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What Happened Last Week and What It Means to You: Week Ending January 19, 2024

Consumer sentiment up big…The preliminary reading for the University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index up big for January came in at 78.8.

What does it mean – The consumer thinks inflation is going to be less of an issue going forward. The key takeaway from the University of Michigan report is that it coincides with the National Championship and the fact that Michigan now has the number one Football Team in the Nation. Not to mention the increase in sentiment was accompanied by another drop in year-ahead inflation expectations, which have returned to a level not seen in three years. Still rooting for my Ducks.

 

December was a good month for retail sales…Total retail sales increased 0.6% month-over-month in December.

What does it mean – Consumer spending remained healthy in the final month of 2023. With numbers like this it will make the Fed think twice about an imminent start cutting interest rates.

 

NY Fed manufacturing index falls…Manufacturing continues to get hit as demand deteriorates.

What does it mean – The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) diffusion index for future general activity, which fell to its lowest level (to 19.1 from 21.8) since February 2016, suggesting there is some fading optimism in future business activity. The diffusion indexes measure the breadth of employment changes across industries, which is helpful in assessing the overall state of the economy. The indexes also serve as a potential leading indicator of manufacturing employment levels. Here is a look at the Empire State Manufacturing Index and new orders. New Orders are the lowest they have been since the forced shutdown.

 

 

The Philly Fed’s manufacturing index confirms what we are seeing in NY and other parts of the country…US factory activity continues to slow and looks to extend into 2024.

What does it mean – Like NY the Philly Fed sees a fall in manufacturing well below expectations and new orders are down over 17%. Its hard to see how the Fed will lower rates when manufacturing is still struggling. This marks 18 out of the last 20 months of a negative print.

 

Home sales the lowest in 30 years…According to the National Association of Realtors and reported by the Wall Street Journal, existing-home sales slid 19% in 2023 from the prior year to 4.09 million. “That total was lower than during the subprime crisis and the lowest full-year level since 1995.”

What does it mean – Higher mortgage rates and massive printing of money during COVID increased the prices of homes dramatically and the mortgage rates make it almost impossible for the average American to buy their current home.

 

Student loan forgiveness…In a new wave of student loan forgiveness, the Biden administration is canceling an additional $5 billion in debt for 74,000 borrowers.

What does it mean – In December the administration issued an executive order to forgive $4.8 billion of loans for people with loans of less than $12,000 owed to the federal government. Nearly 88,000 people benefited. One month later, this administration issued another executive order to forgive $5 billion in student loans to over 74,000 borrowers. 44,000 happen to work for you, the taxpayer. Not a bad raise for government employees at the cost of the taxpayer.

What is even more disturbing – Despite the Supreme Court ruling that this is illegal and that it takes Congress to approve the forgiveness of debt by the government, this administration is rolling out executive order after order to forgive people of their student debt regardless on the rule of law or the terrible precedence this sets. This policy not only picks winners and losers but violates many laws. When the Obama administration took away the ability for banks to issue student loans in 2010, it also took away personal accountability and responsibility. Lessons that need to be learned and reinforced in a civil society.

 

Student loan repayments drop precipitously…As expected. Same crazy policy equals same crazy results…costing you, the taxpayer, and resulting in more inflation.

What does it mean – Following an initial spike after the payment holiday ended, student loan payments are rapidly trending lower again. Exactly at the time this administration violates the law and starts to cherry pick who gets relief and flood the system little by little, borrowers decide to stop paying their loans back.

One must ask, how is this good for future loans and what will it do to the cost of money? How is this good for the rule of law? How is this good for the economy?

 

I would like to stop paying my taxes. Maybe if we all did that then the government would not have any money to give away to people who legally owe it and are breaking the law by violating the contract that they freely signed with the government when they took those loans out.

 

In-N-Out burger closes location in Oakland CA…Despite being profitable, In-n-Out is closing the Oakland location.

What does it mean – Due to the massive increase in car burglaries, car jackings, armed robbery, and assault on staff and customers, In-N-Out has determined that it is too dangerous for its employees and customers to keep this location open. In-N-Out executives go on to say, “It is extremely dangerous to work or live in a city that does not uphold the rule of law”. Unfortunately, this is the all-too-common reality of removing accountability and penalties for bad behavior. We need to go back to the old saying, “you do the crime, you do the time”. Below is the sign outside of the Oakland In-n-Out.

 

 

If you can’t see it, you can’t believe it. Let’s make 2024 the year of accountability and relish in the ownership mentality. Take control and own your destiny.

 

Doug De Groote, CFP®, MBA, CTC
Managing Director

De Groote Financial Group, LLC is a federally registered investment adviser that maintains a principal office in the State of California. The information contained in this message is confidential, protected from disclosure and may be legally privileged. If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient or an employee or agent responsible for delivering this message to the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any disclosure, distribution, copying, or any action taken or action omitted in reliance on it, is strictly prohibited and may be unlawful. If you have received this communication in error, please notify us immediately by replying to this message and destroy the material in its entirety, whether in electronic or hard copy format.

