A Different Degree of Wealth

Ukraine – What Might it Mean to the Long-Term Investor

As we close this week out, it has been one filled with news of Ukraine.  Perhaps as recently as the start of this month most investors did not pay attention to Ukraine.  I suppose many investors may have not even realized where it resides.  However, fast forward to the end of the month and there is news.  When there is news, especially potentially scary news, most investors have been trained by the news media to listen to them to know what to fear, when to fear it and for how long it should be feared. 

While we certainly wish peace and harmony to all across the world and hope for a quick and peaceful resolve to conflict, as long-term investors we should focus our attention to our goals, objectives, plan and behavior around these.  While this may not be as scary or exciting to hear, it’s the only thing that is controllable and actionable. 

History of other conflicts and troubles may shed light and be a useful resource for what has happened in times of conflict in the past.  Repeatedly and throughout history the markets have survived and thrived during difficult times, but many investors follow their emotions (see the illustration).  I also saw the below article from Financial Times and thought it may be helpful in framing some perspective. 

Should you have any questions, please feel free to give us a call. Have a great weekend!

Ukraine Conflict: The Risks Looming for Investors

Two years ago, investors were starting to fret about something they could not properly understand.

A virus in China had kept markets on edge for a few weeks and was starting to look like it could be serious. Stocks around the world were suffering knocks of around 1 or 2 percent a day.

Fear not, the sage minds of Wall Street said, pointing to previous outbreaks of viruses such as Zika and Ebola, which left no lasting damage to stocks. This newfangled coronavirus would probably follow a similar path and prove to be an opportunity to buy the dip, they said. We all know how deep and dark that “dip” turned out to be.

This is not a criticism as such. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Nonetheless, that period of 2020 should stick in investors’ minds now that market participants have largely decided Russia’s latest display of military force in Ukraine is likely to mimic its annexation of Crimea eight years ago and produce only a modest and well-contained impact on global asset prices. Russia accounts for only around 3 percent of the global economy, after all — about half as much as California.

Hedge funds that wagered Vladimir Putin would pull back from the brink — and the oligarchs with wealth tied up in Russian shares — have certainly suffered. Moscow’s Moex index has dropped almost 9 percent this week. This is shaping up to be that market’s worst month since 2009 — well beyond the scale of Covid’s impact.

More broadly, markets have already absorbed a fair amount of Russian stress. In a note earlier this week, Goldman Sachs estimated that the tensions over Ukraine that had been bubbling up for months are responsible for a little over half of the 9 percent drop in the S&P 500 benchmark index of US stocks so far this year.

The nerves had also pushed some investors into the safety of US government bonds, lopping around one-quarter of a percentage point off 10-year yields, the bank said. Gold — another classic bolt-hole for jittery investors — is also higher in price than it would otherwise have been. The rouble, meanwhile, is around 9 percent weaker than it would have been without this latest military adventure, considering how far it has fallen compared with a generally upbeat run in similar emerging market currencies.

All in all, nasty, especially for Russian markets, but very manageable.

“Investors should keep things in perspective and not overreact to headlines,” says Emmanuel Cau, head of European equity strategy at Barclays. “Although equities can fall more in the near term, we note that market drawdowns due to past military conflicts did not last very long and were mostly buying opportunities.” The annexation of Crimea generated just a 4 percent drop in European stocks in a hiccup that lasted eight days, he added.

For some seasoned Ukraine watchers, this all underplays the crisis, especially given Russia’s central role in providing oil and gas to continental Europe. “This is going to be a big conflict. There are massive risks to European energy,” says Tim Ash, an emerging markets strategist at BlueBay Asset Management. “Beware of unexpected consequences,” he adds, pointing out that the outbreak of Covid-19 and the shock of rapid exits from subsequent lockdowns proved that even true experts in supply chains and inflation have their limits.

The big risk is that through the energy market Putin effectively makes the inflation shock biting into markets much worse and saps economic growth momentum. The US Federal Reserve has already indirectly acknowledged this. Geopolitical “risks”, “tensions” and “turmoil” crop up in the minutes of its January meeting no fewer than four times.

Capital Economics reckons that in the worst-case scenario, oil prices could hit $120 to $140 per barrel, well above current levels of a shade under $100. Europe’s already elevated natural gas prices are also likely to keep climbing, the research house said, potentially adding as much as 2 percentage points to inflation in advanced economies.

“In normal times, central banks would tend to look through an energy-led rise in inflation, but given the current high rates of inflation, and corresponding concerns about it feeding higher inflation expectations, it’s possible that this adds to the list of reasons for policymakers to raise interest rates,” wrote Neil Shearing at Capital Economics.

The upshot is that, in markets at least, the latest Ukraine crisis is likely to get lost in the noise about inflation. But it is stalking investors nonetheless. And, in contrast to the pandemic crisis of 2020, if the market reaction does get messy, the Fed is unlikely to step in to help.

