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Month: February 2023

What is Next for the Economy?

Simple question: How’s the economy doing?

Answer: It’s complicated.

After the Federal Reserve hiked interest rates again (but less than last time) and all the market volatility, it’s a good time to talk about the economy.1

Inflation has been falling since summer

Inflation fell for the sixth straight month in December, bolstering evidence that it may have peaked last June at 9.1%.2

However, inflation is still very high, and its impact is being felt across the economy.

The jobs market is still very strong

The latest January jobs report was a blowout, coming in ahead of the data that Fed economists expected. The economy added over 500,000 new jobs and the unemployment rate fell to the lowest level since 1969.3

You can see in the chart above that most industries are still actively hiring, suggesting that Fed actions still haven’t slowed the desire for workers.4

The economy shrugged off recession worries in Q4

Despite all the recession doom and gloom, the economy grew 2.9% in the last three months of 2022.5

However, consumer spending weakened slightly, indicating that Americans might be trimming expenses. Since consumer spending accounts for 70% of economic growth in the U.S., it’s a potential warning sign we’re keeping tabs on.

I see a few takeaways about the current state of the economy

But, before we dive into them, we want to point out two important caveats about economic data:

  1. Much of the initial data we see in the headlines is based on incomplete estimates that get revised later as more data is processed. These big data bureaus try to balance releasing data quickly enough to be useful and getting the complete picture.
  2. Data is often impacted by seasonal trends that can cause spikes or “noise” in the data. That’s why we look for trends rather than single data points.

Here’s what we see:

Despite tech layoffs and gloomy headlines, many sectors seem to still be going strong, job-wise.

Interest rate hikes aren’t slowing down growth as much as the Fed hoped, though inflation is definitely showing a downward trend.

While recession fears are definitely real and based on solid concerns, it doesn’t look like the economy has hit the skids yet.

What does all this mean for future Fed interest rate moves?

That’s the trillion-dollar question, isn’t it?

We don’t have a crystal ball, but we’ll give it a shot.

It’s possible that more interest rate hikes are coming.

We think folks expecting a quick pivot away from increases are going to be disappointed.

But any future rate hikes may be smaller and slower paced as the Fed takes stock of what the data is showing and works to keep us out of a recession.

Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell has admitted that inflation has begun to fall but he wants to see “substantially more evidence” of a declining trend before changing policy.1

With inflation still three times above the Fed’s 2% target, there’s still a long way to go before we’re out of the woods and back on the path.2

What could happen with markets?

We expect a lot of volatility ahead as markets digest every shred of information about the economy and the direction of interest rate policy.

We don’t have a crystal ball here, either, but we think it’ll be a rocky spring. So, we’re watching markets, we’re reading analyses and reports, and we’re looking for opportunities.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to talk anything over? Contact us and we’ll find a time to talk.



The Life and Death of Lincoln

Happy Presidents’ Day! 

As you know, this holiday was originally set aside to honor George Washington’s birthday. But as Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is also around this time of year, many states began celebrating the two dates together. More recently, the day has become dedicated to all presidents.

Recently, we came across a speech about Abraham Lincoln given by a man named Phillips Brooks. But this was no ordinary address. It was, in fact, a eulogy for our sixteenth president.

Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865. Most people don’t realize this was Good Friday – an important holiday for many people. It was also the start of the Easter weekend, a time when churches around the country would fill to capacity. But on that weekend, religious leaders were suddenly faced with a dilemma: How to comfort thousands of grieving, bewildered people. People mourning the sudden, unthinkable death of their president.

Phillips Brooks was one of these leaders. As the rector of one of the largest churches in Philadelphia, he wrote down his thoughts about Lincoln for a eulogy that he delivered the following weekend. The same weekend when Lincoln’s body passed through Philadelphia on its way back to Illinois.

In honor of the holiday, we thought we would share a few excerpts with you. While Presidents’ Day is not as celebrated as, say, July 4 or Memorial Day, we think Brooks’ words perfectly illustrate why it still matters. They also illustrate why we were so lucky to have a man like Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States.

The Life and Death of Abraham Lincoln
by the Reverend Phillips Brooks1

While I speak to you today, the body of the President who ruled this people is lying honored and loved in our City.  It is impossible for me to stand and speak of the ordinary topics which occupy the pulpit.  I must speak of him today; and I therefore…invite you to study with me the character of Abraham Lincoln, the impulses of his life, and the causes of his death.  I know how hard it is to do it rightly, how impossible it is to do it worthily.  But I shall speak with confidence because I speak to those who love him.

We take it for granted, first of all, that there is an essential connection between Mr. Lincoln’s character and his death.  It is no accident, no arbitrary decree of Providence.  He lived as he did, and he died as he did, because he was what he was. 

In him was vindicated the greatness of real goodness and the goodness of real greatness.  The twain were one flesh.  Not one of all the multitudes who stood and looked up to him for direction with such a loving and implicit trust can tell you today whether the wise judgements that he gave came most from a strong head or a sound heart.  If you ask them they are puzzled.  There are men as good as he, but they do bad things. There are men as intelligent as he, but they do foolish things.  In him goodness and intelligence combined and made their best result of wisdom. 

Mr. Lincoln’s character [was] the true result of our free life and institutions.  Nowhere else could have come forth that genuine love of people, which in him no one could suspect of being either the cheap flattery of the demagogue or the abstract philanthropy of the philosopher, which made our President, while he lived, the center of a great land, and when he died so cruelly, made every humblest household thrill with a sense of personal bereavement which the death of rulers is not apt to bring.  Nowhere else than out of the life of freedom could have come that personal unselfishness and generosity which made so gracious a part of this good man’s character. 

