Anybody who reads the headlines knows by now that the markets have had a wild couple of weeks, and the S&P 500 is down two weeks in a row.
Monday, 12 August 2019
Having said that, the S&P 500 is down only 3.54% from it’s all-time high. In the bigger picture, this is a pretty modest drop for a market that is still up over 16% so far this year, and some analysts were surprised it wasn't worse, given the startling way the trade war with China escalated
There seems to be much confusion about how tariffs work. Yes, buyers of imported goods will tend to pay a higher price if the exporting company maintains the same pricing policies that it had in effect before the tariffs were levied. But many exporters will lower the prices they demand in order to offset the effectively higher price in the U.S. market, eating some of the tariff's bite in order to remain competitive.
Chances are that you know that the Social Security trust fund is due to run out of money—or “deplete its reserves” as economists put it—by the year 2035.
Tuesday, 06 August 2019
The actual time frame depends on some forecasts, including economic growth, the number of workers who remain in the workforce and the number who retire—but the clear point is that Congress is going to have to take action in the next few years if it wants to prevent a lot of angry seniors from heading vengefully to the polls.
The best way to get ahead in the world is through hard work, diligence, sweat, and toil. Right?
Wednesday, 17 July 2019
A recent article based on interviews with top-flight athletes shows that the workaholic mindset is generally not a feature of top performers. The article found that working long hours tends to put a strain on your mind and body, and causes you to burn out before you ever achieve success. Instead, a healthy dose of rest and recovery seem to be essential to long term peak performance. Think of training for a marathon rather than a sprint.
Successful people also tend to know their prime work hours and do their most important work during that time. Think of the time of day when you feel most focused, energized and creative, and structure your most important tasks during that time window.
Thursday, 11 July 2019
How to make sense out of the recent market behavior? We experienced a painful decline in the last month of 2018 before the markets took a sharp (and unexpected) about-face and delivered the biggest one-quarter gain since the third quarter of 2009. The surprise upward trend has continued through the second quarter, albeit with more modest gains, despite what would normally be considered warning signs in the economy, the global trade markets, and corporate earnings.
Monday, 08 July 2019
You already know that the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico is in financial trouble. The country has issued roughly $120 billion more in municipal bonds and cannot now pay the interest much less the principal. The bonds were sold through brokerage firms to lay investors and mutual funds, and they were easy to sell because yields on muni bonds issued by Puerto Rico are tax-free on Federal returns and also for state returns across the country. Normally, state residents have to pay state taxes on muni bonds issued in other states. The bonds also paid unusually high rates, and there was a tacit assumption, even as Puerto Rican finances visibly deteriorated, that states and territories couldn’t default on their debt obligation.
We all like to think that we are smart enough not to fall for one of those scams we hear about on the news.
Wednesday, 19 June 2019
No one wants to be taken advantage of by an online or phone scammer. Unfortunately, no matter how unflappable you think you are, anyone can be ripped off by a scammer under the right circumstances. This is in part because it’s easier to access personal data and we tend to have our phones on us all the time. Scams have also become more sophisticated over the years and there are a lot of them.
DID YOU KNOW? SCAMS CHEAT OLDER AMERICANS OUT OF $3 BILLION A YEAR AND ONE IN TEN AMERICANS AGE 65 OR OLDER HAS BEEN A VICTIM OF A SCAM.
Older Americans are particularly vulnerable to certain types of scams, in part because whole segments of the scamming operations are dedicated to preying on seniors.
Monday, 17 June 2019
You’re likely to read a lot of articles about how to be a better investor, and they will tout everything from watching complicated charts looking for patterns to more mainstream dollar-cost-averaging, to buying only the stocks of companies that you know.
But surprisingly, the easiest route to improving your investment performance may also be the laziest.
A recent article notes that all of us are wired to experience the pain of loss more than we feel the joy of gain. Translated into investment behavior, that means that we have an innate instinct to stop the pain by selling out of a portfolio whenever it goes down—and that is usually a poor idea when the markets are generating normal volatility. Trying to time the market is a loser’s game, even if it is driven by instinct rather than intent.
Monday, 17 June 2019
If you’re worried about climate change and recent weather events like cyclonic snowstorms in the Midwest, hurricanes, droughts and such everywhere in the world, then you’re not alone. Recently, the National Weather Service, using data from core samples and fossilized plants, traced the levels of carbon dioxide (the most common greenhouse gas) in the Earth’s atmosphere going back almost one million years. They found, as you might expect, significant fluctuation during that time period, from the warm interglacial period 700,000 years ago to the ice ages of 650,000 years ago, and the peaks and valleys never fell below around 160 parts per million or above 300 parts per million.
