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Reality TV vs. reality — America is watching

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Reality TV has become popular, to say the least. Apparently we enjoy watching people be voted off islands, on the hunt for love and get fired on national television. Included in this group is our new president, who was the host of The Apprentice for a number of years.

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However, since the January inauguration, President Donald Trump is now faced with reality, which does not include retakes, professional editing and an audience who enjoys both failure and success.

But, his new job does include balancing an active audience’s perceptions and actual reality, particularly as it relates to the economy and some of his key initiatives.

Paradigm Shift

Trump has suggested a paradigm shift by stimulating economic growth through fiscal policy and government spending, rather than relying on monetary policy and lower interest rates. While economic fundamentals have been improving for several quarters, contributing to positive public perception, Trump’s proposed fiscal policy stimulus will have a relatively minor impact on long-term economic growth.

The empirical evidence suggests that when the economy is at full employment, any fiscal policy stimulus will have a temporary impact on growth, four to six quarters at best. In reality, fiscal policy stimulus does one thing on a long-term basis – it increases the national debt.

Tax Cuts

The president, along with others such as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has suggested tax cuts will pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Yet, there is no evidence to support this idea. Rather, historical reality suggests cutting taxes will increase the federal debt burden.

Former President Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s and former President George W. Bush in the early 2000s both cut taxes, yet there is little evidence that economic activity improved.  However, we do know the national debt mushroomed in both cases.

Repatriation of Foreign Profits

Believe it or not we have been here before. In 2004, the American Jobs Creation Act was passed. Part of the plan covered the repatriation of overseas profits at a reduced rate of 5.25 percent. In 2004, five companies, primarily pharmaceutical, dominated the almost $1 trillion foreign profit stockpile.

Only one-third of the total cash came back to the U.S. Most of the money went to repairing corporate balance sheets and rewarding shareholders with share repurchases. $18 billion did go into the U.S. Treasury’s coffer. The Congressional Research Service, a nonpartisan think tank, said the program was an ineffective means of increasing economic growth.

Today, the reality is that a small number of technology companies dominate the $2.5 trillion cash balances overseas. If offered a tax reprieve on repatriating foreign profits, history tells us the same behaviors will result—higher dividends and more share repurchases, which, I believe, will not materially impact the economy.

Multiplier Effect

The multiplier effect is a phenomenon where given a change in a particular input, such as government spending, a larger change in an output occurs, such as gross domestic product (GDP).

We are about to see a paradigm shift in the U.S.—moving from monetary policy stimulus (interest rates) to fiscal policy stimulus (government spending).

The million dollar question is, “Will it promote economic growth?” The Congressional Budget Office provides historical analysis on the efficacy of fiscal spending. The multipliers show that any form of increased government spending would have a higher multiplier effect than any form of tax cuts.

Economic Reality

There are two primary drivers of long-term economic growth, labor force growth rate and productive gains. Labor force growth rate in the U.S. is approximately 1.2 percent. Non-farm productivity year-over-year growth is 1.1 percent. Add them together, and you have a 2.3 percent trend GDP over the next few years. We could realize one or two quarters of 3.0 percent or greater GDP, but it’s not sustainable.

However, this is not a doomsday conclusion. If we do experience trend GDP between 2.0 and 2.5 percent, it will allow companies to grow revenues and earnings. This in turn will support higher stock prices.

Political Process Reality

Trump’s term has really just begun. And what many reality television enthusiasts, and the president himself, may be finding out is that reality TV can be fun to watch, but the reality of the political process may not be.

Follow UMB‡ and KC Mathews‡ on LinkedIn to stay informed of the latest economic trends. Read other recent commentary on umb.com.


K.C. Mathews joined UMB in 2002. As executive vice president and chief investment officer, Mr. Mathews is responsible for the development, execution and oversight of UMB’s investment strategy. He is chairman of the Trust Investment, Asset Allocation and Trust Policy Committees. Mr. Mathews has more than 20 years of diverse experience in the investment industry. Prior to joining UMB, he served as vice president and manager of the portfolio management group at Bank of Oklahoma for nine years. Mr. Mathews earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Notre Dame. Mr. Mathews attended the ABA National Trust School at Northwestern University and is a Chartered Financial Analyst and member of the CFA Institute. He is past president of the Kansas City CFA Society and a past president of the Oklahoma Society of Financial Analysts.



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Monthly Media Update – May

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Insight into the changing healthcare landscape in Washington, the introduction of a new market president and a unique perspective on trends in the bond market are just a few media coverage highlights from our associates this past month.

