A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment V)

Preface: “Time is the greatest commodity” ― Sunday Adelaja

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment V)

A respected appreciation of the foundational importance of planning properly for future capital investments can sometimes only be a distance management consideration for entrepreneurs during inflationary periods. At the onset, inflation results in an optimal economic and business opportunity, with long project backlogs combined perhaps with myopic optimism. What is often too ambiguous when the arrival of inflation is visible, and rightly so, is that it is directly impacting future financial capacity and future costs of capital investments for both individual and business.

When considering the almost forgotten and distant memory of the 2008 economic malaise and Great Recession, some experts say the real cause was an inflated residential housing price. Therefore, a deflated bubble led towards lower costs resulted in a complicated financial short-circuit of sorts leading to an economic recession. For those entrepreneurs who experienced those 2008 business adventures and subsequent recovery processes, it is noteworthy to say that the 2020 continuing Covid-19 induced financial implications will require the best of economic planning and management to avoid similar or more prolonged industry implications.

Yet, the financial world has successfully survived challenging scenario’s for decades. Before the 2008 banking concern, most of us do not remember vividly Arthur Burn’s 1974 reassuring scenario statement, “the entire financial world can breathe more easily, not only in this country but abroad” after the decisively successful action required during the Franklin National banking malfunction. For those unfamiliar with Franklin National, it was one of the world’s largest banks in the early 1970s. The CFO John Sadlik, along with the bank’s management, made critical undercalculations of marginal financing costs. A profuse zeal for top-dog status combined with other incremental principle compromises brought elevated financial fears to the entire global economy.

The solution? Only a $1.75 billion loan from the Federal Reserve to the member bank, along with regulatory assistance, reassured investors and delivered renewed confidence back to the global financial system. A satellite consideration of growing millennial acquisition concern with rising residential interest rates ( certainly not above 4.00%!) should make evident that absent subsidized future interest rates either through government programs or a general disconnects with inflationary market impetus, the financing of future capital investments, albeit new homes, or commercial buildings may have hoisted selling prices from rises in raw materials and perhaps wages.

Therefore, with the probable principal cost increase factors with inflation risks, absent other considerations, what square footage, and subsequent lifestyle, will be variably affordable at potential interest rate ranges? Secondly, what is the solution to maintain a stable managed velocity of money to drive needle RPMs up on the economic engine and prevent a de-ja vu of the 2008 financial malaise?

The prior year’s rapid increases in commodity prices since Q1 of 2020 should provide warranted general concern as to the future affordability or financing cash flows of any necessary capital investments from automobiles for freedom lovers to housing for main street occupants. Additionally look at agriculture prices and it reflection on future food costs. Is 20% a modest assessment of these price and cost increases in the prior 12 months? This does not mention the higher cyclical prices of corresponding future business investments of manufacturing equipment, facility, and infrastructure costs, or the land for such capital expenditures.

The now distant horizon of financing considerations of these future inflated infrastructure prices (equipment, buildings, machinery, land, or transportation assets) are often not front-loaded. Ultimately, in a hypothetical economic future, if the above described inflationary increases lead to runaway or hyperinflation, the deeply furrowed-brow results and societal implications are described well with Tennesse Ernie Ford’s words, “You load sixteen tons, what do you get? Another day older and deeper in debt.”

 

Should you refinance student loans during the coronavirus pandemic?

Should you refinance student loans during the coronavirus pandemic?

It can be a challenge to figure out the best way to manage your student loan in the best of times. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there are even more details to consider than usual.

On one hand, refinancing student loans may save money and help you eliminate debt faster. But taking out a new loan to combine your existing student loans isn’t the right move for every borrower.

Should you refinance student loans during the coronavirus pandemic?

 

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment IV)

Preface: ‘You build a baseball field, and you sit here, and stare at NOTHING? – Quote from the Field of Dreams

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment IV)

Inflation rates year-over-year since 2000 in the US have not exceeded the 2007 high of 4.1% as an estimated peak inflation rate. With this crucial tracking of historical US inflation data, why would there be any more significant or growing concerns regarding immediate or future higher inflation rates than usual inflationary effects to business conditions and corresponding risks? The answer is simply credit.

