Economy on the Rise Despite Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

According to recent reports, the U.S. economy accelerated during the second quarter, surpassing previous predications and reaching its fastest growth rate in over two years. However, the third quarter will likely show a loss of momentum because of the hurricanes which battered the country at the start of the season.

The Commerce Department gave its third estimate earlier this week, revealing that GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.1% between April and June, demonstrating an increase in inventory investment.

Economists throughout the U.S. expect the damage from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma to reduce up to 6/10s of a percentage point in growth in the third quarter.

“The destruction caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and the resulting disruption are expect to be a drag on third-quarter growth,” said Plante Moral Financial Advisors CEO Jim Baird. “Nonetheless, the economy remains on track.”

Hurricane Harvey has impacted retail sales, industrial production and homebuilding and home sales, and other markets will likely see damage as a result of Irma’s strike as well. Rebuilding and development in the aftermath of the storms, however, are likely to boost gross domestic product growth in the fourth quarter as inventory investments from businesses increase.

Daniel Silver of JPMorgan explained: “The data available so far suggest that the firming in real inventory accumulation between second quarter and third quarter could be significant and could add over a full percentage point to growth in the third quarter.”

The Shaping of the US Economy

What issues are currently shaping the US economy?

First, the growth and expansion of Silicon Valley which seems to be fast moving to various cities around America.  According to Peter Hirshberg, Group Chairman at Re:Imagine (a technology firm that drives innovation in the public and private sector) “the ethos of Silicon Valley” is spreading nationwide right now.  This can be seen in places such as Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio and Youngstown which are becoming “maker cities” for this trend.

Second, the developing strength of the middle classes countrywide.  Incomes grew by 3.2 percent in 2016 (following a ten year stretch that was described as the Great Recession due to unemployment and low wages). Plus, there was a jump in household income for the median household in the country to $59,039 during that time (from 2015’s figure of $57,230).

Third, the economy’s strength and weakness can be viewed via the stocks’ sluggish performance.  According to a recent statement by equity strategist Steven DeSanctis and his associate Miles Bredenoord, there was a 0.5 percent drop in earnings for stocks with small market capitalizations.  In addition, the 10.4 % point gap between small- and large-cap earnings growth was the largest it had been since the fiscal crisis.

These are just some of the areas by which the US economy is being shaped.

Economic Impact of Hurricane Harvey

UK King’s College Associate Professor of Economics Brian Brenberg, discusses the economic impact of Hurricane Harvey.

Reade Griffith’s Insights on Navigating Financial Markets Post-Military Experience

As past CEO of Citadel Investment Group’s European Office, Reade Griffith already brings substantial experience from the financial management industry to the hedge fund management and private equity firms he co-founded a decade ago: Tetragon and Polygon. But according to the financial mogul who today heads up investment departments in both these firms, the experience he gained in the intelligence of the military was just as important.

In this Institutional Investor video, Griffith speaks with Institutional Investor’s Editorial Director and Chief Content Officer Kip McDaniel on how his role in the infantry’s Intelligence Office in the First Gulf War helped him thrive in his current positions.

Opening the discussion with a game of ‘Risk,’ McDaniel and Griffith semi-joke about the benefits of war experience for increasing manageability of financial crisis in peacetime. Griffith had to understand enemy tactics and at all times remain responsible for forward intelligence of his units. Since complete control must be achieved under pressure (leading a unit while you’re being shot at and bombs are exploding), you learn a lot about yourself and others.

Griffith then speaks of the 2015 crisis in Europe and China (which connects them back to their game of Risk) and what his companies did vis-à-vis the ultimate failing that rippled through to America creating an illiquid market. At the end of the discussion he explained that the philosophy of his firms during this time was to “shorten the events in our portfolio; sell some of the longer-duration ones; keep the general level of risk on in the book and effectively hoped we were right.”

Again, the last part of that strategy was very much in line with what he learned from the military.

Executive Changes at Novartis

In recent news, Novartis Chief Executive Joseph Jimenez is going to be retiring in 2018. Starting in February, 2018 Vasant Narasimhan, the chief drug developer for the company, will take over as CEO. Jimenez is stepping down after a decade of service at Novartis and after securing U.S. approval for a new gene therapy for leukemia.

As Jimenez said, “After 10 wonderful years in Switzerland, my family is ready to return to Silicon Valley and the United States.”