Stay informed on industry trends and noteworthy company news by visiting our UMB in the News section on umb.com, which is updated weekly for timely viewing.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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UMB Insights: Fine Art Services

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Are you an art collector? Or do you have one piece in your home you take great pride in? Find out from the managing director of UMB Fine Art Services how this company focus began more than 100 years ago with our CEO’s great grandmother, Charlotte Kemper, and her passion for culture and art. Jan also offers advice on how to protect and utilize your art and collectibles.

Read more about the art of fine art management.

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Jan Leonard is senior vice president and managing director for charitable trusts, private foundations and fine art services. She joined UMB in 2003 and has more than 25 years of experience in the management of private and public organizations. Leonard earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and a master’s degree in business administration from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan. She is also a graduate of the Cannon School of Foundation Management.



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Is the Bond Market Wrong?

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After the surprise election results in 2016, domestic markets experienced the “Trump Bump,” which entailed a traditional risk-on shift—investors bought stocks and sold bonds to prepare for the presumed good times ahead. Stock values and interest rates both shot higher in anticipation of a boost to both economic activity and inflation.

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Trump Bump to Trump Slump

However, after a few months of treading water early in the New Year, interest rates began a steady decline. The 10-year Treasury note dropped from 2.60 percent to 2.25 percent in just a few weeks.

This occurred despite an early increase in overnight rates by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) and clear messaging that they are prepared to continue the upward march in rates as part of a gradual “normalization.” All the while, stock prices remained resilient and repeatedly bumped up against all-time highs.

Debates and Head-Scratching

The drop in long-term rates created a flattening of the treasury yield curve, something that typically occurs near the end of a Fed tightening cycle, as the economy begins to slow down.

This rate drop and curve flattening has triggered a healthy debate throughout the

investment industry. It appears the bond market is signaling that the economy isn’t going to be nearly as strong as the equity market is discounting.

Historically, a flattening yield curve has been a strong, early indicator of economic deceleration—so the divergence between stock prices and interest rates has unleashed some serious head-scratching.

Disagreement Abounds

As a further complication, the Fed Funds futures market—the bond market’s estimate of where overnight rates are headed—is substantially below the FOMC’s estimates for where they’re planning to move rates. The FOMC expects overnight rates (and money market rates) to head to 1.50 percent in 2017 and rise to 2.20 percent in 2018, which is good news for savers. However, the futures market is placing overnight rates at only 1.25 percent and 1.50 percent in 2017 and 2018.

It appears that the bond market currently disagrees with both the FOMC and the stock market on the strength of the economy and the path of rates, raising the question, “Is the bond market wrong?”

Countering the Contrarian View

At this point, our answer is “yes, we believe the bond market is wrong.”  While it’s usually not fruitful to bet against the bond market, we believe several factors are causing it to paint a contrarian (versus the stock market) picture at this time:

  1. Assumption that the new administration will not get any stimulus plans enacted
    The bond market appears to be responding to the president’s early challenges with enacting campaign promises.
  2. Global interest rates
    Global interest rates are still well below the U.S. The glut of excess savings from around the world is still chasing U.S. rates whenever they rise, making it difficult for our rates to rise as much as they might otherwise.
  3. Normalization cycle
    Bond investors around the world are assuming the current Fed normalization cycle will play out in a similar manner to how the entire global financial crisis cycle has unwound—much slower than anyone anticipated. They are betting against any “upside surprises” for the economy or inflation, and it’s been a very long time since we’ve had either.
  4. Extreme caution in rising rates
    The bond market believes the FOMC will exhibit extreme caution in edging rates higher because it fears rising rates will tip the economy back toward a slowdown.The bond markets are not signaling that an economic slowdown is eminent, but rather that rate normalization will not be possible at the pace indicated by the Fed and most forecasters.

Why we believe the bond markets are wrong:

  1. We believe the new administration will succeed in enacting tax cuts and infrastructure programs—both will involve compromise and delays, but they will ultimately be accomplished, and both should point toward higher rates.
  2. We believe the global savings glut is in the very early stages of abating, so the artificial “lid” on interest rates may be slowly dissipating.
  3. While the last decade has been one of extremely slow movements from the Fed, it appears wage pressure is building throughout our economy—a precursor to inflation. Economic momentum is turning upward in Europe as well. These trends will allow the Fed to push forward with rate normalization at the pace reflected in most forecasts.
  4. Interest rates are exceptionally and unsustainably low, particularly given that we are experiencing a modest global upturn. Even after the Fed’s projected upward adjustments, interest rates will still be exceptionally low—modestly higher rates are not a threat to the economy or a barrier to normalization. For these reasons, we believe the bond markets are not properly reflecting the most likely path for interest rates over the next two years. There are risks to this outlook, but the most likely outcome is an upward shift of roughly 1.00-1.50 percent over the next two years.

Mr. Kelley is managing director of fixed income at UMB and is responsible for overseeing the product development and management of the fixed income holdings for the Wealth Management division. Mr. Kelley earned a Master’s of Business Administration from Baker University in Kansas City.



