The X’s & O’s

Join Brent, Matthew and Joshua as they discuss the recent fall in the stock market. They discuss why markets fall, strategies you can use to minimize the downside and actionable tips for retirees.

Listen to the podcast episode…

The Hosts:

Brent Pasqua, Matthew Theal and Joshua Winterswyk



Brent Pasqua: Welcome to the Retirement Plan Playbook. I am Brent Pasqua, and I’m joined here by Matthew Theal and Joshua Winterswyk. Today’s show I think is actually a very timely shown. I think it’s going to be extremely helpful for people because we’re really going to talk about the tips on how people can manage the decline in the stock market and with everything that’s going on right now. I think that this is important, but before I start, I just want to make sure that neither of you guys are coughing as you kind of entered this recording room, right?

Matthew Theal: I mean it’s possible I coughed.

Brent Pasqua: And so everybody knows like I actually took their temperatures as they were walking in today to make sure that they weren’t sick and we’re all protecting each other. But are you guys still on guard with everything that’s going on?

Matthew Theal: Yeah, I’m very on guard. I’m washing my hands. I’m trying to flatten the coronavirus curve, so if you wash your hands a lot, that helps keep the virus at bay. I’m also wearing a mask in the grocery stores and I’m practicing social distancing.

Brent Pasqua: Did you really?

Matthew Theal: Nah.

Brent Pasqua: Did you wear masking the store?

Joshua Winterswyk: No, not this weekend. I actually went to Costco. I saw the craze there on Saturday and then I went to a sporting event on Sunday, but I didn’t see too many masks.

Brent Pasqua: Can either of you guys just let me know why people are going so crazy about water? Like I haven’t figured that out yet.

Joshua Winterswyk: I’m going to need help with that too. Well, I mean for me, I know I have a filtered water system through my refrigerator, so like unless like the water supplies infected, I’m not really sure.

Brent Pasqua: Matt, do you understand that?

Matthew Theal: Yeah, it’s just animal spirits. You know, people, its survival instincts are taking over. And what’s the one thing that’s needed to survive?

Joshua Winterswyk: I think one really good positive though is that like for, any natural disaster prepping, I think we talked about this on the last show too. Pretty good. Like everyone’s getting stocked up. I’m happy for everyone that we’re ready for anything.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. And I think for people to find out more about coronavirus right now it’s so all over the media, they probably don’t want to listen to it on another podcast because I think at some point people are going to get sick of this stuff. Yeah. But it is obviously having a major impact on the stock market. And the first thing that kind of led me to question is like why do stocks go down like this?

Matthew Theal: Well it’s really a supply and demand issue right. And this might sound kind of snarky, but there’s stocks are going down because there’s more people selling then buying and the buyers are demanding lower prices to purchase stock. So it’s not like everyone sells stocks, right? To create a transaction, you also need to have someone willing to buy them. So it’s a Econ 101, supply and demand. A buyers want the stock lower, so sellers are forced to sell lower. That’s it.

Brent Pasqua: And how do the fundamentals of a stock decline actually start to work?

Matthew Theal: Sometimes they don’t actually come into play. So like right now, right, the economy is pretty strong. Everyone’s like, oh, it’s great. Why is the market going down? But we just can ever predict that, right? We never know what’s going to happen. And so what ends up happening is we get… the system kind of starts clearing itself out and people who took too much leverage. An example would be maybe they bought stocks on margin or debt. They’re getting margin calls and they’re, they’re getting wiped out right now. That’s called forced liquidation. That’s what makes the stocks go down.

Brent Pasqua: Is there anything that happens during this period that like let’s take for example, Apple. Is there anything that drastic that’s happening to that company over a two week period that would make the company stock drop that much that fast?

Joshua Winterswyk: I think it’s just the market response to the unknown. Because we’d still don’t know so much about what’s going to happen. If it really does affect the core fundamentals of the company. So it’s like really just the market reacting to this new information that we’re uncertain of because we don’t really know what’s going to happen. So it’s that reaction too that news.

Brent Pasqua: Do you think during these times that most individuals, like you and I or people listening to this show, are the ones that are actually jumping on their computers and placing trades?

Joshua Winterswyk: No.

