement income. That number will of course vary depending on your expenses which in turn will depend on where you are living. The good news is that - if you are flexible - there are different retirement options for almost every budget if you are willing to move where the costs can accomodate your income. For example an article in MoneyWise covers 20 different countries where you can retire on a lot less than you may think is possible.

Countries such as Portugal, Uruguay, France, Costa Rica, Portugal, Thailand are covered in the article where yes, appartment rentals can be found ranging from $350 to $750/month. If you have a retirement income of $2500-$3000/month for example, you may find that one of these countries could serve up a workable and enjoyable retirement. 

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The Status of Traditional Safe Havens & How Much Risk Is Right For You?

In a close to zero-interest and low bond yield environment alongside a massive expansion of the money supply (over 4 Trillion dollars to date) what choices do investors have with respect to selection of conservative safe haven assets that can protect from inevitable inflation and posible dilution in the value of the US dollar.

The disincentive for keeping money in the bank or in bonds has never been higher. Inflation will now outpace the (close to zero) yields in savings accounts or bonds. Effectively, your money while safe from losses, is now losing value.

The counter bet to inflation and market uncertaintly is of course Gold which has been on a tear this year, up 60%, surpassing all time highs. Gold has become a "risk-on" asset.

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Wills, Trusts & Retirement - Is Your House In Order?

With so much economic and health risk in the new COVID-19 era, most people in the 50 and over category (especially those with serious pre-existing conditions) are thinking about their retirement plans, income and nest eggs as well as their Will, Trust and legacy to their next of kin.

You may be asking yourself questions such as:

Is my will and trust up to date? Is it optimized and compliant with the latest tax changes and laws?

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The Investors & Retirees Reality - Living With Uncertainty & What to Do About it

"I dont understand why the Market is acting the way it is"? We hear this question all the time. It's a perfectly natural question and if someone gives you an answer, just know that there is at least a 50/50 probability that they are either correct or incorrect. No one, not even the so called experts know with certainty why the market acts the way it does. Yes, we can arrive at rational conclusions some of the time. For example, once the markets figured out that there would not be an easy short-term fix to the coronavirus and that this would have a negative impact on the economy, stocks fell dramatically. After the Federal Reserve and government promised to provide an almost unlimited backstop of financial support to calm the bond and credit markets, the markets shook off the downside and rallied back to what is now, not far off from the old all-time highs.

On the other hand, we are faced with the highest unemployment numbers since the great depression, the additional unemployment benefits are set to run out at the end of July, we are seeing record missed rent and mortgage payments and a coronavirus that is creating havoc to people health and the economy in hot spots all over the USA with no concensus on how to safely re-open the economy. The market has high hopes for a coronavirus vaccine, but what if those hopes are significantly delayed or dashed altogether? How long can the government and the Federal Resever keep funding everything as record defecits shoot even higher? How long can cities, states, schools survive without their staple revenue sources. And what about inflation? How will this impact the dollar, the economy and our every day lives?

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Long Term Value Investing: The Buffet & Benjamin Graham School of Investing

It's rarely in fashion. It can often be boring. It can take time for the markets to value fairly. What is it?  It is the long term value investing methodology used by some of the greatest investors of all times such as Warren Buffet and Benjamin Graham. The basic premesis is to look at the intrinsic value of a company and if it is priced for less than what the market is saying it is worth you have a net price advantage.

If the company - in addition - has steady growth prospects, a strong cash position, a leading brand, is well managed and is expected to return growth and profits of "x" percent a year and pays out a dividend, then a value investor can make a reasonable investment assessment that the company will not only be alive and well, but also worth more than what he will be paying for it, especially if it's instrinsic value is more than what the market is saying it is worth.

