Are you? You may not be the only one. We have seen stock markets like the Toronto Stock Exchange take major hits over the past two months due to the effects of Covid-19 taking its toll on almost every industry. With some recent rises in markets continuing to build investor confidence, we are still left in the unknown for why this is happening. Living through a historically unprecedented time uncovers a long list of questions and concerns for our livelihood as individuals, quality of life for the future, and how best to navigate through this time. I’m sure during the Irish potato famine in 1845-1849, there were many people asking – what’s going on with all the potatoes?
In a survey undertaken by the group “500 Startups” based in Silicon Valley, surveyed a group of investors to report on how they have been affected by the pandemic. The investor group consisted of venture capitalists, angel investors, corporate venture investors, and family office investors. The report showed 83% having their investment activity and plans be affected by Covid-19. As seen in the chart below, 62.6% of the group feel that startups and early-stage investors will be feeling the effects of the pandemic for 1-2 years. Their advice to startups during this time is to simply decrease costs and to increase their runway for how long they can stay in business.
Data taken from 500 Startups report on The Impact of COVID-19 on the Early-Stage Investment Climate
We spoke with Kevin Skinner, an investment advisor for Servus Wealth Strategies, who gave us some insight and knowledge pertaining to open concerns for novice investors who may be seeking to enter the market or simply are in the dark for what to with their holdings. Kevin has been working in the financial services industry for over a decade and is a top investment advisor in their St. Abert branch.
Considering what we have seen so far in stock markets, Is it a good time for new long term investors to buy now or continue to wait?
Striving away from the idea that fortune-tellers exist within trading, which is not true, a good education on markets is always a good pre-market investment of your own time. In regards to those looking to be a long term investor, he mentions:
“If you’re a long term investor the adage is that it’s always the best time…so question number one has to be, can you afford to invest the money right now…the second question is, what else can you do with this money. If you have $10,000 in the bank and $10,000 in credit card debt, always better to pay off the debt than you are investing that money.”
We want our money working for us right? Having a solid grasp of how your money is working for you may allow you to make a better-educated investment without adding any financial risk. The idea that there are smoke signals in the market to tell you it is the right time to invest, he mentions:
“If it was that easy, I would be sitting on my private island somewhere enjoying the world…It really is about investing correctly and investing to your plan. If your plan is to have the money for the long term, You need to have an understanding of your risks and your comfort.”
What if I have money to invest right now, should I wait for the bottom line?
Kevin advised the dollar cost average tool to take the emotion out of investing. With so much volatility in the market, we revisit the concept that fortune-tellers exist to tell other investors when to buy; there is no way to fully identify the risks. To ensure you’re getting good value for your money, Kevin offers an example of the dollar cost average approach:
“Take your pool of money, call it $12,000. You invest $1,000 a month in a particular fund. You catch the market as it wobbles, so you don’t necessarily buy it all at the bottom, you’re definitely not buying it all at the top. You’re averaging your cost date and to get a good value for what you’re buying.”
Do you have an opinion on panic selling at a loss?
Straight out of the gate, Kevin is a firm believer that anything that involves the word “panic” is never a good thing. Investopedia’s definition of panic selling refers to the sudden, wide-scale selling of a security or securities by a large number of investors, causing a sharp decline in price. We have seen this as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Panic selling can be directly related to having an emotional connection to your investment, but to ensure the doom and gloom doesn’t get the better of you, having an objective view allows you to stay logical and stick to your plan. Kevin mentions:
“you have to do whatever you can to pull that emotion back out. Panic selling immediately is focused on the emotional side of it. You have to remove the emotion from investing.”
Not as easy as it sounds right? We are going through an emotionally ramped up time during this pandemic, not to mention dealing with all the other unknown realities of how our economy will bounce back or when the non-essential business will be reopened. Kevin recommends choosing places to move your investments to take the panic out.
“You don’t call a realtor when your house is on fire. That’s where we’re at in the market right now, we know the house is on fire. We don’t know how long it’s going to last, how bad it’s going to be, or what it’s going to look like when it’s put out.”
Can you offer any comment on the fear of more lows, or what are the key indicators that we should be aware of?
