The Pros & Cons of Roth IRA Conversions

What are the potential benefits? What are the draw backs?

If you own a traditional IRA, perhaps you have thought about converting it to a Roth IRA. Going Roth makes sense for some traditional IRA owners, but not all.

Why go Roth? There is an assumption behind every Roth IRA conversion – a belief that income tax rates will be higher in future years than they are today. If you think that will happen, then you may be compelled to go Roth. After all, once you are age 59½ and have owned a Roth IRA for five years (i.e., once five full years have passed since the conversion), withdrawals from the IRA are tax-free.1

Additionally, you never have to make mandatory withdrawals from a Roth IRA, and you can contribute to a Roth IRA as long as you live, unless you lack earned income or make too much money to do so.2,3

For 2016, the contribution limits are $132,000 for single filers and $194,000 for joint filers and qualifying widow(er)s, with phase-outs respectively kicking in at $117,000 and $184,000. (These numbers represent modified adjusted gross income.)4

While you may make too much to contribute to a Roth IRA, anyone may convert a traditional IRA to a Roth. Imagine never having to draw down your IRA each year. Imagine having a reservoir of tax-free income for retirement (provided you follow IRS rules). Imagine the possibility of those assets passing tax-free to your heirs. Sounds great, right? It certainly does – but the question is, can you handle the taxes that would result from a Roth conversion?

Why not go Roth? Two reasons: the tax hit could be substantial, and time may not be on your side.

A Roth IRA conversion is a taxable event. When you convert a traditional IRA (which is funded with pre-tax dollars) into a Roth IRA (which is funded with after-tax dollars), all the pretax contributions and earnings for the former traditional IRA become taxable. When you add the taxable income from the conversion into your total for a given year, you could find yourself in a higher tax bracket.2

If you are nearing retirement age, going Roth may not be worth it. If you convert a sizable traditional IRA to a Roth when you are in your fifties or sixties, it could take a decade (or longer) for the IRA to recapture the dollars lost to taxes on the conversion. Model scenarios considering “what ifs” should be mapped out.

In many respects, the earlier in life you convert a regular IRA to a Roth, the better. Your income should rise as you get older; you will likely finish your career in a higher tax bracket than you were in when you were first employed. Those conditions relate to a key argument for going Roth: it is better to pay taxes on IRA contributions today than on IRA withdrawals tomorrow.

However, since many retirees have lower income levels than their end salaries, they may retire to a lower tax rate. That is a key argument against Roth conversion.

If you aren’t sure which argument to believe, it may be reassuring to know that you can go Roth without converting your whole IRA.

You could do a partial conversion. Is your traditional IRA sizable? You could make multiple partial Roth conversions through the years. This could be a good idea if you are in one of the lower tax brackets and like to itemize deductions.2

You could even undo the conversion. It is possible to “recharacterize” (that is, reverse) Roth IRA conversions. If a newly minted Roth IRA loses value due to poor market performance, you may want to do it. The IRS gives you until October 15 of the year following the initial conversion to “reconvert’’ the Roth back into a traditional IRA and avoid the related tax liability.5

You could “have it both ways”. As no one can fully predict the future of American taxation, some people contribute to both Roth and traditional IRAs – figuring that they can be at least “half right” regardless of whether taxes increase or decrease.

If you do go Roth, your heirs might receive a tax-free inheritance. Lastly, Roth IRAs can prove to be very useful estate planning tools. (You may have heard of the “stretch IRA” strategy, which can theoretically keep IRA assets growing for generations.) If the rules are followed, Roth IRA heirs can end up with a tax-free inheritance, paid out either annually or as a lump sum. In contrast, distributions of inherited assets from a traditional IRA are routinely taxed.2

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email mikem@cfgiowa.com
Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.
Distributions made prior to age 59 1/2 may be subject to a federal income tax penalty. If converting a
traditional IRA to a Roth IRA, you will owe ordinary income taxes on any previously deducted traditional
IRA contributions and on all earnings.

