All posts by dianvujovich

POCKETBOOK: Week ending May 19, 2017

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  • Loving our rides

About 43% of the population has an auto loan. That translates to a record 107 million Americans and up from 80 million in 2012, according to figures from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

Of those 107 million, roughly 6 million people are 90 days or more behind on their car payments.

Oh dear. That’s bad news for people who need their vehicles but can’t afford them. And good news for those with the how-in-the-world-can-they-do-that-job Repo Man.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Although the 1-week and 1-year returns on all of the four indices below show mixed results, what’s staggerily delightful is how these indices have performed over the past year: The DJIA up over 19%; the S&P 500 up over 16%, NASDAQ ahead over 29% and the Russell 2000 up nearly 25%. Those kind of 1-year returns aren’t common—they are exceptional.

Be mindful of that.

Below are the weekly and 1-year performance results— including the dates each reached new highs— according to data from CNBC.com. Data is based on prices at the close of business for the week ending on Friday, May 19, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.27% YTD down from last week’s 5.74%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.33% up from last week’s 17.92%

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

 

-S&P 500 +6.38% YTD down from last week’s 6.79%

  • 1yr Rtn +16.75% up from last week’s +15/83%

The S&P 500 reached a new all-time high of 2,405.77o on May 16, 2017. (The previous high of 2403.87 was reached on May 9, 2017. Before that, the previous high of 2,400.98 was reached on March 1, 2017. )

 

-NASDAQ +13.01% YTD down from last week’s +13.71%

  • 1yr Rtn +29.10% down from last week’s 29.21%

The NASDAQ reached another new all-time high for the fourth time this year of 6,170,16 on May 16, 2017. (The previous high of 6,133 was reached on May 9, 2017 and before that 6102.72 reached on May 2, 2017. Before that the new high of 6074.04 was achieved on April 28, 2017 and before that date a high of 5,936.39 hit on April 5, 2017.)

 

–Russell 2000 +0.75% YTD down from last week’s +1.89%

  • 1yr Rtn +24.90% up from last week’s +24.73%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high of 1,425.7 on April 26, 2017.

(Its previous high of 1,414,82 was reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-Mutual funds

At the close of business on Thursday, May 18, 2017, the average year-to-date performance of U.S Divesifed Equity Funds was +4.77%.

Under that broad umbrella heading it was Large-Cap Growth Funds that lead the way, up 12.68%, followed by Multi-Cap Growth Funds, up 11.41% and then Equity Leverage Funds, up 11.39%.

Under the Sector Funds heading it was Global Science/Technology Funds returning the most with the average fund in it up 20.95%. And under the World Equity Funds heading, India Region Funds continue to reign, up on average 24.56%.

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.

•Keeping up with the Jones’ and the U.S. Census Bureau

According to TheBalance.com, every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau comes out with figures that measure the average net worth of all of us.The last time the numbers were calculated  was in 2011 and the next one coming is in 2021. Their net worth results take into consideration upon both household income and age. For instance, while the median wealth per household for all households is $68,828, the median wealth of those younger than 35 is only $6,676.Look at other age groups and you’ll find different results. For those aged 55-64, the median wealth jumps to $143,964. And where you’ll find the wealthiest households is for those  in which the age range is 75 or more, it’s $155,714.If you’re puzzled by these figures, and think they seem considerable lower than what you may have heard or read before, keep in mind that the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. government don’t count things in the same way. Surprise. Surprise.Why? Because the gov looks at wealth by income while the U.S. Census Bureau by net worth. Using the governments income figures, for the 20 percent of folks whose income falls in the lowest quintile their median net worth is -$6,029. Those in the middle, have an average net worth of $68,828. And those in the top 20 percent have an median net worth of $630,754.So that explains why there is such a huge difference in median net worth figures. And, how close to impossible it is to keep up with the Jones’.
Read the full story, “What Is the Average American Net Worth?”, written by Kimberly Amadeo and updated on May 12, 2017 at www.thebalance.com ,

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending May 12, 2017

 

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•Now and Then

Now: Age reality

From a story by James Fallows at theatlantic.com: “The tangled affair now known as Watergate began 45 years ago, before most of today’s U.S. population had ever been born.”

Fallows piece, “Five Reasons the Comey Affair Is Worse Than Watergate”, pointed out that the median age of Americans today is about 38. And for most people “Watergate is a historical allusion…”

From me: Age reality is important to keep in mind whenever you’re trying to understand and figure out why things are as they are in the markets, politics, the economy and your personal life.

