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Economic and Stock Market Update (1st Quarter 2018)

This is a sample of the letter that I send to all of my management clients on a quarterly basis.

Economic and Stock Market Update

U.S. GDP grew at 2.9% in the previous quarter and forward-looking estimates show U.S. GDP growth in the 2.5-3% range for 2018.  Current valuations are rich but the following data points support this: “Full employment”, wage growth, tax reform, strong corporate earnings + buybacks and low interest rates (although rising).  However, as we have said in previous letters there are large risks that were not priced into the market.  Most notably a potential trade war.  The market has begun to discount this risk. Other risks that could push the U.S. economy closer to a recession include:  The Fed hiking too quickly, accelerating consumer debt levels, growing deficits and other geo political risks.  We expect GDP growth to come in at the low end of consensus estimates.

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Are you paying too much for financial advice?

There is an old story in investments concerning a potential client and a Wall Street broker anxious to impress him and win his business. The broker took the client to a nearby marina to show off his yacht and those of the other brokers who worked for his firm. The businessman looked down the line of beautiful craft and asked, “Where are the client’s yachts?” The broker didn’t have an answer. Read More

Advisors Fiduciary Responsibility

Summary: Investors should select an advisor that is obligated to act as a fiduciary. Investment advisors that act as a fiduciary have the fundamental obligation to act in the best interest of the client. It requires the advisor to put the client’s financial interest before their own. Read More

Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

Over 27 million Americans have been victims of identity theft and only 52% of these victims learned of the fraud by obtaining a credit report. The remaining 26% were contacted by their banks and 8% found out the hard way – by being turned down for credit. You can protect yourself by monitoring your credit throughout the year. Federal law grants you a free credit report each year from the three major reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Stagger your request from each company every 3-4 months to receive a free credit report throughout the year for no charge. Read More

The Truth About Annuities

Recently I’ve been wondering how many people would own annuities if they fully understood what they were getting. I also wonder how many advisors would sell annuities if they received normal fees and commissions on the sales. I suspect that in both cases, the number would be a lot lower than it is today.

Sure, some people truly benefit from the income security that annuities provide after retirement. Keep in mind that annuities are long-term contracts. A typical annuity begins with the payment of a single premium to an insurance company. In return, you receive payments over your lifetime that can help supplement other retirement savings and investments. Read More