Financial Focus: With 2022 almost gone, hoping for a better year ahead

Financial Focus: With 2022 almost gone, hoping for a better year ahead

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By Michael E. Russell

Michael E. Russell

As I have mentioned in previous articles, crypto currencies are hard to understand.  I have tried to explain crypto exchanges to the readers while not fully grasping all of the nuances involved in their workings.

We had a financial meltdown in 2008 caused by the corporate giant Enron. We now have a much bigger fiasco caused by a 29-year-old named Sam Bankman Fried. This MENSA wannabe was able to do a Harry Houdini act by making 8 billion dollars in investor funds disappear overnight.

Here are a few of the victims: The Ontario Teachers Pension Plan lost 95 million dollars.  More than 100 affiliated companies are filing for bankruptcy. This financial genius has caused a situation so dire, FTX, Fried’s company stated that it doesn’t know where the assets went or who its top creditors are.

Have no worries folks because Congress is setting up committees to investigate what went wrong. Good news there. UGH! This in itself is a big problem. Apparently, Mr. Bankman Fried lobbied many elected officials in Washington hoping for loose oversight of crypto exchanges.

During the 2022 election cycle, Fried donated approximately 40 million dollars to Progressive Democratic candidates. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said she would donate the funds she received to various charities.  Nice!  How about having these funds returned to investors?

A question to be asked is why this financial collapse is being investigated after the mid-term elections? Just one more reason for term limits! Point of interest Senators Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer have been in office for more than 78 years combined. Come on already!They promise to fix problems that they are responsible for. TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS!!!  Wake up everybody.

Enough ranting, what’s next?  Where to invest? As I grow older, Healthcare stocks seem to be a a great area to put money.  Why?  Well, let me explain. This morning I had my 12th doctor visit this month and another one tomorrow to close out November.  During the 1970s Healthcare was 8% of U.S. GDP [Gross Domestic Product]. Today it is more than 20%.

As citizens get better health care and live longer, they also in most cases accumulate more wealth.  Due to more disposable income the Financial services sector is also a place to potentially invest. Within this sector there are areas that should do well over the next five years including Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Computing, Computational biology and CRISPR-related investments. CRISPR gives us exposure to companies specializing in DNA modification systems and technologies.  

What should we be doing in December?  Consider making tax-loss trades to book 2022 losses so that you can offset future gains. The S & P 500 lost a quarter of its value at the indexes low this year. Since October it has regained some territory making it down a mere 15%!  Taking some money off the table and putting it into one and two-year treasuries, yielding 4.5% is not a bad idea. With North Korea, China and Russia rattling their sabers, some safer investments should be considered.  

Here is some advice for pre-retirees. Next year, you will be able to contribute up to $22,500 to your 401K or 403b and other retirement plans — an increase of $2,000.  Americans can also contribute an additional $6500 if you are over the age of 50.  In addition, IRA maximum contributions are now $6500.  

For those of us older folks, bond yields north of 4.5% make a portfolio of 60% stock, 40% fixed income attractive. A final thought, with the S & P down roughly 16%, here are some stocks to ponder. Are they an opportunity? Perhaps. Apple down 16% year to date.  Microsoft down 27%. Alphabet down 34%. Tesla down 45%.  Netflix down 52%. Amazon down 39%. I am not necessarily recommending them, but give them some thought.

I would love to hear from some of you that read my monthly article. I can be reached at [email protected]. From my family to yours, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season and a prosperous 2023.

Michael E. Russell retired after 40 years working for various Wall Street firms. All recommendations being made here are not guaranteed and may incur a loss of principal. The opinions and investment recommendations expressed in the column are the author’s own. TBR News Media does not endorse any specific investment advice and urges investors to consult with their financial advisor.