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The breadth of your financial knowledge is just as important as the size of your portfolio. But with the surplus of information written in incomprehensible industry jargon, the financial world can be hard to navigate and even harder to understand.

To help you stay up-to-date, well-versed and ultimately identify opportunities that work for you needs, our market and economic strategists translate market trends and economic news into easily-digestible summaries, reports and podcasts.

When Will We Have Robot Servants?

In a simplistic sense, the home robot market can be divided into three categories: (1) robots helping with dull and tedious household chores; (2) robots taking on new roles in homes (e.g., education, entertainment, companionship); and (3) robots in assisted living communities. Each of these markets has different underlying economics. In this post, I will focus on the first category. 

Read more: When Will We Have Robot Servants?

Rickards says prepare for a 'taper pause' in June

Jim Rickards, author Currency Wars: The Making of the Next Global Crisis and the forthcoming The Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System and portfolio manager of the Westshore Funds, tells us in the accompanying video to look for a pause in the tapering of bond buying mid-year, probably coming out of the June meeting. 

 

Read more: Rickards says prepare for a 'taper pause' in June

An increase in wedding insurance:

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Worried about the groom getting cold feet? There's an insurance policy for that.

With the cost of the average American wedding reaching about $26,000, insurers have been selling a growing number of policies to protect against losses from extreme weather, illness and, in one firm's case, even a sudden change of heart.

Read more: An increase in wedding insurance:

What about wine investing?

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Alternative investing in industries like coins, art, and wine has gained attention recently for their performance and prestige. I believe that these are areas clients enjoy to dabble in because it isn’t fixed to the market and allows them to invest in areas that they truly love and enjoy.  

The savvy investor knows there is room for both traditional investing with asset classes such as equities and bonds and also alternative investments that may help preserve capital when traditional markets fall in value. It’s all part of the yin and yang of financial management.

Read more: What about wine investing?

Warren Buffett NCAA

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Warren Buffett might be the epitome of the cautious investor, but he's betting $1 billion on this year's NCAA tournament.

Quicken Loans is offering a $1 billion prize to the basketball fan who submits the perfect NCAA bracket for this year's tournament. And the prize, if there is one awarded, will be paid out by Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway (BRKA, Fortune 500).

The payment would be doled out over 40 years in annual payments of $25 million, or a lump-sum payment of $500 million. If there is more than one perfect bracket submitted, the winning entries will split the money.

Read more: Warren Buffett NCAA

Who wants to be the 99%

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If the Democrats are not (electorally) washed away by a tsunami of voter outrage over Obamacare, they will no doubt seek to make “growing inequality” the principal issue in the 2014 elections.  So, let’s apply a little unconventional logic to the subject of inequality.

The “Occupy Wall Street” crowd that took over New York City’s Zuccotti Park on September 17, 2011 was protesting inequality.  They seemed infuriated that “the one percent” was so much better off than “the 99 percent.”  But is this really true?

Read more: Who wants to be the 99%

Retirees flooding college towns

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You really didn't expect Baby Boomers to flock to those staid retirement communities in Florida and Arizona, did you?

The generation that defined so much of American culture also demands more when they call it quits, and some are beginning to discover that college towns offer some really good — and low-cost — places to retire these days.

Read more: Retirees flooding college towns

Buying marijuana stocks

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The great marijuana gold rush is in full swing, and investors are scrambling to get their hands on some equity while it’s still cheap. Marijuana industry stocks — mostly trading over the counter and for fractions of a dollar — have surged anywhere from 20 to 1,700 percent over the past few weeks, catalyzed by the legalization of recreational weed in Colorado.

The frenzy was inevitable. Businesses have been positioning themselves for years, each trying to be a leader in an industry that is expected to be worth billions of dollars in the coming years. Marijuana sales reportedly averaged about $1 million per day in the first five days of legalization in Colorado, and policymakers are expecting full-year 2014 sales of about $600 million. The market in Washington state, which is expected to legalize the retail sale of weed this year, is projected to be at least as large, if not larger. One study cited by the Huffington Post predicts a $10 billion market in the U.S. by 2018.

Read more: Buying marijuana stocks

Seahawks vs. Microsoft

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Even if the Seattle Seahawks lose to the Denver Broncos in Sunday’s Super Bowl, the team has rewarded owner Paul Allen -- by beating his old company, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), as an investment.

Allen bought the pro football team as a favor to his native city in 1997, when his heart was in basketball and his investing firepower was focused on a heady concept he called the “wired world.” The too-early bet on the convergence of television and the Internet flopped, losing him more than $8 billion.

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Obama's myRA Plan Doesn't Go Far Enough To Fix Broken U.S. Retirement System - Forbes

Iobama-whitehouse-govn his State of the Union address Tuesday night, President Obama indirectly admitted what U.S. employees have long known: Retirement security stinks in this country and 401(k)s are not the answer.

