Tag Archives: China

Retirement Planning

Retirement planning is vital to achieving a happy, sustainable lifestyle after work. The earlier you begin planning … and executing your plan … the more likely you will achieve your goals. It never hurts to validate your planning and to be aware of the environment. Those two things are our focus this week.

Retirement Planning – never stop validating your plan.
It never hurts to get tips, especially if they are from “experts.” You know I like #7 and #10 on the list. Financial Experts Reveal Retirement Planning Secrets
This article hits a few of our common themes like healthcare costs and longevity. It also touches on some details you do not want to miss. It takes a lot of work to be ready to retire. Don’t forget these things.
It is always good to consider the pitfalls in planning. Hopefully this will help you avoid these common traps. 25 Hidden Obstacles That Keep You From Retiring Comfortably
This is a little bit in the weeds, but an interesting comparison. How should you manage your money as you save for retirement? Betterment vs. Vanguard: Which Should Retirement Investors Choose
If you are still young, and I hope you are, these tips will help, too. How much a 20-something needs to save every month to retire with $5 million

Retirement Planning – understand the environment.
Plenty of doomsayers out there these days, after a long, bull run on Wall Street. Still, this seems to be a pretty well reasoned view, and it warrants consideration. Recession in 2017 for Clinton, Trump or Johnson
In the same vein, albeit focused on Wall Street, this article makes some good points. Most notably, it highlights the cheap money fuel for the Wall Street run. Markets Could Be in for a Long Correction
That fundamental weakness highlighted above positions the market for this issue. As ‘smart money’ pressures the weakest stocks down. Short-selling could sweep stock market if inflation pushes up borrowing costs
This is not just a US or US/EU problem. Chinese banks might need as much as $1.7 trillion in capital

Retirement Planning – maintain a normal, non retirement planning, life, too.
Everyone likes to save money. This is an easy one with Amazon. Hot! Amazon $60 Total Credits Towards Tablets, Cameras & More Prime Members
Inasmuch as we are trying to save money, doing so on airfare is particularly satisfying. How to Find Airline Mistake Fares (Get Ridiculously Cheap Flights)
Since you are flying somewhere cheap, might as well have a goal. The Best Airplane Bars: Yes, There are Mixologists in the Sky
If you are an iPhone user, become a better iPhone user. iPhone memory full? How to free memory on your iPhone. The 25 best hidden features and tricks in your iPhone’s latest update

Fiduciary Implications

The initial reaction to the DOL Fiduciary Rule was mixed, now we are beginning to see some Fiduciary Implications. Big players are already making moves to ease compliance, most notably Charles Schwab, and the speed with which this is happening means some benefits may quickly accrue.

So, what have been the fiduciary implications thus far, and what might follow?
The absolute most encouraging fiduciary implications I saw all week was this news about Schwab dropping loaded funds.  Post-DOL fiduciary rule, Schwab dumps load funds as advisors yawn That’s good news because it indicates the market moving to help you with your quest for lower cost investments, and Schwab moving means others will have to follow, despite what they may say.
Inasmuch as the fiduciary implications are technically limited to qualified investments, i.e. your tax favored investments like 401(k) and IRA assets, theoretically only a fraction of your investments are ‘protected’ by the new fiduciary rule. Still, I think once the smart players go to the effort of compliance with the DOL fiduciary rule, they will go ahead and apply it themselves to non-qualified money. Mind you, the SEC is talking about its own fiduciary rule for non-qualified money, and there will be plenty of resistance from the industry. SEC Joins Battle on Broker Bias That Could Remake Industry
Frankly, having a more uniform framework which applies across qualified and non-qualified money will be a better thing, certainly for investors, as the industry will be compelled to comply, limiting the chances of shutting out smaller investors. Keep in mind that the DOL rule makes it relatively easy to choose to walk away from small accounts – whether personal or business – as a rational business decision. Walking away entirely will be an entirely different equation.

