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Littlejohn Letters

March 16, 2015

posted Mar 16, 2015, 3:59 PM by Katie Shook   [ updated Mar 16, 2015, 3:59 PM ]

Personal Note
 
This week we're a little light on the banter and a little heavy on the announcements.  That's because it's March Madness week.  And you know what that means?  Productivity drops as college basketball viewership spikes.
 
Each year we host an extended lunch at our office to watch the tournament.  That is this Friday (March 20th) from 11am to 2pm.  We'd like to invite you to join us.  Just let me know if you can make it so we can plan enough grub.  No need to bring a thing.  We have you covered.
 
We'd also like to invite you to enter our free tournament pool.  We host it through CBS Sports.  If you go to  http://ultimatebraggingrights.mayhem.cbssports.com.  You'll need to create a free account if you've never done so before.  Once you've completed that though, the group name is LjFS Bracket Challengeand the group password is beatdavid.  I hope you'll consider participating there as well.

In one final announcement, I'll be at the Greater Douglas United Way Pie-in-the-Face event this Wednesday from 3pm to 5pmhttp://gduway.galaxydigital.com/volunteer/events/display/gduw--pie-in-the-face-event/?event_id=10572.  Through trickery and manipulation I've been suckered into getting my head shaved.  There are rumors that the right to the clippers is up for bid.  I'd love to have you join us for this event as well though.  As this year's Campaign Chair, I'm hoping to break our goal to raise $1 million dollars for our community.  

And yes, I'll include pictures next week.
 
And now for some borderline trademark abuse.  Go Heels, and Go Ducks!


Market Summary
 

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first inaugural address was delivered in 1933 in the midst of the Great Depression. He said, “This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself – nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.”
 
Last week, some were speculating fear and uncertainty were behind U.S. stock market performance. The root of the problem was the word ‘patient,’ which Barron’s reported is likely to be removed from the Federal Open Market Committee’s statement this week, paving the way for an increase in interest rates. The publication cautioned that investors may throw a tightening tantrum and:
 
“That could make 2015 look a lot like 2013, the year of the so-called taper tantrum. Remember when Ben Bernanke first mooted the possibility that the Fed would curtail its bond purchases in testimony to Congress on May 22, 2013? The markets reacted with, well, horror. The S&P 500 fell 5 percent in just over a month of trading. Tapering itself, however, went off without a hitch; the S&P gained 9.1 percent from December 2013 to October 2014 as the Fed slowly cut its bond purchases.”
 
Continued strengthening of the U.S. dollar also affected markets last week. Reuters reported stock prices fell, in part, because of concerns about corporate profitability in the face of a stronger dollar. Sources cited by Barron’spointed out, in the long run, a strong dollar is better for American companies. After all, a strong dollar increases the buying power of consumers and companies. However, investors currently seem to be focused on short-term consequences rather than long-term results.


Data as of 3/13/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)-0.9%-0.3%11.2%13.7%12.3%5.5%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.1NA2.72.13.74.5
Gold (per ounce)-2.0-3.9-15.8-12.00.910.1
Bloomberg Commodity Index-3.2-6.5-27.5-12.6-5.8-5.0
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index2.01.320.813.615.38.9
S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
#MAKE IT HAPPEN! International Women’s Day (IWD) was on March 8. It celebrated the economic, social, and political achievements of women in countries around the world. The United Nations explained IWD “is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change, and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.”
 
Although IWD is not a recognized holiday in the United States, American women have made great strides, particularly in the workplace. If you look back to the 1890s, when the U.S. government first began gathering detailed information about working people, there were about 63 million Americans. Twenty-three million were working-age women. (The working age, whether you were male or female, was 10 or older.) Women were a relatively small part of the paid work force – just 17 percent – as most labored in the home or alongside their families on farms, producing food and goods.
 
How times have changed!
 
The 2013 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey estimated there were more than 316 million Americans in 2012. About 103 million were working age women (ages16 to 64) and more than 73 million women were part of the paid work force.
 
Women have become an integral part of American companies. In early 2015, Catalyst reported women who worked at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies held:
 
  • 25.1 percent of executive/senior-level management positions
  • 19.2 percent of the board seats
  • 4.8 percent of chief executive officer positions

In addition, the inclusion of women on corporate boards appears to correlate with better performance. The Bottom Line: Corporate Performance and Women’s Representation on Boards compared the performance of companies which included the most women on their boards to those with fewest by measuring return on equity (ROE), return on sales (ROS), and return on invested capital (ROI). Companies with more women sitting on their boards had, on average, 53 percent higher ROE, 42 percent higher ROS, and 66 percent higher ROI.

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“No matter what message you are about to deliver somewhere, whether it is holding out a hand of friendship, or making clear that you disapprove of something, is the fact that the person sitting across the table is a human being, so the goal is to always establish common ground.”
--Madeleine Albright, Former U.S. Secretary of State

All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address. We will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://historymatters.gmu.edu/d/5057/
http://online.barrons.com/articles/will-fed-rate-hike-create-a-horror-show-in-markets-1426299610?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/03-16-15_Barrons-Will_Fed_Rate_Hike_Create_a_Horror_Show_in_Markets-Footnote_2.pdf)
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/13/us-markets-global-idUSKBN0M902620150313
http://online.barrons.com/news/articles/SB52018153252431963983004580508382880925208 (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/03-16-15_Barrons-Oil_Falls_Dollar_Rises_and_the_Market_Retreats-Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.un.org/womenwatch/feature/iwd/history.html
http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/reports/2008/R2824.pdf
http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/03-16-15_US_Census_Bureau-Number_of_Americans_in_2012-Footnote_7.pdf)
http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/03-16-15_US_Census_Bureau-Number_of_Working_Age_Women_in_2012-Footnote_8.pdf)
http://www.catalyst.org/knowledge/women-sp-500-companies
http://www.catalyst.org/media/companies-more-women-board-directors-experience-higher-financial-performance-according-latest
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/madeleinea432623.html

February 17, 2015

posted Feb 18, 2015, 2:09 PM by Katie Shook   [ updated Feb 18, 2015, 2:10 PM ]

On a Personal Note
 
The East Coast may be getting pounded by winter, but the West Coast sure hasn't gotten the memo.  Somewhere between blooming daffodils and mid-60-degree weather, it's felt more like April than February this past weekend.  
 
Experience tells me it would be a fool's errand to call winter over just yet but the case is certainly growing stronger.  With no rain in the forecast for the next 10 days, Spring may be arriving early.  In my nearly four decades in Oregon, I honestly cannot remember a more mild winter than we've experienced so far.  The rainfall, at times, has been prodigious.  But the temperatures have been as mild as any I can ever recall (I think I've scraped ice from my windshield twice this entire season).  
 
With Presidents Day extending this past weekend the Littlejohn Clan took the opportunity to visit the coast in the RV for a mini camping retreat.  The weather was beautiful and a good time was generally had by all.  Here are the as-always gratuitous photos of note:

   
  

The Markets
 

Animal spirits were improving last week, according to Barron’s.
 
The idea of animal spirits was introduced to the dismal science (a.k.a. economics) in the late1930s, courtesy of John Maynard Keynes. In The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (a dreary title that surely could have benefitted from an injection of animal spirits), he wrote:
 
“…a large portion of our positive activities depend on spontaneous optimism rather than on a mathematical expectation, whether moral or hedonistic or economic. Most, probably, of our decisions to do something positive, the full consequences of which will be drawn out over many days to come, can only be taken as the result of animal spirits – a spontaneous urge to action rather than inaction, and not as the outcome of a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities.”
 
In modern times, Keynes’ idea blossomed into the field of behavioral economics, the study of human psychology on economic decision-making. One of the animal spirits that influences decision-making is confidence (another is overconfidence) which can drive stock markets higher.

 
Last week, easing measures by the European Central Bank (ECB), a cease-fire agreement in Ukraine, optimism about negotiations over Greek debt, and better than expected earnings for many companies, helped improve investment sentiment in Europe for the fourth straight month, according to Reuters. Many European markets moved higher.
 
