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Dec
16
Preparing for the Rate Hike
We will almost surely see the U.S. Federal Reserve Board start the long process of ending its intrusion into the interest rate markets, by allowing rates to rise starting on Wednesday.  It will be the first time the Fed has raised rates since 2006, and for some it will mark the beginning of the final chapter of the Great Recession. Since 2008, as most of us know, returns on short-term bonds have been at or near zero percent, which is a consequence of the Fed keeping the Federal Funds rate—the rate at which it will lend banks virtually unlimited amounts of money, short-term—at 0.125%.  The average Fed Funds rate has historically been 3.5% to 4.0%, so this is a considerable amount of stimulus. At the same time, the Fed has purchased more...
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Dec
04
Charitable Giving Tax-Wisely
You may have read that Facebook founder, chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced plans to gift substantially all of his Facebook stock to a philanthropic entity called the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, named after himself and his wife Priscilla Chan.  The gift would be worth $45 billion, instantly becoming one of the largest philanthropic pools in the world. The donation is remarkably tax-efficient.  By making the gift in shares rather than cash, Mr. Zuckerberg will get a charitable contribution deduction on Schedule A of his 1040 form, with the deduction based on the fair market value of the shares.  At the same time, he will completely avoid having to pay capital gains taxes on the appreciation of those shares.  The LLC can then...
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Aug
24
Understanding This Market
Some of the most difficult times to be a long-term investor are those periods when short-term investors are looking over their shoulders for any excuse to sell.  They're convinced that the market is going to go down before they can get out, and so they jump on any bad news that comes across their television screens. And, of course, on Friday and again this morning (Monday) we saw this in action.  With all the economic drama playing out in the world, there were plenty of opportunities to panic.  The Greek Prime Minister has resigned!  China devalued its currency a few days ago by 2%!  Chinese stocks are tanking yet again!  The Fed might raise short-term interest rates from zero to very nearly zero!  It's the end of the world! Or is it? A...
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