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Market Prediction Nonsense

May 26, 2016

Every financial publication, blog and show has its “gurus” making stock market predictions. As far as I am concerned they are all nonsense.

Keep in mind that for every buyer there is a seller thinking the opposite. And anyone that has a fix on the market will certainly not be blabbing it on national television.

However, I want to make my own prediction, and you can take it or leave it. Here it is: “At some point in the future the stock market will either be higher or lower than it is today.”

That’s a fact. Now I want to offer a qualification. If your investment horizon is less than seven to ten years, ignore everybody because anything can occur in the “short” period up to ten years. I suggest you should never take the risk of the stock market if you need the use and/or benefit of the funds within ten years.

Now let’s choose a ten year or longer period. Question: Do you think the stock market, as a whole, or as measured by the major stock indexes, will be higher or lower in ten years? If yes, then perhaps you should invest in the market. If no, then skip it. If you don’t know about the market, have no opinion or are afraid of the “risk”, then you should also skip it, but first continue reading.

If you don’t know, that is valid, but what don’t you know? You should have some feeling about the health, strength and potential for growth of the U.S. economy; and if you do, do you feel it will be better at the end of ten years? If worse, then skip the market. If yes, then you should consider investing some of your funds in the stock market.

If you do not have any knowledge about investing in stocks, I suggest you should make some effort to learn enough so you could hopefully participate in the economy’s possible growth.

If you are afraid of the market, then what are you afraid of? And also examine the real risks. With a well-diversified portfolio the real risk is either that stocks right now are way overpriced, that stock market values would plummet irrespective of the strength of the economy or that the U.S. economy would collapse. These should be considered along with the many other risks in whatever way you choose to invest and considering that the stock market could be a way to balance some of these other risks.

Predictions for the short term, i.e. less than ten years, many times are ego driven nonsense and I contend should be ignored. However, longer term predictions go to the essence of your overall financial future strength and security for specific goals. You must realize that what you are doing now will need to provide adequate funds for what you are investing for or for cash flow to last for the rest of your life. Understand this and act accordingly, and skip the short term nonsense.

Just a Kid from the Bronx

May 24, 2016

Arlene Alda’s Just Kids from the Bronx has short reminisces of growing up in the Bronx from about 65 people. Every one of the vignettes brought back cogent and pleasant memories of the way it was. As I read the book I was reliving my childhood. It also brought back some memories that weren’t in the book.

I noticed none of the people interviewed were from the High Bridge section where I grew up and which is currently experiencing a revival. I visited it last year on a walking tour with Ira and Diane Zuckerman. I met Ira in the fourth grade at P.S. 11, and we walked around our old school. The High Bridge was a block from our apartment houses and it reopened last year after being closed many years. For those interested Ira just wrote a history of the High Bridge for the recent Bronx County Historical Society Journal.

I lived within walking distance from Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. In the summers when we were eleven and twelve we would go to the 44th Precinct in the morning and for 10¢ the PAL gave us grandstand seat tickets to that day’s game. Afterwards we hung out at the club house entrances and would get the player’s autographs.

The neighborhood was a self-contained community with everyone knowing everyone. Every store keeper knew us all and we had some sort of tab our parents would then cover. My father was a CPA and he did the accounting for many of the shops, so I was always treated like I was special. When I became an accountant I took over some of those clients as a moonlighting start to my career.

As said by many in the book, our mothers sat by the window and watched all the activity in the street. When it was dinner time a mother would call out her son’s name. In my block there were many “Eddies” but everyone knew whose mother was calling and we always got the message.

All the kids participated in the street games with everyone getting chosen on a team. We played all the games described in the book; sometimes the school custodian would let two or three of us up on the roof and we filled our pockets with lost Spalding balls that ended up there.

Once when our children were young we took them to the Museum of the City of New York on Upper Fifth Avenue. I drove there from NJ and went up Madison Avenue and turned on to 105th Street. I parked in the street at the bottom of the hill just after I turned. My wife Ronnie asked me why I didn’t park nearer to Fifth Avenue. I told her “The kids are playing stick ball and I did not want to park on their field!”

