The unusual financial market events of the last six or so years, including the ”great recession,” the dramatic reduction in fixed-income yields due to accommodative central bank policies, an extended period of heightened unemployment, the partial implosion of the European Union, the slowing of the Chinese economy, and heightened volatility in commodity markets, have all conspired to make some investors more concerned about their financial futures. Younger investors wonder whether they are on target financially to buy a house, educate their children, and eventually retire. Mid-career investors are more focused on whether they will still be able to retire at a particular age and whether they will be able to maintain the standard of living they currently enjoy while in retirement.
In 1993, State Street (now State Street Global Advisors) launched the first exchange-traded fund (“ETF”) — the S&P 500 index fund known as SPDR S&P 500 ETF. This ETF continues to trade (about 133,000,000 shares per day!) and is now one of over 1400 ETFs in existence.
As the U.S. gets closer to the January 2014 phase-in of many portions of the Affordable Care Act (a/k/a “Obamacare”), a number of new scams — some of which specifically target seniors — have recently come to light. These scams fall into several basic categories but all seem to have the same basic goals: to gather personal identifying information and/or to convince folks to part with some of their hard-earned money. Because the Affordable Care Act is so complex and takes effect over multiple years, there is a good deal of consumer confusion surrounding the implementation of this act. Scammers view this confusion as an opportunity to take advantage of others, especially seniors.