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Will the stock market be able to support you in your retirement? – MarketWatch

Posted: January 28, 2020 at 8:48 pm


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How fast will your equity investments grow in coming years?

That crucial question is at the heart of every retirement financial plan, especially in todays era of low rates that virtually guarantee that bonds will provide a dismal long-term return. Stocks will have to do the heavy lifting of funding your retirement, in other words. So if you assume too high a return for stocks, you will run out of money during your retirement; assume too low a return and you deny yourself the standard of living you have earned.

The occasion to revisit this crucial question is the release this past week of new research from the Pew Charitable Trusts on the rates of equity return that are assumed by state pension plans. That study shows that the median assumed return has dropped over the last decade from 8.0% to 7.4% in the latest survey.

Read: Retired and facing a stock market downturn? Heres what to do and not do

Pews researchers add that even this 7.4% return is probably too high, and I heartily agree. For this column I review the predictions implied by eight valuation indicators that have the best record forecasting the stock markets 10-year return. (For a fuller discussion of these indicators track records, consult a Wall Street Journal column I wrote a year and a half ago.)

Household equity allocation. Specifically, this indicator is the average portfolio allocation that U.S. households commit to stocks, as I discussed in greater length in a recent column;

The price/book ratio, the ratio of the S&P 500s SPX, +1.01% by per-share book value;

The price/sales ratio, the ratio of the S&P 500s by per-share sales. This indicator was the focus of a recent MarketWatch story;

The dividend yield, the percentage that S&P 500s dividends per share represent of the overall index;

The cyclically adjusted price/earnings ratio championed by Yale Universitys Robert Shiller;

The so-called q ratio that derives from research conducted by the late James Tobin, the 1981 Nobel laureate in economics. The ratio is calculated by dividing market value by the replacement cost of assets;

The traditional P/E ratio. I calculated this ratio by dividing the S&P 500 by its trailing years earnings per share;

The so-called Buffett Indicator, which is the ratio of the total value of equities in this country to gross domestic product. It is so named because Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway BRK.A, +0.71% BRK.B, +0.71%, suggested in 2001 that is it probably the best single measure of where valuations stand at any given moment.

To calculate what each of these indicators is forecasting for the next decade, I constructed an econometric model that most closely fit the relationship between its historical readings and the S&P 500s subsequent 10-year return at each step along the way. I then fed into that model the indicators current reading. The forecasted 10-year nominal return that is implied by these eight indicators ranges from a high of 3.5% annualized (for the traditional P/E ratio) to a low of minus 5.4% (for the price-to-sales ratio).

Pretty depressing, isnt it? Even the most optimistic of these forecasts is barely a quarter of the 13.6% annualized total return the S&P 500 produced over the last decade.

What about low interest rates?

One rebuttal to these sobering projections is that the stock market deserves to appreciate at a faster rate when interest rates are as low as they are today. But the historical data do not support this rebuttal.

Consider what I found when I added the 10-year Treasury yield as an input to each of the econometric models I constructed for the above eight indicators. In no event did this addition increase the models forecasting power, at least at standard levels of statistical significance. In any case, furthermore, my PCs statistical package found that higher Treasury yields were associated with higher subsequent stock market returns, not lower.

This is just the opposite of what the bulls are assuming when arguing that low interest rates justify higher projected stock market returns, of course. And it is not particularly surprising, once you stop to think about it, since stubbornly low interest rates indicate that the markets expect future economic growth to be no better than anemic.

I discussed this at greater length in a Retirement Weekly column a month ago. As explained to me in an email from Nicholas Bloom, an economics professor at Stanford University and co-Director of the Productivity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, interest rates are an excellent predictor of long-run growth potential, and their moribund level [today] reflects the markets expectation of sustained low future growth.

Reality check

As a further reality check on the low projected returns over the next decade, I next calculated the stock markets future return using a bottom-up, fundamental model based on projected sales growth, inflation, and dividend yield. When doing so, I come up with a projection of the markets nominal 10-year return of 4.5% annualized, and 2.6% after inflation.

My calculations were as follows:

Sales growth: 0.9% annualized after inflation. My rationale is this: If we assume that corporate profit margins stay at their current inflated level, which is a generous assumption since those margins are so much higher than their historical average, then the stock markets future growth will be a function of sales growth. And its hard to see how sales can grow faster than the economy as a whole, which the Congressional Budget Office will grow at a 1.8% annualized rate above inflation over the next decade. And from this rate we must subtract an estimate of GDP growth that does not come from publicly traded corporationssuch as entrepreneurial startups, private equity, venture capital, and so forth. Following research from Robert Arnott, founder and chairman of Research Affiliates, I subtract 0.9 of an annualized percentage point.

Dividend yield: 1.9% annualized

Inflation: 1.7% annualized (based on projections from the Cleveland Fed)

To be sure, mine is a simple model. I offer it here solely to show that the projections of the eight indicators with good long-term records arent that far out of line with a completely different approach to forecasting the market.

Its worth noting in this regard that Arnotts firm employs a far more sophisticated fundamental model than my simple one, and it is currently projecting an annualized 10-year return of just 2.4% nominal and 0.3% inflation-adjusted.

The bottom line?

There no doubt are other models out there that project more robust equity returns over the next decade. But it is very sobering indeed that 10 valuation approaches are each projecting very low returns between now and 2029.

You therefore might want to consider adjusting your retirement financial plan to include lower projected equity returns. If youre wrong, youll be pleasantly surprised, and thats a far better outcome than being too optimistic and discovering that you have run out of money.

Mark Hulbert is a regular contributor to MarketWatch. His Hulbert Ratings tracks investment newsletters that pay a flat fee to be audited. Hulbert can be reached at mark@hulbertratings.com.

