For the week of November 9, 2009
The Federal Reserve Open Market Committee voted unanimously Friday to maintain interest rates at
zero to 0.25 percent, where it has been since December 2008. Although unemployment in October hit
10.2 percent, its highest in more than 26 years, the Department of Labor report revised job losses for
earlier months lower than previously reported and showed that payroll losses have continued to decline.
For the week, the Dow ended up 3.30 percent to close at 10,023.42. The S&P rose 3.26 percent to finish
the week at 1,069.30, while the NASDAQ climbed 3.29 percent to end the week at 2,112.44.
Source: Morningstar.com. * Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indexes are unmanaged and
cannot be invested into directly. Three and five-year returns are annualized. The S&P, excluding “1 Week”
returns, is a reflection of return to an investor, by reinvesting dividends after the deduction of withholding tax.
Did It Work? – On March 18, 2009, the Federal Reserve announced its objective to buy as much as
$300 billion of long-term government bonds over the subsequent six months, a plan that was anticipated
to boost Treasury prices and drive down interest rates. The final purchases of this plan took place on Oct.
28, 2009, the 60th such Fed buy-back in the past seven months. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note
was 2.50 percent on March 18, 2009. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was 3.51 percent on Oct.
30, 2009 (Source: Financial Times, BTN Research).
What’s For Dinner? – The consumer price index (CPI) declined 1.3 percent for the year ending Sept.
30, 2009. One component of the overall index is “food,” representing 15 percent of the total index. The
food index declined 0.2 percent for the year ending Sept. 30, 2009, its first year-over-year decrease
since April 1967 or more than 42 years ago. The CPI is a measure of inflation compiled by the U.S.
Bureau of Labor Studies (Source: Department of Labor, BTN Research).
Big Bucks For The Sixth Grader – The average cost for one year of college education at an in-state
public college is $15,213 for the 2009-10 school year (including tuition, fees, room and board). The total
one-year cost has increased 6.5 percent per year over the past 30 years. If that same annual rate of
inflation continues into the future, then a sixth grader today will ultimately pay $104,000 for his/her four
years of education at an in-state public college during the years 2016-20 (Source: College Board, BTN
WEEKLY FOCUS – Open Enrollment Season
While benefits packages have expanded greatly since
their inception, more choices can make your evaluation
process more complex. The following questions may
help you bring your company benefits into your financial
1. Is your 401(k) properly allocated? Your 401(k) may
be your primary source of income in retirement.
Unfortunately, employees who contribute to 401(k)s
often put the account on auto-pilot. We can help you
review your 401(k) selections to ensure your goals,
time frame and risk tolerance match your asset allocation.
2. How much company stock do you own? While the
Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) restricts pension plans from investing more
than 10 percent of assets in company stock, there is no similar restriction on 401(k) plans. We can help
you determine an appropriate amount for your portfolio and what to do if your current holdings exceed
3. Is there a better choice for your health plan? Health insurance can be one of the most complex
and overwhelming benefit decisions. We can help you evaluate your own situation to determine the best
choices for your family.
4. Are you taking full advantage of Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs)? No question, the use-it-or-
lose-it rule is a hurdle to clear, but if you don’t take the time to calculate expenses that could qualify for a
health FSA, you’re leaving money on the table. Your company may also offer a dependent care FSA.
5. Should you buy long-term care coverage and extra life insurance? A growing number of
employers offer group long-term care and life insurance as a voluntary employee benefit. These policies
may offer coverage that would have likely been more difficult or more expensive to obtain on the open
market. While group policies may be less expensive, individual policies may better address portability
and insurability issues.
6. What about the extras? Many companies offer attractive additional benefits from discounts on gym
memberships and transportation costs to reimbursement for professional development, vision plans, and
matching funds for your charitable contributions.
Call our office today to schedule a review of your benefits and make an informed decision during open
* The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of
the stock market in general. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-
chip stocks. NASDAQ Composite Index is an unmanaged, market-weighted index of all over-the-counter common
stocks traded on the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation System. The Morgan
Stanley Capital International Europe, Australia and Far East Index (MSCI EAFE Index) is a widely recognized
benchmark of non-U.S. stock markets. It is an unmanaged index composed of a sample of companies
representative of the market structure of 20 European and Pacific Basin countries and includes reinvestment of all
dividends. Barclays Capital Aggregate Bond Index is an unmanaged index comprised of U.S. investment grade,
fixed rate bond market securities, including government, government agency, corporate and mortgage-backed
securities between one and 10 years. Written by Securities America. SAI# 301319
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