Thursday, February 25, 2010

Low for the foreseeable future

Ben Bernanke's recent testimony before congress indicated that he is still planning to keep interest rates low until the economy continues to rebound and the job picture improves. With unemployment still at double digits there is no real reason to raise interest rates now. Last week stock traders were jolted when the Fed decided to raise the discount rate to 0.75%, but this rate is for banks lending to other banks and does not affect the rates which change the interest on your credit cards or CD's. So even though savers continue to lament the fact that interest rates are extremely low in bank savings, money market and CD accounts, they need to get used to it and look for other avenues for higher yields. There are still some deals in corporate bonds and corporate notes depending on your time horizon. Dividend paying stocks offer another option, but with a lot more risk to your principal. Bond ETF's and TIPS offer more stable options to stocks and should not be ignored. While there is still a lot of gold hawkers out there, gold does not pay income and could be more of a risk for loss now that it was a year or so ago. As Dana Carvey's SNL character George Bush used to say, "Stay the course...a thousand points of light...stay the course!"

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Winter Olympics

After years of futility and average performances by American athletes in most of the winter Olympic sports, Americans have suddenly become a dominant force in the winter games, thanks to people like Shaun White, Apolo Ohno, Shani Davis, and Lindsey Vonn. Sure, we've had some great individual performances in the past from the likes of Eric Heiden and Bonnie Blair, but until this year, the US had never metaled in Nordic events like the Nordic Combined. Johnny Spillane changed that. To be sure, Americans have been helped at the medal podium from some of the new sports like short track speed skating and almost all of the snowboarding events where Americans seem to dominate. If only Vancouver had more snow and NBC showed less commercials and background stories, it might just be the greatest Winter Olympics ever for Team USA. What do you think?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Monday, February 15, 2010

President's Day

The stock market is closed today in honor of President's Day. Since 1971, Americans have celebrated President's Day on the third Monday of February. It is a federal holiday to celebrate the birthdays of our two most famous presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. The holiday dates back to 1832 when Americans began celebrating George Washington's birthday as an official holiday. Then in 1965, Abraham Lincoln's birthday was added as another federal holiday, the year after he was assassinated. In 1971, the two dates were combined to make one federal holiday out of the two, and it was called President's Day. Some states still recognize Lincoln's birthday as a state holiday as well. Over the years, President's Day has also become a day to honor all past presidents, not just Washington and Lincoln, but it seems that most emphasis is placed on these two great presidents and the roles they played in the history of our country.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Follow me Friday!

Well, we have made it to the end of the week. Follow me on Twitter as we see where the stock market will end up. Futures are pointing toward a down day as disappointing news from China, Greece and Germany show how global stock markets affect US stocks. Meanwhile, fans of Warren Buffet are snapping up shares of Bershire Hathaway B shares (BRK.B) as they are set to join the S&P 500 index at the close of business today. Have a great Friday and follow me @scottjwheeler or for those of you not already on Twitter.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Bowl commercials

Well, it's Monday morning. Time to talk Super Bowl commercials. Which ones did you like? Which ones were a miss? Who got the best bang for their $3 million bucks? In case you want to review, here's a link to all the Super Bowl ads, broken down by quarter:

I personally liked the Budlight "Lost" and the Dodge Charger commercials the best. They were clever and funny. As much as some were talked about, I thought the E-Trade "Jealous Girlfriend", the VW "Punching Game" and the Doritos "Dog gets revenge" commercials fell a little flat. They were ok but not roll on the floor laughing, funny. I think E-Trade has kind of worn out the whole baby talking routine anyway.

So, that's my take, what was your opinion?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Twitter Thursday

What will the stock market do today? That is the question every day. One day it's up, the next day its down. Hopefully trends will emerge that investors can hang their hat on. As last year's wild ride ended with the stock market advancing the last 3 quarters of the year, investors naturally wondered if the trend would continue into the next year. So far, 2010 has been a little dicey. New government regulations for banks has sent the stock market retreating and it's waiting for positive earnings from corporations to turn things around. Follow me on Twitter @scottjwheeler and we'll monitor what the rest of the day brings us. The futures aren't always correct as the news hits the streets.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

Mutual Fund Monday

How do you find the best mutual fund? There are so many ways to rank them or filter out the undesirables. Do you look at the best performance? If so, which time period do you look at? The best YTD? Best trailing one year, 3 year, 5 year, or 10 year performance? Do you look for the lowest expense ratios? What about load funds versus no-load? Does manager tenure make a difference? How about those funds that are team managed versus those managed by a single person or "superstar" manager? Do Morningstar rankings matter? Would you buy a 3-star fund or do you just stick to the 4-star and 5-star funds? As you can see, there are lots of ways to select a fund. What is best for you, may not be best for someone else. There are other factors too, such as tax efficiency, account minimums, and availability. Some people find what they think is the very best fund and get ready to buy it, only to discover that it's closed to new investors, or the minimum purchase is way more than you can afford. Do your homework and don't be afraid to ask a financial professional what he or she thinks!