We have seen stocks rise over the past week due to economic stimulus measures and the actions being taken to gradually reopen global economies. Experienced investors are forward-thinking individuals, they take into consideration the risk-reward for having objective optimism in certain industries. Kevin encourages to take the view that the rises we have seen are temporary for now, he mentions:
“Know that there’s another drop coming. Know that we don’t know how bad it’s going to be. And we don’t know how long the recovery is going to take. which is why we’re saying it’s going to be 2021 at least before the flooding of the market recovers”
We are expecting a long and slow road to recovery, but finding the bottom line can be almost impossible. Ask yourself, what happens to market optimism if a vaccine is made available tomorrow? Does that mean the market will become flooded with investors? It is impossible to know; by choosing a trusted investment advisor they can assist with taking the emotion out of your investments, and you can lean on their knowledge of markets to offer that objective optimism. For individual investors, it is useful to be aware of the activity in that sector to aid in growing your confidence, or the counter, it may give you key information to avoid a bad buy right now.
How have you been navigating through this time?
Kevin is one of many continuing to work from home during this period of self-isolation. With any new environment carries challenges. He is thankful for Servus Credit Union for the support he has received and the efforts put forward by the whole team. He has been spending some time in the welcomed sunshine playing sports with his 12-year-old son in his driveway.
What has Servus Credit Union been proactively doing to support its customers right now?
Servus Credit Union released their response to COVID-19, issuing kind words to their members that they are here for them during this time. Their CEO, Garth Warner also released a personal letter to all of their members speaking on behalf of the team doing everything they can do to support their members. Kevin mentions:
“Our members are truly members, they’re all owners. Everyone who deals with the credit union holds a piece of the credit union. Right now we’re trying to keep our whole business, our owners, and our members afloat…so whatever we do, is what’s best for us as an organization which means it’s also what’s best for our members”
What are you personally looking forward to after this period of self-isolation?
“I coach sports. Of course every kid’s sport is canceled right now. We lost the end of our sports seasons for the winter, we’re going to miss the beginning of our sports season for the spring. And that’s what I miss most is getting outside with the kids and just having fun.”
If you would like to learn more about Servus Credit Union, Servus Wealth Strategies or Kevin Skinner, visit their website or social links below.
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Disney faces losing control of its kingdom with Florida bill
By Mike Schneider in Orlando
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Disney’s government in Florida has been the envy of any private business, with its unprecedented powers in deciding what to build and how to build it at the Walt Disney World Resort, issuing bonds and holding the ability to build its own nuclear plant if it wanted.
Those days are numbered as a new bill released this week puts the entertainment giant’s district firmly in the control of Florida’s governor and legislative leaders in what some see as punishment for Disney’s opposition to the so-called “Don’t Say Gay” lawchampioned by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and the Republican-controlled Legislature.
“Disney won’t like it because they’re not in control,” said Richard Foglesong, professor emeritus at Rollins College, who wrote a definitive account of Disney’s Reedy Creek Improvement Districtin his book, “Married to the Mouse: Walt Disney World and Orlando.”
With that loss of control comes an uncertainty about how Disney’s revamped government and Walt Disney World, which it governs, will work together — whether the left hand always will be in sync with the right hand as it has been with the company overseeing both entities.
The uniqueness of Disney’ government, where building inspectors examine black box structures holding thrill rides instead of office buildings, also complicates matters. The district essentially runs a midsize city. On any given day, as many as 350,000 people are on Disney World’s 27,000 acres (11,000 hectares) as theme park visitors, overnight hotel guests or employees. The 55-year-old district has to manage the traffic, dispose of the waste and control the plentiful mosquitoes.
“What kind of control is preferable? Control by a private business or corporation, or control by appointed officials, appointed by governor of the state?” Foglesong said. “Will they have the expertise to be able to make the new district work as efficiently as the old district works?”
The bill prohibits anybody who has worked or had a contract with a theme park or entertainment complex in the past three years, or their relatives, from serving on the revamped district’s board of supervisors, a prohibition that some experts say eliminates people with expertise in the field.
The bill’s sponsor, Florida Rep. Fred Hawkins, a Republican from St. Cloud, defended the exclusion Tuesday.
“This was a provision I requested,” Hawkins said. “We want to try to avoid any conflicts of interest of the new board members.”
