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The Top Ten Greatest Stock Trades of All-Time

The Top Ten Greatest Stock Trades of All-Time

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 12.31.59 AMHedge Fund titan Jon Paulson pulled off the greatest trade of all time in 2007, raking in a cool $15 billion in his bet against subprime mortgages - according to the International Business Times who ranked the top ten greatest trades of all-time. Some were brilliant masterminds, others were just plain lucky.

The Top Ten Greatest Trades of All-Time

1.    John Paulson’s bet against sub prime mortgages made him $15 billion in 2007

2.   Jesse Livermore’s call on the Crash of 1929 (a legendary trader featured in the popular book, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator).

3.   John Templeton’s foray into Japan in the 1960s (a true investment pioneer, Templeton foresaw the rise of Japan after World War II and profited hugely from it).

4.   George Soros’ breaking of the Bank of England in 1992 (Soros made $1 billion).

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 12.31.45 AM5.   Paul Tudor Jones’ shorting of Black Monday in October 1987 (he predicted the crash, bet a bundle & tripled his money as the market crashed 22% in one day).

6.   Andrew Hall’s $100 oil prediction (with oil trading at $30 per barrel in 2003, Hall bet prices would rise to $100 in 5 years; they did and he took home a personal paycheck of $100 million in 2008).

7.   David Tepper’s 2009 bet on financials (as the market hit its low in early 2009, Tepper bought financial services stocks & his fund earned $7 billion that year ($4 billion of that went to Tepper).

8.   Jim Chanos’ prescient shorts (his sharp analysis led him to predict the demise of Enron, WorldCom, and other firms, and he is known as the best short-seller in the world).

9.   Jim Rogers’ early call on commodities (he was bullish on commodities back in the 1990s & has been riding them to great profits ever since).

10.  Louis Bacon’s geopolitical play (he correctly predicted that Saddam Hussein would invade Kuwait in 1990 & profited handsomely by going long on oil & shorting stocks, which helped his fund return 86% that year).

Screen Shot 2013-09-13 at 12.32.41 AMMost of these trades were ‘global macro’ plays where huge, concentrated bets were made by analyzing fundamental economic/business conditions.  These investors excelled at turning a great observation about the world into a great investing idea. But, while these make the headlines, you never hear about the other investors who made a big call and missed, and ended up out of business.

It’s almost impossible for regular investor folks to make a ‘big score’ like these traders.  Rather than trying to throw a touchdown pass on every play and make a big score like these traders, the smarter game plan is to focus on trying to get consistent first downs. Do your homework, watch market/sector developments, don’t chase stocks up or down.  Do that, and the score may take care of itself.

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Source: International Business Times

Who Executed The Greatest Trade of All Time?

Who Executed The Greatest Trade of All Time?


Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 1.31.23 PMHedge Fund titan Jon Paulson pulled off the greatest trade of all time in 2007, raking in a cool $15 billion in his bet against subprime mortgages - according to the International Business Times who ranked the top ten greatest trades of all-time. Some were brilliant masterminds, others were just plain lucky.

The Top Ten Greatest Trades of All-Time

1.    John Paulson’s bet against sub prime mortgages made him $15 billion in 2007

2.   Jesse Livermore’s call on the Crash of 1929 (a legendary trader featured in the popular book, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator).

3.   John Templeton’s foray into Japan in the 1960s (a true investment pioneer, Templeton foresaw the rise of Japan after World War II and profited hugely from it).

4.   George Soros’ breaking of the Bank of England in 1992 (Soros made $1 billion).

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 2.29.58 PM

5.   Paul Tudor Jones’ shorting of Black Monday in October 1987 (he predicted the crash, bet a bundle & tripled his money as the market crashed 22% in one day).

6.   Andrew Hall’s $100 oil prediction (with oil trading at $30 per barrel in 2003, Hall bet prices would rise to $100 in 5 years; they did and he took home a personal paycheck of $100 million in 2008).

7.   David Tepper’s 2009 bet on financials (as the market hit its low in early 2009, Tepper bought financial services stocks & his fund earned $7 billion that year ($4 billion of that went to Tepper).

8.   Jim Chanos’ prescient shorts (his sharp analysis led him to predict the demise of Enron, WorldCom, and other firms, and he is known as the best short-seller in the world).

9.   Jim Rogers’ early call on commodities (he was bullish on commodities back in the 1990s & has been riding them to great profits ever since).

10.  Louis Bacon’s geopolitical play (he correctly predicted that Saddam Hussein would invade Kuwait in 1990 & profited handsomely by going long on oil & shorting stocks, which helped his fund return 86% that year).

Screen Shot 2013-05-16 at 1.06.36 PMMost of these trades were ‘global macro’ plays where huge, concentrated bets were made by analyzing fundamental economic/business conditions.  These investors excelled at turning a great observation about the world into a great investing idea. But, while these make the headlines, you never hear about the other investors who made a big call and missed, and ended up out of business.