Then: Stocks and Watergate

In case you’ve been wondering, the Dow Jones Industrial Average hadn’t hit the 4-digit mark before Watergate. Really. Truly. Kinda hard to believe that today, isn’t it.

But, according to a May 11, 2017 Reuters.com story by Rob Cox comes this: “The Dow stood at a little under 1,000 in early February 1973, just before Congress voted to create a select committee to look into the Nixon camp’s activities during the 1972 election.”

“Toward the end of 1974, after the president was forced to quit in August that year, the average had tumbled to a nadir below 600 points for a loss of over 40 percent, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data…”

From me: Huh.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Not much to yahoo about except that NASDAQ once again reached a new all-time high. As for the other indices, most year-to-date and 1-year returns lost ground last week.

Going forward, the bulls appear to still be bullying as the bears continue growling.

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 on Friday, May 12, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.74YTD down from last week’s 6.30%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.92% down from last week’s 18.95%

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

 

-S&P 500 +6.79% YTD down from last week’s 7.17%

  • 1yr Rtn +15,83% down from last week’s +17.00%

The S&P 500 reached a new all-time high of 2403.87 on May 9, 2017. The previous high of 2,400.98 was reached on March 1, 2017.

 

-NASDAQ +13.71% YTD up a tad from last week’s +13.33%

  • 1yr Rtn +29.21% down a tad from last week’s 29.33%

The Nasdaq reached a new all-time high for the third time this year of 6,133 on May 9, 2017. (The previous high of of 6,102.72 was reached on May 2, 2017. Before that new high was 6074.04 an achieved on April 28, 2017 and before that date the high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.)

 

–Russell 2000 +1.89% YTD down from last week’s +2.94%

  • 1yr Rtn +24.73% down from last week’s +26.09%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high of 1,425.7 on April 26, 2017.

(Its previous high of 1,414,82 was reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-Mutual funds

 Mutual fund performance figures will be updated later this week.

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.

 

•More indexes than stocks

Here’s a little something to chew on: Mix in the number of ETFs around with the number of indexes available for investors to pick from and the number of indexes now outnumber the number of stocks.

According to Bloomberg.com, “Traditional ones such as the S&P 500 are collections of securities weighted by market value, and the index funds mimic them as a low-cost way to deliver the market’s performance. Many new indexes are different: They include stocks based on custom criteria, such as having low volatility or high dividends..”

The full story, including charts, can be found at: https://bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-05-12/there-are-now-more-indexes-than-stocks .

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending May 5, 2017

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  • Great advice

Last week CNBC.com ran a great story with a lot of sound advice in it titled, “5 of the smartest ways to invest your money, according to millionaires and billionaires”, written by Kathleen Elkins.

As you will learn from the piece, there is more to making money than making money. In a nutshell, here are the five points from that story many of us would be wise to learn from:

-Warren Buffet, who we learned this past weekend is not afraid or ashamed to admit he has made investing mistakes: Invest in companies you know.

-Barbara Corcoran, “Shark Tank” star and founder of the mega-successful real estate group that bears her name: Invest in your wardrobe.

-David Bach, a self-made millionaire and personal finance expert: Invest in a home.

-Grant Cardone, also a self-made millionaire: Invest in yourself.

-And from New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick comes this: Invest in your relationships.

The entire story can be found at:  http://www.cnbc.com/2017/05/04/smart-ways-to-invest-your-money-from-millionaires-and-billionaires.html.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Gains in three of the four indices followed below. Plus, one index reached a new high while one lost ground last week from the previous one.

It was NASDAQ that scored a new high last week on May 2, the second new high so far this year. And it was the Russell 2000 that slipped over the week.

That said, the bulls were still running wild on Wall Street. When will they fall continues to be anybody’s guess.

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 on Friday, May 5, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +6.30 YTD up from last week’s 5.96%

  • 1yr Rtn +18.957% up from last week’s 17.44%

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

 

-S&P 500 +7.17% YTD up from last week’s 6.45%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.00% up from last week’s +14.86%

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

 

-NASDAQ +13.33% YTD up from last week’s +12.34%

  • 1yr Rtn +29.33% up from last week’s 25.85%

The Nasdaq reached a second new all-time high so far this year of 6,102.72 on May 2, 2017. (Previous new all-time high of 6074.04 was achieved on April 28, 2017 and before that date the high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.)