All information in the above article is from the news article “Ukraine conflict: the risks looming for investors” dated February 22, 2022 from Financial Times.
Source: Financial Times

Tax Season

Tax season will soon be here. We often get questions about filing taxes and paperwork, so we wanted to provide some guidance to consider in preparing your documents to provide to your CPA.

* Please be very careful filing before March as all information may not have been received. *

  • March 5, 2022: Most 1099s should be received; however, some may be outstanding and/or in process of revisions.
  • March 10, 2022: We recommend that our clients wait until at least March 10th to complete simple tax returns.
  • March 25, 2022: We recommend that our clients wait until at least March 25th to complete more complex tax returns.
  • April 18, 2022: Individual Tax Returns Due for Tax Year 2022.

*Please note that corrected 1099, K1, and other documents may necessitate you waiting beyond the dates listed above; consult your tax advisor for more information.

Golf Tip of the Week

5 ways to max out your power like a long-drive competitor

You wouldn’t be alone if you wanted to DIY some distance after watching Bryson DeChambeau and the rest of the competitors at the Professional Long Drive world championship. Though intense speed training might not be part of your fitness routine like these long-drivers, there are things we can learn from these monster swings to apply to our game.

Golf Digest Best Young Teacher Paxton O’Connor from Desert Mountain Club in Scottsdale offers some ways to create more speed and power for average players.

The key to your own speed training
Many amateurs have the tendency to subconsciously limit the speed of their swing, worrying about a bad outcome. The key to unlocking more speed, O’Connor says, is simple: Remove the outcome altogether.

“One of the best ways to do this is to make practice swings at max speed without a ball,” O’Connor explains, “Without the fear of a bad result, you will be able to realize your swing speed potential and tap into that additional gear.”

Keep in mind that since you’re swinging at max speed, this should be a shorter rehearsal. O’Connor says to keep it under 10 minutes so you don’t hurt yourself.

O’Connor encourages golfers to use this mind-set whenever they’re working on increasing their distance. “One of the biggest things you can learn from watching the Professional Long Drive players is that their focus isn’t always accuracy,” O’Connor says, “their pursuit is to produce the greatest amount of ball speed.” Keep this in mind and O’Connor says you’ll have more fun during your pursuit for power and distance.

Try a simple setup change
When you watch long-drive competitors set up to the ball, you’ll notice they tee it up really high —sometimes a ball over the top of their driver. You might wonder how such a small adjustment can make such a big difference.

“What you’re trying to optimize is higher launch and low spin,” O’Connor says.

He explains that a high tee helps to encourage a more ascending angle of attack, a key to launching it deep. Next time you’re at the range, test out different tee heights to start hitting up on it.

How to grip it—and then rip it
It might go against everything you’ve been taught, but O’Connor says that gripping the club tighter can help you hit your drives farther.

“We’re often told to grip it lightly, but in reality, none of these long-drivers are holding it like a bird,” he says.

In addition to experimenting with grip pressure, O’Connor recommends focusing on wrist mobility. Improving your wrist mobility will not only prevent injuries, but also strengthen the forearm muscles responsible for your grip and creating clubhead speed.

Making small circles with your wrists is a great way to start working on your wrist mobility. For a more effective stretch, O’Connor says to stabilize your forearm with your opposite hand.

Get faster on the way back
You’ve probably been told to swing easy for a better ball flight, but O’Connor wants to adjust your focus.

“I’d like to shift the paradigm away from thinking you have to take it back slowly with a driver,” O’Connor says.

“Multiple biomechanical studies have proven that a faster backswing leads to more distance,” he continues.

When you practice making a faster backswing, O’Connor says to ensure you’re maintaining your speed through the top of your backswing. Many golfers make the common mistake of slowing down as they get to the top, he says.

High hands for high launch
“A commonality between most of the Professional Long Drive players is that their hands are always way above their head,” O’Connor says, “you’ll even see it from some of the big hitters on tour.”

Higher hands will allow you to create more power and speed through impact. However, O’Connor does caution golfers to test their mobility before trying to make too much of an adjustment.

A good way to test yourself is to rehearse your backswing, as you lift your hands see if you can get them above your head. If you can, O’Connor says you should be good to go!

“A good swing thought to keep in mind as you practice your new backswing is: Hands to the sky,” O’Connor says.

Don’t go in cold
Although you might not see it, almost every professional golfer takes the time to prep their body before they compete. A proper warm-up helps prime the body to swing at higher speeds while reducing the likelihood of an injury.

To maximize the benefit, O’Connor says to identify what warm-ups are best for your body. Whether that means focusing on hip mobility, increasing your flexibility or simply getting your heartrate up, the goal is to get your body ready to move.