It’s almost impossible for regular investor folks to make a ‘big score’ like these traders.  Rather than trying to throw a touchdown pass on every play and make a big score like these traders, the smarter game plan is to focus on trying to get consistent first downs. Do your homework, watch market/sector developments, don’t chase stocks up or down.  Do that, and the score may take care of itself.

Please also let us know which trade you find most impressive & your reason why by leaving a comment below, sending us a Tweet, of by commenting on our Facebook Fan Page!

Source: International Business Times

The Cliff Stevenson Group: A Full Service Real Estate Group Offering the Best Strategies & Results

The Cliff Stevenson Group: A Full Service Real Estate Group Offering the Best Strategies & Results

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 8.15.07 PMThe Cliff Stevenson Group is a leading real estate group that offers all the services one can expect from a top-tier real estate firm. From the start, one thing that really sets the Cliff Stevenson Group apart from its competition is their web presence and the amenities they offer online. Not only do they have a full service website with all the basic information but they also have many other great extra amenities that we rarely see other real estate agents implement. For example, all of the Cliff Stevenson Group’s current active listings are right there on the website so within one click of the mouse a potential buyer can see everything he has to offer including added details and information about each property. On top of that, you are able to access all of the Cliff Stevenson Group’s recent and past sales, which are great for prospective sellers who are shopping around real estate agents, as they are able to see the Cliff Stevenson Group’s track record and make the educated decision on whether or not it’s the right fit for them.

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 8.15.14 PMThe thing that most impressed us about the Cliff Stevenson Group’s website is all the educational tools and resources they offer to their clients. By browsing through the website you are able to learn all the different aspects of buying and selling a home including added analysis on what effective strategies work and what doesn’t work. To most buyers this would be a huge resources as on average people don’t buy and sell their homes that often so it’s expected that they won’t know all the strategies to getting that great sale or making that great purchase. In addition to all the educational resources offered, the Cliff Stevenson Group also has a regular blog and a video blog to keep clients updated with their progress and to offer more additional resources and information. They also offer clients with market reports and detailed analysis on past and present sales plus what the real estate markets current trends are.

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 8.15.20 PMFrom going through the Cliff Stevenson Group’s website you can clearly see that not only are they a great real estate group offering all the top tier amenities and resources but that they also care and will go the extra mile to help you out.  If you select the ‘Meet the Team’ page you are able to get acquainted with each and every member of the Cliff Stevenson Group. In addition, you can also read past testimonials from various clients and after reading them you will see that everyone leaves more than pleased with the Cliff Stevenson Group’s service.  There is no question that the Cliff Stevenson Group is the premier real estate group in the Calgary area and if I were a home buyer or seller in that area I would hands down pick them to be my real estate broker and agent. Simply click on the link or go to http://www.cliffstevenson.com to get your own first hand experience at how great the Cliff Stevenson Group’s service is.

What Are Life Settlements & How Can You Take Advantage of Their Many Benefits?

What Are Life Settlements & How Can You Take Advantage of Their Many Benefits?

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 7.26.44 PMThe senior citizens of today are slowly becoming more and more aggravated and increasingly discontented with their current life insurance plans. Part of this is because of the major changes that have taken place. In the past, people believed that life insurance was a necessity and as a result policies were accepted without argument. The reasons senior citizens are becoming more and more aggravated by the life insurance companies is due to the fact that the life insurance policies responsible for insuring individuals are not resourceful and offer little instruction to those interested in selling their policies. Furthermore, others have succumbed to simply receiving a small cash value for their policies, from the insurers themselves.

Due to all these problems, a third alternative has emerged, known as a life settlement. A life settlement is when a life insurance policy is sold to a party other than an insurance company, for more than its cash value, but less than the benefit that would be insured after death. For those who intend to liquidate their policies for financial gain, a life settlement can be an indispensable economic tool.

Currently the problem with life settlements is the fact that most of the population has no idea about what they are or how they work. As a result, many policyholders often resort to surrendering to a life insurance company just because they are not informed. Making such a move could cost you a significant amount of money, on average users can get 8 times the payout vs. surrendering to the life insurance company. That can add up to some serious money so make sure to read our full article as we are here to educate you on how the life settlement process works and how you can take action. We will also provide you with the right resources to take advantage of such an offer yourself.

What Are Life Settlements?

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 7.24.59 PMLife settlements function as a profitable source of security for senior citizens unable to afford their current policies. If a life insurance policy doesn’t meet the necessary requirements or if it fails to provide enough death benefits, the senior citizen is able to then sell his or her policy to a third party.

Once you have sold your life insurance policy, you are no longer required to pay for insurance premiums. Policy owners posses certain rights. Someone’s life insurances policy is basically their personal property therefore giving that owner the ability to manage or sell it if they wish. As far as sale value is concerned, there are no limitations to this process as a life insurance policy owner may sell their policy for whatever price they want. Life settlements work according to the policy owners’ rights. These liberties include changing the designation of the beneficiary, borrowing against the policy, selling the policy to another company or party, using the policy as collateral for a loan, and naming the beneficiary of the policy.

