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The American Investor – Editorial Calendar

A Newsletter for High-Net-Worth Individuals

October 2018

Top 6 U.S. Trading Partners
Although the United States ran a deficit with many trading partners in 2017, the largest by far was with China at nearly $336 billion. Accompanying chart compares the value of imports and exports between the United States and China, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom.
Trade Tensions
Tariffs Cloud Global Economic Outlook
The Trump administration is using tariffs to force the hands of trading partners and narrow the deficit, a tactic that has not been well received by U.S. allies or businesses that operate internationally. The risks to U.S. businesses could intensify if the trade war widens substantially, dimming prospects for U.S. and global economic growth.
Health Savings Accounts
Funding an HSA Could Help You Prep for Retirement
The primary purpose of an HSA is for workers to set aside pre-tax income to pay current and future medical expenses not covered by health insurance. HSA funds not needed for health expenses are available for any other purpose after the account owner reaches age 65.
YOUR BUSINESS
Reviewing Business Structure in Light of Tax Changes
A flat 21% corporate tax rate may seem like a good reason to convert to a C corp, especially when a business owner’s income falls into the upper tax brackets for individuals. This article addresses some additional factors to consider.
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September 2018

Corporate Spending Spree?
An analysis of first-quarter 2018 earnings reports suggests that many S&P 500 companies were focused on using their tax windfalls to generate future growth. Accompanying chart shows increases in capital spending, net buybacks, and dividends.
Dealing with Divorce
Dividing Assets Can Impact Retirement
A divorcing couple must typically negotiate a property settlement agreement, and retirement plan benefits are often among the most valuable marital assets. This article includes helpful considerations when trading marital assets and dividing retirement accounts. Paying close attention to IRS rules and procedures may help account owners avoid unintended tax consequences.
College Savings
How Does a Roth IRA Compare to a 529 Plan?
Roth IRAs and 529 plans can be used to set aside money for future higher-education costs. Both of these savings vehicles are funded with after-tax dollars, contributions accumulate tax deferred, and qualified distributions are tax-free, but there are a number of key distinctions to keep in mind.
YOUR BUSINESS
Key Tax Breaks for Business Owners
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has made the tax code more favorable for small businesses, but owners still want to take full advantage of every legal tax break they can find. This article discusses deductions for a home office and automobile expenses.
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August 2018

Decade of Debt
The total value of the U.S. bond market has surged over the last decade — from about $29 trillion in 2007 to $40 trillion in 2017. Accompanying chart compares outstanding municipal bond, corporate bond, and Treasury bond debt in 2007 and 2017.
Running in the Red
U.S. Budget Deficits Pave the Way to Higher Debt
Recent legislation has significantly reduced projected revenues while increasing spending. Annual deficits add to the national debt. This article looks at the country’s current fiscal situation and what it could mean for future economic growth.
Bond Market Turbulence
Is Your Bond Portfolio Diversified?
Owning a diversified mix of bond types and maturities is one way to help manage interest rate and credit risk, and it may help smooth out volatility in a fixed-income portfolio. The article discusses some of the key differences among Treasury bonds, municipal bonds, corporate bonds, and foreign debt.
YOUR BUSINESS
Family Limited Partnerships for Estate Planning Purposes
One challenge faced by family-run businesses involves transitioning the ownership and operations from one generation to the next. An FLP enables business owners and their heirs to address tax issues, business succession, and estate planning needs all at once.
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July 2018

Seeking the Sweet Spot
Global oil prices rebounded to healthier levels in the second half of 2017. Accompanying chart shows Brent crude oil prices since 2004.
Oil Prices and the Economy
How U.S. Production Is Changing the Global Market
High oil prices have long been blamed for driving down GDP growth, and it was widely assumed that low prices should provide an economic boost. But this relationship has become more complicated in recent years, largely because the United States has expanded its presence in the global oil market.
Equity REITs and Rising Rates
Is There Still Room for Real Estate in Your Portfolio?
Equity REITs are effective income-generating assets, but share prices can be sensitive to interest rates. This article discusses the taxation of REIT shares and some of the fundamental factors that can affect the short- and longer-term performance of equity REITs.
YOUR BUSINESS
Reward Workers and Fund Retirement with a Cash Balance Plan
Cash balance plans are not just a powerful tool for employee recruitment and retention. They have generous contribution limits that increase with age, which might allow partners in professional service firms and other high-income business owners to maximize or catch up on retirement savings and reduce their taxable incomes.
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June 2018

