Applications for Canada Recovery Benefit now open!

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) is now open for applications.

As described on the Canada.ca website, the CRB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

This program replaces the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and, if eligible, provides $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.

If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Eligibility

To be eligible for the CRB, you must meet all the following conditions for the 2-week period you are applying for:

  • During the period you’re applying for:

    • you were not working for reasons related to COVID-19 OR

    • you had a 50% reduction in your average weekly income compared to the previous year due to COVID-19

  • You did not apply for or receive any of the following:

    • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

    • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

    • short-term disability benefits

    • workers’ compensation benefits

    • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

    • Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

  • You were not eligible for EI benefits

  • You reside in Canada

  • You were present in Canada

  • You are at least 15 years old

  • You have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)

  • You earned at least $5,000 in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the date you apply from any of the following sources:

    • employment income (total or gross pay)

    • net self-employment income (after deducting expenses)

    • maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits

  • You have not quit your job or reduced your hours voluntarily on or after September 27, 2020, unless it was reasonable to do so

  • You were seeking work during the period, either as an employee or in self-employment

  • You have not turned down reasonable work during the 2-week period you’re applying for

You need all of the above to be eligible for the CRB.

New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy | Wage Subsidy extended | CEBA additional $20,000 loan

On October 9th, the Federal Government announced the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), the extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and additional loans through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).

New Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for businesses

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is the replacement for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA).

When launched, the new program will allow businesses to apply directly for rent relief through CRA. The original CECRA faced criticism because it required landlords to apply for the assistance and absorb a 25% reduction in rent which may explain the low uptake.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated that the new rent subsidy will be available for businesses that continue to experience revenue decline due to COVID-19. From Canada.ca:

  • The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The rent subsidy would be provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.

  • A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy. This follows a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to provide direct financial support to businesses temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.

Allowing businesses to apply for the rent subsidy directly will make obtaining support for those in need as straightforward and simple as possible.

The new CERS is set to be available until June 2021.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy extended to June 2021

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will continue to provide wage relief for employers until June 2021. As well, the subsidy will remain at the current rate of up to a maximum of 65% of eligible wages until December 19th and will not decrease on a sliding scale as previously planned.

Canada Emergency Business Account – additional $20,000 interest-free loan

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be expanded to provide an additional $20,000 loan with $10,000 forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Businesses applying for the loan will be required to prove they have faced income loss caused by COVID-19.

Applications for Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and Caregiving Benefit starts today!

Starting October 5, 2020, the Government of Canada will be accepting online applications for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).

From Canada.ca:

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they’re sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you’re eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period.

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for the CRSB, you must meet all the following conditions for the 1-week period you are applying for:

  • You are unable to work at least 50% of your scheduled work week because you’re self-isolating for one of the following reasons:

    • You are sick with COVID-19 or may have COVID-19

    • You are advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19

    Who can advise you to self-isolate

    • You have an underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

    Who can advise you to stay at home due to your health condition

  • You did not apply for or receive any of the following for the same period:

    • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

    • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

    • short-term disability benefits

    • workers’ compensation benefits

    • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

    • Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

  • You reside in CanadaDefinition

  • You were present in Canada

  • You are at least 15 years old

  • You have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)

  • You earned at least $5,000 (before deductions) in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the date you apply from any of the following sources:

    • employment income

    • self-employment income

    • maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits

    What counts towards the $5,000

  • You are not receiving paid leave from your employer for the same period

You need all of the above to be eligible for the CRSB.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. This applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they’re sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19. The CRCB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you’re eligible for the CRCB, your household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period.

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Eligibility:

To be eligible for the CRCB, you must meet all the following conditions for the 1-week period you are applying for:

  • You are unable to work at least 50% of your scheduled work week because you are caring for a family member

  • You are caring for your child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care because they are at home for one of the following reasons:

    • Their school, daycare, day program, or care facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19

    • Their regular care services are unavailable due to COVID-19

    • The person under your care is:

      • sick with COVID-19 or has symptoms of COVID-19

      • at risk of serious health complications if they get COVID-19, as advised by a medical professional

      • self-isolating due to COVID-19

    Who can advise a person under your care to self-isolate

  • You did not apply for or receive any of the following for the same period:

    • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

    • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

    • short-term disability benefits

    • workers’ compensation benefits

    • Employment Insurance (EI) benefits

    • Québec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits

  • You reside in CanadaDefinition

  • You were present in Canada

  • You are at least 15 years old

  • You have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN)

  • You earned at least $5,000 (before deductions) in 2019, 2020, or in the 12 months before the date you apply from any of the following sources:

    • employment income

    • self-employment income

    • maternity and parental benefits from EI or similar QPIP benefits

    What counts towards the $5,000

  • You are the only person in your household applying for the benefit for the weekWhat is considered a household for this benefit

  • You are not receiving paid leave from your employer for the same period

You need all of the above to be eligible for the CRCB.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The CRB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers who have stopped working or had their income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19, and who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Applications will open on October 12

Salary vs Dividend

As a business owner, you have the ability to pay yourself a salary or dividend or a combination of both. In this article and infographic, we will examine the difference between salary and dividends and review the advantages and disadvantages of each.

When deciding to pay yourself as a business owner, please review these factors:

  • How much do you need?

  • How much tax?

  • Other considerations including retirement and employment insurance.

How much do you need?

Determine your cash flow on a personal and corporate level.

  • What’s your personal after-tax cash flow need?

  • What’s your corporate cash flow need?

How much tax?

Figure out how much you will pay in tax. Business owners understand that tax is a sizeable expense.

  • What’s your personal income tax rate?

Depending on the province you reside in and your income, make sure you also include income from other sources to determine your tax rate. (Example: old age security, pension, rental, investment income etc.)

If you decide to pay out in dividends, check if you will be paying out eligible or ineligible dividends. The taxation of eligible dividends is more favorable than ineligible dividends from an individual income tax standpoint.

  • What’s your corporation’s income tax rate?

For taxation year 2020, the small business federal tax rate is 9% . Please also remember, if you pay out salary, salary is considered a tax-deductible expense, therefore this will lower the corporation’s taxable income versus paying out dividends will not lower the corporation’s taxable income.

Other considerations

If you pay yourself a salary, these options are available.

  • Do you need RRSP contribution room?

As part of this, it’s worth considering ensuring that you receive a salary high enough to take full advantage of the maximum RRSP annual contribution that you can make.

  • Are you interested in contributing to the Canada Pension Plan?

This is unique to your circumstances and a cost-benefit analysis to determine the amount of contributions makes sense.

  • Do you need employment insurance (EI)?

For shareholders owning more than 40% of voting shares, EI is optional. There are situations worth careful thought such as maternity benefit, parental benefit, sickness benefit, compassionate care benefit, family caregiver benefit for children or family caregiver benefit for adults.

The infographic below summarizes the difference between Salary vs. Dividend.

We would also advise that you get in touch with your accountant to help you determine the best mix for your unique situation.

Throne Speech: Recovery Plan Highlights

On September 23rd, in a speech delivered by Governor General Julie Payette, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlined the Federal government’s priorities focused on four foundations:

  • Fighting the pandemic and saving lives;

  • Supporting people and businesses through the emergency “as long as it lasts, whatever it takes”; 

  • “Building back better” by creating jobs and strengthening the middle class;

  • Standing up for Canadian values, including progress on reconciliation, gender equality, and systemic racism.

Below, we highlight the support programs that help those Canadians who are struggling financially due to the pandemic.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy extended to next summer

The Canada Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will be extended to summer 2021. Under new program criteria, businesses with ANY revenue decline will be eligible. However, the amount of the subsidy will be based on the revenue drop rather than the original 75%.

Canada Recovery Benefit increased to $500/week

The day after the Throne Speech, in a bid for opposition support, the federal government announced it will increase the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) to $500/week for up to 26 weeks.

In order to qualify for this program, Canadians must be looking for work and had stopped working or had their income reduced by 50 per cent or more due to COVID-19, but are still making some money on their own.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide $500/week for up to 2 weeks for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must isolate due to COVID-19.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit will provide $500/week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible workers who cannot work because they must provide care to children or family members due to the closure of schools, day cares or care facilities.

Creating a new Canadian Disability Benefit

The government pledged to bring in a new Canadian Disability Benefit (CDB) that will be modelled after the guaranteed income supplement (GIS) for seniors.

The CRB, CRSB, CRCB and CDB are pending the passage of legislation in the House of Commons and Senate.

CEBA extended to October 31st. Expanded to include more businesses.