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Dust off Your Finances: Spring Clean Your Financial House

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Spring is just around the corner, and with that comes the proverbial spring
cleaning. While most people recognize the value of scrubbing their homes, we recommend dusting off your finances as well.

Consider these tips to help ensure your financial house is cobweb-free.

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Settle In for a Review

  • Review the titling and ownership of all financial accounts. Make certain any accounts owned and titled in a trust, or have a Payable upon Death designation, will meet desired intentions if a transfer were to take place.
  • Review your credit report to make sure
    you’re in positive standing. You can request a free copy once every 12 months from annualcreditreport.com.
  • Review insurance policy and retirement account beneficiaries. This is particularly important if there has been a recent change in marital status. A spousal waiver will be needed if the beneficiary is not the spouse.

 Prepare for the Future

  • Execute a will and a living will. If these documents already exist, they should be reviewed on a regular basis. Circumstances and viewpoints change, which can heavily impact desired allocations and intentions.

Check Up on Your Cards

  • Check the interest rates that are being charged on all credit cards. For individuals who carry balances, consider consolidating to the card with the lowest interest rate or even contemplate a Home Equity Line of Credit as the interest may be tax-deductible.
  • Utilize a credit card that offers rewards. Many of these now carry no annual fee and offer cash back in addition to the travel and merchandise rebates.

Evaluate Your Employer Benefits

  • If financially possible, make the most of your 401(k) by contributing to the level that takes advantage of the full employer match.
  • Review your health insurance coverage options to ensure you are making the best selections for yourself and your family. If you are currently enrolled in a High Deductible Health Plan coupled with a Health Savings Account, review your contributions to make sure you are maximizing your saving options.

Examine Your Life Insurance

  • Make certain existing coverage will meet the financial needs of your family if any member were to pass away, not just the primary income source for the family. Also, if the only secured life insurance is provided by an employer, consider pricing other term policies. Remember employer-provided insurance may not transfer if there is a change in jobs.
  • Research long-term care insurance. Ask your insurance provider about this coverage to ensure it offers home health care in addition to nursing home care. Life expectancy is much greater than it used to be, and in-home and community care continue to rise in price.

Freshen Up on Your Investments

  • Review or create an investment policy statement (IPS). This is an agreement with a financial advisor that states your investment purpose, time frame and risk tolerance. An IPS clearly states the investor’s goals and helps provide clear expectations, consistent communications and true accountability for both the advisor and the investor.
  • Conduct homework for obtaining professional services from investment consultants, estate planning attorneys and certified public accountants. Seek references from trusted friends and colleagues and stick with specialists. Professionals will be able to offer insights and guidance that will help individuals succeed in reaching their financial planning goals.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.pulation Survey/Housing Vacancy Survey, Series H-111, U.S. Census Bureau, Washington, DC 20233.


As a Private Wealth Management regional manager, Brent is responsible for the growth and support of new customer relationships as well as supervision of regional sales associates. He is also responsible for oversight and delivery of the financial planning discipline within the region. With nearly 30 years of experience private wealth client relationship management, Brent is a seasoned banking professional with deep Texas roots. He attended the University of Texas at Arlington, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in finance, and is a Candidate for CFP® certification. He serves as a board member of the Dallas Parks Foundation.



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Market Minutes with KC Mathews

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Chief Investment Officer KC Mathews recently completed a two-day media briefing in New York City, where he shared his thoughts on current market conditions as well as information on his 2017 forecast with CNBC, CNN Money, and Bloomberg Radio. Listen to the brief podcast and read the articles below to learn more about what KC is expecting to see over the course of the year.

Also, read KC’s recent economic articles, which give more detailed information on where we’ve been and where we’re headed.

Follow UMB and KC Mathews on LinkedIn to stay informed of the latest economic trends.

Interested in learning more about our Private Wealth Management division? See what we mean when we say, “Your story is our focus.

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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UMB: Insights – Financial Advice for Millennials

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Do young people really need a financial advisor? Phil shares why you DO need one as you move into adulthood. His advice is to:

  • Work with a financial advisor.
  • Establish a plan and put it in place.
  • Work toward achieving it!

Learn more in this continuation of our UMB: Insights series.

 

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Mr. Phillip Klevorn is a Regional Manager for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for Private Wealth Management in the St. Louis Region. He joined UMB in 2015 and has 22 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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UMB: Insights – Common Questions for Wealth Advisors

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UMB Industry Insights

We’re continuing our UMB: Insights series by talking to a few of our wealth advisors about questions they hear all the time from their clients.

  • Am I going to be able to live in retirement the way I live today?
  • What kind of healthcare can I afford?
  • How can I maximize that and minimize taxes? How do I pass that on to the next generation tax-efficiently?