Wednesday, 12 June 2019
Legalized marijuana is a polarizing topic in the U.S., but one aspect of it that is attractive to all sides is the potential tax revenue. But how much are we actually talking about?
A recent article in Forbes magazine noted that there are now ten states that have legalized pot sales, plus D.C., and seven of them currently tax and regulate revenue-producing stores. Those taxes typically total 10-37 percent more than local sales taxes...
Traditional Retirement Planning for Couples Omits the Most Important Part: Good Communication
Tuesday, 04 June 2019
DID YOU KNOW?
36% OF COUPLES SAY THEY HAVEN’T EVEN THOUGHT ABOUT A RETIREMENT PLAN[I]
47% OF COUPLES DISAGREE ABOUT HOW MUCH MONEY THEY’LL NEED IN RETIREMENT[II]
Let’s say you’ve done everything right. You’re on a relatively traditional retirement track. You worked your 30+ years, you’ve saved, raised the kids, bought the house, and you’re still with your spouse. It sounds like your retirement is set and ready to launch. You have earned the right to enjoy it in the way you’ve been thinking about it for years. There’s just one little detail that may have been overlooked. Have you discussed your ideal retirement with your spouse? Do you know what theirs is?
Wednesday, 15 May 2019
Most of us think of the cost of transportation as the monthly payment on our car, perhaps with gasoline prices factored in. But when you add insurance, maintenance, registration fees, taxes and depreciation (that is, having to buy a new car when your current one collapses into repair hell), you may actually be spending thousands of dollars a year on personal mobility...
Your home is your best investment, right?
Thursday, 09 May 2019
A few recent analyses suggest that this old chestnut may not apply anymore—if it ever did. Researchers from the San Francisco Fed have recently concluded that from 1870 through 2015, worldwide returns on homes—that is, the average yearly home appreciation across all houses in the world—was 6.9% after inflation. The comparable yearly return for global stocks was 6.7%. Closer to home (so to speak), U.S. stocks returned 8.5% a year over that time period, vs. 6.1% for houses. In America, houses appreciated a little less robustly than homes abroad, and stocks were much better investments than global ones.
You want to feel happy, right? Doesn’t everybody?
Tuesday, 07 May 2019
Research has shown that once you get past providing for your basic needs, additional money doesn’t materially increase your happiness level, and we all know that meds can only go so far toward adding to our sense of well-being. Are there any other strategies that can move the needle on our happiness scale?
A recent article online in Forbes looked at some research and found a few tricks and habits that might induce more happiness in our lives. The first is exercise. Cardiovascular exercise (that is, a strenuous workout) functions almost like a wonder drug with regard to a person’s overall well-being and has recently been associated with the growth of new neurons in the hippocampus, the part of the brain known to be affected by depression.
Lives are busy. Between work, families, and all the little details and obligations it’s easy to see how our finances, especially long-term finances, can get neglected.
Wednesday, 10 April 2019
But the good thing is, with a little effort and time on the front end, you can really get on top of your finances and be able to check something important off the list. Sound too good to be true? Well, read below to get some tips that can help you get on top.
Write Out Your Goals
Did you know people who write out their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them? This probably has something to do with making the intangible (an idea) tangible. Writing something down helps imprint it in our memory, and it is also a visual reminder. So, write down, in as much detail as you are able, what you want to focus on financially. Most of the goals, like buying a house, starting a business, retiring early or well, will all involve long term planning. But the first step in any plan is figuring out what your target is.
Retirement, like any major life event, can be a rocky transition. For people who had high powered leadership roles, that transition to civilian life may be all the harder.
Thursday, 21 March 2019
Each year, over one hundred CEO’s retire from the S&P 1000. They may leave with nice exit packages and praise for their successes, but often, because their positions were so demanding, they didn’t put too much thought into what would happen next.
Feeling the Loss
The average CEO retires at age 62 and with the average lifespan in the mid-eighties, that leaves over two decades to fill. Retirement can be a challenging period for some, resulting in depression, social isolation, and a loss of purpose. CEOs and other highly successful individuals may, in fact, be more prone to depression than others.[i] Ironically, their success may contribute to their feeling of loss later in life. If self-worth is measured by success or competition, adapting to a non-career driven life may be more challenging. Often, the best way to avoid retirement malaise is to have a plan. The transition to retirement is all the more difficult for individuals who define themselves by what they do. Taking time before retirement to self-reflect and dig into what you want to do next, can help with feelings of loss.