How many soldiers feel yet the pressure of a strong hand that clasped theirs once as they lay sick and weak in the dreary hospital.  How many ears will never lose the thrill of some kind word he spoke – he who could speak so kindly to promise a kindness that always matched his word.  How often he surprised the land with a clemency which made even those who questioned his policy love him the more; seeing how the man in whom most embodied the discipline of Freedom not only could not be a slave, but could not be a tyrant.  In all, it was a character such as only Freedom knows how to make. 

[Now], the new American nature must supplant the old.  We must grow like our President in his truth, his independence, his wide humanity.  Then the character by which he died shall be in us, and by it we shall live.  Then Peace shall come that knows no War, and Law that knows no Treason, and full of his spirit, a grateful land shall gather round his grave and give thanks for his Life and Death. 

He stood once on the battlefield of our own State, and said of the brave men who had saved it words as noble as any countryman of ours ever spoke.  Let us stand in the country he has saved, and which is to be his grave and monument, and say of Abraham Lincoln what he said of the soldiers who had died at Gettysburg: ‘That we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’ 

May God make us worthy of the memory of Abraham Lincoln. 

We hope you enjoyed reading these words as much as we did. We wish you a very happy Presidents’ Day! 

1 “The Life and Death of Abraham Lincoln,” by the Rev. Phillips Brooks, April 23, 1865.

New Tax Changes for 2022

Tax season is upon us and a new year means new tax changes.  While Congress didn’t pass any major tax reform last year, there are still updated tax provisions that could affect how much money you keep and how much goes to Uncle Sam.  That’s because Congress did pass the Inflation Reduction Act and SECURE 2.0 Act.  Both bills contain tax implications, even if that wasn’t their primary focus.  

In this post, we’ve included some of the most significant changes for investors and retirees. Our suggestion: Look over the material below and highlight anything you have questions about.  Then, feel free to share this post with your tax professional!  He or she should be able to answer any questions you have.  

As always, if there’s anything our team can do to be of assistance, please let us know.  Have a great day!          

Tax-Related Updates for 2023


One thing to note before we get into the nitty-gritty: This year’s filing date is April 18 instead of the usual April 15.1 Technically, this isn’t an actual change, as we saw the same date in 2022. But since April 15 is on a Saturday – and because April 17 is a holiday in Washington, D.C. – taxpayers will again get a few extra days to file. (Remember, though, that filing as early as you can is almost always better than filing last minute. That’s because it eliminates the stress of procrastination. Plus, you may get any tax refund back sooner!). Keep in mind it takes time to gather in all the tax information from your various holdings. We will have your tax documents to you as soon as possible. If you have any questions about that, please let us know.


As it often does, the IRS has adjusted the 2022 tax brackets based on inflation. These adjustments are even greater than usual this year thanks to the historic inflation we’ve seen lately. That’s good news for those whose wages have gone up to keep pace with the rise in prices, because it means you can earn more before getting bumped to a higher bracket. And some people may even find themselves dropping down a level, even if their pay stayed the same.

The new brackets are as follows:

Tax Rate SingleSingle Married, filing jointlyHead of Household
10%0 to $10,275 0 to $20,5500 to $14,650
12%$10,276 to $41,775$20,551 to $83,550$14,651 to $55,900
22%$41,776 to $89,075$83,551 to $178,150$55,901 to $89,050
24%$89,076 to $170,050$178,151 to $340,100$89,051 to $170,050
32%$170,051 to $215,950$340,100 to $431,900$170,051 to $215,950
35%$215,951 to $539,900$431,900 to $647,850$215,951 to $539,900
37%$539,901 and up$647,850 and up$539,901 and up


The income threshold for long-term capital gains rates has also gone up due to inflation.

Tax RateSingleMarried, filing jointlyHead of Household
0%0 to $41,6750 to $83,3500 to $55,800
15%$41,676 to $459,750$83,351 to $517,200$55,801 to $488,500
20%$459,751 and up$517,201 and up$488,501 and up


As you know, when you file your taxes, you can either claim a standard deduction or dive into the details and itemize your deductions. (Since the passing of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act back in 2017, most people choose the former.) Per the IRS, the standard deduction is “a specific dollar amount that reduces the amount of income on which you’ve been taxed.”4

The IRS has increased the standard deduction for your 2022 taxes. For singles, the standard deduction is now $12,950, up from $12,550. For married couples filing jointly, it is $25,900 up from $25,100. For heads of households, the standard deduction is $19,400, up from $19,000.2

Remember, you can’t take the standard deduction if you also itemize deductions. And for married couples filing separately, both spouses must take the same type of deduction. So, if one spouse chooses to itemize, the other spouse must as well.


The Child Tax Credit (CTC) is returning to pre-pandemic levels this year. That means taxpayers who claim this type of credit will receive a smaller refund. Parents who received $3,600 per dependent for 2021 will now get $2,000 for 2022. That’s a reduction of $1,600.


Due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the number of Americans who owe the AMT has been drastically reduced. But in case you fall under this category, the exemption levels for 2022 are as follows:

SingleMarried, filing jointly
0 to $75,9000 to $118,100

These exemption levels begin to phase out at $539,900 for single individuals, and $1,079,800 for married couples filing jointly.


We hope you found this information helpful. Obviously, it’s not an exhaustive list of every tax change for the year. But it is an overview of some of the most important ones. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. Our door is always open!


1 “IRS sets January 23 as official start to 2023 tax filing season,” Internal Revenue Service,

2 “IRS provides tax inflation adjustments for tax year 2022,” Internal Revenue Service,

3 “5 tax and investment changes that could boost your finances in 2023,” CNBC,

4 “Standard Deduction,” Internal Revenue Service,