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Will the stock market be able to support you in your retirement? - MarketWatch

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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Avoiding The Paycheck Creep. Heres Why Your Raise Threatens Your Retirement – Forbes

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Almost every employee has two goals in their career: make more money and earn enough to one day retire. It turns out, according to new research, that by making more money, youre also hurting your chances to afford a retirement that accounts for your newfound wealth.

As people earn raises during their career, their lifestyle expectations change. Its one reason why you dont live like you did when you were in your 20s. It turns out, though, that the percentage that one saves doesnt change, even as raises boost a salary.

On the surface that looks fine. After all, if youre making $80,000 and saving 10%, then get a raise to $100,000, well 10% of the new salary is more.

The math doesnt account for a persons growing lifestyle expectations, which becomes more expensive after the raise. Without increasing the percentage of retirement savings, the employee will now experience a shortfall come retirement, based on their adjusted living expectations, according to new research by the financial services firm Morningstar.

When you get a raise, any type of new income becomes normal, said Steve Wendel, head of behavioral finance at Morningstar and co-author of the raise research. People then spend that income, affording more expensive vacations or nicer cars, and that becomes your new standard. But in order to now afford that lifestyle in retirement, you must save more than your previous savings rate, added Wendel.

In the financial independence retire early (FIRE) movement, theres a strong concern for lifestyle creep. Its the psychological tendency to, as you make more to spend more. What studies have found, as you spend more, the materials you purchase become your status quo. You dont necessarily get enjoyment out of the extra spending, but it feels natural or almost like a baseline requirement to live your life.

What the Morningstar study highlights is just how much lifestyle creep can endanger your retirement.

How Much To Save From The Raise

Part of the reason the raise can hurt your ability to retire, if you dont prevent lifestyle creep, is that your retirement savings grow slower than the raise. If you keep a constant 11% savings rate, as your salary moves from $100,000 to $120,000 at age 47, then your standard of living rises while your income from Social Security benefits and past savings remains relatively static. As the chart shows, it leaves you, on an annualized basis, short of your new normal.

With a raise from $100,000 to $120,000, this person will discover a gap in expectations come ... [+] retirement.

The solution? Always save part of your raise, said Wendel.

The researchers tested three ways to save the raise. They evaluated the effectiveness of spending twice your age (meaning years) to retirement. This means if youre retiring in 10 years, you would spend 20% of the raise and save 80%. The second option was to save your age. If youre 40 years old, you would save 40% of the raise. And, finally, save 33% of the raise, no matter the age.

For the youngest earners, all three strategies worked fairly well, leaving someone able to afford a new lifestyle, even with the raise. At 35, the strategies begin to diverge, and the effectiveness of stashing 33% of the raise tactic falls off. It isnt until age 45 when the effectiveness of the Save Your Age strategy begins to wane.

The only strategy to work for all ages was the spend twice your age to retirement tactic.

It allows you to spend some now, but also boost your retirement income, added Wendel.

Avoiding Lifestyle Creep

What the savings strategy also prevents is too much lifestyle creep. If you save more, you cant spend it. By keeping your costs lower, you have less to make up for in retirement.

Youre locking in a standard of living from now until retirement instead of setting yourself up for a drop in retirement, said Wendel.

Those that pursue FIRE, saving 50% of their income or more in order to retire at an extremely young age, take painstaking efforts to prevent lifestyle creep. Therefore, as more money flows in, it isnt used to necessarily bolster their lifestyle. Instead, its used to strengthen their retirement accounts.

For most people, though, theres a psychological tendency to take a breath when receiving a raise, leading to more spending even in situations where theyre actively trying to fight lifestyle creep. Thats true for someone following FIRE strategies as well.

To counter this, Wendel suggests planning for the raise prior to actually getting it.

Its easier to invest the raise at the onset, than to do so when its in a checking account, he added.

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Avoiding The Paycheck Creep. Heres Why Your Raise Threatens Your Retirement - Forbes

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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The Most Realistic Retirement Age in Every State – Yahoo Finance

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At what age do you hope to retire? If youre like the majority of workers, youre probably planning to stop punching the clock by the time you turn 65.

A survey by the Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) found that 54% of respondents said they expect to retire at age 65 or younger. However, a significant percentage of workers expect to keep clocking in until theyre much older. One-third of respondents said they dont expect to retire until theyre 70 or older. Some dont plan to retire at all.

Its one thing to have an idea of when you want to retire. Its another thing altogether to know whether youll actually be able to retire. Several factors can affect your retirement plans including whether youll have enough saved by your ideal retirement age to stop working. The EBRI survey found that less than half of workers 42% had tried to figure out how much they would need to have saved by the time they retired to live comfortably.

Using an online retirement calculator is a great way to get an estimate of how much you should save to retire by a certain age. To give you an idea, though, of when you might realistically be able to retire and how much in savings you would need depending on where you live, GOBankingRates crunched the numbers for you.

To determine the most realistic retirement age in every state, GOBankingRates first calculated the median income by age in every state using Census Bureau data to find out how much people could set aside in savings at various ages. Then GOBankingRates used findings from its January 2020 study on how much savings one needs across America to retire comfortably to pinpoint an ideal savings target amount for each state. To find out how long it would take workers in every state to save up to the states ideal savings target, GOBankingRates assumed the following:

Using the above assumptions, GOBankingRates found how much a worker in each state earning a median income could have saved at ages 24, 34, 44 and 58 to 77 years of age. Once the ideal savings target as identified by the earlier GOBankingRates study was met or exceeded, the following year was determined to be the ideal retirement age of each state.

You might be surprised to find that if you start saving 20% of your income starting at age 22, the realistic retirement age in your state might be sooner than you think. Or you might have to work longer than you expected.

