Vorisek Financial Weekly Market Update for November 1, 2017

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Good morning!

Hurricane Harvey struck US landfall near Houston more than 2 months ago on 8/25/17.  An initial estimate of Harvey’s destruction was pegged at $190 billion, a dollar figure that would make it the costliest weather disaster in US history.  Its damage to the American economy resulted in a net loss of 33,000 jobs nationwide in September, but predictions of the storm’s impact on the nation’s GDP may have been exaggerated.  Growth of +3.0% in the 3rd quarter of 2017 still took place (quarter-over-quarter change expressed as an annualized result), a percentage point higher than what was anticipated, pushing our economy to a record $19.5 trillion in size (source: Commerce Department).                    

The House Ways and Means Committee announced it will release details of its initial design of tax reform this Wednesday (11/01/17), starting the real work of changing our country’s voluminous tax code.  Once the tax legislation takes shape, the legitimate “scoring” of the bill’s language will be completed by the Congressional Budget Office, telling us which group of taxpayers will see their tax bill change and by how much?  Washington lawmakers have watched our country ring up $8.4 trillion of deficits over the last 10 fiscal years.  The reality of overspending year after year is that at some point our government will likely be forced to collect more in tax revenue and spend less money, a certainty that will be painful for Americans (source: BTN Research). 

Last Friday (10/27/17) marked the 50th all-time closing high for the S&P 500 in 2017 and its 176th record close since this bull began in March 2009.  If the index’s +17.2% YTD total return holds up for the final 9 weeks of this year, it will be the S&P 500’s best annual performance since 2013 and its 9th consecutive “up” year (source: BTN Research). 

Notable Numbers for the Week:

1.    LOOKING TO BE AN OWNER - 62% of renters believe that today is a “good time to buy a home” (source: National Association of Realtors).  

2.    EXTREMES - The state and local sales tax in Chicago is 10.25%, the highest rate of any major US city.  The state and local sales tax in Portland is 0% (source: Sales Tax Clearinghouse).      

3.    LITTLE EXPERIENCE - Just 3 members of Congress, i.e., 3 out of 535 House and Senate members, had securities licenses (selling stock and bonds) before their election to Congress (source: CRS). 

4.    FAMILY MONEY – Jeff Bezos is ranked # 1 as the richest person in the world ($94 billion as of Friday 10/27/17), but the 6 living heirs of Sam Walton (who died in 1992) are worth a combined $140 billion (source: Forbes). 

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