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The Independent Investor: Mid-Term Results Take Investor Focus Off Washington
By Bill Schmick,
04:33PM / Thursday, November 08, 2018
True to form, the opposition party regained control of the House, while the ruling party, in this case the GOP, retained control of the Senate. If history is any guide, this means that little in the way of legislation will be coming out of Congress for the next two years.   In the past, investors and the stock market alike did better than you might expect under this kind of political paralysis. That's because financial markets abhor the unknown. Given the unpredictability of politics and legislation, investors are far more content with inaction than action, unless of course, those actions are favorable to the markets or the economy.   Take for example, the

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The Independent Investor: Time to Check Your Risk Tolerance
By Bill Schmick,
06:47PM / Thursday, November 01, 2018
It is a good time to take a reality check on how aggressively you are invested. The 6.9 percent decline in the S&P 500 Index over October was gut-wrenching. But entirely within the realm of probability given the historical data. Here are some questions to ask.   Did you find yourself checking your investment portfolios every day? How about every hour? Did you have trouble focusing on other, possibly more important, things like your job, or your family and friends? Was it more difficult to sleep at night, or did you lay awake worrying about the markets?   How much time did you spend checking the averages and listening to the talking heads on television or in

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The Independent Investor: Textbooks Worth Their Weight in Gold
By Bill Schmick,
11:41AM / Friday, October 26, 2018
Forget the stock market, internet, and whatever you might think is worth investing in. The good old college textbook beats them all.    That boring first-semester hardcover and similar books have risen over 1,000 percent in price since 1977. Textbooks are a big business. Estimates for the total value of the textbook industry range from $7 billion to $9 billion. And just a handful of companies sell them. The five largest publishers are: Pearson Education, McGraw-Hill Education, Scholastic, Cengage Learning and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. They have been around a long time, carry deep pockets and usually acquire any startups or smaller competitors in quick order. Some

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The Independent Investor: The Student Loan Crisis
By Bill Schmick,
04:14PM / Thursday, October 18, 2018
  Student loans have now become the second-largest pile of consumer borrowing, after home mortgages. What's worse, it is the fastest growing slice of American household debt and shows no sign of slowing down.   Young Americans are going to college in droves. At the same time, the costs of higher education are at historical highs. That combination has become a lethal cocktail that could hamstring young workers over their entire life and along the way damage the overall economy.   Since the financial crisis and Great Recession over a decade ago, student loans have grown by almost 157 percent. Compare that to auto loans, which have risen 52 percent. In

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The Independent Investor: Estate Planning Is for All of Us
By Bill Schmick,
02:32PM / Friday, October 05, 2018
Here is a trick question. What did Aretha Franklin, Tupac Shakur, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Abraham Lincoln have in common? They are all famous people who died without a will.   In the case of the "Queen of Soul," she died in August leaving $80 million and according to Michigan state law, those assets should eventually be divided up among her four children. In the meantime, the entire estate must go through the probate process, which is both expensive and time-consuming.   Some other famous people who failed to prepare their heirs and beneficiaries for their eventual death are: Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Howard Hughes Sonny Bono, James Brown, Prince,

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