August 2009 - Forecasts & Trends

Forecasts & Trends is much more than just investment blog posts. You need to know the "big picture;" you need to have a "world view," especially in the post-911 world; and you need more information than ever before to be successful in meeting your financial goals. Gary intends to help you do just that.

Forecasts & Trends

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    • "Death Panels" Aside, End-of-Life Planning Is Important

      Discussions about so-called 'Death Panels' in health care reform have been a hot topic on both conservative and liberal media outlets across the country. Whatever you think of the term, such discussions about possible rationing of health care has forced all of us to look beyond the immediate effect of health care legislation and consider what it might become in the future. I usually refer to this as the "law of unintended consequences," but this time I think the eventual move to a single-payer system that rations care is fully intended. Obama has said as much in the past on numerous occasions.

      Death Panel discussions, however, have also had another positive effect. I have read a number of articles by doctors and other professionals who welcome the issue of end-of-life planning being brought into the forefront. It seems that the controversy has made it fashionable to talk about this very difficult stage of life planning, which is a good thing. I can tell you from my experience as an Investment Advisor that many people die without having first provided their loved ones with sufficient information to carry on their financial affairs. This week, I'm going to talk about how to avoid the confusion and pain that can result from loved ones being uninformed about your financial matters upon an untimely death. I have also negotiated a discount on a very worthwhile resource that will help you gather this necessary information and keep it updated.

    • Is The Recession Over? Don't Bet On It

      Over the last month, we have seen several encouraging economic reports: 2Q GDP was down considerably less than expected (-1.0%); the unemployment rate officially fell slightly in July to 9.4%; and the ISM manufacturing index posted a nice improvement last month. As a result, many forecasters have declared that the recession is over. This week, we will look at the latest economic reports which suggest that we've seen the worst of the recession, but do NOT mean the recession is over. I will also reprint excerpts from a recent economic and market analysis from Dr. John P. Hussman, of the Hussman fund family, which I think you will find interesting.

    • Retirement Focus: Target-Date Funds in the Crosshairs

      Target-date funds have been touted as an excellent alternative for 401(k) plan participants who either can't or won't do the work necessary to build their own retirement portfolios. These funds offer a one-stop shopping approach by offering an automatic asset allocation scheme within the fund that is based on a future retirement date. However, like most one-size-fits all solutions, these funds have some serious drawbacks. In fact, some of these funds did so poorly in 2008 that government regulators are now considering special allocation and disclosure rules. This week, Mike Posey will fill us in on the pros and cons of target-date funds and why they may not always be the best alternative for investors.

    • Recession May End But Growth Prospects Low

      Last Friday's better than expected GDP report has caused many forecasters to declare that the recession is ending. While I would say that it is still too early to declare that the recession is ending, the latest data strongly suggests that we've seen the worst of this recession and the credit crisis. Even if the recession is ending, economic growth going forward is likely to remain disappointing since the unemployment rate will continue higher for some time to come. We will look at the latest economic numbers and draw some conclusions as we go along. We will also look at the latest survey of over 100 large hedge fund managers and what they predict for the economy, stocks, interest rates, etc. It all should make for interesting reading.