POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 13, 2017



• Pay me more

Sometimes I am totally baffled by the head-in-the-sand and sheer stupidity of many who make their  living on Wall Street, in Washington, the insurance industry, corporate America, etc.,  regarding wages.

Recently I read a headline in the financial section of an online source that hoped to draw readers in by listing the reasons why people don’t save enough money for their retirement.

The headline brought out a big Homer Simpson “D’oh” in me. Why? Because I see the answer as clear as the nose on my face.

If it isn’t clear to you, let me explain: The reason is because wages—for those with a job– still stink. And that translates into the simple reality that people aren’t bringing home a paycheck fat enough to cover monthly expenses never mind having enough to save for retirement. Many of whom, btw, live paycheck to paycheck, couldn’t handle a family emergency expense of 500 bucks and have no retirement account of any sort.

Thinking everybody has enough money to save for their retirement is just plain ignorant. About as ignorant as thinking that keeping healthy is a personal choice—no genetics involved there.

I’m not sure why the not-enough-money thing is so hard for those in corporate America, Congress, etc. to get. Unless, of course, keeping your company’s shareholders happy has become more important that paying a decent living wage to the individuals who keep your business in business. Or perhaps pure greed is behind it all. But we all know that greed has never made a country—or the citizens living in it— great.

It’s time for those who decide pay scales to wake up. Wages not keeping up with the cost of living isn’t a new story. It’s decades old. And unless serious changes are made, won’t be going away anytime soon.


  • Market Quick Glance

Stock indices were all down at the close of this past 4-day week on Wall Street. Biggest hit was to the Russell 2000—its 1-year performance closed under water. We haven’t seen that kind of year-to-date return in more weeks than many would like to mention.

Re the markets, iIf you haven’t realized it by now, Americans don’t like wars. Or any worries or concerns about the likelihood of one anywhere in the world that the US might be involved or participate in.

And if you haven’t realized it by now, our current president has a bullying nature that some see as a positive while others find his  behavior as undermining our country’s security.

So, even though earnings reports may be strong in some sectors, nothing is stronger than fear. Realized. Unrealized. Made up. Or in-your-face.

These are delicate times. Invest carefully.

Below are the weekly and 52-week performance results— including the dates each has reached its high, according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending  Thursday, April 13, 2017.


-Dow Jones +3.49% YTD, down from last week’s 4.52%

  • 1yr Rtn +14.10% down from last week’s 17.75%

The DJIA reached an all-time high of 21,169.11 on March 1, 2017.


-S&P 500 +4.03 YTD down from last week’s 5.21%

  • 1yr Rtn +11.82% down from last week’s +15.36%

The S&P 500 reached an all-time high of 2,400.98 on March 1, 2017.


-NASDAQ +7.84% YTD down from last week’s +9.19%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.37% down from last week’s 21.23%

The Nasdaq reached its all-time high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.


–Russell 2000 YTD  -0.88% way down from last week’s +0.55%%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.20% down  from last week’s +24.87 %

The Russell 2000 reached its all time high of 1, 414.82 on March 1, 2017.


-Mutual funds


At the close of business on Thursday, April 13,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds closed at 2.98%, down from last week’s 4.17% return, according to Lipper.

Of the 20 different fund types that fall under the broad U.S. Diversified Fund heading, for the first time this year there wasn’t one group reporting a double-digit year-to-date average return. Top and bottom fund types include Equity Leveraged Funds, up on average 8.95% and Dedicated Short Bias, -6.75%.

Even World Equity Funds lost ground. The average fund under this heading was +8.21% down from last week’s 8.59%.

Visit www.allaboutfunds.com for more information about 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.

  • The cat is out of the bag

There are no words to  excuse the violent behavior that grown adults imposed on United Airlines passenger Dr. David Dao last week. Dr. Dao’s injuries include a broken nose, teeth knocked out, a concussion and the impossible to gage long-term trauma he will suffer.

One of the results of that horrible encounter is that airlines will pay.

No, I’m not speaking of the lawsuit Dr. Dao will likely bring but the pretty much kept-to-a-secret amount of money airlines would pay to passengers willing to give up their seat on overbooked flights.

On the day of the incident, United offered passengers $400 and a free night in a hotel if they chose to take a later flight, according to Graffiotech.com.

Turns out, the cap on dollars offered within the industry is $1,350.

Who knew?

I’m guessing not many passengers.  If they had  been offered a four-figure amount to get off that plane, perhaps that incident would not have happened. Perhaps.

As a result of this better-not-ever-happen-again incident, Delta Air Lines has just upped the please-take-another-flight-offer  ante: According to The Associated Press, Delta gate agents can now offer up to $2000 to passengers choosing to take another flight—that’s up from $800. And better yet, Delta supervisors can now offer up to $9,950—up from 1350.

Perhaps, sums like that will be attractive enough to passengers and make a change of plans more palatable for all concerned.

We shall see.






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