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Sometimes, Forgetting About The Markets is Good Therapy! A July 4th Weekend Should Be One of Those Times

Getting riled up and down or worrying about the markets - all the time - is not a healthy way to live, most people would agree. All Markets go in cycles, and given enough time and providing that you are well diversifed, the markets have proven out over more than a couple of hundred years that they will weather the most harsh storms and continue to grow over the long term. Growth is not a straight line. A long protracted bear market scenario is of course serious but no-one is expecting that to be the outcome of the coronavirus crisis. Yes, it may take longer than any one of us may like to discover an effective vaccine and administer it, but this will eventually happen. An enormous ammount of resources and scientifc brain power is being allocated to the discovery, manufacturing and distribution of a vaccine in every country worldwide. And despite global tensions among super-powers, scientists are collaborating on a global scale.

We will get through this time. Business conditions and markets will improve and likewise employment numbers will rise again. There will also be significant hardship faced by many who are unemployed and we can but hope that governments will continue to find ways to ease their burden until the employment situation can get back to pre-coronavirus levels.

A good reason to get a financial advisor is that they will do the worrying and managing of your investment portfolio for you. They will be more objective in times of crisis and able to provide advice that will help steer you in the right direction and away from doing anything that might worsen your situation.

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Fake News Is Not New! It is a Practice That Has Been Used by Traders, Banks and Large Investors For Hundreds of Years

Fake news is not NEW. It has been used for hundreds of years to mislead or mid-direct in times of war, crisis and when big money is on the line. It's just that there is so much news in todays media rich world, it is hard to know who is telling the truth in any given moment. Everyone has an agenda. Whether it be a CEO, investor, hedge fund, public health official, governor, news channel or president. Everyone has something to gain or lose in a given situation and to whatever degree it is serving someone's personal, business or institutions goals or ambitions, bending the truth to telling outright lies will depend on how much is at stake and how willing someone is to cross ethical or moral lines.

As an investor, it is important to pay attention and ask the hard questions when reflecting on what any particular source of information is saying about a company or market. What is being said, by whom and why are matter of fact questions to be asked. These questions along with a discerning perspective can save you money and make you money, stop you from making rash decisions and help you stay rational.

Below are just a couple of examples to illustrate these points. We could provide many more. These examples are high profile examples of what we are referring to.

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Often, Investing in the Markets is Knowing Who To Listen to & Who Not to Listen To

Jeremy Grantham

There is a saying that "It's not what you know" but "Who you know" in life, that is the most important thing for making progress. There is of course truth to this saying. Getting to the right people for any particular endeavor in life is a combination of research, persistence, creativity, connections and luck as well as a good dose of courage. Fearless entrepreneurs and investors have persistence and courage in spades and you only need to read a few biographies to know that meeting the right people can be a process that takes a few rounds of trial and error. Their vision of "what can be" or "What is" drives them in their pursuit of success. Everyone can do well with the right mentors.

Today, we are going to write less and let you listen to Jeremy Grantham, a veteran investor whose bio is below. In this interview, Grantham share his views on the markets as well as US and global equities. It is well worth listening to.

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Science, Markets & Reality. Who is on First?

In our last blog post which we published last week, we wrote about the Efficient Market Hypothesis [EMH] and whether it was true, half-true or half-false. We fielded different responses to this post, half of which stated "of course, markets are inefficient" and the other half stating "they are efficient most of the time". We pointed out that these theories do not take "human nature" fully into account. History charts a series of irrefutable market bubbles and busts across multiple asset classes. When you are actually in a bubble or bust period, it can feel like conditions will go on indefinitely. The law of market cycles sais otherwise.

Over the last two months, the markets have charted a strong recovery track defying the hard hitting economic realities of the impact of the coronavirus. They have been - or so it appears - in denial of what all medical specialists and virologists are saying, which is that the coronavirus will inevitably re-surface in the fall of 2020, if it even disappears or lessens in-between. There are no maybe's, it's a 100% guarranteed. There is a reason why Operation Warp Speed [OWS], the government funded program to fast track the development of a vaccine, as well as its manufacturing and distribution, was established. Without a vaccine, a large sector of the general population are not going to get back to life, work and patterns of consumption as they were pre-coronavirus. The virus is highly transmittable and without vigilant precautions and collective discipline, we are only going to make it easier for it to find a path to its next host.

