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Fixed-Income Exchange-Traded Funds...
Interesting developments to come - See what made the cut...
 
Fixed-Income Exchange-Traded Funds...
Investors sitting on gains moving into the end of the year are struggling with the decision as to whether pay taxes now or risk possibly higher tax rates later. Even though exchange traded funds have long been known for tax benefits, many this year could result in capital gains tax for holders, even if they hold onto them. By holding bond funds in tax-deferred accounts like a 401(k), tax bills could be avoided. Frustrated fund investors can be taxed before they sell because when portfolio managers reap trading gains, they are required to pay out to shareholders by the end of the year. Short-term capital gains are taxed as ordinary income. Exchange-traded funds advantages over conventional funds most ETFs are index funds such as Dow Jones Industrial Average  and the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index, which rarely change. ETFs deliver blocks of stocks and bonds in the portfolio. Shares that are sold by a fund will trigger a capital gain; those that are handed out “in-kind” don’t. Investors have the ability to sell shares that are likely to prompt the largest taxable gains. Bond ETFs sometimes traffic in cash like traditional funds, losing the chance to eliminate gains.

Fiscal Cliff to Plague Wall Street...
Ongoing bipartisan political talks among the White House and Congressional members over negotiations to avoid a “fiscal cliff” will continue to control market activity on Wall Street in the week ahead. It’s evident that the markets are on edge over the potential outcome of such a dramatic and potentially dangerous economic diversity, unless both parties are willing to come to terms to resolve the potential outcome before the January 1 deadline. We’ve seen over past few days, when politicians speak, the market listens and reacts directly, generally, to the down side. The political battle between elected officials is like playing Russian roulette with the American economy. Unless the markets see definitive action, to the positive side, from our political leaders, the selloff of the U.S. markets will increase in momentum and into the end of the year, potentially become extreme and extremely dangerous for the economy, worldwide. While the markets gained last week when words of optimism came from President Obama and Speaker Boehner, downside momentum easily took hold when comments indicated ‘no substantive progress’ in talks have been made.

In Summary, the Fiscal Cliff…
At midnight on December 31, unless U.S. lawmakers come to terms, conditions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 are scheduled to go into effect. Of those, temporary payroll tax cuts (resulting in a 2% tax increase for workers), the end of certain tax breaks for businesses, shifts in the alternative minimum tax, the end of the tax cuts from 2001-2003, and the beginning of taxes related to President Obama’s health care law. Spending cuts agreed upon as part of the debt ceiling deal of 2011 will begin to go into effect. Lawmakers have had three years to address this issue, but Congress, who has been mired in political gridlock, has put off a solution rather than seeking to solve the problem directly. Democrats are looking for a combination of spending cuts and tax increases while Republicans want to cut spending and avoid raising taxes. There remains a strong possibility that Congress will not act until the ‘eleventh hour’. If the current laws slated for 2013 go into effect, the impact on the economy could be dramatic. The combination of higher taxes and spending cuts would reduce the deficit by an estimated $560 billion, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the policies set to go into effect would cut gross domestic product (GDP) by four percentage points in 2013, sending the economy into a recession. Predictions are that the economy would see a loss of nearly two million jobs. The CBO anticipates that a lack of resolution from government officials will cause households and businesses to begin changing their spending habits in anticipation of the changes; possible reducing GDP before 2012 is even over.

December 3, 2012


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