Last updated: Jan. 23, 2020

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Methodology: To determine the most realistic retirement age in every state, GOBankingRates first found median income in each state, according to the 2018 current population survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. To calculate income by age bracket (15-24, 25-34, etc.), GOBankingRates first divided the median income of each state by the median income nationally to derive an income index that was use to factor out income by age for each state. Once the median income by age was calculated for each state, GOBankingRates found an ideal savings target for each state, sourced from a January 2020 GOBankingRates study (Heres Exactly How Much Savings You Need to Retire in Your State), which assumes one will draw 4% from their savings each year to pay for living expenses. Finally, GOBankingRates set three constants for the type of savings that would occur: (1) workers start working at age 22; (2) workers are following the 50/30/20 rule (allocating 50% of personal income to necessities, 30% to wants and 20% to savings); and (3) workers are saving 14% in a typical savings account, in addition to putting 6% into a 401(k) with a 50% employer match (up to 3%) and an average annual return of 5%. Using those constants, GOBankingRates found the savings total of each state at 24, 34, 44 and 58-77 years of age. Once the ideal savings goal was met or exceeded, the following year was determined to be the ideal retirement age of each state. All data was collected and is-up-to date as of Jan. 8, 2020.

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Heres Exactly How Much Savings You Need to Retire in Your State methodology: To find out exactly how much is needed to retire in each state, GOBankingRates found the annual cost of expenditures for a retired person in each state by multiplying expenditures for those over the age of 65 from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2018 Consumer Expenditure Survey by the cost-of-living index for each state from the Missouri Economic Research and Information Centers third quarter 2019 cost of living series. To find how much money a retired person would need to save, GOBankingRates divided each states annual expenditures, minus the annual Social Security income as sourced from the Social Security Administrations monthly statistical snapshot, November 2019, by .04, assuming drawing down savings by 4% each year to pay for living expenses. All data was collected and is up-to-date as of Dec. 13, 2019.

This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: The Most Realistic Retirement Age in Every State

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The Most Realistic Retirement Age in Every State - Yahoo Finance

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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A place in the sun: French defend right to retire early – Reuters

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NICE, France (Reuters) - Most weekdays, 64-year-old Joelle Svetchine steps out of her French Riviera apartment, checks the sun is shining and the sea calm, and decides whether to go rowing.

It clears your head being out on the water, the pensioner told Reuters as she sculled across a bay near Nice under a blue sky. Im lucky to have free time and to be in good health, to have this freedom and no longer worry about work.

The former physiotherapist says she can lead an active life because she retired at the age of 61 and 1/2, benefiting from a pension system that allows many French workers to stop working years before their peers in other parts of Europe.

That system though is now under threat from a reform of the pension system being driven through by President Emmanuel Macron. His reform has provoked weeks of protests and strikes.

France has one of the earliest retirement ages among industrialized nations and its pensioners enjoy the third highest income level on a purchasing power basis of all European Union citizens, behind only those in Luxembourg and Austria.

Macron, a former investment banker, is pressing ahead with creating a universal pension system from a mishmash of schemes, each with their own benefits. He says it will be fairer. Trade unions say it will mean workers affected could have to work longer to get the same pension.

Macron has for now pulled back on another plank of his reform, raising the retirement age by two years to 64, but that could be a temporary retreat as the government says the system is underfunded.

Svetchine began working in the private sector before switching to public hospitals. She said she frequently saw workplace injuries the likes of which unions cite as justification for rail workers, dockers and others retiring up to a decade earlier than typical workers.

In all jobs, the body gets worn down. I know that in foreign countries, like Germany, people work longer. But in what state? Svetchine said.

Macron has said a single, points-based system which gives every worker the same rights for every euro contributed will be fairer, in particular for women.

That aspect of the reform, at least, resonates with Svetchine, who failed to reach her full pension by the legal retirement age after having taken two years maternity leave and later working part-time.

But she expressed support for the anti-reform strikes and protests.

Longer life expectancies meant that the early 50s was perhaps too early to retire nowadays, but a one-size-fits-all system that did not factor in a jobs physical and mental demands would be unjust, said Svetchine.

After all, to enjoy retirement, you need to be in good shape, she said.

Editing by Richard Lough and Alexandra Hudson

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A place in the sun: French defend right to retire early - Reuters

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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Here’s where younger generations expect their retirement income to come from – CNBC

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Many Americans believe they will live longer than their parents.

For younger generations, that has led to a big concern: how they will provide financially for those extended years.

That's according to a new online poll from the Longevity Project and Morning Consult, which surveyed 2,200 U.S. adults in December.

Of the individuals polled, 63% said they expect their lives to be longer than their parents'. That rate was even higher for members of Gen Z, those ages 18 to 22, with 70% indicating they expect to live longer.

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Despite those hopes, many individuals are not saving more to prepare for those extended years, the poll found. In fact, many Americans believe they are saving less than previous generations.

In fact, 48% said they are not saving as much for for retirement as they should, and 50% feel unprepared in their ability to plan for their later years.

And many younger Americans feel less comfortable relying on one income source that has been a staple for generations Social Security.

While 83% of baby boomers expect to have some income from Social Security, that drops to 64% for Generation X. Meanwhile, just 42% of millennials and 38% of Gen Z plan to depend on those benefits.

On the other hand, across all generations, Social Security benefits are expected to be one of the biggest sources of income. That's alongside personal savings and investments and 401(k) and 403(b) retirement savings plans.

The results come as Social Security faces a looming funding shortfall. The Social Security Administration's latest estimate projects that the trust funds will be depleted in 2035. At that point, only 80% of promised benefits will be payable, according to the agency's calculations.