Traditional IRA account owners should consider the tax ramifications, age and income restrictions in regards to executing a conversion from a Traditional IRA to a Roth IRA. The converted amount is generally subject to income taxation.

“Stretch IRA” is a marketing term implying the ability of a beneficiary of a Decedent’s IRA to withdraw the least amount of money at the latest allowable time in order to maintain the inherited IRA assets for the longest time period possible. Beneficiary distribution options depend on a number of factors such as the type and age of the beneficiary, the relationship of the beneficiary to the decedent and the age of the decedent at death and may result in the inability to “stretch” a decedent’s IRA. Illustration values will greatly depend on the assumptions used which may not be predictable such as future tax laws, IRS rules, inflation and constant rates of return. Costs including custodial fees may be incurred on a specified frequency while the account remains open.

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. Marketing Library.Net Inc. is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is not a solicitation or a recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

Citations.
1 – bankrate.com/finance/retirement/roth-ira-conversion-subject-to-5-year-rule.aspx [10/30/14]
2 – kiplinger.com/article/investing/T046-C000-S002-reap-the-rewards-of-a-roth-ira.html [12/15]
3 – irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Roth-IRAs [10/23/15]
4 – irs.gov/Retirement-Plans/Plan-Participant,-Employee/Amount-of-Roth-IRA-Contributions-That-You-Can-Make-for-2016 [10/23/15]
5 – thestreet.com/story/13321349/1/roth-recharacterization-how-to-maneuver-your-ira-before-oct-15.html [10/13/15]

Why DIY Investment Management Is Such a Risk

Paying attention to the wrong things becomes all too easy.

If you ever have the inkling to manage your investments on your own, that inkling is worth reconsidering. Do-it-yourself investment management can be a bad idea for the retail investor for myriad reasons.

Getting caught up in the moment. When you are watching your investments day to day, you can lose a sense of historical perspective – 2011 begins to seem like ancient history, let alone 2008. This is especially true in longstanding bull markets, in which investors are sometimes lulled into assuming that the big indexes will move in only one direction.

Historically speaking, things have been so abnormal for so long that many investors – especially younger investors – cannot personally recall a time when things were different. If you are under 30, it is very possible you have invested without ever seeing the Federal Reserve raise interest rates. The last rate hike happened before there was an iPhone, before there was an Uber or an Airbnb.

In addition to our country’s recent, exceptional monetary policy, we just saw a bull market go nearly four years without a correction. In fact, the recent correction disrupted what was shaping up as the most placid year in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.1

Listening too closely to talking heads. The noise of Wall Street is never-ending, and can breed a kind of shortsightedness that may lead you to focus on the micro rather than the macro. As an example, the hot issue affecting a particular sector today may pale in comparison to the developments affecting it across the next ten years or the past ten years.

Looking only to make money in the market. Wall Street represents only avenue for potentially building your retirement savings or wealth. When you are caught up in the excitement of a rally, that truth may be obscured. You can build savings by spending less. You can receive “free money” from an employer willing to match your retirement plan contributions to some degree. You can grow a hobby into a business, or switch jobs or careers.

Saving too little. For a DIY investor, the art of investing equals making money in the markets, not necessarily saving the money you have made. Subscribing to that mentality may dissuade you from saving as much as you should for retirement and other goals.

Paying too little attention to taxes. A 10% return is less sweet if federal and state taxes claim 3% of it. This routinely occurs, however, because just as many DIY investors tend to play the market in one direction, they also have a tendency to skimp on playing defense. Tax management is an important factor in wealth retention.

Failing to pay attention to your emergency fund. On average, an unemployed person stays jobless in the U.S. for more than six months. According to research compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, the mean duration for U.S. unemployment was 28.4 weeks at the end of August. Consider also that the current U-6 “total” unemployment rate shows more than 10% of the country working less than a 40-hour week or not at all. So you may need more than six months of cash reserves. Most people do not have anywhere near that, and some DIY investors give scant attention to their cash position.2,3

Overreacting to a bad year. Sometimes the bears appear. Sometimes stocks do not rise 10% annually. Fortunately, you have more than one year in which to plan for retirement (and other goals). Your long-run retirement saving and investing approach – aided by compounding – matters more than what the market does during a particular 12 months. Dramatically altering your investment strategy in reaction to present conditions can backfire.

