Category Archives: Diversions

Geopolitics

Two days on from the historic vote, start considering the Brexit impacts on global geopolitics. This week has been an embarrassment of riches, with the Brexit, House Republicans tax proposal, and much more.

Geopolitics: The most important story of the week, Britain’s Brexit vote.
Here is a great collection of subject matter experts giving their prognostication on the geopolitics landscape in five years. The surprising quasi-common theme is a still smaller EU and a smaller UK, too. How Brexit Will Change the World
This is a freestanding take on the Brexit impacts, painting David Cameron as the bad guy in all this. Sure seems like Scotland and Northern Ireland are ‘in play’ now and likely to switch teams. David Cameron could go down in history as the man who lost Europe, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Inasmuch as we like to focus on your retirement and relevant investing ideas, Brexit may present a golden, short term opportunity. The Brexit Vote is a Buying Opportunity – Here’s Why

There was more consequential news this week.
House Republicans released their long awaited tax reform plan on Friday, purposely in the shadow of Brexit? Regardless, they threw in some surprises, and it is worth considering because, forget what presidential candidates say, their plan is most likely the foundation for anything that might actually happen. The Surprising Evolution of House Republicans on Taxes

Geopolitics aside, life goes on, consider this:
Say what you will about self-driving cars, it appears they are only accelerating (pun intended). This article puts it into perspective. The last driver license holder

Pre-Summer Break

We lower the intensity level this week for a pre-Summer break by giving you a small dose of retirement and economic reality followed by a large dose of miscellany. I hope you enjoy.
Pre-Summer Break: A quick look at your retirement and the economy
We start with the retirement gem of the week, This Simplest Investing Advice is the Best Ever for All Investors
Here is a good, quick overview of the smart-beta ETF world. The Newest Way to Beat the Market
I like pieces like this because it gives you two sides of a coin. In this case, the contra-side is provided by a friend for whom I have the utmost respect, Jonathan Satovsky. Boost Retirement Savings with These New and Simple Strategies
Roth IRAs are a great tool, but your HSA may be an even better retirement tool. Here’s a quick comparison. Why an HSA is Even Better Than a Roth IRA
You may have seen the dismal jobs report this week, it caused mayhem in equity and currency markets, driving the Dollar down around the globe. Here’s some disheartening color commentary on it. 312K Full-Time Jobs Were Lost in the Last Two Months, Offset by 118K Part-Time Hires
Finally, a somewhat transitional piece for you, bridging the gap from retirement to fun facts. The Made Hedge Dictionary of Trading Slang
Pre-Summer Break: A whole lot of interesting finds from around the web.

I love these map pages that distil information into a single view.  Any number of these will make you scratch your head, but try #12, if no other. 40 Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World
Photos, too, can help shed light on things. Try the Iran one here, or the 1980 Moscow Olympics, remember, the boycott? Thought-Provoking Historical Photographs You’ve Never Seen Before
If you are a big fan of green energy, this one is heartening … just cover Spain with solar. Here’s how much of the world would need to be covered in solar panels to power the Earth
Just because guys can’t get enough of this stuff – presumably Putin has these all down pat. The rest of us should try the zip ties and ninja ones …  20 Illustrated Guides Every Manly Man on Earth Should Know

Retirement Security

Today we will focus our energy on Retirement Security. Fact is I often harp on fees and generating income, but keeping a sharp eye on your retirement security is equally important.

Retirement Security: Protecting what you already have.
I really like this one because it does what it says, gives you a simple set of rules you can easily follow to help ensure your retirement security.  For Investment Success, Keep it Simple
This one is a little more complex, but it pretty clearly explains the tools you can use to get you retirement security through protecting your downside risk.  Protect Your Portfolio Like a Pro
One way to protect what you have is to be prepared for ‘unexpected’ expenses. This study shows what has tripped up retirees before you. 17 unexpected expenses in retirement
As expected, the government is planning to do more to help your retirement security, too. Of course the DOL Fiduciary Rule is out there now and will go into effect by 2018, but that only covers your qualified money, i.e. 401(k), 403(b), IRA, KEOGH, etc. Now the SEC has announced they are following suit on the non-qualified money. No doubt the industry will bellyache and it will take a while, but it should be a good thing in the balance. We just hope there are few unintended consequences, like the potential for smaller investor (most people) to be frozen out of personal financial planning and advice. SEC plans to propose fiduciary rule next April