"There's probably more irrational worrying than there needs to be," said Sri Reddy, senior vice president of retirement and income solutions at Principal Financial Group.

That's because the system will continue to pay benefits, even if they are reduced, he said.

"It's not like Social Security is going away," he said.

Yet other recent research has shown that living on just Social Security alone in retirement is not enough.

While Social Security helps to shrink the wealth gap between high-wage earners and low-wage earners, many still face poverty in retirement, The New School Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis in New York recently found.

Separately, an analysis by the University of Massachusetts Boston found that there isn't one county in the U.S. where Social Security benefits equal the cost of living. That is, the cost of living is always higher.

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Here's where younger generations expect their retirement income to come from - CNBC

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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AARP Maine to host webinar for small businesses on improving retirement security – The County

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AARP Maine is hosting a webinar for small businesses at 12 noon on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

PORTLAND, Maine AARP Maine is hosting a webinar for small businesses at 12 noon on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020. The webinar will focus on how to improve retirement security for Mainers and what that means for small business owners.

AARP Maines recentsurvey of registered Maine votersshows that retirement security is a major concern for Maine residents.

Join Lori Parham, State Director of AARP Maine, for this important policy briefing which will include a chance to learn more about LD 594 and opportunities for small business owners to share their perspective.

WHAT:AARP Policy Briefing Webinar Ensuring Retirement Security for All MainersRSVP HERE Registration is required

WHEN:February 5, 2020 at 12:00 pm ESTJOIN THE WEBINAR HERE!

WITH:Lori Parham, State Director, AARP Maine

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.

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AARP Maine to host webinar for small businesses on improving retirement security - The County

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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What Kobe Bryant could have accomplished in retirement – SB Nation

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Were never going to get to hear the Hall of Fame speech. Thats a shame because Kobe Bryant would have delivered an all-timer. So many of those speeches are meant to be disposable. An athlete thanks their family, their friends, their god and their agent, and then moves on from the spotlight, sometimes for good.

Occasionally, the speeches are truly memorable. Michael Jordan went scorched earth on the legion of critics and haters that had apparently occupied his mind even when that number of doubters was both small and inconsequential. In doing so, Jordan chose to be remembered as a far pettier man than the universally beloved figure he was during his prime.

Like Jordan, Kobe played the game with a singular domination that didnt lend itself to making friends with his enemies. That was a great part of his appeal for a great many people, but it was the attention to detail in his craft, the endless quest for perfection in an imperfect sport that resonated even more. That wasnt so much Jordan-esque as it was Kobe personified.

Well never know for sure what Kobe would have said in Springfield. But heres a guess: he would have looked forward, not backward, because for Kobe the future was way more interesting than the past. Thats only one of the ways in which he was endlessly complex and compelling.

When he embarked on his final-season farewell tour and made himself accessible in city after city he rarely trafficked in cheap nostalgia. He had made his peace with the end of his basketball career and had somehow moved beyond the competitive rage that fueled his career. As he noted during his last NBA All-Star Game appearance in Toronto in 2016:

Im really just enjoying this whole thing, being around these players and talking to them one more time, going out and practicing and enjoying that moment in the game and enjoying that moment. So, competitiveness in terms of me trying to establish something or prove something, thats gone.

Thats a remarkable bit of self-awareness for any athlete, let alone a self-styled killer whose edge rested on an ability to bury his opponents under their own weaknesses. As the former pitcher Jim Bouton once wrote, You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time.

No, Kobe was not rooted in the past, nor would he allow it to define him. Even before he physically moved on from the game, he appeared ready to make that leap in his mind. Thats the irony of the endless debates about his legacy. Kobe may have cared deeply, but he put others on his Mt. Rushmore and declared that Jerry West was the greatest Laker.

While he had a great appreciation for the history of the game and his place in it, there was no need waste any time making his case. Kobe was above all that. He had said all he needed to say on the court. Besides, as Tony Soprano once put it, Remember when is the lowest form of communication.

Kobe fancied himself a storyteller and characters like Soprano appealed to him. After modeling his younger self on Jordan carrying out some of the worst of Jordans excesses to the nth degree Bryant remade himself into an anti-hero, a problematic construction if ever there was one.

He did so in the wake of his rape trial in Colorado, but the rape trial was not problematic in the way that word gets used as a placeholder to ignore the realities of the accusation. It was abhorrent. There is a paper trail and following it is brutal. The crime Kobe stood accused of committing was a gross violation of another persons body and humanity. There is no glossing over that, nor should there be.

The problematic part of the equation was crafting a persona that was meant to be a stand-in for his authentic self while a generation of kids wanted him to remain their unimpeachable superhero. For the anti-hero, the ends always justify the means and for Kobes most ardent admirers, his five rings gave them license to treat his words and actions as gospel.

There is a tremendous amount of power inherent in that construction, and Kobe based much of his post-basketball empire on its appeal. The Mamba Mentality was all you needed, and you, yes you, could prosper, provided you adhere to the tenants of its faith and were willing to become just as ruthlessly competitive as its founder. Viewed through a particular lens, that wasnt all bad.

I think you have to believe that theyre possible, Bryant said during that All-Star weekend in Toronto. Its easier said than done, because I think we all have dreams. But once you go through the process of trying to make those dreams a reality, you hit obstacles. And I think unfortunately because of pressure or anxiety or responsibilities, things, whatever, you kind of give up on those dreams and somewhere along the line you lose that imagination. I think its important that you never lose that. You have to keep that. Thats the most important thing. I never gave up my dream.

That sentiment is admirable, really. Too many people settle for mediocrity. Too many see the struggle and leave their dreams behind, choosing instead to live a life devoid of purpose or meaning. To give people hope and inspiration is a wondrous thing and Kobe did that with a great many people, as well.

