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First Quarter 2017 Key Takeaways

The buoyant mood that pushed stocks higher through year-end 2016 continued into the first quarter as signs of an improving global economy continued to mount. Stock indexes were up across the board. Emerging-market (EM) stocks were the star performers.  (MSCI EM index +11.6%).  Their double-digit gains eclipsed returns for developed international stocks (up 8%), and both outperformed larger-cap U.S. stocks (up 6%). Price-to-earnings multiples in most EM countries’ equity markets remain at the lower end of their 20-year averages, and we expect growth in emerging countries to outpace that of developed markets over the long term.   Investors took the Federal Reserve’s widely anticipated rate hike on March 15 in stride, treating it as another indicator of the U.S. economy’s return to form.  Wage growth has returned, unemployment is well below 5%, and inflation is close to the 2% target.  The Fed is now turning its attention to reducing its $4.5...
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Why Retirees Need Equities

Interest rates have been declining since 1981.  Long-term U.S. Treasury bond yields peaked at 15.21% in October of 1981 and reached a record low of 2.11% in July 2016. In 1960, 41% of private-sector workers were covered by pension plans, but by 2008 only 20% were covered by a defined-benefit pension plan.  Most retirees now need to produce income from tax-deferred accounts or taxable investments in addition to Social Security benefits in order to meet retirement income needs.  Social Security was introduced in 1935 as a program to provide some continuing income after retirement.   However, the estimated average monthly benefit for all retired workers in January 2016 was only $1,341 per month ($16,092 annually).  The Federal poverty level for a family of two for 2017 is $16,240. Retirees are faced with several risks in their retirement years.   The first is longevity risk, the risk of outliving your assets.   Associated to longevity...
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