A Year After Tax Reform: Using Roth Conversions Strategically

Following a turbulent end to 2018, financial markets are off to a fast start in 2019.  The U.S. stock market has recouped its December losses with both large and small company stocks making sizeable gains. Foreign stocks rose over 10% in the first quarter but are still clawing their way back from a lackluster 2018.  Quietly, bonds had a stellar quarter (considering the low interest rate environment of the last decade), notching their highest quarterly return since early 2016.   It is a difficult task to identify and quantify the specific causes of any market move, but there are a few...
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Stock Market Volatility Is Back: How Should Long-Term Investors React?

Happy New Year! To say that 2018 was a challenging year for investors would be an understatement. Without question, it was the most volatile year since the 2008-2009 financial crisis. During the fourth quarter, global stock markets collectively struggled, giving back gains made earlier in the year. U.S. stocks experienced one of the most volatile Decembers on record, with the S&P 500 Index moving more than 1% (up or down) ten times during the month. Diversification across equity asset classes yielded little relief with developed foreign, emerging markets, and real estate securities all...
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U.S. Stock Market Continues to Impress, But Diversification Remains Paramount

As the third quarter of 2018 comes to an end, we are reminded that the world is ever-changing, markets are increasingly global, and patient investing remains critical to long-term success.  The key headlines for the third quarter included continued dominance of U.S. stocks, increased strength of the U.S. dollar, rising interest rates, questions about the relationships with our foreign allies and foes, and a plentiful supply of political news.  Although the rise of the U.S. stock market seems impressive (the S&P 500 Index notched its best quarter in nearly five years), it is important to...
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Charitable Giving: How to Optimize Your Contributions in 2018

After a rocky first three months of the year, U.S. stocks rebounded in the second quarter with both large and small company indices posting material gains. Foreign shares did not fare as well, possibly due to the U.S. adopting a more aggressive stance on trade policy, including new tariffs on major trading partners (e.g., China, Europe, Mexico, and Canada). Continued strength in the domestic economy allowed the Federal Reserve to raise short-term interest rates in June for the second time this year. The 10-Year Treasury bond yield, a benchmark for longer-term interest rates, has risen...
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Long Term Portfolio Planning: How Much Can You Safely Withdraw?

After a strong 2017, financial markets took investors on a turbulent ride during the first quarter of 2018. Following its first correction since 2016, the S&P 500 index of large U.S. stocks quickly recouped losses and finished the quarter only slightly negative on a total return basis (‐0.8%). Most major market indices were a bit lower, with the real estate securities index experiencing the largest decline (‐5.8%). The increased volatility was attributed to several economic and geopolitical developments, including the President’s proposed tariffs on China and other U.S. trading partners...
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The Tax Cuts and Job Act of 2017: What It May Mean for You

Happy New Year! We hope that you had a joyous holiday season surrounded by friends and family. The year 2017 began and ended on somewhat similar notes. In January, the stock market rose on hopes that newly proposed tax cuts would boost corporate profits and spur economic growth. As the year came to a close, a sweeping tax reform package passed and markets continued their upward trend as individuals and corporations digested the implications. Overall, equity markets worldwide added to their impressive 2016 gains. After four years of U.S. stocks outperforming foreign markets, the tide changed...
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Tax-Efficient Investing: It’s Not What You Make, It’s What You Keep

The beat goes on for the second longest bull market in history.  For the eighth consecutive quarter, the S&P 500 Index notched a positive return.  Small U.S. stocks showed strong gains after a quiet start to the year, up nearly 35% since the beginning of 2016 and reaching all-time highs.  Foreign stocks continued to best their domestic brethren, posting a 21% return year-to-date and reaffirming the importance of staying globally diversified.  Interest rates remain historically low, even after the Federal Reserve’s two rate hikes this year, with a potential third hike on the way in...
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Interest Rates on the Rise: What Does This Mean for the Stock Market?

Global equity markets continued their upward trend in the second quarter with most major indices moving higher.  Foreign stocks led the way again, outperforming domestic stocks by a sizable margin.  Political headlines continued to dominate the U.S. news cycle as the Trump administration tackled controversial issues such as healthcare, tax reform, and foreign policy -with little movement or legislative traction.  Despite the polarized political backdrop, stock market volatility was almost nonexistent during the quarter; the S&P 500 closed more than 1% higher or lower on just two trading...
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Tempering Expectations: Potential Headwinds After an Eight Year Bull Market

After a prosperous 2016 for equity investors, global markets sustained their upward momentum in the first quarter of 2017 with most major indices ending higher.  Mounting evidence of stronger global economic growth, combined with hopes for tax reform and deregulation in the United States, lent confidence to investors worldwide.  Foreign markets led the way during the quarter, outperforming U.S. stocks. Asset class returns for the quarter were as follows: Index Asset Class First Quarter 2017  Barclays U.S. Govt./Credit—Int.  Fixed Income  0.8%  S&P 500  Large U.S. Stock  6...
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The 2016 Election: The Pitfalls of Market Timing

Despite a tumultuous political environment, patient investors were rewarded in 2016 with healthy stock market gains in numerous asset classes.  The S&P 500 Index of large U.S. stocks turned in a 12.0% return for the year, its eighth consecutive year of positive returns.  Small U.S. stocks climbed even higher, with the Russell 2000 index up 8.8% for the quarter and 21.3% for the year.  Other areas of the global stock market - foreign stocks and real estate securities in particular - booked more modest gains.  For the fourth year in a row, U.S. stocks outperformed those of developed foreign...
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