On August 31st, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to October 31st, 2020. This will give small businesses 2 additional months to apply for the $40,000 loan.

In addition, the Federal Government said it was working with financial institutions to make the CEBA program available to those with qualifying payroll or non-deferrable expenses that have so far been unable to apply due to not operating from a business banking account.

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

CERB transitions to NEW Recovery Benefits and EI

CERB extended by 4 weeks

On August 20th, the Federal Government announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by one month and the subsequent transition, on September 27th, to a simplified Employment Insurance (EI) Program for those who remain unable to work and are eligible.

Temporary revised EI benefit qualifications:

  • 120 hours of work required to qualify

  • Minimum benefit rate of $400 per week

  • At least 26 weeks of regular benefits

Canada Recovery Benefit

Effective September 27th, 2020 for 1 year, the Canada Recovery Benefit will provide $400 / week for up to 26 weeks for those who are not eligible for EI, like self-employed and gig economy workers.

Eligibility from canada.ca:

“The benefit would be available to residents in Canada who:

  • are at least 15 years old and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);

  • have stopped working due to the COVID-19 pandemic and are available and looking for work; or are working and have had a reduction in their employment/self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19;

  • are not eligible for Employment Insurance;

  • had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020; and,

  • have not quit their job voluntarily.

Workers would apply after every two-week period for which they are seeking income support and attest that they continue to meet the requirements. In order to continue to be eligible for the benefit the claimant wound need to look for and accept work when it is reasonable to do so. The benefit is taxable.”

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

Effective September 27th, 2020 for 1 year, the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit will provide $500 / week for up to 2 weeks for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must isolate due to COVID-19.

Eligibility from canada.ca:

“The benefit would be available to:

  • Residents in Canada who are at least 15 years of age and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);

  • Workers employed or self-employed at the time of the application; and

  • Workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020.

Workers would not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Workers could not claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Workers would need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit.

Workers would apply after the one-week period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. The benefit would taxable.”

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

Effective September 27th, 2020 for 1 year, the new Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit will provide $500 / week for up to 26 weeks per household to eligible Canadians.

The news release from canada.ca, states that:

“The closure of schools and other daycare and day program facilities to prevent the spread of COVID 19 has meant that many Canadians have been unable to work because they needed to provide care to children or support to other dependents who had to stay home. While it is anticipated that facilities will gradually re-open as the economy restarts, the Government of Canada recognizes that access may vary over time and across communities. The Government is committed to ensuring that parents and others with dependents do not need to choose between caring for them and paying the bills.”

Eligibility from canada.ca:

In order to be eligible for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, individuals would need to:

  • reside in Canada;

  • be at least 15 years of age on the first day of the period for which they apply for the benefit;

  • have a valid Social Insurance Number;

  • be employed or self-employed on the day immediately preceding the period for which the application is made;

  • have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020;

  • have been unable to work for at least 60% of their normally scheduled work within a given week because of one of the following conditions:

    • they must take care of a child who is under 12 years of age on the first day of the period for which the benefit is claimed:

      • because their school or daycare is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic;

      • who cannot attend school or daycare under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19; or

      • because the caregiver who usually provides care is not available for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic; or

    • they must provide care to a family member with a disability or a dependent:

      • because their day program or care facility is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to COVID-19;

      • who cannot attend their day program or care facility under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19; or

      • because the caregiver who usually provides care is not available for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic;

  • not be in receipt of paid leave from an employer in respect of the same week; and

  • not be in receipt of the CERB, the EI Emergency Response Benefit (ERB), the Canada Recovery Benefit, the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, short-term disability benefits, workers’ compensation benefits, or any EI benefits or Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits in respect of the same week.

Workers would apply after the period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. Two members residing in the same household could not be in receipt of the benefit for the same period. The benefit is taxable.

Details of the EXPANDED Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

On August 11th, the Government of Canada updated the calculator and Canada.ca with the changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

If you’re a business owner who has suffered losses as a result of COVID-19 and did NOT qualify previously for CEWS, you may now qualify.

