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The Fed: Those Crazy Kids

One month they say they’re going to taper the current quantitative easing program…and a couple of months later they change their minds and decide to keep going. In the interim, interest rates on mortgages jumped, which put a slight damper on the housing market, and the markets fluctuated a little as they adjusted and readjusted to the news. 

This is a classic case of the markets reacting to “what we say, not what we do.” These days, anything the Fed says tends to result in knee-jerk responses that, while often short lived, reverberate throughout the economy.

While the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) acknowledged improvement in the labor market, consumer and business spending, as a whole, did not view the data as necessarily sustainable. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “FOMC Meeting Statement,” at The Federal Reserve, Sept. 18, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Fed’s About Face,” at Guggenheim, Sept. 19, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “What Rising Interest Rates Mean for Home Prices,” at The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 20, 2013.]

While the FOMC may act as one cohesive unit, it is actually comprised of a number of different bank executives with various dispositions and opinions on how to drive monetary policy in this country. In fact, one day after the Fed’s September announcement that it would stay the course, some members voiced their dissention with the latest decision. James Bullard, president of the St. Louis branch, admitted that the vote for the status quo was “borderline” and that he believed a small taper is possible in October.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Fed’s Bullard: Small Taper Possible in October,” at The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 20, 2013.]

As you would expect in a democratic society, the Fed is comprised of widely varying points of view, from those who vociferously oppose to those who aggressively support easy money policy. These viewpoints, along with continued tracking of hard data cited by the leading economic indicators, are how we as a country make decisions that impact our financial future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Wanted: A Boring Leader for the Fed,” at The New York Times, Aug. 20, 2013.]

Apparently, this same principal of financial management works well in the household. According to a recent study by the University of Missouri, spouses who plan together and share their vision of retirement tend to be more financially stable and have greater confidence during their golden years. Money matters are not the only thing at stake here; the changes in lifestyle and relationship that occur post-retirement can have a profound effect on a couple. It’s important to ask yourself the same questions you might have when you first got married, or when you decided to have children: How will retirement impact your relationship? As one of the study’s authors pointed out, retirement doesn’t always look like it’s portrayed in TV commercials.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Spouses Who Plan Together Are Best Prepared to Retire: Behavioral Study,” at ThinkAdvisor, Sept. 6, 2013.]

Not too unlike those crazy kids at the Fed, it’s important for each member of a couple to honestly voice their opinions about their future and the way it should be managed – both from a lifestyle and a financial perspective. Once you have all of the visions, dreams, and hard data aired and explored, only then can you reach a decision that represents your best interests going forward. 

If we can help you explore and reconcile the differences you and your spouse have regarding your retirement, please contact us.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to you for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

This information is not intended to provide any investment advice or provide the basis for any financial decisions. Be sure to speak with qualified professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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Lightning Strikes Twice

There’s a saying that lightning never strikes twice in the same place. If you’re talking about the atmospheric phenomenon, apparently that’s just a myth. And if you’re talking about the idiom that refers to the same bad things not happening to people twice in one lifetime, apparently that’s not true either.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Can Lightening Strike Twice?” at Tamu Times (Texas A&M University Department of Atmospheric Sciences), July 3, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Inside the life of the man known as the ‘spark ranger’,” at The Washington Post, Aug. 15, 2013.]

Just ask boardwalk vendors on the New Jersey shoreline. A recent boardwalk fire decimated many of the same businesses that were hit hard by Hurricane Sandy last October, which penetrated the same area with devastating floods. Many of the same businesses in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights that had rebuilt and reopened just this past summer were burned to oblivion on Sept. 12.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Water, then fire: 2 NJ shore towns suffer again,” at The Houston Chronicle, Sept. 13, 2013.]

As rare a phenomenon as it may be, one Oklahoma City suburb has been struck by EF4/EF5 tornadoes twice in a 15-year period. Imagine which is worse: Disaster striking again years later, once you’re back in your comfort zone, or less than a year later, when you still have your contractors on speed dial.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Moore in bull’s-eye twice, science may know why,” at CNN.com, May 22, 2013.]

Insurance is a big topic these days, and it’s getting to where we pretty much insure everything. We’ve got auto, homeowners, flood and life insurance. As we get older, more solutions are evolving for longevity and long-term care insurance. Health insurance is being reformed to make it more affordable. And now we have policies for gun and cyber protection insurance. Who knows where it will end?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Gun Owning Texans Investing in Gun Insurance,” at CBS Dallas/Ft.Worth, Aug. 12, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Insurance against cyber attacks may be coming soon,” at VentureBeat, Aug. 6, 2013.]