 

–Russell 2000 +2.94% YTD down from last week’s +3.19%

  • 1yr Rtn +26.09% up from last week’s +22.80%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high of 1,425.7 on April 26, 2017.

(Its previous high of 1,414,82 was reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-Mutual funds

Results for the week ending Thursday, May 4, 2017 are not available.

Below is a repeat of last week’s numbers:

At the close of business on Thursday, April 20 ,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds was 4.64% that’s up considerably from last week’s 2.98% return, according to Lipper.

Just as World Equity Funds continue to reward equity investors, up 8.86% on average, fixed-income investors in bond funds investing around the globe has been reward too.

So, if you’re a fixed-income fan, the best year-to-date returns are in the World Income Funds arena. Lipper tracks 808 of them in five different categories.

In order of performance, year-to-date cumulative total reinvested performace for World Income Funds, as of 4/20/17, was as follows:

-Emerging Markets LC Debt Funds, +7.34%;

-Emerging Markets HC Debt Funds +5.31%;

-International Income Funds, +3.64%;

– Alt Currency Strategies, up 3.04%;

– and Global Income Funds, +2.75%.

As a comparison, the average return for the 2,511 funds under the General Domestic Taxable Fixed-Income Funds heading was 2.14%

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.

 

• ETF scores

The Bespoke Investment Group published its listing of ETF performance results on May 6, 2017.

Below are a few examples of where money has been made—and lost—in the ETF universe so far this year:

-Three of the highest returning US Equity ETFs so far this year include:

-QQQ, NASDAQ 100 up 16.24%

-IWB, Russell 1000, up 7.30%

-SPY, S&P500, up 7.28%

 

-Three Global Equity ETFs winners include:

-EWP, Spain, up 22.34%

-PIN, India, up 21.17%

-EWH, Hong Kong, up 18.17%

 

RXS, the Russia ETF, was the only downer in that global group. It was down 1.98%.

 

-And three ETFs where money has not been made in 2017 include:

-UNG, Natural Gas, down 21.20%

-USO. Oil, down 16.36%

-XLE, Energy, down 10.10%

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 28, 2017

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  • It’s May

 Fans of the Wall Street adage, “ Sell in May and go away”, know the strategy has some merit  and historically has paid off. On paper anyway.

Folks at the Bespoke Investment Group did their research and found that  $100 invested for 50 years in the S&P 500 and owning stocks from May through October would have returned a puny $139. But investing 100 bucks and owning stocks for 50 years from November through April would have paid off to the tune of $2,136.

Huh.

  • Market Quick Glance

A big week for a couple of indices: Both the NASDAQ and the Russell 2000 reached new highs during the week ending Friday, April 28, 2017. Yippy skippy for them. The DJIA and S&P 500 preformed well too, just no new highs.

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 on Friday, April 28, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +5.96% YTD up attractively from last week’s 3.97%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.447% up from last week’s 14.27%

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

 

-S&P 500 +6.45% YTD up from last week’s 4.91%

  • 1yr Rtn +14.86% up from last week’s +12.30%

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

 

-NASDAQ +12.34% YTD up handsomely from last week’s +9.80%

  • 1yr Rtn +25.85% up from last week’s 19.50%

The Nasdaq reached a new all-time high of 6074.04 on April 28, 2017.

(Its previous high of 5,936.39 on April 5, 2017.)

 

–Russell 2000 +3.19% YTD up from last week’s +1.67%

  • 1yr Rtn +22.80% up from last week’s +21.49%

The Russell 2000 reached a new all-time high of 1,425.7 on April 26, 2017.

(Its previous high of 1,414,82 was reached on March 1, 2017.)

 

-Mutual funds

Moving ahead.

At the close of business on Thursday, April 27 ,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds was 6.40%. That’s a nice jump up from last week’s 4.64%, according to Lipper.

Four fund types with the highest average returns under that broad heading and through that date were Equity Leverage Funds, 13.69%, Large-Cap Growth Funds, 12.14%, Multi-Cap Growth Funds, 11.42% and Mid-Cap Growth Funds, 10.05%

Under the Sector Equity heading where the average fund is up 4.07%, Global Science Funds were the biggest winners with average y-t-d returns of 17.98%. Commodities Energy Funds the biggest losers, down 13.68%.

And around the world it’s India where the money is being made. Lipper tracks 24 India Region Funds. Average y-t-d return for the group was 25.13%

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.

