Schwartz Financial Weekly Commentary 10/16/17

The Markets

There’s a new kid in town: narrative economics.

Last week, Richard Thaler was awarded the Nobel Prize in economics. His work in behavioral economics and finance recognizes not all economic and financial decisions are made after rational reflection. In Nudge, he wrote:

“The workings of the human brain are more than a bit befuddling. How can we be so ingenious at some tasks and so clueless at others?…Many psychologists and neuroscientists have been converging on a description of the brain’s functioning that helps us make sense of these seeming contradictions. The approach involves a distinction between two kinds of thinking, one that is intuitive and automatic, and another that is reflective and rational.”

Yale professor Robert Shiller, another Nobel laureate in economics, is exploring a field of study related to Thaler’s. It’s called narrative economics. Narratives are the stories we share with each other. They are fuel for conversation and popular narratives often become viral. During a presentation at the University of Chicago, Schiller explained narrative economics is “the study of the spread and dynamics of popular narratives, the stories, particularly those of human interest and emotion, and how these change through time, to understand economic fluctuations.”

Today, a popular narrative in financial circles focuses on Professor Shiller’s cyclically-adjusted price-earnings (CAPE) ratio, which suggests the market may be overvalued. Barron’s reported, “The CAPE, which is based on average inflation-adjusted earnings over the trailing 10 years, stands at 31, versus 32.5 in 1929 and 44 in late 1999.”

If stocks are overvalued, why do investors keep buying shares? It’s a question narrative economics hopes to help answer in the future.

Data as of 10/13/17 1-Week Y-T-D 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year 10-Year
Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks) 0.2% 14.0% 19.7% 10.8% 12.1% 5.1%
Dow Jones Global ex-U.S. 1.7 21.3 21.8 5.0 5.4 -0.9
10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only) 2.3 NA 1.7 2.3 1.7 4.7
Gold (per ounce) 3.0 12.1 3.1 1.9 -5.6 5.5
Bloomberg Commodity Index 2.4 -1.8 -0.4 -10.3 -10.0 -7.1
DJ Equity All REIT Total Return Index 1.6 8.4 8.8 10.4 10.3 6.1
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.

self-driving cars, life-like robots, artificial intelligence, and video phones. Millennials and members of Gen Z may find the original Blade Runner movie a bit dated. After all, many of the tech innovations imagined have become a part of our daily lives and others, like mood organs, are in the works.

Mood organs were among the human enhancements imagined by Philip Dick in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (The book upon which Blade Runner was based.) A recent c| article explained:

“Dick doesn’t describe the design of the mood organ or how it works, only specifying that it can stimulate or sedate the user’s cerebral cortex. Users simply dial up the emotion they want, such as 481 (awareness of the manifold possibilities open in the future) or 594 (pleased acknowledgement of a spouse’s superior wisdom).”

Neural implants are a reality already, although they’re not used to control human emotion. Thousands of people with Parkinson’s have implants to manage tremors and applications to help with epilepsy and depression are being explored, according to IEEE Spectrum.

Medical treatments are not the only applications for neural implants. Elon Musk is developing ‘neural lace,’ a brain-computer interface (BCI) that may be injected into the human body, travel through the bloodstream, and settle over the cerebral cortex. While neural lace someday may be used to treat or diagnose neurological issues, The Economist reports Mr. Musk has argued, “human beings need to embrace brain implants to stay relevant in a world which, he believes, will soon be dominated by artificial intelligence.”

Musk is not the only entrepreneur pursuing brain interfaces. IEEE Spectrum reported Mary Lou Jepsen, an MIT alumnus and tech executive, has founded a company which is working on non-invasive BCIs “for imaging and telepathy (the latter could conceivably be done by reading out thought patterns in the brain).”

It’s possible the idea of humans with superpowers may seem quaint to future generations.

Weekly Focus – Think About It

“The real question is, when will we draft an artificial intelligence bill of rights? What will that consist of? And who will get to decide that?”

–Gray Scott, Futurist philosopher

Value vs. Growth Investing (10/13/17)

Name 1-Week YTD 4-Week 13-Week 1-Year 3-Year 5-Year
US Market 0.12 15.69 2.58 4.89 22.40 13.22 14.72
US Core 0.21 15.70 1.96 4.15 22.18 13.62 15.79
US Growth 0.31 23.25 2.31 5.32 25.82 14.30 14.98
US Large Cap 0.15 16.78 2.28 5.12 22.88 13.31 14.61
US Large Core 0.33 17.13 1.40 4.15 23.08 13.95 16.13
US Large Growth 0.39 24.56 1.93 5.39 26.46 14.70 15.35
US Large Val -0.29 9.25 3.55 5.75 19.25 11.22 12.43
US Mid Cap 0.12 13.58 2.96 4.04 20.89 13.00 15.27
US Mid Core 0.02 13.71 2.87 4.05 19.88 12.91 15.21
US Mid Growth 0.18 19.91 2.98 4.91 23.85 12.79 13.91
US Mid Val 0.15 7.30 3.03 3.04 18.76 13.19 16.71
US Small Cap -0.19 10.85 4.65 4.95 21.72 13.01 14.17
US Small Core -0.35 8.52 4.79 4.36 20.70 12.89 14.49
US Small Growth -0.25 19.34 4.47 5.64 24.65 14.30 14.14
US Small Val 0.05 5.08 4.72 4.88 19.49 11.78 13.83
US Value -0.18 8.57 3.52 5.15 19.21 11.67 13.41
 ©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

Financial Independence For Woman

According to one study, 37% of women over the age of 65 live alone, either because they are divorced, widowed, or never married.  When it comes to managing money, these women usually have no one else to turn to but themselves.

