For retirees who dreamed of moving to any foreign countries this year, here’s a few practical suggestions from Forbes you might want to consider:
When it comes time to pick a retirement spot, the majority of Americans end up staying put, or moving within their own state. (See The Best Places To Retire In Each State.) But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t at least consider the option of retiring abroad. Fact is, many countries offer a high standard of living at a much lower cost and throw in good weather, great scenery and fascinating culture at no extra charge.
More Americans have been not just considering, but actually making, the big move. The U.S. Social Security Administration just reported it’s now sending checks to almost 700,000 people living in foreign countries. That’s a steady 40% increase over 10 years. Of course, not all Americans “retiring” abroad are old enough to collect Social Security. The growing FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement has got some GenXers and even Millennials dreaming about “retiring” from their day jobs and living abroad.
To assist those planning, or simply dreaming about, a foreign retirement haven, Forbes has scoured the globe to come up with a list, The Best Places To Retire Abroad In 2019. Click on the gallery below for a description of all 24 countries, on five continents, that made our list, in alphabetical order. (At the bottom of this post, there’s also a handy table offering a quick view of how our picks compare.) Note that while we are picking entire nations, not every place in each is suitable. U.S. expat retirees often tend to cluster in just a few locales. So we suggest a few specific spots in each, although in most countries there are many other locations that would also be suitable.
One advantage of just about every foreign country on our list is that good medical care, and health care insurance, is available and at a cost so much less than in the U.S. that private insurance can easily replace the Medicare benefits most U.S. retirees depend on. (No, you can’t use your Medicare benefits abroad.) Three countries on our list—Uruguay, Ecuador and Italy—even allow expats under certain circumstances into their national healthcare systems. In some countries, good healthcare is more easily found in the larger cities, and we make a note of that in our individual write-ups.
Continue reading HERE.
Here’s an update for December’s Stock Market performance and global economic concerns from LOM Financial:
The month of December was once again dominated by troubling economic headlines ranging from disruptive global trade negotiations to disturbing U.S. central bank commentary. On top of the steady drum beat of what some are calling dysfunctional political behavior, the U.S. Government’s partial shutdown has added to the negative investor sentiment which has been building all year. Sliding stock prices over the last month of the year added to the fourth quarter market woes, notwithstanding a sharp equity market reversal on the day after Christmas. For the month of December, the S&P 500 declined by -9.03% and the MSCI World Stock index fell by -7.57%. These results capped an overall tumultuous year where the MSCI World declined by 8.19% for the period as a whole.
Since the U.S. and China met during the G20 meeting at the beginning of December, China has implemented multiple policies addressing major issues in trade war negotiations. China agreed to cut tariffs on more than 700 goods in sectors such as agriculture, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and materials. Despite the progress, most products will still be subject to the retaliatory tariffs until there is a breakthrough in the trade deal. Furthermore, China has drafted a law to prevent forced technology transfers, which is a main complaint by Washington. However, critics question whether the new law will be enforced successfully. U.S. trade representatives will travel to China in January for another round of negotiations and any update from their talk will likely affect markets early in the New Year.
Despite the ongoing risk market selloff in during the fourth quarter, the Fed still decided to raise the Fed Fund rate for the fourth time in 2018, to a range between 2.25% and 2.5%. However, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) did adjust next year’s projected base rate move downward to just two hikes, in the face of market volatility. However, Fed Chairman, Jerome Powell reiterated the plan for balance sheet runoff. As the Fed downplayed risks to the economic outlook, investors worry that a hawkish central bank will ultimately slow the economy and send markets into another tail spin. As interest rates continues to climb, consumers will feel even more pressure on mortgages and auto loan payments. Overall, businesses have begun to experience a higher interest burden.
Continue reading HERE for more insights.
Here’s a piece of priceless advice from Forbes for your 2019 financial plans:
I love simple financial advice because we make money management much too difficult. That’s why we need to boil down what we need to know — and cancel out the noise.
This year you can plan ahead, but you’ll need to earmark some things to do. Here are some great tips from my friend Julie Jason, the author of Retire Securely: Insights on Money Management from an Award-Winning Financial Columnist.
Manage With Logic, Not Emotion. There’s no question that the headlines are going to be nerve wracking. That’s the nature of the beast. Ignore them and figure out how much you’ll need to live comfortably in retirement and pay your bills.
“It’s a fact of human nature that emotions can wreak havoc on our decision-making abilities,” Jason notes. “A growing field of study called behavioral finance seeks to identify the pitfalls of the human psyche to help people — in this case, investors — minimize the effects that emotions can have on their investment portfolios.”
