Money Management 101 for Single Parents Going it Alone

1. Determine What You Owe

As the head of the household, it’s up to you to make sure that your entire family’s needs are being met. In order to do that, you need to be extremely diligent when it comes to money management basics. This is not something that will happen by accident. Instead, you must plan for it and work toward it.

The first step is to set up your “office.” Gather all of your bills, a calculator, a pencil, and your checkbook.

I would also recommend that you grab an old binder that you can use to keep track of your financial data and a shoebox for storing paid bills.

Now you’re ready to begin:

  • Go through all of your bills, and pay anything that is due within the next week.
  • If you have bills coming due that you cannot pay, notify the company and ask them to set up a payment plan with you.
  • Print a copy of the chart “Paying Down My Debts” or make your own.
  • On the chart, list all of your debts, including any car loans, student loans, and credit card debt.
  • In addition, list the total balance left to be paid on all of these debts, and the percentage rate you are paying.
  • For now, leave the fourth column of the chart blank, and store it in your “Financial Data” binder.

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2. Eliminate Joint Debt

Before we create a plan for paying down your debt, it’s important to consider some special circumstances that may apply to you as a single parent. I asked LaToya Irby, Credit/Debt Management Expert, to share her expertise on handling joint debt:

Wolf: Let’s say a single mom still shares a credit card with her ex. What should she do?

Irby: Ideally, she would want her ex to transfer his portion of any joint balances onto his own credit card. That way, everyone is paying for their own debt.

Wolf: What about leaving both names on the account, and agreeing to pay part of the amount due? Is that ever advisable?

Irby: No. If you’ve made an agreement with your ex to split the debt payments on accounts that include your name, and your ex-misses a payment, it’s going to hurt your credit. If the ex-fails to pay altogether, the creditors and collectors will come after you. Not even a divorce decree can change the terms of a joint credit card agreement. In the credit card issuer’s eyes, you’re just as much responsible for post-divorce accounts as before.

Wolf: What about situations when a couple’s divorce decree mandates that one individual must pay off the joint credit card debt, but that person fails to do it?

Irby: You can always file contempt of court papers against him/her, but in the meantime, your credit score suffers. So I suggest paying off the debt to save your credit. If you can’t afford to pay the debt, at least make minimum payments to keep a positive payment history on your credit report.

Wolf: What about other accounts, such as utilities and cell phones?

Irby: The safest thing to do, if you have a service in your ex’s name, is to turn off the account and reestablish service in your name.

 

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3. Find Money to Pay Down Debt

Another thing we have to do before creating a plan to pay down your existing debt is to find money in your budget each month. To assist in this step, I contacted Erin Huffstetler, Frugal Living Expert.

Wolf: How much money do you think the average person can uncover just by being more intentional about spending and budgeting?

Huffstetler: The average person could easily uncover an extra $250 a month—and probably much more.

Wolf: What are the top 5 areas that you think people should look to first when they’re trying to cut their expenses?

Huffstetler:

  • Food spending (both groceries and eating out)
  • TV-related expenses (cable/satellite services, certainly; but also movie subscriptions and rentals)
  • Phone services (particularly extras like call waiting, caller id, long distance, and cell phones)
  • Insurance premiums
  • Miscellaneous spending (all those small amounts spent on coffee, vending machine snacks, and other indulgences)

Wolf: How can single parents, specifically, stretch their child support dollars and reduce child-related expenses?

Huffstetler: For single parents looking to stretch their child support dollars, creativity is the key. Look to children’s consignment shops and thrift stores to buy your kids’ clothes instead of department stores; sign them up for Parks and Rec-run activities instead of privately-run activities (which will always cost more); and don’t feel like you have to make up for being a single parent by buying them extra things—it’s you they need, not stuff.

 

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4. Pay Off Your Debt

The next step is creating a schedule for paying down your debt:

  1. Pay off the debts that charge you the highest interest first.Bob Hammond, author of Life Without Debt, recommends that you pay off the debts that are charging you the highest interest first since borrowing from those creditors is costing you the most money. “Concentrate on paying off the high-cost debts as soon as possible,” Hammond advises. LaToya Irby, Credit/Debt Management Expert, agrees. “Highest interest rate debts cost the most money, especially when those debts have high balances. So you’ll save money on interest charges when you pay off those high-interest rate debts first.”However, there are exceptions to this general rule. Irby notes, “If you’re likely to get discouraged because it’s taking a long time to pay off that high-interest rate debt, you can start with the lowest balance debt. Getting some small debts paid off will motivate you to keep going.”
  2. Pay more than the minimum payment. Aim for paying more than the suggested minimum payment, in order to pay off your debts as quickly as possible.Miriam Caldwell, Money in Your 20’s Expert, shares this advice:
    • Choose one debt to focus on.
    • Increase your payment on that debt by as much as you can.
    • Once you have paid off that debt, move all that you are paying on it to the next debt you want to pay off.
    • You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get out of debt with this plan!
  3. Meanwhile, continue to pay the minimum balance due on all of your other debts.Record what you intend to pay toward each debt on the debt chart you made in Step 1.

 

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5. Budget Your Monthly Expenses

Now that you know where you stand financially, and you’ve created a plan for paying down your debts, it’s time to make sure that you’re making any other necessary adjustments so that you can keep up with your plan. And this means creating a budget.

I know this can be intimidating, but I’m going to make a suggestion for you: Sign up for Mint.com. It’s a free financial software program available on the Internet, and it will basically do your budgeting for you. It will create a visual pie chart showing how much you’re spending each month on housing, gas, food, entertainment, and more. This way, if it turns out that you’re spending a lot more on food than you really should, you can begin to make the necessary adjustments to get your spending under control.

If you would prefer to create your budget the traditional way, allotting a certain amount of money to each spending category, I’ve created an online budget calculator you can use, which includes categories for child support and other details specific to your life as a single parent.