In the United States, strong fourth quarter earnings, improving oil prices, and good news from Europe helped push markets higher as well. Reuters reported the CBOE Volatility Index (VIX), Wall Street’s fear gauge, hit its lowest level for the year on Friday.

 


Data as of 2/13/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)2.0%1.85%14.6%15.8%13.9%5.7%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.0NA2.72.03.74.1
Gold (per ounce)-0.72.8-4.9-10.52.311.3
Bloomberg Commodity Index1.80.1-19.7-10.4-4.9-3.4
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index0.04.726.415.018.59.2
S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 
More Greek DramaYou know things are getting contentious in the Eurozone when the newly-elected Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras suggests Germany may owe Greece war reparations.
 
Talk of reparations is a distraction from the real issue which, according to Financial Times, is the possibility that Greece will need a third bailout when the current one expires. Yet, the new prime minister has promised to end austerity measures. Members of his government have described those measures, which were implemented before Eurozone leaders would agree to the first Greek bailout, as “fiscal waterboarding.”
 
You may recall the euro crisis. Back in 2009, the European Union (EU) insisted France, Spain, Ireland, and Greece reduce their budget deficits (the difference between what a government spends and what it receives in taxes). The Eurozone set a limit for debt (the accumulated value of deficits) at 60 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) which is the value of goods and services produced by a country.
 
In December 2009, Greek debt was $442 billion or about 113 percent of GDP, according to the BBC. After the discovery of irregularities in Greek accounting and a flurry of concern Greece would have to leave the euro, the country implemented an austerity program to reduce the deficit which included severe cuts to public spending. The program was well received by the EU, and EU leaders agreed to a major bailout for Greece which included writing off about 50 percent of the country’s debt.
 
In recent days, the Greek people have been cheering as their new government reverses the reforms implemented by the previous government and talks tough with Greek creditors. The Greek government is seeking additional financial assistance from other Eurozone countries but insists it will not adhere to the reforms previously in place. Eurozone leaders have expressed willingness to extend the current bailout as long as Greek fiscal reforms remain intact. Negotiations have begun to bridge the gap.
 
Greek market performance shows not everyone is impressed with the new government’s stance. The yield on three-year Greek bonds had risen to 17 percent at the end of January, and bank shares had lost significant value.The Economist reported:
 
“So back to the markets and the game of chicken being played between Greece and the EU. A Grexit [Greek exit from the euro] might cause problems for the EU in the form of losses for the ECB and others on bad debts… But, as we have seen, Greek financial markets are tanking. So investors clearly feel the EU has a stronger hand to play.”
 
It seems to be a good time to reflect on an old saying: Beware what you wish for; you just might get it. 


 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“You don't develop courage by being happy in your relationships everyday. You develop it by surviving difficult times and challenging adversity.  -- Epicurus, Greek philosopher

All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* International and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal. 

Sources:
http://online.barrons.com/articles/the-bull-returns-and-stocks-hit-new-highs-1423887508?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-16-15_Barrons-The_Bull_Returns_and_Stocks_Hit_New_Highs-Footnote_1.pdf)
John Maynard Keynes, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, 1936: http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-16-15_JohnMaynardKeynes-The_General_Theory_of_Employment_Interest_and_Money-Footnote_2.pdf)
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/books/review/Uchitelle-t.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/09/us-eurozone-sentix-idUSKBN0LD0U220150209
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/02/13/markets-stocks-europe-idUSL5N0VN4QQ20150213
http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21643366-disastrous-eurogroup-and-european-council-meetings-bring-greek-default-step-closer-no-bail-out-no (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-16-15_TheEconomist-No_Bailout_No_Deal-Footnote_6.pdf)
http://blogs.ft.com/brusselsblog/2015/02/11/how-much-would-a-third-greek-bailout-cost/ (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-16-15_FinancialTimes-How_Much_Would_a_Third_Greek_Bailout_Cost-Footnote_7.pdf)
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-13856580
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8406665.stm
http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21642208-new-government-ruffles-feathers-abroad-gains-popularity-home-tsiprass-travels (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-16-15_TheEconomist-Tsipras_Travels-Footnote_10.pdf)
http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2015/01/greece-and-euro (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-16-15_TheEconomist-Take_the_Money_and_Run-Footnote_11.pdf)
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/epicurus119456.html

February 9, 2015

posted Feb 9, 2015, 3:42 PM by Katie Shook

On a Personal Note
 
Did you know?
 
We've been publishing a financial blog that discusses the big-picture moves in the market and offers our opinions about what's going on in the world.  We also do a weekly AM radio show every Tuesday at 4pm.  Both of these are archived and available on our web page at LittlejohnFS.com if you'd like to learn more.  The current series on the radio show has been "Building Your Financial House."  In the coming weeks we'll be talking about "Redefining Retirement."  
 
Checking In!
 
It's been about six weeks now.  How many of you are still tracking those New Year's Resolutions?  
 
Statistically speaking, there's a lot of wash-out at this point.  Here's a secret to success though:  no matter how many times you fall off the horse, keep getting back on.  And for heaven's sake, don't wait until next January to try it again.

My offer still stands:  anyone who would like to send me their resolutions or goals for 2015, I will happily follow-up with you throughout the year to encourage you and track your progress.
 
Gratuitous Photos
 
This week includes a pretty good smattering.  We range from the elementary school concert to the Father-Daughter Dance to the Create-and-Sip hosted birthday party (and yes, even I got caught in the action painting).

  
    

The Markets
 

What’s in an employment report?
 
Last week, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Situation Summary was full of encouraging data. Employment numbers for last November and December were revised higher which made 2014 the strongest year for job growth since 1999. However, 2015 isn’t off to a shabby start. The economy added just over a quarter of a million jobs in January. In addition, Barron’s reported:
 
“…Wages for private-sector workers ticked higher in January, rising 0.5 percent from December and 2.2 percent year-over-year. That sort of growth must persist to indicate a trend, but it is a promising sign, and one that could quell chatter about deflation in the U.S. The good news doesn’t end there. Low gas prices could save the average household $750 this year, and household net worth remains near an all-time high. It’s no wonder consumer confidence hit its highest level last month in more than seven years.”
 
Consumers are happy. Workers are happy. Who’s not happy? The answer may be companies and investors.Barron’s speculated workers’ gains could come at the expense of corporate profits.
 
Last week, Factset.com reported analysts are expecting to see year-over-year declines in both the overall earnings and revenues of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index during the first half of 2015. The downward revisions primarily reflect the expected performance of companies in the energy sector. While prospects for the first half of 2015 have dimmed a bit, analysts are expecting profit margins to expand and companies to have record earnings per share, overall, during the second half of 2015.
 


Data as of 2/6/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)3.0%-0.2%15.9%15.2%14.2%5.5%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)1.9NA2.71.93.64.1
Gold (per ounce)-1.53.5-1.2-10.33.111.6
Bloomberg Commodity Index1.8-1.6-19.9-11.1-4.3-3.2
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index-1.44.729.714.919.79.4
S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
What is the most common job in the united states? In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, secretary would have taken top honors in more than one-half of the United States. Machine operators and factory workers were in demand then, too. However, since then, personal computers have made secretarial work less prevalent, and technology and globalization erased many manufacturing positions in the United States.
 
Since the mid-80s, truck driving has become the most common occupation in most states, according to National Public Radio (NPR). One reason is that, so far, truck driving has been relatively unaffected by globalization and automation. As NPR reported, “A worker in China can't drive a truck in Ohio, and machines can't drive cars (yet).”
 
If you’re looking for recession-proof jobs (take that with a grain of salt – the Titanic was billed as being unsinkable), CareerProfiles.com reported the following industries are expected to have the greatest job growth during the next decade:
 
  • Sales and Finance (marketing managers and financial managers)
  • Computer software (systems software engineers)
  • Engineering (chemical, electrical, mechanical, and civil engineers)
  • Computer systems (systems analysts)
  • Finance/Accounting (financial analysts, accountants)
  • Education (certified teachers, teaching assistants and aides)
 
The U.S. government’s predictions for the fastest growing jobs through 2022 are slightly different. The top occupations on that list include:
 
  • Industrial-organizational psychologists
  • Personal care aides
  • Home health aides
  • Insulation workers, mechanical
  • Interpreters and translators

 
Other fields with good prospects include energy and the environment, healthcare, and security.