Equating the economy with the market. They are not one and the same. In fact, there have been periods (think back to 2006-2007) when stocks hit historical peaks even when key indicators flashed recession signals. Moreover, some investments and market sectors can do well or show promise when the economy goes through a rough stretch.

Focusing more on money than on the overall quality of life. Managing investments – or the entirety of a very complex financial life – on your own takes time. More time than many people want to devote, more time than many people initially assume. That kind of time investment can subtract from your quality of life – another reason to turn to other resources for help and insight.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at phe# 641-782-5577 or email: mikem@cfgiowa.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

  

Citations.

1 – cnbc.com/2015/09/10/this-market-is-setting-a-wild-volatility-record.html [9/10/15]

2 – research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/UEMPMEAN [9/4/15]

3 – research.stlouisfed.org/fred2/series/U6RATE/ [9/4/15]

How Might Higher Inflation Affect Your Investments?

With the Fed poised to gradually raise rates, this is worth considering.

America once experienced something called “moderate inflation.” It may seem like a distant memory, but it could very well return in the second half of this decade.

A remote possibility? Most economists think the Fed will start raising interest rates in late 2015 and take them higher in 2016 through a series of incremental hikes – a march toward normal monetary policy, in which the Fed funds rate ranges between 3-5%. Once the Fed begins tightening, it usually keeps at it – as an example, the central bank raised rates 17 times during 2003-06 alone.1

Keep in mind that there are two forms of interest rates. Short-term interest rates are mainly controlled by Fed policy. Long-term interest rates ride on the bond market’s expectations. Still, short-term rate hikes have an effect on investors as well as lenders. They influence the mood and outlook of Wall Street; they affect interest rates on credit cards, some home loans and short-term savings vehicles.

What if moderate inflation resumes & the Fed reacts? What might higher inflation (and correspondingly higher interest rates) mean for your portfolio? Under such conditions, your investments may perform better than you think.

Equities should still be attractive. The ascent of the federal funds rate should be gradual over the next couple of years, and the market may price it in. A climbing federal funds rate need not become a market headwind. Remember that as the Fed authorized all those rate hikes in the mid-2000s, the market pushed toward all-time highs. When it becomes apparent that the Fed has taken rates too high, then Wall Street tends to adopt a defensive mindset.

Fixed-income investments may hold up well. It is true, long-term bonds may lose market value in a market climate with rising interest rates (though this will eventually promote additional income for investors with patience). Many investors may see wisdom in a fixed-income ladder, which means putting money into fixed-income securities with staggered maturity dates, typically from one to five years away. As interest rates gradually increase, you can gradually take advantage by replacing the shortest-term security with a medium-term or longer-term security. (Some of the other kinds of fixed-income investments, which have been earning next to nothing, may start to become more attractive; we might see interest-earning checking and savings accounts make a full-fledged comeback.)

In the big picture, consider how unimpeded the Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index (in shorthand, the S&P 500 of the bond market) was in prior rising-rate environments. In the six such instances during the past 40 years (and these periods lasted 2-5 years), T-bill rates increased between 2.3-11.9% while the total annual return for the index ranged from 2.6-11.9%, with most of those total returns varying between 4-6%. For the record, the index posted a total return of 5.97% in 2014.2

So, gradually increasing inflation might not hold back the return on your portfolio. Your portfolio aside, what steps could you take that may put you in a better financial position as inflation normalizes?

You may want to adjust your spending habits. If consumer prices start rising notably, you may decide to spend less and buy less often. You may want to buy durable goods such as cars now rather than later in the decade. You may also want to make your house more energy-efficient, drive vehicles that get better MPG, and take full advantage of your health care coverage – as energy, fuel, and medical costs often rise faster than others.