Finally, in taking a look at where your money really goes each month, it’s important to know approximately how much money you “should” be spending in each category. Generally speaking, your net spendable income (after taxes) should be allocated as follows*:

  • Housing: 30%
  • Food: 12%
  • Auto: 14%
  • Insurance: 5%
  • Debt: 5%
  • Entertainment: 7%
  • Clothing: 6%
  • Savings: 5%
  • Medical/Dental: 4%
  • Miscellaneous: 7%
  • Child Care: 5%
  • Investments: 5%

 

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6. Set Financial Goals

Now that you’ve worked out a plan to pay down your debt, and you’ve created a budget, it’s time to determine your needs moving forward.

Specifically, as a single parent, you need to ask yourself some questions, such as:

  • Do you need to file for child support?
  • Do you need to get a higher-paying job?
  • Is it time to think about going back to school?
  • Do you need to consider moving into a home/rental that would reduce your overall monthly payments?
  • Are there alternatives, such as taking on another job or splitting expenses with another single parent family, that you need to consider at this point?

One of the things that I want you to know is that the ball is in your court. You determine where this goes from here on out. But unfortunately, you can’t do that if you’re ignoring your financial health, right?

So the fact that you’ve come this far in the process of getting a handle on your finances tells me that you’re determined to make the changes you need to make in order to provide for your family’s future.

So go ahead and ask yourself these questions. So much of single parenting is learning to roll with the punches and be creative in the face of adversity. If, indeed, you need to make some pretty major changes, now is the time to do it. Don’t incur any more debt where you are. Be resourceful, follow through, and do what you need to do to turn your financial situation around.

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7. Increase Your Net Worth

The next step is to determine your net worth and begin adding to it.

Determine Your Net Worth:

Your net worth is what you own minus what you owe. Programs such as Mint.com, Quicken, and Microsoft Money will calculate your net worth for you, automatically.

You can also determine your net worth simply by adding up all that you own, including all of your investments, the equity you may have paid into your home, the value of your car, and any other assets you possess; and subtracting what you owe in remaining debts.

Set Up a Savings Account:

Once you know where you stand, you’ll be ready to set up a savings account. You can do this through your regular bank, or begin investing in a mutual fund that pays interest.

Even if you can only afford to set aside $25 or $50 per month, it will begin to add up.

Before you know it, you’ll have an emergency savings plan in place, to protect you in the event that your car breaks down, or your home needs a major repair.

In addition, this regular savings will help you increase your net worth over time.

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8. Become Even More Frugal

Unfortunately, all of the work you’ve already done in steps 1-7 will have little lasting value if you don’t change your attitude toward money. Now is the time to become even more frugal and learn to live within your means.

Practice Discipline:

Stop imagining that more money is going to pour in tomorrow—through finally collecting on unpaid child support, winning the lottery, or getting a promotion. If those things happen, great! You’ll be even better off. But living as if they’re going to happen is causing you to spend money you don’t have.

Instead, force yourself to make purchases with cash only. Do not continue to pay outrageous interest payments toward credit cards for purchases you don’t absolutely need. You can get by without that new furniture, right? What else could you skip, in the interest of spending only what you have right now in the bank?

Try These Ideas:

  • Check Freecycle before you make another major purchase. Someone else may be giving away the very thing you’d like to buy!
  • When you’re getting ready to buy something specific, look for it on eBay first. I buy a lot of my clothes, new-with-tags, through online auctions!
  • Forget trying to keep up with “The Jones’s.” You already know your value; don’t get caught up trying to “prove” your worth to others by having “just the right” house, car, or appearance.
  • Do not use shopping, ever, to appease your emotions.
  • Finally, when you do go to make a big purchase, step back and give yourself a few days–or even a week–to think about it. There’s no reason to suffer through buyer’s remorse and try to justify to yourself purchases that you really can’t afford. Think it over carefully and make those purchases, when necessary, with cash.

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9. Schedule Your Own Weekly Financial Check-In

Grab your calendar and schedule a weekly financial update meeting with yourself. This is an extremely important step in managing your personal finances, and it’s one that you need to continue each and every week. During your “meeting” time:

  • Pay any bills that are due.
  • If your bank statement has arrived, take the time to balance your checkbook.
  • Check the balances of your checking and savings accounts.
  • Update your debt list to incorporate any recent payments.
  • This is also a good time to write out your grocery shopping list and check what’s on sale at your local grocery store this week (either using the store’s Web site or the sales circular that comes in the newspaper).
  • Finally, also make note of any upcoming expenses you need to anticipate and plan for.

An attitude of gratitude and finances.

 

 

References:
Irby, LaToya. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008, 
Huffstetler, Erin. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008. 
Sources:
Caldwell, Miriam. Email interview. 27 Oct. 2008, Hammond, Bob. “Debt Free Key: 10 Steps for Coping With Credit Problems.” Life Without Debt. Franklin Lakes, NJ: Career Press, 1995. 31-32, Irby, LaToya. Email interview. 24 Oct. 2008. 
“Spending Plan Online Calculator.” Crown Financial Ministries. 11 Oct. 2008.

Written By: Jennifer Wolf

Source: thebalance

 

 

 

