financial planner Stephen Zelcer
TSP planning report for federal employees 2022

TSP Planning Report May 2022

May 2022 TSP Planning Report:
 

Facts:

  • The G Fund rate for April 2022 was increased to 3% , from April’s 2.5%.
  • The Fed Funds interest rate increased to 0.9% from last month’s 0.5%, and they anticipate more rate increases over the remainder of this year. 
  • This month’s unemployment rate remained unchanged, at 3.6%.  
  • PMI (Purchasing Managers Index) continued to expand (any reading above a score of 50 means expansion). This month’s reading came in at 55.4, compared to last month’s 57.1.
  • The S&P 500 (C Fund) dropped -8.72% in the month of April. The S&P 500 was briefly down 20% (official “bear market” territory) for the year, but is now down -13.31% YTD.
  • The 2nd estimate of Q1 GDP shows a negative -1.5% GDP, slightly lower than the 1st Q1 estimate of -1.4%.  Aside from the pandemic, this is the first negative GDP since 2009.  
  
Assessment:
It’s getting uglier.  
Last month I pointed out that we can now see the economy is struggling to move.  We are no longer being distracted by Covid, or Russia, or supply chain crisis.  We can now clearly see what’s happening.    Everything is too expensive, and there’s too little supply of everything so it will only continue to become more expensive.  And now, with rising interest rates, people will not have access to money to buy these more expensive items.  This is known as “stagflation.”   

To make matters worse – defaults are on the rise.  
And, to make matters even worse, aside from raising interest rates (which I agree with – although it is questionable whether the gov’t should be dictating interest rates to begin with) the Federal Gov’t is not taking other obvious steps to improve the economy, and can be argued that they are taking steps which directly cause the inflationary environment we are experiencing, from preventing the mining of oil, depleting reserves, making America energy dependent, and in the midst of all this, discussing student loan forgiveness.  I wish I was making this up.  

The one metric that may signal relief is low unemployment – at least people have jobs and income to afford their basics.  However, if inflation & interest rates continue to rise, employers may no longer be able to afford their employees.  And guess what?  That may already be happening.  New unemployment claims have risen, although it is too soon to gauge whether this is a temporary blip, or a longer-term, more-systemic issue. 

If systemic unemployment takes hold, we may see a recession, or even a depression.  We need to keep an eye on employment rates over the next few months.  
 
Even Bonds are not safe:
As I said last month, both G fund and F fund are poor options in this environment.  G fund is under-performing inflation (inflation is 7.9% while G fund is 3% and rising).  F fund is exposed to interest rate risk.  Inflation is driving a rise in interest rates which will crush the F fund.  Of the two, the G fund is the lesser of the two evils, because the F fund will have a double-whammy: It’ll lose principle and the remaining principle will be deflated, meaning less valuable.  G fund can’t lose principle.  The F fund is down 9% YTD.  
 
Bottom Line:
The market has already dropped significantly, and I don’t know when investors will start looking past the immediate gloom & doom towards a brighter future.  This past week, the S&P 500 rebounded 6% in one week.  A rebound, when it comes, usually comes quickly.  As such, it’s hard to advise to pull out of the market.  

If you are seeking 4% yields, you may be able to accomplish this in the near future without any stock exposure, because the G fund yield is rising quickly.  This, in turn, decreases the need for stocks in my lower-yielding portfolios.  

However, for higher yields you will still need stock exposure.    Keep investing, and go on with your business. In fact, you may want to introduce some more money into the C & S funds to capture the bounce-back.  Your new TSP contributions should go 70% C fund, 30% S fund to catch a bounce-back.  If your G fund is overfunded (if you don’t know what overfunded is, contact me asap), consider doing an inter-fund transfer from G into C & S to participate in the bounce-back. 
 
See this month’s recommended portfolios.  DON’T JUST LOOK AT RATE OF RETURN. Always view the target return of each portfolio in context of its ranges of fluctuation.
 

Anyone who has more than 5 years before drawing income from their TSP should consider taking a more aggressive posture going forward and use my aggressive portfolio’s below.  If you are within 5 years of retirement, you should email me to get a more customized recommendation. 

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

Email me here – stephen@stephenzelcer.com

Click here to download my portfolios.

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