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  • Harsh Realities of Individual Bond Investing.  RPG Advisor Jason Lina's most recent blog post examines how individual investors often get taken to the cleaners when buying or selling bonds and why it is generally wise to avoid buying corporate or municipal bonds, even with the help of a financial advisor.

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Investment Commentary
      

At times over the past 5-7 years, the stock market may have misleadingly felt calm just because of how it compared relative to the off-the-charts volatile period of 2008-2009.  But the first quarter of 2017 did not just feel calm - it was calm.  Depending on what measures you use, it was the quietest and least volatile quarter of the past 50 years.  

The chart below depicts quarterly volatility (standard deviation of daily returns) since 1970 - ranked from the least volatile quarter to the most volatile.  It turns out that the S&P 500 Index enjoyed it's calmest quarter since back when the Beatles' Hey Jude topped the Billboard Charts in late 1968.  



Sometimes, heightened uncertainty can cause investors to panic and sell.  In this environment, heightened uncertainty has left investors in limbo with the market neither moving dramatically up or down from day to day.  This tranquility generally results in pent-up energy so that any clarity on policy, earnings, or economic data has the potential to move markets more than it otherwise might.

Domestic stock returns in March were muted but foreign developed stocks posted a relatively strong rally of 2.8% for the month (MSCI EAFE Index) and 7.3% in the quarter.  Bonds were flat in March and posted a small gain in the quarter.

You can click here to view our March market snapshot which features market returns and economic metrics.  As always, we encourage you to contact us if you have any questions about the markets or your portfolio. 

Reminders


Save or Shred?  Use the tax filing period as an opportunity to shred what you no longer need.  This one pager provides a helpful guide of what to save and what to shred.

Revisit 401(k), IRA, HSA, and Other Retirement Plan Contributions.  April 18th is the deadline for making 2016 HSA and IRA contributions.   
  • 2016 IRA contribution limits are $5,500 for individuals under age 50 and $6,500 if age 50 or older.
  • HSA contribution limits for 2016 are $6,750 for families and $3,350 for individuals.  Individuals over age 55 can contribute an additional $1,000.

Fun Stuff and Free Resources

  • In the past, we have strongly encouraged the use of password managers as one of the best way to keep your self safe online.  In our blog post on the subject, we cited Dashlane as our favorite option.  It was recently reported that Lastpass, another popular option, has some security vulnerabilities.  If you're a Lastpass user, you should take steps to protect yourself
  • There are important pros and cons of ABLE accounts that special needs families and caretakers need to consider.  If you determine that ABLE accounts are appropriate, this new website serves as a useful resource to help compare the features of different state accounts.

RPG News and Notes 

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