Market Update: May 30, 2017

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Last Week’s Market Activity

  • S&P 500 Index and the Nasdaq closed at new record highs last Friday; seventh consecutive gain for S&P 500 and 20th record close year to date.
  • The combination of positive sentiment and low volatility suggests stocks may continue to absorb challenging headlines.  Investors weathered potential risks from last week’s news, including: fallout from Comey firing, growing investigation into Administration/Russia ties, White House’s 2018 budget proposal, terrorist bombing in Manchester, Moody’s China debt downgrade, CBO’s score for AHCA, and minutes from last Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting suggesting higher interest rates ahead.
  • Markets also handled disappointing economic reports, specifically weakness in new home sales, durable goods orders; instead focusing on longer-term trends such as positive global data (Germany, Japan), upward revision to U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in the 1st quarter.
  • Orders for durable goods fell in April, but good news in the details. Drop (-0.7%) in orders bested expectations (-1.0%) and March revision was strong (details below).
  • Orders ex-transportation showed a similar pattern. Nondefense capital goods shipments ex-air, a proxy for business spending, fell slightly (-0.1%) but better than forecast, following four consecutive monthly gains.
  • For the week, stocks rose +1.5% to +2.0%, powered higher by the unusual combination of utilities and technology sectors, each up >2.0%.  Investors likely hedging their bets, counting on growth prospects of technology, but not necessarily buying into Fed’s rate outlook as “bond proxy” utilities sector rose.
  • Weakness in energy (-2.0%) as markets appeared to have already priced in extension to OPEC production cuts, but investors wanted deeper cuts and pushed WTI crude oil down by >1.5% last week (after rising for three weeks) to ~$49.00/bbl.
  • Action in U.S. Treasury market also points toward less Fed activity after expected June hike, with 10-Year Treasury yield hovering in the 2.25% range, on track for fourth straight monthly gain.
  • U.S. dollar firmed slightly (+0.1%) on the heels of solid GDP revision.
  • Stocks in Europe basically flat Friday; euro & pound sterling weakened as Conservatives’ lead over Labour has narrowed considerably in recent weeks.
    Emerging markets stocks +2.0% on the week, maintaining year to date leadership globally.

Overnight & This Morning

  • Stocks in Asia little changed amid shortage of overseas leads.
  • Yen strengthened for a third day against the U.S. dollar (USD/JPY -0.3% to 110.9)
  • In Europe, shares down fractionally (Euro Stoxx 600 -0.1%); bank stocks, weakness in business & consumer confidence weighing
  • European Central Bank (ECB) Head Draghi was critical of U.S. trade proposals in speech to European Parliament yesterday.  He also reaffirmed commitment to maintaining ECB stimulus, placing pressure on the euro.
  • Euro down -0.1% to $1.11
  • Commodities – Mostly lower, led by weakness in precious metals and agriculture, with WTI oil holding below $50.00/bbl. COMEX gold (-0.2%) to $1265 and copper (-0.6%).
  • U.S. stock, Treasury yields down slightly in muted, post-holiday trading.
  • U.S. dollar weak vs. yen but stronger vs. euro and other major currencies
  • U.S. Personal Income and Spending for April met expectations after two consecutive shortfalls. Inflation metrics in this report are. Its preferred measure of price growth, the Core PCE deflator, key inflation metric for the Federal Reserve, at 1.7% from 1.6%.

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Key Insights

  • The trend for business spending/capital investment is improving.  After years of hoarding cash, paying yield, and buying back shares, the business cycle has returned with upward shifts in pricing and U.S. monetary policy.  Businesses can no longer simply attempt to maintain market share, but rather, they must grow market share as the recovery/expansion enters its ninth year.
  • While personal consumption is still the primary driver of U.S. economic growth, we believe the rate of growth in the coming quarters/years will be driven by capital investment, which is taking up a larger portion of GDP contribution (details below).
  • 1Q earnings per share (EPS) (+15% year over year) faced the easiest comparisons and we look for remainder of 2017 quarterly EPS gains to hover in the mid-high single digit range. These are smaller percentage gains than what we’ve become accustomed to these past couple of quarters, but still indicative of sustained, late cycle growth accompanied by still low interest rates and inflation (details below).
  • We recognize current trading range is of concern. Despite the flattening yield curve, which could partly be the result of global sovereign credit valuations, there appears to be little stress evident in the credit markets (details below).

Fixed Income Notes

  • Despite equity markets at/near record levels, bond market continues to hang in there.  Constant maturity 10-year Treasury note up four consecutive months, Barclays Aggregate (+2.0%) and Barclays High Yield (+4.0%) providing positive returns year to date.
  • After 1.35% low last June, 10-year Treasury yield surged to 2.65% in late February/early March of this year. Since then, several factors have conspired to push yields lower, despite Fed’s plans to raise interest rates (see below). First, failure of the first vote on ACA repeal placed a great deal of uncertainty on likelihood of President Trump’s pro-growth policy agenda being fully enacted. Second, weak Q1 GDP enabled flattening of the yield curve. Third, some are projecting higher short-term borrowing costs will curb lending and growth, making it tougher for Fed to sustain 2.0% inflation target. Fourth (less sinister) reason has to do with relative valuation.  With Fed moving in a different direction from ECB and BOJ, those sovereign bonds trading at very expensive valuations, increasing attractiveness of U.S. government bonds.
  • This can be a blessing and a curse: curse is that a bid for U.S. Treasuries from global investors helps mask our spending profligacy. The blessing is global investors appear confident slow growth with low inflation likely to be sustained in U.S., without signs of excessive upside, or downside risks.
  • As a result, we continue to look for the U.S. benchmark Treasury yield to trade within the 2.25% to 2.75% range in the second half of 2017.
  • Corporate credit spreads (high yield & investment grade) remain narrow, credit default swaps (CDS) also held steady. If these critical market signposts (10-year Treasury yield, credit spreads, CDS) hold steady, financial markets likely to continue narrow trading range
  • Geopolitics may periodically cause near term uncertainty, but like equity markets, next catalyst likely move the bond market will be clarity on U.S. fiscal policy