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“The Eskimos had fifty-two names for snow because it was important to them: there ought to be as many for love.”
-- Margaret Atwood, Canadian novelist



All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.


Sources:
http://online.barrons.com/articles/jobs-report-is-this-the-shift-from-wall-street-to-workers-1423278035?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-09-15_Barrons-Main_Street_Wins_a_Round-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://www.factset.com/websitefiles/PDFs/earningsinsight/earningsinsight_2.6.15
http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2015/02/05/382664837/map-the-most-common-job-in-every-state
http://www.careerprofiles.info/top-recession-proof-jobs.html
http://www.bls.gov/ooh/fastest-growing.htm
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/margaretat387475.html?src=t_valentinesday


February 2, 2015

posted Feb 2, 2015, 3:29 PM by Katie Shook

On a Personal Note
 
For Seahawks fans the Superbowl was a bust.  There's no arguing the game was a nail biter up until the end.  (And there's no arguing the Pete Carroll decision to pass into traffic with 35 seconds left on the clock when they have perhaps the league's best running back and two pro bowl offensive lineman AND three downs left was...  questionable).

The takeaways from the game:  the ads have gone downhill and so will the stock market in 2015.
 
What?  You haven't heard.  There's a Superbowl Indicator.  Supposedly if the AFC division wins the stock market should go down.  And the Patriots were -- you guessed it -- the AFC league.
 
 
Historically this indicator has been about 80% accurate.  Of course, there's a big difference between correlation and causation.  Does the Superbowl really indicate where the market is going?  I don't know that I'd go around placing big bets yet.  There's plenty of other data that says the 7th year in a presidential cycle is positive; years ending in 5 are positive; and a host of other bizarre indicators that have little more than superstition to back them.  Then again, there are a host of indicators that point to the demise of all life as we know it.  So what can ya do?
 
Perhaps the most meaningful indicator is that Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow today.  So clearly we're going to have six more weeks of winter (no superstitions there, eh?).
 
Now, as always, gratuitous photos (this time from 'Get Air' Trampoline Park up in Eugene):

   
  

The Markets
 

It’s true. January did not turn out to be the best month for U.S. stock markets. At the end of the month, the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) was down about 3.1 percent. Before you start listening to pithy observations – the saying ‘as goes January, so goes the year’ has been making the rounds – think back to January 2014. The S&P 500 finished the month down 3.6 percent and still managed to deliver positive performance (up 11.4 percent) for the year.
 
That said, there is a lot going on around the world and it’s making markets as feisty as a broody hen. Some of the issues include:
 

  • Low, low oil prices: Oil prices are a boon to consumers at the pump and a detriment to the oil industry which has suffered layoffs and cancelled projects, according to Barron’s.
  • Greek elections: The Syriza party won the Greek election on promises to reduce austerity measures and restructure Greek debt. Forbes reported there is uncertainty about how this will affect the Greek economy and the euro.
  • Currency issues: The Federal Reserve is tightening monetary policy while other central banks are easing. With the value of the euro dropping from $1.45 to about $1.15, U.S. exports are getting more expensive overseas, but it has become a lot cheaper for Americans to travel to most parts of Europe.
  • Deflationary pressures: CNBC.com reported prices in the Eurozone fell 0.6 percent year-to-year in January. That was after a 0.2 percent decline in December. Some folks are worried inflation in the U.S. could be headed south, too, if the Federal Reserve raises interest rates too much, too soon.
 
While stock markets have been struggling (the Dow and the S&P 500 are down but still within 5 percent of their December record highs, according to Barron’s), the government bond market has been thriving. Experts cited byBarron’s estimated about 16 percent of the government bonds they track, about $3.6 trillion worth, traded at negative yields last week. MarketWatch.com reported, for just the fourth time in more than 50 years, the dividend yield on the S&P 500 Index was higher than the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury bonds last week.
 

Data as of 1/30/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)-2.8%-3.1%11.2%15.0%12.9%5.4%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)1.7NA2.71.83.74.1
Gold (per ounce)-2.75.11.4-10.03.011.6
Bloomberg Commodity Index-0.3-3.4-20.2-11.4-5.1-3.7
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index-1.66.232.016.418.99.9
S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 
Its value is estimated at more than $1 Trillion…
Is it the 2014 U.S. government-spending bill?
Is it the 282 billion Big Macs?
Is it 3.1 million Ferrari 599 GTBs?
Is it the amount of U.S. currency currently in circulation?
 
All of the above are estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion and so is student loan debt in the United States. Outstanding student loans are roughly equal to all of the greenbacks circulating the world. According to The Wall Street Journal:
 
“Ever-escalating tuitions, especially in the past dozen years, have produced an explosion of associated debt as students and their families resorted to borrowing to cover college prices that are the only major expense item in the economy that is growing faster than health care. According to the Federal Reserve, educational debt has shot past every other category – credit cards, auto loans, refinancings – except home mortgages, reaching some $1.3 trillion this year.”
 
The Journal said about 70 percent of 2014 graduates borrowed to pay for college, and they left school with an average debt of $33,000. The amount owed varies significantly by state, according to U.S. News & World Report. In 2013, students in New Hampshire, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Minnesota graduated with debt exceeding $30,000 on average, while those in New Mexico, California, Nevada, the District of Columbia, and Oklahoma had debt of less than $20,000 on average.
 
While there may be some attractive alternatives for student borrowers – including income-based repayment loans and crowdfunding for college – the Journal cited statistics showing America’s student debt could be negatively affecting our country’s economic dynamism. The percentage of younger Americans who own part of a business dropped from 6.1 percent to 3.6 percent between 2010 and 2013. Also, during the past decade, the percentage of new businesses started by people younger than age 34 fell from 26.4 percent to 22.7 percent.
 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”
--John Quincy Adams, Sixth U.S. President

All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://online.barrons.com/articles/bonds-win-stocks-lose-in-a-split-month-1422691151?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-02-15_Barrons-Bonds_Win-Stocks_Lose-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://online.barrons.com/articles/central-banks-could-create-global-recession-and-deflation-1422691576?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-02-15_Barrons-Central_Banks_Could_Create_Global_Recession-Footnote_2.pdf)
http://www.forbes.com/sites/hbsworkingknowledge/2015/01/29/what-the-greek-elections-mean-for-the-economy/
http://www.wsj.com/articles/euros-big-drop-puts-u-s-economy-federal-reserve-to-the-test-1422059437 (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-02-15_WSJ-Euros_Big_Drop_Puts_US_Economy-Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/16/traveling-to-europe-is-about-to-get-a-whole-lot-cheaper/
http://www.cnbc.com/id/102383385#
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/27/us-investment-gundlach-idUSKBN0L028I20150127
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/stock-dividend-yields-are-above-treasury-yields----and-thats-bullish-2015-01-20
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/10/us-usa-congress-budget-idUSKBN0JN1YU20141210
https://econ4u.com/one_trillion_dollars/
http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12773.htm
http://www.wsj.com/articles/mitchell-e-daniels-how-student-debt-harms-the-economy-1422401693 (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-02-15_WSJ-How_Student_Debt_Harms_the_Economy-Footnote_12.pdf)
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/11/13/average-student-loan-debt-hits-30-000
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/25/upshot/a-quiet-revolution-in-helping-lift-the-burden-of-student-debt.html?rref=upshot&abt=0002&abg=0 (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/02-02-15_NYTimes-A_Quiet_Revolution_in_Helping_Lift-Footnote_14.pdf)
http://www.fastweb.com/financial-aid/articles/crowdfunding-for-college
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/j/johnquincy386752.html?src=t_leadership

January 26th 2015

posted Jan 26, 2015, 2:49 PM by Katie Shook   [ updated Jan 26, 2015, 2:57 PM ]

On a Personal Note
 
While much of the rest of the country is bracing for inclement weather it seems Oregon's winter took a break last weekend.  This time of year it's typically cold, wet, overcast and gray.  You can go for days without seeing your shadow.  But not last weekend.  We enjoyed temperatures in the high 60's with blue skies and sunshine across most of the state.
 
