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Persistence, defined as "continuing without change in function or structure," can be a remarkably good force in our lives or a devastatingly bad one; depending upon our track. What we persist in, we generally accomplish; good or bad.

  Janet Yellen's first Federal Open Market Committee policy statement as Fed chair caused a bit of a ruckus in both the Treasury and stock markets. As experts have pointed out, it wasn't so much what she said, but rather what the "dots" portend for future interest rate hikes. There was no surprise when the Fed announced they would continue to reduce their monthly purchases of Treasuries by $10 billion per month to a still very large $55 billion starting in April. The sell-off of short and intermediate Treasuries was triggered, according to Barrons by a chart of projections showing FOMC members' expectations of where the fed funds rate would be at the end of 2015.

As a financial advisor, one of the questions I’m often asked is "how should I plan for Social Security?"  More and more young people today are choosing to plan for their retirement as if it will not be around.  While this approach may seem prudent its implementation can be costly.  Planning for retirement as if Social Security will not play a role requires you to make accommodations for its absence.

One of Wall Street's wisest admonishments is to avoid positioning one's investments contrary to Fed guidance or actions. After all, they are the only buyer or seller in the US with an unlimited supply of money for their purposes. Since the Great Recession our Federal Reserve has been bent and determined to stimulate employment, with few references to the inflation it might cause. In fact, they have been far more concerned with deflation than with the threat of too much money driving up prices.

One of today's hottest topics for people over 50 is Social Security; its viability and its potential to offer substantially more in benefits than the average retiree will see. Studies show that almost half of recipients receive just the minimum benefit, while less than 2% receive the maximum. The difference can be as high as $100,000 over a person's lifetime.

As financial advisors we are often asked, "how much cash should we set aside?" while others wonder, "why hold it at all, given such low returns relative to equities and fixed assets?" A proper answer to the second question requires a discussion of Modern Portfolio Theory - an involved topic for another day.  Today, we look at the question more fundamentally, in human terms. Cash means different things to different people.

Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence that passive investing over a lifetime generates far more wealth than active, hands on investing, most people still hold to their losing programs. It doesn't sound logical because it isn't. Logic has been overcome by the emotion of hope - the hope of winning big. Logic alone doesn't really have a chance, it is outgunned. For real progress, there has to be a third component.

In the last couple of Briefs we discussed Monte Carlo and how it can help a wise investor navigate the uncertainties that market swings create when they coincide with both large and small investment cash flows. We saw that wealth and lifestyle could be significantly impacted.