Macro Notes

  • S&P 500 currently at another record level, 2415, but technicals suggest move to 2450-2475 within reach in coming months.
  • Bullish catalyst is necessary, could come in the form of: sustainable EPS growth, > expected GDP in Q2/Q3, less aggressive Fed in 2H17, corporate tax cuts, tax reform, global GDP etc.
  • Unfortunately, move of this magnitude highly dependent on fiscal policy changes, where uncertainty narrows trading ranges until clarity emerges.
  • Fundamentally, move toward this level can be justified, but anything above it would need more clarity on 2018 EPS increases, largely due to combination of repatriation tax holiday/reduction in corporate tax rate.
  • Assuming $130.00 in S&P 500 operating EPS this year, stocks currently trading ~18.5x calendar 2017; a move >2450 would take market price-to-earnings ratio (P/E) >19x.
  • Tax reform may be too big to achieve in current political environment, but corporate tax cuts still possible; if implemented, 2018 EPS could be >$140.00, which would bring target ranges for index 2500 to 2550 in 12 to 18 months
  • U.S. Q1 Real GDP revised higher from +0.7% to +1.2%, helped by a more positive picture of business investment, which had already posted a strong quarter, and a slightly better picture of consumer spending. The improvement alleviates some concerns of Q1 weakness and increases the likelihood of a Fed rate hike in June. Looking at Q2 GDP, prospects are for much stronger growth, and could be in the +3.0%, as pent up demand in cap-ex, housing, and an inventory rebuild from Q1 weakness propels GDP higher.
  • Though components of the durable goods report (airlines, transportation) can be volatile, the trend over the past year for orders (business investment) is still up approximately +5.0% year over year, despite last month’s weakness
  • A host of European economic data was released overnight, generally showing that the economic recovery continues, but at a somewhat slower pace than expected. The highlighted number was German inflation, running at 1.4%, below forecast and previous readings of 2%, which is also the ECB target rate. This data reduces some pressure on the ECB to alter its current monetary policy.
  • Politics continue to foil plans for European certainty. Just three weeks ago, the election of a Conservative government in the U.K. was seen as both a certainty and a boost for Prime Minister Theresa May. In the past few weeks, a Conservative victory, while still likely according to the polls, is now less certain. The British pound has also weakened, not coincidentally. In addition, there have been renewed calls for an early election, as soon as September 2017, as opposed to the 2018 election now expected. An early election would likely focus directly on the EU and the euro.
  • Corporate Beige Book supports strong earnings outlook. Much like first quarter earnings results and management guidance, our measure of corporate sentiment based on our analysis of earnings conference call transcripts was better than we expected. We saw a sharp increase in strong and positive words over the prior quarter, with no change in weak and negative words. Wwe believe the positive tone from management teams supports a favorable earnings outlook in the quarters ahead.
  • New highs and no volatility, more of the same. The S&P 500 Index closed at another new high on Friday, making it seven consecutive higher closes. It hasn’t been up eight days in a row since July 2013 and the previous two seven day win streaks ended at seven days. It also gained 1.4% for the week, avoiding its first three week losing streak since before Brexit. Last, the incredible lack of volatility continued, as the S&P 500 Index traded in a range of only 0.19% on Friday, the smallest daily range since March 1996 and the smallest daily range while also closing at a new all-time high since August 1991.
  • June is a busy month for central banks. Summer is nearly here and historically that has meant lower volume, but potential market volatility. As we turn the calendar to June, the three big events this month are all from central banks: as the Fed, the ECB, and the BOJ all have meetings to decide interest rate policy. These events, along with a few others, could make for an eventful month in June.

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Monday

  • Memorial Day Holiday
  • Eurozone: Money Supply (Apr)
  • Japan: Jobless Rate (Apr)

Tuesday

  • PCE (Apr)
  • Conference Board Consumer Confidence (May)
  • France: GDP (Q1)
  • Germany: CPI (May)
  • Eurozone: Consumer Confidence (May)
  • Japan: Industrial Production (Apr)
  • China: Mfg. & Non-Mfg. PMI (May)

Wednesday

  • Chicago Area PMI (May)
  • Beige Book
  • France: CPI (May)
  • Germany: Unemployment Change (May)
  • Eurozone: Unemployment Rate (Apr)
  • Italy: CPI (May)
  • Eurozone: CPI (May)
  • India: GDP (Q1)
  • Canada: GDP (Mar)
  • Japan: Nikkei Japan Mfg. PMI (May)
  • China: Caixin China Mfg. PMI (May)
  • Japan: Capital Spending (Q1)

Thursday

  • ADP Employment (May)
  • Non-Farm Productivity (Q1)
  • Initial Jobless Claims (May 27)
  • Markit Mfg. PMI (May)
  • ISM (May)
  • Eurozone: Markit Eurozone Mfg. PMI (May)
  • Italy: GDP (Q1)
  • Brazil: GDP (Q1)
  • South Korea: GDP (Q1)
  • Canada: Markit Canada Mfg. PMI (May)
  • Japan: Vehicle Sales (May)

Friday

  • Change in Nonfarm, Private & Mfg. Payrolls (May)
  • Unemployment Rate (May)
  • Trade Balance (Apr)
  • Eurozone: PPI (Apr)

 

 

 

 

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Market Update: March 13, 2017

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  • Traders cautious ahead of Fed decision. The S&P 500 is modestly lower this morning after advancing Friday, led by utilities (+0.8%) and telecom (+0.7), but snapping a six-week winning streak. Energy (-0.1%) lagged, but held up well given the 1.6% drop in the price of oil. Investors are trading cautiously ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, which begins tomorrow; the market has priced in a 25 basis point (0.25%) rate hike. Overnight, Asian markets were led higher by the Hang Seng (+1.1%) and Shanghai Composite (+0.8%); Korea’s KOSPI (+1.0%) continued to climb after the country’s president was removed from office on Friday. European exchanges are mostly higher in afternoon trading, with the STOXX Europe 600 up 0.4%. Meanwhile, WTI crude oil ($48.30/barrel) is higher after last week’s slide, COMEX gold ($1203/oz.) is up modestly, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury note is up 0.01% to 2.59%.

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  • Busy week ahead in a very busy month. March is an unusually busy month for global markets. This week, the FOMC meeting, along with Bank of Japan and Bank of England meetings, are accompanied by an election in the Netherlands, a press conference by Chinese Premier Li, and a ton of key U.S. economic data (retail sales, CPI, housing starts, leading indicators). President Trump will release his fiscal year 2018 budget document, the G-20 finance ministers meet in Germany, and the U.S. will hit its debt ceiling.
  • FOMC preview. This week, we ask and answer key questions that investors may have about the Fed and monetary policy ahead of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. With a 0.25% rate hike fully priced in, markets will want to gauge the pace and timing of rate hikes over the rest of 2017 and into 2018, as well as Fed Chair Yellen’s thoughts on fiscal policy and the impact on monetary policy.
  • How much does the current bull market have left in the tank? The bull market celebrated its eighth birthday last Thursday, March 9. During that eight-year period, the S&P 500 rose 250% in price and more than tripled in value (including dividends), leaving many to ask the question: How much does this bull run have left? We try to help answer that question by looking at some of our favorite leading indicators. Although valuations are rich and policy risks are high, none of our favorite leading indicators are sending signals suggesting the bull market is nearing its end.
  • The weekly win streak is over. The S&P 500 ended with a slight gain on Friday to close the week down 0.4% – just missing out on the first seven-week win streak since late 2014 and ending a six-week win streak in the process. The big move last week came in crude oil, as it sank more than 9% for the week – the largest weekly loss since right before the election. Small caps, as measured by the Russell 2000, fell 2.1% and high yield also saw a big drop. Many have noted that weakness in energy, small caps, and high yield could be a warning sign for large caps. We will continue to monitor these developments.