Construction Marvels Opening: These two projects represent meaningful change.
The Alps by their very nature are a natural obstacle of immense proportion. Here and there they have been breached in various, physical ways, but this takes things to a new level. Switzerland is opening the world’s longest-ever railway tunnel
On a much more impactful note, for the US economy, the Panama Canal expansion is finally set to open. The new Panama Canal is opening soon and will cause an ‘evolution’ in a vital US industry

A little entertainment from the coming election.
The Trump secret is finally out there … it’s all about Mar-a-Lago. Trump could win noise battle with the airport if he is president
The good and the bad of being in the public eye for ever. Clintonism screwed the Democrats: How Bill, Hillary and the Democratic Leadership Council gutted progressivism
Then there’s the other Trump secret … what’s up with that? A hair surgeon explains what’s going on with Trump’s hair

Life Hacks

Time to have a break from the focus on retirement and improve your life today with some Life Hacks. Most importantly, the 273 million hacked email passwords, you need to deal with this.
If you use Gmail, Hotmail or Yahoo Mail, You Should Change Your Password Now
Do you have a good grip on history? Environmentalism? Think again.
Here is a quick level set on your knowledge of history.  26 Comparisons That Will Destroy How You See History
This one goes way beyond its title, paper vs. ceramic plates, recycling plastic, glass … read and learn.  Styrofoam cups get a bad rap, and other surprising environmental revelations
Plus, just when you got your head around microbeads being bad, not it’s microfiber. G-Star Raw, Plastic Soup Team Up Against Microfiber Pollution in Oceans
To be fair, this one may cross the line into trivia, but history trivia to be sure. 25 Facts That Will Actually Make You Smarter
It is never a bad idea to get some travel tips. Here are a few in the life hacks category.
If you happen to be in New York, here are a couple of fun adventures to try. How to See New York’s Secret City Hall Subway Stop and The 5 Best Hidden Bars in New York City and How to Find Them
If you happen to be in Paris, oh my, check out this marvel. Paris’s 770-Year-Old Sainte-Chapelle Restored to Its Gothic Glory by Laser Technology
Sometimes you just want to splurge, or maybe your schedule jams you so you have no choice. Either way, these sites may help you save a few bucks. 8 Best Websites to Get a Single, First Class Seat
Seems like there are thousands of travel hacks out there: admittedly there are some pretty cheesy ones here, but there are some good ones, too. 10 Ingenious DIY Air Travel Hacks to Make You a Pro at Travelling

Not everything you may not know is bad, though. Try these on for size.
The Amazon has some hidden surprises. Massive coral reef discovered in the Amazon River
Researchers continue to push the boundaries on vexing diseases, often with promising results. Drug Cocktail Can Wipe Out Skin Cancer – Study and Johnson & Johnson, ViaCyte testing possible diabetes cure

Markets & Opportunities

This week we take a quick look at markets & opportunities before turning to more fun things, like travel. With the chaotic and unpredictable election cycle in the US, evolving terror threat globally and continued weakness in the global economy, it seems to make sense to spend some time on Markets & Opportunities. Still, we’re all getting ready for Summer travel, so tips don’t hurt there. Enjoy.
Where are the markets & opportunities now?
Here is a fascinating look at the two sides of the market, business day and off-hours, if you will. The strange thing is, all the gains for the past 11 years have come from off-hours! WTF Chart of the Day: Without “Pajama Traders,” Stocks Have Gone Nowhere in 11 Years
We frequently talk about dividend stocks as a means of delivering retirement income. This article looks at a fascinating way to pick dividend stocks. These 7% Dividend Stocks Sell Way Below Book
No matter what you do, you will ultimately be wrong when investing. That’s okay. How to be Wrong as an Investor
Let’s find some timely tips to improve your Summer travels.
We should start by saving some money. This trick is news to me because, like the author, I figured one-way fares are always more expensive. Cheap Airline Tickets You’re Probably Missing Out On and How to Find Them
Here is another tip I simply did not know. These two are making me feel out of touch! Mobile Passport App Makes US Re-Entry Fast and Easy and It’s FREE!
Admittedly these are not the best ideas ever (like the ones above). Still, there are some pointers worth considering here. Travel Hacks: 8 Ways to Vacation Like a VIP at a Fraction of the Cost
Since you have saved all that money, here are some ways to use it. 4 luxurious train journeys that will make you feel like 19th-century royalty 4 Luxury South African Hotels You’ll Never Want to Leave Behold, the Caribbean’s First Over-the-Water Luxury Suites