The reality is that insurance today is a very important part of our financial lives. It’s there to help ensure that when events occur — whether natural or manmade — we can have confidence in our financial strategy.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why More Expensive Insurance Can Pay Off,” at NPR.org, Sept. 10, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The New Flood Insurance Disaster,” at The New York Times, Aug. 28, 2013.]

We are happy to help you navigate the quagmire of insurance offerings in today’s market to help determine which types of policies, and the amount of coverage, is appropriate for your situation. Please contact us if you desire assistance developing a financial strategy.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

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Lessons from Syria: The Long and Short of It

One of the dominant headlines in August and September involves the conflict in Syria. The government is suspected of using chemical weapons against its own people in its battle with rebel forces — an atrocity that continues to be addressed by the United Nations and countries worldwide.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Syria: No War, No Victor,” at YouGov.com, Sept. 11, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Do Ordinary Syrians Want the U.S. to Intervene?” at YouGov.com, Sept. 13, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Could Syria strike back if United States, allies, attack?” at CNN.com, Sept. 2, 2013.]

There is typically a line that should not be crossed when it comes to conflict. With personal arguments, there is a fine line between the decibels one can reach before a discussion becomes a shouting match. In the criminal justice system, there are misdemeanors and felonies, and a certain line for which crimes are punishable by death. Those lines often move depending on where the defendant is prosecuted and the variables related to the crime.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Englewood Woman Sentenced to 28 Months in Federal Prison for Failure to Pay Over $4.7 Million in Employment Taxes,” at Justice.gov, Sept. 12, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Yahoo CEO fears defying NSA could mean prison,” at FoxNews.com, Sept. 12, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Richmond man gets 9 years for pulling gun on parking attendant,” at The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Sept. 13, 2013.]

Many of the bad decisions we make can lead to self-destructive behaviors intended to accomplish a short-term goal that, as a result, can wreck a long-term strategy. For example, the way stealing gum or soda from a dime store on a dare can wreck a teenager’s future. Or how taking steroids to enhance performance can derail a professional athlete’s career. Or the way using chemical warfare instead of plain old guns and ammunition in a civil dispute can ignite a global military strike.

But closer to home, reckless spending can wreak havoc on a long-term financial strategy. For example, spending more than you should on an expensive vacation — or taking too many of those expensive vacations during your working years.

Perhaps the lesson we can take from Syria’s actions is that we should temper our penchant for extreme behaviors to accomplish our goals. Just as you wouldn’t risk your annual income at Atlantic City for the chance to fund your retirement, you shouldn’t indulge in extravagant spending on a regular basis.

There’s always room for exceptions. Occasionally, you go all out for a special vacation — just not every year. Perhaps you raise your voice during an argument once in a blue moon, but choose your battles carefully for greater impact. We could all use a reminder that by focusing on long-term goals, we can avoid sabotaging our efforts for a short-term fix. Let’s hope that’s a lesson that Syria learns.

Please give us a call to see if our services can help you plan for your long-term financial future.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation. 

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Family Matters

With the recent ruling of the Defense of Marriage Act and subsequent IRS guidance on tax filings, today’s definition of “family” has changed substantially.

But honestly, the government and corporations are just beginning to catch up with today’s household. For millions of Americans, the typical family of a wife and a husband with 2.5 kids and a dog changed decades ago. Many adults today never even knew what that was like.

Today we have what has become known as the “blended family.” Some configurations may include young adults well into their twenties living at home with their baby boomer parents.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Here’s Exactly How Many College Graduates Live Back at Home,” at The Atlantic, Feb. 26, 2013.]

For years, we’ve heard about empty nesters who’ve had their divorced adult children (with grandchildren) move back into the family home. Now perhaps the opposite is true, as one in every four divorces is among couples age 50 or older — dubbed the “gray divorce.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How parents can adjust to an empty nest, avoid ‘gray divorce,’” at Minnesota Public Radio, Aug. 27, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “The Gray Divorce Revolution,” at the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, March 2013.]

Some household units span multiple generations, especially now that more seniors are living well into their 80s and 90s. It’s not unusual to see a household with an elderly senior, baby boomer with teenager and an adult child of the baby boomer with an infant and/or grade school-aged child. You have to wonder how all these generations can agree on what to watch on television.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “3 Generations Under One Roof,” at AARP, April, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Multigenerational Households,” at the U.S. Census Bureau, Aug. 2013.]