• Lookout

A few things to consider going forward:

  1. Last week I wrote that expecting less from the stock market might wind up being more so I’m with Jack Bogle, the founder of Vanguard, who recently warned investors to plan for and expect lower returns going forward. “These are hazardous time. There are not cheap times. In the market, one never knows what is coming next,” said Bogle in a CNBC interview.
  2. Covering the costs of a tax reform plan that is based on the relative short-term future growth of our country is as goofy as thinking that the Earth is flat. Economic growth is not a sure thing in the near- or short-term. Outlooks, hopes and promises saying so are poppycock.
  3. Never invested in stocks before? Don’t start now unless you are absolutely positively sure that you don’t/won’t need the money anytime soon. Like in  the next three, five, 10 or 15 months or even a few years out. Investing over the short-term always comes with accepting much more risk than does investing for the long-term, like 10, 20, 30, or 50 years.

 

 

 

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pbTrumpBits#10: Walls

Big and beautiful walls in Palm Beach.

The president says that he wants America to build a wall across our Mexican border that he promises will be a “big, beautiful wall.”

Palm Beachers know a thing or two about building big and beautiful walls—the town is dotted with them. Like the proposed Mexican border wall, these walls also  exist to keep the riffraff out and undesirables off  their land.

Given that the prez is having trouble finding the dough to build his Mexican border wall, I’m thinking he might want to rethink things. Like, making the wall shorter and more aesthetically appealing. Kinda like the wall on Worth Avenue’s Esplanade building is  (that’s the one with the arches in the picture above). Or, like any of the other three pictured.

I know the 45th isn’t exactly a nature lover and that he seems to spend taxpayer dollars as if they were his own and  we all  were multi-billionaires.  But I also know he’s a beauty guy and  loves all things beautiful, like golf courses and  women.

So given his MO,  let’s get behind the guy and suggest he go with a  shorter  wall.  It would  save all of us taxpayers billions of dollars. And, at the same time, instill a positive psychological message to anyone who happens to be  height challenged reminding them that  short is beautiful too.

 

 

POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 21, 2017

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• Are you irrationally exuberant?

To be an equity investor you’ve got to have confidence in the market. Believing that it can be a financially rewarding place to invest your money is step one. But just like believing in ourselves isn’t a 100% always felt every day of our lives situation, our level of confidence in the stock market can go through huge swings over both the short- and long-term.

The Bespoke Investment Group looked at two of the four investment confidence questions that Yale’s International Center for Finance regularly surveys investors about. The four market confidence questions are about one year confidence, buy-on-dips confidence, crash confidence, and valuation confidence.

The two questions Bespoke recently addressed in a newsletter were the “one-year confidence and “valuation confidence” questions.

Yale’s survey found that individual investors are “crazy bullish on stocks”. While less than 2% of institutional investors don’t expect any gains from the Dow over the next year, individual investors have been head-over-heals bullish about the market as 90.9%  think it will be providing them with future gains over the next year.

This same individual investor group also doesn’t give much of a hoot regarding market valuations.

So, two questions you might like to ask yourself are what kind of returns do ou expect from the Dow over the next year. And, how confident are you about the stock market’s performance going forward.

Once you’ve answered those questions in that order, reverse the order and ask yourself once again. Your two sets of answers may  surprise you.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Last week was a week of uppers for the major indices followed here. All made positive gains with respect to their previous week’s performance, based upon Friday, April 21, 2017 figures . And that’s the good news.

As for what’s to come, well, Friday (the 28th) brings with it the very unwelcome opportunity for a government shut down and on Saturday (the 29th), it’s time for President Trump’s 100-day performance review. Additionally, the prez has also pretty much  promised a new health care bill and a tax reform presentation during the week, as well.

Whew!

With all of that, and the current existing world-wide tensions, if I were an oddsmaker, I’d be suspect of those expecting grandiose returns in the market over the next few days. Expecting less might wind up being more.

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 on Friday, April 21, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +3.97% YTD, up a bit from last week’s 3.49%

  • 1yr Rtn +14.27% up a bit from last week’s 14.10%

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

 

-S&P 500 +4.91% YTD up from last week’s 4.03%

  • 1yr Rtn +12.30% up from last week’s +11.82%

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

 

-NASDAQ +9.80% YTD up from last week’s +7.84%

  • 1yr Rtn +19.50% up from last week’s 17.37%

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

 

–Russell 2000 +1.67% YTD% up from last week’s -0.88%

  • 1yr Rtn +21.49% up from last week’s +19.20%

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

 

-Mutual funds

Improvement again.