It is not a secret that the virus has not been contained and cannot be effectively contained without such collective effort. It is not a matter of dispute among medical experts. Until today, the markets have seemingly been ignoring this fact which has been continuously stated by medical experts. Even Jerome Powell, the chairman of the federal reserve, when interviewed a few weeks ago about the impact of the virus and what the Fed was doing, talked about various scenarios which would of course be worse he said "if the virus were to return in the Fall". But there are no "If's" from the perspective of every virologist on the planet. Did this fact go un-noticed by Mr Powell? We think this is unlikely.

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Efficient or Innefficient Markets - Which One Is It?

What Is the Efficient Market Hypothesis (EMH)? Is it True or False, Half-True or Half-False?

The efficient market hypothesis (EMH), also known as "efficient market theory" states that share prices reflect all known information in the current moment and that ergo they are valued fairly. This in turn infers that consistent alpha generation cannot be achieved and that it is also fruitless to try and beat or out-perform the markets.

According to the EMH, stocks always trade at their fair value. Therefore, expert stock selection or market timing is a myth being chased by investment bankers, analysts and brokers at the expense of investors. Why should Wall Street be paid high fees if they are not outperforming the market. EMH states that the only way an investor can potentially beat the market is by making riskier investments. A low cost ETF or balanced fund that tracks the market is all that most investors need.

EMH or efficient market hypothesis fails however to take one key factor into account, namely human beings. Human beings are not rational. Stock market or housing or art bubbles and busts are littered along the path of progress in human history. They come and go. They repeat, again and again. We can probably go back a lot further in history to illustrate this point but we will start with what was referred to and more commonly known as "The Dutch Tulip Mania" in the 17th century when tulips reached absurdly inflated prices and then collapsed in 1637. Fast forward to the roaring 1920's and crash of 1929 and then to the dot.com bubble leading up to 2000 and the housing bubble of 2007. You get the point. Every one of these bubbles was fuelled by human "greed" and an infinite supply of hope that things would keep getting better or that stocks or property would go higher and higher. Not exactly rational given that the battle hardened and tested "theory-not" of "market cycles" which states that all markets whether it be commodities, stocks and collectables move in cycles.

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US - China Tensions. The Battle For Global Supremacy, Security & Influence

China USA TensionsGlobal tensions between the USA and China were already a "thing" prior to the Coronavirus rearing its ugly head. However, in a post-coronavirus world that has severely impacted economies, supply chains and trade, the sheer extent to which countries - in particular the USA - are dependent on vital goods such as key ingredients for pharmaceuticals, medical equipments and auto-parts for example, has been highlighted in dramatic fashion. Significant sectors of US industry have sacrificed "price advantages" over "security" in a long established US led transition of exporting manufacturing and jobs to China.

In a world where China and American trade relations may continue to sour and worsen, such dependency can no longer be viewed as a smart play. China has never been viewed as a fair player. They play to win at all costs. The mis-handling of the coronavirus outbreak has not endeared China to the world. The US which has suffered the worst impact of the coronavirus worldwide and where the governement was slow to take it seriously, has decided to blame the WHO (World Health Organization) for not being more circumspect about what was happening in China and more suspect about information regarding the outbreak and therefore wasting precious time.

The US pulled its funding from the WHO much to the chagrin of its allies while China was more than happy to cough up a couple of billion dollars to plug the funding gap and win more favor. An investigation is now underway within the WHO. It's fair to say that very few countries were prepared for a pandemic. It was never a matter of "if' but "when" and most of the world chose to ignore the matter of preparedness. That changes only in the instance of a pandemic hitting and by the time that happened - as we have all witnessed - it was already too late.