Then there’s the blended family created by second and third marriages, wherein different configurations of children, stepchildren and half-siblings live together, at least part of the time, in one household. Additionally, with the increasing acceptance of same-sex marriages, some may assume that adoptions will become more commonplace.

All of these combinations lend a whole new meaning to the word “dependent,” especially where taxes, insurance and estate planning are concerned. It will be interesting to see how well employers adapt their benefit programs to incorporate these new family issues.

For example, trying to figure out how to cover everyone in the household with health care insurance — one of the new mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — may be tricky. In a blended household in which some of the children live full time while others live part time, some may be covered by the household parent’s health insurance policies while others are covered by the ex-spouses’ — per the divorce agreements. However, say an ex’s policy doesn’t cover much-needed dental or vision insurance — can you cherry pick who gets what under your employer’s policy?

Or say you’re about to get remarried, and both of you have children of your own. If you and your spouse already have separate wills or trusts, those will need to be revised to reflect your new life circumstances so that all of your children — and any new ones resulting from the union — are protected now and in the future.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Complex Personal Issues Cloud Insurance Decisions,” at WebMD.com, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Blended Family Friday,” at Huffington Post, Sept. 6, 2013.]

If you are wondering what insurance products can help meet the interests of all of the members of your family, we’d like to help.

By contacting us, you may be offered insurance products that are available for purchase.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

This material is not intended to provide tax or legal advice. Consult with a tax advisor or attorney before making a decision about your individual situation.

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Entrepreneurs: From Whence They Come

The atrocities in Syria have been dominating news stories as of late. It seems, sometimes, that never again will we have quiet on the Western front — a period of peace to allow our broken economy to heal properly.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “9 questions about Syria that you were too embarrassed to ask,” at The Washington Post, August 29, 2012.]

Perhaps it’s appropriate to observe some of the more positive outcomes of our nation’s strong human capital resources. For example, when our soldiers returned home from World War II in 1945, the so-called “Silent Generation” quietly set about rebuilding their lives, contributing to the economy and creating the largest baby boom in history. Their efforts played a tremendous part in the boom of the post-war economy, and the private sector grew organically.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Economic Recovery: Lessons from the Post-World War II Period,” at Mercatus.org, Sept. 10, 2012.]

One of the things we’ve learned about vets is that they make great workers. And why wouldn’t they? There’s a spirit about entrepreneurship that is inherently…American. Perhaps that’s why so often veterans excel at business — they’re loyal to the principals of democratic capitalism, and understand the value of discipline and hard work.

CLICK HERE to read the article, “Veterans on the front lines of small business,” at CNNmoney.com, Aug. 30, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Why do military veterans make such great entrepreneurs?” at Inc.com, May 13, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Helping Veterans Pursue Entrepreneurial Dreams,” at Forbes.com, July 1, 2012.]

It’s interesting that people who become accustomed to taking orders also become accustomed to giving them. Perhaps that comes from being just a little bit behind the curve — oppressed, if you will. We often hear stories of women who emerge from nothing, with everything against them, who succeed in small business.

Perhaps it’s out of necessity — the “failure is not an option” dictum that single parents face. Perhaps it’s sheer determination to succeed when others say it’s impossible. In fact, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest percentage of women in the world who start businesses — because they need income as opposed to trying to tap a market opportunity.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Minority Women Entrepreneurs: Go Getters Without Resources,” at Forbes.com, Aug. 28, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2012 Women’s Report at Babson College, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Success is Even Sweeter When You’ve Been Down and Out,” at Inc.com, Sept., 2013.]

Whatever incites that level of determination and perseverance — it’s American alright. Say what you will about this being a nation of brash, arrogant cowboys. Yes we are. We’ve earned that reputation through grit and sweat and soiled hands — both literally and metaphorically.

Much like the veterans who lifted this country out of the Depression Era, we will persevere. Despite terrorist attacks, unscrupulous money managers, and corrupt politicians — we will press on, just as our forefathers did and as we serve as a role model for future generations.

Whether you’re interested in starting a new career because you’ve separated from the military, or because you want to try something new in retirement or because you just plain hate your job, entrepreneurship is the backbone of the American economy. Bring it on.

We’re here to help you provide assistance with developing a retirement income strategy — now and in the future. Bring us in.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance products.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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In the Middle

Remember Jan Brady of the Brady Bunch? She always lamented being the “middle child,” because Cindy got attention for being the littlest and “Marsha, Marsha, Marsha” got attention as the oldest. Much like other children “in the middle,” Jan felt she got lost in the shuffle and no one cared about her.

