The 3rd Quarter Winds Down

September 2013 marks the five-year anniversary of the financial market collapse in 2008; we have certainly come a long way in those five years. With the S&P 500 and the Dow eclipsing all-time highs and interest rates having stayed low for the longest stretch in 50 years, most investors have already received quite a benefit from the fount of cheap money.  Since September 2008, a meaningful economic recovery has taken place.  Look at the results since the equity markets bottomed out in March of 2009:READ MORE

Consider Dividend-Paying Stocks

In this low interest rate environment, income-minded investors, who have some tolerance for risk may find dividend-paying stocks attractive.  In fact, nearly 40% of S&P 500 companies have dividend yields above the 10-year US Treasury bond yield.

The appeal of dividend-paying stocks is easy to understand as they can provide investors with regular income regardless of market conditions. In addition, many dividend paying companies increase their dividends over time thereby creating a growing cash flow over time versus the fixed coupons of bonds.  It is important to note, however, that equities typically exhibit a higher volatility of returns than bonds, and the underlying company may choose to increase, decrease, and/or eliminate the dividend at any time.  Regardless, we consider dividend paying equities an important part of a well-diversified income-generating portfolio.READ MORE

Fiscal Cliff-Hanger

It came down to the very last minute, but compromise was made and the majority of the fiscal cliff averted.  Not surprisingly the markets rallied early on news of the pending compromise.  What was surprising was the resilience of the market during weeks of tough negotiations.  Those expecting a repeat of the prior year’s debt ceiling debate and market fall were disappointed.  With the compromise in place much of the uncertainty over tax policy has been put aside.  The Bush tax cut rates have been made permanent for the vast majority of tax payers.  Still ahead, a debt ceiling compromise and meaningful tax and spending reform as the fiscal cliff “fix” has added $4.6 Trillion to projected deficits over the coming decade. READ MORE

The Impact of Monetary Policy on Investing

When making investments on behalf of our clients our views are being shaped by monetary policies both in the U.S. and abroad.

The Taylor Rule

A number of years ago John Taylor, a Stanford professor and noted economist, came up with a formula to guide how our central bank should set and change their interest rate policy in response to changing economic environments in light of fulfilling a dual mandate of low inflation and maximum employment. The formula, known as “The Taylor Rule” is based on the long term equilibrium real interest rate plus adjustments for the difference between current inflation measures and the central bank’s inflation rate target, as well as the current level of economic growth (GDP) compared to economic growth associated with full employment. Although few central banks have an explicit dual mandate, when the Taylor Rule is applied to the central bank interest rate policies of developed and developing countries the conclusions are pretty clear. Developed and developing countries have had interest rate policies that are more accommodative (interest rates lower than they should be) than is necessary to stabilize prices and promote full employment. This accommodative policy has been the case for much of the last decade.READ MORE

A Refreshing Twist to the Pitfalls of Sudden Wealth Syndrome

In 2009, Sports Illustrated estimated that 78% of NFL players are bankrupt within two years of ending their careers, and that 60% of NBA players are broke within 5 years of retiring. Although not as dismal, Lottery winners also have an extremely poor track record of successfully retaining their wealth. Many of these individuals suffer from Sudden Wealth Syndrome (SWS), a term coined by Dr. Stephen Golbart and Joan Di Furia of the Money, Meaning & Choices Institute (MMCI) in the late 1990’s. Through their investment advisory firm’s dot com and lottery winner clientele, they witnessed a host of psychological issues that they associated with the stresses of new or sudden wealth resulting in financial disasters.READ MORE

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