The Week on Wall Street
A fresh wave of positive corporate earnings surprises sent markets to new record highs last week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average increased 0.40%, while the S&P 500 rose 1.33%. The Nasdaq Composite index picked up 2.71% for the week. The MSCI EAFE index, which tracks developed overseas stock markets, was up 0.68%.
FACT OF THE WEEK
On November 2, 1986, Norwegian distance runner Grete Waitz wins her eighth New York City marathon. She finished the 26-mile, 385-yard course in 2:28.6, more than a mile ahead of the second and third place women in the race. Waitz had won her first marathon in New York in 1978 and she won the NYC marathon again in 1979, 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985. In 1988, she won it for the ninth time - something no runner had ever done in any marathon.
Waitz grew up in Oslo, Norway. She’d won national and international titles in shorter distances, but she had never run a marathon before 1978, when Fred Lebow, the director of the New York race, called her and invited her to participate. “He never thought I would complete the race,” she remembered later, but “he needed a ‘rabbit,’ someone who would go out strong and set the pace for the elite women.” Waitz agreed and set out for New York with her husband, Jack. The furthest she’d ever run was 12 miles. The night before the race, eager to celebrate their “second honeymoon” in Manhattan, the two went out to a swanky restaurant, where they ate shrimp cocktail, filet mignon and ice cream, and drank plenty of red wine. The next morning, bright and early, the 25 year-old Waitz started the marathon at the front of the pack and stayed there. But as the race dragged on, she started to wonder what she’d gotten herself into. “I continued running strong,” she remembered, “but having no idea what mile I was on or where this place called Central Park was, I began to get annoyed and frustrated. Every time I saw a patch of trees, I thought, “Oh, this must be Central Park,” but no. To keep motivated, I started swearing at my husband for getting me into this mess in the first place.” When she finished the race, she hurled her shoes at Jack’s head. But she’d won, and she’d set a new world record, two minutes faster than the old one: 2:32.30.
The next year, Waitz quit her teaching job and started running full time. She won the silver medal at the 1984 Olympics (Norway, like the United States, had boycotted the 1980 Games in Moscow). Along with her nine NYC Marathon titles, Waitz set 10 world records: in the 3,000 meters, 8,000 meters, 10,000 meters, 15,000 meters and 10 miles, along with the marathon.
Earnings Drive Market
The week kicked off with the Dow Jones Industrials and S&P 500 index setting record highs as the financial markets carried over the previous week’s price momentum.
Stocks continued to climb on a string of forecast-beating earnings results. With about half of the S&P 500 constituent companies having reported earnings, more than 80% of them have beaten Wall Street analysts’ consensus estimates. Based on these results, earnings for all S&P 500 companies are expected to come in approximately 39% above the third quarter of last year. (Forecasts are based on assumptions, and may not materialize.) Stocks overcame disappointing earnings from two mega-cap tech names on Friday to maintain the week’s solid gains.
GDP Growth Slows
While businesses managed to post strong earnings in the third quarter, the first look at economic growth came in below consensus estimates. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at a 2.0% annualized rate in the third quarter, a slowdown from the two previous quarters, each of which posted annualized growth rates in excess of 6%.
The spread of the Delta variant and backlogs in the supply chain were two major factors dragging on economic activity.
FINANCIAL STRATEGY OF THE WEEK
The topic of estate planning can bring up a feeling of uncertainty for many people. Thoughts that estate plans are too expensive to create, or that you only need one if you’re a millionaire couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, not having an estate plan in place can be one of the biggest mistakes someone could make, directly impacting their loved ones in ways they never anticipated. When creating an estate plan, be sure to review the following list of the top 5 estate planning mistakes to avoid.
1) Ignoring basic documents
- A will ensures your wishes are honored regarding your assets and, if you have minor children, their guardianship.
- A Durable Power of Attorney designates a person to make decisions about your finances if you’re incapacitated.
- A Living Will ensures your healthcare wishes are followed. For example, if you don’t wish to be resuscitated, or kept alive by artificial means.
- A Medical Power of Attorney directs healthcare needs if you’re unable to decide for yourself.
It’s a good idea to have an attorney review your documents, especially if you have a larger estate or multiple heirs.
2) Leaving an empty trust
A revocable living trust is a tool that allows you to avoid probate, essentially passing your assets directly to your heirs without the involvement of a judge or the state. But the trust only works for assets you put into it when you’re still alive. If there are no assets in the trust, it’s useless. So keep a list of what you’ve transferred into the trust, and make sure that any new assets or accounts are owned or opened in the name of the trust. An estate attorney can be very helpful as you go through this process.
3) Leaving assets outright to minors
If you leave your assets to your trust, your children can be beneficiaries to the whole thing. But if you make your minor children direct beneficiaries of your will, retirement plan, life insurance or annuity policy, they’re in for a tangled mess. Because children are minors, they can’t own these large financial assets in their names. That means that the courts may get involved, appointing an adult to oversee their inheritance until they’re old enough to do it themselves. Typically if you’ve created a trust, you’ve already chosen the adult who will manage your children’s inheritance in your absence. And if you’re the one who chose them, odds are you trust them to do what’s right for your kids.
Leaving an inheritance to your kids is thoughtful and kind. But leaving it the right way can actually impact their lives in a positive, helpful way that creates a legacy for their future.
4) Choosing the wrong trustee of your trust, or personal representative of your estate
Selecting a trustee can be difficult. It should be someone you trust to do what you’ve asked, even if you’re not there to see it. It may seem counterintuitive, but sometimes the people who are closest to you, whom you love the most, aren’t always the best candidates. Letting emotion dictate your choice of trustee or personal representative can have negative repercussions. Be sure your choice is well-suited to objectively carry out their duties and your wishes.
5) Ignoring the likelihood of disability
Many of us have life insurance to provide for our loved ones if something happens to us. But life insurance only pays a benefit when you’re no longer alive. With advances in healthcare and technology, it’s possible to become very ill or significantly injured and still survive. What happens then? Ideally, if you work for your income, you already have disability insurance to protect your paycheck if you’re no longer able to earn. But if you’re not working, odds are you no longer have health insurance either...which means that even one health crisis could wipe out all your savings. It happens in America more than you think. In fact, statistics show a full 25% of today’s 25-year-olds will become disabled before they even make it to retirement. That leaves many years still to manage with neither insurance nor income.
You may be thinking, “That’s what Medicaid and Medicare are for!” But there are many aspects of care those government assistance programs don’t cover, and they often require that ALL of your assets be wiped out before they’ll step in to help. So not only will your income become severely limited, but you’ll also have nothing left over to leave to your loved ones. That’s a bleak picture, but it’s also completely preventable. Long-term care insurance can cover the gap when you’re disabled, paying for nursing home care, in-home care, rehabilitation, and many other essential health needs during a disability.
It's in everyone's best interest to safeguard their own estate plan, in order to protect their loved ones and all they’ve worked for. Please reach out if you have any questions regarding your personal estate planning, or any other financial concerns.
Have a great week!