What Happens After You Sell

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 7.24.54 PMOnce a sale is made, the seller may user the funds in any way they wish and they are not required to be above or below certain asset or income levels. During the sales process there are no upfront fees or hidden costs associated that might sneak up on a seller. After someone chooses to sell their policy, they then give all their death benefits to the new owner and in return receive a lump sum payment. The total amount of payment is based on the life expectancy of the seller.

How to Get Started

If you are now interested in taking advantage of the life settlement process or just want to learn a little more about how it works and speak to a professional broker then simply go to A Life Settlement’s website and click the ‘FREE! Get Started’ button. To be directed to the website simply click on the link below or go to http://www.alifesettlement.com/

CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED

Tax 101: How to determine if you have unclaimed tax refunds

When it comes to filing your tax, you want to make sure that you have everything right. You can get into serious trouble if you end up making certain mistakes, and therefore it is a good idea to check over it multiple times. Some people will probably give them a day or two to look over their taxes and ensure that they have made all the right calculations. Some people will hire an accountant, although this is going to depend on how much you are actually going to have to file. It is going to be different depending on the person.

When filing a tax, you may find that you have the right claim back money on certain things. If you do not earn enough to file tax, it is still advised that you do so. You will end up getting the money back anyway. Tax relief can give you a nice surprise within the next few months. Over time, however, you may find that you have unclaimed tax that you can claim. It is important, therefore, to find out how you will be able to get this.

Filing for Your Return

If you know that you have unclaimed tax from the IRS, then you will need to file for it no later than three years after the due date. This is usually going to happen in cases where you know that you have unclaimed tax, but it has not been delivered to your or you have not yet claimed it from the IRS.

Undelivered Returns

If you know that you have undelivered claims, then you need to know that all claims are sent to your last known address. These checks are given back to the IRS if you do not inform them of your change of address.

Contact the IRS

If you are unsure about your status, then one of the best things that you can do is contact the IRS. You can either write a letter, send an email or phone them. They will be more than happy to give you information regarding the tax that you did not receive, and whether or not you have a balance in your account. Alternatively, you can go on the Internet and see what their website says. The IRS will have all of the necessary information for when it comes to finding out your unclaimed tax, so it is a good idea to do this fast.

Always remember that there is a time limit on claiming the tax that you are owed. If your tax was meant to be delivered to you at a certain date, then you will have a certain amount of time to collect it if it does not arrive. As stated before, always make sure to collect it within three years from the date that it was meant to arrive at your home, or you could end up losing it.

Author Bio:


Liam is a freelance writer and blogger.If you are interested in more tax relief tips, the author recommends you visit OptimaTaxRelief.com

Chargeback Basics You Should Know

This article submitted by: Solid Trust Pay

Chargeback Basics You Should Know

Along with the widespread use of the credit card as a method of payment there is also the rise in various risks associated with the use of credit cards that can dearly cost a business. Chargeback is one such risk which a merchant needs to be fully aware of.

What is Chargeback? It is a payment of the dollar value made by a credit card issuer to a customer who has disputed a charge on his credit card.

Credit card holders in the United States are guaranteed reversal rights by two US regulations, namely The Federal Reserve Regulation Z Truth in Lending Act to govern credit cards and Federal Reserve Regulation E Electronic Funds Transfer Act for debit cards.

Chargeback is s serious concern for merchants as they lose the money that was paid to them by the customer along with the product or service they provided, time and energy and also having to pay processing fees to the merchant bank as well.

The first step in a Chargeback is when a customer files a complaint with the issuing bank disputing a charge on his card. The issuer will then refer the transaction to the relevant merchant bank that will investigate the issue and if unable to resolve it forward it to the merchant who will either accept the charge in the event he does not have proof of the transaction or resubmit it to the merchant bank along with proof such as a sales receipt to prove that the transaction was valid. If the chargeback is accepted the merchant bank will inform the issuer and it will be re posted to the customer’s account. If not it will be sent for arbitration for a final decision.

These disputes could arise due to one of many reasons.

  • Customer disputes – these arise as a result of the goods ordered not being delivered, the received goods being damaged, the goods or services received not being  as it was described, and the recurrence of a cancelled transaction are some such reasons.
  • Authorization issues – where the credit card holder has not authorized the transaction and usually happens as a result of identity theft.
  • Payment processing errors – can occur mostly at the point of sale resulting in duplicate processing.
  • Credit card fraud- can happen when stolen, fake and outdated cards are used.

Considering the widespread use of credit and debit cards in today’s society, it may be an uphill task to completely eliminate chargebacks. But it can be reduced if the merchants are more aware of this and take preventive steps such as checking a card before processing to ensure it is not a stolen card and by keeping accurate sales records in the event the information is required to counter a chargeback. One could also minimize the cost resulting from chargebacks by opening the merchant account with a bank that provides premium chargeback and fraud loss protection.

If you are going to open a merchant account make sure you educate yourself on the facts relating to chargeback and keep up with all the new regulations relating to it to safeguard your business.

How to invest in legalized marijuana

Click on the Link to Read the Full Article: How to invest in legalized marijuana - MarketWatch

Mark Twain is said to have remarked that a gold rush is a good time to be in the pick and shovel business. Investors may be able to apply that same bit of wisdom to the growing number of U.S. states that have legalized pot.