But its something else within that quote that gives one pause. Unfortunately because of pressure or anxiety or responsibilities, things, whatever.

There was never any room in Kobes worldview for pressure or anxiety or things, whatever they may be, because to Kobe, those were merely obstacles to be defeated. There was instead a singular focus on winning, whatever the cost. That doesnt leave a lot of room for acceptance when others fail to meet those standards.

Just a few months ago, after a team of seventh-grade girls he coached took fourth place in a tournament, he laid bare his disappointment with the result in an Instagram post that reeked of sour grapes and shaming. Following an uproar, Kobe tried to soften those comments.

Websites such as ours accused him of trying to cynically triage his brand. Perhaps, thats the best way to view any charismatic figure like Bryant: cynically. Or perhaps the reframing of his motivational message was evidence of someone trying to evolve.

In retirement, Kobe took his role as a mentor seriously. He had endless credibility with players and by keeping himself at a remove from the league in any official capacity, he offered something even more unique: a truth that was not bound to any allegiance.

Kobe was particularly engaging with female athletes who possessed qualities he admired. His blessing of their achievements had the potential to carry a profound message of empowerment. More than anyone, he recognized the craft and skill of womens basketball and celebrated that as a monument to itself.

Then there are accounts of his actions during normal human interactions, such as a car accident in his neighborhood. Imagine that, Kobe the good samaritan. He was the kind of guy you wanted for a neighbor, a fellow dad with whom you could talk about life.

He took obvious delight in being a father, and that is yet another reason why this hurts so much. It was his daughter Gianna, who had promised to carry on his legacy on the court who was among those who died in a helicopter crash Sunday. Their death, and the deaths of the other people aboard that helicopter, are senseless and shocking. As parents and as people, we grieve for those who are lost and especially for those left behind.

Its hard not to look at that Kobe and see a person of empathy who possessed the capacity to change lives for the better. He certainly had that power, and he seemed to understand there were positive currents that burned just as bright as the darkness he worked so hard to cultivate as a player.

For a lot of people, Kobe was their Jordan, but he was savvy enough to realize that he had something more to offer the world than mere idolatry. Beyond his basketball legend, the repellent nature of the accusations against him, and the inherent contradictions of an inspiring yet unforgiving mantra, there was so much potential for good in his post-playing career.

Kobe Bryant was going somewhere in his life. Thats what makes his loss such an immense tragedy. Man, it would have been a helluva speech.

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What Kobe Bryant could have accomplished in retirement - SB Nation

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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NBA players are retiring Kobe Bryant’s jersey numbers to pay their respects – For The Win

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So many players in todays NBA were raised on Kobe Bryant.

Not only did they look up to him while they were growing up as young hoopers, but he reached out to a lot of them to impart advice on how they should move on and off the court.

Since his passing, players have been paying tribute to the NBA legend in a ton of different ways. Pretty much every team that has played has taken either a 24-second or an 8-second violation turnover. Some have gone through to tip off wearing a team jersey with 8 or 24 on it.

Now, some players are about to take it a step further. Some players who were already wearing 8 and 24 jerseys are planning on switching their numbers and informally retiring them to pay homage.

Spencer Dinwiddie was the first to announce hed be doing it by switching his number to 26.

Right now, there are 33 players in the league who are wearing either 24 or 8 on their jerseys according to Basketball Reference. Its not a slam dunk that all of them will be able to change. The NBA says theyre reviewing things on a case-by-case basis.

The league allowing any player to change his number isnt a given, for business reasons. The jerseys the league is selling for these players have either 24 or 8 on them already and changing that tanks the value.

Its basically the same reason why LeBron James couldnt change his number from 23 to 6 this summer after the Anthony Davis trade. None of these players outside of Kemba Walker are really big stars, so it shouldnt be too much of a big deal.

It remains to be seen how many of them will be changing their numbers, but its a pretty dope gesture nonetheless.

Shoutout to Dinwiddie for being the first to take the leap.

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NBA players are retiring Kobe Bryant's jersey numbers to pay their respects - For The Win

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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Hedge Your Retirement Portfolio With International Income Stocks, Whether Or Not A Recession Occurs – Seeking Alpha

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The markets have been continuously rising on a euphoric atmosphere, with relatively minimum volatility and lack of significant concerns, as corporate earnings keep hitting record highs. At this point, everyone has different types of concerns, but especially retirees or soon-to-be-retired investors face two significant disturbances:

These are natural concerns that make sense to have. Just remember those who were planning to retire around 2007-2008. Now let me make this clear, am I predicting a recession? No. My humble opinion is that we are not going to see one anytime soon. However, the combination of concerns amongst retail investors, along with how cheap equities have been international, provides an excellent opportunity to consider hedging with international stocks. The reason I think international stocks are an attractive play at this time are:

The graph below illustrates the collective earnings of the underlying S&P 500 components against the Index itself. As you can see, after the great recession, corporate earnings exceeded the Index's growth just until the last presidential election. Tax cuts, deregulation, and a robust economic environment have been pushing earnings higher, and the Index follows the trend closely. The question is, for how long can this go on?

Source: Macrotrends

The only correct answer is: nobody knows. However, what is most accepted is that, at the moment, the risk/reward factor is not favorable towards more upside. Markets take occasional breathers, reallocation of funds, and profit-taking. One thing is for sure, though. The U.S. stocks are not priced attractively for retirees and income-oriented investors. The graph below illustrates the S&P 500's (SPY) (VOO) dividend yield over the past five years, currently being ~1.81%. This is a strong indication, confirming that the overall dividend growth in the market fails to keep up with price appreciation, causing the yield to be going down. Tech stocks taking over the Index is another significant factor.

