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The Special Earnings Test

 March 20 2017     Anna Pfaehler
A client recently received a 5-figure bill from Social Security requesting that he pay back all benefits paid to him last year within 30 days. Such a notice will make anyone apoplectic. Luckily, we were able to sort out the confusion and eliminate the client’s bill.  According to the Social Security administration, our client had violated the earnings test. If you are under full reti...

The U.S. Economy is Huge

 March 20 2017     Matt Woebkenberg
Another picture from Visual Capitalist.  This one shows U.S. states renamed for countries with similar GDP's.  Click picture to view bigger version.

GDP Growth Above 3% Is Attainable

 March 19 2017     David Templeton
One component of the Trump administration policies is to improve the growth rate of the economy through an infrastructure spending policy, reducing taxes and regulations and increasing spending on rebuilding the military. While campaigning he stated his policies would return the economic growth rate, GDP, to 3%. A number of economists, along with the Federal Reserve, indicate moving the growth rat...

Friday Financial Terms - Fed Funds Rate

 March 17 2017     Matt Woebkenberg
A consistent topic in financial media is that interest rates are abnormally low around the world right now due to the various policies of the central banks throughout the world.  In the United States, our central bank is the Federal Reserve (often simply called the Fed).  The Fed has the power to set one very short term interest rate called the Fed Funds Rate.  Changing this short term interest ra...

Pension Plan vs. 401(k)

 March 16 2017     Matt Woebkenberg
There is a constant debate on the merits of pension plans vs. 401(k)'s.  A quick google search will find you plenty of results, but my favorite is a Wall Street Journal article about how even the "creators" of the 401(k) regret what they created.  The widespread 401(k) dislike comes largely from the fact that all reports on retirement saving in the U.S. are negative.  People quite simply do not ha...

We're RICH!!!

 March 15 2017     Matt Woebkenberg
2016 was the richest that U.S. households have ever been. The above chart from Scott Grannis at Calafia Beach Pundit shows that household net worth has reached a new high due in large part to the growth in financial assets.  This growth can be quickly unwound in a recession (see 2008 drop off), but for now, everyone enjoy being rich.

Status Quo and the Future of the Euro

 March 14 2017     Matt Woebkenberg
A recent Bloomberg article titled "How the Euro Could Break Up - Or be Saved" reminded me of our recent pessimism vs. optimism posts (and specifically the one focused on the EU).  The article addresses potential circumstances where the euro would be destroyed as a currency, and others where the euro would persevere and even strengthen.  Experts then weigh-in on the likelihood of each happening.The...

Individual Investor Freedoms

 March 13 2017     Matt Woebkenberg
Josh Brown had an interesting post recently titled, "Who are you competing with?" that succinctly summarizes the freedom that individual investors have vs. professional investors.  Individual investors have absolutely no reason to compare themselves to a benchmark or to compete with any other investor.  Sure it would be great to return 20% each year and get rich, but if 5% per year gets you to you...

Market Advance May Have Stalled On Concerns Around Timing Of Tax Reform

 March 12 2017     David Templeton
For the first few trading days in March, the equity market seems to be consolidating the gains achieved in February. Sideways or small market pullbacks have been a common pattern for the market since the election. For the most part the market has corrected over time (sideways movement) versus a steep contraction during the post election advance. This type of market pattern can be frustrating to in...

Friday Financial Terms - Debt & Equity

 March 10 2017     Matt Woebkenberg
As we state in our "About this blog" section on the left, much of the purpose of this blog is to avoid financial jargon.  We hope this helps readers to understand our blog, but we also want readers to understand the "jargon" that they see elsewhere.  To that end, we have decided that our Friday posts going forward will have a common theme: defining financial terms in plain English.  There will be ...
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