Although federal law prohibits the sale or possession of marijuana, Massachusetts last week joined the ranks of states — 18 plus Washington, D.C. — that allow its use for people suffering from chronic illnesses like cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. In Washington and Colorado, meanwhile, voters passed an initiative to allow pot for recreational use.

How to invest in legalized Marijuana

Several states made recreational use of marijuana last week, and there are several small-cap stocks that stand to gain from the drugs growing acceptance. Photo: AP.

Those changes have kickstarted a small but fast-growing medical-marijuana industry, estimated to be worth about $1.7 billion as of 2011, according to See Change Strategy, an independent financial-analysis firm that specializes in new markets. In Colorado alone, sales topped $181 million in 2010, and the business employed 4,200 state-licensed workers, says Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association , a nonprofit trade group that campaigns for marijuana’s federal legalization.

In addition to profiting itself from growing and selling marijuana, the industry benefits a slew of other businesses, such as insurers, lawyers and agricultural-equipment firms, experts say. “Call it the ‘green rush,’” says Derek Peterson, CEO of GrowOp Technology, an online retailer of hydroponics — products used in the cultivation of indoor plants — and a subsidiary of OTC stock Terra Tech TRTC +3.53% . “The industry is expanding, and there are all kinds of investment opportunities.”

For regular investors looking to get in on the action — and without having to actually grow or sell drugs — there are several small-cap stocks that stand to gain from marijuana’s growing acceptance. Medbox MDBX +150.00% , an OTC stock with a $45 million market cap, for example, sells its patented dispensing machines to licensed medical-marijuana dispensaries. The machines, which dispense set doses of the drug, after verifying patients’ identities via fingerprint, could potentially be used in ordinary drugstores too, says Medbox founder Vincent Mehdizadeh. Based in Hollywood, Calif., the company already has 130 machines in the field, and it expects to install an additional 40 in the next quarter. “The smart money is trying to help with compliance and transparency,” Mehdizadeh says.

Expelled U.S. Olympian: Yeah, I ate marijuana

Nicholas Delpopolo becomes the first U.S. Olympian in London to be disqualified for failing a drug test.

Of course, investing in drugs the federal government still outlaws poses enormous risks to investors, says Sam Kamin, a law professor and the director of the Constitutional Rights & Remedies Program at the University of Denver. In fact, nearly 500 of the estimated 3,000 dispensaries nationwide have either been closed by the federal government or shut down in the past year, says a spokesman for StickyGuide.com , an online directory and review site for medical marijuana dispensaries — and yet another ancillary business that’s currently seeking investors.

That said, there are many companies that appear to be betting on a change in federal law. Steep Hill is a quality-control laboratory that tests medical marijuana to see if there’s any contamination from mold, bacteria or harmful pesticides. The company, based in Oakland, Calif., is also actively seeking funding of up to $3 million. David Lampach, co-founder and president of Steep Hill, expects a federal law legalizing medical marijuana within the next decade. Cannabis Science in Colorado Springs, Colo. CBIS +1.02% , an OTC stock with a market cap of $41 million, is developing marijuana-based medicines to help cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. “We’re at the beginning of the revolution in medicine,” says CEO Robert Melamede.

Other companies are creating a range of quirky products that allow people to use marijuana without smoking it. Medical Marijuana MJNA -0.85% , an OTC stock with a $69 million market cap, based in San Diego, Calif., offers more than 50 ways to ingest marijuana , from Dixie Elixir soda to Dixie Chill ice-cream and a range of Dixie Edibles, like chocolate truffles and crispy rice treats.

While experts say competition in the medical-marijuana business is growing fast, they add that there are also still plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs. For example, Troy Dayton, president and CEO of ArcView Group , an angel investor network for the industry, says demand has been growing for handheld tobacco vaporizers like those made by Ploom (which charges $250 for its “premium loose-leaf vaporizer”). “There’s a rush now to make the ideal vaporizer,” Dayton says. “There’s still room for a kingmaker in this space.”

In the meantime, at least one drug company is directly selling medical marijuana to patients around the world. GW Pharmaceuticals GWPRF +4.72% , based in London, markets Sativex, billed as the world’s first marijuana-based medicine. With a market cap of around $137 million, it’s listed on the Alternative Investment Market, a submarket of the London Stock Exchange. Sativex is currently sold as a mouth spray to help alleviate symptoms of multiple sclerosis in several countries, including the U.K., New Zealand, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Canada, a spokesman says, and it is currently seeking FDA approval in the U.S. for use as a pain reliever in late-stage cancer patients.

There Are Actually 9 ‘Cliffs’ Investors Should Be Freaking Out About

Click on the Link to Read the Full Article: There Are Actually 9 ‘Cliffs’ Investors Should Be Freaking Out About - Financial Post

In his effort to get lawmakers to mobilize, Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke coined the term “fiscal cliff” in a testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on February 29, 2012.

Investors consider it to be one of the biggest “tail risks,” or unlikely events, that could cause markets to crater.

But since February, analysts have pointed to a host of other “cliffs” that threatened to destabilize the markets and the economy.