Matthew Theal: No. they shouldn’t be. Yeah, absolutely not.

Brent Pasqua: So who is actually selling right now?

Matthew Theal: Institutions, people that are being forced to via margin calls. I mean, when you’re selling stock, you’re selling a business, so who really wants to do that? There’s also a professional money managers who make their livelihood telling people they could be the stock indicies, well when the stock indices start going down, the only way they’re going to beat the indices is by betting against companies or by selling their positions and looking different than the overall market.

Brent Pasqua: Does the average person or should the average person really pay attention to this downmarket right now?

Joshua Winterswyk: I think it’s important to understand what’s going on. But again, if you’ve been planning for your finances and whatever goal you have, or even if it’s retirement, you’re running this scenario already within your plan before it happens. Or I hope you did, or we hope that that’s being taken place because then you already knew at some point there was going to be a market correction. So if you were creating that plan for the future, that longterm view, did you incorporate this downturn in the market and hope so because then you really shouldn’t be paying that much attention, you kind of forecasted it already.

Brent Pasqua: Do you think that in this type of market that stocks can just continue to keep dropping infinity or where does it actually stop?

Matthew Theal: Yeah, I mean theoretically it’s possible, but as the whole thing, I always tell clients if the stock market goes to zero, I don’t really think the value of your or 401k is too much value anymore. I mean there’s probably much bigger issues going on. Maybe there’s a zombie apocalypse, maybe there’s a asteroid that hit the world and yeah, like half the world got wiped out. Again, bigger issues in your stock account.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, so the, the, the fear that people had in 2008 was they’re going to be left with nothing and they panic sold and they got rid of all their stuff and the next thing they know they were in a bad position. They thought they lost it all. When had they just waited, they would have been okay. Yeah.

Matthew Theal: 2008 the financial system was failing. The financial system isn’t failing again. I mean the financial system, that’s a once in a hundred year event.

Brent Pasqua: I mean from everything that you can see how much more different is what’s going on right now then from 2008?

Matthew Theal: It’s night and day. This is just a pricing in of a recession right now. A global wide recession. China was shut down for two months. Italy’s shutting down. The rest of Europe will probably shut down. Here in the United States, we could eventually shut down. And that’s all that’s happening is that that makes stocks go down.

Brent Pasqua: beI think one of the most important things that people are probably thinking about, cause it’s human nature. They see all the red on MSNBC, on CNBC, they see it everywhere. They see the market is declining. What strategies should people use to minimize downside in this market?

Joshua Winterswyk: There’s a couple of different strategies and one just simply comes to mind is assessing your risk, the strategy of making sure you’re comfortable with the investment that you currently own. And there’s a few different ways. Matt you want to tackle your favorites.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah, so someone who’s more of an active trader, right? They might look at shorting stocks, right? Bidding against the company. You could make money that way, but you put a big risk because in bear markets we have what I like to call rip your face off rallies and you never know when they’re going to come. It usually comes on some sort of government news or maybe the federal reserve did something or maybe a Warren Buffet bought stock and then literally it creates this massive short squeeze and the S&P is up 5% that day. All right, it’s making back all of its gains. So shorting stocks is great for maybe active traders who are trying to get in and get out. But for the everyday person it’s a really poor strategy.

Brent Pasqua: What is shorting your stocks actually means? So how would someone do that and how does that actually work?

Matthew Theal: It’s slightly complex for the podcast format, but essentially what you do is you go to your broker. Did you tell them that I want to sell short a company, like I don’t own it, but I want to bet against it. They find shares on borrow for you and you pay a little interest rate. So you’re essentially borrowing someone else’s shares and selling them.

Brent Pasqua: Do people actually do this with their retirement money?

Joshua Winterswyk: I’m sure there’s people, I mean it’s definitely, you’re capable of doing it so I’m sure there’s people out there…

Matthew Theal: Well, actually theoretically you can’t short stocks in retirement accounts because you need margin so it’s not impossible. People do it in their brokerage accounts.

Brent Pasqua: And so that makes that unavailable for people to do in their 401k plans or things like that.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, exactly.

Joshua Winterswyk: Does that still the way that people are doing their shorts? Is that actually helping or hurting the market during this time right now?

