Fourth quarter United States GDP contracted by about $5 billion dollars, which is 0.1 percent negative growth annualized. This is after 3.1 percent growth in the third quarter which was the strongest quarter in 2013. The largest drivers of the fourth quarter decline were a contraction in government spending of 6.6 percent and a change… Read more

In early 2007, before the financial crisis hit, author Naseem Taleb published his best-selling book “The Black Swan” in which he argued that extreme events occur more frequently than most of us are trained to expect.  We are trained to think in terms of the “normal” distribution, or bell-shaped curve, in which events more than… Read more

Forbes recently ran an article by William Baldwin titled “Do You Live in a Death Spiral State?” In the article, Baldwin calls states with declining economies Death Spiral States. (Confession: I really wish I’d come up that term) He correctly included California among his Death Spiral States. Then, he gives investment advice based only on… Read more

California has almost achieved zero population growth. According to the California Department of Finance (DOF), California’s population has stagnated at sub-one-percent rates for an unprecedented seven consecutive years. The slow growth was a result of negative domestic migration, declining international migration, and declining births. Unless we fix our education system and create opportunities for everyone,… Read more

Morningstar has published a research report that purports to show that a properly constructed financial plan can generate a meaningful increase in lifetime retirement spending.  The value added from a plan is referred to as “gamma” following in the line of Greek letters being used to assess investment returns.  The first Greek letter “alpha” is… Read more