Should Investors Brace For More Volatility?

Should Investors Brace For More Volatility?

The last year (2017) in the stock market will go down as one of the least volatile years on record. The largest pullback in stocks during the year was a scant -3%. Experienced investors know that historically the stock market has experienced yearly pullbacks in the neighborhood of double-digits. That made last year’s action in the market feel eerily calm to many portfolio managers, and begs the question, will 2018 be the year that investors see a pickup in volatility?

The answer is almost certainly yes, given that 2017 was such an anomaly in terms of low volatility. But it remains to be seen whether we will see just a mild pickup in volatility or something larger. The other element that is more difficult to predict is what will be the catalyst for any pullback. A sharp rise in bond yields? A geopolitical event? A policy shift in China? One never knows until it is upon us, but investors should not expect a repeat of last year’s ultra-low levels of market volatility.

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2017 Year End Planning

2017 Year End Planning

The Senate and the House have both released their proposed versions for tax reform. While they work to iron out the differences, consensus has it that the bill will probably take effect on January 1, 2018, even if it has to be made retroactive at some point during 2018. Certain opportunities are poised to disappear next year and action can be taken by December 31st of this year to take advantage of the current tax laws. Year-end tax moves will likely be more important this year as the government is trying to implement new tax laws for 2018. In preparation for the potential passing of the bill, we have outlined a couple ideas to consider before year end.
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Raising Money Savvy Children

Raising Money Savvy Children

Talking about money is not something all parents are comfortable with. For some people it can be too complicated. For others, too scary. Some families simply just do not have the time to teach their children about money. According to a recent T. Rowe Price survey, 69 percent of parents have some level of reluctance when it comes to talking to their children about money. However, those parents that are able to get over the hurdle and have these conversations with their children are much more likely to have children that are financially smart. As a parent, you can be part of this solution. Budgeting, earning, saving, spending, and investing are broad concepts that you can teach your children at a young age to help ensure they are money savvy throughout their lives.
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The Big Disconnect

The Big Disconnect

One of the questions we hear in almost every client meeting of late is, “How can the market be going up when things are so bad out there?”  Rather than try to identify and debate each item that could be referred to as ‘bad’, we think it would be more instructive to revisit market dynamics and the true drivers of stock prices that investment managers refer to when they talk about the strong underlying fundamentals behind this market.

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Equifax Data Breach Update

Equifax Data Breach Update

Earlier this month, Equifax disclosed that as many as 143 million people were affected by a data breach that occurred from mid-May through July. The hackers were able to access people’s names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, credit card numbers, and dispute documents containing personal identifying information. Below is the link to a great article addressing the next steps you need to take to protect yourself.

Equifax Breach Aftermath: 10 Steps to Take to Protect Yourself Today

2018 Social Security Projections

2018 Social Security Projections

In July, the trustees who oversee the Social Security program released their 2018 projections in regards to Social Security and Medicare. Millions of Americans are projected to receive their biggest increase in Social Security in January of 2018. Payments are expected to increase 2.2%, about $28 a month for the average recipient. This increase comes after years of minimal increases for those receiving benefits. In 2017, the benefit increased by 0.3%. In 2016, there was no increase at all. The trustees are also projecting that Medicare Part B premiums should remain unchanged next year. Why are Social Security payments increasing? What is causing the increase in these payments?
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Are We Back In A Goldilocks Environment?

Are We Back In A Goldilocks Environment?

The stock market continued its stair-step higher in Q2 amid slow but steady economic growth, decreasing inflation pressures, and low volatility on both the interest rate-front as well as equities. GDP growth started off this year on a lackluster note, but growth picked up in Q2 and is estimated to be stronger again in Q3. And this has come without rising bond yields and without escalating inflationary pressures, leaving investors to wonder if we are back in a “Goldilocks economy” like the one that characterized much of the mid- to late-1990s?
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President Trump’s Tax Plan Unveiled

President Trump’s Tax Plan Unveiled

President Donald Trump and his administration have released their proposed tax plan. The plan, which was released earlier this year on April 26th, was announced by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn and states the following four goals:

1. Grow the economy and create millions of jobs
2. Simplify the burdensome tax code
3. Provide tax relief to American families, specifically middle-income families
4. Lower the business tax rate to one of the lowest in the world
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Climbing The Proverbial ‘Wall of Worry’

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Stocks got off to a strong start in Q1 2017, despite the myriad of calls that the market was overvalued and stocks were overdue for a big correction. Despite all of the negative headlines in the media, worries over geopolitical events, delays in Washington, etc., stocks have experienced less than a 3% pullback so far this year. The situation exemplifies the old adage that ‘a bull market loves to climb a wall of worry’.
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Will Your Medicare Premium Be Increasing?

Will Your Medicare Premium Be Increasing?

Medicare is the federal health insurance program for people aged 65 and older. It is also available to certain younger people with disabilities and those with End-Stage Renal Disease (permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or a transplant). Medicare consists of 4 parts:

• Part A – Hospital Insurance
• Part B – Medical Insurance
• Part C – Medicare Advantage Plans
• Part D – Prescription Drug Coverage.

For the vast majority of Americans, you are automatically signed up for Medicare Part A and Part B starting the first day of the month you turn 65 (or the first day of the month prior if your birthday is on the 1st.)
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