Last Night’s Vegas Shooting

I don’t think anyone truly knows what to say when a tragedy strikes. Take the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. What can we say that hasn’t been said before? How can words alone make a difference?

It’s also hard to know what to do in times like these, especially when we are very far away from the tragedy itself. Do we debate national policies? Try to understand what prompted this horrific event to occur? Or do we try to move on, putting it behind us so we can focus on our own lives?

I don’t have the answers to these questions. So, in times like these, I try to remember this bit of truth by Thomas Aquinas, a 13th century priest and philosopher:

               “Love takes up where knowledge leaves off.”

As human beings, there is one thing we do know. We know how to feel. Pain and sorrow and sympathy, and yes, love. Love for those affected by this tragedy. Love for the brave first responders who rushed in to help. Love for all those around us.

The fact is, there are no easy answers to the questions I asked above. So, when knowledge leaves off, love must take up. That’s why, during times like these, I think the best thing we can do is focus on love. Take time to say it, to show it. Not just to friends and family but to neighbors, coworkers, and strangers.

In the end, love is the only balm to pain. It’s all we take with us and all we leave behind. Love is the most important thing we have, the most important thing we can share with each other.

My heart goes out to all those affected by the awful shooting in Las Vegas. And it also goes out to those around me. While there’s nothing I can say, and not much I can do, about tragedies like this one, at least I can do this: I can show love.

So, on behalf of my entire team, thank you for the relationship we share. Thank you for all the kindness you have ever showed me. Please let me know if there is ever anything I can do for you.


Schwartz Financial Weekly Commentary 10/2/17

The Markets

A lot happened during the third quarter of 2017, but not much changed.

The bull market in U.S. stocks continued to charge ahead. Traditional measures of valuation continued to suggest the market is overvalued, but some analysts argued it’s different this time. The Economist explained:

“The current [cyclically-adjusted price-to-earnings] ratio of 31 suggests that stocks are about 50% over-valued – a figure that has only been exceeded in the past 60 years during the dot-com bubble. Bulls argue that the S&P 500’s constituents can justify this heady valuation. Big American companies are wielding increased market power, enabling them to earn outsized profits at the expense of America’s customers.”

The bull market in U.S. bonds continued. Interest rates on 10-year Treasury bonds were lower at the end of September than they were at the start of the year, despite the Federal Reserve increasing rates in March and June. The Fed also has indicated it will soon begin to unwind its balance sheet, which includes about $4.5 trillion in Treasury bonds, mortgage-backed securities, and government agency debt.

Geopolitical tensions remained high, but investors were impervious to the potential effect of various conflicts on stock and bond markets. In August, Barron’s wrote:

“The biggest surprise of 2017 remains that geopolitical risk continues to not matter. Until Monday, North Korea’s nuclear missile program had again faded into the background as just another high impact/low probability risk with no discernible effect on market sentiment. Brexit, the changes in leadership roles in China after the 19th National People’s Congress, the possibility of a United States-China trade war, and the unpredictable nature of the Trump presidency are not weighing on stocks.”

The CBOE Volatility Index (VIX) keeps plumbing historic lows. The VIX reflects investors’ expectations for market volatility in coming months. The lower the Index reading, the lower volatility expectations are. The historic average for the VIX is about 19.

During 2017, the number of days on which the VIX finished below 10 – suggesting investors are exceptionally calm – increased significantly. In early June, the VIX had closed below 10 just 14 times since 1990. Six of those closes had occurred in 2017. By the end of September, the VIX had closed below 10 on 32 days since 1990 and 24 times in 2017.

We’re still waiting for inflation to move higher. At the end of the quarter, inflation appeared to be heading the wrong way. The core Personal Consumption Expenditures (PCE) index, which is the Federal Reserve’s favorite measure of inflation, came in at 1.3 percent, year-over-year. That’s its lowest level since October 2015, reported Barron’s. The Fed’s goal is to have inflation at 2 percent. It has raised rates during 2017 in anticipation of higher inflation rates, but those higher rates have yet to materialize.

Data as of 9/29/17 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) 0.7% 12.5% 17.1% 8.4% 11.8% 5.0%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. -0.6 18.7 16.5 2.7 4.9 -0.9
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.3 NA 1.6 2.5 1.6 4.6
Gold (per ounce) -0.9 10.7 -2.7 1.7 -6.4 5.6
Bloomberg Commodity Index -0.5 -3.5 -0.9 -11.2 -10.8 -7.2
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index 0.7 6.1 2.1 10.1 10.2 5.8
S&P 500, Dow Jones Global ex-US, Gold, Bloomberg Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.
Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s,, London Bullion Market Association.
Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

the case of the swirling Euros. In mid-September, local authorities in Geneva, Switzerland were investigating an unexpected deposit. Reuters reported:

“…the first blockage occurred in the toilet serving the vault at [a] bank…in Geneva’s financial district, and three nearby bistros found their facilities bunged up with 500-euro notes a few days later…The cash was confiscated during the investigation and it was unclear who would get it if it was found to be lawful. There was no immediate reason to think it was dirty money…”

Whoever was responsible for flushing about $100,000 worth of 500-euro bills may have jumped the gun. The €500 note will be discontinued by the European Central Bank because authorities suspect it has been used to facilitate illegal activities, but production continues until the end of 2018.