You could live with less debt. As determined by Bankrate.com, the average credit card currently carries a 15.91% interest rate. Can you imagine that going higher? It almost certainly will when the Fed makes its move. Credit card interest rates are based on the prime rate; movements in the prime rate closely mirror movements in the federal funds rate. Credit card issuers frequently adjust interest rates upward right after the central bank does.3

Lastly, remember the upside to rising inflation. A larger annual increase for the Consumer Price Index implies a boost in Social Security income for seniors, and rising interest rates will translate to appreciable yields for risk-averse savers.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-782-5577 or email rsmlbyer@mchsi.com

Website: www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

The Barclays U.S. Aggregate Bond Index is an index of the U.S. investment-grade fixed-rate bond market, including both government and corporate bonds.

Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

No strategy assures success or protects against loss. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal. 

Citations.

1 – news.morningstar.com/articlenet/article.aspx?id=705846 [7/16/15]

2 – marketwatch.com/story/how-your-bond-portfolio-can-survive-higher-rates-2015-04-23 [4/23/15]

More Irrational Exuberance?

Has unchecked optimism inflated asset values?

“Irrational exuberance.” That phrase – uttered by Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan in 1996 and reputedly coined by economist Robert Shiller – has become part of the investment lexicon. Now and then, bears reference it – especially when the market turns red-hot.

Late last year, many Wall Street investment strategists thought the S&P 500 would advance about 5.8% in 2014. They were wrong. As 2014 ends, the broad benchmark is poised for another double-digit annual gain. Asked to explain the difference, bearish market analysts might point to irrational exuberance.1

Irrational exuberance – the run-up of asset values due to runaway enthusiasm about an asset class – reared its head catastrophically in 2000 (the tech bubble) and in 2007 (the housing bubble). In the first edition of his book of the very same title (2000), Shiller warned investors that stocks were overvalued. In the second edition of Irrational Exuberance (2005), he cautioned that real estate was overvalued. The fact that he’s trotting out a third edition of the book in 2015 was some people a little spooked. 2,3

Has quantitative easing (QE) bred irrational exuberance once again? As a 2011 Forbes.com headline put it, “Trees Don’t Grow to the Sky – Even with the Fed Behind Them.” You could argue – quite convincingly – that the Fed has propped up the stock market since 2008, and that the great gains of this bull market were primarily a result of QE1, QE2 and QE3.4

No further easing, no further gains, the logic goes (or least not gains resembling those seen in recent years).

As 2014 ends, bears insist that stocks are greatly overvalued. To back up their argument, they point to recent movements in the CAPE (Cyclically Adjusted Price-to-Earnings) or P/E 10 ratio. This closely-watched stock market barometer (created by Shiller and his fellow economist John Campbell) tracks a 10-year average of the S&P Composite’s real (inflation-adjusted) earnings.5,7

(If you’re wondering what the S&P Composite is, it is a historically wide, big-picture window on the U.S. equities market that unites data from the S&P 500 – which has only existed since 1957 – with prior S&P indices.)6

Since 1881, the P/E 10 ratio of the S&P Composite has averaged about 16.5. At the peak of the dot-com bubble in 2000, it hit 44.2. It stumbled to a low of 13.3 when the market bottomed out in March 2009, but it was up at 26.5 as December began, about 60% above its historic mean.5

Why should this concern you? This P/E 10 ratio has only topped the 25 level three times – in 1929, 1999 and 2007.7

But isn’t the market healthy & ready to stand on its own? That’s what the bulls insist, and given the S&P 500’s 2.45% rise for November following the end of QE3, they may be right. Ardent bulls contend that another secular bull market began in March 2009 – history just hasn’t confirmed its secularity yet.8

In fact, Shiller himself recently noted that even though the high P/E 10 ratio is troubling, it has been mostly above 20 since 1994. (Low bond yields may explain some of that.) A numeric gap from 26 to 20 is decidedly less alarming than one from 26 to 16.7

Whatever occurs, remember that stocks don’t always go up. (Home prices don’t always ascend either.) The longer a bull market progresses, the more challenges it overcomes, the greater the chance that this particular reality of equity investing may be lost.* While diversification does not protect against marketing risk or guarantee enhanced overall returns, it may pay to diversify your portfolio across asset classes for this very reason, now and in the future.