If you’re not sure where to start, check out the Golf Digest Schools fitness library to access our golf-specific programs that feature warm-ups from top fitness instructors and tour players.

Tip adapted from golfdigest.comi 

Recipe of the Week

Mediterranean Baked Cod

4 Servings


  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 oz. mini sweet peppers
  • salt
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
  • 8 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 1/2 lb. cod fillets
  • 1/4 c. water
  • pepper
  • Whole-grain rolls, for serving


  1. In a 7- to 8-quart wide-bottomed oven-safe saucepot on medium-high, cook onion, peppers, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in olive oil for 5 minutes or until onions are almost tender, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add tomatoes and thyme; cook 2 minutes. Add cod fillets and water; sprinkle cod with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cover and bake at 450 degrees F for 15 minutes or until cod is cooked. Discard thyme sprigs. Serve with whole-grain rolls.

Recipe adapted from goodhousekeeping.comii  

Health Tip of the Week

Cut Your Stroke Odds

What Is a Stroke?
It happens when blood stops flowing to part of your brain. The cells begin to die, and you may have damage to areas that control muscles, memory, and speech.

Watch Your Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure and you don’t manage it well, your chances of getting a stroke go up. Ideally, your blood pressure should be under 120 over 80. If yours is too high, talk to your doctor about ways to change your diet and get more exercise. If that’s not enough to control it, they may prescribe medication to help.

Break a Sweat
Exercise helps you get to or stay at a healthy weight and keep your blood pressure where it should be — two things that can lower your odds of having a stroke. You’ll need to work out hard enough to break a sweat 5 days a week for about 30 minutes. Talk to your doctor first if you’re not in great health or haven’t been that active in a while.

Keep Stress in Check
Stress can make it more likely you’ll get a stroke, maybe because it causes inflammation in parts of your body. If you’re stressed at work, try some simple things to help dial it back. Get up and move around often, breathe deeply, and focus on one task at a time. Make your work area a calm space with plants and soft colors. And be sure to spend a healthy amount of time away from the office.

Lose Weight
Obesity and the health issues it can cause — diabetes and high blood pressure — boost your chances of stroke. You can lower the odds if you lose as few as 10 pounds. Try to keep your calorie count under 2,000 a day and make exercise a regular thing.

Have a (Single) Drink
Your risk of stroke may go down if you have one drink a day. But be careful: More than two, and it quickly shoots up. Heavy drinking can also lead to obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes — all things that raise your odds of having a stroke.

Get Your Cholesterol Checked
High levels of LDL “bad” cholesterol and low levels of HDL “good” cholesterol can raise your chances of having plaque buildup in your arteries, which limits blood flow and can lead to a stroke. Cutting down on saturated and trans fats can help lower your LDL, and exercise can boost your HDL. If those don’t do the trick, your doctor may prescribe medication to help with your levels.

Pay Attention to Your Heartbeat
Atrial fibrillation (AFib), an irregular heart rhythm, makes you five times more likely to have a stroke. If you notice a racing or irregular heartbeat, see your doctor to find out what’s causing it. If it’s AFib, they might be able to treat you with medicine that lowers your heart rate and cuts the odds you’ll get blood clots. In some cases, they may try to reset your heart’s rhythm with medication or a brief electrical shock.

Manage Your Diabetes
This condition affects how your body uses glucose, an important source of energy for your brain and the cells that make up your muscles and tissues. It can raise your odds of having a stroke, so it’s important to watch your blood sugar carefully and follow your doctor’s instructions.

Fiber Up
The magic number here is 7: For every 7 grams of fiber you add to your daily diet, your stroke risk goes down by 7%. You should get about 25 grams a day: six to eight servings of whole grains, or eight to 10 servings of vegetables.

Eat (a Little) Dark Chocolate
Flavonoids are plant-based chemicals in cocoa that have all kinds of health benefits. For example, they can help with inflammation, and that can relieve pressure on your heart. Studies show a little dark chocolate a day helps prevent heart attacks and strokes in people with a higher chance of having heart disease. Just don’t overdo it because chocolate has sugar and saturated fat.

Don’t Smoke
Smoking makes your blood more likely to clot, thickens and narrows your blood vessels, and leads to the buildup of plaque — all of which make you more likely to have a stroke.

Choose the Right Foods
A balanced diet of fruits, veggies, fish, lean meats, and whole grains can help lower your cholesterol. That means plaque is less likely to build up in your arteries and form clots. It also can help protect you from other conditions that raise your odds of having a stroke, like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Take Your Meds
This sounds like an easy one, but a lot of people have a hard time with it. Take your medicine for blood pressure, diabetes, and heart health on time and as prescribed. If you’re concerned about side effects, talk to your doctor before skipping your medications or taking less than you’re supposed to.

Tip adapted from webmd.comiii 

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