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Monday

  • ECB’s Mario Draghi Speaks in Frankfut
  • China: Retail Sales (Feb)
  • China: Fixed Asset Investment (Feb)
  • China: Industrial Production (Feb)

 Tuesday

  • Small Business Optimism Index (Feb)
  • Germany: ZEW (Mar)

 Wednesday

  • Empire State Mfg. Report (Mar)
  • CPI (Mar)
  • Retail Sales (Mar)
  • FOMC Decision (Rate Hike Expected)
  • FOMC Economic Forecasts and “Dot Plots”
  • Yellen Press Conference
  • General Election in the Netherlands
  • China’s Premier Li Holds Annual Press Conference

 Thursday

  • Philadelphia Fed Mfg. Report (Mar)
  • US Debt Ceiling Reinstated
  • President Trump to Release His FY 2018 Budget
  • UK: Bank of England Meeting (No Change Expected)
  • Japan: Bank of Japan Meeting (No Change Expected)

 Friday

  • Index of Leading Indicators (Feb)
  • G20 Finance Ministers Meeting in Germany

 

 

 

 

 

Important Disclosures: Past performance is no guarantee of future results. The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, political risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) are subject to interest rate risk and opportunity risk. If interest rates rise, the value of your bond on the secondary market will likely fall. In periods of no or low inflation, other investments, including other Treasury bonds, may perform better. Bank loans are loans issued by below investment-grade companies for short-term funding purposes with higher yield than short-term debt and involve risk. Because of its narrow focus, sector investing will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, disease, and regulatory developments. Government bonds and Treasury bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value. However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate. Investing in foreign and emerging markets debt securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical and regulatory risk, and risk associated with varying settlement standards. High-yield/junk bonds are not investment-grade securities, involve substantial risks, and generally should be part of the diversified portfolio of sophisticated investors. Municipal bonds are subject to availability, price, and to market and interest rate risk if sold prior to maturity. Bond values will decline as interest rate rise. Interest income may be subject to the alternative minimum tax. Federally tax-free but other state and local taxes may apply. Investing in real estate/REITs involves special risks such as potential illiquidity and may not be suitable for all investors. There is no assurance that the investment objectives of this program will be attained. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Should You Borrow from Your 401(k)?

The average credit card balance in June 2015 was $15,706, down from its peak of $18,600 in 2009.¹ With the average credit card annual percentage rate sitting at 14.9%, it represents an expensive way to fund spending.²

Which leads many individuals to ask, “Does it make sense to borrow from my 401(k) to pay off debt or to make a major purchase?”³

Borrowing from Your 401(k)

  • No Credit Check—If you have trouble getting credit, borrowing from a 401(k) requires no credit check; so as long as your 401(k) permits loans, you should be able to borrow.
  • More Convenient—Borrowing from your 401(k) usually requires less paperwork and is quicker than the alternative.
  • Competitive Interest Rates—While the rate you pay depends upon the terms your 401(k) sets out, the rate is typically lower than the rate you will pay on personal loans or through a credit card. Plus, the interest you pay will be to yourself rather than to a finance company.

Disadvantages of 401(k) Loans

  • Opportunity Cost—The money you borrow will not benefit from the potentially higher returns of your 401(k) investments. Additionally, many people who take loans also stop contributing. This means the further loss of potential earnings and any matching contributions.
  • Risk of Job Loss—A 401(k) loan not paid is deemed a distribution, subject to income taxes and a 10% penalty tax if you are under age 59½. Should you switch jobs or get laid off, your 401(k) loan becomes immediately due. If you do not have the cash to pay the balance, it will have tax consequences.
  • Red Flag Alert—Borrowing from retirement savings to fund current expenditures could be a red flag. It may be a sign of overspending. You may save money by paying off your high-interest credit-card balances, but if these balances get run up again, you will have done yourself more harm.

Most financial experts caution against borrowing from your 401(k), but they also concede that a loan may be a more appropriate alternative to an outright distribution, if the funds are absolutely needed.

 

 

 

 

  1. NerdWallet, June 25, 2015. Average for U.S. Households
  2. CreditCards.com, April 2015
  3. Distributions from 401(k) plans and most other employer-sponsored retirement plans are taxed as ordinary income and, if taken before age 59½, may be subject to a 10% federal income tax penalty. Generally, once you reach age 70½, you must begin taking required minimum distributions.

Market Impact of a Trump Presidency

Donald Trump emerged as the winner last night of a hotly contested presidential campaign and will be inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States on Friday, January 20, 2017. The transition to a Republican presidency and Trump’s rejection of politics as usual, which drew so many voters, naturally lead to questions about his impact on the economy and markets. Today on our blog we provide a high level overview of our thoughts of the significance of a Trump presidency.

ECONOMY

Does Trump’s win change LPL’s view on the economy over the remainder of 2016 and into 2017?

The election results have not changed our long-term outlook for the U.S. economy. We will continue to monitor many important economic indicators, including the Five Forecasters, the Current Conditions Index, and the Recession Watch Dashboard, and will keep you updated in the event of any changes to our views.

Will the election results cause a recession?

Elections do not in and of themselves cause recessions. Policies can, however, and we need to wait to see which policies Trump moves forward with and the details of those policies.