Matthew Theal: That’s an argument up for debate and a lot of people got mad in 2008 cause they actually ban short selling. There’s short selling bans in most global economies. I believe we had a short selling band for a short period of time in the U.S because what they say is that people who are betting against the market are driving the stock prices down.

Brent Pasqua: So Josh, why are bonds so important in a portfolio right now as we’re starting to see what’s happening with this downside.

Joshua Winterswyk: So for the same reason that stocks are going down and people are selling them. If you’re selling stock, what other investment do you have to purchase? You can go into cash, you can also buy bonds, right? More conservative investment it would be bonds. And so when you’re purchasing bonds at this time, the actual price of the bonds, the demand is higher. So the price of the bond is actually going up. And so right now all those stocks are going down. Bonds actually have a positive rate of return. And so just, they’re inversely correlated. And this can really help be your defense in the investment portfolio.

Brent Pasqua: I mean for the listeners to know, what is a bond and sort of how does that all work?

Matthew Theal: Yeah, so a bond, it’s very similar to the CD. What you’re doing is you are issuing, you’re giving the company essentially money and they’re paying you back interest. It’s a loan with a fancy word or a fancy definition name.

Joshua Winterswyk: And I always think of debt. Yeah, it’s a company’s debt.

Brent Pasqua: And so when they talk about the 10 year treasury, what are they talking about there?

Matthew Theal: The U.S. Government debt, the 10 year U.S. Government essentially bond.

Joshua Winterswyk: So essentially an investor can lend their money to the government over 10 years and each year the government’s going to pay them interest.

Matthew Theal: Yep. That’s how it works.

Brent Pasqua: And during this time, that becomes somewhat valuable while stocks are declining?

Matthew Theal: It is, they call it the flight to safety because everyone just wants the safe return. You could make an argument if it’s actually a good investment or not. It’s probably better just to stay in stocks and have a little bit of bonds for diversification.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, and I think why this is actually a very important time too, for clients who are just retiring, know this can be a very nerve wracking time for clients, right? Because you’ve just retired, you’ve just started maybe income or maybe or several years in your retirement. You are concerned about the decline that’s happening in the market. But should you really be concerned? If you have stocks and bonds the answer’s no because where are you generating your income from?

Matthew Theal: It should be from your bond portion. Like all of our portfolios that we use with clients, I mean the bond positions are up pretty this year and so yeah, sure, stocks are falling, but the bonds losses are offsetting that and making it a lot less worse than it is.

Brent Pasqua: So if a client calls and they need money for not just income but they have an emergency and they want to put some money in the bank and yeah, maybe there’s something they need to do from the house. Are you selling stock right now or are you just going to take it from their bond portfolio?

Joshua Winterswyk: No, we’re going to take it from the bond portfolio and then we practice what you know our strategy is which is selling high well because the bonds are positive rate of return right now. So we’re selling a position that has a positive rate of return that’s up. So we’re selling high to create your income. We’re not selling those stocks that are going down and have less value than they did prior to you calling or you know the month before.

Brent Pasqua: So during a time like this, why don’t we just sell everything and go back when the coast is clear because we get that question all the time from listeners.

Joshua Winterswyk: That would take you having to be right twice. So if you sold today, when do you get back into the market? Do you not need any more return from your portfolio for the rest of your life? And so it would take you not only really selling now we say we go all into cash and then you’d also have to time when you’re going to get back in the market. And those are just really two impossible tasks to time it right perfectly both times.

Brent Pasqua: So if a person thinks that you should sell everything in your portfolio, so you sell all your positions, turn it to cash and then jump back in when the market is at the lowest point. How is that not possible? How do we not know when the lowest point is?

Matthew Theal: Well, it’s not like there’s an airplane that drives by with the big sign that says the coast is clear, it’s time to buy stocks. Like it just kind of happens and you don’t realize it. Like you come into work one day or you know, you log onto your computer and you see, oh the federal government is enacting a billion dollar stimulus program. Then you look and you see stocks are up 4% and then you, you’re like, oh, it’s a short squeeze, it’s going to go back down tomorrow. Then the next day you come in and it’s up like 6% and then before you know that stocks are back to where they were two weeks ago, three weeks ago, and you’ve missed it.

