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Friday Financial Five – September 14th, 2012

Friday, September 14, 2012


The Patriots give us a welcome reprieve from the Red Sox’ season . . .

Moody’s considers cutting the United States’ AAA rating
Following up on last week’s budgetary discussion, Moody’s announced they are taking notice of the U.S. debt level. The country has already been downgraded by Standard & Poor’s, and Moody’s is specifically looking for the percentage of debt to GDP to be addressed. While part of this is the ratings agencies trying to establish credibility after the 2008 debacle, this news should be taken seriously. The rule of thumb is that countries do not want to cross the 90 percent debt to GDP ratio. Moody’s projects a 75 percent ratio based on the February budget numbers.

Housing rebound continues to look real

The numbers in the housing market continue to improve. In Rhode Island, RealtyTrac’s distressed property data in Providence has seen a significant drop from this time last year. Perhaps the most telling statistic is that clients are having a tough time finding inventory in the areas they’re looking to buy. Those looking for a house or condo to occupy are having just as much trouble finding houses as investors looking for distressed properties to flip. 

Unemployment and the income disparity

Last week’s national unemployment number continues to disappoint, including an alarming number of people that have left the workforce. High unemployment continues to put pressure on the “Rich-poor” income gap, which is at its widest disparity in 40 years according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2011 report. Average incomes for the top twenty percent of earners rose, while it dropped for the bottom eighty and the poverty level remained unchanged from its record high.

Investment spotlight: Emerging markets

Investing in emerging market funds is perhaps the most volatile, but possibly the most rewarding portion of your portfolio. Emerging market fund managers try to find aggressively growing companies in developing areas of South America, Asia and parts of Europe. You’ll often hear a reference to BRIC countries – Brazil, Russia, India, and China. These holdings should differ from your traditional international funds that invest in more well known companies. For the long term investor, it’s imperative to consider allocating a portion of your portfolio to emerging stocks. Just be ready for a sometimes wild ride.

Bloomberg’s smartest sports teams

Only slightly more exciting than last week’s list of IRS tax mistakes is the Bloomberg “Smartest Spenders in Sports”. They’ve created an efficiency index that ranks all 122 sports franchises in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB based on how much each team spent per win over the last 5 seasons. The number 1 team according to the index: The Tampa Bay Rays. The Bruins, Celtics, and Patriots occupy slots six through eight. The Red Sox? They come in at number 70. Find out where your favorite team ranks: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-08-30/smartest-spenders-in-sports

Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in Providence, RI and can be reached at [email protected]


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