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A Change in the Weather
As we move from summer to fall, thoughts often turn to the weather. In Northern California the weather report can be somewhat boring for much of the year! Sunshine, cooler on the coast, warmer inland … rinse … repeat. As fall arrives the nights turn cooler, there could be rain, or we could have a heat wave again. People turn to the weather report to see how to prepare. In the financial world, people are continuously seeking predictions, and we spend a lot of time reminding them we do not possess a crystal ball. But as we head into the final quarter of 2023, we thought we would take stock of the current landscape and do a little forecasting (while avoiding predictions). Weather forecasts are created in part using data from historical patterns, and it is appropriate to start our financial forecast with a summary of our recent past.
Though we wish it were a distant memory, the coronavirus pandemic still influences our current patterns. When the United States started to see the rapid spread of the virus in the spring of 2020, the government was quick to act with a significant amount of stimulus to support the economy. The response was unprecedented, as approx imately $1.8 trillion was sent directly to individuals and families by way of unem ploy ment and stimulus checks. Businesses were sent $1.7 trillion in an effort to keep people employed, and state and local governments were sent approximately $745 billion.1 This spending combined with the CARES Act, the Infrastructure Bill in 2021, and the Inflation Act in 2022, illustrates the colossal amount of money injected into our financial system. To pour fuel on the fire, supply chains faltered due to lockdowns, and Russia invaded Ukraine in the spring of 2022.