At the close of business on Thursday, April 20 ,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds was 4.64%. That’s up considerably from last week’s 2.98% return, according to Lipper.

Just as World Equity Funds continue to reward equity investors, up 8.86% on average, fixed-income investors in bond funds investing around the globe have been reward too.

So, if you’re a fixed-income fan, the best year-to-date returns are in the World Income Funds arena. Lipper tracks 808 of them in five different categories.

In order of performance, year-to-date cumulative total reinvested performance for World Income Funds, as of 4/20/17, was as follows:

-Emerging Markets LC Debt Funds, +7.34%;

-Emerging Markets HC Debt Funds +5.31%;

-International Income Funds, +3.64%;

– Alt Currency Strategies, up 3.04%;

– and Global Income Funds, +2.75%.

As a comparison, the average return for the 2,511 funds under the General Domestic Taxable Fixed-Income Funds heading was 2.14%

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.

 

• Uppity drug prices

Some pharmaceutical companies seem to love overdosing on raising their drug prices. Then again, if they didn’t they might not have any growth to show.

According to a recent CNBC.com story addressing a study by Credit Suisse about drug companies, “Increases in the prices of drugs added $8.7 billion to 2016 net income for 28 companies analyzed.”

The Credit Suisse report identified three companies that were most dependent on price increases for their growth: Biogen, Eli Lilly and AbbVie.

The companies that relied the least on drug price increases were BioMarin, Gilead, Novo Nordisk and Regeneron.

 

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pbTrumpBits#9: Earth Day and Trump’s seawall

Pics of Mar-a-Lago on the day Donald Trump was inaugurated, Friday, January 20, 2017. Note the water level on the seawall.

In the late afternoon of the day The Donald, (remember when he was called that?), took the oath of office to become the 45th President of the United States, I figured it was in the best interest of all to do some simple water-level documentation.

Knowing that this prez does not believe in climate change, and has plans to cut off funds regarding it, having a snapshot of the water level at Mar-a-Lago’s seawall could one day prove to be worth it  for climate change deniers.

I even thought of starting a contest in which folks could pick the day, date, time and year in which the seawall would be breached and water flood the back lawn of the estate. Only problem is, Florida living brings with it a whole host of rainy, stormy and windy weather, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. And any one of them could raise the level of the water in Lake Worth, aka, the Intracoastal Waterway, behind the estate. Meaning, deciding when the water hits the grass because of climate change could be tricky.

So, my pictures will have to tell the how-climate-change-impacts-Mar-a-Lago story.

Anyone who is able to think knows that climate change isn’t fairy tale or fake news. It’s a true reality that’s backed up with facts like this: Sea levels in South Florida are now about four inches higher  than they were in 1992, according to The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Additionally, every savvy realtor in the state realizes that a rise in sea levels can impact all properties along the ocean and  Intracoastal and swamp property values.  And Palm Beachers aren’t likely to see that as a  “Make America Great Again” plus.

So on this fabulous Earth Day, take the time to celebrate all the glory in nature that surrounds you. Then, take a moment to realize that all things on our planet Earth change over  time. That’s just how it is.

 

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POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 13, 2017

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• 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.

-Indices:

-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

Ouch.

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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pbTrumpBits#8: Easter Egg Hunting

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My dog Gracie, all decked out for Easter and hopping to find an official Easter Egg Hunt somewhere in Palm Beach realizes egg hunts aren’t all created equally.

Of course I want to give my dog the best. So of course I called Mar-a-Lago to find out if they were having an Easter Egg Hunt this weekend. And of course the woman who answered the phone said, “Yes.”

When I asked which day and at what time, she asked if I were a member of the Club. Of course I said “No.” That $200,000 membership fee would pretty much wipe out my retirement fund. Priorities, you know.

Learning I wasn’t a member, the phone person said she couldn’t give me any other information but did confirm that there would be an Easter Egg Hunt open to Mar-a-Lago Club members only.

Of course Gracie was disappointed. But I told her not to worry. There’s no telling if the eggs in the hunt would have been prepared properly anyway as inspectors have cited the Club for a number of food violations. And nobody, whether they have two- or four-legs, wants to deal with rotten eggs.