Mike Moffitt may be reached at ph# 641-464-2248 or email:  mikem@cfgiowa.com

website:  www.cfgiowa.com

Michael Moffitt is a Registered Representative with and Securities are offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investments advice offered through Advantage Investment Management (AIM), a registered investment advisor. Cornerstone Financial Group and AIM are separate entities from LPL Financial.

 *Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

   Citations.

1 – blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/11/23/a-sign-of-health-for-stocks-cautious-2015-forecasts/ [11/23/14]

2 – money.cnn.com/2005/01/13/real_estate/realestate_shiller1_0502/ [1/13/05]

3 – irrationalexuberance.com/main.html?src=%2F [12/8/14]

4 – forbes.com/sites/etfchannel/2011/01/20/trees-dont-grow-to-the-sky-even-with-fed-behind-them/print/ [1/20/11]

5 – advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/PE-Ratios-and-Market-Valuation.php [12/1/14]

6 – advisorperspectives.com/dshort/updates/Validating-the-SP-Composite.php [12/8/14]

7 – tinyurl.com/pwungau [8/18/14]

8 – online.wsj.com/mdc/public/page/2_3023-monthly_gblstkidx.html [11/30/14]

 

 

 

 

Is your portfolio ready for 2014?

Since we’re nearly 5 years removed from the bottom that the S&P 500 index set on March 9, 2009, it’s probably a good time to reexamine where we are and whether or not we’re looking at a possible correction again. Of course, everyone has their own opinion on this and at this point it IS just OPINIONS. But facts (or lack of facts) usually back up a person’s opinions, so let’s try looking at some of the facts and see how those opinions are formed.
First, let’s look at the positives. The economy looks to be growing, albeit slowly. Total retail sales in the USA in calendar year 2013 were $5.085 trillion, up +4.2% from its total in 2012, according to Michael A. Higley’s “By the Numbers” 2/24/14 newsletter. The early February Federal Reserve meeting, the Fed committed to continuing the reduction in bond purchases, with an additional $10 billion reduction in quantitative easing bond purchases. That could indicate the Federal Reserve believes the economy is getting stronger. Their language about conditions and business/consumer spending was generally more optimistic.
The STOXX Europe 600 Index posted a third straight week of gains and climbed to its highest level in six years. News about the Eurozone economic recovery has turned increasingly positive. And with earnings season nearly over, S&P Dow Jones Indices says it’s likely that fourth-quarter 2013 earnings for S&P 500 companies will break a record, as they did in each of the preceding three quarters of 2013. This is a little deceiving, however, as I’ll explain shortly.
John Hancock’s most recent Viewpoints newsletter trumpets “Bias towards higher equity prices remain.” Mark Donovan, CFA, says that “at around 1,800, the S&P 500 Index trades at about 16.5 times estimated 2013 earnings,” and as such, “the equity markets look neither cheap nor overvalued.”

So is there anything to worry about?
Some others see some negative factors. LSA Portfolio Analytics sends us their weekly investment committee minutes. They noted many economic indicators came in weaker than expected in February: Empire manufacturing survey, the Philadelphia Fed manufacturing index, the NAHB housing market index. Housing starts for January fell -16.0% and building permits also lost ground, falling -5.4% compared to an expected decline of -1.6%.

Noted economist Harry Dent, who studies the world’s demographic trends as a predictor of future economic trends, thinks we are in a bubble that will burst soon. He cites the fact that margin debt – borrowing money to buy investments, is approaching the high of 2007. Stock buybacks are reaching very high levels as well, as 83% of the S&P 500 companies are buying back their shares compared to 87% in 2007. Stock buybacks artificially inflate earnings per share and can give the illusion that a company’s earnings are growing when they may not be; if a company for instance has $10 of earnings and 10 shares outstanding, that’s $1 of earnings/share. If they buy back 4 shares, now there’s only 6 shares outstanding, so the earnings per share goes up from $1/share to $1.67/share ($10 of earnings/6 shares) even though the earnings themselves did not change.