Growing up in the Bronx was great. Reliving some of that joyful time through the book was a pleasure and I hope you enjoyed what I shared here. After all, I’m still just a kid from the Bronx.

Obituary Questionnaire – Additional Comments

May 19, 2016

My wife Ronnie and some callers questioned the propriety of including all the information in the questionnaire in an obituary notice in the sense that it will make it easier for identity theft and would call attention to an empty or partially empty house.

Ronnie and the callers raised a serious issue. There are lowlife people that search out obits looking for information they could use to establish an alternative identity based on the deceased or even surviving members of the family.  The information also identifies residences that will have fewer people living there and perhaps the time it will be unoccupied (during the funeral).  Dates of death, parents names, sibling identities and school and address history are fodder for these reprobates.  While the questionnaire has a thorough listing of information that should be available, using all of it should require some discretion.

A comment that is unrelated to the collection of factual information is that compiling the questionnaire could create a moment of reflection on accomplishments and achievements and how you might be remembered.  You should be proud of the type of person you are and how you have positively touched others.  If you are satisfied with how you lived, and continue to live your life, good for you.  If not pleased, hopefully you will have plenty of time to do the good things you would want written about in your obituary.

Obituary Questionnaire

May 17, 2016

How will your obituary read?  What accomplishments stand out and separate you from others?  Was your outstanding event, job or business related to your family or your good deeds to others?  Following is an outline for an obituary.  Look it over and consider how yours will read, especially the charitable activities and accomplishments.

Introduction

  • Full name
  • Nickname
  • Date of death and age
  • Date of birth
  • Place of birth
  • City of residence at death
  • Place of death
  • Cause of death

Family

  • Parents’ names
  • Spouse’s name and how long married, and place of marriage
  • Children and their spouses’ names
  • Grandchildren
  • Siblings
  • Non-married partner or companion
  • Other relatives
  • Friends of note
  • Pets
  • List who predeceased you with dates of death

Education and work

  • Education: Schools, dates graduated, degrees
  • Professional designations
  • Honors, awards and special recognitions and accomplishments
  • Publications
  • Employment and/or business history – organizations, titles or positions
  • Union activities
  • Professional organizations
  • Military service, branch, dates, highest rank, honors and awards and where served

Personal interests

  • Places of residence
  • Religious affiliation and activities
  • Charitable organization activities and service
  • Hobbies and sports
  • Other interests
  • Achievements
  • Unusual attributes or features

Funeral and service

  • Date, time and place of service
  • Who will officiate
  • Speakers, pallbearers and/or others participating in service
  • Visitation dates, times and location
  • Place of internment
  • Name of funeral home
  • Where to call for additional information

Concluding information

  • Where memorial donations should be directed
  • People or organizations to thank
  • Favorite quotation, poem, thought or remark
  • Closing comment

Additional information but not for obituary

  • Location of photos that will be shown at service or in announcement
  • People to advise about death and funeral
  • Newspapers to send obituary to
  • Location of funeral instructions
  • Location of will
  • Location of important papers executor will need

Stocks Don’t Have the Same Memory as Investors

May 12, 2016

Just because a stock went down, doesn’t mean it will go back up. Yet, many investors hold on to losers waiting for them to return to the price paid so they could sell without taking a loss.  Or, they want to hold until it returns to their previous high.  This makes no sense.

There is no reason for a stock to increase back to an earlier price unless the fundamentals improve. However, waiting causes opportunities to be lost. A question to ask yourself is if you did not already own that stock whether you would buy it at the current price. Any negative response should lead to selling and reinvesting the proceeds in something you feel is priced properly.