Request our Ebook “Financial Independence For Women”  Free for the asking.  Request at .

Financial Independence for Women 1_Page_01

“The Three Key Challenges of Retirement”

Planning for your retirement can be challenging. It can be scary, and it can be frustrating. I have seen many clients who felt their plan was a disaster waiting to happen. As an advisor, I am here to say that you can handle it. Planning for retirement doesn’t have to be difficult—in fact, it can be fun! But in order to achieve the retirement of your dreams, you must prepare for three major challenges that every retiree is likely to face.

Challenge #1:

Ensuring a Long Retirement Savings Lifespan

One of the greatest fears people have in retirement is that they will outlive their savings. Fortunately, by taking steps now, you can ensure this doesn’t happen to you.

The first step is to budget your expected expenses based on your normal day-to-day costs and any activities you want to pursue during retirement. Things like travel, hobbies, remodeling your home, etc.

Next, take a hard look at your current savings and level of income. How much are you setting aside for retirement? How much more do you need to be saving or investing in order to meet your expected budget? This is where working with a financial advisor can come in handy, because an advisor can help you determine

  • how much your savings need to grow to meet your needs;
  • how long you can expect your savings to last, based on when you plan on retiring, your general health, and activities;
  • how to maximize your income opportunities after retirement; and
  • what the ideal rate of withdrawal will be from any retirement accounts you have so you don’t run out of

Once you have a plan for your retirement savings, you can move onto the next challenge:

Challenge #2:

Planning for Health Care Expenses

As we age, health care becomes a bigger concern, and a more difficult one to deal with. It can be hard to find a plan that provides the coverage you need at a price you can afford. All the politics and legislation affecting the healthcare industry don’t make it easier, either.

The answer, again, is to plan ahead. Here are a few things you can do:

  1. Learn about your various Medicare

If you are one of the lucky few who will have employer-provided health care coverage even after retirement, congratulations. But if not, start familiarizing yourself with the intricacies of Medicare now. The Federal government’s health insurance program for seniors is often referred to as a single plan, but in reality, it’s many types of plans rolled into one. From the basic level of coverage (Part A), to “Medicare medical insurance” (Part B) which covers outpatient hospital care, physical therapy, and home health care, to the more elaborate “Medicare Advantage” plans, most retirees are confronted with too many options, some of which are more appropriate than others. Choosing the best type of coverage for you will be crucial when it comes to paying for your medical expenses.

  1. Look at Medigap

Medigap supplemental insurance is sold by private insurance companies, and is designed to help pay those costs not covered by Medicare. Medigap isn’t free, and certain criteria must be met before you can purchase it, but it’s definitely a route to consider.

  1. Consider long-term care

Important disclaimer: not everyone will need long-term care or assisted living in their lives. That said, many people do, and long-term care (LTC) insurance is one of the best ways to pay for it. It can be beneficial to purchase LTC insurance sooner rather than later, as premiums often grow higher as you grow older. However, LTC is expensive in and of itself, so give the subject a lot of careful consideration before making a decision.

As you can see, paying for health care expenses is a huge part of retirement. As you create your retirement plan, make sure you give the subject all the attention it deserves.

Challenge #3:

Planning for Unexpected Expenses

While health concerns are a major source of unexpected costs, there are many other types of expenses that could impact your retirement. For instance

  • Car repairs. You know it will happen one day: the strange clunk-clunk sound you start hearing from your engine ends up being a problem that will cost hundreds, maybe even thousands, to fix. And if it happens more than once …
  • Your bills keep going up. What goes up does not necessarily go down. Anyone who has ever paid for an internet connection or satellite TV knows that prices tend to rise over the years. Your basic utilities are prone to price fluctuation as well. A really cold winter means your gas bill will go up. If you have children in the house who keep leaving the lights on, your electricity bill will go up. You get the picture.
  • Household repairs. When the toilet clogs or the faucet leaks; when a window breaks or the roof starts to degrade; when wood-boring beetles infest the tree in the backyard; unless you really like to DIY, that means paying for a professional … who usually aren’t

The point of all this, is to show that unexpected expenses can come at any time, in many different forms. What’s more, they can really pile up.

So, what’s the solution? Start a rainy-day fund! When most people save, they tend to just throw everything into one savings account and withdraw money whenever they either need or want to. Instead, I suggest creating a separate type of savings account: one that can only be touched whenever the unexpected happens. Every month, devote a set percentage of your income to the rainy-day fund in addition to your regular savings. Then, when your car inevitably breaks down, you won’t have to worry about it interfering with that vacation you’ve been dreaming about for years, because you’ve already set aside the funds to deal with it.

The key to starting a rainy-day fund is to do it now. If you wait until after retirement, you’ll probably have waited too long. Plus, once you’re retired, you’ll likely have less to set aside for those unexpected expenses.

Which brings us to the single most important thing you can do to meet these three key challenges of retirement. Have you guessed what it is yet?

That’s right: plan ahead.

By being proactive, by starting now, you can mitigate these challenges and prevent them from derailing your dream retirement.

As always, if you’d like any assistance with creating a retirement plan, or if you have questions about how to maximize your savings and cover your expenses, feel free to contact me at 215-886-2122.