Considering the wave of upward economic mobility for all economic classes in recent decades from the financial stimulus of increasingly easy and easier credit access, there are increasing bands of comrades excited about the prospects of gain and wealth with investments in real estate, business, stocks, and other assets classes. Picture for a moment life without easy auto loans, home loans, and student loans, etc., combined with higher interest rates for debt service. The antithesis has created the best of the economic tropics sailing conditions for both business ebullience and wealth accumulation. More credit = more money = more buying power = (with the right expectations) more demand = higher prices.

The above is a critical equation because credit is the primary driving reason why more inflation is highly probable in the future. Easy credit can be compared to a successful marketing plan for a great game on a “Field of Dreams.” There will be a great crowd and lots of fun. Correspondingly, the money supply [ say M-1 or M-2] is the food supply for those at the venue. The longer the duration of the “Field of Dreams” series continues, and the larger the crowd and…..the more food will be required—is that why some individuals like to watch a robot’s reaction when given a new $100 bill.

The Feeding of the First Billion [or Trillion] of Credit

Perhaps you borrow ten million dollars from a bank? Considering current bank regulations, a lending bank is only required to hold a small percentage of those dollar funds in reserve to constitute and formalize the loan financing. That is the functional and elemental purpose of fractional credit financing. Just suppose you purchase a farm with the loan, and the seller of the real estate deposits the cash proceeds back in the same bank you obtained the financing from. That bank can fractionally lend additionally on those new reserves too.

Fractional lending practices are best exemplified with the Biblical story where Jesus feeds 5,000 from a story of one young and well-prepared attendee’s lunch that multiplies to provide a meal for more than 5,000 people. It leads to economic and financial miracles, much more, and all is well.

For lack of a better analogy, if a “Field of Dreams” game elongates and crowds prolonged, the food supply will be increasingly vital. Therefore, the money supply foundation, say M-1 and M-2, if it remains perhaps stagnate or deflations, another words a lacks of inflation, will manifest a marked shortage perhaps of proper nutrition at the “Field of Dreams” venue.

With this analogy of why inflation is the necessary decision on the path forward for central bankers to insulate and placate supply demands at the “Field of Dreams” venue, preparing for that possible risk is not irrational or amiss. This is to say that the “transitory” rhetoric from the Federal Reserve persons may not be entirely predictable because the government has a complete financial toolkit including a full set of tax management gismos, not to mention interest rates, stimulus plans, price controls, and alternative mediums of exchange for the good life.

It is essential to clarify that printing the money alone doesn’t create higher prices. Inflation is the increased velocity of the new money as it circulates through the economy. The velocity of money, new and old, is a variable managed on user expectations. These user management expectations include market prices like the S&P 500 or, say, oil prices. Therefore, emerging or accelerating inflation rates, perceptions and risks can be initially concealed with prudent management. Ultimately, as food is purposed for the perceived enjoyment of eating (survival or feast), so most money is purposed for the perceived enjoyment from spending (today or at a time in the future).   

 

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment III)

Preface: “I think that the most important issue that will reshape our lives in the years ahead will be how man-made and artificial intelligence compete and work together.” — Ray Dalio

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment III)

From: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

When inflation accelerates in an economy impacting business conditions (the two go hand-in-glove), perhaps one contrarian point of prudent business cash flow management is that although a cash or cash equivalents absolute purchasing power may be eroding more rapidly, ample cash and cash equivalent holdings continue to remain vital to any business with a successful long-run plan to navigate thee inflationary period.

Why should a business hold ample cash and cash equivalents during inflation? Historically, when prices increase due to new money printing inflationary conditions, transferring operational costs uniformly to customers often has an evident lag time as both entrepreneurs and customers shift to become more accustomed to the new pricing patterns from the newly emerging trend of inflationary effects.

During this cash flow lag time between balancing increasing operating costs and increasing operating revenues, often financial margin pressures can crimp both a business’s cash flows and profitability. This can create increased cash flow stress for economic governance. Corresponding with the cash flow lag is that maintaining key business performance indicators such as accounts payable days or inventory days to within moderate or accepted vendor parameters is increasingly impractical for the unwary.

