Financial Strategies

Mid-year outlook as expansion sets length record


Here we are, just six months away from the beginning of the next decade. Just the year 2020 sounds like something from outer space. Oh well, it’s just a number. The bigger question is how to plan for it and what to expect.

While no one can predict the future, it helps to understand where we are in the present. The big headlines overseas for the first half of this year centered around China, Iran and Brexit. Stateside, the news was all about the Federal Reserve. This brings me to the obvious points that make this cycle unlike any other: the longest and most global.

This current economic cycle is now the longest U.S. expansion in history, pushing on the 11th year.* I believe that the length comes from the very slow growth both here and abroad that have seemed inherent in this cycle. Being part of the global economy means it can be difficult for one country to grow at a significant pace if other countries are lagging.

Here at home, we are dealing with a shift in Fed policy, from rate increases to potential rate cuts. This can be construed as the economy not doing as well or as an opportunity to refinance debt (such as a mortgage) at a lower rate. The likely policy shift could add a fair amount of volatility to the financial markets depending on what else is going on in the world at the same time.

The base case for the second half of this year is that Real GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth is slowing on a global scale but we expect soft landing levels around the 2% to 3% range. The Fed will likely cut interest rates and there will hopefully be a trade deal with China.

The major unknowns remain China and the tariff talks and the Fed’s course reversal to easing. Recent Wall Street chatter is that these two scenarios appear to be priced into the markets, which has resulted in a healthy run so far this year. Therefore, if the United States is unable to reach a reasonable trade agreement with China around lowering tariffs, or if the Fed does not cut rates, then we could see weakness in the equity markets.

If everything falls into place, and there are no surprises (such as potential conflict with Iran) then our longest running bull market may continue a bit longer. Investors should expect continued volatility around the Fed, China and Iran, as well as a slowing of GDP output.

We may very well still be dealing with some of these issues when 2020 rolls in, and with it, an election year.

It may be time to update your financial position and prepare for the start of the next decade. Make sure you have shared with your adviser any changes in your situation that could affect your asset allocation going forward.

* “This Is Now the Longest U.S. Economic Expansion in History,” CNBC, July 2, 2019.

Patricia Kummer has been a Certified Financial Planner professional and a fiduciary for more than 30 years and is managing director for Mariner LLC d/b/a Mariner Wealth Advisors, an SEC Registered Investment Adviser. Please visit for more information or refer to the Investment Adviser Public Disclosure website ( Securities offered through MSEC LLC, Member FINRA & SIPC, 5700 W. 112th Suite 500, Overland Park, Kansas 66211.

Patricia Kummer


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