POCKETBOOK:Week ending Sept. 3, 2016

IMG_0204•Labor Realities

I remember when a goodly number of stores were closed in celebration of Labor Day. Of course, that was decades ago and in the last generation. Today, more people than ever work on this national holiday. Bummer.

I also remember when government figures weren’t quite so confusing. The G-man’s figures didn’t appear to have the need to be sliced and diced as they currently are. Or, updated as frequently.

But there are many more of us today than there were decades ago and as a result, government facts and figures aren’t what they used to be.

As a result, anyone wanting to get a handle on how many people are working—or not working — todayyou’ve got to look beyond the first paragraph of any copy addressing that subject.

For example, on Friday the Labor Department reported that the unemployment rate remained at 4.9 percent in August. But that’s the U-3 number (metrics that show the state of jobs), according to CNBC.com.

But wait—there’s more: A broader definition of the unemployment rate is called the U-6 rate. At the end of August is stood at 9.7 percent.

Go figure.

  • Market Quick Glance

The stock market was showing its stuff as of the close of business on Friday, Sept 2, 2016. All four of the indices below closed higher than they had the previous week, according to Bloomberg. Perhaps performance was in celebration of the anticipated Labor Day weekend. Maybe not.

Whatever. If stock indices are an indication of the state of our economy—there’s no room for any investors to complain about America not being great—-it has been for investors year-to-date and over the past year.

On that note, I don’t recall any talking heads who said they expected 1-year returns on equities to be in the mid- to high-double digits this year. But, that’s where they stood as of September 2nd, as you will see in the following numbers.

Below are the closing YTD performance numbers of four popular US indices along with their 1-year performance figures.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +8.19% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +17.94%

-S&P 500 +8.27% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +15.98%

NASDAQ +5.84% YTD

  • 1yr Rtn +13.61%

Russell 2000 +11.29 %

  • 1yr Rtn +11.86%

-Mutual funds

At the close of business on Thursday, September 1, 2016, the average YTD return of U.S.Diversified Equity Funds was +6.17%,according to Lipper.

On their continued slide downwards, the average YTD return on Precious Metals Equity Funds fell under 100% to 95.70%.

Lipper’s Sector Equity Funds, where you will find the Precious Metals heading, also continued to lose ground. At the close of business on Thursday the average fund under this heading it was up 11.72%.

Domestic L-T Fixed Income Funds were up, on average, 6.16%. And World Income Funds up over 10% at 10.04%.

Wondering how best to use Lipper’s fund performance figures? Use their YTD returns as a guideline for how your individual fund(s) are performing. For instance, the average stock fund is up about 6.5 percent so far this year. Are your stock funds doing better or worse than that?

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for weekly updates to see how various equity and fixed-income funds have rewarded investors over the short-and long-term, based upon Lipper data. Short-term meaning weekly and monthly performance returns; longer-term includes quarterly, year-to-date, 1-yr, 2-yr, 3-yr and 5-yr returns.

Lipper’s weekly performance figures for stock and fixed-income funds are at www.allaboutfunds.com in the left column on the home page.

  • How to Negotiate

Working or not, every one of us will need to negotiate our way into something—or out of something—at some point during our lives.

According to Ken Marlin, a Marine, executive and author, you can’t win in a negotiation unless you are willing to walk away and call the whole thing off. You’ve also got to be willing to tell the truth.

Those are two of Marlin’s nine negotiation rules from his new book, The Marine Corps Way to Win on Wall Street: 11 Key Principles from Battlefield to Boardroom.

In a nutshell, here are Marlin’s nine rules of negotiations from the chapter “Negotiate from the High Ground” in his book:

9 Negotiation Rules from Ken Marlin

Rule 1: Be prepared to walk away from the table.

Rule 2: Know where you are going.

Rule 3: Recognize when you have leverage—and when you don’t.

Rule 4: Tell the truth.

Rule 5: Remember the peace.

Rule 6: Negotiate big things before little things.

Rule 7: Don’t bully.

Rule 8: It is personal.

Rule 9: Take reasonable, defensible positions.

(Full disclosure: I have not read Marlin’s book. Found the negotiating tips on a blog and  thought they  were worth sharing.)

 

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