Deficits and Tariffs

As I'm sure we're all aware, the stock market has been in full blown "react" mode during the past several weeks. While there have been a variety of issues fueling this volatility, the first was interest rates and the second is what some view as a brewing trade war with China. With all the rhetoric bouncing around it's hard not to feel nervous. Anytime the word "war" is used it's bound to ramp up the tension level anyway. So, what's one to do in the face of the current market anxiety? Simply put – stay calm.

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Mixed Messages

The past couple of weeks have been a time of mixed signals in the markets and news media. One day (or even one moment) the news is positive and the next it's negative. It's confusing and can leave one wondering just who's right, the bulls or the bears.

Stocks had staged a bit of a comeback earlier this month after the correction in February, only to go crazy again in the past couple of weeks. Seemingly all of a sudden stocks were back in correction-mode and many in the media seemed to turn bearish. This craziness and mixed messaging came to a head last week, with positive economic news being drowned out by a variety of negative headlines.

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Learning from History

Time flies when you're having fun. That saying seems to capture the feeling of the past ten years following the market turmoil of 2008. With a few bumps along the way, since the market lows of early 2009, the stock market has been on a tear.

Now that we're in March and the anniversaries of important Great Recession events approach, it's interesting to sift through market research and news stories from back then. Some of the analysis stands out as oddly prescient, while some of the events are still gut-wrenching to read about even today.

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Quarterly Update

The first quarter (Q1) of 2018 could best be summed up as a return to volatile markets. Already this year we have experienced more volatility than in all of 2017. There were six +/-2% moves for the S&P 500 during the quarter compared with zero last year. Following a year of near historic low volatility this heightened level is likely to linger for a while.

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Here We Go Again

Here we go again. That's what I said when I heard about how Wells Fargo is being investigated again for overcharging and generally taking advantage of its customers. We've all heard in recent years how the bank opened tons of unnecessary deposit and credit accounts and overcharged customers for insurance on loans. But now it's not just the banking business that's in trouble, it's also their wealth management arm, Wells Fargo Advisors.

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The Do's and Don'ts of IRA Beneficiaries

Since we're in tax season and you might be paying more attention to the nuts and bolts of your retirement accounts, let's review some of the Do's and Don'ts when it comes to naming IRA beneficiaries.

I can tell you from personal and professional experience that this is one area that's easy to mess up. Maybe you meant to name a beneficiary on your IRA but haven't gotten around to it yet. Or, maybe you named your spouse years ago and now, unfortunately, this needs to be updated due to death or divorce. Or, another common mistake is thinking, hey, we set up our trust last year and listed the account in the trust document, so we're good, right? No.

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