Federal Reserve chairman kicked off the cliff craze on February 29, 2012, when he testified before the House Financial Service Committee, saying: “Achieving long-run sustainability and providing comfort to the public and the markets that deficits will come under control over a period of time – that’s very important for confidence and for creating more support for the recovery. But at the same time, I think you also have to protect the recovery in the near term. Under current law, on January 1, 2013, there’s going to be a massive fiscal cliff of large spending cuts and tax increases. I hope that Congress will look at that and figure out ways to achieve the same long-run fiscal improvement without having it all happen at one date.”

10 things 401(k) plans won’t tell you

10 things 401(k) plans won’t tell you

 To Read the Full Article Click on the Following Link: 10 things 401(k) plans won’t tell you - MarketWatch

1. We weren’t meant to carry the weight of your future.

For more and more Americans, the quality of one’s retirement comes down to the quality of one’s 401(k).

That’s a lot of pressure to put on plans that started out as a source of extra cash for individuals who were already guaranteed a secure monthly retirement income. When 401(k)s were first introduced in the late 1970s, most workers still had “defined benefit” pensions — retirement plans where employers made all the decisions about what to invest where. Back then, 401(k)s were intended as mere supplements to those plans, says Lee Topley, managing director of the retirement plan consulting group at Unified Trust, a Lexington, Ky., firm that manages the needs of plan participants on behalf of employers. Early contributors to 401(k) plans were mostly high earners, since they had the biggest tax bill and thus the greatest incentive to sock away pretax dollars in the plans, says Greg Carpenter, CEO of Employee Fiduciary, an independent administrator of 401(k) plans.

The double-digit interest rates of the early 1980s made it relatively easy for companies to meet their obligations through low-risk bonds, Topley says, but pensions became more expensive for companies as interest rates began to fall and plans had to project for even lower rates in the future. From then on, 401(k) plans, known in the industry as “defined contribution” plans — where the financial burden is placed squarely on the employee — continued to grow, as more companies decided that pensions were too pricey to continue. Today, 401(k)s hold $3.5 trillion of retirement assets, and only 7% of private sector employees with retirement benefits had a pension in 2008, down exponentially from 62% in 1980.

2. We have no clue how much cash you’ll need in retirement….

Market volatility rewarded patient 401(k) investors

WSJ Retirement Weekly Editor Robert Powell points out that investors who held steady during the economic downturn since 2008. He also offers advice for investors paying close attention to retirement savings.

When it comes to actually figuring out how much to save to live a comfortable retirement, most workers are on their own. And once they stop working, it’s up to workers to figure out how to turn their nest egg into an income stream. Only 28% of employers offer automatic projections of how much retirement income a participant’s 401(k) account might produce, according to a study done earlier this year by MetLife.

Instead of providing information particular to a worker’s plan, employers tend to offer online tools to help participants prepare their own retirement income projections. But few workers have enthusiastically embraced the challenge of doing this themselves. Employers “spend all this money on education and tools, and everyone’s just using automatic features” like the default option, says Robyn Credico, a defined-contribution specialist for Towers Watson, a benefits consultancy.

3… and figuring it out isn’t high on our agenda.

Nearly three-quarters of large employers surveyed this year by Towers Watson say they offer a 401(k) plan to help provide for workers’ income in retirement. But when companies were asked to name the top issues driving plan design, workers’ ability to retire came in fifth, behind the competitiveness of benefits within the industry, benefit plan costs, employee attraction and retention, and legislation and compliance. What gives? “It’s a struggle” for companies to design a competitive plan on a limited budget, Credico says. The burden on employees to provide for their own financial security is huge, and the best advice companies can give is simply to encourage their workers to save, she notes. As an incentive, 91% of the companies surveyed by Towers Watson — each of which had more than 1,000 employees — offered matching contributions. Of those, nearly a quarter offered non-matching contributions, meaning the company would set aside money even if the employee didn’t. Still, we’re not talking big bucks: according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America, a trade group representing employers who offer retirement plans, the average company contribution to 401(k) plans is 2.5% of pay — not nearly enough to provide for the basic costs of living in retirement.

4. The system isn’t working for employees — or employers.

The aggregate retirement income deficit for all Baby Boomers and Gen Xers — that is, the amount by which their savings, plus Social Security, fall short of what they’ll need — is $4.3 trillion, according to the Employee Benefit Research Institute. Clearly, folks aren’t setting aside enough for their post-work lives. The average employee contributes 6.4% of her paycheck to her 401(k),according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America. Advisers recommend 10% as a baseline minimum, and for those who start late (in their 40s or even 50s), 15%.

The problem’s not just one for workers, though. Post–financial crisis, companies have noticed a rise in so-called “hidden pensioners,” Credico says. These are individuals who can’t afford to retire, but they check out on the job. Plenty of older folks enjoy the stimulation of work, but hidden pensioners punch the clock for a paycheck alone, and their performance suffers for it. The good news is that these laggards are spurring companies to design more effective retirement plans, Credico says — a self-serving motivation, for sure, but at least it’s ultimately to participants’ benefit.