Under the bill’s proposals, Florida’s governor appoints the five-member board of supervisors to the renamed Central Florida Tourism Oversight District instead of Disney. Limits would be placed on the district’s autonomy by making it subject to oversight and regulation by state agencies, and it would be unable to adopt any codes that conflict with state regulations. The district also would no longer have the ability, if it wanted, to own and operate an airport, stadium, convention center or nuclear power plant.
DeSantis started gunning for Disney’s private government last year when the entertainment giant publicly opposed what critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” law, which bars instruction on sexual orientation, gender identity and other lessons deemed not age-appropriate in kindergarten through third grade. Republican critics of the Disney district also argued it has given the company an unfair advantage over rivals in issuing bonds and financing expansion.
The Legislature passed a bill last year to dissolve the Disney government by June 2023.
Lawmakers are meeting this week for a special session to complete the state takeover of the district and approve other key conservative priorities of the governor on immigration and voter fraud. A Senate committee approved separate bills Tuesday to expand the governor’s migrant relocation program and allow the statewide prosecutor to bring election crime charges.
Florida Rep. Anna Eskamani, a Democrat from Orlando, calledthe Disney bill on Monday a “power grab” by DeSantis, a potential 2024 presidential candidate who has emerged as a fierce opponent of what he describes as “woke” policies on race, gender and public health. Such positions endear him to the GOP’s conservative base but threaten to alienate independents and moderate voters in both parties who are influential in presidential politics.
The changes proposed in the legislation were welcomed by at least one group of Reedy Creek employees — firefighters who have clashed in the past with district leaders. Tim Stromsnes, a spokesperson for Reedy Creek Professional Firefighters Local 2117, said all the current board cares about is “bonds and low-interest loans for building Disney infrastructure, and zero about treating its employees fairly.”
“We think they are going to be more receptive to first responders,” Stomsnes said Tuesday of the proposed new board. “They’re calling the governor a fascist for doing this … but he is actually fixing a fascist, Disney-owned government.”
To the relief of taxpayers in neighboring Orange and Osceola counties, the district won’t be dissolved, a prospect that had raised fears that the counties would have to absorb the district’s responsibilities and raise property taxes significantly. The Reedy Creek Improvement District has more than $1 billion in bond debt.
In a statement, Orange County said officials were monitoring the bill.
The new bill appears to address some key questions raised by last year’s legislation, primarily preserving the district’s ability to raise revenue and service outstanding debt, said Michael Rinaldi, head of local government ratings for Fitch Ratings.
Foglesong expects a legal challenge should the bill pass. Disney didn’t respond to an inquiry asking about any potential lawsuits.
“Disney works under a number of different models and jurisdictions around the world, and regardless of the outcome, we remain committed to providing the highest quality experience for the millions of guests who visit each year,” Jeff Vahle, president of Walt Disney World Resort, said in a statement.
Disney could make an argument that their rights as a private business are being undermined, Foglesong said.
“It will have political appeal, the arguments they make, in a Republican state for a potential presidential candidate,” Foglesong said. “It will be like, legally, ‘How can you do this to us?’ and politically, ‘How can you do this to a corporation that has done so much for the state of Florida?'”
Associated Press writer Anthony Izaguirre in Tallahassee, Florida contributed to this report.
Follow Mike Schneider on Twitter at @MikeSchneiderAP
Alberta Premier Smith meets Prime Minister Trudeau; awkward handshake ensues
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith has met face to face with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a photo opportunity punctuated by short statements and a very awkward handshake.
Smith and Trudeau met briefly to discuss shared aspirations and concerns over pending federal legislation aimed at helping Canadian workers adapt to the global move to increasing reliance on renewable energy.
The short meeting began with Trudeau reaching down to shake hands, with Smith offering a hesitant palm down hand in return, prompting Trudeau to take it and hold it in place with his thumb on top as the cameras clicked and whirred.
Smith, in Ottawa with other premiers for talks on health-care funding, faces an election this spring after successfully harnessing party anger with Trudeau to win the UCP leadership race to become premier.
She has disparaged Trudeau’s government as not a true national government and passed controversial legislation granting her government power to direct provincial agencies to ignore federal laws.
She has accused Trudeau of trying to decimate Alberta’s oil and gas industry with his green transition legislation, but now says she wants to at least try to work collaboratively.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 7, 2023.
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