29 Apr 2016

1st Quarter GDP: Another Stinker

The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported today that the advance estimate of gross domestic product (GDP) grew at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 0.5 percent in the first quarter, below the consensus estimate of 0.7 percent. In many ways, the weak reading is reminiscent of the weak first quarter results that we’ve seen for the last decades (see my article about weak first quarter GDP from last year by… Read More

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28 Apr 2016

Fed Stands Pat For Now

As expected, the Federal Reserve left policy unchanged.  For the third straight meeting, they left out any assessment of the balance or risks and said that they ‘continue to monitor inflation indicators and global economic and financial developments. The big concern going into the meeting was that the Fed could describe risk as more closely balanced, potentially providing a strong signal for a June rate hike. The statement no longer… Read More

27 Apr 2016

Corporate Bond Risks and Returns in the News

Yesterday, I was in the middle of updating a chart about the basic risk and return characteristics of corporate bonds when Standard and Poor’s announced they were downgrading bonds issued by Exxon-Mobile from AAA to AA+. It’s a shame to see another company lose their prime rating – there are now only two companies that have an AAA-rating.  Exxon had held the prime rating since 1930, if you include predecessor entities,… Read More

21 Apr 2016

Tubman Unseats Jackson, Saves Hamilton

Last June, we learned that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew was considering dumping THE original American financier, Alexander Hamilton, from the face of the $10 bill. Instead, Lew wanted the ten spot to feature an important American woman, an idea that we can all support.  But Hamilton?  Why get rid of Hamilton, why not get rid of Andrew Jackson – he wasn’t so hot, how did he get on the $20?… Read More

18 Apr 2016

Portfolio Insights

We are pleased to provide a digital copy of Portfolio Insights, our quarterly newsletter. Table of Contents: Stock Market Summary Bond Market Review Healthy Aging Strategies Drawdowns:  A New Perspective Is Value Investing Dead? The Big Picture and Fast Facts Click here to read the issue:  2016 Q1 Portfolio Insights

18 Apr 2016

Tax Trivia to Ease the Pain

Although we all know that ‘tax day’ is April 15th, a holiday in Washington DC pushed back the due date until today.  Here are some fun facts from efile.com to help ease the pain: In 1705, Russian emperor Peter the Great taxed beards in the hopes that more men would adopt a clean shaven look. Playing cards and dice were taxed in England going back to 1710 and rose to… Read More

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15 Apr 2016

Want to Make a Bet?

Spring has finally arrived, which means baseball is back. Here in St Louis, conversations always tends to lead back to our beloved Cardinals and speculation about how they will perform this year. Any discussion about the Cardinals these days also involves speculation about our friendly rivals up north, the Chicago Cubs. Despite a history of futility, fans of the small bears are always optimistic this time of year, and that… Read More

15 Apr 2016

Yale Bets Big Overseas

One of my favorite reads of the year is from the Yale Investments Office, which manages their $25.6 billion endowment.  You can find the report by clicking here. Yale is routinely the best-performing endowment in the world and has earned a remarkable 13.9 percent return over the last 30 years – well above the 10.7 percent return for US stocks, 8.7 percent return for foreign stocks and 7.1 percent return… Read More

11 Apr 2016

Watching Your Fellow Shareholders

When you own individual stocks and bonds, you don’t have to pay too much attention to what your fellow shareholders (or bond holders) are doing. A mutual fund is a little different, though, because the actions of your fellow shareholders can affect your returns, especially on an after-tax basis. Morningstar reported last week that of their 500 most widely followed mutual funds, 168 have seen outflows of more than 10… Read More

8 Apr 2016

Healthy Aging: Building Your Social Network

This is the third part in a series on the successful transition to retirement. The first article addressed The Challenge of Leisure and was followed by Why Put Family First.  This one will expand from family to your broader social network. As a reminder, researchers have shown that strong social relationships keep us younger, healthier, and lower our mortality risk.  In addition to living longer, healthy people lead happier lives in… Read More