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Our Country Viewed from Afar

A recent trip to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos left me in awe of the stunning display of economic progress in that part of the world.  Driving in to Ho Chi Min City from the airport offered a testimonial to the success they are achieving as they move toward a free-market economy.  A string of automobile dealerships included those of Rolls Royce, Aston Martin, Jaguar, BMW, Mercedes --- and a complement of other major brands.  Our guide pointed out that changes happened overnight in 1995 when President Clinton lifted the sanctions that had persisted for the tw

Tech and small cap funds were ‘too hot not to cool down’

Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things” describes market performance in recent weeks with lyrics such as, “If we’d thought a bit about the end of it, when we started painting the town, we’d have been aware that our love affair, was too hot not to cool down…”  which brings us to a collection of tech funds and small cap funds that gained from 25 to 35 percent over the past 12 months — until last week. Too hot not to cool down, in other words.

The Retirement Income Gap and Helpful Hints for Plan Sponsors

The Retirement Income Gap

Many American workers participate in company retirement plans, methodically contributing to their accounts over time to fund for life after work. Beyond benefiting from employer-funded plans, retirees commonly draw from additional savings tucked away in IRAs or after-tax savings accounts as well. Add Social Security payments to the mix and it should be a recipe for a secure retirement, right?  

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Avoid being poor, strive to be rich in single retirement account

The famous dialogue between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Earnest Hemingway is subject to much nitpicking as to who said what, but supposedly Scott said, “the rich are different from us…” and Hemingway replied “Yes. They have money.”  So to paraphrase, we might say, “those with more than an adequate sized retirement account are different. They have money.”

Is the punchbowl half empty or half full?

I don’t know about you, but I tend to worry about things that probably wouldn’t faze the average person.  Worrying is a habit that I’ve had for as long as I can remember, but the practice, for the most part, has worked.  Nothing catastrophic has happened.  So how does someone with this mindset come to terms with a 9½-year stock market expansion marking the longest in history. With market cycles typically lasting from four to seven years, I could have started worrying about five years ago — and for sure starting two years ago.

Factor taxes when making Social Security decisions

Every time I take further interest in Social Security, I learn something I didn’t know; it’s like the layers of an onion. In the 19 years of writing this column, I’ve written about different aspects of the program 13 times — everything from the quality of government bonds that fund it to different strategies for getting the most out of what we have contributed over the years.

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