The perpetrator hasn’t committed a crime, reported Bloomberg. While it’s illegal to mutilate or deface bills in the United States, that’s not the case in Switzerland. The European Commission isn’t concerned when small amounts of euro are damaged. Its rules for legal tender state:

“The destruction of small quantities of euro banknotes or coins by an individual should neither be prohibited nor penalized. The justification for the non-prohibition is the fact that the lawful owner of a banknote should be able to do what he/she wants with his/her own good as long as there is no impact on third parties.”

Why investigate if there is no crime? There’s nothing like a good mystery to occupy the mind!

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The problem with putting two and two together is that sometimes you get four, and sometimes you get twenty-two.”

Dashiell Hammett, American author

Value vs. Growth Investing (9/29/17)

Name 1-Week YTD 4-Week 13-Week 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year
US Market 0.82 14.10 2.30 4.52 18.65 10.74 14.21
US Core 0.74 14.25 1.93 3.70 18.91 11.43 15.33
US Growth 0.80 21.07 1.29 5.33 20.90 11.32 14.23
US Large Cap 0.62 15.09 1.87 4.73 19.46 10.92 14.10
US Large Core 0.52 15.56 1.20 3.56 20.23 11.97 15.66
US Large Growth 0.70 22.28 0.90 5.61 21.90 11.81 14.59
US Large Val 0.65 8.02 3.63 4.89 16.38 8.95 12.12
US Mid Cap 1.03 12.18 2.89 3.73 16.25 10.12 14.81
US Mid Core 0.92 12.37 3.17 4.01 15.36 9.98 14.83
US Mid Growth 0.75 17.89 1.77 4.21 17.82 9.50 13.15
US Mid Val 1.47 6.44 3.85 2.88 15.42 10.82 16.52
US Small Cap 2.29 9.78 5.09 4.67 17.41 10.73 13.66
US Small Core 2.46 7.83 5.45 3.92 17.02 10.69 13.96
US Small Growth 2.15 17.66 4.12 5.40 19.38 11.35 13.37
US Small Val 2.27 4.21 5.82 4.75 15.55 10.07 13.58
US Value 0.92 7.43 3.82 4.48 16.15 9.42 13.12
 ©2004 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. The information contained herein: (1) is proprietary to Morningstar; (2) is not warranted to be accurate, complete or timely. Morningstar is not responsible for any damages or losses arising from any use of this information and has not granted its consent to be considered or deemed an “expert” under the Securities Act of 1933. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.  Indices are unmanaged and while these indices can be invested in directly, this is neither a recommendation nor an offer to purchase.  This can only be done by prospectus and should be on the recommendation of a licensed professional.

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Michael L. Schwartz, RFC®, CWS®, CFS

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Michael L. Schwartz, RFC, CWS, CFS, a registered principal offering securities and advisory services through Independent Financial Group, LLC., a registered broker-dealer and investment advisor.  Member FINRA-SIPC. Schwartz Financial and Independent Financial Group are unaffiliated entities.


This information is provided for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation or recommendation that any particular investor should purchase or sell any security. The information contained herein is obtained from sources believed to be reliable but its accuracy or completeness is not guaranteed.  Any opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.  An Index is a composite of securities that provides a performance benchmark.  Returns are presented for illustrative purposes only and are not intended to project the performance of any specific investment.  Indexes are unmanaged, do not incur management fees, costs and expenses and cannot be invested in directly.  Past performance is not a guarantee of future results.


* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.


* The DJ Global ex US is an unmanaged group of non-U.S. securities designed to reflect the performance of the global equity securities that have readily available prices. 


* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.


* Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.


* The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.


* The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.


* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.


* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.


* Past performance does not guarantee future results.


* You cannot invest directly in an index.


* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.


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Is This Your 401k?

If you were working with our office, the first week of every month you would receive an email letting you know which of the investments in your company 401k plan was doing better than the Russell 3000 and where your money should be invested in.  For most people your 401k plan is the largest part of your Retirement Plan and also besides your home the largest investment you will have.

According to the latest stats less than 12% of individual ever trade their investments in the 401k plans.  Shouldn’t you take better care of your retirement?

R Keegan Oct 17 401k_Page_1R Keegan Oct 17 401k_Page_2