Source: Quandl

Finally, consider, for example, the utility sector. The area has been historically a go-to retirement pick, because of its low volatility, high dividend electricity, and energy providers. Even Utilities (XLU)(VPU) have now become the most expensive they have ever been, with a current sector P/E of 26.33.

Source: GuruFocus.com

Overall, I believe it is fair to say that whether a recession occurs or not during the foreseeable future, U.S. equities are pricey, and juicy dividend yields are hard to find. The solution? Go international!

Below I am going to list a few international stocks by region, which I believe are fantastic picks for retirees and income-oriented investors. Each of these stocks deserves a stand-alone article, but for now, let's focus on the general concept.

British stocks have historically been much cheaper than the U.S. ones. The main reason being they mostly trade on fundamentals and not on revenue. The British indexes are mostly comprised of energy, industrial, consumer staples, and financials. These securities carry lower multiples than tech stock, which the U.K. entirely lacks.

Below, the graph illustrates the P/E ratio of the FTSE All-Share Index, which is currently slightly above 15, much lower than the U.S. markets.How to play the United Kingdom:

I believe that a viable option is buying an ETF that follows the Index itself. The Index alone currently yields around 4.53%, which is a fair yield for income. However, the best option, in my opinion, is buying the City of London Investment Trust (OTCPK:CLIUF), trading at the London Stock Exchange.

The City of London Investment Trust invests mainly in U.K. equities with a bias towards large, multinational companies. The trust also invests in U.S. equities. What makes the trust special, however, is its outstanding track record of 52 consecutive annual dividend increases. Yeah, you heard it right. The U.K. has its fair share of dividend aristocrats. The trust calls itself a "dividend hero," which sounds right.

Below, you can see some of its top holdings, which are mostly British behemoths with fat dividend yields. The trust itself yields ~4.31%.

Source: The trust

What makes the trust attractive for me is that its historical dividend approach allows for a safe income haven. It's fair to say that increasing the dividend for 52 consecutive years, has proven that no recession can take down the trust's excellent management team. I believe that the trust offers U.S. (and non-U.S.) investors exposure to a conservative market with elephant-sized companies while taking away the risk of potential dividend cuts, because of its excellent cash reserves and optimal diversification.

Lately, I have been increasingly interested in Asian stocks. While I have had some unfortunate personal experiences with Chinese tech stocks (looking at Baidu (BIDU)), I have also been impressed by the variety of REITs and Trusts, that the Hong Kong and Singapore exchanges provide access to. I believe that many investors undermine the credibility and governance of such trusts, thinking they are inferior to American ones, but this is entirely wrong.

Again Singapore-based stocks, for example, trade at much lower multiples. The P/E ratio of the overall Index is currently just under 14.

I agree that American stocks are the most shareholder-oriented assets an investor can and should own. However, there are some options out there that have outperformed the market while paying significant dividends with annual-increase policies too.

A few of my favorite trusts are those of the Mapletree family:

The trusts own and operate a variety of properties based on their corresponding name. I wrote an extensive article a few months ago regarding the Commercial Trust, which you can read here. Its properties house some of the most respected names like the Bank of America Merrill Lynch HQ.

Source: Business Insider

All four trusts have had a significant capital gains record, yielding from around 3% (the higher growth commercial one) to ~6.3% (the more conservative retail one).

It is important to know that all these trusts have been increasing their dividends annually and are exposed to minimum volatility, mostly because of their significant diversification and the less volatile real estate market. Singapore-based REITs like these are, like the American ones, required to distribute 90% of their rental income back to shareholders. While it is impossible to analyze all four trusts in this article, I believe that my last article on commercial trust is a good starting point if you are interested in the Asian REITs.

Fellow Seeking Alpha writer The Value Pendulum has done a fantastic job with three articles on the trusts which I link below.

Some other REITs that I believe worth checking out and will hopefully cover in the future individually are:

Finally, regarding Europe, there are a few bargains out there, but I really want to highlight Eurocommercial Properties (OTC:EUCMF). The Investment Doctor has covered the REIT extensively. You can find his latest article on it here.

The REIT is special for me for a single reason. It is a dividend aristocrat, despite being a retail mall-focused REIT. Eurocommercial Properties kept increasing its sweet dividend, even through the great recession. Only a handful or less U.S. REITs can boast that feat. Management has over 20 years of experience working together, and that shows on such excellent capital control.

The trust currently yields 9.25%, which is extremely attractive. Investors can take advantage of this opportunity, which has been given as a result of the Mall-apocalypse. Moreover, I consider the Eurocommercial to be a bargain stock since it is trading way below its NAV, as you can see below.

Source: Eurocommercial Properties

I believe that the REIT is an excellent European play with a proven track record of delivering superior income distributions to its unit holders.

Is a recession coming? Nobody knows. I think that the market has more room to run, considering such an excellent economic environment. However, it doesn't hurt to consider additional options apart from U.S. equities. The U.K., Hong-Kong, Singapore, and Europe have some of the most attractive equities to consider right now, that are trading at a reasonable valuation. The stocks mentioned in this article are some fruitful options to consider if you are a retiree or soon-to-retire investor who considers alternative income solutions.

One last thing that all investors deploying funds in foreign equities must remember is the FX risk they are exposing themselves to. I will try to cover more of these stocks individually in the future. Just remember, as much shareholder-friendly as the U.S. is, there are always other options to consider too, during pricey times.

Disclosure: I am/we are long ALL EQUITIES MENTIONED. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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Hedge Your Retirement Portfolio With International Income Stocks, Whether Or Not A Recession Occurs - Seeking Alpha

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

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The RPD 2020 Active-Investing Retirement Portfolio – Seeking Alpha

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This article follows another recent one, Context for the RPD Retirement Portfolio. That article discussed my finances, scaled to those of a retiree needing $100k of income and having $1M of pretax savings. Here, as there, "my" numbers refer to this scaled portfolio.