 

And so the lament continues with America’s middle class. According to a Pew Research report, middle-class Americans feel they are “fewer, poorer, [and] gloomier” after a lost decade marked by stagnant incomes, shrinking wealth, and greater financial stress and uncertainty. The middle class can be seen as facing new challenges in the current economy.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “The Lost Decade of the Middle Class,” at PewResearch.org, August 22, 2012.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The strange death of the British middle class,” at TheSpectator.com, Aug. 24, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Obama returns focus to America’s struggling middle class,” at PewResearch.org, July 24, 2013.]

 

President Obama proclaims to care about Jan Brady and all of her “in the middle” cohorts. In a recent speech, he declared that prosperity needs to come from the “middle out” rather than the top down. A recent article in the New York Times echoed the administration’s sentiment that a thriving middle class is the path to a stronger economy. In other words, paying attention to Jan Brady may be the key to turning this country’s economic woes into good fortune.

 

To that end, the President has proposed a new higher education plan to make college more affordable for the middle class — and everyone else. The first phase is to create a university rating system that assesses each college’s ability to graduate students and help them get good-paying jobs. The second phase — which is bound to be more controversial — is to financially incentivize colleges with the best track record in these areas.

 

This approach is similar to the one trending in the health care industry: To pay doctors and hospitals based on positive patient outcomes rather than services rendered.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “President Adopts Catchphrase to Describe Proposed Recipe for Economic Revival,” at The New York Times, July 22, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Would Obama’s higher-ed plan actually make college a better deal?” at MSNBC.com, August 22, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the research report, “Accountable Design for Accountable Care,” at McGraw-Hill Research Foundation, March 4, 2013.]

 

Education may well be an important part of our future, as many believe that a renaissance in American manufacturing will not yield a huge increase in jobs for middle Americans. That’s because manufacturing these days is so technologically advanced that machines do most of the work. So-called “blue collar” workers must have the education and experience to operate and troubleshoot sophisticated computer-operated machinery.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “In Manufacturing, Blue-Collar Jobs Need White-Collar Training,” at National Journal Magazine, May 29, 2013.]

 

For now, Jan Brady and the rest of the middle class bunch will attempt to adjust to the current circumstances as best as they can. According to the Social Security Administration, the program’s benefits continue to be key to the financial well-being of America’s retirees. So until we all become as well off as the so-called 1 percent, it can be important that we spend each dollar responsibly, understand our financial options, and not mope about wishing we could all be Marsha and Greg.

 

If you could use some assistance developing a financial strategy, we’re here to help.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Social Security is crucial to the middle class,” at MarketWatch.com, Aug. 22, 2013.]

 

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.     

By contacting us, you may be offered insurance products that are available for purchase.

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Hidden Fees

Henry David Thoreau once wrote, “Our life is frittered away by detail.” It does often seem that way where finances are concerned. For example, despite the consumer protections advanced by the Credit Card Act of 2009, you may still get hit with mystery merchant fees such as “Free-to-paid” and “Zombie” charges.

 

“Free-to-paid” refers to trying out a product or service for free, but then not actively cancelling it after the free period has ended. This is similar to getting free movie channels when you initially buy cable TV service, only to receive substantially increased cable bills when the free period ends.

 

Or worse yet, “Zombie” charges refer to something you signed up to receive and then thought you had cancelled, but the charge continues to show up on your bill. According to a recent study released last month from software company BillGuard and research firm Aite Group, Zombie charges occur 11.9 million times each year for total revenues of more than $826 million.

 

Despite the call for greater fee transparency, another recent study found that the average bank checking account has 30 fees, and many U.S. banks still don’t provide a list of these charges until after a customer applies to open an account.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “5 Common Hidden Credit Card Charges,” at FoxBusiness.com, Aug. 7, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Hidden Fees Eating Up Your Bank Balance,” at Marketwatch.com, Aug. 8, 2013.]

A cursory look at any of your utility bills may also reveal a list of administrative charges beyond your actual consumption, and it can be difficult to discern what these charges are for. Most of us just pay the bill and don’t look back. However in July, a handful of Washington legislators sent letters to Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and CenturyLink requesting justification for these types of extra fees tacked onto consumer bills. We all know that those aggressive cell phone rates touted in TV ads do not represent what we actually pay on a monthly basis. It’s just another way our checking account balances get frittered away. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Democrats investigate hidden fees on internet, cell phone bills,” at TheHill.com, July 18, 2013.]