Therefore, companies who enter the race with inflationary periods with higher accounts payable days are early indicators of these rising cash flow pressures. This is because they may not have adequate cash reserves to pay timely, i.e., the financial indicator since they have already drawn more of the aggregate available excess credit, say from 25 or 40 days for permitted vendor payment(s).

On the contrary, as inflationary conditions initially erode profit margins and net business profitability, a business that, through keen and sharp management foresight, have built a strong balances sheet intentionally with either ample cash reserves, paid-off debt, or low accounts payable days will have a more extended runaway and more success manage the inflationary business lift.

Secondly, and more importantly, if inventory increases in cost, then retail, wholesale, or manufacturing balance sheets will need to expand along with accounts receivable? Understanding and managing working capital levels adeptly is therefore most necessary. For discussion purposes, if your inventory increases two or three hundred percent in cost, it will require twice or thrice the amount of cash (working capital) to hold that level of goods. This inflationary pressure leads to necessary astute management of working capital levels requiring greater access to revolving lines,  etc., all perhaps during a critical time of increased financial risks. Any entrepreneur working on just-in-time working capital levels will be like a cruise ship in the ocean and lacking consumable drinking water, i.e., working capital.

A divergent approach believes that inflationary conditions lead to cash being trash, e.g., losing value rapidly, while maybe very relevant for cash profuse prime-time investors. It is not entirely applicable for a prudent small business cash flow manager.

A prudent cash flow management strategy is an essential concept during times of inflation. If prices rise if inflation gains altitude vertically for a longer duration than traditional cash flow management strategies permit, a business will be increasingly subject to borrow on revolving lines or, say, an emergency line of credit.

Again, this is all when the traditional lending environment is likely shifting credit strategies with perhaps corresponding higher interest rates: these factors compound management cash flow stressors and economic convergence with margins and profits. While predicting the duration and acuteness of these cash flow lag times is best deferred to top experts, If a business doesn’t plan appropriately nor have deep enough pockets or revolving credit facilities, it will lead to financial stress, crisis, or more adverse conditions.

While some cash flow managers may say that inventory builds are the better choice for excess cash, it does have merit that some businesses lack ample working capital to manage annual cash flow reserves without a material line of credit draw. With the unpredictable features of inflationary business conditions, keep foremost in mind that the classic adverse financial constraints are when a line of credit is at the limit, and additional cash is required. Like Rapid City, South Dakota weather, and other towns in the Great Plains, only the insiders understand the true implications and value of being appropriately prepared when inflation accelerates.

Therefore, a successfully inflationary business preparedness plan is likely unique based on industries, locations, and other financial, geographic, and demographic variables. If you appropriately manage cash or cash equivalents, you will have the economical fuel you need to successfully navigate and deliver on your business route.

To be continued….

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment II)

Preface: Inflation is taxation without legislation – Milton Friedman

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions (Segment II)

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

To maintain the assumption that the financial utility of a subway token only has intrinsic value for an entrepreneur when riding a specific subway system and not for purchasing a coffee at Starbucks would be sensible, therefore, if progressive printing of any Scrip (or subway tokens as a proxy for a currency), those who can benefit from that intrinsic token’s utility will obtain the most significant, immediate and perhaps only economic advantage, such as riding the subway system.

Economically, a currency is a rainwater to a currency watershed. Excess rainwater ultimately changes a landscape, and sometimes permanently, not to mention the times of clouds. Let’s look more closely at this financial rainwater and landscape illustration.

Moderate inflation rates, i.e., appropriate rain precipitation levels, will bring economic sunshine and an apparent healthy financial eco-system with periodic recessions to drain excess liquidity. With these moderate and predictable financial weather patterns, the financial weather cycle continues successfully. A little inflation is certainly a key characteristic that can lead to all balmy economic conditions because the financial eco-system has adequate precipitation for seedtime and harvest.