I took some time outside to do a little work, a little play, and a little reflection.  
 
In Oregon, there's a certain pride people take in managing rain.  It's just part of the territory.  Yet there are plenty of Oregonians that would just as soon hibernate through the season than suffer the generally blah weather that comes with winter.  I understand the attraction to the idea.  It's no fun waking up AND driving home in the dark during the winter.  But I think we miss the point if we seek to avoid any of the 'slog' in our life.  How nice is a sunny day after several weeks of fog and clouds?  
 
The truth is, those lousy days are what make the sunny days so wonderful.  It's the perspective life offers us.  It's the reminder that there are both ups and downs.  And while the downs aren't fun, they give us that much needed perspective.  

It's winter time and I'm a snow skier.  Between family, work, and the general lack of snowfall this year, I've not been up to the slopes a single time.  Certainly it's less than ideal.  But such are the seasons in our lives.  I'm no less blessed because I haven't been skiing.  It will just make the next trip that much sweeter.
Until then, I can enjoy the sunshine.  
 
Perspective.

I'm not suggesting we all become Pollyanna.  I'm simply suggesting that your glass may already be (much more than) half full.
 
Now, as always, gratuitous photos:
    

The Markets
 

There may be potential for a reality television program starring central bankers and the making of economic policy. It could be called, ‘The Real Central Bankers of the European Economic Community.’ Just imagine the last two weeks’ episodes. Two weeks ago, the Swiss National Bank shocked markets by unpegging its currency and sending the value of the Swiss franc skyward.
 
Affairs last week were less unexpected. The European Central Bank (ECB) finally made up its mind and committed to a new round of quantitative easing (QE). There was no exchange of rings embedded with multi-carat precious gems, but the ECB pledged to buy 60 billion euro of assets (public debt and government bonds, primarily) every month from March 2015 through September 2016. That’s quite a leap from the 10 billion euro of assets it was already buying.
 
The Economist pointed out Germany’s Bundesbank wasn’t thrilled about the commitment and insisted on an agreement that would limit its risk:
 
“When the ECB conducts monetary policy by lending to banks, any risk of losses is, as a rule, shared between the 19 national central banks that actually execute the policy, according to “capital keys,” which reflect their countries’ economic and demographic weight in the euro area; the Bundesbank’s for example is 26 percent whereas the Bank of Italy’s is 17.5 percent... But, QE will be conducted in a quite different way… each of the 19 national central banks, which together with the ECB constitute the Eurosystem, will buy the bonds of its own government and bear any risk of losses on it.”
 
Sure, it’s exciting, but let’s not lose sight of the reason behind the ECB’s decision. After watching the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank, the Bank of England, and the Bank of Japan engage in QE, the ECB decided it might be just the thing to reflate the Eurozone’s economy. Global markets seemed to think it’s a pretty good idea, too. Many finished the week higher.
 


Data as of 1/23/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)1.6%-0.3%12.2%16.0%13.4%5.8%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)1.8NA2.82.13.64.1
Gold (per ounce)1.48.02.5-8.23.411.7
Bloomberg Commodity Index-2.1-3.1-19.7-11.0-5.6-3.7
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index0.97.933.917.719.49.8
 S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

Last week, in Switzerland, a big mac cost $7.54. The Economist invented the Big Mac Index in 1986 as an entertaining way to assess whether currencies were at the “correct” levels. The index uses purchasing power parity (PPP) to measure one currency against another. PPP is the idea that exchange rates should adjust so the same product (in this case, a hamburger) has the same price in two different countries when the price is denominated in the same currency. After updating the Index on January 22, 2015, The Economist reported:
 
“Two trends have dominated the world of burgernomics over the past six months: currency markets have bubbled like potatoes in a fryer as the oil price has fallen to finger-licking lows and central banks have cooked up new monetary stances. The currencies of commodity exporters have been burnt while those of big importers have sizzled. Meanwhile, the end of quantitative easing in America has supersized the dollar, whereas the mere prospect of it in Europe has made a happy meal of the euro.”
 
Since a Big Mac in the United States cost about $4.79 last week, the Swiss franc was quite overvalued. That’s not the case with currencies elsewhere, though. Here are the prices of a Big Mac in a few key locales:
 

Norway           $6.30
Denmark         $5.38
Brazil               $5.21
Australia          $4.32
 Euro area         $4.26
Mexico            $3.35
China               $2.77
India                $1.89
Russia              $1.36

 
It should be noted the Big Mac Index is not a perfect measurement tool. The price of a burger should be less in countries with lower labor costs and more in countries with higher labor costs. When prices are adjusted for labor, the Swiss franc is not the most overvalued currency in the world, the Brazilian real is.
 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“The hardest skill to acquire in this sport is the one where you compete all out, give it all you have, and you are still getting beat no matter what you do. When you have the killer instinct to fight through that, it is very special.”
--Eddie Reese, USA Olympic Swim Team Head Coach, 2004 and 2008


All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* International and emerging market investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.
* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://fortune.com/2015/01/16/swiss-national-bank-currency/
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2015/01/ecb-makes-its-mind-up (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-26-15_TheEconomist-The_Launch_of_Euro-Style_QE-Footnote_2.pdf)
http://online.barrons.com/articles/ecb-and-qe-what-it-means-for-the-u-s-1422076562?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-26-15_Barrons-ECB_and_QE-What_It_Means_for_the_US-Footnote_3.pdf)
http://online.barrons.com/mdc/public/page/9_3063-economicCalendar.html?mod=BOL_Nav_MAR_hpp (Click on International Perspective and scroll down to Global Stock Market Recap) (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-26-15_Barrons-Chart-Global_Stock_Market_Recap-Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.economist.com/content/big-mac-index (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-26-15_TheEconomist-The_Big_Mac_Index-Footnote_5.pdf)
http://www.investopedia.com/terms/p/ppp.asp
http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21640370-some-currencies-lose-weight-diet-qe-and-cheap-oil-others-bulk-up-oily-and?fsrc=nlw%7Chig%7C22-01-2015%7CNA (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-26-15_TheEconomist-Oily_and_Easy-Footnote_7.pdf)
http://www.rd.com/slideshows/13-motivational-sports-quotes-from-olympic-coaches/#ixzz3PazUV93P=&slideshow=slide10

January 21, 2015

posted Jan 21, 2015, 10:59 AM by Katie Shook   [ updated Jan 21, 2015, 11:12 AM ]

On a Personal Note

This weekend we made it official:  The Littlejohn Clan took our first motor home trip...  a whopping 35 minutes south to Seven Feather's Casino RV Park.  And we survived!
 
This is kind of a big deal.  My capacity as an outdoors man is limited to Boy Scout skills now more than 25-years out of date.  Given enough lighter fluid and newspaper even I can start a fire.  Surprisingly though, there was no section in the handbook for packing an RV or dealing with tires that require more than 40 PSI in them.  So we were venturing into uncharted waters on this trip.

I'm pleased to report all made it home with smiles on faces, having neither mechanical failures nor losing any children along the way, I shall consider the trip a moral victory. Of course, it's hard to call the Seven Feathers RV park "roughing it."  The facilities were immaculate.  We were escorted by golf cart to our well manicured camp site less than 100 yards from the heated showers and the swimming pool.  After quickly hooking up to our power and water it was off to the pool.  And after everyone was good and waterlogged we phoned the 24-hour shuttle service that came directly to our camp site, picked us up, and shuttled us to the Casino where we enjoyed a buffet with LOTS of desserts (very important to a 4 and 7 year old).  The total tab -- all included -- was less than a night at a typical hotel (see, I'm still a financial guy).  
 
I consider this a solid trial run.  The main event is scheduled out some time into September (probably).  We're looking at a family trip to Yellowstone after our third daughter is born on July 3rd (click HERE if you haven't entered your baby guesses yet).  For those of you who are questioning the sanity of taking a 3-month-old on a road trip, all I can say is "you're probably right."  But hey, when is it ever a good time to travel with kids?  
 