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Are The Markets Disconnected From Reality or Ahead of It?

For most people looking at the stock market it's hard to understand how the US stock markets keeps trending up when -as of this week - almost 40 million people, that is 1 in every 5 people in the USA are now claiming unemployment. It's hard to comprehend. 40 million people is almost 73% of the entire population of England or 4x the entire population of Switzerland.

Yet, the US stock markets -the DOW, the Nasdaq and so forth - keep trending up. Is the economy going to be back to normal in 6 months time? Are 90% of the population who are claiming unemployment going to be back at work in 6 months time? Are we going to have an approved successful vaccine in 6 months time that has been distributed to 350 million people in the USA? And if a vaccine is not ready or still in the process of being proven out, is the coronavirus going to disappear in the winter of 2020/2021? You will be hard-pressed to find a virologist in the USA that is not saying that it is inevitable that the coronavirus will re-surface in the winter of 2020 and that is even if it recedes during the summer which is not necessarily the case on a regional level, where patchworks of outbreaks will vary regionally as the virus migrates as it will with passage made easier in states with looser restrictions.

Is the massive government and fed stimulus enough to prop everything up indefinitely. There will be more. It may take time for the next round to be passed by the house and senate but the commitment to do so, if it is necessary, is there.

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When The Chairman of the Federal Reserve & Prominent Investor Billionaires Speak - The Markets Listen!

As unemployment crosses the 36.5 million mark and economic data indicates a more protracted recovery timeline, not to mention the guaranteed re-surfacing of the coronavirus in the fall, the Federal Reserve Chairman, Jerome Powell along with a handfull of billionaires begin to speak out about their outlook for the US economy.

Its a more sobering assessment than the markets hope for a "V" shaped recovery trajectory. When the Chairman of the Fed and a handful of uber-successful billionaire investors speak, the markets take notice and listen.

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A Buffet of Hope & Realism

"NEVER BET AGAINST AMERICA" !! Warren Buffet spent the first 45 minutes of the Annual Berkshire Hathaway Meeting last Saturday on May 2nd providing a summary historic analysis of the United States Economic growth story.  Since its inception around 1776, with a population that represented a tiny fraction of the global population, no one at that time could have foreseen what America was going to become in just 244 years. Using a crude calculation based on the 1815 sale of Louisianna to the USA for a mere $15million icluding mineral rights (3cents an acre) Buffet estimates the total worth of the US to have been $1billion in 1815. That total worth has mushroomed to over $150 Trillion in just 234 years. That is a staggering 150,000% growth. No wonder Buffet calls America "An Economic Miracle"!

During this time America has withstood a civil war, the 1918 flu pandemic, the great depression and two world wars. Take a look at this chart documenting major crisis and the stock markets growth. It is staggering to think what America has accomplished and it is on this factual basis that Buffet's opening takeaway was "Never, Never Bet Against America"! 

A strong opening statement that was followed by the reality that we are living in uncertain times with the Coronavirus Global Pandemic and that no-one really knows how this is going to unfold. Scientists have been warning for years that it was not "if" but "when" a global pandemic would hit. Berkshire Hathaway's philosophy is to be prepared. Always hold a lot of cash on hand, not only for potential business opportunities but also for weathering uncertain economic times. With 120 Billion cash on hand, Berkshire Hathaway is in a good position to withstand the current economic shock even with the significant losses its businesses are facing.

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No Man's Land - Hope, Reality, Unknowns and X Factors

Its Thursday, Aprill 30th and there are reasons for optimism. For example, the preliminary indications for Gilead"s Remdesevir and Oxford University's "Vaccine" development program look promising. There are however also reasons for pessimism such as unemployment numbers topping 30 million (exceeding numbers at the peak of the great depression), the possibility of renewed trade friction with China and a more cautious consumer in the immediate months ahead.