Now that we have a glimpse at the fiduciary implications, let’s take a minute on world markets.
First, let’s consider some context for the prior remarks. This is a fascinating article about the future of the asset management industry. I pulled it first for the excellent bubble chart on invested funds. I put it here, though, because it gives you some insight into the industry dynamics. Asset Managers, Prepare to have Your Business Disrupted
You have read here before about the questionable US unemployment data. This article goes one step beyond to show you the US output gap as an alternative means of divining the true state of the economy. I found it fascinating. Why the US Output Gap Means the 10-year is Going Below 1%
I find it hard to internalize the rapid rise of China as an economic power. These few charts give a good primer on where things stand. These 4 maps show how China is dominating global trade
I admit I don’t agree with George Soros much, probably at my own peril. This time, though, he makes a good deal of sense. Soros says China looks ‘eerily’ like the US in the run up to the financial crisis
At the same time, Japan’s woes seem to worsen. In Shocking Finding, the Bank of Japan is Now a Top 10 Holder in 90% of Japanese Stocks

Now, you deserve to lighten up some.
As an adopted Minnesotan, I was surprisingly struck by the sudden loss of Prince. Here is a great link to his entire very last show. Listen to Prince’s Entire Final Concert
I know an inordinate number of people gather around for the Kentucky Derby. This may make it easier for you. The 13 Best Bourbons for Kentucky Derby Season 2016
When you hit the road this Summer, take along the best tools. The Best iPhone Apps for Travelers

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

Retirement Security

What strategies can you use, beyond patience, to better ensure your retirement security after a brutal January?

One way of thinking we have not covered much here is using dividend paying stocks to generate income and provide retirement security. Retirement Strategy: Hopefully, This Will be Easy Enough for Even a Novice Investor to Understand Scrap the 4% Retirement Rule, Buy Dividend Stocks with a 4% Yield Instead
On that note, here is a long, but useful article about the “4% rule.” It’s a good read if someone is selling you on the concept. Why 4% Could Fail
If you want to step out there on your own (which I don’t advise), this is an interesting template of an idea. Earn 6.7% on cash with a decent chance to buy ExxonMobil under $60
Here is some more clarity on tax and Social Security law changes for 2016, too. Tax Law Changes Affecting Your Clients 2 Social Security changes and their effect on retirement income The impressive income tax benefits of $5M+ lifetime gift exemptions

So, what are the tea leaves saying? Let’s take a quick cruise around the web on that topic.
We have looked at this before, and it has not gotten any better. Baltic Dry Index falls to lowest level in history Thoughts on Maritime Trade and the Global Economy What if the Imploding Baltic Dry Index Really Does Reflect Global Trade After All
Then, of course, there is China. China’s banking crisis looms like Banquo’s ghost in Davos and China PMI Misses Some of the biggest hedge fund names in the world are loading up on bets against China’s currency
South Korea’s economy is sputtering, too. South Korea’s Exports Dropped the Most Since the Global Recession
Still one of our biggest trading partners, Japan, joined the negative interest rate club, too. BOJ Shock to Pressure Central Banks
Now here’s one you probably have not heard in a while, Venezuela. Of course, Venezuela, like many others, is an oil driven economy. This is What the Death of a Nation Looks Like: Venezuela Prepares for 720% Hyperinflation
Then, there’s US. The Chart That Explains Everything

Market mayhem

If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.” Gen. George S. Patton

The market mayhem continues pretty much unabated since the beginning of the year. Today the Dow is down significantly – over 2%. So, what may be driving this, and will it continue?

One obvious answer to what is driving this, China. How China accumulated $28 trillion in debt in such a short time Government intervention is the only thing keeping China’s stock market afloat

Then there is the market at home, is there simply a problem with fundamentals? A Year of Living Technically: Charting the Markets of 2015 (I urge you to look at the first chart, at least) Ralph Acampora: “We’re falling apart here and no one seems that worried.” US stocks suffer their worst first week since records began

Now that your head is spinning from the current state of markets, let’s focus back on the long term, your retirement:
I will start, as always, with fees. The Huge 401(k) Hit You Can Avoid Do you know where your 401(k) fees are hiding? Of course, it can’t always be that simple. New 401(k) suit targets Vanguard fund fees

How about some simple advice? You may not agree, or may not follow these, but they tend to be pretty sound. Everything You Need to Know About Money on One Index Card Warren Buffett’s 15-Minute Retirement Plan 7 Personal Finance Lessons from Bruce Lee

Another great idea on retirement, know your way around the retirement playing field. Newly improved retirement tax rules Understanding the retiree benefits of HSAs

A couple of iPhone tips for the weekend:
Everyone with an iPhone will like this trick. How to Force-Refresh the iOS App Store on iPhone or iPad This hidden iPhone trick does wonders to speed up your phone

Retirement thanksgiving

Retirement is like a long vacation in Las Vegas. The goal is to enjoy it the fullest, but not so fully that you run out of money.” – Jonathan Clements

