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@theMarket: Markets Held Hostage by Trade & Machines
By Bill Schmick,
03:19PM / Friday, May 24, 2019
If it were not for computer-driven trading, it might actually be funny. Financial markets are careening up and down on a daily basis based on the next tweet or comment from the Trump administration or its counterparts in China. We could see more of the same next week.   Rhyme or reason has truly left the station. Day by day, the trade war of words is accelerating. This week, the U.S. banned China's largest technology company, Huawei, from doing business with American companies. The president accused the company of espionage. The Chinese responded by threatening to drop trade negotiations. Markets collapsed, led by semi-conductor and technology stocks.   A

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The Independent Investor: Don't Take Loans From Your Tax-Deferred Accounts
By Bill Schmick,
04:49PM / Thursday, May 23, 2019
It sounds too good to be true. Why borrow from a bank when you can take a loan out from your 401(k) or 403(b) and pay yourself back in both interest and principal? If that sounds like a great deal, it's not.   Money purchase plans, profit-sharing plans, 457(b) plans and both 401(k) and 403(b) plans may offer loans, but IRAs, SEP IRAs, and SIMPLE IRAs do not. The IRS does have some restrictions on the borrowing. It limits how much you can borrow at any one time. In general, you are limited to the smaller of 50 percent of your vested account balance, or $50,000. However, there is one exception (hardship) that allows you to borrow up to $10,000 even if it exceeds 50 percent

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@theMarket: Markets Sell in May
By Bill Schmick,
04:58PM / Friday, May 17, 2019
The old adage "sell in May and go away" seems to be working this year. In short order all three averages experienced a down draft over the past few days that amounted to about a 5 percent decline in total. Is there more to go on the downside?   If I were a betting man, I would say the odds are in favor of more declines in the weeks ahead. I base that bet on the assumption that it will take at least until the end of June before we get anymore clarity on whether or not President Trump is willing and able to salvage a trade deal with China.   By now, most readers are aware that there has been an abrupt change in expectations on whether or not the tariff

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The Independent Investor: Epidemic Pulls Pork Prices Higher
By Bill Schmick,
05:38PM / Thursday, May 16, 2019
The African swine fever could cause prices in China to spike 70 percent or more this year. The highly infectious disease is spreading throughout Asia and could lead to a large increase in the price of pork here at home as well.   Before you ask, this highly infectious virus, while deadly to pigs, is not harmful to humans. The problem is that when even one pig is tested positive, the entire herd needs to be slaughtered as quickly as possible. There is no cure.   The government is taking this epidemic seriously, and well it should. Tough new government rules have been implemented this month in Chinese slaughterhouses and processing plants to identify and test for

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@theMarket: Tariffs Trash Stocks
By Bill Schmick,
08:44AM / Saturday, May 11, 2019
Volatility in the form of U.S. trade tariffs levied on China cut through investors' complacency with a vengeance this week.  It took less than three days to drop the markets by 3 percent. Is it over or do we have another 5 percent or so to endure?   My bet is that it is over — for now. Sometime during the on-going trade negotiations occurring in Washington today and tomorrow, the thorny trade issues, (such as intellectual property (IP) protection for U.S. companies) will be kicked down the road. A compromise on other, easier issues will be announced as "on-going" (although not inked) and the Chinese delegation will fly home in an atmosphere of

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