Do the numbers. Project your retirement income based on savings and Social Security. Figure out how much you need to save and invest to meet your goals. Execute!
Continue reading it HERE.
LOM Financial has an update regarding the Brexit’s effect on the stock market’s performance lately:
A mixed week ended down on Friday. The MSCI World Index closed down -1.13% while the S&P 500 lost -1.22%. The generic 30-year index rose 0.10%.
May Survives No Confidence Vote
The pound rallied 1.42% on Wednesday following Theresa May successful defense against a no-confidence vote. Prime Minister May benched a vote on the Brexit terms noting that it would not pass an approval vote if it were to go to Parliament. The EU has been vocal in dismissing calls for a better deal being negotiable but affirmed that Britain could elect to remain part of the EU without approval from other EU members. While remaining would likely be better for the country, another Brexit vote seems unlikely given the challenges related to setting a precedent of voting until you get a desired outcome. If the UK were to enter a hard Brexit, Britain would default to the WTO rules of trade with higher tariffs and barriers to entry. We are now within 100 days of the March Brexit deadline.
Google Visits Washington DC
Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, went to Capitol Hill to address questions of political bias in their search engine. The discussion basically broke down to senators being concerned that searches for conservative topics tended to be less prevalent and more negatively biased. Pichai tried to explain that their algorithm uses user feedback to determine various factors like relevance, freshness, popularity and how other people are using it. Perhaps the surprising fact was that 15% of daily searches Google sees are have never been seen by the algorithm before.
Continue reading HERE.
You’re probably one of the generous benefactors who want to donate a portion of your wealth this year. However and whichever you want to share it with, here are some helpful tips from CNBC that you might want to consider:
If giving to charity is still on your agenda for 2018, there’s still a window of time for you to make that year-end donation.
However, if you make a mistake, your gift might not count for the 2018 tax year.
Of note, new tax rules have made it more difficult to get a deduction for your donations. That is because the standard deduction is so much higher — about $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples who file jointly.
And your donations (plus any other deductions such as mortgage interest, etc.) must push you over the standard deduction in order for you to itemize on your tax return.
A congressional report earlier this year estimated that just 18 million households would itemize this year, down from 46.5 million in 2017.
If you’re one of them, you need to get started now.
“We’re running out of time, so you need to do it earlier rather than later,” said Michael Duffy, director of the Strategic Wealth Advisory Group at Merrill Lynch Private Banking and Investment Group.
There are rules you need to pay attention to, such as whether you’re giving to charity or to friends and family, and how you’re giving, such as cash, securities or tangible property.
For more insights, continue reading HERE.
Technology stocks are extremely attractive for many investors, nowadays. Recently, Some of the world’s largest tech giants are listed on Forbes as the most-bought stocks in the tech sector:
Fund managers in the third quarter continued buying tech stocks, a sector that outperformed all others over the past five years.
The S&P 500 Technology SPDR returned 89.84% over the past half decade, more than double the rise in the S&P 500 index. Companies in the sector glided on innovations in the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud computing, artificial intelligence and consumer electronics.
Their ability to generate a profit spurred investor interest. The sector’s net profit margins expanded to 22.1% in the third quarter, their highest since FactSet began tracking data in 2008. It also saw all of its constituents report earnings above estimates.
Nevertheless, some wind left the sector’s sails in this year. It has achieved only a 2.53% gain year to date, making it the fourth-best performer in the S&P 500, though it beat the index’s decline of 1.38%.
Meanwhile, its valuations have fallen, potentially making it more attractive to some investors. GuruFocus calculates its price-earnings ratio at 27.1, significantly below its peak of 39.4 from June and its lowest since March. It has the fourth-highest price-earnings ratio of the 11 sectors in the index.
Analysts have attributed the sector’s drop to lower demand, trade uncertainty with China and overvaluation. Earnings growth is expected to reach 9.8% for 2019, according to FactSet, which in September revised its estimate up from 6.9% in June. Bloomberg data forecasts earnings growth for the sector at 9.7% for 2019 and 10% for 2020.
In the third quarter, the most investors GuruFocus tracks bought shares of the following tech companies: Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Electronic Arts and Alphabet. This data was found using GuruFocus S&P 500 Screener.
Continue reading HERE.
Here’s a Market update from LOM Financial for the latest Global Market Performance:
Markets rebounded sharply last week with the MSCI World Index gaining 3.40% while the S&P500 rose 4.91%. The bond markets were mainly flat on the week.
