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2014 Newsletters

US Economy –

With residential home prices at multi-year highs and the US stock market near all-time highs, you would think that inflation has picked up. However, it has not. A stronger dollar, lower energy costs, weak wage growth and 1% – 2% inflation worldwide has led to a stubbornly low 1.7% – 1.9% US inflation. Our dollar has strengthened despite our low interest rates (US 10-Year Bond yield is < 2.4%) because our interest rates are higher than in Europe and Asia and the US is a better credit risk. The Fed’s tapering of its bond buying program will end next month with very little of the “taper tantrum” that was feared.

US Economy –

The US Economy took an unexpected GDP drop of 2.9% in the first quarter. The blame was on our tough winter weather, the start of Obamacare, and uncertainty over the Fed’s tapering policies. While the economy recovered to an estimated +2% in the second quarter, most forecasters lowered their full year estimates down from the 3% range back to our recent muddle through 2% growth. Since the recession’s bottom in 2009, we have only gained a total of 11% GDP growth in 60 months – the weakest U.S. recovery ever, despite the most expansive monetary and fiscal stimulus in history.

It has been a very busy and productive first quarter at Optivest:  asset allocation and manager changes with SageView, a breakfast meeting with Mohamed El-Erian (departing CEO at PIMCO), interviews with the Wall Street Journal and Forbes, high level real estate discussions with large local owners including Rick Caruso, launching a Retirement Strategies department, joining Tiger 21 and meeting with 8 New York investment bankers conducting due diligence on our nearly $1 billion REIT.

US Economy –

After a vigorous 3rd quarter in 2013, the economy has fallen back to 6 months of slow growth and uncertainty as the new Fed Chairman, Janet Yellen, continues tapering the artificial support of the monetary system. The year has started exactly as we forecasted in our last newsletter – with a wobbly/sideways stock market and virtually every other asset class (see below) showing only slight gains of 1-3% which are the opposite of 2013. Interest rates have dropped slightly and are holding for now, but Mrs. Yellen has signaled that she expects short-term rates will rise to 3% by the end of 2015 and 4% by the end of 2016. This would only happen if the economy actually picks up organically after the Fed has stopped current stimulus.

US Economy –

The strength of the American economy picked up steam in the 3rd quarter of 2013 with a final GDP estimate of 4.1%, about double the average of the last few years. It is further estimated that the 4th quarter GDP (despite the short government shutdown) also exceeded 3%. Unemployment has dropped to 7.0% and consumer sentiment is back up to 82.5 (Reuters/University of M), up from a November dip of 75.1. This in turn has led the Fed to finally announce the start of tapering to their long-term interest rate support/bond buying program. This positive economic news was welcomed by Wall Street and pushed the S&P 500 further, up 32% for the year, while the yield on the 10-year Treasury bond crept back up to its high for the year, near 3%.