United States Among the World’s Biggest Borrowers
The amount of U.S. national debt surpassed 108% of gross domestic product in 2017, and only four large countries have more debt relative to the size of their economies.
Making Sense of Bond Behavior
Is Your Portfolio Positioned for Rising Rates?
The prospect of higher inflation and interest rates has become a major concern for bond investors. This article discusses some strategies to help fixed-income portfolios weather a period of interest rate uncertainty.
Tax Law Update
How Will the New Rules Affect You?
The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted at the end of 2017 made major adjustments to the U.S. tax code. This article focuses on how these changes could affect the tax bills of higher-income households.
YOUR BUSINESS
Two Technology Trends to Help Power Growth
Innovative and relatively inexpensive apps for laptops and mobile devices have leveled the business playing field by helping small companies increase productivity with smaller up-front costs. This article discusses cloud computing functions and the importance of having a mobile mindset.
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May 2018

Stocks in Shorter Supply
A wave of dot-com company failures, fewer initial public offerings, and increased merger activity have all played a role in reducing the number of U.S. stocks. Accompanying chart compares the number of stocks listed on U.S. exchanges in 1997 and 2017.
Economic Indicators
Are Confident Consumers Poised to Power Growth?
Two key gauges of consumer attitudes rose to more optimistic levels in 2017. The monthly surveys are designed to provide insight into the public’s willingness and ability to spend, and may indicate the strength of the U.S. economy.
Sizing Up Stocks
Why Market Cap Matters to Your Portfolio
The stock prices of small, mid-size, and large companies may respond differently depending on the prevailing economic forces, which is why some investors use market capitalization to help diversify their portfolios. This article focuses on the distinguishing characteristics of small-cap, mid-cap, and large-cap stocks.
YOUR BUSINESS
New Tax Breaks for Pass-Through Entities
The new tax law includes several provisions that could benefit business owners, self-employed individuals, and other taxpayers who receive income from pass-through entities. This article discusses the pass-through deduction and write-offs for capital investments.
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April 2018

Spotlight on Stock Ownership
According to the most recent Survey of Consumer Finances, 51.9% of U.S. households held shares of publicly traded stock in 2016, up from 48.8% in 2013. Accompanying infographic shows the share of households who own equities directly and indirectly through retirement accounts.
Proxy Season Primer
Why Corporate Elections Matter to Investors
Many publicly traded companies hold annual meetings in the spring, and investors who own shares of common stock have the right to vote on issues that may affect the value of their holdings. This article focuses on current trends in corporate elections and the types of proposals on which shareholders may be asked to vote.
Corporate Tax Cuts
Weighing the Impact on Earnings and the Economy
The new tax law, which cuts corporate taxes, should help many U.S. businesses grow their earnings, but not all companies and industries will benefit to the same extent. This article provides an overview of the corporate tax changes and the potential implications for GDP growth.
YOUR BUSINESS
Time to Hire? Consider the Pros and Costs
Sometimes additional workers are needed to expand the size or scope of a business. This article discusses some indicators that it might be time to hire, and how to weigh the potential benefits in light of the costs.
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March 2018

Sweet Synchronicity
All 45 major economies tracked by the OECD were expected to expand in 2017, an uncommon feat the world has not seen since 2007. Accompanying infographic shows the number of countries with accelerating or slowing growth.
Monetary Policy Update
The New Face of the Federal Reserve
President Trump has selected a new Federal Reserve chair to succeed Janet Yellen, and the central bank has begun to shrink its huge bond portfolio. This article focuses on how the Fed’s monetary policies influence interest rates, economic growth, and inflation.
Socially Responsible Investing
Strategies That Strive to Do Good and Deliver Returns
Sustainable, responsible, and impact (SRI) investing has been around for a long time, but growing interest has moved it into the mainstream. This article explores investment strategies that integrate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors with traditional financial analysis.
YOUR BUSINESS
Guard Against Growing Cybersecurity Threats
Hackers are targeting small businesses at an alarming rate. This article discusses some specific cybersecurity threats and offers tips to help small businesses protect their interests.
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February 2018