5. Fee transparency? What fee transparency?

New Department of Labor regulations went into effect this year requiring plan providers to disclose the amount in fees that both companies and their workers pay for their 401(k) plans. The intention was to shed light on notoriously murky 401(k) fees. It’s one of the few instances where the consumer of the product—both employers and employees alike — often have little idea what they’re paying for, thanks to buried fees. For example, a fund’s “expense ratio” can encompass everything from marketing fees paid to the investment firm to commissions paid to the broker who recommends particular funds.

Disclosure notices went out to employers in the spring and summer; employees got their first disclosures over the summer and this month will receive their first quarterly statements under the new disclosure rules, which will itemize fees deducted from their plan. But critics have been disappointed with the first round. Some statements “disclosed” a wide range of fees, as in “your expenses range from 0.25% to 2%,” leaving companies wondering where exactly their fees stood. What’s more, the fees came without any guideposts on industry averages. So even if a company was told it paid, say, 1.25%, executives would have no idea how those fees stacked up against other plans. This is no accident, critics charge. “They didn’t try to make it plain English and fail,” Employee Fiduciary’s Carpenter says. “They complied with the letter of the law and made it as gibberishy as possible.” To be sure, some say, it’d be very difficult to arrive an at “average” 401(k) fee, since there are so many variables, including number of plan participants and type of investments.

6. You’re losing years’ worth of savings to fees…

Take for example a portfolio that says its fee is 1%, a number that wouldn’t be uncommon. That may not sound like a whole lot. But when it’s chipped annually from your retirement nest egg, the cumulative effect can be significant. A worker who makes $75,000 per year and saves 8% of that annually in a 401(k)would lose 2.8 years’ worth of savings in a target-date fund with a 0.2% fee and 11.6 years in one with a 1% fee, over the course of a career, according to an analysis by Towers Watson. The new DOL fee disclosures were designed to open individual participants’ eyes to this kind of impact, but for now, they’re mainly raising eyebrows mainly among savvy employers, Topley says.

7. …but things are starting to improve.

The Department of Labor’s spotlight on fees has already pushed plan providers to offer lower-cost options, such as exchange-traded funds, in 401(k)s. Some, like Schwab, rolled out new offerings earlier this year, before the first disclosures came out. “This is the true trickle down,” says Mike Alfred, CEO and co-founder of 401(k) consulting firm BrightScope. So while plan participants might not take to the streets after seeing how much they’re paying for their 401(k) — disclosures are hardly going to change the prevailing apathy — their employers are getting wise to the expenses, and they’re starting to demand better options.

Indeed, companies’ awareness of 401(k) fees has increased sharply over the past five years, insiders say, and the disclosures may spur further eye-opening. Part of this awareness has come from lawsuits filed against both employers and investment firms over 401(k) expenses. Many of the lawsuits have centered on share classes, forcing plan providers to explain why they’re using an expensive share class when a lower-cost option is available.

8. Fewer choices doesn’t mean better ones.

Just as drug stores have pruned their shampoo offerings to prevent shoppers from getting overwhelmed, plan providers have recently reduced the number of fund options in 401(k) plans. The number of large employers that offer 20 or more funds declined by 8% from 2010 to 2012, and the number of sponsors that offer nine options or fewer increased by 3%, according to Towers Watson. This is generally a good thing, experts say, since too much choice can indeed lead to consumer paralysis.

But the choices that remain are still too expensive overall, consumer advocates agree. The average plan has approximately 60% of assets in stocks, according to the Plan Sponsor Council of America. Twenty-five percent of assets are invested in actively managed U.S. stock funds and just 9% are in indexed U.S. stock funds. Actively managed funds, where a fund manager picks stocks in an attempt to beat the market, are more expensive than passive index funds that aim only to mimic market returns.

“Most people will be better off in indexed funds with costs as low as possible,” says Steve Vernon, president of Rest-of-Life Communications, a benefits consulting firm. But brokers who advise companies on plans often don’t have an incentive to choose the lowest-cost option, since they get compensated through commissions paid out by investment firms for pricier share classes. Companies often don’t realize this and think their broker’s advice is “free,” since the compensation fee is bundled into the expense ratio, even under the new DOL fee disclosures.

9. Small business employees are missing out.

Just half of workers in companies with fewer than 100 employees have access to retirement accounts, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, compared with 79% of workers in companies with up to 499 workers, and 86% of workers in large companies. “They’re still not reaching enough workers,” says Chad Parks, founder and CEO of The Online 401(k), a provider of 401(k) solutions for small businesses.

When they do have 401(k)s, small company employees are likely to pay more for them than their counterparts at big firms, for a number of reasons. Some can be legit: many advisers who consult on 401(k)s get paid a percentage of the plan’s assets, and they need to charge a larger percentage for a plan with fewer assets. And with a small plan, the administrative costs are spread out among fewer people. But this is sometimes taken too far, Parks charges. Some small businesses pay as much as 2.5% for a basic 401(k), he notes. Another reason why small businesses get stuck with a bigger bill is because they often don’t have investment committees who scrutinize the plan on behalf of their fellow employees.