The changes expand the program to include more businesses for periods 5 to 9 (July 5 to November 21, 2020) and have been published on Canada.ca, here are some of the changes:

  • the subsidy rate varies, depending on how much your revenue dropped

  • if your revenue drop was less than 30% you can still qualify, and keep getting the subsidy as employees return to work and your revenue recovers

  • employers who were hardest hit over a period of three months get a higher amount

  • employees who were unpaid for 14 or more days can now be included in your calculation

  • use the current period’s revenue drop or the previous period’s, whichever works in your favour

    • for periods 5 and 6, if your revenue dropped at least 30%, your subsidy rate will be at least 75%

  • even if your revenue has not dropped for the claim period, you can still qualify if your average revenue over the previous three months dropped more than 50%

  • the maximum base subsidy rate is 60% in claim periods 5 and 6

  • the maximum base subsidy rate will begin to decline in claim period 7, gradually reducing to 20% in period 9

The Government of Canada has updated the CEWS calculator to reflect these changes and can be found here:

The Calm Before the Storm?

Is the Storm upon us? In mid March we sent out a market commentary with our analysis of the market situation at the time, and our outlook going forward. The biggest story at the time was obviously the Covid-19 situation, but there were a couple of other factors at play, such as profit taking and the ‘oil war’. We had anticipated that there would be some continued downward pressure in the 2nd quarter, which there has been, and anticipated that things would start to look more positive in the 3rd and 4th quarter.

Since our last commentary, we’ve seen an overall bounce-back from mid-March, which saw markets plummet as much as 40% or so. Several markets around the world have recouped much of their losses, with the U.S. leading the way – many still have quite a way to go, however. It seems that a big chunk of the gains since our lows in March in the U.S. have been from the tech side of things, but there hasn’t been as much momentum in other sectors. This has been more of a ‘tech rally’, as opposed to an overall ‘market rally’. It seems like that downward pressure has continued in most global economies as the world still works to combat the virus. Much of what we had anticipated had come to fruition, with things like stimulus packages being announced, forms of quantitative easing, rate cuts, etc…, all helping to move the markets up.

That being said, in the last 4 months there have been multiple events that have caused us to update our outlook and our recommendations going forward.

2nd Wave & Lockdowns

In March, there was virtually no talk or indication about a ‘2nd wave’ of the virus coming. That is understandable, as the ‘1st wave’ had just started and the world was still learning about the virus and how to deal with it. Over the last couple of months, we’ve heard increased talks about the ‘2nd wave’ that is said to be coming some time in the fall. If this does happen, it would likely cause a ‘2nd wave’ of lockdowns to be implemented. Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen cities/provinces/states/countries gradually re-opening their economies and people trying to get back to somewhat of a ‘normal’ life. Going back into lockdowns, which we see as probable if a 2nd wave does hit, would be devastating for already fragile economies, and by extension, the markets. Recessionary fears, which we’ve already heard talk about, would likely become a reality.

There are certain jurisdictions who still have substantial limitations on how and when they can ‘open their economies’, and a 2nd wave would essentially extend those existing lockdowns, or cause even more restrictions. Unemployment would likely go through the roof (again) and a good chunk of the population would be under a tremendous amount of pressure, financially (and psychologically).

Social Unrest

Unless you’ve completely unplugged from all media/society, we’ve all heard about and seen the protests and riots – mostly in the U.S., but also in Canada to some extent. The killing of George Floyd caused major backlash against police and by extension, the government, and we’ve seen essentially 2 months straight massive social unrest in multiple cities, specifically in the U.S. Although there have been peaceful protests, that has largely been overshadowed by the violent riots that have, and continue to take place in multiple cities around the country. Calls for defunding and abolishing police departments altogether have caused police in some jurisdictions to be target of scrutiny, harassment and violence. Many officers have even walked off the job citing little or no support from their municipalities – conversely, crime such as violence/murder/theft in those cities has skyrocketed and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better at the moment. Rioters have also essentially shut down entire sections of cities and have caused massive amounts of damage, violence and looting. Businesses are suffering and those local economies are feeling the hurt.

We anticipate many of the social unrest to continue, and potentially even intensify, leading up to the elections. Not only does this directly impact local businesses/economies, it also creates a huge amount of risk when it comes to the spread of Covid-19. The resulting violence and destruction also causes law enforcement and health care to be drastically overwhelmed, which can exponentially increase all problems mentioned above. Not only will there be a hefty bill for cities/municipalities in regards to cleaning up the mess and repairing damages caused by the protests/riots, but there will likely be legal action taken against local and state officials by local residents and businesses for lack of response, and in come cases, encouraging/condoning the mayhem. These things would have further downward pressure on local economies, and by extension, the markets.