Another area in which Washington has mandated more transparency is in 401(k) fee disclosure statements. The fact is though, that many people won’t read this disclosure no matter how easy it is to understand. After all, your employer is the one who picks the fund choices, so you may not get a whole lot of say in how much is charged in fees. The reality is that your 401(k) plan may offer other similar choices that do not charge as much. It’s worth taking a look. 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “How to find ‘hidden’ 401(k) fees,” at CBSnews.com, July 30, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to watch the video, “How to avoid hidden 401(k) fees,” at CBSnews.com, July 26, 2013.]

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

If you could use some help evaluating what you’re paying for the administration and management of your assets compared to what you receive in return, please give us a call. We’re happy to help in any way we can.

By Contacting us, you may receive information regarding insurance products available for purchase.

For guidance on your securities holdings, please consult with a broker dealer or Registered Investment Advisor.

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

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The Immigration Debate

Alice Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, recently wrote an article supporting immigration reform. According to her article at Marketwatch.com, if the current legislative bill were passed, it would substantially reduce Social Security costs as a result of increased taxable earnings.

 

Her comments are based on an analysis provided by the Social Security Administration, which estimated that the bill would extend the solvency of the program by an additional two years (to 2035).

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Immigration Reform Will Help Social Security,” at Marketwatch.com, Aug. 7, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read Social Security’s findings in a letter report at SSA.gov, June 28, 2013.]

 

 

Bolstering the Social Security Trust Fund is just one of the issues integral to the ongoing debate about border control. The Senate passed its version of the bill in June, which would make the biggest changes to the immigration system in more than 25 years. Among the changes is to offer citizenship to millions of immigrants now in the U.S. illegally and to establish a mandate for extra security along the border of Mexico.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “Senate OK’s Sweeping Immigration Overhaul,” at Marketwatch.com, June 27, 2013.]

The technology industry has strongly supported the legislation, citing a shortage of highly-skilled workers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently spoke in favor of the immigration bill, advocating for the tech industry’s needs for more work visas and a better green card system.

 

 

However, a recent study revealed that some of today’s perceptions of available tech job candidates are flawed. Interestingly, there appears to be a shortage of qualified workers for lower level, computer systems analyst positions, but for higher-skilled positions such as computer programmers, there are more than enough potential candidates in the United States.

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Mark Zuckerberg: Immigration stakes high for tech, undocumented immigrants,” at Politico.com, Aug. 5, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Silicon Valley Fights for Immigration Talent,” at Technology Review, July 26, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Big Data Analysis Adds to Guest Worker Debate,” at The New York Times, July 23, 2013.]

 

Opponents of the bill call for a greater need for border enforcement and a defined path to work and citizenship rather than blanket amnesty, including a probationary period with specific requirements before illegal aliens can apply for a legal work permit. In an interview on CBS’s Face the Nation, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) argued that, “Then and only then can that person get a legal work permit, no special path way. And if a person in this situation wants to get in the line to get a green card, like any other immigrant, only at the back of the line, because we need to be fair to that legal immigrant who did everything right in the first place.”

 

 

Furthermore, the U.S. department that represents immigration agents sent a letter to Congress to report that the agency is ill-prepared to handle the tremendous number of visa applications that could result from passage of the bill.

 

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “‘Borders First’ a Dividing Line in Immigration Debate,” at Pew Research, June 23, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read a transcript of the Ryan Face the Nation interview at CBS, Aug. 4, 2013.]

 

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “USCIS Union Criticizes GOP DREAM Act,” at NumbersUSA.com, Aug. 1, 2013.]

 

Much like other economic events, the immigration bill could potentially impact your personal economics. If you’d like to discuss your personal needs, please give us a call.

 

 

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

 

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

 

 

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Do Jobs Matter as Much as Engagement?

In July, the U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs and the unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent from 7.6 percent in June. However, job market numbers are complex. According to The Wall Street Journal, 227,000 more people said they were employed in July compared with June, but concurrently 37,000 dropped out of the overall labor force — a possible sign that those discouraged by being jobless for a long time simply are no longer looking for work.

[CLICK HERE to read the news release at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, August 2, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Good and Bad News in Unemployment Rate Drop,” at The Wall Street Journal, August 2, 2013.]

Interestingly, a lot of folks who have jobs appear to be none-too-happy. There have been significant new studies in the last couple of years regarding “employee engagement” — loosely defined as just how much workers are “in to” their jobs. For example, a February 2013 study by Dale Carnegie Training found that up to 71 percent of employees are not fully engaged.