Now, as always, gratuitous photos (with surprisingly few from the RV trip.  Would you believe my phone was dead?)

  
  

The Markets
 

Central banks have been full of surprises lately, but not too many people saw this one coming. For aficionados of the board game Clue, here’s the gist of it: Thomas Jordan did it in Switzerland with monetary policy.
 
Last week, Swiss National Bank (SNB) Chairman Thomas Jordan told the world the SNB would no longer cap the value of the Swiss franc at 1.2 per euro because the policy was no longer needed. The decision triggered an exceptional response. The Economist reported:
 
“Currencies don't normally move that far on a daily basis – 2-3 percent is a big shift. The exception is when a country on a fixed exchange rate suffers devaluation; then a 20-30 percent fall is a possibility. But a 20-30 percent plus upward move is almost unprecedented. That, however, is what happened to the Swiss franc on January 15th…”
 
The SNB’s decision roiled global financial markets. The Swiss market lost about 10 percent of its value on the news and U.S. markets slumped, too. Anxiety was particularly acute in central Europe where many people hold loans and mortgages denominated in Swiss francs.
 
The SNB currency peg was introduced just three years ago, when things were grim in the euro region, and money was pouring into safe-haven Switzerland. The value of the Swiss franc increased significantly, making Swiss exporters – watchmakers, chocolatiers, luxury goods manufacturers – far less competitive. The SNB’s solution was a currency peg.
 
So, how does a central bank maintain the value of its currency? Well, among other things, it prints money (in this case, Swiss francs) to buy more of the peg currency (euros). Today, with the European Central Bank expected to begin a round of quantitative easing that may reduce the value of the euro, the BBC speculated the Swiss could no longer afford to maintain the peg.
 
Motives aside, the move may have produced results the SNB didn’t anticipate. An expert cited by theInternational Business Times said, “The Swiss bank thought that by removing the cap and activating a negative interest rate, the currency would weaken. In this case, the surprise is going to bite them back.” Did it ever.
 


Data as of 1/16/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)-1.2%-1.9%9.4%16.0%11.9%5.4%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)1.8NA2.81.93.74.2
Gold (per ounce)4.96.52.9-8.02.411.7
Bloomberg Commodity Index-0.3-1.0-17.5-10.0-5.7-3.4
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index2.37.033.118.217.79.6
 
S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
Good news for anyone in retirement or retiring soon: The amount of savings needed to cover health insurance premiums and out-of-pocket care expenses fell for a second straight year, according to theEmployee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI).
 
Okay, get ready for the governmental alphabet soup! The savings needed to pay Medigap premiums, Medicare Part B premiums, Medicare Part D premiums, and out-of-pocket drug expenses (if you retired at age 65 in 2014) was estimated to be:
 
For men:
  • $64,000 (50% chance of savings covering all expenses)
  • $93,000 (75% chance of savings covering all expenses)
  • $116,000 (90% chance of savings covering all expenses)
For women:
  • $83,000 (50% chance of savings covering all expenses)
  • $106,000 (75% chance of savings covering all expenses)
  • $131,000 (90% chance of savings covering all expenses)
For married couples:
  • $147,000 (50% chance of savings covering all expenses)
  • $199,000 (75% chance of savings covering all expenses)
  • $241,000 (90% chance of savings covering all expenses)

 
That’s 2-10 percent less than the savings needed in 2013. How is it possible these estimates are moving lower? Retiree spending on healthcare has dropped, according to U.S. News & World Report:
 
“A flood of 77 million people from the baby boomer generation have been turning 65, the age of Medicare eligibility, since 2011. These younger enrollees have been a leading factor driving down the rate at which health care spending is increasing, because the younger boomers tend to be healthier than older enrollees and therefore use fewer medical services… Also contributing to the slowdown are changes in the way medicine is being practiced, the lingering effects of the Great Recession, and the shift in usage from high-priced prescription drugs to less costly generic alternatives.”
 
EBRI’s estimates use Congressional Budget Office and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services projections regarding future premium and health care cost increases. These projections for spending growth have slowed in recent years.
 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“As a player, it says everything about you if you made the Hall of Fame. But, then again, boy... there's something about winning a Super Bowl.”
           --Terry Bradshaw, American football player and NFL analyst

All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://www.bbc.com/news/business-30846543
http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jan/15/currency-markets-switzerland-franc
http://www.economist.com/blogs/buttonwood/2015/01/currencies?zid=295&ah=0bca374e65f2354d553956ea65f756e0 (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-19-15_TheEconomist-Going_Cuckoo-Footnote_3.pdf)
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-should-the-swiss-central-bank-action-matter-to-you-153205732.html
http://www.economist.com/news/europe/21639760-poles-were-slow-get-out-swiss-franc-mortgages-now-they-are-paying-price-currency-risk (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-19-15_TheEconomist-Currency_Risk-Footnote_5.pdf)
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2015-01-15/heres-what-the-swiss-central-bank-just-did-and-why-its-such-a-shocker
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2015/01/15/why-switzerlands-currency-is-going-historically-crazy/
http://www.ibtimes.com/switzerland-underestimated-effect-currency-move-swiss-franc-1786096 (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-19-15_IntlBusinessTimes-Switzerland_Underestimated-Footnote_8.pdf)
http://www.ebri.org/pdf/notespdf/EBRI_Notes_10_Oct-14_Svgs-IRAs.pdf (Page 5)
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/09/26/whats-behind-the-slowdown-in-health-care-costs
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/terrybrads320881.html?src=t_super_bowl

January 12, 2015

posted Jan 12, 2015, 2:45 PM by Katie Shook   [ updated Jan 12, 2015, 2:45 PM ]

On a Personal Note
And then she was four.
 
It amazes me how quickly time passes.  It seems like only yesterday we were bringing Eliana home from the hospital (she was born literally minutes before the Ducks played Auburn in the national championship game).  Heck, it seems like only yesterday we were bringing Madison home from the hospital!
 
Since one only celebrates their fourth birthday once in a lifetime this is a big deal.  To appropriately usher in such a momentous occasion one must bedazzle your entire home in all things princess.  You invite a host of similarly aged children.  And then, because age four is just a shade too young for parents to leave the kids alone for two hours of free babysitting, you do a half-@$$ed effort to accommodate the grown ups with snacks (since they'll be sticking around).  Then you pump the kids full of an unholy amount of sugar by decorating cookies, eating cake AND breaking open a piñata full of candy.  To top it off, you "forget" to provide a similarly unholy amount of alcohol for attending parents.
 
The result looks something like this:

       

P.S. GO DUCKS!!


The Markets
 

You may be enjoying the economic benefits of gas prices around two dollars a gallon, but last week investors were skeptical about the effect of low, low oil prices on companies’ performance during 2015.
 
For the first time since the financial crisis, the price of crude oil dropped under $50 a barrel last week. That’s less than half of its value just six months ago and one of the fastest drops in the past 30 years. Investors weren’t thrilled with the change. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index (S&P 500) fell, marking the first time the index has moved lower during each of the first three days of a new year since 2005. Barron’s described the effects of lower oil prices like this:
 
“In the U.S. alone, oil’s precipitous drop has had a sizable impact on expectations for corporate profits: Analysts have cut their fourth-quarter earnings forecasts for S&P 500 energy stocks by more than a quarter since the end of September while total S&P 500 earnings forecasts have come down by more than 7%... But here’s the thing: Such plunges haven’t been bad for stocks – or the U.S. economy, for that matter. Since 1984, oil has experienced three similar drops and each time the S&P 500 traded higher 12 months later.”
 
Investors were plagued by mood swings last week. Their outlook improved when the Chicago Fed’s Charles Evans indicated Fed rate hikes shouldn’t start until 2016, which is later than consensus suggests. Many analysts believe the Fed will begin tightening monetary policy (by raising the Fed funds rate) sometime in mid-2015. Investor optimism was tempered when Friday’s employment report didn’t deliver as expected. At the end a volatile week, the S&P 500 was lower.
 
