The Markets This Week

by Connor Darrell, Head of Investments
Equity markets around the globe managed to climb higher last week as they recovered from a difficult start to the month. The constant strategic pivoting in the trade negotiations between the U.S. and its global trading partners (particularly China) has been the primary catalyst for markets over the course of 2018, and we expect this to remain the case at least until the mid-term elections in November. For better or for worse, polling data may begin to influence the aggressiveness of President Trump’s negotiating tactics as he strives to rally voters and keep the Republican majority in the legislative branch. In the meantime, investors will need to keep focusing on fundamentals and accept that daily headlines may foster a particularly “noisy” few weeks.

August inflation data indicated that prices rose 2.7% year over year, marking the first month in 2018 where the rate of inflation cooled. The Federal Reserve’s next policy meeting is next week, and markets are expecting another 0.25% interest rate hike.

Monetary Policy Primer
With the Federal Reserve meeting again next week, we thought it might be a useful exercise to discuss the basics of monetary policy and the role of the central bank in monitoring/influencing the economy.

As the U.S. economy emerged from the depths of the financial crisis, the Federal Reserve implemented multiple rounds of an aggressive monetary policy initiative known as quantitative easing (QE). At its core, QE involves actively purchasing bonds on the open market while simultaneously lowering the short-term interest rate in the economy.  Both actions work together to keep interest rates on all maturities artificially low. The theory is that lower interest rates make it more palatable for businesses to borrow money and invest in growth opportunities, stimulating the economy. Ten years later, rates are still very low in historical terms, and the U.S. stock market has benefitted from the decade of “easy money” policies. However, as the economy heats up and evidence mounts that it can stand on its own footing, the Federal Reserve must now unwind its actions and begin pushing the economy to a more “normal” state.

The influence of the central bank has certainly expanded during the 21st century, and QE was in many ways an experimental policy. Never in history had central banks implemented such a bold and large-scale policy initiative aimed at actively combating a recession. So far, with the U.S. economy looking quite healthy, it appears to have been a success. But it should be noted that we have not yet seen this play out in its entirety, and only time will tell whether the policy was optimally implemented. The one thing that seems certain however, is that it helped to support the U.S. stock market over the past 10 years. Following the 2008 recession, the U.S. stock market took only four years to recover and reach its previous highs. This is in stark contrast to the recovery following the Great Depression, when it took more than 10 years, plus the organic stimulus of a world war, to finally reach the previous market peak.

“Your Financial Choices”

The show airs on WDIY Wednesday evenings, from 6-7 p.m. The show is hosted by Valley National’s Laurie Siebert CPA, CFP®, AEP®. This week Laurie will discuss a “Understanding what you can do with your retirement accounts.”

Laurie will take your calls on this or other topics at 610-758-8810 during the live show, or via Recordings of past shows are available to listen or download at both and

Valley National News

Valley National Financial Advisors welcomes Simone Sanvito as the firm’s newest Associate. Simone graduated from Hofstra University in Long Island with a Bachelor of Business Administration as a double major in Finance & Accounting.

Simone will work out of Valley National’s Bethlehem office where he will be completing exams required in the financial services industry while learning about the business and assisting with important projects.

“Simone completed two summer internships with us, so he is already familiar with our team and some of our processes,” says Matthew Petrozelli, CEO. “During his time with us, he demonstrated the talent, passion and dedication that our client-first culture requires.”

Originally from Arcore, Italy, Simone came to the United States in 2011 as a high school exchange student and later moved to Long Island, New York to attend Hofstra University. Having visited the Lehigh Valley frequently in recent years, Simone chose to relocate and establish his career in Bethlehem.

He is currently pursuing a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) certification and is also interested in a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™) designation in the future.

Outside of work and education, Simone’s passion for the past 10 years has been playing the drums. He is also a soccer fan and his favorite team is A.C. Milan.

Simone Sanvito can be reached at or 610-868-9000 x132.


