Independent Investor

Are you ready for the repercussions of El Niño?

It’s that time again. Trade winds in the Pacific are blowing west to east, pushing warm water to the surface. In times past, those conditions wreaked havoc with much of the world’s weather, creating everything from fires to floods, sometimes in epic proportions. Some weather models predict this year’s El Niño could rank among the worst.

Does another trade pact make economic sense?

Politicians in both houses of Congress need to decide whether the proposed Trans-Pacific, 12-nation trade pact makes economic sense. It does, and we should jump on it.

Brazil: not for the faint of heart

Beset by scandals that could reach as high as the presidential office, suffering from an epic drought, low oil prices, high inflation, a declining currency and a negative economic growth rate, the world’s seventh largest economy could be an interesting long-term investment — but not for the faint of heart.

The rise of the healthy veggie/fruit smoothie

The global market for smoothies is projected to hit $9 billion this year. Driven by a new health-consciousness among consumers, today’s on-the-go convenience of gulping down your vitamins and minerals is appealing to more and more of us. Expect that trend to continue.

The real-life Greek drama

Greece is once again on center stage as the world looks on, wondering if this time the country’s finances will finally implode. It is a play we’ve seen before, and its outcome is fairly predictable.

The joint business is jumping: hips, knees, that is

Today, more than 7 million Americans are no longer limping. Instead, they are trotting around with the assistance of artificial knees, hips or both. Every year another million of us will join the crowd, and that number is expected to grow as America ages.

‘529’ college savings accounts are not risk-free, taxed or not

A national debate over whether to tax “529” college savings plans has turned the spotlight on these plans and how they work. Do they really help parents save the money their kids will need for college? The answer depends on how they are invested and how they are managed.

Think twice before co-signing that student loan

Sure, we love our kids. Of course we want them to get ahead. So when your son, daughter, or nephew asks for your signature right next to theirs on that private student loan application, it is tempting. But before you sign on the dotted line, consider this.

Could Greece upset the applecart for Europe?

Last week, a parliamentary vote to elect a president failed in Greece. National elections have now been called for late January. The outcome could trigger a revolt against an austerity program that has brought years of suffering and pain to the population.

The Pipeline made simple

The U.S. Senate rejected passage of the Keystone Pipeline by one vote this week. The controversial energy plan will be back on the agenda, however, in January. For most of us, separating fact from fiction as both sides alter the facts is difficult at best, but here are some things we do know.

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