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May
03
May Commentary: The Tax Reform Gauntlet
Last week Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin stepped into the White House Briefing Room and laid out the broad strokes of Trump Administration's much-hyped tax reform plan. Whether it was the ticking of the "100-day clock" or the first salvo towards delivering on a popular campaign promise, Wednesday gave us the first few drips about where this complex legislative negotiation will begin. The centerpiece of the Administration's proposed tax cut is a drastic decrease in the business tax rate, where corporations and small businesses alike would see their tax bill cut by more than half--from 35% to 15%. Moreover, this new 15% business tax rate would include "pass-through" entities (businesses formed as partnerships, LLCs, and even some...
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Nov
21
November Commentary: President-Elect Donald Trump
It has been almost two weeks since businessman Donald Trump became the President-Elect of the United States, which means it has been almost two weeks since our collective jaws dropped and we began trying to figure out what the next four years might look like. Given that prognostication has not exactly been an exact science of late, it is hard to tell where we are headed. Prior to election night, conventional wisdom had been that the U.S. investment markets would react more harshly to a Trump victory than to a Clinton win, simply based on the "unknown" factor of Donald Trump, and the anxiety the unknown always brings to the market. About halfway through poll closings, it looked like conventional wisdom would play out. As a Trump victory...
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Oct
27
Election Commentary: Trading Places
As I was going through boxes in my attic last weekend, I came across the box that contained one of my most prized childhood possessions—my baseball card collection. I still remember trading away a 1987 Topps Barry Bonds rookie card for a 1991 Upper Deck Bernie Williams rookie card and a 1989 Topps Don Mattingly card. I was thrilled. The only Don Mattingly card I had been missing was now in my collection. Truth be told, my friend got the best of that trade. But that was not the point. The point was, he had a resource I wanted, and I had a resource he wanted. So we traded. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is called free trade, and it has become a central issue in the upcoming Presidential election. In order to have a conversation about free...
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Oct
27
October Commentary: Is it the AFFORDABLE Care Act?
It is the last week of October, and we are less than two weeks away from the end of this root canal of a Presidential election. But even before election day finally arrives, millions of Americans will sign up for health insurance during the fourth annual open enrollment of The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. Earlier this week, the Obama Administration released the 2017 rates for the 39 states that participate in the national health insurance exchange on healthcare.gov. To say these rates were met with resistance would be an understatement of epic proportions. There really is no way to sugarcoat it. On average, the 10 million people who are currently enrolled in ACA on-exchange plans will see a...
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Aug
22
The Battle Over the Minimum Wage
Tags: Politics; Wages
One of the biggest holdovers from the valiant White House run by Senator Bernie Sanders is the adoption of the "Fight-for-$15" effort to more than double the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. What at one point seemed to be nothing more than an idealistic push towards equality was officially adopted by the Democratic National Committee Party Platform during its convention in late July and has now become a major point of contention between Senator Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. The fact that the two sides disagree is not a surprise. Democrats generally favor a higher minimum wage than Republicans do. They believe that employers are putting increasing demands on laborers with little to no financial reward, and are, in some cases,...
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Aug
05
August Commentary: The Tax Plans of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton
After the longest election cycle in modern history, we are finally entering the stretch run. Less than 100 days separate us from knowing who the next President of the United States is going to be. Truth is, either way, history will be made. A victory by Secretary Hillary Clinton means the first time that we all get to say "Madam President". A win by Donald Trump will, for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower was elected more than 60 years ago, put a man in the Oval Office who has never held elected office. This election has been polarizing, if nothing else. Social media has been set aflame by constant political rhetoric, and the old adage of not talking politics has been all but retired. As all of us prepare to make our choice in...
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Apr
11
April Commentary: The New Landscape for Retirement Advice
Let me ask you a question. How many things do you know of that have not been updated since 1974? Your grandmother's house? Sure. Your favorite song? OK. But would you be surprised to know that until yesterday, the major legislation regarding retirement plans and investment advice had not been changed? Given the speed at which the Federal Government operates, it is probably not much of a surprise, but that does not change the impact of the first major regulatory changes to our industry in more than four decades. The issuing of this week's Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) by the Department of Labor (DOL) brought to fruition changes that were first proposed in 2010. The basic issue that the Obama Administration was trying to address...
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Mar
07
The Thing About Politics and the Economy
Tags: Politics
With all of the media coverage out there, it is hard to believe that we are STILL eight months away from Americans heading to the polls to vote for the next President of the United States. We are barely two months into 2016 and it feels like there is nothing else going on in the world other than the latest sound bite from the candidates. I would contend that whether you are "feeling the Bern," looking to "make American great again," or are somewhere in between, that we can all agree on one thing--this goes on for entirely too long. One of the dangers of such a drawn out electoral process is that it becomes exceedingly easy to get lost in the rhetoric that each candidate throws out and lose sight of the facts that support their claims. For...
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Nov
26
November Commentary: The Result of the Mid-Term Elections
Now that the midterm elections are safely behind us, a lot of people are wondering how politics will impact their investment returns. The conventional wisdom is that divided government—where one party holds the White House while the other controls the House, the Senate or both—is good for the markets.  And while we recognize that when it comes to investment returns, there is never a magic formula, some of the statistics about the impact of mid-term elections and a divided White House are very interesting. For example, statistics tell us that the markets seem to like midterm elections regardless of who wins. If you look at the research done by the likes of Bloomberg and the BMO Capital Markets Investment Strategy Group, you will see that...
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