Unlike the global water supply, where perhaps there is little change in the worldwide aggregate gallons in recent decades, i.e., more water is not being created, money supplies increases – finitely. Therefore, absent expansion, only the water allocation in the global weather patterns is shifted per evaporation, clouds precipitation including changes in glacier sizes. The only changes that occur are in the form of, say, glacier ice and the location., e.g., there is a minimal expansion in the gallons of global water the can cause immediate or cataclysmic changes.

Inflation in a currency of a financial system can be clearly understood by illustrating that in an eco-system in a [financial] watershed with an expanding amount of water, other than aquatic creatures that thrive in such an environment, there are incrementally and logarithmically increasing risks with the monetary supply expansion, .e.g. inflation from printing of currency.

Since currency is not fish, paper currency printing eventually floods and saturates a financial system watershed beyond the point of sustainability for seedtime and harvest. An economy with that higher than averages rates of inflation in its currency will wane in operational success. This, unfortunately, is the proven history of each currency in the millenniums of financial history. Perhaps, the US dollar will be the first currency to avoid that currency destiny.

Again, to use a weather analogy, inflation is an expansion in specific financial watershed precipitation. At some point, that liquidity necessitates either a deflationary adjustment to maintain economic equilibrium or some financial reset equivalent to a financial Noah’s Ark moment.

For business management purposes, tracking the money supply (water levels and precipitation in the financial watershed) is becoming increasingly opaque because of how liquidity expansion or money supply growth is followed, according to Federal Reserve data. Therefore, if rainwater levels are increasingly non-quantifiable, e.g., the printing of currency raining in the financial watershed, the ability to make informed and sharp business decisions grows increasingly challenging and requires adaptive approaches.

I am not stating that the US Dollar is imploding for the record, although perhaps that is not a remote possibility. That is entirely the Federal Reserve’s discretion to manage the money supply, interest rates, and the government’s concerted ability to adjust tax rates.

These three economic items are crucial to business conditions and entrepreneurial management, although only interest rates and taxes have been chief concerns to most entrepreneurs in recent decades.

To be continued…..

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions

Preface: During inflation, Goodwill is the gift that keeps on giving.                             Warren Buffett

A Primer on Inflationary Business Conditions

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

As an elementary definition, inflation is simply a currency problem, e.g., the progressive destructive process [or policy] of printing more and more currency. A currency is a system of money used in a particular [national] jurisdiction. Inflationary policies therefore devalue the purchasing power of the specific currency.

When a government uses tax proceeds for spending, it correspondingly reduces excess cash among its taxpayers according to the specifics of its tax codes and the taxpayers earnings thresholds. Therefore, those who pay any taxes accordingly have less to spend or invest, resulting in less demand for goods and services. Therefore, taxes serve as an economic engine governor to effectively manage the speed of the price acceleration. Inflation is not the process of spending money; it is the intrinsic printing process of obtaining money to be spent that creates inflation.

When a government prints money to invest in projects, e.g., infrastructure, the diffusion of those proceeds creates a disequilibrium amongst the benefactors. Those who receive the newly minted money are now buyers with additional funding sources.

Since those fortunate benefactors have extra capacity to purchase, they begin to aggressively compete to buy goods and services, leading to an upward inflationary effect on prices. More money = more capacity to bid up prices = higher prices. This simply equation corresponds equally with a currency’s value following the value exemplified in an ticket’s for a virtual event, e.g., if an unlimited number of people say can more easily attend, then cost or value correspondingly often does not increase.

When inflation begins initially, it shapes each unique segment of an economy differently. The early components which get the money first gain the first and most significant benefits. Likewise, when inflation begins, there are always consequences; that is, the currency purchasing value declines as prices increase to expand the money supply.

Yet, notably, inflationary measures are essential emergency measurements for a concise economic resolution to high unemployment. A level of wage expectations in currency terms is more easily affordable for employment. After all, the value expectation with the wage is lowered in absolute value terms.

Some economists believe that without inflationary progress, a country cannot easily maintain full employment for its people because those who cannot find employment will decrease their idea of the acceptable wage for employment. Therefore a $700 per week wage ideal will reduce to $600 in a devaluation race of wage levels for each occupational task until some people choose to stay unemployment instead of working because of the minor variations in price differentials. For this purpose, the questions continue of whether a sound currency or full employment is the better alternative.

