If you’re a senior, most likely you have done it. With the price of everything going up, many of you have had to “dip” into your savings. You might say, “I have enough savings to last another five years.” The problem is you are planning to live another 10-15 years. And if they don’t get inflation under control, you may only have enough savings to last another three years. Sound scary? You bet.
Many retired seniors will try to increase their “nest egg” by playing the stock market. They might say, “The stock market has done very well for me these past few years.
My investment adviser just gave me an article from USA Today (Oct. 10, 2023) that says, “Analysts expect the bull market (prices going up) to resume in 2024.”
Others may have rental income to supplement their fixed Social Security income. They might say, “I’ll wait to sell my rental property in six months since experts are saying that ‘low levels of inventory’ will keep prices strong.” In fact, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, predicts that “Home prices will rise around 3-4 percent” in 2024.
But wait! There is also a different market forecast. Some analysts strongly believe a recession is coming. They are skeptical that the U.S. can maintain economic growth with interest rates so high. Furthermore, they predict it could hit as early as 2024. Based on unemployment rates and several other factors, Citi Research has predicted a recession in early 2024 (source: www.investoplace.com, Oct. 27, 2023).
Now, I realize that for many, their minds “shut off” when it comes to news about the economy, e.g., “interest rate hikes,” “jobless claims on the rise” or “GDP growth.” So, the question is, “When is it time to get out of the market?” Both Democrats and Republicans are promising a strong economy, low unemployment and prosperity for all.
Despite hearing bright economic forecasts on the news, e.g., “Investors are hopeful the Fed will be able to navigate a so-called soft landing for the U.S. economy and avoid a severe recession in 2024” (source: USA Today (Oct. 27, 2023), beware! To make it easier to understand all the chaos going on in the economy, think of business cycles.
A business cycle is like the tides to an ocean: a never-ending ebb and flow from high tide to low tide. All business cycles, also referred to as economic cycles, go through four identifiable phases: expansion, peak, contraction and trough. Throughout its life, a business cycle is “book-ended” by a sustained period of economic growth, followed by a sustained period of economic decline.
The lowest point on the business cycle is a trough, which is characterized by higher unemployment, lower availability of credit and falling prices. The trough phase follows the contraction phase and ends before another expansion phase. During this stage, supply and demand decline significantly, and employees do not have nearly as many materials. It’s common for companies to lay off employees or close in the trough phase.
Governments and major financial institutions use various means to try to manage the course and effects of economic cycles. To attempt to end a recession, the government can employ expansionary fiscal policy, which involves rapid deficit spending. Conversely, it can try to use contractionary fiscal policy to stop the economy from overheating during expansions by taxing and running a budget surplus to reduce aggregate spending.
Central banks try to use monetary policy to help manage and control the economic cycle by raising interest rates and slowing the flow of credit into the economy to reduce inflationary pressures and the need for a market correction. When the cycle hits the downturn, a central bank can lower interest rates or implement expansionary monetary policy to boost spending and investment. During expansion, it can employ contractionary monetary policy.
According to Investopedia.com, the popular sentiment of financial analysts and many economists is that recessions are the inevitable result of the business cycle in a capitalist economy. The empirical evidence, at least on the surface, appears to strongly back up this theory. Recessions seem to occur every decade or so in modern economies, and, more specifically, they seem to regularly follow periods of strong growth. This pattern recurs with striking consistency.
There’s no question the U.S. economic outlook has improved throughout 2023, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the economy is in the clear heading into 2024. While a growing number of economists are optimistic about a potential soft landing in 2024, some economists are skeptical that the U.S. can maintain economic growth with interest rates so high. So once again, the question remains, “Which economic forecast do I believe?”
I was an economics major at UCLA in the late 1970s. They taught us about business cycles. That is, the market is cyclical, meaning there are peaks and valleys. What they didn’t teach us, however, was that these cycles are done by design. In other words, business cycles are created on purpose by the 1 percent ruling elite who control the market, control the Fed and put presidents into office.
Every time there’s a market “crash” (or market correction), the wealth gap between the top 1 percent and the 99 percent gets bigger, meaning the rich get richer, and the middle class begins to disappear. Jesse Ventura, former governor of Minnesota, once had a TV show called “Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura” (2009-12). In one episode, he interviewed a woman, a member of the ruling elite, who spoke anonymously, “It’s time for the shearing of the sheep.”
You might say, “I don’t believe in conspiracy theories. What about the Housing Market Crash of 2008? Banks lost millions on defaulted loans.” NO — the banks got “bailed-out” using taxpayer money. Banks were actually better off after the bailouts than had the market never have crashed, i.e., it’s done by design.
In conclusion, despite what you might hear on the news about the economy being stable, my advice is to think again. Throughout American history, there has always been business cycles. Historically, these cycles occur every eight to 10 years. Since the last crash (2008-09), it’s been 14 years — we’re overdue for a “market correction.” When it does hit, the recession could be twice as bad. Getting out of a volatile stock market with high-risk investments might be a good idea.
Judd Matsunaga is the founding attorney of Elder Law Services of California, a law firm that specializes in Medi-Cal Planning, Estate Planning and Probate. He can be contacted at (310) 348-2995 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The opinions expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the view of the Pacific Citizen or constitute legal or tax advice and should not be treated as such.