Recession Watch

John Lim  |  Oct 25, 2021

I’M PLAYING ECONOMIST today, looking ahead to third-quarter GDP, the first estimate of which will be released Thursday. No, I won’t be offering a forecast. There are plenty of highly capable economists doing just that. Rather, my goal is to discuss what few in the media are talking about. Could a recession be in the offing?
According to economists Paul Samuelson and William Nordhaus, a recession is defined as “a period of significant decline in total output,

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Beyond the Numbers

Adam M. Grossman  |  Oct 24, 2021

BACK IN THE 1950s, economists Franco Modigliani and Merton Miller developed a theory that, even today, is taught in virtually every finance class.

To understand the theory, suppose you’re running a company and want to build a new factory. To raise money for the project, you generally have two options: You can sell shares to investors or you can borrow money. No one disputes that basic framework, but Modigliani and Miller added a twist: They argued that,

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Calculated Courage

Jonathan Clements  |  Oct 23, 2021

THE S&P 500 STOCKS are up roughly 100% since March 2020’s market low. I’m 100% clueless about how much longer this remarkable run will last. But I’m 100% confident that, when the next downturn comes, many investors will rush for the exit, fearful that their stock holdings will soon be worth little or nothing.
Which brings me to one of the most important investment concepts: intrinsic value.
No, intrinsic value isn’t a simple notion and,

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The Call on AT&T

Sonja Haggert  |  Oct 22, 2021

HAVE YOU EVER HELD a stock for years and grown to love it? What if your research now says it might be time to break up?
Many years ago, I bought AT&T. It was the perfect stock for a dividend investor like me. It was a dividend aristocrat, meaning it had increased its dividend for at least 25 years. In fact, AT&T had been increasing its dividend for more than three decades.
But while the dividend was always generous,

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Fit to Be Bought

Ron Wayne  |  Oct 21, 2021

I ALMOST NEVER MAKE fast decisions. But I bought a used car in August immediately after seeing it. If I hadn’t, I might still be looking.
Inventories for new cars are at record lows. Prices for used vehicles are at record highs. This was not the year to buy another car, but I wanted to replace my 14-year-old Mazda sedan with a more reliable vehicle for long trips to see my children. I was tired of months isolated at home,

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My Mentor

Ben Rodriguez  |  Oct 20, 2021

FOURTEEN YEARS AGO, my father-in-law was diagnosed with a blood cancer—multiple myeloma—and given five years to live. Ever since, he’s been battling it like a warrior. But he’s dying now, and he won’t be around much longer.
My father-in-law grew up without money to Depression-era parents. He earned his way into a prestigious college, and eventually received a PhD in chemical engineering. He had an impressive career as an engineer with a large chemical company in the Midwest.

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Keeping Score

Phil Kernen  |  Oct 19, 2021

WHAT’S YOUR CREDIT score? That’s hard to answer because none of us has just one. You likely have a dozen or more. So how did consumers come to think that one credit score—the FICO score—is the sole reflection of their ability to repay a loan?
Following decades of growing consumer spending, and associated data collection, the Fair Credit Reporting Act of 1970 required credit bureaus to open their files. The intent was to protect consumers from lenders who were relying on incorrect information.

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Fighting IRMAA

Richard Connor  |  Oct 18, 2021

I TURNED AGE 64 over the Labor Day weekend. One of my goals for my 65th orbit of the sun is to really dig into Medicare.
Luckily, I have a few friends and relatives who have blazed the trail before me. I’ve also studied Medicare as part of some financial planning courses I took a few years ago. Still, one topic I’ve never researched in detail is Medicare’s income-related monthly adjustment amount, otherwise known as IRMAA.

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Teaching the Teacher

Adam M. Grossman  |  Oct 17, 2021

I RECENTLY STARTED reading Think Again, the new book by Adam Grant. Subtitled The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, Grant’s book got me thinking about all the ways that, over the years, conversations with clients have led me to look at things through different lenses. Below are eight such topics:

1. There’s one important financial question that stumps most everyone—for good reason. In building a financial plan,

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An F in Retirement

Mike Drak  |  Oct 16, 2021

IT’S EMBARRASSING to admit in a public forum that I failed at retirement. But I’m doing so—because I think people can learn from me, and thereby avoid making the same mistakes.
I spent my entire 38-year career in the banking industry. Naturally, I learned a lot about money and investing. I helped thousands of clients save for their own retirement. On top of that, my wife is an investment advisor.
But despite all that knowledge and expertise—and having enough money to retire comfortably—I still managed to find my way into retirement hell.

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Medicare and Me

Ron Wayne  |  Oct 15, 2021

AND SO IT BEGINS again—trying to figure out the mess that is Medicare.
A 132-page book from the Department of Health & Human Services arrived in the mail recently. “Medicare & You 2022” is four pages longer than the 2021 edition I received earlier this year, when I was turning age 65. I could barely bring myself to pore through the pages of that one, as I endeavored to understand the myriad choices facing me as I hit that magic milestone.

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My Total Portfolio

Charles D. Ellis  |  Oct 14, 2021

TIME AND AGAIN, we’re reminded to fully understand a question—particularly when the question is complex—before acting or deciding not to act.
“Johnny pushed me” may have been the whole story, but not likely. Why did Johnny push David? What was the context? How are the two boys connected? What’s their history? Was it a big push? Did it do harm?
Ideally, we want to know the whole situation before we decide what to say or do.

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A Tangled Web

Rick Moberg  |  Oct 13, 2021

I SERVED ON A GRAND jury earlier this year. We heard more than 100 cases during our three-month stint. Our task was to issue an indictment if the state showed probable cause that a crime occurred. If we indicted, cases would then move on to traditional jury trials.
Some cases involved cybercrime. Others included private records subpoenaed by the District Attorney’s office from technology and phone companies, financial institutions, hospitals and commercial businesses. The experience was eye-opening.

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What It Really Costs

Matt Trogdon  |  Oct 12, 2021

A LOT OF INK HAS been spilled over young people’s spending decisions and the impact on retirement savings. Whether it’s a latte or a lunch out, the thinking goes, we all spend money on daily trifles that rob us of a much greater sum in the future. Back in 2019, Suze Orman made headlines when she likened a daily takeout coffee habit to “peeing $1 million down the drain.”
I’m sympathetic to this line of thinking,

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Feeling Naked

Richard Quinn  |  Oct 11, 2021

I BEGAN WRITING this article after reading a Facebook group’s page filled with derogatory comments about seniors and technology. The comments related to seniors’ inability to use a smartphone. Talk about stereotyping. The fact is, some of us seniors are addicted to technology—at least the nontechnical part.

For example, I recently went shopping and forgot something vital. No, I had my face mask. What I was missing was my smartphone. Smart is an appropriate word because,

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