On some level, I believe the values of groups of stock return to the mean over periods of time – about ten years. One way of verify this is to look at any annual report where they show the long term performance of their Company’s stock along with their peer group and the S&P 500 Index. The peer groups usually track the index and while they could be higher or lower, the graphs have the same ups and downs. A lone stock that is not a dog will have a similar tracking over that ten year period. Assuming I am correct, why stick with one stock that is under-performing waiting for it to go back up rather than shifting to a fund either in that sector or in the broad based market giving you a chance at the sector or market returns.

Upgrading by selling can enable you to take the loss for tax purposes. If the stock has high gains, albeit lower than they were, why not consider donating the shares to a donor advised fund lightening your exposure and freeing up cash you would use for charitable contributions to buy new stock funds.

Nothing is perfect, especially with investing. However, you should try to do sensible things based on solid plans and goals with a dispassionate objective eye on how your portfolio gives you a better chance of success, reduced exposure to losses and a more sustainable cash flow. And remember that stocks don’t have a memory!

World Stamp Show in New York

May 10, 2016

New York will be hosting an International Stamp Exhibition that is held once every ten years in the United States.  This year, the show will be held May 28th through June 4th, 2016 at The  Javits Center in New York.  The last International Exhibition in New York was in 1956 (which I attended.)

Admission is free and the Show will be a treat for every one of the 250,000 people expected to attend.  About 200 of the world’s most notable dealers will be selling and buying philatelic material of all kinds, 70 philatelic societies and stamp clubs will be represented and 50 foreign governments will set up postal facilities offering their stamps at face value truly taking you on a trip around the world.  There will be more than 70,000 pages of competitive stamp exhibits along with a Court of Honor and Invited Exhibits that will display priceless rarities; and the exhibits will show almost any way stamps can be collected. The U.S. Postal Service will issue new stamps every day of the show along with commemorative show postmarks.

Stamp collecting is a fantastic and wonderful hobby that can provide many hours of pleasure and education and enables you to meet or correspond with collectors with similar interests, some from all over the world.  I am a member of the Collectors Club of New York with its own building at 22 East 35th Street.  If you live in the area and think you might want to expand your collecting interests you should consider joining this club.  They will be having an open house Monday through Friday May 30th to June 3rd from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.  You are welcome to visit and take a peek at our facilities and meet with some of our members.  When you attend the show, stop at the Collectors Club mega booth on the show floor and find out more about this world renowned club.

Everyone that has ever put aside any type of philatelic material is a collector, though perhaps not serious at all.  If you are able, come to the show, spend a few hours and see if you want to expand your interests.

For additional information go to their Website:  http://www.ny2016.org/

Graduation Speech

May 5, 2016

“Take control of your future…and life.

You graduated!  So what!  Until now your life has been pretty well managed.  You were in school.  You also might have had a job to help pay for college or been involved in some fraternity, charitable or student government activities.  Whatever your situation and ambition you were on a path decided in some regard by others.  You had some choices along the way but none as important as your next choice – that of choosing your career.

This choice and how you deal with it will determine whether you will have a lifelong romance with what you do or if you go home beaten up at the end of each day with your gaze on the retirement date circled on your calendar.

Some of what you do will be determined by others but they cannot control how you will feel – only you can do that.  You will need a good attitude always seeking the bright instead of the blight.  Approaching what you do from an optimistic view rather than a pessimistic.  Looking for the good and benefits of what you do instead of the bad and detriments.  It is up to you.

I know that others will affect your path especially at the beginning of your career.  You will need to learn your craft, profession or vocation.  You need to become a taker when it comes to learning – take from others what they present so you can grow.  Also, to be successful you will need to recognize when the taking tapers off – and then you will need to move to your next stage of taking.  And so forth even continuing until you are my age because learning and growing doesn’t end – ever – unless you decide to stop.  That decision will come quicker than you ever realized if your goal was that circled date on your calendar.

You have control of who you learn from; when and how you can grow; and how you can successfully apply what you know and use your experiences in a way that adds value to those you work for or serve as professionals.  Success will only come if you work at it and focus on it.  Success in helping others will also create a “high” that will propel you to greater heights.  Go for it!”

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