Carl Icahn is worried…Should You be, too?

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Carl Icahn In His Latest Video: "Danger Ahead"

Carl Icahn In His Latest Video: “Danger Ahead”

For those of you who don’t know, Carl Icahn is a famous, “shareholder activist” billionaire. He’s even been called a corporate raider for those wanting to insult him.

But, in my opinion, he and his cohorts are a positive force in the market. When there’s an undervalued asset, bad management or other opportunity, these are the guys that shake things up. They own a lot of that particular corporate stock and if you do, too, then you’re in good company. And, most importantly, your stock may go up significantly.

With that said, I have to take his latest video with not a grain, but a wheelbarrow, of salt. I agree with about 90% of what he says except Icahn’s BIG PREDICTION: he thinks there will be a market crash soon that will make all crashes since the 1960’s look minor. I have to say: “Hogwash!”

For context, the worst crash since the 1960’s was The Great Recession we just endured from 2008-09. Very simply, the big fundamentals were going down. Both GDP (the size of our economy) and corporate earnings (the stock market’s major indicator of health or weakness) were going down. And we were at the end of a massive real estate/lending bubble. In other words, the market deserved to go down 50 percent. Which it did.

So, Mr. Icahn, where are GDP and corp. earnings now? Hitting new records. Like they’ve been doing for the last several years. Like they’re estimated to do for as far as can be forecast.

Just a side note: the wealthy and the politicians seem to have lost touch with Main Street. The video also mentioned various bubbles, one of which was an art bubble! Who cares about an art bubble except the ultra-wealthy? It certainly doesn’t cause a tumble in the U.S. economy….

Here’s a link to the complete video via The New York Times: video

Take a look at Icahn’s video. It is really worth watching. Let me know what you think about this billionaire’s thoughts. Please feel free to comment below or contact me any time at RonPhillipsAdvisor@gmail.com

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HOW TO GUARANTEE A LOSS: Buy 5-Year CDs

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With interest rates being low for over a decade, it’s tempting to buy long-term products that pay better interest. A lot of investors will look at 30-year Treasury bonds, 5-year CDs or even long-lock-up fixed annuities.

Most of those actions are just about the worst thing you can do with Fed rates being near zero. You’ve probably heard of the seesaw relationship between interest rates and bond prices. One’s up, the other’s down. And vice versa. If you buy a 30-year T-bond, or other long-term bond, at low rates then the chances are very big that you’ll lose principal value when rates move up. Bad timing and low or negative returns.

With the CD or fixed annuity options you probably won’t get hurt. You’re not going to lose principal but you will be locked into rates that likely won’t meet or beat inflation. That means you have a real loss due to a consistently weakening dollar (inflation). A guaranteed loss.

Specifically, if you buy a 5-year certificate, with the current average yield of 1.56 percent, then you’ve lost ground to the average 3% inflation we’ve experienced. And that’s just the government figure for inflation. We all know, when you include food and fuels, real inflation is commonly believed to be even higher. So an investor needs to earn even more to really keep up and grow. But it’s possible.

Also, the fixed annuity could lock you into fees that last 4-7 years or longer. Beware of the exit details.

What’s one solution to low interest rates? Buy “alternative” bonds that have minor impact from rising rates. There’s a lot of different types out there. Also, invest overseas, add more risk categories (like real estate) and seek out sustainable, high-yield investments. Visit my site, RetireIQ.com, and request an appointment. We’ll talk about the details.

 

STOP! Read This Before Buying Municipal Bonds…

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It’s been years (years!) that the muni-to-Treasury spread has been flip-flopped. Now that’s finally back to normal.

In a “normal” economy and interest rate environment, the 30-year municipal bond yield should be lower than the 30-year Treasury yield. It makes sense when you think about it: A tax-free yield should be lower than a taxable yield due to the tax advantage.

For many years the opposite was the case. What did that mean? That municipals were drastically undervalued compared to Treasury bonds. Investors were willing to get less income from a taxable investment because they were afraid of cities and states defaulting on their debt.

Are munis now over-valued? I don’t think so. They’re just making up lost ground. The above-mentioned yield spread needs to be much larger just to get back to normal. Then the spread needs to be even higher for munis to be overvalued.

And municipal bonds are 60%-owned by individual investors. This makes them less volatile than other bonds like Treasury bonds which have many international owners (like China and Japan) and institutional owners (like mutual funds and pensions) that can add to price volatility.

What’s the big point? Keep buying those munis. You get a big yield and even bigger yield when your tax bracket is factored into the return.

Of course, use them for a small portion of an intelligently allocated portfolio. You should have many other asset classes like US and international stock, real estate, short-term bonds, etc.