I remember visiting Vegas as a teenager. My family stayed at the Excalibur Hotel and there was a lot of entertainment for kids with arcades and kid friendly games. We waited in line for the $1.99 steak buffet dinners. Parking was always free. Fast forward to 2017 and that Vegas is long gone and today's Vegas is much more flashy and expensive. The cheap buffets have been replaced by celebrity chefs like Bobby Flay, Mario Batali and Thomas Keller. You can easily drop $50 just on lunch. Maybe I haven't looked very hard but I don't see any video arcades anymore. It is now all grown up entertainment from magicians to Celine Dion to Britney Spears to Jerry Seinfeld. And lots of people walking around with giant alcoholic beverages. This is the first time that I was hit with a mandatory $35 resort fee for wifi and not sure what else. And even free parking is gone. The casinos finally figured out that they could be collecting millions of dollars instead of giving it away - kind of feels like how the airlines charge for every little thing and it adds up fast.
Yesterday the White House highlighted a "Made in America" product showcase. Each state had a company represented and of course, I had to check out NJ since that's my home state - it was Campbell Soup Co. who offered tomato soup samples to government officials. Here is a full list so you can see what your state had to offer:
Congrats to Roger Federer on his 8th career Wimbledon title and 18th Grand Slam title! The man is simply the best player to ever play the game. At 35 years old, he is aging like fine wine. I remember that there were rumors that he'd retire on top many years ago but he just keeps on playing and winning majors. This year he cruised through the Wimbledon championship without dropping a set. He manages his playing schedule so his body doesn't break down. I'd say he is doing a pretty good job of that. In 2017, he has won both Grand Slams that he entered and carries a 31-2 record on the year, including an 8-0 mark against the top 10 players. What investing lessons can we take away from the greatness of Roger Federer?
This year, the talk of robots taking over our jobs has grown louder. Robots can build cars and even quick serve restaurants are using more technology at the front of the house. But you have to look to Japan for the future of self-checkout systems as they are already going live. Thanks to an aging population, Japan is searching for answers to mitigate expected labor shortages in their homeland. Because of this, the government in conjunction with their five major convenience stores plans to introduce self-checkout in the next several years. The new age registers will instantly calculate the prices of all items in a basket at once and also bag them for you.
I just read an interview with retired fund manager Bob Rodriguez who managed award winning FPA mutual funds in stocks and bonds. Like us, Rodriguez believes in owning cash when there is a storm on the horizon and he held significant amounts of cash (30-40%) in 2000 and 2008 in his actively managed stock mutual fund. He is now retired but he is seeing a perfect storm developing thanks to the huge shift into passive management where there are NO cash holdings. When the next downturn hits, many of those invested strictly in passive instruments will likely be hit extremely hard and their timing will be poor to hit the sell button. Here are his insights on the coming storm:
For the next couple of months, your Facebook and Instagram feeds will likely be dominated by beach holiday photos, beers in the sand and people's legs at the pool. School is out for summer and people are ready to vacation!
American consumers are as confident as ever and this should translate to a great summer spending season. This summer, Americans are expected to spend a total of $101.1 billion on vacations this year, representing a robust 12.5% increase from 2016, according to projections from the Vacation Confidence Index released Wednesday by insurance company Allianz Global Assistance. This is the first time in the index’s eight-year history that spending has exceeded $100 billion.
The first half of the year has come and gone. The S&P 500 ground its way higher and finished the first half up 9.3%. Unsurprisingly it has been robust S&P earnings that drove the markets to new all-time highs. Reported earnings were up 18% year over year. Despite the new administration's failure to pass new tax policy so far, analysts weren't expecting much movement in 2017 so earnings estimates haven't disappointed in the least. In fact, companies have continued to beat expectations on the top and bottom line and we expect more of the same in the second half. This has the Runnymede investment team optimistic heading into the second half of the year. As the market continues to hit new highs, there seems to be a guru warning of the next crash on a weekly basis. Just ignore the noise for now.
You may be wondering if you are in the right place. Did the Runnymede blog suddenly switch gears and turn into a fitness blog? Now don't you worry, we are still writing about finance and investments but we also believe in 4 pillars of health -- physical, mental, spiritual and financial. While the blog focuses on financial health, we believe that you should work on the other pillars as wells. I thought you may find this interesting because I did when I saw this short video by Bloomberg writer Aki Ito who tried 17 wearable technologies in her quest to get fit.
We all "get" physical health. There are 15 gyms within a 2-mile radius of my house. Even the bag of corn chips on my desk is trying to convince me that it's healthy -- natural, organic, non-GMO. But we know better. We know that we need to exercise regularly and should forego the chips for an organic apple. On the other hand, financial health is often the neglected step-child to physical health, mental health, and spiritual health. In my nearly two-decades working with clients as an investment adviser, I know that even the fittest crossfitter needs to address and nourish her financial health in order to achieve balanced, good systemic health.
I recently went to see a local production of "The Emperor's New Clothes" which is based off a short story by Hans Christian Anderson where two weavers promise an emperor a new suit of clothes that they say is invisible to those who are unfit for their positions, stupid or incompetent. When the emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, no one dares to say that they don't see anything for fear that they will be seen as unfit or stupid. Finally a child cries out, "But he isn't wearing anything at all!" and the weavers are exposed for the frauds that they are. Sadly this happens in real life and market gurus who get airtime on popular financial TV programs are there for entertainment, not for actual substance. Make sure that you know the difference.
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