As for the market itself, since 2000 each successive major correction has only gotten greater. The 2000-2002 crash was nearly a 50% drop in the S&P 500, the 2007-2009 drop was over 55%. If the market drops to that same general level of support as in 2002 and 2009, the drop will be over 63%. Although there are a few exceptions, most bull markets don’t last much longer than 5 years!

While we are not predicting such a drop, we also would not rule it out. Given that anything is possible, we have been suggesting it would be worthwhile to stress test your portfolio against potential negative outcomes.

The Federal Reserve, Wall Street banks and other major hedge funds use stress testing to project their losses in the event of the unexpected. Stress testing is a routine part of our process.
We start by asking questions like, “Historically, what happened to this group of investments when the dollar crashes, the economy falls into recession/depression, or oil prices skyrocket?” We model over 60 scenarios – both positive and negative.
Our model measures the potential impact of these scenarios on investments using history as a guide, providing insight into the historical characteristics of portfolios.
The software then uses this data to project how your investments might react to future scenarios, both positive and negative. When running a stress test, each investment in your portfolio can be tested against 60+ scenarios in this manner, with the results combined and summarized for easy understanding.
You can see how the stress test works by going to www.cfgiowa.com and click on the “Take Your Free Stress Test” button on the home page.
Investing involves risk including loss of principal.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. All performance referenced is historical and is no guarantee of future results. All indices are unmanaged and may not be invested into directly.

Irrationality Abounds – A Special Post From Mike Moffitt

economica uncertanty in iowa

I noticed an economist I follow had a conference for those number-crunching geeks interested in the big picture on the U.S. and world economies.  He called it the Irrational Economic Summit.  At first, I thought that was a harsh title but upon further review, maybe not.

economica uncertanty in iowaSo much of what’s going on in our world is right in front of our eyes but we often miss what’s important because there’s so much information overload out there.  Here are a couple of examples:

I received an email from a national non-profit organization in Washington, DC that promotes the establishment of bike trails.  They want me to donate and tell my congressman to vote to maintain government funding of trails.  Totally within their right to make this request.  But out of curiosity I checked the annual report and tax filings on their web site, and here’s what I found:

  1. They spend about $800,000 a year in lobbying Congress to get $1.1 million in funding.  They took in another $5.3 million in memberships and contributions. Their top 4 staffers bring home over $600,000 and their headquarters is in Washington – one of the most expensive real estate markets in the U.S. Most of the rest went to expenses but they have over $3 million squirreled away in cash and investments.   They only gave out $1.8 million in grants for trails – supposedly their reason for existence.
  2. There are probably thousands of non-profits like this in America that want money from the U.S. government.

Now let’s look at our federal government’s situation (courtesy of www.usdebtclock.org).  Our CURRENT U.S. debt is about $17 trillion dollars.  Our infinite horizon future debt, according to the Federal Reserve –based on the projected costs of Medicare and Social Security alone– is $125 trillion dollars.  That figures out nearly $400,000 PER CITIZEN and over $1 million PER TAXPAYER (only about 1/3 of the citizens are taxpayers…another issue for another day).  The average assets PER CITIZEN are over $320,000, but of course that’s the average.  Many citizens have far less than that.  So the government’s future unfunded liabilities are more per citizen than each citizen is worth.  You would think this fiasco will end badly someday.

Your financial health is up to YOU! Don’t expect Uncle Sam to be the answer.  The antidote to this spending sickness should be personal saving, investing and living within your means.  Personal responsibility and having a viable plan in case the economy turns sour again just makes sense.  And that’s something we can help with.

Our federal government’s spending should scare us, but most citizens aren’t paying attention or they would not stand for this.  It’s, well, irrational.

If you’d like some help working through some of these issues, or if you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Mike Moffit