Tag 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

Challenging Markets

Challenging markets are the time when you need a plan and you need to stick with it.
Even when facing challenging markets, plans need not be overly complicated. Here is an interesting analysis of a very simple plan, invest $100 a week into the S&P Index. Just look how it works. Zero Effort Retirement: 20 Years Dollar Cost Averaging Into the S&P 500
I would argue that annuities are a good component of a retirement plan – you can forget about challenging markets entirely! Just which kind is right for you, that’s a specific question for you and your advisor. What we do know is that the vast majority of Americans have a pretty decent chance of running out of savings in retirement. That is why I am a big fan of Deferred Income Annuities, or QLACs inside of qualified plans, because they give you a safety net beyond your comfort zone. Deferred income annuities can double payouts later in life
Now, if you are very conservative, or simply do not trust your instincts, willpower, or what have you, there is always the option to go with an Immediate Annuity. Here your income stream starts right away, and it is, in fact, comparable to an old school pension, i.e. you know what you will get for as long as you live. Interestingly enough, if you did a good job saving for retirement, you could patch together a term certain immediate annuity (that is a set payment for a set period, say 20 years) and a deferred income annuity (set to start in 20 years). You might still have some mad money left to enjoy right away. 3 Things to Know About Immediate Annuities
Just so you do not come away with the belief that dividend stocks, even dividend stars, are a panacea, this article does some back testing of that argument. The Fate of These 49 ‘Dividend Aristocrats’ of the Early 1990’s May Give You Nightmares
No matter your approach, this article is a good read because times like these present tempting ‘opportunities’ to make a quick buck. The Difference Between Investing and Speculating

I hope that provided a lot of good food for thought on your retirement. Now, let’s turn our attention to other, interesting things floating out there in the worldwide web.
Climate change, is this our fault, or does it just happen every so often? That’s the kind of conversation I avoid. I have never professed to be a climatologist, and question anyone I know who does. Still, certain datapoints make you think hard about just what is happening and what we stand to lose. If You’re Not Terrified by Climate Change, Just Consider the Great Barrier Reef
Similarly, I try not to get involved in the DOD/VA issues, but this article really got me steamed. Thousands of US veterans are sick and dying because of burning garbage

 

I simply cannot leave on a sour note like that, so let’s get some positive news, too.
I made the tactical error of mentioning this article when I found it on Valentine’s Day. A mining company found a 400-carat diamond and now its shares are going wild
These geniuses didn’t know when to stop. 16 Inventors who were killed by their own inventions
Everyone can use some help with their iPhone (especially the FBI, it seems). 25 Things You Didn’t Know Your iPhone Could Do

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

A Retirement Teaser

If you don’t build your dream, someone else will hire you to help them build theirs. – Dhirubhai Ambani, entrepreneur

Retirement – it’s a full time job … beforehand:
This is a great list, with the facts behind the second one most astonishing. The median retirement savings for working households: $3,000. 10 scary retirement statistics
Back to an old favorite, focusing on retirement income, not assets or returns, this article gives a good review of your options to deliver income in retirement. Retirement Strategy: How Much Money Will You Spend on Money?
On the same note, here is a fascinating look at the old 4% rule of thumb. It includes looking at how you invest and our old friend, fees. The 4% Spending Rule: Golden Rule or Guideline?

Miscellany – things to keep you thinking on your vacation:
We are now getting far enough away from the Cold War that Freedom of Information Act requests are generating some fascinating reads. Incredible moment USA came within 30 SECONDS of launching NUCLEAR strike on Russia
There is not a lot of ‘news’ in this chart (our cover photo this week), but I draw your attention on the inverse, youth. Notice the color of Africa here. That is why companies (and countries) are focusing there now. World Population over 65 in 2050
Think Donald Trump has all the answers? General Ray Odierno, who retires today, surely does not agree with regard to his ISIS strategy. A top US general picks apart Donald Trump’s ISIS policy
This is just pure, unadulterated fun, no learning to on offer here. 35 Insane Optical Illusions That Will Make You Question Your Sanity

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