Our Recession Watch Dashboard continues to point to an overall low risk of recession within the next year.

What impact might the election have on overseas economies and markets?

Trade has been a major theme in this election, yet a president’s ability to impact trade directly and immediately is somewhat limited. Trump has been outspoken in favor renegotiating NAFTA terms and has been opposed to the TransPacific Partnership (TPP), which has little chance of passing. The Trump victory raises some concern across foreign markets about U.S. trade.

FED

Will the election results impact Fed monetary policy later this year and in 2017?

We do not believe the election results have changed the Fed’s outlook. Furthermore, we believe the Fed is much less sensitive to financial markets than most people think. As it stands, we believe the Fed is on course to increase rates at its December meeting, with another 2-3 increases in 2017. It would take a major market disruption or a change in the economic fundamentals for the Fed to alter this course.

EQUITIES & FIXED INCOME

Will the election result cause a bear market in equities?

Just as an election does not cause a recession, it does not cause a bear (or bull) market. Government policies alone do not change the market’s long-term trend, although they are a factor.

Shorter term, elections are rarely a harbinger for a sell-off, and when they have been, the election has not been the primary cause. In election years since 1952, the S&P 500 has returned an average of 2.5% in November and December and has been higher 75% of the time. From Election Day until Inauguration Day, the S&P 500 has averaged a gain of 1.0% and has been higher 69% of the time. The median return jumps to 3.0% because of a nearly 20% drop in 2008 that skews the average return, but 2008 returns were fundamentally driven by the recession, not Obama’s election. The bottom line is some near-term volatility is likely, but a massive sell-off absent an economic recession has never happened in the period between the election and inauguration.

Are the near-term results impacted by the party of the President?

There doesn’t appear to be much of a difference in equity performance over the short term. Since the election in 1952, the final two months of the year have returned 2.6% when a Republican wins and 2.4% when a Democrat wins. Looking at the largest drops the final two months of an election year in 2000 (Republican victory) and 2008 (Democrat victory) stand out, as the S&P 500 dropped 7.6% and 6.8%, respectively. Both times the economy was either in a recession (2008) or about to fall into a recession (2000) – which greatly contributed to the equity weakness. With the end of the earnings recession, improving consumer confidence, and the best quarterly GDP print in two years – we presently have an improving economic backdrop, which should help contain any large downside moves in equities the rest of 2016.

Which sectors would likely benefit under Trump?

Biotech and Pharmaceuticals: Although Trump has stated his desire to repeal the ACA and has favored drug re-importation from other countries, controlling drug prices is unlikely to be as high of a priority for him as it would have been for Clinton. As a result, biotech and pharmaceutical companies may get a bump. We believe the market may have overreacted to perceived policy risk and we continue to favor the healthcare sector, which has historically performed well after elections.

Energy: Trump is likely to be positive for fossil fuels. He has promised less regulation on drilling, along with expansion of drilling areas. The segment of the industrials sector that services the energy sector may also benefit.

Financials: The Trump administration is likely to be easier on financial regulation than Clinton would have been. Trump has indicated he would like to roll back financial regulations, including the Dodd-Frank legislation enacted as a result of the financial crisis. Trump has also suggested bringing back Glass-Steagall, which would separate traditional banking from investment banking, a move we see as very unlikely.

How will the election impact the dollar and bonds?

Dollar: Trump’s policies are likely to be relatively negative for the U.S. dollar. His comments on renegotiating U.S. debt held by foreigners may limit the attractiveness of bonds to foreign investors.

Bonds: We saw an initial Treasury rally as stocks sold off overnight, but yields have since moved higher. We expect there may continue to be additional volatility as markets digest the news, but we broadly believe markets may be pricing in a rise in deficit spending, which is pushing yields higher; though continuation of low rates overseas is an offsetting factor, potentially keeping rates somewhat range bound over the near-term.

Will Trump’s policies lead to a debt downgrade?

Trump had mentioned last spring the possibility of renegotiating our debt and paying back less than the full amount if the economy were to falter. This idea, if implemented, would almost certainly lead to a debt downgrade. However, he backed away from this idea a few days after he floated it.

More realistically, Trump has signaled higher deficit spending. While deficit spending was a contributing factor to the U.S. debt downgrade by S&P in August of 2011, it wasn’t the only reason. The main driver of the downgrade was the debt ceiling crisis, as Republicans demanded a deficit reduction package before they were willing to join Democrats in raising the debt ceiling. Divided government and partisan politics led to months of debate and an eleventh hour deal that avoided a default. With Republicans keeping control of the Senate and the House, a fight over the debt ceiling fight that could threaten the U.S. credit rating is unlikely.

COMMODITIES

What is the election impact on gold?

Gold can thrive in chaotic environments and the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s policies could offer some support to the commodity.

What is election impact on oil?

When discussing oil, it is important to remember that oil stocks and crude oil can have very different performance, even though investors often expect similar returns.

Trump’s victory is likely a positive for oil stocks, especially in the short run. He has promised reduced regulations on oil and gas production, which would improve profitability of existing projects and may result in a very marginal increase in U.S. production. Note, this may be a negative for energy prices.

VOLATILITY

Will volatility increase due to the election outcome?

We expect that market volatility will likely increase. Equity markets have experienced abnormally low volatility recently, in part because of central bank intervention. As those interventions decrease, volatility should increase. However, we view that increase as a healthy aspect of equity markets. The degree to which the election results impact volatility will depend a great deal on which policies are actually enacted as a result of the changes in Washington.

