As 2019 glides to a quiet finish, our wish is that each of you will experience a generous measure of peace and happiness during the last few days of this year and into 2020. It has been a tumultuous year, but certainly an outstanding investment year by any measure. The financial markets continue to shrug off the impeachment process, which stumbles forward. Congress has nevertheless cooperated to pass significant retirement related legislation called the SECURE Act, which has been signed into law.
- The SECURE Act: This legislation has numerous provisions, necessitating further analysis. Three changes clearly have retirement planning significance. For those who turn 70.5 after 2019, the Act raises the age when individuals must begin taking minimum distributions from their retirement plans from 70.5 to 72. In other words, if you are already subject to the required minimum distribution rules, the new law does not apply. There is a major change to the rules for required minimum distributions from inherited IRAs. This rule also only applies to IRAs inherited after 2019. With a few exceptions, including for spouses and minor children, inherited IRAs will have to be distributed within 10 years and may not be “stretched” over the beneficiary’s lifetime. A third notable change is that individuals will now be able to contribute to IRAs after 70.5, provided they have earned income. Expect to hear more from us on the SECURE Act and how it may impact individual clients. (Schwab)
- Best Year for US Stocks Since 2013: Keeping our investment fingers crossed, the US stock market is headed for an exceptional year. We will save a detailed year in review until we cross the finish line, but most investors will likely be pleased with how their portfolio performed in 2019. (Barron's)
- Market Predictions for 2020: Those who love to prognosticate are dusting off their crystal balls for 2020. (Schwab) (CNBC) (Axios). As a generalization, we would say that the collective attitude in the investment world is “cautious optimism” (to use an old cliché). While by no means pessimistic about the financial markets, I have grown increasingly skeptical about anyone’s ability to predict very far into the future, including for investment markets. We live in complex, turbulent, and fast changing times, which can bring relatively sudden and unforeseen change. Solid investment strategies work better than crystal balls in our experience.
- Help Your Brain to Beat Aging: Want to preserve and even improve your cognitive skills as you age? Consider forming the daily habit of working on a crossword or a numerical puzzle like Sudoku. It works and may give you some mental pleasure and satisfaction along the way. (Inverse)
- Understanding the Dangers of Inflammation: One of the most important emerging health insights over the last few years has been the role of inflammation in almost all major diseases. It may indeed be the cause of many chronic diseases. Our ability to reduce and combat inflammation is likely to become more sophisticated, but we can start with a diet built around vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and fish and that minimizes or avoids sugar, refined carbs, processed meats and fried foods. (New York Times)
- A Cape Porpoise Fish House: I came across this fascinating story about a “fish house” in Cape Porpoise, Maine, in Longreads, a wonderful curated list of longer articles from the internet that comes out weekly. The subtitle says it all: “A Maine fishing village grapples with beauty, community, and authenticity in the Instagram era.” (Downeast Magazine)
- A Quote I Like: “Be like a postage stamp. Stick to one thing until you get there.” Josh Billings
Feel free to send us feedback on any topic or make a request or to forward the notes on to anyone who might be interested