Joshua Winterswyk: And you miss that whole rally.

Brent Pasqua: And we’ve gone through these so many times, but I feel like that question still always comes up. But why does the general public still believe that someone would know to sell now, know when to sell and when to buy? How would they know that? Why is it that they think that’s still possible?

Joshua Winterswyk: Just lack of real information and research. I mean this is what we do so we know the data behind those decisions, but just the lack of knowledge and to be honest, big institutions like when there’s lots of trading so there’s this perception that like when the markets go up and down, there should be some sort of transaction. Well, who does that help? Does it really help the client or who is it helping?

Brent Pasqua: Yeah, because I guess the fundamentals before and eighties nineties and two thousands was to transact as much as possible. And so if there was an event going on, buy, sell, buy, sell, and it probably led to a lot of commissions for the advisor, but it wasn’t the right fundamental for the actual public or the client, right?

Matthew Theal: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what they told you to get commissions that you need to move in and out of your money. Now that commissions are essentially zero and there’s few advisers. Hey, guess what? When the market’s going down, you don’t need to do anything. Just sit there and wait it out and you’ll be back to green in no time.

Brent Pasqua: And I feel like just generally like why would we do something so drastic for something that’s so uncertain? So like even the Coronavirus or any pandemic going in the history, we don’t know what tomorrow brings. So why would you make such an extreme decision when we still don’t know.

Joshua Winterswyk: Do you think we learned some of these from 2008, 2009 yeah.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah.

Matthew Theal: I think it made everybody a much better investor going through that period. If you held and kind of just rode the wave. I mean if you live through 2008 I mean you’ve pretty much seen it all in my opinion.

Joshua Winterswyk: And if you wrote that out, I’m pretty much certain that you could probably ride this out, right?

Matthew Theal: Yeah. I mean as of recording the stock market not even down 20% yeah.

Brent Pasqua: And it feels like, I think because this is a two part thing, this is like a health scare and it’s a money scare and it can change some outcomes. It’s probably leading to a little bit more of an emotional event than it is actually like a fundamental problem. Obviously, like you said in the beginning.

Joshua Winterswyk: And this has been so long since we’ve had this type of scare. This is related to 2008 I mean now we’re 12 years removed.

Brent Pasqua: If you miss some of the best days in the market over the 25 years, like what would that have done to your portfolio?

Matthew Theal: Yeah. So that’s the whole reason why you don’t want to actually get out. We have it in our investor deck that we show clients, I don’t know it off the top of my head, the exact numbers, but essentially the best 25 days of the market are clustered right next to the worst 25 bays in the market. So what that saying is that’s why you don’t want to pull out your money cause you’re actually going to miss the best days where all the returns come from and it significantly drops your return if you miss like the five best days or the 10 best days. Therefore, the best strategy is just a buy and hold it out.

Brent Pasqua: So what I guess that you’re saying is that if you got out right when the market was at its lowest points, you don’t know to get back in, so you’re going to miss that uptake in the market that day. You come into the office, it’s already too late and next thing you know, you miss the incline of the market and now you’ve lost all of your balance.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, I call it the rip your face off rally. I think Josh has it up right now?

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, I found the data. So if you the 25 best days in the market, it’s a difference of right around 5% annually. So the rate of return, since gives you a short timeframe, 1990 to 2019 the S&P return 9.96. Through that same period, if you miss just the 25 best days, your rate of return is 4.99 so a significant difference.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah, almost 5% annually, by just missing 25 of the best days. 5% annual is huge. I mean, that’s got to mean the difference of a lifestyle and retirement, right? Just because you jumped in and out.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, absolutely.

Brent Pasqua: Do you have clients that come to you because one spouse is more emotional with their stock picking versus the other?

Matthew Theal: Yeah, absolutely. I think sometimes we get a ton of clients who do come through and they’re looking to hire an advisor because maybe husband or wife managed the money for a while, but the other spouse is ready to turn it over to a professional.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah. And I think during these times right now, it could probably be so helpful that they take some of that emotion out of it.