10. Autoenrollment alone won’t save you.

Automatic enrollment has risen in recent years, placing employees in 401(k) plans even if they don’t opt in. Nearly a quarter of large firms offered auto-enrollment to all employees in 2012, up from just 10% in 2009, according to Towers Watson. While it’s good that employees are forced to save(few who are auto-enrolled bother to opt out), employee advocates say, they’re not saving as much as they should. That’s because companies often deliberately set the default contribution rate low — generally around 3% of pay — so they don’t have to match as much, Credico says. Of course, employees can always change their default rate, but few bother.

Indeed, many workers don’t even know their contribution rate. Vernon conducts regular workshops with plan participants. Recently, he’s been askingroomfuls of them how many read the fee disclosures they gotover the summer, and invariably only one or two hands go up, he says. This isn’t necessarily bad news if those few are vocal staffers who can educate and motivate their fellow employees. But really, no one can afford to be complacent when it comes to planning for retirement, Vernon says: “People vastly underestimate how much money it takes to have a lifetime income.”

Illuminating the World of Hedge Funds

Illuminating the World of Hedge Funds

Great info-graphic letting you into the complicated world of Hedge Funds, enjoy!

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Why You Should Invest & How to Get Started: Benefits of Investing & Power of Compound Interest

Why You Should Invest & How to Get Started: Benefits of Investing & Power of Compound Interest

One of the most common questions we always receive is ‘Why You Should I Invest?’ Plain and simple, investing is the easiest way to create wealth and to become financially free and independent. It’s the reason, we created Stocks on Wall Street and why we work hard to find you great stock picks and ways to beat the markets, create wealth, and earn you money. Investing is relatively simple and the rewards are great. By Investing in the Markets it will open up many opportunities to you in the world that never existed before. Simply it will provide you with more money to do what you want. Money gives you opportunities so investing will allow you to explore the world and set out to do what ever pleases you and makes you happy. Whether your set on retiring in a beach house in Mexico, paying for your child’s education, or just traveling the world. Realistically, unless you have a top-notch salary, investing in the Stock Market is the only true way to reach financial independence.

Benefits of Investing and Power of Compounding

Lets put it real simple to show you the benefits of investing. Say you put $2,000 of your savings into the stock market and invest within the S&P 500. Well the S&P’s historical average is 10% and would make your 2,000 worth $34,898.80 after 30 years. Now do you see the potential gains from investing? On the contrary if you put that same amount of money into a savings account your $2,000 would only be worth $3,622.72 30 years later. Quite a difference huh? This number will shock you even more. If you invest $1,000 a year in the S&P 500 after 45 years it will have grown to over one million dollars. Overall you only added $46,000 over that time period but through the benefits of compound interest and by placing yourself in solid investments it did the job for you. Below is a great graph that shows the true power of investing and why you should put your money in the Stock Market rather than a CD or Bond. Historically overtime CD’s and Government Bonds have averaged at best around 2%-5%. The Stock Market  however has averaged 10% over the same period and if you learn how to trade yourself or followed Stocks on Wall Street there is no reason that you can’t easily achieve over 20% in annual returns.

Growing At

Year 5% 10% 15% 20%
1 $100 $100 $100 $100
5 $128 $161 $201 $249
10 $163 $259 $405 $619
15 $208 $418 $814 $1,541
25 $339 $1,083 $3,292 $9,540

 

It’s shocking to see the true power of compound interest and what a few percentage points can do to your money. It’s why it pays to take some risk, especially if your young as you’ll have the rest of your life to make up for any mistakes you do make. However if you listen to our advice and invest strategically you will never have to worry about that problem. One key note to always remember if you’re a long-term investor is that you’ll go through both Bull and Bear markets so don’t check your investments everyday, you’ll drive yourself crazy. Simply invest wisely following the a strategy that makes you comfortable and check it every quarter and historically over time if your money stays put in safe, strong investments it will grow rapidly and exponentially.

Time Value of Money

Lets say your parents helped get you started investing when your 15 years old with a simple $100 dollar bill. Lets look and see how that simple $100 bill will grow over time:

Growing At

Age 5% 10% 15% 20%
15 $100 $100 $100 $100
20 $128 $161 $201 $249
25 $163 $259 $405 $619
30 $208 $418 $814 $1,541
40 $339 $1,083 $3,292 $9,540
50 $552 $2,810 $13,318 $59,067
60 $899 $7,298 $53,877 $365,726
65 $1,147 $11,739 $108,366 $910,044

It shows you the true power of compound interest and how quickly your money can grow if you invest it wisely.  If you haven’t started investing yet don’t panic or worry. It’s never too late and always better to start at some point than to never start at all.  Over the course of this weekend,  Stocks on Wall Street will be providing a great list of articles giving you more reasons on “Why You Should Invest in the Stock Market“ and also giving you the right resources to get started and to put yourself onto a path for financial freedom.