My secure income is $55k, so I need $45k from the investments. I recently placed 25% of the pretax savings with the investing department at a trusted bank. Those funds are in a standard diverse portfolio of US and international stocks and funds.

My intent is that this pot of money will not be touched for at least 20 years. Eventually, I plan to place barriers to my own access to it, to protect my portfolio from potential cognitive decline, discussed in Define A Strategy For Your Own Cognitive Decline.

My cash and liquidity would cover three years of expenses, if needed. Ultimately, my active-investing funds need to provide a minimum average return of 6% to last 20 years.

More importantly, my goal is to grow these funds to provide both a cushion and more legacy. So, I am seeking a total return substantially above 6%, and ideally much larger.

On an after-tax basis, my scaled, active-investing portfolio has a value of $525k. Here, I describe what I am doing with these funds, and how I came around to those plans.

A few years ago, I began reading widely in the retirement literature, looking toward a retirement portfolio and income plan. For reasons discussed in the prior article, bond investments make little sense for me in particular.

Also discussed was my view that bonds don't make sense for any retiree at present. This followed in part from some modeling of bond ladders and other portfolios with bonds, done before I began writing for Seeking Alpha.

Modeling two-bucket approaches like the one I have taken was my next topic of investigation. My earliest articles on Seeking Alpha discuss models of such approaches.

A two-bucket strategy also later solved my problem of how to handle cognitive decline, and ultimately, this is why I have taken it. My present long-term allocation of 25% to the long-term bucket is on the low side of optimum.

The long-term bucket may turn out to support only a reduced level of spending. Ultimately, I decided to take that risk. My wife and I both favor living as we want to now at the risk of having to cut back later.

It is my deep belief that all investors are ignorant in ways that matter. One can never know enough about a firm and all the factors that affect its future profitability to predict with certainty its future.

This point of view favors relatively broad diversification. Even so, we have discovered on the High Yield Landlord chat that many of our members need to diversify in a way that fits their psychology. Some need few investments they can closely watch. Others need many investments, so a single failure does not cost too much.

There was a period of time where I was thinking hard about approaches to producing 6% to 8% distribution yields, so that my active-investing portfolio would last as long as needed, or longer. If this is the goal, what would work for me psychologically is a very broadly diversified portfolio of about 100 selected investments paying distributions in that average range.

I went this direction beginning in early 2019 with widely distributed preferred-stock investments when they were undervalued and with investments in diverse REIT sectors.

My natural orientation is toward value investing. Invest in securities undervalued by the market and reap the rewards as they are re-evaluated. (See Figure 1.)

An example of the sort of investment I prefer is Spirit Realty Capital (SRC). They were beaten down by the market in response to their complexity. The company shed some problematic assets and during 2019 positioned themselves as a standard net-lease REIT. Yet they were and are valued much less than other similar REITs. I made good money on SRC during 2019 as they gradually appreciated, exited a while for cash flow reasons, and am now back in.

Figure 1. Unlike this economist who believes in efficient markets, value investors will pick up those hundred (or more) dollar bills the market leaves lying around. Source.

Following momentum plays has no appeal at all for me. I don't object to people who do that, but note that they are going head to head with a lot of computers.

Investments that depend heavily on financial engineering, like mortgage REITs and BDCs, also have little appeal. My view of these, among others, is that, whenever the other shoe drops, a lot of investors are going to lose a lot of money.

The challenge for value investors is always to avoid the firms whose price has been driven down because it should be. One, of course, finds many arguments on Seeking Alpha about which ones those are.

Dividend-paying stocks offer a higher yield on cost when undervalued. As one example, the much-discussed Simon Property Group (SPG) has offered a yield near 6% for quite a few months. I believe they are a genuine blue-chip company and am delighted to be able to obtain that yield on cost.

In my case, some of the securities selected, from the opinion that they were undervalued (especially the preferred stocks), returned to more reasonable prices during 2019. My investments overall produced a total return that was a multiple of 6%, despite one big loss and not much gain in the latter few months as I shifted my investing focus.

Both positive and negative factors altered my thinking. One positive factor was my evolving belief that I could find market inefficiencies and profit from them. In doing so, I believe good research is essential and worth paying for.

I learn about and test ideas for REIT investments at Jussi Askola's High Yield Landlord, for which I also write some articles. I also pay for research at Michael Boyd's Energy Income Authority and J. Mintzmyer's Value Investment Edge. Each of these services easily pays for itself.

A second positive factor was the realization that, to me, having an increased cushion and more secure legacy funds does matter and is worth some risk. Achieving this means making investments focused on higher gains.

The negative factor is this. I realized that watching my portfolio decay away as gradual failures (dividend cuts or worse) eat away at its value is not the most comfortable approach for me personally. In thriller movies, I am far more comfortable with the violence that follows than I am with the suspense leading up to it. I'd rather find a high-conviction opportunity for substantial gains and take my losses all at once if my investment thesis fails.

More detailed attention to REITs led me to conclude that mall REIT securities were significantly undervalued. I decided to build a basket of mall REITs. I discuss the motivations for these investments in Retail Apocalypse Not.

I had not thought much about this more active approach until I had dinner with a friend who was passing through town. I started telling him what I was doing and he said "Oh, you are an INVESTOR". The capitalization of INVESTOR was clear in his voice. I thank him for causing me to do some focused thinking.

You need to ask yourself some questions before becoming an INVESTOR.

Do you have the motivation to track your investments in appropriate detail? Can you use clear judgement in deciding whether and when to sell your winners? Will you hang onto losers too long or can you shed them as needed? Investing will bring you crises. What is your track record at handling crises?