The View from the Top
The top 20% of U.S. taxpayers earn more than 62% of all reported income and pay more than 82% of federal taxes. Accompanying table compares statistics on incomes and tax burdens of the highest-earning U.S. taxpayers.
Marriage and Money
Taking a Team Approach to Retirement
Now that it’s fairly common for families to have two wage earners, many couples are accumulating assets in separate employer-sponsored retirement accounts. But even when married couples’ assets are in different accounts, it’s still possible to craft a unified retirement strategy. This article focuses on coordinating retirement plan investments and contributing to spousal IRAs.
Going Public
An IPO’s Market Debut May Not Live Up to the Hype
Initial public offerings are important to financial markets because they help young companies raise capital and add new stocks to the pool of potential investment opportunities. This article discusses the IPO process, recent trends, and investment risks.
YOUR BUSINESS
Preparing to Withstand the Loss of Key Players
Some small businesses depend on the knowledge and skills of a few executives or employees whose disability or death could endanger the company’s future. This article explores the benefits of key-person insurance policies.
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January 2018

A Closing Gender Gap
In July 2017, the difference between male and female labor force participation narrowed to 13.2 points, the smallest gap ever recorded. Accompanying chart compares the labor force participation rate for men and women since 1948.
Automation and the Economy
What’s Ahead for the U.S. Workforce?
As artificial intelligence is combined with robots and sensors, modern society could become automated in ways that were once unimaginable. This article focuses on ways in which advanced technologies might affect the economic prospects of U.S. workers and the nation as a whole.
Settling an Estate
Executors Inherit a Long List of Duties
Being named as the executor of a family member’s estate is generally an honor, but settling an estate can be a difficult and time-consuming job. This article discusses some of the specific duties that often fall on an executor.
YOUR BUSINESS
Disaster Insurance Can Help Your Company Stay Afloat
It’s important to identify the potential risks that threaten your business, create a thoughtful disaster plan, and obtain adequate insurance. This article explores coverage options, including business owner policies and business interruption insurance.
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December 2017

A Long Wait for Wage Growth
U.S. wage growth has ticked up slowly over the last couple of years, but has yet to return to pre-recession levels. Accompanying chart shows the annual percentage change in average hourly earnings since 2007.
The Giving Season
Five Ways to Make the Most of Charitable Donations
With 1.5 million charities seeking financial support, it’s more important than ever to ensure that donations are well spent. This article includes tips for vetting charities and a list of helpful giving strategies.
Illinois Highlights Credit Risk
Still, Muni Bonds May Offer Tax Relief
In June 2017, credit rating agencies warned that Illinois could become the first state to have its debt downgraded to junk status, but the passage of a state budget bill with tax increases narrowly averted this fate. This article focuses on the tax advantages and credit risks associated with municipal bond investments.
YOUR BUSINESS
No Shortage of Liability Risks
Liability insurance can help offset unforeseen legal costs that could consume a business’s profits or ruin its longer-term prospects. This article discusses commercial general liability policies as well as product liability, professional liability, employers liability, and umbrella insurance.
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November 2017

Unlocking Home Equity
Nearly half of borrowers who refinanced their homes in the first quarter of 2017 withdrew cash for other purposes. Accompanying chart tracks the percentage of mortgage refinances in which borrowers took out cash since 1997.
Living with Disability
ABLE Accounts Can Help Provide for the Future
More than 20 states have launched ABLE programs, and more are in the works. Individuals and families can use these tax-advantaged investment accounts to save for qualified disability expenses.
Better Late Than Never
IRS Extends Time for Spouses to Elect Portability
A June 2017 change in IRS procedures allows more time for the estates of recently deceased taxpayers to take advantage of the tax savings offered by portability. This article discusses the rules and deadlines for seeking portability relief.
YOUR BUSINESS
Two Tax-Friendly Retirement Plans for the Self-Employed
Solo 401(k)s and SEP IRAs are relatively simple and inexpensive for small-business owners (with no employees) and self-employed individuals to set up. This article focuses on the tax advantages, rules, and deadlines associated with these common retirement plans.
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