The Federal Reserve
The Federal Reserves’ role is to balance unemployment with inflation. It achieves that goal by controlling the cost at which banks can borrow money and by buying companies stocks and bonds in the open market (known as quantitative easing). By lowering interest rates and buying up shares of companies in the open market, they prop up the economy. When they believe the economy is overheating (e.g., almost everyone that wants a job has one and prices of goods are rising), they try to cool things down by raising the interest rates and reducing their balance sheet. The latter is important because an overheated economy would be more likely to engage in risk-taking behaviors and unchecked inflation can erode our ability to save and plan over the long-term.
The new Fed Chair, Jerome Powell, inherited an environment with historically low interest rates and a strong economy. He has been on record expressing concern that the low rates were creating a bond market bubble (declining interest rates increase the price of existing bonds). At the beginning of the year, the aggressive schedule of four rate hikes appeared unlikely. As the impact of the tax cuts appeared to stimulate the economy while the effects of an uncertain quantity of tariffs were yet to be felt, the Fed felt comfortable enough to raise rates.
Markets got spooked in October, when Mr. Powell implied that we were “a long way” from neutral, a rate level that would neither heat up or cool down the economy. That uncertainty, along with other risks like a trade war escalation and a potential hard Brexit, weighed down markets.
In a televised meeting at the Economic Club of New York on Wednesday, Powell was quoted as saying we are now “just below neutral.” I believe this implies the band would be 3-7% (since the historical average is close to 5%). Markets took this as good news, rallying sharply into the second half of the week.
Continue reading HERE.
Retirement plan – one of the most important long term investments everyone should build. For more retirement and financial advice, read on Forbes:
Retirement is the #1 financial worry with 65% of Americans worried about it and a majority thinking about it 4 times per week. The core problem is uncertainty – people have no idea how much they need, because we have created a system around building assets instead of income.
We spend our lives saving up a big pile of money in an effort to secure our future against a bewildering set of future risks including market returns, inflation, healthcare and longevity. This is spurred on by the vast majority of players in the financial services industry who want us to save as much as possible and/or “invest” in often complex, opaque and expensive products since their income is based on a percent of your assets (AUM) or on transaction fees where the price is not clearly marked.
An average 401(k) investor who pays 1% investment fees on a portfolio earning 4% will lose about 33% of their returns to those fees over a 20 year period. Put another way if you have $1M, then $400K in returns are lost to fees over 20 years (fees that go to your fund provider, broker or financial advisor).
I’ve talked with hundreds of our users who are planning for retirement, most of whom have $500,000 to a few million saved and they are all worried about whether they have enough and how they will generate retirement income and manage healthcare.
Continue reading HERE.
Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,239.86 per ounce. Meanwhile, Spot palladium rose 0.1 percent to $1,245.00 per ounce. Here’s the latest update from CNBC :
Gold edged higher on Thursday as growing risk aversion weighed on the dollar, while palladium held ground at a premium to the bullion.
Spot gold was up 0.2 percent at $1,239.86 per ounce, as of 0429 GMT, while U.S. gold futures were 0.2 percent higher at $1,244.9 per ounce.
“Markets are trying to consolidate, trying to push up higher for now,” said Benjamin Lu, a commodities analyst with Phillip Futures.
A balance between a host of factors such as a rate hike by the U.S. Federal Reserve in December, uncertainty about trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, and a flattening yield curve has helped create a premium for the bullion, Lu added.
Fed policymakers will gather at a Dec. 18-19 meeting, at which the central bank is widely expected to raise interest rates.
“Although a rate hike is already priced in, markets will be closely watching the meeting for clues on rate hike timings in 2019,” said Lukman Otunuga, a research analyst at FXTM, adding that: “if the meeting echoes a similar message to (Chairman Jerome) Powell’s dovish shift, gold has the potential to shine into 2019.”
The dollar declined against the safe-haven yen as a spike in risk aversion pressured equities and U.S. Treasury yields. The spread between the two-year and five-year Treasury yields inverted this week and the two-year/10-year spread was at its flattest in more than a decade amid a sharp fall in long-term rates.
Continue reading HERE.
Here is some good news from Reuters for the oil and gas community:
SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Oil prices shot higher on Monday after the United States and China agreed a 90-day truce in their trade conflict and ahead of a meeting by producer club OPEC this week that is expected to result in a supply cut.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures CLc1 were at $53.38 per barrel at 0220 GMT, up $2.45 per barrel, or 4.8 percent from their last close.
International Brent crude oil futures LCOc1 were up $2.38 per barrel, or 4 percent, at $61.84 a barrel.
China and the United States agreed during the meeting of the Group of 20 (G20) leading economies in Argentina over the weekend not to impose additional trade tariffs for at least 90 days while the pair hold talks to resolve existing disputes.
The trade war between the world’s two biggest economies has weighed heavily on global trade, sparking concerns of an economic slowdown.
Continue reading HERE.