The H Group Blog

Investment and Financial Planning news from some of the best in the business.

Question of the Week - September 19, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, September 19, 2016

What would a Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump victory mean for financial markets?

These types of questions are always very difficult to answer, since political outcomes contain such a large degree of speculation. However, there are differences in policies that, depending on their success in implementation, could result in different U.S. economic outcomes. (Although there’s also the caveat that administration changes are often less dramatic and impactful than either hoped-for or dreaded beforehand.) This is not an endorsement in either political direction, and is limited to a discussion of current thinking in regard to policy regarding the economy and financial markets only, as opposed to policies in non-financial areas.

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Weekly Review - September 12, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, September 12, 2016


In a light week for economic data, the key release was a disappointing ISM non-manufacturing number, while JOLTs and jobless claims showed continued labor market strength. A key question focused on by market participants is how these various reports will affect the probability of a Fed interest rate move in a few weeks.

U.S. equity markets declined, as did most investment-grade bonds, as a result of comments implying a sooner-than-later Fed interest rate move. Foreign developed markets fell to a lesser degree, while emerging markets bucked the trend with gains. Commodity markets rose with help from a weaker dollar and higher energy prices.

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Weekly Review - September 6, 2016

Guest Post - Tuesday, September 06, 2016


In a busy week for economic data, general results weren't as strong as expected, but neither were there any outright trouble spots. The ISM manufacturing index weakened by a few points, housing proved mixed but stable and the employment situation report disappointed a bit compared to expectations.

Equity markets generally ended up in the positive globally, as did domestic bonds, while foreign bonds were mixed due to a stronger dollar. Commodities, led by oil, were generally down on the week.

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Question of the Week - September 6, 2016

Guest Post - Tuesday, September 06, 2016

What should we make of the lack of volatility lately?

Late summer is has traditionally been a time of lower investment market volatility, due to obvious vacation schedules, Congress being out of session and other lack of important goings-on. This has been a remarkably quiet period, however, with stock and bond markets seeing the lowest amounts of August volatility in several decades; the VIX is back down at 13, which is far below its long-term average of around 20. Europe is also as quiet, which is not as surprising, as many businesses take the entire month off. Interestingly, and surprisingly to many, European and British markets have shrugged off the Brexit scare quite quickly, although this is to be a long, drawn-out process with twists and turns no doubt to come in years ahead as the exit process is ironed out and agreements renegotiated—expect continued delay of the inevitable.

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Five Bad Reasons to Claim Social Security Early

Ron Kelemen - Wednesday, August 31, 2016

We’ve run more Social Security retirement projections for clients than we can count.  When we do, we incorporate many assumptions about longevity, interest rates, spousal benefits, inflation, work history, taxes, other assets, and more. In some cases, there are some valid reasons for starting benefits at age 62, such as a loss of employment or not enough assets to supplement an early retirement. However, in a vast majority of cases—especially those with good health and normal life expectancies, it simply makes more financial sense to delay taking benefits if possible.  Andy Landis, shares five bad reasons to claim Social Security benefits early. We agree, and could probably add more, but he explains them very well. Read Entire Article Here

Weekly Review - August 29, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, August 29, 2016


Economic data for the week was decent with strong reports from durable goods, new home sales, and jobless claims while existing home sales came in a bit weaker. Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech at the annual Jackson Hole conference alluded to a desire to perhaps boost rates sooner than year-end.

U.S. equities declined on the week with a higher probability for rate hikes, while foreign stocks generally fared better. Bonds were also relatively flattish in both the U.S. and abroad. Commodities were also hurt by the dollar with crude oil prices declining a few percent.

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Question of the Week - August 29, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, August 29, 2016

What is the impact of real estate becoming its own sector?

As we mentioned in passing a few months ago, real estate is being carved off into a separate S&P GICS (Global Industry Classification Standard) equity category as of August 31—being carved out of its current home in financials. This will be the first new 'sector' in several decades since the present lineup was laid out, expanding the list of sectors from 10 to 11.

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11 steps that can ease the aftermath of a spouse's death

Ron Kelemen - Thursday, August 25, 2016

We’ve worked with many widows and widowers over the years.  Some are spouses of existing clients; others came to us from lawyers, accountants, clients, and our website.  No matter what, it is a sad and stressful time for them, impossible to imagine unless you have personally experienced losing a spouse yourself.  Some widows and widowers seem to do better than others, especially on the financial side of things.  The thing they have in common is that they made an effort to learn about family finances ahead of time.  We ’ve written about this before and we mention these items in client meetings.  Helen Uzelac, offers 11 tips in her article entitled I Planned for Life as a Widow, But Got a Lot Wrong. Read Entire Article Here

Weekly Review - August 22, 2016

Guest Post - Monday, August 22, 2016


Economic data for the week showed a combination of strength in housing and jobless claims, continued mixed results in manufacturing, and tempered consumer inflation. The FOMC minutes showed conflicting opinions, which has carried over into recent Fed member communications.

In continued low-volatility summer equity market activity, stocks were slightly higher in the U.S. and emerging markets, and lower in the developed markets generally, even with help from a weaker dollar.

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Just How Historically Low Are Interest Rates?

Ron Kelemen - Tuesday, August 16, 2016

We read and hear everywhere that today’s interest rates are at historic lows.  Well, just how historically low are they?  Not only are they the lowest in our nation’s history, but, according to Bank of England economist Andy Haldane, they are the lowest in 5,000 years.  Yes, you read that right, 5,000 years.  Haldane's list of sources for this is pretty staggering (you can look through them all here). Read Entire Article Here

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