Across the pond, European Central Bank (ECB) staff presented various models for buying 500 billion Euros of investment-grade debt during 2015. No commitment was made, but expectations the ECB might introduce fresh stimulus measures in late January helped push European government bonds lower.
 


Data as of 1/9/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)-0.7%-0.7%11.2%16.9%12.3%5.6%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.0NA3.02.03.84.3
Gold (per ounce)3.91.5-0.7-9.01.111.2
Bloomberg Commodity Index-0.2-0.7-15.3-10.2-6.1-3.3
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index3.24.632.818.217.69.4
 

S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
Beware indirect IRA rollovers: the rules have changed. There are a lot of reasons an investor might want to rollover an IRA. If it’s something you’ve been thinking about, talk with us. There are numerous tax implications that should be considered prior to taking any action.
 
In general, there are two ways to rollover an IRA. Investors can choose a direct rollover or an indirect rollover. Direct rollovers, which are also known as trustee-to-trustee transfers, are pretty straightforward. The funds move from one custodian to the other and the IRA owner never touches the money.
 
Indirect rollovers are the potential source of trouble. Typically, with an indirect rollover (aka a 60-day rollover), a check is sent to the IRA owner. The owner cashes the check and, as long as he or she deposits the funds in another IRA within 60 days, the assets continue to qualify for special tax treatment.
 
In the past, IRS rules allowed investors to rollover each IRA they owned once a year. In recent years, some investors tested the limits of indirect IRA rollovers by rolling over multiple IRAs. In essence, they took 60-day personal loans from their qualified accounts. The issue came to court last year:
 
“In the Bobrow case, the court held that Mr. Bobrow, a tax lawyer, was taking advantage of the 60-day rule for each IRA. He had done a series of rollovers from separate IRAs and had use of his IRA funds for almost six months. The court essentially said, “No more of this nonsense.” Mr. Bobrow lost his case and that changed the interpretation of the once-per-year rule for everyone. The court said that the rule applies to all IRAs, not to each one separately. The IRS agreed and changed the rules in March.”
 
If you rolled over more than one IRA during 2014, don’t panic. The IRS provided relief for rollovers completed during 2014 when the old rules were thought to apply.
 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 "Many men go fishing all of their lives without knowing that it is not fish they are after.”  

                -Henry David Thoreau, American philosopher


All the Best!,
 
 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://online.barrons.com/articles/plunging-oil-what-the-past-tells-us-1420870319?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns(or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-12-15_Barrons-Plunging_Oil-What_the_Past_Tells_Us-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://online.barrons.com/articles/volatility-and-uncertainty-mark-2015s-start-1420873506?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-12-15_Barrons-Volatility_and_Uncertainty_Mark_2015s_Start-Footnote_2.pdf)
http://online.barrons.com/articles/closed-end-funds-on-the-cheap-1420865194?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-12-15_Barrons-Closed-End_Funds_on_the_Cheap-Footnote_3.pdf)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2015-01-09/ecb-said-to-study-bond-purchase-models-up-to-500-billion-euros.html
http://www.investmentnews.com/article/20150104/REG/301049998/2015-resolution-avoid-60-day-rollovers (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-12-15_InvestmentNews-2015_Resolution-Avoid_60-day_Rollovers-Footnote_5.pdf)
https://finance.yahoo.com/news/ira-rules-close-loopholes-account-100000031.html
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/ah/henrydavid107147.html?src=t_sports

January 5, 2015 - Happy New Year

posted Jan 6, 2015, 10:24 AM by Katie Shook

On a Personal Note

'Tis the season when gym memberships spike and health food stores empty their shelves.  It's that annual time of year when people decide to finally do something.  They're going to make that change... at least until February.
 
The truth is, change isn't a fad.  Altering a lifestyle is a permanent commitment.  When you think of it this way, those simple New Year's Resolutions aren't so simple.  
 
As I look forward to 2015, I have similar goals to many of you.  I'd like to see our business continue to grow.  I'd like to improve some aspects of my personal health.  I'd like to complete some specific projects.  And I'd like to learn some new skills.  
 
Perhaps the biggest goal I have is to become a better father.  And, for those of you who haven't already heard, the Littlejohn Clan will be growing by one this summer!  Based on our initial ultrasounds, Heather's target due date is July 4.  So far, the baby appears active, healthy, and chubby, thus earning her the nickname Marshmallow.  And no, we do not yet know the baby's gender.  Personally, after having two girls already, I'm confident a third is on the way.  I'm lobbying for a surprise on baby's birthday.  Heather, on the other hand, is having a bit tougher decision with whether or not to wait to find out.  Regardless of the ultimate decision, we're both pretty sure this is the last time we'll play this game.
 
I'm not sure what odds makers are saying just yet.  I'm guessing odds of a third girl are about 25-to-1 right now.  Odds of us finding out the gender in advance of her birthday are significantly lower (like 4-to-1).  If you want to get in on the action, we're starting the official Littlejohn Baby Pool. 
 
Feel free to take a guess at the baby's birth date and gender.  We've not yet established a prize yet for the winner of this contest.  Suffice it to say, it should be pretty epic.  And, at the very least, it can be good fun.
 
Happy 2015!

The Markets
 

“…bubbling crude; oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.”

 The decline in oil prices accelerated during the fourth quarter of 2014. The main culprit was a supply and demand imbalance. Increased production in the United States, which is currently the biggest oil producer in the world, means there is an ample supply of oil. However, slowing growth in China and other countries, along with relatively warm winter weather in the United States, has lowered demand.
 
Oil prices are also affected by expectations. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries’ (OPEC’s) fourth-quarter decision to maintain production levels and market share (rather than lowering production and pushing prices higher) has created an expectation that prices may remain low for some time.
 
Low oil prices are expected to be a boon for the world economy, consumers, and countries (like India) that are heavily dependent on oil imports. However, low prices are a detriment to countries that are heavily dependent on oil exports and could result in financial crises and geopolitical upheaval. The Economist reported analysts believe Russia needs oil to be priced at $100 a barrel to meet its 2015 budget. Venezuela, which was in financial trouble before oil prices fell, needs oil at $120 a barrel to finance its spending, and Iran needs prices even higher, at $136 a barrel.
 
Big trouble in Russia
Like Mentos® and soda pop, a currency crisis fizzed up in Russia during the fourth quarter. The Economist said:
 
“In the world of central banking slow, steady, and predictable decisions are the aim. So when bankers meet in the dead of night and raise interest rates by a massive 6.5 percentage points it suggests something is going very wrong. It is: the Russian currency crisis many feared is now a reality… and the mood in Moscow close to panic. Russians are right to worry: they are heading for a lethal combination of deep recession and runaway inflation.”
 
Retailers have begun re-pricing their goods daily and ruble jokes are proliferating, according to The Moscow Times. One example, “I’m investing my life savings in the Euro.” “Don’t you mean Euros?” “No, just one Euro. It’s all I can afford.”
 
Déjà vu Greece
The potential for a Euro crisis reared its ugly head (again). Greek markets took a decidedly pessimistic turn when the country’s government decided to hold elections. At issue are promises Alexis Tsipras, presidential candidate of the Syriza party, made about rolling back austerity measures and cancelling a portion of Greek debt. If Tsipras is elected, Greece might leave the Euro.
 
Signs of volatility in U.S. markets
Markets sparked and popped a bit in the United States during the fourth quarter. Investors, who had been unconcerned about the possibility of short-term market volatility for much of 2014, had a change of heart during October – the same month the Federal Reserve ended quantitative easing.
 
The Chicago Board Options Exchange's Volatility Index (VIX), which is also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, rose into the 20s (above its long-term historic average of 19.6) for several days. Stock markets experienced big swings, too, and then things settled back down. The VIX shot higher for a few days in December, as well. Experts say these microbursts may continue into 2015.
 