Since we are giving thanks, let’s have a retirement thanksgiving:
It is always interesting to see what the so-called experts are doing, and I find the trends here most insightful: construction/heavy industrials and retail. Goldman: Hedge funds are betting billions that these 19 stocks are going down
It is always good to stay on top of the changing legal landscape, don’t make a costly mistake. How Retirement Benefits Will Change in 2016
It is also good to know your options, the HSA has been a hidden gem since inception. Learn more here. HSAs Can Be Like DC Plans for Retirement Health Costs
One gentle reminder about fees, this time from a different angle, the impact of a fee focused company, Vanguard, on the industry. The Vanguard Effect

A weekly look at global markets:
In the continuing trend of global economic sluggishness/slowdown, I give you the world commodities markets in a single graph. Collapse of Commodities in One Simple Chart
In the same vein, and another continuing theme, a further dismal report on the Chinese economy. Everyone on Wall Street is talking about this dark new China report

Travel, because it is that time of year:
Talk about making holiday travel bearable, here’s the ticket. The 10 Best First Class Airline Cabins for Holiday Travel
Since you probably won’t be in one of those cabins, I give you this diversion for your travels. 6 Craft Beer Stores Hiding in Airports
Crowd funding unleashes some great ideas, cutting out the middlemen. Jurni is a great travel idea, worth keeping your eye on now. This May Be The Best Carry-On Suitcase Idea We’ve EVER Seen
This one is for your consideration. Indeed, everyone should have a personal favorite museum. Just so happens I agree with this article. How about you? Is This the Greatest National Museum in the World?

Economy Update

Action is the foundational key to all success.” — Anthony Robbins, writer and motivational speaker

Economy and the Market – never a dull moment, and hard to predict:
Over half of European countries now trade sovereign debt with negative yields! BofA Looks at Europe’s Record € 2.6 Trillion in Negative-Yielding Debt, Is Shocked at What it Finds
Along with the craziness of negative rates comes the fall of the Euro. The Fall of the Mighty Euro
More on China, with global commodities and basic industries slumping, this is no surprise, but it does not bode well. China steel industry is flashing warning signs that the world cannot ignore
Then, there is the Fed, and Ben Bernake recently saying that negative interest would not be a bad idea. Dollar Moves Shake the World: “Federal Reserve Could Start a Currency War”
With all that news and the weak 1.5% US growth last quarter, is it any surprise that US rates remain a hot topic? Read this, though, for a surprise in its own right. Wall Street guru who has been nailing the interest rate story just made a jarring prediction for 2016

It’s your retirement, keep an eye on it:
It is good news that they reached a budget deal this week, but there is a hidden, unpleasant surprise for Social Security participants. Advisers rethink retirement plans amid Social Security changes Game almost over for Social Security claiming strategies
If you already do claim Social Security, this may be of interest, too. Be cautious of changes in strategy to offset the Medicare hikes in 2016. Don’t abandon Social Security strategy to avoid Medicare hike
This is always worth a reminder, keep an eye on fees, all fees. Reducing High 401(k) Fees Want a Financial Adviser? Here are Some Things to Look For

Travel – some escapism for your weekend:
This guy figured out how to maximize his miles, and you get the inside look. This guy used a frequent flier loophole to get a $60,000 trip in a first-class suite on Emirates – here’s what it was like
If you don’t mind Detroit or Chicago, this is a good list for you. 10 Stunningly Beautiful Abandoned Buildings in America
A little more down to Earth, I have to share this one. Most Hotel Safes Have a Hidden Lock That’s Easy to Break Into

Summer Retirement Special

I fear the day that technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots. – Albert Einstein

Your retirement – consistent vigilance will make it easier:
May as well start with a favorite: fees. This time focusing on 401(k) fees, perhaps the most insidious. Don’t rule out the convenience factor in their appearance. High Fee 401(k) Convenient for Employer, Costly for You
Another important concept is changing your focus to income, not assets or even returns. Focus on retirement income, not investment return
While we are on the topic of retirement income, it is not just the tools, but the strategy that are important. How to Withdraw Retirement Money the Right Way
In case you feel exempt – too soon or too late – from this discussion, read this: It’s never too early – or late – to plan for your retirement years
I was honestly surprised by this, just how low the threshold is for crimping your benefits – $15,750! Social Security claiming strategy short-circuited by excess earnings (you have to register for Investment News, but it costs nothing and is worthwhile)
Here’s a really interesting way to combine active and passive strategies, and one well worth considering: Why are more advisors seeking managed ETF portfolios?