 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide or be construed as providing specific investment advice or recommendations for any individual security. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Investing in stock includes numerous specific risks including: the fluctuation of dividend, loss of principal and potential illiquidity of the investment in a falling market. Investing in foreign and emerging markets securities involves special additional risks. These risks include, but are not limited to, currency risk, geopolitical risk, and risk associated with varying accounting standards. Investing in emerging markets may accentuate these risks. Currency risk is a form of risk that arises from the change in price of one currency against another. Whenever investors or companies have assets or business operations across national borders, they face currency risk if their positions are not hedged. Commodity-linked investments may be more volatile and less liquid than the underlying instruments or measures, and their value may be affected by the performance of the overall commodities baskets as well as weather, geopolitical events, and regulatory developments. Because of its narrow focus, investing in a single sector, such as energy or manufacturing, will be subject to greater volatility than investing more broadly across many sectors and companies. The S&P 500 Index is a capitalization-weighted index of 500 stocks designed to measure performance of the broad domestic economy through changes in the aggregate market value of 500 stocks representing all major industries. This research material has been prepared by LPL Financial LLC.

Here’s How China is Trying to Dodge Its Own Great Recession

Justin Chin/Getty Images

The multi-trillion dollar question, literally, for investors these days is, “How poorly is the Chinese economy performing?”

The globe’s second largest economy has been a driving factor in the weak performance of U.S. stock markets lately, as investors fear a so-called hard landing in China could drag the rest of the world into recession.

But the official Chinese economic data is notoriously unreliable. Even if we trust the numbers, we’re faced with the problem of how to interpret them. What’s more, there has never been an economy as important to the globe as China’s that has had a government so willing to use its extraordinary power to prop up economic growth.

In other words, understanding how the Chinese economy will affect the West requires that we correctly predict how the Chinese government will behave in the weeks and months ahead. To that end Deutsche Bank analysts Zhiwei Zhang and Li Zeng recently published a report called “Understanding the Tail Risks in China,” which looked at the regional policy response of the Chinese government to a slowing economy.

Zhang and Zeng isolate data from China’s northeast, a region that’s likely already in a deep recession. That segment of the country’s nominal GDP grew just 1% (factoring in inflation it would have been negative) in 2015, according to Deutsche Bank estimates. At the same time, fixed asset investment fell 11.6%, compared with an average growth of 25.5% in the ten years before. The region is dominated by state-owned enterprises involved in traditional heavy industries, or commodity and energy production, sectors that have come under particular stress in recent years.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 2.58.51 PM
Provided by Fortune

Despite this sharp drop off in economic activity, the growth in consumer spending and income did not fall anywhere near as much. Furthermore, northeast China was the only region in the country that saw credit growth, i.e., banks making more loans in 2015 than they did the year before.

In economies not dominated by the Chinese Communist Party, stuff like this doesn’t happen. As Zhang and Zeng argue that the discrepancy between the huge drop off in business activity and consumer behavior is likely the result of direct central government support, but also “indirect support,” from the folks in Beijing. They write:

The sharp contrast between weak economic activities and strong credit growth shows that banks in the northeast likely supported, through renewed lending, the weak corporate sector regardless of economic viability, which helped to avoid unemployment and bankruptcy. In this case, it is the government’s priority of maintaining social stability that overrode profitability considerations.

Such government support, however, can only be a short-term remedy rather than long-term solution to the structural challenges facing the northeastern region, and it comes with dear efficiency costs. The central government started to talk openly about addressing the risk of “zombie companies” in late 2015. This is regarded as a key part of the “supply side reforms.” One way to judge how serious the government is about the “supply side reforms” is perhaps to see if such credit support to the northeastern region will be contained in 2016.

This is another reason why western observers seem so confused by what they’re seeing out of China. Because the government there has so much more ability and willingness to stimulate the economy than governments in the West do, it’s that much more difficult to predict China’s future performance.

But until China addresses the fundamental flaws in its economy, i.e. it’s over reliance on investment, exports, and debt, it will have to continue to rely on government stimulus to avoid a collapse in employment and the social unrest that would likely be the result. And the longer it does that, the greater the growing imbalances in its economy will get.

Written by Chris Matthews of Fortune

(Source: Fortune)

Living Near a Lottery Winner Has a Surprising Downside

Stephen Stickler/Getty Images

When people win the lottery, their less-lucky neighbors often drive themselves into financial ruin trying to keep up, according to a provocative new study from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia. The more money the lottery winner gets, the worse off their neighbors become, the research suggests.

The paper’s authors — Sumit Agarwal of the National University of Singapore, Vyacheslav Mikhed of the Philadelphia Fed, and Barry Scholnick of the University of Alberta — looked at lottery winners and their neighbors in Canada. They found that for every $1,000 Canadian dollars ($720) a person won, the likelihood of a neighbor declaring bankruptcy increased by 2.4 percent.

The researchers also found that big purchases meant to signal wealth, which economists call “conspicuous consumption,” are behind the money troubles of people whose neighbors win the lottery.

The scenario goes something like this: Your newly rich neighbor buys a new car or two, and a motorcycle, and then a boat. She remodels her house. Every day, there are new deliveries and construction trucks passing your house, reminding you of just how banal yourown perfectly average driveway looks. You don’t really have the money for a new car, but yours is so outdated, especially sitting next to your neighbor’s fancy new Tesla. The next thing you know, you’re burning up your credit card in an effort to keep up.

This paper isn’t just a warning in case the person down the street wins the jackpot, though. It’s a study that takes income inequality to its extreme conclusion and asks what happens to people who get left behind. And at a time when the divide between the economy’s haves and have-nots is widening, it’s worth considering what kind of effect the growing class of rich people is having on all of us.

We aren’t supposed to think about growing wealth as a zero-sum game in which one person’s gain is another’s loss. The basic theory of capitalism is that a rising tide lifts all boats, and when someone gets a big windfall, the markets give them an incentive to invest that money into other projects that will also make money, so the whole economy grows together.

This research, however, shows that really stark income or wealth inequality can have the opposite effect on households: It can drive poorer neighbors into debt. Thus, income inequality begets yet more income inequality. The question is, when does that become a cycle that cannot be stopped?

Written by Shane Ferro of Huffington Post

(Source: Huffington Post)

 

Capital Has Been Leaving China…

Copyright Creative Commons
Copyright Creative Commons

When Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen testified before the House Financial Services Committee last week, she made no bones about the fact the Fed is keeping an eye on economic developments in China and evaluating the ways in which changing circumstances in the country, including currency devaluation, could affect global growth and the U.S. economy.