Jeannie Ewing-Nicholson

Operations Manager

Jeannie started her career in the Financial Services industry in 1994 with Oppenheimer & Company. As part of the De Groote Financial Group, Jeannie is responsible for the operational needs of the firm including cash management and account administration. With her upbeat attitude and attention to detail, Jeannie provides an efficient streamlines experience to ensure clients meet their goals. Jeannie enjoys travel, outdoor activities, Pilates, and is a football and basketball fan. She resides in Westlake Village with her husband, daughter and son.

Mary-Ellen Lykken

Executive Assistant

Mary-Ellen, Executive Assistant at DFG, keeps the office running smoothly by providing administrative support and assisting with scheduling and organization. With a background in human resource and office management, Mary-Ellen comes from the non-profit and services industries.

Outside of the office, Mary-Ellen is committed to the advancement of independence and productivity for those with disabilities. By telling her story of the challenges and joys of raising a child with complicated disabilities, she hopes to help others navigate similar circumstances.

She is happiest when visiting her two grown sons. Otherwise, you can find her competing on the pickleball courts.

Sara Mariniello

Operations Manager

Sara is new to the financial industry only starting in 2022 when she was hired at De Groote Financial. As Operations Manager, Sara is responsible for all the paperwork surrounding opening accounts and investment paperwork and is also responsible for much of the client communication. Sara has her bachelor’s in science and nursing from Concordia University, Texas and worked as nurse for over a year prior to moving back to California. She loves all things sports and church related and is likely spending every free moment with her Husband visiting family in Texas and New Jersey.

Fadi Ahmed

Chief Operations Officer and Chief Compliance Officer

Fadi works with clients to ensure an exceptional experience. He coordinates and assures the planning process and wealth management tools are at your fingertips to provide the clarity you deserve and the transparency and access to all your accounts. Fadi ensures the data and information is reflective in our planning software. All changes and updates flow through his desk and he coordinates those changes with the rest of our team.

Andrew Krout

Wealth Advisor, Co-Chief Investment Officer

Andrew Krout is a Wealth Advisor at De Groote Financial Group, LLC. He also serves as a Co-Chief Investment Officer for the firm, focused on wealth management.

Previously, Andrew served as CIO with Kelly Financial in Boston Massachusetts since 2013. He is a licensed investment advisor representative and insurance producer. He graduated from Saint Francis University with a bachelor’s degree in both finance and accounting. He is a candidate for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation. Andrew holds life insurance licenses in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut.

Andrew is passionate about serving his clients and investment management and how to apply news and current events to investment decisions. He played Division 1 golf in college, and still enjoys playing and watching the sport in his free time.

David Darst

Co-Chief Information Officer

David Martin Darst, CFA is an Investment Advisor to DeGroote Financial Group, specializing in asset allocation and product selection. Previously, David served for 17 years as a Managing Director and Chief Investment Strategist at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, with the responsibility for Asset Allocation and Investment Strategy. He joined Morgan Stanley in 1996 from Goldman Sachs, where he held Senior Management Posts within the Equities Division and earlier, for six years as Resident Manager of their Private Bank in Zurich.

David is the author of 13 books, including bestsellers The Art of Asset Allocation, 2nd Edition (McGraw-Hill), and The Little Book that Still Saves Your Assets (John Wiley & Sons). He also appears as a frequent guest on CNBC, Bloomberg, FOX, PBS, and others, and has contributed articles across a variety of publications.

David graduated with a BA in Economics from Yale University, and earned his MBA from Harvard Business School. He has lectured extensively at Wharton, Columbia, INSEAD, and New York University Business Schools, and for nine years, David served as a visiting member at Yale College, Yale School of Management, and Harvard Business School. He is a CFA Charterholder and a member of the New York Society of Security Analysts and the CFA Institute. 

Doug De Groote

Managing Director

Doug is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) with an MBA in Financial Planning, and is an active member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). Before establishing De Groote Financial Group, Doug founded the United Wealth Management division of United Capital. Prior to that, Doug was a partner at Crowell, Weedon and Co. He regularly contributes to a variety of financial and general media.

Doug’s passion, and what he believes, is that everyone deserves the opportunity; they deserve to have the freedom and responsibility to be pro-active in achieving independence and financial success.

Doug’s life is focused around his family, wife and three children, and making sure they get the foundation that is necessary for them to have the awareness of the opportunities that abound in our great country.

Doug helps increase his client’s awareness and success, to identify and take advantage of opportunities that present themselves and help protect them from some of the pitfalls or obstacles that are thrown in our paths. With regards to their financial circumstances, Doug helps his clients identify their goals, plan for various outcomes and manage their assets to help them make their vision a reality.