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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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The Independent Investor: What Does Your 401(k) Investments Look Like?
By Nate Tomkiewicz and Bill Schmick,
05:14PM / Thursday, May 09, 2019
It might surprise you to know that many retirement savers religiously contribute to their tax-deferred savings plans but have no idea what investments they own. Many plan representatives simply suggest that if you don't know, just invest in a target date retirement fund. Is this a good idea?   Most 401(k)s and 403(B)s plans, for example, have between 20 and 30 investment options you can choose from.  This menu of choices normally includes bond and stock funds as well as international funds. There are also balanced or blended funds, which invest in a mixture of stocks and bonds. Many plans also have some kind of annuity-like investment as well as target date

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@theMarket: New Highs Beget New Highs
By Bill Schmick,
05:00PM / Friday, May 03, 2019
Some people believe we are in a "melt-up." It is where the simple weight of money pouring into the U.S. stock market continues to carry stocks ever higher. Whether that qualifies as an investment thesis, or simply a lame excuse to justify record highs, it matters little to the bulls.   It is true that this past week, we actually witnessed a rare event — a two-day, 50-point drop in the S&P 500 Index — before stocks recovered.  But good news on Friday morning (job gains in the economy came in at 236,000) cheered investors. It was largely a goldilocks report where wage gains (considered inflationary) were flat for the month, bringing the the

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The Independent Investor: What You Need to Know (But Don't) About Buying an IPO
By Bill Schmick,
05:42PM / Thursday, May 02, 2019
An initial public offering of a stock, called an IPO, can be either a sucker's game or a chance for instant riches. Determining the outcome requires a great deal of work, knowledge, and luck. Most investors have none of the above when it comes to IPOs.   I want to share with you a recent conversation I had with a conservative client (a vegetarian and yoga teacher) on this subject.   "I want to buy some stock of this company that makes a vegetarian form of hamburgers. How do I do it?" she asked.   "Why do you want to buy it?" I asked, before explaining the mechanics of such a purchase.   "Well, it tastes

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