Last year we launched a web pay option for tax preparation billing. We are pleased to announce that this convenient online payment system is now available for all of your Valley National Financial Advisors invoices.*

It is as easy as 1, 2, 3 to view your invoice and pay it with a credit card or direct from a bank account via QuickBooks. Our website has a quick reference guide so you know what to expect:

Ask your service team about all of our secure and simple payment options. Please use the method of payment that is most convenient for you – online, in person, over the phone, by mail.

*Asset Management fees are automatically deducted from accounts and are not included in invoices payable online.

The Numbers & “Heat Map”


Sources: Index Returns: Morningstar Workstation. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. Three, five and ten year returns are annualized excluding dividends. Interest Rates: Federal Reserve, Freddie Mac

The health of the US economy is a key driver of long-term returns in the stock market. Below, we grade 5 key economic conditions that we believe are of particular importance to investors.



Consumer spending is expected to remain healthy as individuals with lower tax rates spend their windfalls.



The Federal Reserve held pat following its most recent meeting, but it remains probable that two more rate hikes will be implemented before year-end. Rising interest rates tend to reduce economic growth potential and can lead to repricing of income producing assets.



Factset is reporting a blended earnings growth rate of 20% YoY for the 2nd quarter of 2018. Tax reform has played a major role, but the strength of the US consumer is boosting corporate profits as well. 80% of US companies have reported positive EPS surprises (meaning actual earnings were higher than forecasts).



The US economy added 201,000 new jobs in August and the unemployment rate remained below 4%. The job market remains very healthy.



Inflation is often a sign of “tightening” in the economy, and can be a signal that growth is peaking. The inflation rate remains benign at this time, but we see the potential for an increase moving forward. This metric deserves our attention.




The above ratings assume no international crisis. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the highest level of crisis, we rate these international risks collectively as a 5. These risks deserve our ongoing attention.

The “Heat Map” is a subjective analysis based upon metrics that VNFA’s investment committee believes are important to financial markets and the economy. The “Heat Map” is designed for informational purposes only and is not intended for use as a basis for investment decisions.

The Markets This Week

by Connor Darrell, Head of Investments
Stocks trended lower last week with U.S.-China trade tensions again taking the blame for the market’s weakness. Friday brought news that the U.S. economy added a higher than expected 201,000 jobs in August, causing interest rates to jump higher amid speculation that the Fed would be more likely to keep its current pace of rate hikes. Internationally, the uncertainty surrounding global trade has made it difficult for companies to make investment decisions and has weighed on stocks. International stock markets (in both developed and emerging countries) were down close to 3%.

Preparing for the Next Storm
With many on the eastern seaboard bracing for the impacts of Hurricane Florence, it seems appropriate to evaluate what investors can be doing to prepare their portfolios for the next storm in financial markets. In the tenth year of a healthy bull market, the action plan for many investors should simply be to rebalance and re-evaluate their changing goals. A global investor who has remained disciplined throughout the last 10 years is likely to now be overweight stocks relative to bonds, and overweight U.S. equities relative to international equities simply as a result of how market returns have been distributed over that time. As a result, that same portfolio is likely to contain more risk (as a result of the higher allocation to stocks) than it did 10 years ago despite the investor being 10 years closer to retirement (which would typically call for a more conservative portfolio). As bond yields continue to creep higher, the rebalancing required to bring a portfolio back to its target allocation is likely to become easier to stomach since the relative income from bonds will be more favorable.

“Your Financial Choices”

The show airs on WDIY Wednesday evenings, from 6-7 p.m. The show is hosted by Valley National’s Laurie Siebert CPA, CFP®, AEP®. This week Laurie and her guest Joseph F. Goldfeder, CFP® Vice President at Valley National Financial Advisors, will discuss a “Retirement Plan Checkup.”

Laurie and Joe will take your calls on this or other topics at 610-758-8810 during the live show, or via Recordings of past shows are available to listen or download at both and

Did You Know…? VIDEO

In February this year federal regulators introduced the “Trusted Contact” person as a form of protection for the investing public. The trusted contact person is someone our advisors can reach out to if he/she suspects diminished capacity and the possibility of fraud. Our CEO offers an overview of the trusted contact person and an update on what to expect from your VNFA financial advisory team on this topic. WATCH THE VIDEO | READ MORE