Of course she understood. Then, gave me one of those looks that said she was glad we hadn’t forked over any of our retirement money for a membership in a place that has less than a five-star spick-and-span kitchen and costs a fortune to hang out at. She is a very wise dog.

Fortunately,  Palm Beach isn’t a one-Easter-Egg-Hunt town.

On Saturday there’s an Easter Egg Hunt at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, that’s the church the Trump’s frequent on holidays. This year the hunt is a part of the church’s Spring Carnival, begins at 10 a.m. and is free to attend. No membership of any sort required.

And of course there is the Flagler Museum’s super spectacular Easter Egg Hunt. It’s on Saturday, gates open at 9 a.m. and the hunt for over 8,000 eggs begins at 10.

Nothing free about this hunt, unless you’re a member of the Museum. If you’re not a member, the Easter Egg Hunt tariff is $18  for adults and $15 for children.

Sadly, all of the Easter Egg Hunts mentioned are just for two-legged creatures. And ofcourse, Grace understands. She always does.

Happy Easter Egg Hunting.

 

POCKETBOOK: Week ending April 8, 2017

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• Jobs. Really?

However you’d like to spin the jobs story, truth is it’s worse, better and not as great as many would hope.

The bad news: In March only 98,000 jobs were created. The Street expected almost two times that amount, 180,000.

The good news: That month’s unemployment rate was at a 10-year low of 4.5 percent. CNBC.com  reported that the “real” unemployment rate is 8.9 percent—the lowest in over nine years.

Some not so hot truths: That same source reported that retail jobs fell by 30,000 and construction jobs totaled 6,000 after they gained  59,000 in February.

One tiny plus, average hourly wages are up 2.7 percent on an annualized basis.

That translates to a 0.54 cent an hour increase for those with a job paying 20 bucks an hour.

 

  • Market Quick Glance

Some ups, some downs and NASDAQ  reached a new high during the week.

And that’s how it was when the market closed on April 7, 2017.

As for what’s to come, the bulls still see stock prices going higher. The bears, not so much. But what’s more important than those animals, is how your own portfolio is performing. Make the changes you need in order to meet your own personal financial goals.

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 April 7, 2017.

-Indices:

-Dow Jones +4.52% YTD, down a hair from last week’s 4.56%

  • 1yr Rtn +17.75% up from last week’s 16.84%

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

 

-S&P 500 +5,21 YTD down from last week’s 5.53%

  • 1yr Rtn +15.36% up from last week’s +14.71%

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

 

-NASDAQ +9.19% YTD ‘bout the same from last week’s +9.18%

  • 1yr Rtn +21.23% down from last week’s 24.87%

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

 

–Russell 2000 +0.55 YTD% way down from last week’s 2.12%%

  • 1yr Rtn +24.87% up a bit from last week’s +24.41 %

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

 

-Mutual funds

Downers and uppers.

At the close of business on Thursday, April 6,2017, the average total return for U.S. Diversified Equity Funds closed at 4.17%, down from last week’s 4.82% return, according to Lipper.

The average return for funds under the Sector Equity Fund heading were up 3.96%, a bit more that last week’s 3.51%.

World Equity Funds, on the other hand, lost a bit. The average fund under this heading was 8.59%. Last week that figure was 8.97%.

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.

  • Stores you once knew and loved are closing their doors

If the number of store closings is any indication of the times and our habits, it seems as though people prefer shopping online to walking into their favorite brick-and-mortar store and shopping there.

We can thank Amazon, drones, and people addicted to their hand-held shopping devices, i.e., smart phones, computers and tablets, for that.

From Bloomberg.com comes these tidbits on the subject: Payless Inc. has filed for bankruptcy and will be closing hundreds of stores; Ralph Loren Corp. is closing its flagship Fifth Avenue Polo store; Rue 21 is preparing to file for bankruptcy; HHGregg Inc., Gordmans Stores Inc. and Gander Mountain Co., have all entered bankruptcy. Radio Shack has filed for Chapter 11 for the second time in two years.

Sears Holding Corp., Macy’s Inc., and J.C.Penny Co. are closing hundreds of stores but have not filed for bankruptcy.

This picture isn’t pretty and there’s likely more closings and bankruptcies to come.

Sadly, shopping at the mall seems to be going the way of landlines, in-person meet- and-greets and all sorts of other human interactions.

Could this problem be solved if salaies for the low- and mid-level worker  got a big boost up and people had more money to spend? Me thinks so.

 

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