Of Tariffs and Trade Wars

Of Tariffs and Trade Wars

When economists studied the Great Depression after the 1930s, one of the things that was cited as worsening the economic decline and prolonging the recession was the Smoot-Hawley tariffs.  This protectionist trade policy was signed into law in 1930 and raised the tariffs on over 20,000 imported goods to the U.S.  Despite nearly 90 years passing since then, whenever the term “trade war” surfaces in the media, folks immediately cite the mistakes from the 1930s and warn against repeating them.
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The Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation

According to the Pew Research Center, 1 in 7 middle aged adults is providing financial support to both aging parents and their children. The term “Sandwich Generation” is used to describe people between their late 30’s through their early 50’s who are feeling the financial pressure of supporting their aging parents, supporting their children, and saving for their own retirement. Read More..

2018 Retirement Account Contribution Limits

2018 Retirement Account Contribution Limits

Tax-deferred retirement accounts allow investments to compound free of taxes, which can make them an exceptional investment vehicle. One of the downsides is the fact that there are annual contribution limits on these accounts. The IRS is in charge of determining the contribution limits to each of these types of accounts. In determining these limits, they take into account several factors including your income. They announce the limits for the upcoming year annually, which may or may not change. Below are the 2018 contribution limits for some of the various retirement accounts.
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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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