"This is probably the most difficult end-of-year planning I have ever seen in my career"
~ veteran investment adviser Bob Fitzwilson
As the Fiscal Cliff looms ahead, as well as the implications of new legislation at both the Federal (e.g., "Obamacare") and state (e.g., California's Prop 30) levels, financial advisers are furiously working to calculate the impact these developments will have on their clients' net worth in 2013 and beyond.
Add to that the ugly macroeconomic environment of spiraling sovereign debts and deficits, currency devaluation, and underfunded entitlement programs. At this point, the prudent assumptions to make are that taxes will go higher over time, the money printing machines will run at maximum speed, and – when the system really begins to collapse under its own unsustainability – the rules will be changed. Perhaps that means capital controls; perhaps it means new restrictions on large asset pools like pension and retirement funds; perhaps it means wealth taxation. At this point, no one knows for sure.
No wonder this is such a difficult moment for end-of-year planning.
So, what to do?