This last item may be the most important. Per Warren Buffet

If you can't watch your stock fall by 50% without having a panic attack, then you shouldn't invest in the stock market.

Any financial advisor will tell you stories of the phone calls they get from panicked investors during market declines (Figure 2).

Throughout my life, I have been the calm one during crises. This has served me well for decades, at home and at work. In contrast, my spouse panics and loses emotional control. I've known stellar female investors and leaders who could stay calm amidst turmoil, but she is not among that group. Before you try to imitate what I am about to describe, ask yourself the questions above.

Figure 2. Which one is your brain in a crisis? Source.

Having decided to pursue larger gains by value investing, I can expect loud proclamations that I am an idiot in various investment decisions. I expect to be in the position of Brookfield Asset Management, discussed in this piece on Morningstar, which summarized a Wall Street Journal article. It popped up in our chat room at High Yield Landlord:

"The sentiment is so negative on malls," said Vince Tibone, lead retail analyst at real-estate research firm Green Street Advisors LLC. He said "if you buy a mall and you're wrong, you're probably going to get fired."

Brookfield remains optimistic about a portfolio that ranges from Baltimore's Mondawmin Mall to Portland, Ore.'s high-end Pioneer Place.

In an interview, Brian Kingston, chief executive of Brookfield Property Partners, expressed confidence that the bet will pay off despite recent weakness. "This is part of our strategy in that we're contrarian investors," he said. "This is what it always feels like."

While I did well in 2019, and am hopeful for 2020, it would not surprise me to lose money (on paper) in 2020. Even so, most of the investments will spin off a good bit of dividend income. My hope is for gains within a couple of years, and my expectation is within five.

Figure 3 shows the composition of my active investing portfolio for 2020. I have deep value investments in three baskets: mall REITs, midstream MLPs, and shipping. For each of these areas, I have a written investment thesis, so that I can frequently assess whether it remains valid.

Figure 3. The RPD active-investing portfolio for 2020.

I am a strong believer in selecting baskets of firms within undervalued sectors (Figure 4). The markets often embrace oversimplified narratives and undervalue certain stock sectors as a result. I prefer baskets to individual securities from the perspective discussed above that one cannot avoid being ignorant about important developments for any individual firm.

My baskets reflect the oversimplified narratives of today: Malls are dying from the retail apocalypse. MLPs can't be trusted, depend strongly on oil prices, and will never recover from their recent bear market. Shipping will never be profitable again following its recent extended bear market.

In the case of mall REITs and MLPs, one can get paid well to wait for the market to come to its senses. I anticipate yields of about 10% from both of them. I also anticipate both taking gains and de-risking these baskets when the appreciation occurs.

Shipping, in contrast, is so cyclical that dividends are also strongly cyclical. I have invested in sectors for which I judge the fundamentals to be strong for the next few years, anticipating extraordinary dividends and hoping for gains that let me take some profits.

At present, I am in all the mall REITs, overweight SPG and Macerich (MAC). I am in 12 midstream MLPs, with largest positions in Energy Transfer (ET) and MPLX LP (MPLX). In shipping, I am in 8 stocks, with Euronav (EURN) as my largest position.

Looking ahead, in five years I hope to retain some mall REIT and MLP investments for income but to be finding undervalued baskets elsewhere. Shipping is a wild card. If I am still there, it will likely be in different shipping sectors.

The rest of the portfolio is more mundane. The Dividend Aristocrats are a good choice for long-term appreciation. The other REIT commons are moderately undervalued selections paying moderate dividends.

The crowdfunded real estate loans are intended as an uncorrelated cash generator. I expect to work that sector up toward a 10% allocation in the future, and that it will yield 8% to 9%.

I've run out of room to discuss specific securities further. I would like to share the detailed structure of my mall REIT basket, which has some subtle aspects. I will probably write about that.

Figure 4. Why hold baskets: Which is on average less threatened in a windstorm? Source and source.

If you work through the above material again, you will see that it is chock full of decisions that are specific to my circumstances and my psychology. Understanding the implications of your own psychology must be central as you plan your own portfolio.

I believe that there are strong opportunities today in the undervalued areas of mall REITs, midstream MLPs, and shipping, and also that in each case investing in basket of securities is the most sensible approach. Consider investing in these areas, but before you do, reassess their suitability for your psychology and circumstances.

Also, note that all the percentages above would need to be multiplied by 3/4 to represent their fraction of my total investable funds. They represent an even much smaller fraction of my net worth as implied by my fixed income streams. I hope that absolutely no one will go out and put 60% of their entire net worth into high-risk stocks or baskets in response to this article.

As you put together or reassess your portfolio, bear in mind that different sectors have different stability. The Dividend Aristocrats and Large-cap equity REITs (and some mid-caps) are relatively stable, although always subject to fluctuations with the market. Out-of-favor REIT sectors carry more risk.

Midstream companies (especially MLPs) are a minefield. Many factors matter, from corporate finances to product mix to geography to the overall market. Yet midstream companies are an island of peace compared to what I have seen so far of shipping, where wild cyclicality and massive volatility are normal.

Having shared my motivations and my chosen path, I hope you will find a path that is a good fit for you.

At High Yield Landlord, We spend 1000s of hours and well over $50,000 per year researching the REIT, MLP and other real estate markets for the most profitable investment opportunities and share the results with you at a tiny fraction of the cost.

Take advantage of the 2-week free trial and join our community of >1300 "landlords" before we hike the price!

Disclosure: I am/we are long SRC, SPG, MAC, ET, MPLX, EURN. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

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The RPD 2020 Active-Investing Retirement Portfolio - Seeking Alpha

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January 28th, 2020 at 8:48 pm

Posted in Retirement


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