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The Independent Investor: Truth About NATO & Defense Spending
By Bill Schmick,
04:19PM / Thursday, December 05, 2019
While it would appear that President Donald Trump left the London NATO Summit this week empty-handed, the truth is he has already achieved what several presidents before him could not. Unfortunately, it is a shallow victory at best.   Just a week ago, in preparation for President Trump's visit, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization announced a change in the funding of its budget. It agreed to reduce the United States' contribution to the alliance (now 22 percent) and redistribute the costs to other members. As a result, the U.S. and Germany will now pay the same amount. Each will contribute 16 percent of NATO's central budget.   The problem is that

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The Independent Investor: Will Santa Satisfy Retailers?
By Bill Schmick,
04:25PM / Thursday, November 28, 2019
Ready, get set, go! That's what the nation's retailers are hoping you will do, preferably before your Thanksgiving dinner has barely been digested. Black Friday has become Black Week, while holiday shopping now officially includes the entire months of November and December.   In 2019, retail sales nationwide are expected to increase by 3.8-4.2 percent from last year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). That would amount to a total of between $727 billion to $730 billion being rung up in the nation's cash registers. That's not a bad haul when you realize the average holiday sales increase over the last five years was 3.7

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The Independent Investor: Diamonds Should Be at Top of Christmas List
By Bill Schmick,
04:52PM / Friday, November 22, 2019
Diamonds for most Americans evoke visions of luxury and romance and are almost always the traditional go-to precious stone for engagement rings. The good news is that no matter how strapped for cash you are, you could probably afford one right now.   Chances are, I don't have to sell you on diamonds, since most Americans are in love with this precious gem and always have been. Diamonds make men into heroes, while nothing says to a woman ‘"I am deeply loved" than a sparkling stone that required millions of years to make.   Americans account for 50 percent of all diamond sales worldwide. Sales grew 4.5 percent (to $36 billion) last year. The

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The Independent Investor: Attention Retirees!
By Bill Schmick,
05:10PM / Thursday, November 14, 2019
It has been more than a year since President Trump admonished the government to strengthen retirement security in America. This week, in response, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) released a proposal to comply with that executive order. Its suggestions were decidedly underwhelming.   Truth be told, financial planners and tax accountants have been speculating for years that, at some point, the IRS was going to have to recognize certain facts of life concerning retirement. One of which is that Americans are living longer. Why should that matter so much to you, the retiree?   Because everyone that has a tax-deferred savings account like an IRA, 401(k), 403(b),

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The Independent Investor: Fringe Benefits Important as Paycheck
By Bill Schmick,
04:31PM / Thursday, November 07, 2019
Most of us know to the penny how much we made last paycheck, but how many of us know the details of our fringe benefits? Not many, I suspect, and that is a big mistake.   Retirement benefits are available to 77 percent of private industry workers and 91 percent of state and local government employees as of March 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Back in the day, offering perks to workers was a way to stand-out from your competition, but today they are essential tools of recruitment. And countless studies have shown that these benefits are a means to engage employees and increase productivity. That all sounds good on paper but in real life things may be

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