Thomas Burke / Philip Melanson
Rockland Office
800 Hingham Street
Cornerstone Building
Rockland, MA 02370

Christopher O’Brien
Wareham Office
2527 Cranberry Highway, Unit D-1
Wareham, MA 02571

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Sage Advice

Interest Rates and the New World

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water…

I’m not referring to shark sightings on Cape Cod this summer, but to our assumptions coming into this year that a series of small rate increases by the Fed were on the horizon. Enter the pandemic and the economic impact of what is still a “fluid” situation. Fed Chair Powell has signaled that our current low rate environment would likely be measured in “years not months” at the September meeting. Some economists predict this “low for longer” environment lasting beyond the consensus 2023 timeframe. As the old saying goes, low rates are a double-edged sword. They’re intended to stimulate the economy (or not slow its growth) by making money “cheap” to borrow – for both businesses and consumers. Mortgage rates, credit card APRs and business loans are at all-time lows. The other side of the sword is that traditional savers (think bank savings, money market and CDs) get next to nothing and are losing ground to inflation every day. Even bond investors are starved for yield on high-quality debt (bond issuers are borrowing money from bond buyers in the same low-interest rate environment). What to do?

Some obvious choices on the personal debt side would be to look at reducing interest expenses by refinancing mortgages and changing/negotiating with credit card issuers. As far as earnings on your money, talk to your advisor about alternatives to traditional cash and fixed-income investments. Your portfolio will likely thank you.


Three Things: What Happens After November?

We’re only a few weeks from the election and, regardless of which candidate you support, it’s likely you have concern – or outright fear – as to what might happen based on the results. The two parties and their supporters, including media outlets, are doing their best to convince us that there is much at stake. Though they are all correct, the performance of the markets has historically ignored which party’s candidate wins the race for the White House. The results of a study by the IMF may surprise you. From 1952 to June 2020, there have been twelve U.S. presidents.

  1. The annualized market performance of the S&P 500 favors the Democrats at 10.6% versus the Republicans at 4.8%.
  2. Republican administrations did outperform Democrats in the number of economic expansions by a tally of 7-5.
  3. Democratic presidents were also outnumbered in recessions under their watch at a significant rate, with Republicans at 10 versus 2 – a stat for which I’m sure Democrats are happy to come out on the losing end.

There are many factors that contribute to these statistics but isn’t that the point? The markets largely ignore party affiliation in their movement and trends. When it comes to other parts of your life and your policy stances and personal beliefs, the best thing to do is to take action and vote. When it comes to your money, ignore the noise.


Issue 1


Early in the pandemic, Chris had the idea to deliver flower seeds out to all our local clients as a way to shift the focus – or create a distraction – from the daily news. We scheduled a call every Friday to connect with everyone on a regular basis to have an open discussion and offer the opportunity to brag about our gardening prowess. As we got into a weekly routine, the conversations moved from reports on news out of the government sector, with Phil giving updates on the moving targets surrounding programs and policy, to Chris discussing the behavior of the capital markets and the economy.

As I took on the “Green Thumb Report” each week, it became firstly, more and more apparent that some of our clients are amazing gardeners. Tales – with photo evidence – of daisies, nasturtium, summer squash and tomatoes came over the wire. It also started to be a forum for the sharing of how we all worked in our own ways to adjust and adapt to the changes in our daily lives.

The seed, the calls and the ensuing discussions were really about the importance of connection. As a team, Phil, Chris and I started a daily FaceTime call to support the safety of our families and clients. Truth be told, this call to start each day gave us a level of contact we seldom had as the day-to-day of our business often had us going in different directions.

The impact of the pandemic on our lives and livelihoods can’t be minimized. It brings me hope and promise for our future to see people and businesses adapt and evolve to find success – all based on human connection.


Issue 2

Protecting the Shield

The three of us come from big families – Phil and Chris each with nine kids in their families and me bringing up the rear being oldest of seven. Looking out for one another was a part of growing up (most of the time!). A family crest is almost always built with the image of a shield, identifying the clan or family they represented, used to protect soldiers of war. The times we’re in made me think of the phrase I used in the title of this entry – I first heard it in reference to the integrity of the National Football League. Probably a good concept given some of the scandal and misbehavior in the NFL.

Market movements and global upheaval are largely beyond our control. How we choose to set goals that support what’s important in our lives is most certainly within our control. When times are exceptionally volatile, paying attention to your “shield” is a good start. Knowing you’re properly protected and prepared can give you peace of mind.

Call us to review your insurance portfolio and emergency cash balances. It’s a great place to start protecting your shield.