 
I cannot resist sharing some interesting tidbits from around the web with you.
The pace of change in thinking on global warming, aka climate change, is quickening. This one is something of a doomsday view. A nightmarish new climate model predicts a gloomy future for cities from Hong Kong to New York
On a strangely related note, Google has some capabilities you may not know about yet. How about producing time-lapse satellite views of areas? Watch the planet morph before your eyes with Google’s mesmerizing time-lapse feature
Lastly, do you think you know what you would see if you could look all the way to the next land mass from the coast? You are probably wrong. 7 surprising maps that prove your view across the ocean isn’t what you think it is

Election Madness

Indeed, about mid-way between the Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary, we have seen an already raucous and unique primary season turn to true election madness.
The Iowa Caucuses delivered on a host of fronts, from a unique partnership with Microsoft to deliver app based election returns to not adequately staffing certain precincts to ‘coin toss’ decision making and ‘tell Carson supporters that he’s dropping out, so switch to us’ tactics. Democratic debate night: The first one-on-one clash leaves Hillary Clinton stumbling on Wall Street Who won the New Hampshire Democratic debate? The Politico Wrongometer The fury of Ben Carson Iowa governor slams Ted Cruz for ‘unethical and unfair’ tactics Bloomberg could be a ‘serious contender’ in 2016, his pollster says

Not one to let you forget your retirement savings, some timely guidance from around the web.
Our last installment zeroed in on dividend stocks as a strategy, here is some more background for you on the approach. Ponder the Future of Your Dividend Growth Stocks Dividends: A Key Component of Total Return 20 dividend stocks that Wall Street loves the most
I have paraphrased Warren Buffett before on this very quote, but the idea is ‘don’t save what you don’t spend, spend what you don’t save.’ That’s the key in the so called accumulation phase – your earning years, pre-retirement. Then, though, you have to become a spender, and making the transition can be difficult. Turning a Saver Into a Spender in Retirement and Spending and Saving in Retirement

Lest you think I forgot the world economy, it still moves along in pretty much the same way.
China is releasing an important data set tomorrow, about its currency surplus. A Preview of This Weekend’s Event that Could Unleash a “Vicious Bear Market Rally”
How about here, at home, how is the US economy doing? Economy added 151,000 jobs in January That sounds good enough, but it isn’t.

I think it is overdue to have some levity here, so here is some miscellany:
First, with the Super Bowl this weekend, how about a preview of games to come? Microsoft Offers Tantalizing Glimpse of HoloLens-Powered Super Bowl
Even some travel tips for you this week: Lonely Planet Releases Travel Guides to 38 Cities – For Free

World economic overview

You know that retirement is coming. It isn’t as though it just shows up one day and takes you by surprise, so you need to get ready for it.” Batya Shevich, Warren Buffett: To Be Rich And Successful Is Easy!

With the Federal Open Market Committee raising the Federal Funds Rate for the first time in nearly a decade, it seems like a good time to take a clear headed economic overview.
Now, the Fed move is largely predicated on a robust employment market and related risk of inflationary pressure. Put that in the context of oil & gas and commodities falling through the floor, and you tend to think like Canada. So, what are equity markets telling us? Here are two opposing views: Why Stocks Need to be a Big Part of Your Portfolio in 2016 tells a tale of a failing bond market and focus on consistent dividend paying stocks, but then “Coppock Guide” Signals a Bear Market is at Hand tells a fascinatingly wonkish look at market tops over a very long time. Both articles are worth your time.
This came in advance of the rate hike, but the read is still worthwhile, bottom line: even a small rate hike, if Japan’s experience is any guide, will be difficult to hold. The Simple Explanation Why There is No Such Thing as a “Dovish Rate Hike”
This rate hike occurs in the face of a largely negative rate environment in the EU, and our friends to the North looking in that direction as well. That, I suppose, would presage good investment news for the US economy, but it does feel odd as the high rate outlier. The Next Domino: Canada and The Bank of Canada just said the 3 most controversial words in central banking: ‘negative interest rates’
I would be remiss if I did not tee up the downside potential, and this is a decent list of hot spots around the globe. A Pessimist’s Guide to 2016: When Everything That Can Go Wrong, Does Go Wrong