Yellen is not the only one worried about currency devaluation in China. The New York Times reported Chinese companies and wealthy citizens have been pulling money out of the country because they’re worried the purchasing power of their savings will decline significantly if the government further devalues the renminbi. Some have been using renminbi to invest in real estate abroad, buy overseas businesses, or pay off dollar-denominated debt.

Others have been avoiding China’s capital controls, which are measures designed to regulate flows from capital markets, by engaging in ‘smurfing.’ The New York Times described the practice of smurfing this way, “…Individuals are asking friends or family members to carry or transfer out $50,000 apiece, the annual legal limit in China. A group of 100 people can move $5 million overseas.”

According to the Institute of International Finance, cited by CNBC:

“The 2015 outflows largely reflected efforts by Chinese corporates to reduce dollar exposure after years of heavy dollar borrowing as expectations of persistent renminbi appreciation were replaced by rising concerns about a weakening currency.”

During the final six months of 2015, capital flowed out of China at a rate of about one trillion U.S. dollars annualized, according to The Economist.

 

Netflix Owes $11 Billion in Content Costs, and Someone has to Pay

netflix-2015-earnings
Provided by Netflix
Netflix has released its annual report for 2015, revealing just how much money the streaming video giant now owes to the media companies from which it licenses movies and TV shows. The report, released Thursday, shows Netflix is on the hook for $10.9 billion in content costs. That’s billion with a “b.” About 91 percent of that figure is due within the next three years, and $4.7 billion of it due in the next 12 months.

To properly conceive of the amount of money the company has agreed to pay studios during the next three years, it helps to think of the hoard of Smaug, the dragon from J.R.R. Tolkien’s “The Hobbit.” According to Forbes, the winged serpent is worth $62 billion. So, picture about one-sixth of that, and that’s how much Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and chief content officer Ted Sarandos will be forking over.

For a more apples-to-apples comparison, the annual programming budget for a basic cable network like FX is a little less than $1 billion, according to FX Networks President and CEO John Landgraf. HBO, meanwhile, spends about $2 billion a year. Speaking to a group of reporters in Pasadena, California, in January, Landgraf described losing bidding wars on two shows (Aziz Ansari comedy “Master of None” and Queen Elizabeth II drama “The Crown”) to Netflix: “They just overwhelmed us with ‘shock-and-awe’ levels of money and commitment.”

Sarandos doesn’t anticipate a damming of the current raging river of cash. He told that same gathering of reporters the next day that his company will be spending $6 billion on content in 2016. But, he emphasized, “every dollar we spend is a global dollar.” Netflix, now available in more than 190 countries, is no longer content to buy the international rights to shows and movies in a piecemeal, regional fashion.

That’s an expensive (if smart) strategy that can get quite expensive, as sellers will charge a premium for not being able to sell their wares to distributors in other countries.

Netflix also doesn’t get to profit from licensing its content out, unlike other networks. While Netflix originals are exclusive to the service, Netflix doesn’t produce those series, so even if it wanted to distribute them some other way, it can’t. That’s how HBO can rake in profits, by selling its shows (most of which are HBO productions) abroad. FX, meanwhile, makes its bones from ad sales, cable subscription fees (66 cents per month per subscriber, according to research firm SNL Kagan), and licensing shows it owns.

So where, exactly, will that $4.7-plus billion come from, given that the company only took in $6.8 billion in revenue in 2015, and ended the year with a negative free cash flow of $920 million?

One way is through debt financing, which the company did in February 2015, raising $1.5 billion by promising a return of 5.5 and 5.875 percent on bonds that’ll be paid out in 2022 and 2025, respectively.

The other way is to raise prices again. Netflix just did this last October, though (which may have helped slow domestic subscriber growth); and the addition of more than 130 countries’ worth of potential customers might just be enough to stave off another increase. Or perhaps not. The company was still hemorrhaging money on its international business at the end of 2015, which, admittedly, didn’t include any of those 130 new territories. But launching in new countries takes mountains of cash, particularly for marketing efforts, and Netflix received an average of $1.02 less per subscriber from international customers than their American counterparts in 2015.

Wall Street doesn’t seem to care, as long as those subscriber numbers keep growing: When Netflix announced that it had gained 17.4 million customers in 2015 after the market had closed on Jan. 19, investors celebrated by sending shares soaring from $107.89 to $117 in after-hours trading. There’s just no accounting for investors.

Written by Oriana Schwindt of International Business Times

(Source: International Business Times)

Spotify Said Seeking More Than $500 Million in Convertible Debt

Spotify technology apps
Getty Images

(Bloomberg) — Spotify Ltd., the world’s largest paid-music service, is trying to raise more than $500 million with a loan that could be converted into stock if the company goes public, according to a person familiar with the company’s plans who declined to be identified.

Spotify, which said in June that it had more than 20 million subscribers, hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. as its adviser, said two people, who asked not to be named discussing the private effort and wouldn’t discuss terms such as valuation. Nordea Bank AB is also an adviser, according to the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, which reported on the fundraising on Wednesday. The people didn’t discuss valuation. Spotify, based in Stockholm, was valued at about $8 billion when it raised money last year.

The loans would give Spotify flexibility to grow and make acquisitions as the market for streaming music consolidates. A planned initial public offering is between one and three years away, according to one of the people. Pandora Media Inc., the Internet radio pioneer, agreed in November to buy Rdio’s assets for $75 million. Spotify bought two companies this month aimed at making it easier to discover and share music with friends.

Spotify is also facing new competition from big players. Apple Inc.’s Apple Music has amassed more than 10 million subscribers since summer, while Pandora, the world’s largest online-radio service, is planning an on-demand music service.

Other competitors, such as Deezer SA and SoundCloud, have either raised money or licensed music from record labels in the past month. Record labels have heralded on-demand streaming as the future of the music business, in the hopes that enough people will pay for monthly subscriptions to end nearly two decades of declining sales.

Written by Adam Ewing and Lucas Shaw of Bloomberg

(Source: MSN)

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