Brent Pasqua: So let’s say somebody is getting ready to retire soon, they’re planning their retirement or they’re actually already retired. What are some of the best strategies for retirees right now?

Matthew Theal: I’ll give you a short answer. Do nothing. Don’t panic. The stock market going down 20% 30% 40% 50% isn’t going to change your retirement. People who retired in 2008 are just fine today.

Joshua Winterswyk: So basically just don’t even log into your account. Don’t count your chips, just let your portfolio do its thing. Call your advisor if you need a little emotional support but don’t do too much to act on it.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. If you want to chat with your advisor, give him a call and you know they’ll talk you through it, but there’s no move that you can make that’ll save your retirement, but there is a move that you can make that’ll break your retirement and it would be panicking and ruining your whole retirement plan.

Brent Pasqua: Do you think this is an opportunity for people that are thinking about retiring in the next few years or some people that have maybe cash on the side?

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, definitely. Because the way you position the portfolio today is going to dictate the outcome in the future. So you know, right now with this pullback, if you do have cash or you were thinking about maybe even getting more aggressive because you were too conservative, now’s a good opportunity to really look at buying more stock. They’re on discount.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. It never got the whole, I’m going to run a target when there’s a sale.

Joshua Winterswyk: And that’s what’s happening a lot right now, right?

Matthew Theal: Yep. Stocks are on sale and people are running out of the store like there’s a fire.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah. I think our message to all of our clients first and foremost is obviously really understand the emotional fear that someone may be going through. So right if they call and we work on our clients every single time we meet with them to help understand like what we do in these types of events, when these things happen, cause we know it’s emotional. So our clients really know like, hey, these things obviously are normal. A lot of clients have been through them before and we understand like what our protocol is and we’re here to wait it out. But we also want to hear their concern or fear and just let them talk through that. But beyond that, I think it is a very good opportunity for clients right now that have money that on the side or somebody sitting in cash. This is a good time, if you’ve been sitting there waiting, isn’t it a good time to get in?

Brent Pasqua: Yeah, absolutely.

Joshua Winterswyk: And especially through this time period right now, it’s usually if you haven’t fund your IRA or a Roth IRA, now’s a good time to do that as well. Stocks are on sale. If you have cash on the side, this is a really good entry point because the stocks are a lot cheaper than they were two months ago.

Matthew Theal: If you’re not maxing out your 401k, increase those contributions and get that money in now just start the dollar cost averaging. I have a side question for both of you. Do either of you know what’s biggest sales day is?

Joshua Winterswyk: No. What is it?

Matthew Theal: Most people I think would probably say…

Brent Pasqua: Prime Day?

Matthew Theal: Oh, I was going to say Cyber Monday or Black Friday, but yeah, it’s actually a Prime day.

Brent Pasqua: Oh, I was right.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, and the reason it’s prime days is because that’s when everything on the websites on sale for prime members.

Joshua Winterswyk: Which pretty much relates to everything that’s going on right now. We run to sales when they’re happening, when we want to buy product, but when stocks are declining and they’re going on, so everyone’s afraid and wants to sell all of their stuff.

Matthew Theal: Yeah. For some reason when businesses go on sale, everyone wants to run the other way.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah. And it’s always confused. Me too. I mean when your house, the housing market starts to drop. Most people aren’t very anxious to go put their house on the market. They hold off. They’re like, oh I’m not going to sell or oh it looks like a good time for me to scoop up another piece of property.

Brent Pasqua: One small tip I think or hint for some of you guys could tell me if I’m correct as if you have a brokerage account with after tax dollars or an IRA brokerage account and you have individual stocks or stocks or funds that are paying dividends, shouldn’t you have those dividends be reinvested? Especially now?

Matthew Theal: Yeah. Because you’re taking your dividends and buying shares at a lower price. So absolutely. That makes a ton of sense to do that.

Brent Pasqua: So what is a dividend to explain that?

Matthew Theal: So corporations, C corporations and essentially, so all common stock is C corporation. They pay a dividend and that’s a way for them to get money back to shareholders.

Brent Pasqua: So kind of like an interest payment for having your money invested with that company.

Matthew Theal: Exactly.