When managing a business in inflationary times, it is helpful to understand that your underlying accounting is in the realm of your tangible currency. Indeed, monitoring any change in the that money supply must contain predictive steps to its translation into costs and revenues. This includes the cost of sales, wages, and yes, taxes, as well as revenue factors in pricing and bidding.

Your business accounting ledger represents revenues and expenses in the a form of Global company scrip. Scrip is a currency form that includes vouchers, token forms like subway tokens, tickets, or arcade tokens. Those who account for transactions in US dollars vs. scrip of other “resorts” have a tremendous financial, competitive advantage that is too often underappreciated and undervalued.

To be continued…..

 

Easter Blessings

Easter Blessings 

This Easter may we foremost remember the significance of Redemption and God’s saving plan that brought us the gift of our salvation and a truly successful exit-plan to all who faithfully believe on his Name.
Blessings this Easter and in the months ahead, as we await the fulfilment of each one of God’s eternal Promises from his Word.
God Bless you and yours,
Sauder & Stoltzfus, LLC 

Tax Benefits of A Cost Segregation Study

Preface: A cost segregation study identifies and reclassifies personal property assets to accelerate the depreciation expense benefit for taxation purposes, reducing current income tax costs. The primary goal of a cost segregation study is to identify all construction-related costs that can be depreciated over a shorter tax life (typically 5, 7 and 15 years) than say the 39 years for non-residential real property. 

Tax Benefits of A Cost Segregation Study

Business and individual taxpayers that build or acquire nonresidential real property, e.g. warehouses, manufacturing space or residential rental property, e.g. rental unit(s) have an opportunity to reap tax benefits with a reduction of the depreciable calendar period recovery on the assets which are qualifying building components. Certain assets may qualify for shorter depreciable lives and recovery periods under MACRS depreciation. The reduction of the qualify building component asset lives provides accelerated deductions to offset income under the current Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts tax regime.

Many taxpersons have mistakenly included the costs of such qualifying components in the depreciable basis of the building and the tax benefits and cost are therefore recovered over a longer depreciation period. A nonresidential real property is depreciated over a 39-year life and a residential rental property is depreciated over 27.5-years. Certain building components may qualify for a reduced recovery period over 5-years, 7-years, or 15-years.

Some examples of building components include: parking lots, sidewalks, curbs, roads, fences, storm water management, landscaping, signage, lighting, security and fire protection systems, removable partitions, removable carpeting and wall tiling, furniture, counters, appliances and machinery (including machinery foundations) unrelated to the operation and maintenance of the building, and the portion of electrical wiring and plumbing properly allocable to machinery and equipment that is unrelated to the operation and maintenance of the building.

A taxperson may engage a CPA specialist to conduct a cost segregation study to identify the separately depreciable components and their depreciable basis. Ideally, a cost segregation study should be conducted prior to the time that a building is placed into service (i.e., when it is under construction or at the time of purchase). However, a cost segregation study can be completed after a building is placed in service. Even if a detailed cost segregation study is impractical, a practitioner should carefully consider whether there are any obvious land improvements and personal property components of a building that can be separately depreciated over a shorter recovery life.

After the fact? The change(s) to the depreciation lives require either an amended return or an accounting method change (if two years after the property is acquired or placed in service). The reporting to the IRS includes the change of basis, depreciable lives, and any adjustments for the impact of the depreciation acceleration from the date placed in service to the year of the method change. Certain restrictions apply in certain instances, and you are advised to consult with a tax advisor on the possible tax benefits before beginning a cost segregation study for your real estate holding(s). This includes factoring the holding period of the real estate and management of possible depreciation recapture costs.

If you have built or acquired a nonresidential real property, e.g. warehouses, manufacturing space or residential rental property, e.g. rental unit(s) recently, please discuss the benefits of a cost segregation study with your tax advisor to obtain maximized tax benefits.

