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Deconstructing the S&P 500: How 36 Stocks Gave You 55% of the S&P's Return in 2014 Like a lot of investors, I watched the S&P 500 Index do very well in 2014, especially compared to holdings in small caps, international, and emerging markets. We own the S&P 500 index as a holding and I'm happy about that.  However, I couldn't help wonder how the S&P did so well. The pundits were decrying the death of active management, and new records on the S&P fell daily as the rest of logical investments sat relatively idle. So, I worked out a trusty spreadsheet with...
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Congress in Action
LJPR 12-17-2014 10:26
Congress in Action (err...Inaction)Alan D. Miller, CPA, PFSDecember 17, 2014In a new show of bipartisanship, the lame-duck Senate finally passed the 'temporary' one-year extension of a hodge-podge list of about 50 tax provisions that had expired at the end of 2013.  The 'tax extender' package retroactively reenacts these tax deductions and credits effective January 1, 2014, but they expire December 31, 2014.The House previously passed a two-year 'extender' package (which included permanent extensions of certain provisions) that, under a threat of a veto by the President, went nowhere in the Senate. Instead, the House passed a one-year extension last week and...
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This year, 2014, has been interesting so far. One major asset class, large US equities, is doing very well, compared to most other asset classes.  That’s great if you own large US equities (and we certainly do!). Having other asset classes, like small cap stocks and emerging markets, can make it trying, since all we ever hear about is the S&P 500 or the Dow. Ever hear the commentator on the news say, “today the MSCI Emerging Market Equity Index was up 1.4% on lower oil prices”?  A question we sometimes get is: ‘Why aren’t we doing as...
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Well, the elections are over and we can now watch attorney ads instead of nasty political ads. In general, the election went as we predicted. The Republicans have taken the largest house majority since WWII and now have the Senate. The question is what does this mean? There are two options: the GOP assumes a leadership role and tries to pass legislation (that the president will sign); or continues obstructionist roles. If the obstructionist strategy continues, we will have more brinksmanship and battles. On the other hand, if we get cooperation, a variety of things could happen. A possible outcome is...
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Unless you’ve been on a beach without cell phone service (in which case, I envy you), the market is exhibiting a vast amount of volatility and uncertainty.  In today’s world, we can find explanations for everything.  Amongst those is how the drop in oil prices and strong dollar are hurting the market, or that Europe is slowing (I hate to tell Europe, but they have been slow).  We see the glass half-full, and not half-empty.  Here’s why: Oil.  Oil prices have “tanked” (down over 20%), which is bad for oil companies and good for everyone else (OK, it’s bad for ISIS,...
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What Goes Up
LJPR 10-10-2014 11:46
What goes up…must come down…and up…and downOctober of 2014 has been an interesting month so far, just in the first seven trading days.  In seven days, the Dow Jones 30 industrials have moved (up and down) over 1,300 points.  That is significant volatility, especially since the movement tends to oscillate, in an ugly fashion reminiscent of early 2009.  I can’t help but wonder why.  Market movements are of course related to human behavior:  Mr. Market (as Warren Buffet calls the market), can’t make up his mind if he’s bullish or bearish.  Lately, it’s almost an even bounce:  down 270, up...
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