If you are truly interested in getting started investing and setting yourself up to retire in comfort and provide for your family then there’s no reason to delay, you should get started investing today. Whether you put in $100 a year or a couple thousand, the key to all of it is just getting started. Even if you currently have no money to set aside, get signed up for an Online Brokerage Account as it will give you the resources to help you learn the ins and outs of the market and like anything it’s always the first step that’s the hardest so having an account will make you that much closer to getting started and becoming financially free.

One misconception is most people believe you need to have a financial advisor. That is so not true and in today’s society one of the biggest wastes of your money. Financial advisors are nothing special and they charge huge fees and commissions to do basically the same thing that we offer at Stocks on Wall Street for FREE. Instead what you should do is sign-up for an Online Brokerage Account, educate yourself on the market, and find a strategy that fits you best and follow through with it.

So the first step is getting signed-up with an Online Broker. There are many out there so it can be hard to find the right one but if you ask most people when it comes to top online Broker’s, E*Trade’s name will be at the top of the list. In addition, they are our favorite online broker and one we constantly recommend to our readers. We have gotten thousands of readers signed-up with E*Trade and thanks to our great relationship we will get you started off with many great free amenities as well. E*Trade has everything you could possibly need and are well suited for investors of all types. It doesn’t matter if your rich, poor, or have no money at all to currently invest. E*Trade offers practice accounts that will allow you to refine your skills, theses are great resources so make sure to utilize this opportunity. Along with many other great amenities E*Trade offers one of the top online trading platforms, some of the best technical and fundamental research tools, plus many other great resources to get you started investing successfully and on the path to financial freedom.

T0 get setup and signed-up with an  E*Trade Account is very simple. It’ll take less than 5 Minutes , just CLICK ON THIS LINK or the IMAGE below to direct yourself to the site & to take advantage of Stocks on Wall Street ‘s great bonuses:

Hopefully you are now an official E*Trade member, if not the links above will direct you to the site and help you step-by-step in creating an account. Like we said above, Stocks on Wall Street currently has a great relationship with E*Trade so all our readers who sign-up through our site will be awarded 60 Free Days of Trading, Free Commissions, up to $500 in Free Money to get started off with, and many other great benefits so don’t wait any longer, SIGN-UP NOW!

If you need any further assistance feel free to Contact Us at any time with any questions, we are always here to help! This is a proud day for all new members as it’s great to get all of you started investing and on the path to financial freedom. It will be one of the best decisions you ever make! Stay tuned all weekend for a great list of articles and enjoy your time off!

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Why I Moved My Portfolio to 100% Cash

To Read CNN Fortune’s Full Article Simply Click on the Link: Why I Moved My Portfolio to 100% Cash

This story we’re following on a daily basis won’t end well.

By Keith R. McCullough, Hedgeye

FORTUNE — I’m a storyteller. So are you. We tell ourselves, our families, and firms stories every day. We tend to frame each story within the framework of how we think. How we think drives our decision making. In the end, we are all accountable for those decisions.

I made a decision to go to 100% Cash in the Hedgeye Asset Allocation Model last week. That was a first. If you’ve been reading my rants for the last five years, I don’t have to explain why at this point. You know where I stand. I do not think that this ends well.

Some people think it will end just fine. Some people think doing more and more of what has not worked is the only way out. Many people thought the very same thing in 2008, and their homes are still underwater.

The old way of doing business on Wall Street used to be about Bulls versus Bears. Some people believe that they are always bullish and some prefer to believe that they are always bearish. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, does it?

MORE: Will the Fed’s Twist get banks to lend?

I have by no means perfected the risk management process. The day that you think you have is the day you are about to get clocked. The plan is always grounded in uncertainty. The plan is always being prepared for what lies ahead. As the market changes, the process of managing risk and making money evolves. Sometimes as part of that plan, you need to take your chips off the table and step aside.

To review why I went to 100% cash:

-I had no idea what Ben Bernanke and the Federal Reserve were going to announce at the FOMC meeting.

-If Bernanke delivered another round of quantitative easing, food/energy inflation would have slowed real growth further.

-If Bernanke did not deliver another round of quantitative easing, a world full of correlation risk comes into play.

In other words:

A)     You cannot beg for easing and have accelerating growth at the same time – the world needs growth, not more debt.

B)      If you do not get easing, the US Dollar stops getting clobbered and commodity bubbles continue to pop.

So that’s why last Wednesday, I had a 0% asset allocation to stocks and commodities. Why I had a 0% asset allocation to currencies and fixed income is simply because I know how to manage my immediate-term risk.

Get policy right and you’ll get the US Dollar right. Get the US Dollar right (correlation), and you’ll get a lot of other market things right. We’ve been right 32 out of 33 times since firm inception (2008) on the US Dollar. That’s probably why I haven’t spent the last 5 years trying to get back to a bull market top break-even. I may be wrong this time. If I am, I’ll at least know why.

European central planning storytellers have played their hands. In my own accounts, with 100% liquid cash (and illiquid Hedgeye stock), I’m holding a hand of kings. For their last no-volume hurrah, the pro-quantitative easing crowd better hope he has 4 aces.

To Read CNN Fortune’s Full Article Simply Click on the Link: Why I Moved My Portfolio to 100% Cash