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The Independent Investor: Should You Pay Down Your Mortgage?
By Bill Schmick,
04:16PM / Thursday, August 09, 2018
The Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017, together with rising interest rates have changed the calculus in determining whether to pay down your mortgage or let it ride. Let's examine the pros and cons.   Over the last 10 years, as interest rates fell to almost zero, it made total sense to pay off your high-interest mortgage. At the very least, one could re-finance and save on monthly payments. This was especially true if your mortgage was in the last stages of a 30- or 15-year life.   At that point, the interest portion of the payment, (which is tax deductible) was minimal, while the principal payments represented the lion's share of the monthly bill. For those

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The Independent Investor: The Incredible Shrinking Stock Market
By Bill Schmick,
04:44PM / Thursday, August 02, 2018
There was a time, back in the late Nineties, that publicly-traded stocks were the envy of all companies, great and small. But times have changed, and since then the number of public companies have fallen by 50 percent.   You might have missed that trend, however. That's because the market capitalization of equities has been increasing for a decade. This year the market cap of the U.S. stock market hit a record $32.2 trillion. Globally, the World Bank estimates stock market capitalization is above $80 trillion. The largest contributor to this trend has been the large increases in stock prices.   Bottom line: investors are simply bidding up the prices of

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The Independent Investor: Tariffs The Next Chapter
By Bill Schmick,
04:22PM / Thursday, July 19, 2018
Tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese imports were imposed, as expected, last week. China responded with $34 billion of their own tariffs on American imports. So far, this has been a zero-sum game. The question that investors are asking is whether or not the trade war will escalate.   I could say that this entire trade spat has been "much ado about nothing." The total amount of trade tariffs and counter tariffs don't add up to much given that China is a multitrillion-dollar economy. The war of words and threats between our once-allies, our antagonists, and the president, amount to much more.   Right now, Trump's statements would indicate he is

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The Independent Investor: Currencies & Trade Wars
By Bill Schmick,
04:34PM / Thursday, June 28, 2018
What's up with the dollar? The greenback is strengthening and is having its best quarter since 2016 against an array of foreign currencies. Is this an accident, or is it something far more dangerous?   Economists will tell you that the Trump tariff crusade is responsible. New trade barriers, which the president is suggesting, would usually lead to higher prices at home, according to economic doctrine. Products we import would cost more, whether we are talking about steel, automobiles, or baseball caps.   As prices increase, so should the U.S. inflation rate. As inflation rises, bondholders will demand higher interest rates to keep up with inflation. In turn,

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The Independent Investor: The Next Recession
By Bill Schmick,
05:27PM / Thursday, June 21, 2018
Over half the economists on Wall Street believe that by the end of 2020, we will experience our first economic downturn in years. If so, when might you begin to prepare for a rocky two-year period for all of us?   The good news is that we still have another year or so of stock market gains, job growth and more importantly, wage growth. As it stands, the U.S. is currently enjoying its second-longest economic expansion in history with an unemployment rate that hasn't been this low in decades. Wage growth, after languishing for years, is expected to top 3 percent by the end of 2018, while GDP could achieve greater than 3 percent this year and a further 2.5 percent next

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