Markets and the Economy –murky as ever, but worth keeping a focus here:
With all the intervention by central banks and, as this article points out, rampant corporate buy-back programs, one must wonder the ramifications of a draw down on these fronts. If Price Insensitive Buyers Become Sellers, Will the Entire Market Collapse?
I like to touch on volatility often, and this is an interesting (albeit one month old) look at things. Navigating the Volatility Maze in Equities
A little more on Greece, China and volatility (also somewhat dated, but still relevant for your knowledge base). China, Greece and Volatility

Diversions – some lighter reads to pick you up, especially on vacation:
Easily a week’s worth of great, non-fiction reading for you. Roughly 100 Fantastic Pieces of Journalism
We all love to complain about prescription drug prices in the US, and there is some merit to that when compared globally. Still, it is stories like these that make you marvel. Anavax May Actually Cure Alzheimer’s
While not in the pharmaceutical world, this, too, has some amazing promise for good globally. Solar energy that doesn’t block the view
Just to lighten things up some. It’s hard to pick a favorite, enjoy: Nutty Facts About North Korea

It’s the economy, stupid

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – Gen. George Patton

Markets and the Economy –still little clarity, but some things are clear:
I have found the data to be pretty compelling absent this analysis, but for the doubters: 12 Ways the Economy is in Worse Shape Now than During the Depths of the Last Recession
What do you suppose the Street is doing about it? Wall Street Prepares to Reap Billions from Another Main Street Wipeout
Oh, and China’s wacky market tale continues, too. Consider this: China dumped a huge amount of gold on the market and investors are spooked Not to mention this: Similarities Between China’s Stock Market Crash and 1929 are Eerie

Your retirement – thoughts for a challenging environment:
Do you think interest rates will rise? Soon? Janet Yellen still says they will in 2015. When they do, or shall I say before, these are good things to know. The Insurance Industry is in an Investor Sweet Spot Right Now Weapons for Battling Rising Interest Rates
You have seen all the conflicting data; probably have a feel for the really high markets; and you have seen the crazy global picture. So, what do you do now? Be a Cash-Holding Shark as the Market Bloodbath Approaches

Leadership – it matters in all you do:
Here is a quick, really good checklist for leadership. It is literally a five-minute read … worth it. 10 undeniable behaviors of a great leader
I like this article a lot. It gives a good, concise approach to developing and executing on a great vision. I have said here many times before, communication is the key to moving an organization forward effectively. This does a nice job backing that up for you. Using the Billboard Effect to Develop and Obtain Employee Buy-in on the Leader’s Vision

May as well save some money, right?:
This is worth watching, a cross between Amazon and Costco, Jet.com. Everything You Need to Know About Amazon’s New Rival Jet.com
I was not aware of most of these … again, worth a look. Hidden hotel freebies you could be missing out on

Retire securely

A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the crowd.” – Max Lucado

Markets and the Economy – more doomsday predictions:
The timing may be off on this one, but it is hard to disagree with the fundamental analysis. The end of QE or easy money, by itself, will be shocking. The broader context this demonstrates should have your attention. Bank of America Begins 66-Day Countdown Until the “Ghost of 1937” Returns
If BofAs view of the world doesn’t hit you, perhaps Fidelity will. “It’s Time to Hold Physical Cash,” Fidelity Manager Warns Ahead of “Systemic Event”
Oh, I just can’t pass on this one, either. All you hear about is how rosy the employment picture is in the US, yet the statistics, when viewed critically, tell a far different story. So, are we ready for a rate increase? With labor market only halfway back, too soon for rate hike

Markets and the Economy – how about China then?:
I saw this and went ‘wow, that’s a big bet.’ Mind you I did place some credence in the comments below on alternative China strategies. China’s A Shares: My Biggest Bet in 67 Years of Investing
The very same day I came across these two articles, and put a great deal of caution into my reading of the earlier one. The Simple Reason Why China’s Stratospheric Stock Market Rally Can’t Fuel Economic Growth The Biggest Threat to Chinese Stocks: “Shadow Lending” Crackdown

Retire securely – don’t forget it, for a minute…:
Allow me to harp on an old topic, fees. Do yourself a favor, understand the fee structure, top to bottom, in your retirement accounts, all of them. Are You Letting Fees Destroy Your Retirement Savings?
This may be more effort than you want, and it may not really matter to you … if you’ve been listening … still, a comprehensive review of the US retirement landscape. The Reality of the Retirement Crisis

Travel – save some money and get away:
Some ideas here I had not considered … most notably call the hotel. How to get a cheaper hotel deal: Ten tricks to try
Just because it is cheap doesn’t mean it has to be miserable. How to Find First-Class Airfare for Under $1,000
Since you are flying first-class now, this becomes relevant. They’ll book longer flights for a better wine list. Meet the oeno-fliers.