Narasimhan has been with Novartis since 2005 and became global head of drug development and chief medical officer in 2016. Chairman Joerg Reinhardt said “Vas is deeply anchored in medical science, has significant experience in managing the interfaces between research and development and commercial units and has strong business acumen with a track record of outstanding achievements.”

Imfinzi Drug Granted New Status

Certainly this is good news for the cancer drug market. AstraZeneca announced recently that its immunotherapy drug Imfinzi has been granted a new status by U.S. regulators. It will now be considered as a “breakthrough” designation by U.S. regulators for treating non-metastic lung cancer.

This status allows the drug to, hopefully, have a quick regulatory review and it confirms that the drug is working for early stage lung cancer.

Learn more about the drug and its new status.

Essex Financial Gets Boost from New Portfolio Management Software

Over three years ago, in March 2014, Essex Financial Services chose Advent’s Black Diamond platform to meet its portfolio management, reporting and rebalancing needs. The firm’s focus is as a Registered Investment Advisor although it also offers brokerage services. Essex Financial offers comprehensive wealth management and financial planning to its clients, offering custom-developed strategies for individuals, businesses and corporate retirement plans.

The Black Diamond solution offers the firm scalable technology that allows Essex Financial to more efficiently manage its large and complex operations. For instance, before Black Diamond was incorporated into Essex Financial’s operations, the firm’s advisors needed to ask for client reports several days in advance of their need at client meetings. Black Diamond facilitated access to client information immediately, saving time and bother for the financial managers. Black Diamond has also enhanced the ability of advisors to see revenue flows before bills are distributed.

President and CEO of Essex Financial Services, Charles “Chuck” Cumello explained his satisfaction with Black Diamond: “We can handle a broad range of client situations, from the fairly routine retirement planning and college funding aspects, all the way up to the unique needs for intergenerational wealth transfer and legacy planning of high net worth clients,” Cumello said.

Essex Financial has its main office in Essex, Connecticut, where, over the past 30 years the firm has grown to manage or administer $3.3 billion in assets.

 

 

West Lake Landfill: The Myths and the Facts

Garbage and waste are complicated and often controversial topics. It’s important to understand the details and implications of landfill processes before determining the next course of action, and this is especially true a the West Lake Landfill. Despite recent attention and growing concerns, digging up and moving the contents of the landfill is an expensive, potentially harmful process which should not be taken lightly.

For more information regarding this discussion, see the West Lake Landfill YouTube channel.

Tesla Sales Dipping?

Tesla certainly has some work to do. And that’s because the registration for Tesla Inc. vehicles in California, certainly their largest market, fell 24% in April from one year ago. This is according to data from HIS Markit.

Of course, Tesla says that this information is misleading because the deliveries vary so much from month-to-month. Sales of electric vehicles throughout the United States remain at less than 1% of total vehicle sales. In December of 2016 and January of 2017, many were getting excited as Tesla’s Chief Executive Elon Musk started working on a strategy to diversify production of other items such as storage batteries, electric commercial trucks, rooftop solar panels and more. However, Tesla shares started to fall in June with concerns that the company’s current models were having weak sales.

HIS analyst Stephanie Brinkley did caution that just looking at a single month doesn’t show the full picture. As she said, “If Tesla had an issue with its production for the month, that could explain.” However she did say that, “They haven’t changed much on the exterior or much on the package. I can certainly understand where Model S sales may be softening a little bit because it’s an older product. That could be contributing to the issue.”

Learn more about Tesla and the ups and downs they are having here.

Senior Care Sector Value Surges

Investors are setting their sights on an interesting industry: senior wellness, housing and healthcare. With businesses and organizations dotting major cities throughout the US, such as Dry Harbor Nursing Home in NYC, buyers are becoming more likely to place their funds in these institutions. According to a Norwalk company specializing in the field, the value of senior wellness M&As has increased by 600% since the last quarter due to two recent multibillion-dollar deals.

The move has brought the sector up to $9.7 billion, the highest it has been in three years. Steve Monroe, managing editor of TheSeniorCare Investor and of The Senior Care Acquisition Report says the increase “illustrates the continued investment interest in the sector and the willingness of buyers to commit significant amounts of capital despite current headwinds.”

“Each of the two largest transactions was more than double the dollar size of the largest acquisition in 2016, so it looks like the large deals are back in vogue,” he added.

Sabra Health Care REIT acquired Care Capital Properties in an almost $4 billion deal, and Hawthorn Retirement Group was acquired by Columbia Pacific Advisors for around $2.6 billion. Other major deals include the sale of Kindred Healthcare to BlueMountain Capital Management, LLC.

 

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