The rising tide of corporate debt over the last few years and more than 1,000 credit downgrades since January 2020 is also cause for concern. The COVID-19 economic shock is only going to exacerbate the issues in companies with marginal quality debt ratings. It is realistic to expect a wave of banruptcies. The Federal Reserve will be avoiding companies at the lower end of the ratings spectrum.

It is unrealistic to expect a robust return of the economy as most states adopt a gradual "phased" approach to re-opening their economies along with maintaining social distancing and strict hygiene standards. This will inevitably slow "commerce" and "demand" as we head into May and the summer 3rd quarter.

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Why Promise & Proof Are Binary Events in the World of Drug Discovery

In a previous blog post, we mentioned that we will be on the lookout for news relating to drug discovery for the coronavirus, in particular, anti-viral treatments. There has subsquently been news about Gilead's "remdesivir" showing promise along with a variety of anti-body treatments being developed by other companies.

When it comes to drug discovery, it is important to distinguish between "promise" and "proof". In the case of Gilead, the news was leaked from one of a number of trials that are yet to complete. It is not wise to draw conclusions that "promising indications" leaked from one arm of a trial in drug discovery will result in a better chance of achieving a meaningful outcome e.g. proof of effectiveness in clinical trials.You should take any such news with a pinch of salt. Unless a drug or vaccine has shown efficacy in the context of a Phase 3 trial and has been approved by the FDA the odds of that "promise  turning into reality" are fairly slim.

Until we have solid proof of effective Phase 3 trial results and a variety of FDA approved anti-viral treatments, it will prove challenging to manage our way through this pandemic. Should Gilead's drug prove out to be effective, it still faces big challenges with respect to production and availability on a very large scale. Furthermore, it may prove to be effective in only certain type of cases and instances. What is needed is a toolbox of anti-viral drug treatments.

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The Big Debate: Analysts & Economists Diverge On The Timeline for a Market Recovery

The BIG question and debate of the moment ammong economists and analysts is whether the market is going to make a V shaped recovery or re-visit new lows and make a longer term recovery. We have curated some of the articles -see below - that we believe shed some thoughtful light on these topics.

We have witnessed unprecedented government and federal reserve intervention in the economy and as a result the markets have rallied with an optimism that would have absolutely not been present had this not been the case. The swift financial interventions provide a backstop and floor in the market. The question is: "Where is that floor". That depends on a lot of unknowns and we question whether the analysts and economists who believe the March market bottom is "in" and now behind us have fully accounted for all the unknowns.

Unknowns include:

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When Will The Nation Re-Open for Business?

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, we are all facing significant unknowns and new stresses. We are all reliant on the economy for our daily existence and the big question on everyone's minds is when will life return to some semblance of normalcy?. This article explores the questions about when the US will get back to business.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/upshot/coronavirus-four-benchmarks-reopening.html

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The Race to Save Patients Lives & The Global Economy

The race is on to save patients lives and the global economy. The stakes are high, very high. As the world shelters in place, economies have cratered, businesses have had their plans turned upside down and millions are filing for unemployment. The human toll of fatalities from the coronavirus are being felt throughout the world.

The last time in history when almost everyone on the planet was talking about the same thing was when man first stepped on the moon. Science is in the race of their lives to find effective treatments and a vaccine for the coronavirus. Peoples lives are depending on it and the world economy is too! Collaboration ammong scientists all over the world is at an all-time high!

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The Economic Outlook - What to Expect Ahead

The Future Ahead

In the midst of facing an unprecendented modern day global health and economic crisis, here is what economists - at this moment in time - think you can expect to see regarding the outlook for the markets. This is of course a moving goal post as no-one knows how the Coronavirus epidemic will exactly unfold and when potential anti-viral treatments will be discovered. At this point a vaccine for the coronavirus is 18 months away and that would be a lightning quick development curve compared ot the usual timeline to develop a vaccine. One thing we can say with 100% certianty and that is these are not normal times and yes, the market will recover in time.