Data as of 1/2/15
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)-1.5%0.0%12.4%17.2%12.7%5.5%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.1NA3.02.03.84.2
Gold (per ounce)-1.1-2.3-2.0-9.80.910.6
Bloomberg Commodity Index-2.5-0.5-17.2-10.4-6.1-3.2
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index0.21.430.116.617.18.6
 
S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
When you were younger, you may have heard older relatives marvel over the high cost of everything from automobiles to aluminum foil. It’s worth taking a look back, once in a while, and acknowledging exactly how significantly the world has changed.
 
Let’s begin by picturing the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. One-quarter of households had running water and outhouses were more prevalent than flush toilets. Few people owned homes. Less than 10 percent of households had gas or electric lights, 5 percent had telephones, about 1 percent owned a car, and nobody owned a television because they didn’t exist yet.
 
Approximate household income:  
  • 1901: Average household income was about $750 a year. Almost 96 percent of households had income earned by men, 8.5 percent had income earned by women, and 23 percent had income earned by children.
  • 1960-61: Average household income was about $6,691 a year. Almost 34 percent of women were working and 83.3 percent were men. Almost 39 percent of heads of household were craftsmen and machine operators, and 27 percent were professionals, managers, or proprietors.
  • 2013: The mean after-tax household income in the United States was $56,352.
 
Approximate household expenses:
  • 1901: The average family spent about $769 a year: $327 on food, $108 on clothing, $179 on housing, and $155 on anything else. On average, households spent 2.5 percent more than they earned. Just 19 percent of families owned homes; 81 percent rented.
  • 1960-61: The average family spent about $5,390 a year: $1,310 on food, $561 on clothing, and $1,590 on housing. Almost three-fourths of Americans owned cars. Fifty-three percent of families owned homes.
  • 2013: Mean household spending was about $51,100: $17,148 was spent on housing; $9,004 on transportation; $6,602 on food; $3,737 on utilities, fuels, and public services; $3,631 on healthcare; $1,604 went to clothing; and so on. About 64 percent of households owned homes.

 
It’s true. Times really have changed.
 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
"A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.”   
                 --Maya Angelou, American author and poet


All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://www.lyrics007.com/Tv%20Theme%20Songs%20Lyrics/The%20Beverly%20Hillbillies%20Lyrics.html
https://www.iea.org/oilmarketreport/omrpublic/currentreport/#Prices
http://www.economist.com/blogs/economist-explains/2014/12/economist-explains-4 (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-05-15_TheEconomist-Why_the_Oil_Price_is_Falling-Footnote_3.pdf)
http://www.economist.com/news/international/21627642-america-and-its-friends-benefit-falling-oil-prices-its-most-strident-critics (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-05-15_TheEconomist-Winners_and_Losers_Footnote_4.pdf)
http://www.economist.com/node/21636720 (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/01-05-15_TheEconomist-Going_Over_the_Edge-Footnote_5.pdf)
http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/nine-ruble-jokes-to-end-the-year-with-a-laugh/513932.html
http://www.bloombergview.com/articles/2014-12-17/greek-markets-suggest-government-may-fall
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/01/03/us-eurozone-greece-germany-idUSKBN0KC0HZ20150103
http://www.cboe.com/micro/vix/historical.aspx (Click on “New methodology: VIX data for 2004 to present (Updated Daily) *”)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-12-22/volatility-tempests-getting-more-common-in-u-s-equities.html
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/how-america-spends-money-100-years-in-the-life-of-the-family-budget/255475/
http://www.bls.gov/opub/uscs/ (Scroll down and click on “PDF” for Chapters 1901)
http://www.bls.gov/opub/uscs/ (Scroll down and click on “PDF” for Chapters 1960-61)
http://www.bls.gov/cex/#tables (Scroll down and under “CURRENT combined EXPENDITURE, SHARE, AND STANDARD ERROR TABLES,” click on “PDF” for “Age of reference person”)
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/m/mayaangelo120092.html?src=t_song

December 29, 2014

posted Dec 29, 2014, 1:49 PM by Katie Shook   [ updated Dec 29, 2014, 1:50 PM ]

On a Personal Note
 
As the Holiday whirlwind begins to slow, I like to take a look at the year and reflect on things.  
 
Several years ago I started writing out annual goals for myself.  It started as prodding from some coaches.  "Where do you see yourself five years from now?"  I checked some boxes and threw a few things on paper just so we could progress to the next step.  But the strangest thing happened.  A couple years later, I dug out that list of goals and discovered a bunch of them had been crossed off.  I hadn't noticed in the day-to-day, but when taken over a period of years, the progress was obvious.  

I've been doing this for over a decade now.  It started before my children were born.  And, looking back on things, the path that seemed so impossible back then seems so obvious now.
 
Today, annual goal setting is a regular part of my life.  I love to see how life unfolds; how some priorities change while others remain consistent.  I love the subtle but constant motivation to strive for improvement.  And, believe it or not, I enjoy analyzing my failures (where I learn the most perhaps).
 
As we send off 2014 and prepare for 2015, it's common for people to take on New Years' Resolutions.  I offer a different challenge: write down your goals.  Document where you are now and where you want to be.  Measure, plan, and begin taking incremental steps to make a change.
 
At the end of the year 2015 you'll have an honest benchmark.  You'll be able to look back and reflect on whether those goals were truly meaningful.  And, for many of us, even if we don't hit those goals, the results of our efforts will still have taken us farther than we may expect.
 
Happy New Year.  And may 2015 be filled with blessings and success for you!

Now, as always, gratuitous holiday photos...

   
   

The Markets
 

With gas hovering around $2 a gallon in many parts of the country, chances are you’re smiling every time you fill up the tank.
 
The oil price drop, which is one of the biggest stories of 2014, is a twist on a familiar tale. Rising supply (production in non-OPEC countries, like the United States, increased) and falling demand (in Europe, Japan, and China) caused prices to move lower. In this case, they’ve moved a lot lower. Last summer, the price of crude oil was about $107 a barrel. Last week, it finished below $55 a barrel.
 
Overall, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), lower oil prices are expected to be good news for the global economy. They’re expected to have economic benefits for countries that import a lot of oil, like China and India. They also are a boon for U.S. consumers who have more money in their pockets when they pay less at the pump.
 
However, low oil prices aren’t good for everyone. In the United States, oil-producing states like Texas, Louisiana, Wyoming, Oklahoma, and North Dakota may lose jobs and tax revenues. Outside the United States, oil exporters like Russia, Iran, Nigeria, and Venezuela are likely to suffer adverse consequences as a result of falling prices, including domestic unrest, according to MarketWatch.com. The International Energy Agency (IEA) said,
 
“…For producer countries, lower prices are a negative:  the more dependent on oil revenues they are and the lower their financial reserves, the more adverse the impact on the economy and domestic demand. Russia, along with other oil-dependent but cash-constrained economies, will not only produce less but is likely to consume less next year.”
 
The supply and demand equation isn’t likely to change soon. The IEA forecasts global demand growth will be relatively weak during 2015. Meanwhile, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has done nothing to reduce supply, largely because of Saudi Arabia which is the second largest oil producer in the world. Saudi has reserves that make it better able to absorb the oil price shock than other oil exporters. It also has political motivations to keep oil prices low. These include punishing Iran and Russia for supporting Bashar Assad in the Syrian Civil War, according to the International Business Times.
 
If you want to know where oil prices may go, keep an eye on Saudi Arabia.
 


Data as of 12/26/14
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)0.9%13.0%18.2%19.8%13.1%5.7%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.3NA3.02.03.84.3
Gold (per ounce)-1.6-2.0-3.1-9.21.310.3
Bloomberg Commodity Index-2.0-15.3-16.5-9.2-5.3-3.0
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index1.329.629.516.516.28.5
 

S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods. Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
It’s not the 1 percent, it’s the 0.1 percent. They say history repeats itself. That seems to jibe with the findings of a brand new paper by Emmanuel Saez of the University of California, Berkeley, and Gabriel Zucman of the London School of Economics.
 
“Wealth concentration has followed a U-shaped evolution over the last 100 years: It was high in the beginning of the twentieth century, fell from 1929 to 1978, and has continuously increased since then. The rise of wealth inequality is almost entirely due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth share, from 7% in 1979 to 22% in 2012—a level almost as high as in 1929… The increase in wealth concentration is due to the surge of top incomes combined with an increase in saving rate inequality.”
 