Brent Pasqua: And so when they pay that interest payment, that interest payment’s going to you, but you want it to buy more shares. So as stocks are on sale, you’re actually inherit, you’re buying more stock on sale.

Matthew Theal: Yep. At a cheaper price and it starts to compound. Next time you’ll get more dividends because you have more shares, you’ll buy more shares and it’s just this vicious cycle of you making a lot of money.

Joshua Winterswyk: Because you can take him in cash or you can, like you said, the reinvestment strategy. So just a red flag go check your dividends.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. And I think one point that we just made that think is also important for every listeners. I mean, if you can afford to increase your 401k contribution up 3% 4% 5% at least for now for the next several months because you have a little extra money every month, would you agree that’s a great time right now.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah. Yeah. Like we talked about, they’re just, it’s cheaper. These are the opportunities where you talked about can really mold your future. Taking advantage of markets when they are down is a strategy we want to be a part of and so I agree with you now’s a good time.

Brent Pasqua: And for people who are really panicking, I don’t think that the best thing to do just based on the research is that we go out and sell everything in our portfolio or start making emotional transactions. I think some proactive ways that you can help this situation is maybe you may spend a little bit less like if you’re taking $1,000 a month from your portfolio every month and you really don’t need it or you can cut back spending, why not lower it during this period? Let your money stay invested, let it keep growing and do what you can to lower your cost or your expenses. Or maybe you don’t take as expensive of as a trip right now when the market’s down, be proactive with your spending. That will go a lot further than you trying to be emotional and sell all of your stock during this time.

Matthew Theal: Yeah, I agree. If you could figure out a way to cut 10% from your budget, it’s going to go a lot further than selling 20% of your stock or whatever.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. And holding off all those large expenses maybe that you had planned in the near future.

Joshua Winterswyk: Yeah, and I think what’s always so critical is, is just what, when we review these things with clients, having all the structures and fundamental in place is really what’s so critical during times like this because it just avoids, it saves so much money by selling everything. I mean, if you put the strong fundamentals, increasing your, your dollars that you’re putting into your 401k plan, making dividend reinvestments, dollar cost average, all of these things just, I mean my gosh can really change the outcome of your future.

Brent Pasqua: So any parting words as we kind of wrap up the end of these tips to manage a declining market as people are considering what to do as this market continues to fall?

Matthew Theal: Yeah. I have one tip. If you’re afraid of a bear market, the bear scares you. The best thing to do is to not watch the bear. So turn off the TV, turn off the radio. Financial media is really just there to scare you.

Brent Pasqua: And they’re good at it.

Joshua Winterswyk: What you don’t like to see the red heat map that we were looking at today?

Matthew Theal: No, I don’t. I don’t like looking at the red. Well I mean I could stomach it but I don’t like it when people who are fearful look at it because it just creates more fear.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. I mean isn’t the news more interesting in times like this?

Matthew Theal: Way more interesting.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. I mean I never turned my TV on in my office, but for the last two weeks my TV has been on every day and I’m like, Oh my gosh, this is…

Joshua Winterswyk: It is. But it’s also a really great time for like know articles and research. Like there’s just a lot of good content out there right now. And it’s times like this.

Matthew Theal: So it’s our job to follow though. And it’s not, no. The average Joe’s job, this is our job.

Joshua Winterswyk: And I think people should just think about the positive, right? Yes. A decline right now isn’t fun, but this is a great time for people to catapulted into a great retirement or two years from now, three years from now, have a lot more money. If you have money sitting on the side, it’s opportunities are starting to now be there and think on the bright side and a few years from now you’re probably going to be in a lot better position than you are today. And that just takes a little bit of strong fundamentals and emotional strength. But just kind of let this time pass and you’ll be okay. It’s just a matter of just staying strong in his time and don’t let the media swing you one way or the other.

Brent Pasqua: Yeah. And staying discipline. I think that you know, that’s same discipline to what you originally your plan was. I think that’s just very important and focusing on things we can control. Well, thank you for listening to the Retirement Plan Playbook. For more information, you can review our show notes, download our ebook or even join our newsletter at so visit us on the website and if you have questions please send us questions through there also. Hopefully we’ll have a mailbag episode for questions that came from listeners, so we’ll talk to you soon. Thank you.

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