The Market Outlook from Hawley Advisors 

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A Nobel Prize Winner's More Optimistic Perspective on How Bad the Impact of The Coronavirus Will Be

Michael Levitt - Nobel Prize Winner

When one is assessing risk and how far off a recovery might be in the midst of the coronavirus sweeping the US and the world, the mostly catastrophic forecasts in the daily news leaves you with a very bleak picture. And while the picture is severe both on the health and economy fronts, we wanted to share a Nobel prize winners more optimistic outlook...

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/nobel-prize-winner-shares-some-good-news-about-the-coronavirus-pandemic-2020-03-23

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Massive Fed Intervention Provides A Backbone of Support for the Economy and Markets

Fed announces new programs to keep credit flowing to the U.S. economy - The Wall Street Journal

The U.S. central bank announced it would go beyond its prior commitment of $700 billion in bond purchases to buy “the amounts needed” to keep markets functioning and the economy stable. It also announced significant new programs to keep credit flowing to businesses and consumers, including loans for students, auto buyers and small businesses.

https://www.wsj.com/…/federal-reserve-announces-major-expan…

This unprecedented action by the Fed will ease market fears and the overall downside. That being said, the big unknown is how long it will take for the world to get the upper hand on the Coronavirus. As mentioned in a previous post, if we see promising anti-viral treatments emerge this will be a significant milestone that will herald light at the end of the tunnel. The World Health Organization currently has trials underway for anti-viral treatments.

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The Instinct to Run Needs to be Weighed Against the Evidence of Human Progress & The Markets

The human brain is hardwired to survive and flee in the face of danger. Countering the emotion that is hardwired into our DNA, we need to very objectively look at human history and its advances in the face of catastrophes as well as how this has impacted the financial markets.

 

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Your Health, Wealth and How the Coronavirus Could Play Out Based on How Previous Infectious Diseases were tackled by the Medical Community

The unknowns surrounding the Coronavirus remain front and center of the news and markets. No one likes uncertainty when it hits so close to home and the markets are challenged with respect to trying to discount risk that it does not fully understand yet.

So how long will the Coronavirus last?

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How Are Your Social Security Benefits Calculated?

Your Social Security Nest Egg

This is an excellent educational video explaining how your social security benefits are calculated and when the best time to retire is, for maximising your benefits.

https://www.cnbc.com/…/how-your-social-security-benefits-ch…

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What’s The Right Age To Start Drawing Social Security?

The Queston of "When"?

Most older adults will rely on their Social Security payments to make ends meet in retirement, but with growing numbers delaying retirement, when is the right time to start drawing benefits? The answer varies based on many factors, including your marital status and additional retirement savings. Before you cash your first check, consider these factors:

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When It Comes to Investing - It’s Important To Take The Long View

Living With Uncertainty - Practicing Patience

If you’re investing in the stock market or another money market, you need to be comfortable with uncertainty, but even more important, you have to be willing to wait. While some day traders maketheir money on small fluctuations within the market, the majority of individuals will spend months or even years holding the same stocks. This approach sets you up for the greatest gains and allows you to apply your long-term understanding of financial trends. In the long game, you’re in control.

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Pre-Retirement Talks - What Do Couples Need to Consider?

Retirement is a major life milestone and it’s harder to achieve than ever; older workers make up the largest portion of employment growth since 2000. If you’re preparing to leave the workforce, then, it’s more important than ever that you and your spouse are on the same page, so before you give notice, it’s time to have a sit-down. You need to see eye to eye on these three factors before you take further steps towards retirement.

A Question Of When

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1600 South Main Street, Suite 190
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Phone: 925-906-9800
Fax: 925-906-9884
info@hawleyadvisors.com

 

 

Hawley Advisors is an investment advisor, registered with the State of California. Any investment ideas or strategies on this website are for the purposes of education and general information only and should not be construed as specific investment advice. For more information about our firm please check the SEC Public Disclosure website: https://www.adviserinfo.sec.gov/

 

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