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Rate-of-return analysis shows value of delaying Social Security

March 4th, 2014

For years, I have been telling my readers of the value of delaying Social Security benefits as long as possible particularly for married couples when the older, higher-earning spouse maxes out his or her benefits.

Now, new research from a respected actuary puts a price tag on the value of delaying benefits by providing an internal rate of return analysis.

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Written By: Mary Beth Franklin

Retirement 2.0 Blog, Investment News.com

Actively Managed or Index Funds? Why Not Both?

March 4th, 2014

Some investors swear by actively managed mutual funds. Others are just as single-minded about only owning funds that simply follow an index.

But does it have to be an either/or decision?

No. In fact, there are a lot of people who own both active and passive funds. Sometimes, the reasons can be smart financially; other times, they are to satisfy an emotional need. Whatever the impetus, here are five strategies that combine the two types of funds to achieve specific purposes:

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Written By: Michael Pollock

Wall Street Journal Online

IWM Investment Insights January 2014

January 31st, 2014

Independent Wealth Management’s Philosophy on two distinct scenarios; Near-Term and Long-Term, are discussed. Along with the resulting portfolio implications that arise.

IWM Investment Insights January 2014 (Full Article Here)

4Q2013 IWM Market Analysis

January 31st, 2014

Key Takeaways from 4Q2013 IWM Market Analysis

  •  Global economic fundamentals gradually improved over the past year across a number of dimensions, and seem poised for continued improvement or at least stability in 2014
  • Unfortunately, the risks related to excessive global debt, subpar growth, and unprecedented government policy that we have worried about since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis remain largely unresolved
  • The range of possible outcomes remains unusually wide; patience and maintaining a long-term perspective, while always very important, are especially critical in this environment
  • We don’t know the timing, but we are confident better investment opportunities will arise over the next few years. If so, our “dry powder” in the form of lower-risk investments in fixed-income and alternatives will be a major benefit to our portfolios

4Q2013 IWM Market Analysis (Full Powerpoint Presentation Here)

 

4Q2013 IWM Market & Economic Review

January 31st, 2014

It was a very strong year for U.S. stocks, fueled in large part by the Federal Reserve’s ongoing support and by improvement in the economic outlook. While developed international stocks also generated strong gains, emerging markets asset classes were strikingly negative as investors reacted to softer economic growth and potential changes in U.S. monetary policy.

Interest rates rose considerably over the course of 2013, as the yield on the 10-year Treasury jumped from 1.8% to just over 3.0% by year-end.

While it strikes us that the underpinnings of our economy are getting stronger, we also see that most asset classes are currently priced for just fair or subpar longer-term returns, and stock market sentiment in the United States is reaching optimistic extremes, suggesting a pull-back may be close at hand. Furthermore, the risks related to excessive global debt, subpar growth, and unprecedented government policy that we have worried about since the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis still remain largely unresolved.

We don’t know the timing, but we are confident better investment opportunities will arise over the next few years. If so, our “dry powder” in the form of lower-risk investments in fixed-income and alternative strategies will be a major benefit to the portfolios instead of the drag on returns they were in 2013. We will continue to apply our discipline in order to capitalize on compelling return opportunities when they arise, but always with a strong focus on the risks to which our portfolios may be exposed, understanding that not all risks will ultimately come to pass.

4Q2013 IWM Market & Economic Review (Full Review Here)

Insured for Old Age? An Economist Explains the Dangers of Long-Term Care Insurance

January 21st, 2014

According to the American Association for Long Term Care Insurance, the cost of a policy that pays benefits for an unlimited amount of time is only about a third more expensive than a standard policy that pays for just three years of care. You can even pay for nearly a third of that added cost by increasing the elimination period on your policy from the standard 90 days to 180 days. Now you’re beginning to think like an economist — insure against the big losses you can’t afford and don’t sweat the small stuff.

In spite of paying expensive premiums for many years, some individuals who are “covered” by long-term care insurance policies are surprised to find their claim denied by their insurance company. If you look at the fine print of a policy, you will find that eligibility is generally determined by one’s inability to perform certain “activities of daily living.” These include bathing, continence, dressing, eating, toileting and transferring (moving from one place to another). Before they pay benefits, most insurers require a physician to certify that you are unable to perform two or more of these activities, although some policies specify an even greater number. To make things even more complex, many insurance companies will not pay unless you need hands-on assistance to perform an activity rather than stand-by assistance.

Bottom line, if you have long-term care insurance, look hard at its limitations and your own financial situation before you decide to continue paying its premiums (particularly if rates increase). If you don’t have such insurance, carefully consider whether its likely benefits are worth the costs.

Read full article here

New Warnings From an Investing Pioneer

January 21st, 2014

Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no one to get unbiased advice from.

Judging by my inbox, that is how a lot of investors feel. U.S. and most international stocks, bonds and real estate are all at least moderately overpriced by historical standards; cash offers a negative return after inflation; and most market pundits have a vested interest in their advice.

Read full article here

Bill Gross Discusses PIMCO’s Unconstrained Bond Strategy

January 17th, 2014

PIMCO’s Bill Gross recently assumed new lead portfolio management responsibilities for PIMCO’s Unconstrained Bond Fund. The article lays out PIMCO’s strategy with Q&A with Bill Gross.

Please read article here

Investors Who Keep Trading and Trading

December 16th, 2013

Investors Who Keep Trading and Trading

A Wall Street Journal online article written by: Jason Zweig

The investor’s chief problem, and even his worst enemy, is likely to be himself.” Those words from Benjamin Graham, the great investment theorist and mentor to Warren Buffet, are as true for wealthy investors today as when he wrote them in 1949. And they apply at least as well to wealthy investors as they do to everyone else. In fact, having more money can make individuals even more inclined to violate certain basic rules of investing. Read the rest of the article here…

Nobel laureate: Everyone should have a financial adviser

December 9th, 2013

Robert Shiller a Nobel-Prize winning economist gives his take on the future of advice; urges government help in paying for it.

Written By: Liz Skinner

Read full article here

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