How Retailers Can Navigate Inflation’s Hazards

Preface: Navigation during times of inflation for business owners is often not as easy as adhering to textbook models. Yet with the right a toolkit of management knowledge you can reduce the risk of indecisive or wrongly assumed decisions on  both inventory management and pricing on changing costs of sales. The following blogs from 2008 provides a historic perspective on re-emerging inflation hazards.

A Precarious Road: How Retailers Can Navigate Inflation’s Hazards

That new thinking can begin with inventory. According to Gérard Cachon, a professor of operations and information management, from the 1990s to 2005, minimizing inventory was seen as a key to success. “The whole mindset has been, ‘Let’s get rid of it.’” But that was when most prices were stable or declining. Today, he says, it’s not as clear that this is the best strategy. In fact, some retailers may want to start holding much more inventory than they did in the past as a way to hedge against future price increases. “Of course … it’s a little risky to hold inventory that might [lose value], especially perishable goods and fashion-oriented goods… but to the extent [retailers] know that prices will be rising over time, they will start to try to hold more inventory.”

…….Grocers typically put more emphasis on their store brands during an inflationary period as a way to offer the customer a better deal without cutting into their own margins, he explained.

…….As complex as some of these adjustments might seem, Cachon is confident that retailers will adapt more quickly than in previous inflationary periods, such as during the 1970s oil shocks. He says retailers now have much more information because of bar coding and other technologies that allow them to track their goods from suppliers to the checkout line. “Retailers are much more flexible and agile than they used to be.

Read the entire article here:

A Precarious Road: How Retailers Can Navigate Inflation’s Hazards

Highlights of the American Rescue Plan Act

Preface: Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own.” – Charles Dickens.

Highlights of the American Rescue Plan Act

Credit: Donald J. Sauder, CPA | CVA

The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was signed into legislation on Thursday, March 11th, as a Covid-19 relief measure. This Act expands some key relief features for those tax persons needing funding program support for both businesses and individuals. 

While the minimum wage for employees of $15.00 per hour was not encapsulated in the legislation, we will highlight the following business and individual tax program provisions of the ARPA in this blog.

Individual Tax Program Highlights

Firstly, ARPA approves cash stimulus for eligible individuals and dependents. This one-time stimulus payment will be $1,400 or $2,800 per those filing taxes jointly, with an additional $1,400 for each qualifying dependent. This cash stimulus is subject to phase-out for tax-persons starting at $150,000 of AGI filing together and entirely phase-out above $160,000. For heads of household tax persons, phase-outs begin at $112,500, and for individual tax persons, $75,000. The calendar arrival of these program payments is in the process of scheduling.

Additionally, ARPA is committed to assist more financially disadvantaged children by providing legislated program expansion of the child tax credit (CTC). For 2021 tax-year, the CTC will increase to $3,000 per dependent and $3,600 for qualifying dependents below six. This CTC credit phase-out will begin at $150,000 for tax-persons filing jointly and $112,500 for heads of household tax persons. 

Unemployment Insurance Compensation the was set to expire March 14th has been extended to September 6th. This renews the $300 per week program assistance for tax persons and makes the first $10,200 not taxable for 2020 for those tax persons with an AGI below $150,000. 

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) will be scaling eligibility to tax persons from age 19 without caps for those from 64 years of age or older. EITC maximums will increase from $4,220 to $9,820, providing relief program assistance for qualifying tax-persons. 

Dependent Care Assistance (DCA) has a temporary program shift for 2021 to increase credits for qualifying dependent care from $3,000 to $8,000 for one dependent and $6,000 to $16,000 for two or more qualifying dependents.

Business Tax Program Highlights

The Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans have received $7.25B in additional funds and broader eligibility for non-profits.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) provides $28B in funds for grants to restaurants and foodservice businesses in the industry of serving food and drinks. Specific eligibility rules apply. 

ARPA also includes housing-related assistance with an appropriated $21B for those tax persons who need program funds to pay rent or utilities, including funding to support rural renters, homeowners, and other at-risk tax persons.

March 11th, 2020, the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic and it has a seeming similarity to spring we can learn from a Mark Twain quote. “In the spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.