Monthly Archives: April 2013

PBS Frontline on Retirement Savings

This week PBS aired a Frontline episode focused on the retirement savings situation in the United States.   It brought to the forefront several issues that deserve our attention. 1) Egregious retirement plan fees. This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but many small retirement plans are burdened with significant fees from insurance companies, mutual fund […]

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The accuracy and value of modern macroeconomics

In 2012 two economists (Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff) presented a study that claimed that economic growth slowed significantly when a nation’s government debt breached 90% of Gross Domestic Product. The study was widely quoted by politicians and other economists as an argument towards austerity (significant cuts in government spending). Very recently, a graduate student […]

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The Product-ization of Commodity “Investing”

As I’ve said before, the purveyors of investment products are great at one thing: creating new products when an asset class gains popularity. While we have seen this with tactical allocation and socially responsible investing, nowhere has it been more prominent than the boom in investable commodity products. Standard & Poors created the GSCI Commodity […]

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Does gold belong in your investment portfolio?

Gold is all over the news right now as the price has been tumbling for months and has dropped dramatically over the past few days.  Here is the most recent look: The price has fallen about 24% from its peak in October 2012, prompting many to ask if the mania in gold prices over the […]

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What I’m Reading

I love to read.  It keeps me informed, keeps my mind sharp and widens my horizons.  In addition, it’s important for me to stay up on news and events concerning the economy, taxes, investment markets and other issues that clients face related to their personal finances. These factors mean that I try to consume a […]

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The 2012 S&P Index Vs. Active Scorecard

In late March, Standard & Poors released the year-end 2012 Index Vs. Active report, or SPIVA. This study evaluates the overall success of actively managed mutual funds, reporting just how how these funds have performed relative to their benchmarks. As it has in the past, the study makes a compelling argument against the use of […]

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First Quarter 2013: Strong Markets in a Mixed Economy

Markets: Continuing a pattern for the last few years, the US stock market had another spectacular quarter to start the year, with the S&P 500 gaining 10.6% through March 31st. This puts the benchmark at a 153% gain from the market bottom in March 2009 in just four years when dividends are accounted for. International […]

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When are your Social Security Benefits Taxable?

Social Security is a significant part of nearly every American’s retirement income.  Depending on an individual’s (or married couple’s) circumstances, these monthly benefits may be subject to Federal and state income taxes.  As we might expect, the calculation is more complex than we’d prefer. The primary factor for determining whether or not benefits are taxable […]

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