The pair found that the average real growth rate of wealth for the 160,000 families that comprise the top 0.1 percent was 1.9 percent from 1986 to 2012. As it turns out, income inequality has a snowballing effect on wealth distribution. The wealthiest people earn top incomes and save at high rates, which helps concentrate greater wealth in the hands of a few. It’s interesting to note that top wealth-holders are younger today than they were in the 1960s.
 
In contrast, the riches of the bottom 90 percent did not grow at all from 1986 to 2012. Historically, the share of wealth divvied up among this group grew from 20 percent in the 1920s to 35 percent in the 1980s. However, by 2012, it had fallen to 23 percent. Pension wealth grew during the period, but not enough to offset the rapid growth of mortgage, consumer credit, and student loan debt.
 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“History repeats itself, but the special call of an art which has passed away is never reproduced. it is an utterly gone out of the world as the song of a destroyed wild bird.”    --Joseph Conrad, Polish author

All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

December 15, 2014

posted Dec 15, 2014, 3:20 PM by Katie Shook   [ updated Dec 15, 2014, 3:21 PM ]

On a Personal Note

In the wake of last week's yuck markets I thought I'd share a little bright spot with you.  As is often the case, Holiday parties abound this time of year.  Heather and I had an event to attend on Saturday night -- and so did our girls.  In what can only be described as the ultimate babysitting coup, Madison and Eliana managed a trip to the Christmas Tea without mom.  
 
The pictures only tell part of the story.  The girls were all dolled up and bouncing off the walls.  It was clearly an exciting event, complete with curled hair and eye makeup (dear Lord).  Not only did they get to dress up, but the parents weren't going to be there to boss them around.

We left about 6pm and returned just after 8:30pm.  When we got home we found all of the girls in front of the TV munching on McDonalds watching 'A Christmas Story.'  Even better?  The babysitters stuck around to watch the second half of the movie.
 
All told, it was a late bedtime and some pretty good memories!
 

The Markets
 

Ouch!
 
It was no fun to be an investor last week. The week prior, a commentary in The Wall Street Journal’s blog,MoneyBeat, offered this insight:
 
“Falling oil prices are thought to be good for stocks because they stimulate consumer spending and hold down inflation. The lower costs support economic growth, boost corporate earnings, and lessen pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates. The stock market loves that mix.”
 
That was not the case last week. A selling spree, sparked in part by concerns related to energy, led to virtually every major world stock index (every one that Barron’s follows, anyway) moving lower. The single exception was the Shanghai Composite and that was flat.
 
It seems the International Energy Agency’s prediction that demand for energy would grow more slowly in 2015, combined with the fact supply of some resources has been growing, addled investors and they sold everything but the kitchen sink. Even industries that may be helped by lower energy costs – consumer goods, consumer services, health care, and others – lost value. In the United States, stock markets delivered their worst performance in more than three years, according to Barron’s.
 
Have investors lost sight of the fact the United States has a consumption-driven economy?
The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis reported personal consumption – how much Americans are spending on goods and services – was 70 percent of gross domestic product (the value of all goods and services produced) in the United States during the third quarter of 2014. Lower energy prices tend to put more money in the pockets of consumers so they can spend more and that can help the economy grow. In fact, U.S. News reported, “…approximately every penny decline in the price of a gallon of gasoline translates to about $1 billion in additional disposable income for American households.”
 
It’s interesting to note consumers – a group that overlaps with investors in a Venn diagram – are more confident than they have been in almost eight years, according to data released by the University of Michigan and cited byBarron’s.
 


Data as of 12/12/14
1-WeekY-T-D1-Year3-Year5-Year10-Year
Standard & Poor's 500 (Domestic Stocks)-3.5%8.3%12.8%17.4%12.4%5.3%
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)2.1NA2.92.03.64.2
Gold (per ounce)1.91.3-0.4-9.81.610.8
Bloomberg Commodity Index-1.3-11.9-12.3-7.7-3.8-2.6
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index0.026.029.317.916.78.3
 
S&P 500, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.
 
What does the future hold? The good news is most analysts expect economic growth in the United States to continue. The Wall Street JournalThe EconomistThe Federal Reserve, and the International Monetary Fundall have forecast gross domestic product growth in the United States at 2.5 to 3.0 percent for 2015. That’s not quite as good as the 7 percent growth forecast for China or the 6.5 percent growth estimated for India, but it’s decent for a developed nation with a mature economy.
 
There are factors that could hurt the economic outlook in the United States. Economists participating in The Wall Street Journal’s Economic Forecasting Survey said a negative global event was the biggest threat to U.S. economic growth followed by slower global growth. Three of the risks The Economist believes could keep companies from operating at target profitability during 2015 include:
 
  • Deflation in the Eurozone: “A Japanese-style stagnation in the euro zone would have profoundly negative implications for global demand, especially at a time when growth in the emerging markets is also softening.”
  • Spillover from Syria’s Civil War: “…The prospect of [ISIS] diverting its energies from Iraq and into Syria and its neighbors (such as Lebanon and Jordan) could prompt an uptick in oil's political risk premium once more.”
  • Escalation of the Russia-Ukraine conflict: “…The recently imposed trade restrictions have not only plunged Russia into recession, but also contributed to sinking industrial output in Germany… further sanctions could see Russia cutting off natural gas sales to Ukraine or the European Union (as is currently already reportedly occurring with supplies to Poland)… [these acts] would no doubt have a deleterious impact on the [Euro] region's economic recovery.”

 
There are also factors that could improve the outlook. The Wall Street Journal’s survey found economists believe tightening labor markets, higher wages, better consumer spending, and low energy prices could support U.S. economic growth during 2015.

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 
“The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don't play together, the club won't be worth a dime."  --Babe Ruth, American baseball player

All the Best!,
 

 
P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

This newsletter was prepared by Littlejohn Financial Services and Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with Littlejohn Financial Services.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.
*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.
* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.
* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.
* Gold represents the afternoon gold price as reported by the London Bullion Market Association. The gold price is set twice daily by the London Gold Fixing Company at 10:30 and 15:00 and is expressed in U.S. dollars per fine troy ounce.
* The Bloomberg Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.
* The DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.
* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.
* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.
* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.
* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.
* You cannot invest directly in an index.
* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.
* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

Sources:
http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/12/08/falling-oil-prices-the-good-and-the-bad/ (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-15-14_WSJ-Falling_Oil_Prices-The_Good_and_the_Bad-Footnote_1.pdf)
http://online.barrons.com/articles/markets-plunge-as-oil-panic-spreads-1418444287?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns(or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-15-14_Barrons-Markets_Plunge_as_Oil_Panic_Spreads-Footnote_2.pdf)
http://online.barrons.com/mdc/public/page/9_3063-economicCalendar.html (Click on “U.S. & Intl Recaps,” then “Equities fall on oil’s slippery slope”) (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-15-14_Barrons-Equities_Fall_on_Oils_Slippery_Slope-Footnote_3.pdf)
http://research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/graph/?g=hh3
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2014/10/14/cheaper-gas-means-not-so-cheap-consumer
http://projects.wsj.com/econforecast/#qa=1418236930332
http://www.economist.com/news/economic-and-financial-indicators/21636055-output-prices-and-jobs (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-15-14_TheEconomist-Output_Prices_and_Jobs-Footnote_7.pdf)
http://www.ny.frb.org/newsevents/speeches/2014/dud141201.html
http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2014/update/02/
http://www.wsj.com/articles/economists-see-strong-growth-in-2015-1418321062?mod=rss_economy (or go tohttp://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/12-15-14_WSJ-Economists_See_Stronger_Growth_in_2015-Footnote_10.pdf)
http://gfs.eiu.com/Article.aspx?articleType=gr&articleid=2622
http://gfs.eiu.com/Article.aspx?articleType=gr&articleid=2623
http://gfs.eiu.com/Article.aspx?articleType=gr&articleid=2624
http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/b/baberuth125974.html?src=t_sports

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