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Independent Investor

The dangers of markets bogged down by politics

Recently, financial and economic events have taken a back seat to politics.  Whistleblowers, United Nations speeches, White House tweets, and the ongoing trade wars seem to be moving markets far more than unemployment or earnings reports. Is this simply a short-term phenomenon, or is something else happening that is becoming a longer-term trend? 

The evolving business of baseball

Attendance is down, as is viewership, as we head into the 2019 season. Major League Baseball is hoping some rule changes will turn around the decline. Will it be enough, and does it matter anyway?

Defenders of the game argue that last season’s declines were to be expected. Television ratings for all sporting events have been declining for years.  But TV ratings in the new world of digital streaming are not what they used to be. There just isn’t a good way to capture this new viewership data.

Why are coffee prices at significant lows?

Arabica coffee futures prices recently fell to a price they haven’t seen since December of 2005. But don’t expect your morning cup of coffee to reflect those cheaper prices. The coffee business doesn’t work like that.

Normally, when the price of a commodity falls (like oil), consumers can expect to see a drop in price at the gas pumps within a week or three. The same thing might happen if the price of beef, wheat, corn or any number of commodities experienced a decline in price, so why not coffee?

Will pot stocks go up in smoke?

Today, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, while recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states, plus the District of Columbia. Although there has been progress, little of the recent enthusiasm and hype over pot stocks will come to anything unless the federal government does a major about-face and legalizes the substance. What are the chances of that?

The IRS certainly has its hands full this year

The government’s partial shutdown has everyone on edge this year. Despite assurances from the powers that be, many taxpayers are concerned that their tax returns won’t be processed on time. Should you be worried?

One misconception many have is that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) was closed. Not true, the IRS remained open, despite having no budget from Dec. 22, 2018, until the government reopened on Jan. 25.  The agency was running under a contingency plan, which meant operating with only 12 percent of its staff. 

The pay gap for women is growing

If Citigroup, one of the world’s largest banks, is any indication, women earn 29 percent less than their male counterparts. It also revealed that only 37 percent of its managerial jobs were held by females.

Wall Street has long been known as “the last bastion” for white males. But to Citigroup’s credit, it just made public its internal assessment of the existing pay gap between the genders. One reason it did so was the new disclosure standards that are now required in the United Kingdom since last April. 

Dogs and their humans: Pets and cars in America

Pet ownership in America is well over 50 percent. Nine out of 10 of these owners view their pet as part of the family. As such, dollars spent on traditional pet ownership areas such as food, veterinary needs and boarding have expanded to include things like exercise and travel. For more and more Americans, that trend has grown to include what cars we purchase.

The ‘Fortnite’ addiction

Chances are, if you are over 50, you have probably never heard of “Fortnite,” a video game that boasts over 40 million players worldwide. Those with children, however, may not only know it, but are playing it themselves.

Free trade versus fair trade

In today’s world, talk of tariffs is part of daily news headlines. Politicians use terms like “free” and “fair” almost interchangeably in discussing trade to justify their position for or against tariffs. Maybe it’s time to review the difference between the two concepts.

Should you roll your 401(k) into an IRA?

Some retiring workers roll their 401(k) tax-deferred savings account into an Individual Retirement Account (IRA). There are good reasons to do so. But for those who are not retiring, the decision is not so clear cut. Here are some pros and cons to ponder.