The Retirement Channel

Fourth Quarter 2018 - The Year When Nothing Worked

2018 will be broadly remembered as a year when nothing worked and daily stock market volatility spiked. This contrasted with 2017 where seemingly everything pushed higher, and volatility was low. But in 2018, nearly every single asset class and all but one major stock market index (Brazil) around the globe posted negative returns.

The Five Most Powerful Growth Hacks

Whether you follow a systematic approach to growth or are looking for an “easy button,” growth hacks are a path that any practice, team or individual advisor can leverage.

A Thousand Points of Fiduciary Light

The brilliance of Regulation Best Interest is how it sidesteps the 1940 Advisers Act to marginalize fiduciary duties for retail investors. It proclaims a broker suitability-styled standard to be in the best interests of investors. Industry advocates say it’s a strong investor protection rule. It’s not. It’s the opposite.

Weighing the Week Ahead: Will Corporate Earnings Results Change the Message of the Markets?

It is a light economic calendar without any of the most important reports. The government shutdown will command increasing attention as long as it continues. Finally, there is some real competition in financial news – the start of earnings season.

New Research on the Value of Global Diversification

Despite representing about one-eighth of global equity market capitalization, and despite the attractive valuations and growth prospects, the vast majority of U.S. investors have portfolios that dramatically underweight emerging market stocks. Here’s why that is a costly mistake.

Five Decades of Middle-Class Wages: December 2018 Update

We've updated this series to include Friday's release of the Consumer Price Index as the deflator and the December monthly update. The latest hypothetical real (inflation-adjusted) annual earnings are at $38,839, down 11.7% from 45-plus years ago.

An Annuity Hater Revisits SPIAs

I take a lot of flak when I write about annuities. That criticism has come from the insurance industry, because I have been highly critical of products like fee-laden variable annuities with complex menus of riders. But recent discussions and a new analysis have led me to reconsider SPIAs as a source of longevity insurance at a reasonable cost.

Why Advisors Should Distinguish Base and Discretionary Expenses in Retirement

Some advisors fail to highlight the difference between expense categories and claim that clients do not see food, shelter, insurance differently than country club dues or vacation cruises, hence the expense categories are combined and called ‘lifestyle expenses’. In our view, this is a distortion of affluence.

What Inflation Means to You: Inside the Consumer Price Index

Let's do some analysis of the Consumer Price Index, the best-known measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides all expenditures into eight categories and assigns a relative size to each. The pie chart illustrates the components of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, the CPI-U.

Investing in Decisions

Richard Thaler and Emmanuel Roman discuss behavioral science and investing.

Trending Up: US SIF Report Finds $12 Trillion Invested in Sustainable Assets

Interest in environmental, social and governance (ESG) investing has reached a new threshold across U.S. money manager, institutional and retail spaces, according to the US SIF's biennial "Report on U.S. Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing Trends" released last month.

The Latest Look at the Total Return Roller Coaster

Here's an interesting set of charts that will especially resonate with those of us who follow economic and market cycles. Imagine that five years ago you invested $10,000 in the S&P 500. How much would it be worth today, with dividends reinvested but adjusted for inflation? The purchasing power of your investment has increased to $14,727 for an annualized real return of 7.77%.

Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 17K, Better Than Forecast

This morning's seasonally adjusted 216K new claims, down 17K from the previous week's revised 233K, was better than the Investing.com forecast of 225K.

U.S. Workforce Recovery

We've updated our monthly workforce analysis to include Friday's Employment Report for December. The unemployment rate rose to 3.9%, and the number of new nonfarm jobs (a relatively volatile number subject to extensive revisions) came in at 312K.

Demographic Trends for the 50-and-Older Work Force

Note: This commentary has been updated with the latest numbers from Friday's Employment Report. Consider: Today nearly one in three of the 65-69 cohort and one in five of the 70-74 cohort are in the labor force.