5 Little Used 401(k) Features That Can Make You Wealthier Erik Carter Contributor Retirement accounts should be universally available — you shouldn’t have to depend upon an employer to offer them. That’s why the president is making these proposals in addition to raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour for federal service contractors:

Read more: Obama's myRA Plan Doesn't Go Far Enough To Fix Broken U.S. Retirement System - Forbes

Obama’s “myRA”Retirement Accounts

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On Wednesday, Obama signed a presidential memo directing the Department of Treasury to create the government-backed retirement accounts.

Here's a look at how myRAs will work, according to the White House:

Who can open a myRA? The accounts are targeted at the millions of low- and middle-income Americans who don't have access to employer-sponsored retirement plans. That includes roughly half of all workers and 75% of part-time workers.

Read more: Obama’s “myRA”Retirement Accounts

Goldman Sachs launches first closed-end fund - MarketWatch

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Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on Tuesday launched its first closed-end fund, in a bid to offer investors more exposure to the U.S. energy sector.

The investment bank said the Goldman Sachs MLP Income Opportunities Fund aims to invest in energy-focused master limited partnerships. These are companies that own and operate pipelines, primarily for natural gas and oil. Benefiting from the tremendous expansion of energy infrastructure in the U.S., master limited partnerships essentially collect rent from energy producers who use their facilities.

Read more: Goldman Sachs launches first closed-end fund - MarketWatch

Pope Francis Slams ‘Trickle Down’ Economics and Greed at the Top - ABC News

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He’s surprised the world with his comments on homosexuality, abortion and birth control, and now Pope Francis has taken on another hot-button political issue: “trickle down” economics.

In his first apostolic exhortation, the Pope took issue with so-called “trickle down” economic theories, which in the U.S. are closely associated with President Ronald Reagan’s economic policies. Francis said trickle down policies have not been proven to work and they reflect a “naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power.”

Read more: Pope Francis Slams ‘Trickle Down’ Economics and Greed at the Top - ABC News

Bull Market Shows No Sign of Death With Yellen Support - Bloomberg

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The weakest employment recovery in seven decades is proving a boon to equity markets. Five years into a rally that has restored $14 trillion to share prices, U.S. payrolls remain 1.5 million below the level in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Below-average employment was cited last month by Federal Reserve chairman nominee Janet Yellen as the biggest obstacle to raising interest rates.

While American workers struggle, investors are benefiting as expense reductions and record low borrowing costs drive profits and underpin a 167 percent advance in the S&P 500 over the past 57 months.

Read more: Bull Market Shows No Sign of Death With Yellen Support - Bloomberg

First Year Retirement Mistakes

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Rookie mistakes abound when you try pretty much anything for the first time. So, why should retirement be any different? It's just that in retirement, as in skydiving, when you make a mistake, it's a lot harder to recover.

So, to help you through that first year, we asked the experts what are the biggest mistakes made by rookie retirees. Collectively, they had about a dozen, but we have boiled them down to seven.

Read more: First Year Retirement Mistakes

Bove: The Government is about to destroy American mortgages permanently | Talking Numbers - Yahoo Finance

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Mortgages as we know them are going away in the next four years, warns Dick Bove, vice president of research at Rafferty Capital. The removal of the two most important players in American mortgages – the Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae") and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation ("Freddie Mac") – threatens the very foundation of the American economy.

These two government-sponsored entities – along with the smaller Government National Mortgage Association ("Ginnie Mae", issued 98% of the $1.4 trillion in mortgage-backed securities in the United States so far in 2013. These securities are sold in order to add liquidity to the mortgage market, thereby making funds available to borrowers.

Read more: Bove: The Government is about to destroy American mortgages permanently | Talking Numbers - Yahoo...

Andrew Huszar: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer - WSJ.com

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We went on a bond-buying spree that was supposed to help Main Street. Instead, it was a feast for Wall Street.

I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.

Read more: Andrew Huszar: Confessions of a Quantitative Easer - WSJ.com

Is Poverty Really The Result Of Bad Luck? - Forbes

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On Thanksgiving eve, a Nicholas Kristof editorial instructed us on how to think about poverty in The New York Times. The main reason there is poverty, he tells us, is bad luck.

We don’t choose our parents, after all. Or the household or neighborhood we are born into. Here are a few of his observations, with my emphasis added:

Read more: Is Poverty Really The Result Of Bad Luck? - Forbes

Former Fed Quantitative Easer Confesses, Apologizes: "I Can Only Say: I'm Sorry, America"

I can only say: I'm sorry, America. As a former Federal Reserve official, I was responsible for executing the centerpiece program of the Fed's first plunge into the bond-buying experiment known as quantitative easing. The central bank continues to spin QE as a tool for helping Main Street. But I've come to recognize the program for what it really is: the greatest backdoor Wall Street bailout of all time.

Read more: Former Fed Quantitative Easer Confesses, Apologizes: "I Can Only Say: I'm Sorry, America"

 

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