No matter what happens to global markets, you still want to retire, right?:
Knowing plenty of people who fall prey to the morning coffee routine, or picking up a quick lunch, I thought this was a great read. Cutting Back on Lunch and Coffee Could Save You $700,000 In other words, that Starbucks Grande is costing you a lot of retirement flexibility.
In the same vein, nine more ways you can save more. I’ll paraphrase here a Warren Buffett quote, don’t save what you don’t spend, spend what you don’t save. 9 Ways to Stop Wasting Money Now
Since I’m on a roll here, let’s not forget the impact fees have on your retirement accounts. This is a great story about how Vanguard single handedly is changing the landscape. The Company That’s a Bigger Threat to Wall Street than Occupy
While this does not play directly into your retirement, knowing this may have some meaningful implications for how you think about investing and it is a fascinating component of any global economic overview. These 2 charts basically tell the entire global demographic story
A friendly reminder about healthcare cost in retirement, it really is a big issue, and you really do have to be prepared for it. Health Care in Retirement Will Cost How Much?

Miscellany to lighten your mental load:
Everyone with an iPhone will like this trick. Make Your iPhone Faster With This One Simple Trick
Here is the convergence of two recurring topics here: travel and saving money. The 11 most underrated ski resorts in America
This is a little heavier, sorry, but it is really interesting, too. History in the remaking

Bond, James Bond

Dr. No: I’m a member of SPECTRE.
Bond: SPECTRE?
Dr. No: SPECTRE: Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, Extortion. The four great cornerstones of power headed by the greatest brains in the world.
Bond: Correction: Criminal brains!
Dr. No: The successful criminal brain is always superior. It has to be.

— From Dr. No (1963), the original Bond film

Your Bond news in advance of the release of the 24th episode, SPECTRE:
When you are tempted to rush out and buy the gear from SPECTRE, this is a nice primer. Every Single Expensive Thing in James Bond’s Spectre, Explained
Rolling Stone walks you through the ups and downs of the Bond series theme songs. James Bond Movie Theme Songs, Ranked Worst to Best
Ian Fleming didn’t make it up entirely. Here is some of the back story. The Top Secret WWII Warriors Who Inspired James Bond and Birthed Modern Black Ops
Okay, this one is not, exactly, a straight match to the movie series, but … A Concept Yacht Fit for Bond

A weekly look at global markets:
With US Fed rates stuck at zero, many global rates already negative, and a global economy still resiliently sluggish, questions abound regarding conventional wisdom in economics and the potential for even more negative interest rates, fascinating. This is how a central bank could kill off cash and bring in negative interest rates on your savings
So, is China leading the way to the next down cycle? Here is an interesting analysis of boom/bust cycles. The Global Test Most Will Fail: Surviving the Bust That Inevitably Follows a Boom

It’s your retirement, the more you know …:
Here is an interesting article on portfolio modeling, and, perhaps more importantly, the impact of timing on investment success. Tranche Model Applied to the ‘Swensen Six’ Portfolio
This is couple of weeks dated, so buyer beware, but still an interesting read. 5 Stocks Under $10 Actually Worth Buying
Given all we’ve read about rates and world markets, this may be a good crossover from markets to retirement discussion. Retirement Strategy: The Phantom Fed Rate Hike and Dividend Investing for Retirement

Miscellany, because there is the web:
Some great stuff in here, have a look. 25 Amazing Websites That Are About to Make Your Life So Much Easier
See how many of these you remember. This may add to your Netflix list. Top 10 Film Monologues of All Time
Since you are now busted wasting time, read this. How to be More Productive and Eliminate Time-Wasting Activities by Using the ‘Eisenhower Box’

Market Review

Sorry for going ‘off the grid’ for a couple of weeks, technical issues kept us down. We are back, and there is not much more clarity after the Fed meeting, than before. Let’s take a look:

Economy and the Market – a continuing look at the wide array of perspectives:
Here is an old piece, 2013, that still is ‘current’ today. What Happened to Markets the Last 15 Times the Fed Tightened?

