blog04feb2007

Hot Off the Web

Both the Globe and National Post continued the almost daily articles on the income trusts saga. In “Trusts: Ottawa not victimizers” Chevreau explains why the narrow interests represented by the “Trust lobby had no hope against Flaherty” . Adding a nail to the income trust coffin the Bank of Canada message is that the “Trust structure may contribute to inefficiency: Dodge”. Perhaps now that the facts speak for themselves, the “debate” will turn to whether this is a matter of integrity (the government did not keep its word), or competence (the government made a promise that it should have known that it can’t keep) or perhaps as John Keynes said “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?” and allow for mitigating circumstances. Or, perhaps we will move on to more interesting topics.

Clements in WSJ article Success depends on what you count” discusses the returns that were available so far this decade and draws conclusions as follows: diversify, make sure to compare performance to the right benchmark (including dividends), rebalance, dollar-cost average and keep costs low.

Barron’s Donlan in “Nothing to fear? Pension plans make a killing in the market but ignore other risks”warns that the improved funded status of pension plans in the past year (primarily due to higher asset values resulting from higher equity returns, coupled with reduction in liabilities resulting from higher interest rates), especially with upcoming changes in U.S. laws (to accelerate reduction of unfunded liabilities) won’t reduce future volatility of funded status of plans. Therefore, you should not be surprised if more companies will use these good results as an opportunity to curtail/terminate their defined benefit pension plans.

Levine in “Boomers seeking safer havens” explains the shift over the last 25 years from single digit P/E ratios and 18% government bond yields to the current P/E of 17 and 4% yields in terms of boomer demographics; specifically how boomers shifted from being big borrowers in their 20s and 30s, and are now becoming big savers resulting in a significant increase in liquidity. He then advocates the increased use of high and growing dividend stocks within a well diversified portfolio.

RRSP vs. paying down mortgage – In the Globe and Mail article “RRSPs vs. paying down your mortgage – why not do both?”Cestnick make a persuasive case for the strategy of contributing to your RRSP and then using the tax savings to pay down your mortgage. Not a bad strategy for Canadians.

In case you missed it, Yahoo Finance has just added a Personal Finance section. You may find it interesting to peruse its Retirement subsection. You might also find interesting the Financial Post’s RRSP Guide

And finally, in Business Week’s “Running your retirement numbers”show a variety of advisory services available to American investors at T. Rowe Price, Vanguard, Merrill Lynch, Schwab, Fidelity.

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