I SERVED ON A GRAND jury earlier this year. We heard more than 100 cases during our three-month stint. Our task was to issue an indictment if the state showed probable cause that a crime occurred. If we indicted, cases would then move on to traditional jury trials.
Some cases involved cybercrime. Others included private records subpoenaed by the District Attorney’s office from technology and phone companies, financial institutions, hospitals and commercial businesses. The experience was eye-opening.
WITH STOCK PRICES so high and interest rates so low, many folks are thinking about buying gold. Tempted to take the plunge? Ponder these nine issues:
1. No income. Gold pays no interest or dividends. That means gold’s return hinges entirely on its price going up. Gold ownership also means you must forgo the interest and dividends you’d have otherwise earned on alternative investments. Still, with interest rates so low, the opportunity cost of owning gold—at least in terms of lost income—is very low right now.
A POPULAR MYTH holds that individual bonds are safer than bond funds—because individual bonds supposedly come with no interest rate risk.
Proponents of this notion claim that if you buy a bond and interest rates rise—which they have this year—you won’t lose any principal because you’ll eventually get back the bond’s par value, assuming you hold the bond to maturity and the issuer doesn’t default. This is true, but it doesn’t mean individual bonds don’t involve interest rate risk.
PREFERRED SHARES are mighty tempting right now because their yields are so much higher than most bond yields. For instance, iShares Preferred and Income Securities ETF currently boasts a yield of 4.4%, while Invesco Preferred ETF is kicking off almost 5% and SPDR Wells Fargo Preferred Stock ETF yields 4.5%.
But the reason is simple: They’re risky. Whether you invest in individual preferred shares or preferred stock ETFs, here are five risks to consider before investing:
YESTERDAY, I MADE the case for investing heavily in foreign stocks. Were you convinced? Many investors aren’t. They feel there’s no need to venture abroad. Here are three key arguments for keeping your stock portfolio close to home:
No. 1: The U.S. market provides adequate diversification.
Proponents cotend that, on their own, U.S. stocks offer all the diversification that an investor needs. U.S. shares represent a majority of global stock market capitalization,
STOCKS WORLDWIDE have a total market value of some $85 trillion, with the U.S. accounting for 54%, developed foreign markets 35% and emerging markets 11%. Should your stock portfolio have similar weightings, as some experts suggest?
Tomorrow, I’ll look at the argument for keeping your stock market money close to home. But today’s article presents the case for venturing abroad—by focusing on three key arguments:
No. 1: A global stock portfolio is less risky than a U.S.-only portfolio.
WORRIED ABOUT inflation? You might be drawn to inflation-indexed Treasury bonds—officially known as Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities, or TIPS. These bonds protect you from unexpected inflation, plus there’s no risk of default.
Those features make TIPS attractive to investors who are concerned about rising consumer prices, and especially the impact of inflation on the bond portion of their portfolio. Intrigued? Before you invest, here are six factors to consider:
1. Hedging vs. speculating. TIPS can be used to hedge against inflation or to speculate on it.
ARE YOU PLANNING to withdraw funds from your Roth IRA? If you aren’t careful, you could owe both taxes and penalties, even though you’ve already paid taxes on the money that went into the Roth. At issue: the IRS’s five-year rule. How do you sidestep its unpleasant consequences? Bear with me while I explain.
First, a word of caution: You don’t have to take distributions from your Roth IRA during your lifetime. Withdrawals are strictly up to you.
SHOULD YOU CONVERT your traditional IRA to a Roth IRA? Below, you’ll find five questions to help you decide. If you answer “yes” to the first three questions, you’re a good candidate for a Roth conversion. If you answer “yes” to all five questions, you’re an outstanding candidate.
Question No. 1: Are you taxed at lower rates today than you will be in future?
Roth conversions make sense if your federal and state tax rates today are below what they’ll likely be when you have to take required minimum distributions (RMDs) from your traditional IRA.