When will they tighten, though? Now may not be until 2016. The thing is they may be recreating the 2008 scenario all over again. Central Banks are Making the Same Mistake that Led to the 2008 Financial Crisis

You hear a pretty constant stream of positive data, right? Yet do things seem to feel better? Maybe this explains that disconnect: 13 Economic Charts Wall Street Doesn’t Want You to See

This article looks at the continuing failure of QE programs to drive wage and price inflation. The fundamental premise is that the underlying labor market dynamics have changed, technology has forever reduced demand for labor. Game Over

A different view of the QE world, liquidity and supply … The IMF Just Confirmed the Nightmare Scenario for Central Banks is Now in Play

Plenty of opinions out there, and they run the gamut. This view came before the last Fed meeting, a contrarian view. Does the Fed Really Have a Choice

The good news is the US economy has deleveraged, right? Wrong. So when rates do rise, costs across the economy go with it. The Global Credit Supercycle: Full Frontal

Miscellany – perhaps all that market turmoil is making people crazier still:
This is good to know! NASA refutes Christian claims that the blood moon on September 28 will cause the end of the world

On a more level headed note: Prepare yourselves: A rare “supermoon” lunar eclipse is coming

I am guessing you saw this, but still, more technology creeping up on us. Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway – With Me in It

Go ahead, here’s some pure escapism for you: The 10 Most Expensive Luxury Yachts in the World

Market Update

If things seem under control, you are just not going fast enough. – Mario Andretti,
race car driver

Economy and the Market – a continuing look at the wide array of perspectives:
Here’s an old school indicator that now (as of Thursday close) says sell this market. Opinion: The Dow Theory just flashed a ‘sell’ signal
We have focused a lot lately on the massive global market interventions of governments, especially China. If that has your attention, this one, from our friends in the UK, is worth the time: Doomsday clock for global market crash strikes one minute to midnight as central banks lose control
Here’s a good primer, if you are willing to invest the time. I think it is worth the read if you want to take control. In Today’s Overheated Market, Control Risk in Your Retirement Portfolios with Sound Valuation
Since we are talking valuation, this article plays right into that topic: Eureka! A Valuation-Based Asset Allocation Strategy That Might Work (by the way, I love the honesty of the title, too, might work)
Then, there’s the Fed, what should we think about them? Bond Market’s $2.46 Trillion Dilemma Isn’t So Bad After All and Yellen’s Labor Market Dashboard and Hilsenrath Warns Fed Is Out Of Ammo, “Policymakers Resorting to Backup, Backup Plans”

Travel – it’s the height of summer, after all:
One thing is clear, airline travel needs help, and now some solutions are arriving. A more efficient way to use your airplane tray table Smart luggage is here: 7 ground-breaking travel accessories
You may not like this technology … let us know … but here it comes: JFK Displays Actual Wait Times That Monitor Mobile Phones
If you prefer to know where you spent your money in Vegas, this new site is pretty cool. New Website Offers Exclusive Las Vegas Suites to the Public (or you can just lose a lot in the casino to get them)
If you travel often, you know the lounges are busy. It is going to get better, but you may not know it… Getting Into the Airport Lounge is About to Get More Difficult

Miscellany – now for your cool down period:
As cool as this is, and it answers plenty of cocktail party questions, I encourage you to click through to the main site, that’s cool. European & North American Cities Transposed Onto the Opposite Continent at the Same Latitude
Lots of talk about World War II lately with all the big anniversaries. This is a very interesting infographic you may enjoy. World War II: 70 Years On
I am guessing you saw this, but still, more technology creeping up on us. Hackers Remotely Kill a Jeep on the Highway – With Me in It
Go ahead, here’s some pure escapism for you: The 10 Most Expensive Luxury Yachts in the World