[CLICK HERE to view the study infographic, “Employee Relations Key to Engaged Employees,” at Dale Carnegie, May 10, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the 2012 Global Workforce Study at Towers Watson, July 2012.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Secrets of America’s Happiest Companies,” at Fast Company, January 10, 2013.]

A new study from Aon Hewitt concludes that employee engagement is one of the key drivers of business success. This would stand to reason, but it’s nice to have some numbers to back it up. The study found that each incremental percentage point of employees who became engaged translated into an additional 0.6 percent growth in sales. Total Shareholder Return (TSR) is also impacted. For businesses that achieve 72 percent employee engagement (the top quartile), their TSR is 50 percent higher than organizations with average engagement.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, “2013 Trends in Global Employee Engagement,” at Aon Hewitt, August 2, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “The Proof is in the Profits: America’s Happiest Companies Make More Money,” at Fast Company, February 22, 2013.]

While it’s good that more Americans are working, it’s disconcerting that there is a sustained high level of people who are not fully engaged in what they do for a living. That factor alone can have far-reaching ramifications, ranging from individual company performance and stock prices, to safety and health concerns for both employees and the consumers they serve, and possibly even down to our education system. After all, how well do students learn if teachers aren’t engaged?

 

By the same token, it’s important that we take responsibility and remain engaged in planning our own financial future. Don’t get lackadaisical and think that the markets or government programs will always provide — make sure you take precautions and plan for possible contingencies. To learn about how our services may be able to help you, please give us a call.

 

By contacting us, you may be offered information regarding the purchase of insurance. The links contained within are for informational purposes only. They have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed.

 

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Fed Chairman: Economic Influence, Conjecture and Perspective

At first glance, one might think that the president of the United States — arguably the most powerful person in the free world — is the most influential force on economic growth. Recent history has proven otherwise. From Alan Greenspan to Ben Bernanke, it’s become evident that — to paraphrase from an old advertising slogan from the 1970s — when the Fed chairman speaks, people listen.

Since Bernanke’s May 22 Congressional testimony, the S&P 500 Index corrected from its all-time high of 1,687 to a low of 1,560 on June 23. Ten-year Treasury yields also rose about 100 basis points to a high of 2.7 percent, and spreads on corporate bonds widened sharply. Less than a month later, Bernanke relieved the mayhem by stating that monetary easing was likely to continue for some time, which resulted in the financial markets stabilizing and reducing volatility. The S&P 500 soared back to its May highs.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Taper talks: Changes in the Fed’s monetary policy, or even talk about change, may stir up the markets,” at Fidelity.com, July 21, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “It’s time to stop listening to Bernanke,” at Marketwatch.com, July 26, 2013.]

 

So now the big debate is over who will take over this immensely powerful positionthe power to move markets, influence global monetary policy, sink ships and leap over tall buildings in a single bound. Or the like.

 

There is (largely Republican) support for former Secretary of the Treasury Larry Summers, an aggressive voice who tends to oppose quantitative easing. There is (largely Democratic) support for Janet Yellen, a 20-year Federal bank veteran and recognized consensus builder. She appears to be a proponent for aggressive Fed intervention to help improve unemployment levels, even if that means allowing inflation to increase above target.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Right now, Larry Summers is the front-runner for Fed chair,” at WashtingtonPost.com, July 23, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Senate Dems push White House to appoint Janet Yellen (and not Larry Summers) to the Fed,” at WashtingtonPost.com, July 26, 2013.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Does the Fed Chair Need to Be a Great Manager, or Just a Great Economist?” at Harvard Business Review, July 25, 2013.]


Bernanke’s tour of duty will end early next year. It appears, however, that the debate for his replacement will continue for quite some time. The White House has indicated that it will not name a new chairman of the Federal Reserve until the fall, giving us the rest of the summer to review pundit pros and cons over who is the best candidate for economic superman (or woman) for the next four-year term
.

[CLICK HERE to read about current board members at “About the Fed,” at FederalReserve.gov, September 12, 2012.]

 

If you’d like to discuss how economic indicatorsincluding federal decisionscould impact your financial situation, please call us for a meeting.

These articles are being provided to for informational purposes only. While we believe this information to be correct. We do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included.

 

By contacting us, you may receive information regarding insurance products available for purchase.

 

The information and opinions contained herein are provided by third parties and have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed by our firm. Content is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation to buy or sell the products mentioned. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.   

 

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