Government Debt

This should come as no surprise to anybody. Governments have been piling up massive amounts of debt due to stimulus packages and other benefits provided to both its citizens as well as businesses. Spending even before Covid-19 was worrisome, but the exponential increase in new spending added has gone out of control. Canada’s debt rating recently was downgraded by one of the major rating agencies and that may not be the end of it. At some point, the bill has to be paid, and no doubt it will be a situation of ‘The Tax Man Cometh’. The inevitable outcome is that taxes will rise for all – the federal government is already looking at certain mechanisms to generate additional revenue, such as implementing a capital gains tax on primary residence, increasing the capital gains inclusion rate on investments (from 50% to 75% or more) and adding an inheritance tax. All these mechanisms will have adverse effects on Canadians and their ability to save and spend, causing further downward pressure on the economy.

Unless governments get their spending under control, which seems unlikely at this point, we are in for a whole bunch of hurt. It would likely take years to actually get into some sort of surplus (which mostly would have to come from spending cuts) and decades to get the debt under control. At this point, having Cash is definitely King.

Foreign Affairs

There are multiple foreign issues currently at play here, a couple of which have been carrying over for the last few of years. Among the most dominant issues currently from a global perspective is the ongoing dispute between the U.S. and China. The trade dispute has been going on for a while, but it seems to have progressed into espionage/security issues and even the blame game on the Covid-19 virus. Tensions have been increasing with each country demanding the other to close one of their consulates – the U.S. ordering China to close its consulate in Houston, and China ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in Chengdu, China. This past weekend President Trump had also issued an order to TikTok (the social media platform that allows for the creation and sharing of videos/content) to sell its U.S. operations, again citing ‘security’ concerns of the app feeding information back to the Chinese government – other softwares such as Zoom have also been under scrutiny for similar issues. The power struggle between the 2 countries doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon, and it will likely put some more pressure on the stock market, as things continue to intensify.

At the risk of getting too political, there are other major issues happening within the U.S. itself – some more at the forefront than others. The obvious one is the ongoing issue with Jeffrey Epstein (who had a very mysterious death last year) and Ghislaine Maxwell – who had recently been taken into custody by the FBI. Although the plot somewhat seems like a Hollywood movie, the outcome of this can have drastic consequences for the entire U.S. political system, as there is suspicion that multiple top level U.S. politicians, both current and previous, may have been involved in some very dirty business. Time will tell, but many fear the testimony of, and information provided by, Ghislaine Maxwell may expose many top level officials and open a can of worms into the dealings of some of these individuals.

Another issue that is somewhat lurking in the background is the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal. Although many thought this was over and done with, it has continued to move forward, with Clinton being ordered by a judge to appear in court and testify at a deposition in relation to her use of a private email server, while she was working as the Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. The timing of this testimony is vital, as it is in September, just 2 months before the election. Depending on what is said in the testimony, it may implicate former and current top level politicians, which will throw a wrench into the entire election landscape. Markets would likely react negatively, as generally they don’t like uncertainty and mayhem, especially right before an election.

Our Outlook & Recommendations

As you may have guessed, we are being very cautious, at least for the short term, as there seems to be too much risk on the horizon. Although there will always be uncertainty in the markets, it seems in our current environment there are too many things going on at the same time which have caused risk to skyrocket.

We know it is almost impossible to time the markets accurately (when to get in and when to get out), but this may be a time to sit on the sidelines and just let things play out. We are recommending to most of our clients to take a defensive position – this would mean either moving into a very conservative portfolio or just straight into cash. Being in a low risk conservative portfolio would still mean exposure to the market – this would allow you to participate somewhat in market gains, if there are any, but would also expose you to losses if the market went down. Going into cash would mean that your principal is maintained and there is no upside or downside capture of the markets. At this point, cash would be the most secure.

We generally are not fans of trying to time the market, but if looking at the ‘cost-benefit analysis’, we feel, at this point, the ‘cost’ (risk) is too great for the potential ‘benefit’ (returns) that would be had by staying in the markets. We feel that being defensive until at least the elections are over – more likely into the new year – is the reasonable action to take right now.

In order to make the changes, please reach out and you will be guided on what to do next.

As the situation progresses and evolves, if there are other factors that come into play that cause us to shift our outlook, you will be kept informed.

For any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.