If you find yourself asking any of these questions, it’s probably time to meet with a wealth advisor.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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UMB: Insights – When to Engage a Wealth Advisor

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UMB Industry Insights

Belinda explains why you should start talking to a wealth advisor. They can help you see the big picture, set your priorities and customize your plans accordingly.

Learn more in this continuation of our UMB: Insights series.

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UMB Financial Corporation (Nasdaq: UMBF) is a diversified financial holding company headquartered in Kansas City, Mo., offering complete banking services, payment solutions, asset servicing and institutional investment management to customers. UMB operates banking and wealth management centers throughout Missouri, Illinois, Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arizona and Texas, as well as two national specialty-lending businesses. Subsidiaries of the holding company include companies that offer services to mutual funds and alternative-investment entities and registered investment advisors that offer equity and fixed income strategies to institutions and individual investors.



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Individual retirement trust: a new way to save for retirement

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An individual retirement trust allows you to maintain the tax advantages that come with saving and investing in an individual retirement account (IRA), while providing you with the long-term control of a trust. You may be familiar with the uses and benefits of an IRA, and you may have a good understanding of trusts, but this unique solution can be the best of both worlds.

Individual retirement trust: a new way to save for retirement

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The basics

An IRA, whether Roth or traditional, is a savings mechanism that allows you to invest funds for your future retirement. The sooner you begin putting money into an IRA, the more time your money has to grow before you reach 70½, the age at which you are required to begin taking distributions from the account. IRAs prepare you for retirement and provide tax advantages, allowing you to choose whether to make contributions tax-free (traditional) or receive your distributions tax-free (Roth).

A trust is an estate planning tool that allows you to set aside funds for specific beneficiaries to receive when you pass away. Trusts can be managed by a third party called a trustee. The trustee handles management of the trust, including things like managing trust investments, making distributions to beneficiaries and taking care of trust assets, both during your lifetime and after your death.

An individual retirement trust combines the tax advantages of an IRA with the long-term control of a trust. This type of account allows you to save for retirement while maximizing tax advantages and ensures your IRA funds are distributed according to your wishes. Simply select your beneficiaries—whether people, organizations or charities—and the percentage of funds each beneficiary should receive, plus any conditions you have in mind. Once you have selected beneficiaries and determined percentages of distribution, the trustee oversees all of the distributions, including adjustments you may direct over time.

Using an individual retirement trust allows you to bypass the complicated IRS requirements involved in naming a trust as an IRA beneficiary, which is an alternative option. The trust portion of the account also helps protect your legacy from asset seizure by the potential creditors of your beneficiaries. If your heirs inherit your IRA assets without the protection of a trust, funds can be taken by a beneficiary’s creditors in the event of a beneficiary’s bankruptcy.

Also, individual retirement trusts can be set up with disability provisions that ensure your accounts are maintained in the event of your illness or long-term incapacitation. In this case, the trustee will take over the management of your retirement fund investments, coordinate bill pay and administer distributions as set forth in the document—all without the need for a separate guardian or conservator.

Who can benefit from an individual retirement trust?

Individual retirement trusts offer a unique structure that may not work for everyone. Most importantly, this structure is best for those who already have significant retirement assets and are concerned about the future management of those assets.

If you are particularly tax-sensitive, you may benefit from an individual retirement trust because it allows you to maximize the tax deferment available through the stretch payout option, whether the IRA is a traditional or Roth account.

If you have divorced and remarried, this solution can help you streamline the inheritance process by allowing you to select a variety of beneficiaries with varying inheritance percentages. Step-children can be included, as can organizations of your choice. For blended families, individual retirement trusts are beneficial in that they provide extensive control over the distribution of assets. Specifically, beneficiary designations will not be changeable, even after your passing, which ensures the heirs you have chosen are provided with exactly what you have determined for them regardless of later marriages or life changes.

Individual retirement trusts are also good vehicles for those concerned with the use of the funds by heirs and seek to include limitations. Any amount set aside for a beneficiary that is more than the required minimum distribution (RMD) can be subject to the trustee’s discretion.

Bottom line:

An individual retirement trust can help you achieve the tax advantages of an individual retirement account paired with a comprehensive asset management plan for your heirs–now and in the future. You will be able to build and customize your legacy with multiple beneficiaries, long-term control and detailed asset distribution options. Combining an IRA with a trust can streamline your legacy administration and simplify the process in one efficient document.
 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Conley is a vice president and legal counsel for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for reviewing estate planning documents and working with attorneys, clients, trust and bank associates regarding various legal issues that arise in the creation of trusts and estates. He joined UMB Private Wealth Management in 2000. Mr. Conley is an attorney and Certified Public Accountant. He is licensed to practice law in Kansas and Iowa.



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