Category Archives: Investing and fiduciary requirements

Medicare part A and B premiums announced for 2013

 The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced the 2013 Medicare Part A and Part B premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts.

Medicare Part A

Premium: $441, a decrease of $10

Deductible: $1,184

Medicare Part B

Premium: $104.90, an increase of $5

Deductible: $147

Weekly Economic Update for November 19 2012

 

 

WEEKLY ECONOMIC UPDATE

 

 

WEEKLY QUOTE

“Life is like a ten-speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”

     

– Charles Schulz

   

  

WEEKLY TIP

If you are a new parent, you have 18 years to save for your child’s university tuition. Consider an opening an education account in which earnings can compound with tax deferral.

  

  

WEEKLY RIDDLE

Rhyming Riddle: My first is twice in apple but not once in tart. My second is in liver but not in heart. My third is in giant and also in ghost. Whole I’m best when I am roast. What am I?

  

   

Last week’s riddle:

It has no body, but it has a copper head and copper tail. It can be found in the street and in just about any store. What is it?

  

Last week’s answer:

A penny.

 

November 19, 2012

    

A FISCAL CLIFF DEAL SOONER RATHER THAN LATER?

House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid both called Friday’s fiscal cliff meeting with President Obama and the White House economic team “constructive”. Speaker Boehner noted that he had introduced a framework for tax reform, adding that tax increases might be accepted if “accompanied by serious spending cuts”. President Obama is in Asia this week; members of his senior team will continue talks with leaders of Congress. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi urged lawmakers to set “a deadline before Christmas” to resolve the dilemma, emphasizing the need to “send a message of confidence to consumers [and] the markets” in the coming weeks. Friday, the Wall Street Journal published reports of “advanced talks” at the White House about a deal to postpone January’s planned $100 billion in spending cuts for 6-12 months while smaller and more targeted cuts and tax increases are made in the interim.1,2

DID SUPERSTORM SANDY DENT RETAIL SALES?

The storm may have had an effect. The Commerce Department noted a 0.3% overall drop in retail purchases for October, with core retail sales down 0.1%. This follows a (revised) 1.3% gain for September and a 1.0% advance in August.3

TAME INFLATION IN OCTOBER

Consumer prices ticked up but 0.1% last month, compared to 0.6% in September. Wholesale inflation lessened for the first time in five months in October; the Producer Price Index retreated 0.2% after rising 1.1% in the prior month. Annual consumer inflation was running at 2.2% in October.4

STOCKS MOVE SOUTH

The Dow lost 1.77% last week, while the NASDAQ and S&P 500 respectively lost 1.78% and 1.45%. On Friday, the Dow closed at 12,588.31, the NASDAQ at 2,853.13 and the S&P at 1,359.88. COMEX gold settled Friday at $1,712.30 per ounce; NYMEX crude ended the trading week at just $86.62 a barrel.5,6,7

THIS WEEK: Monday, earnings from Lowe’s, Jack in the Box, Tyson Foods and Urban Outfitters are released, plus NAR’s report on existing home sales. Tuesday, data on October housing starts arrives along with Q3 results from Hewlett-Packard, Best Buy, Chico’s and Campbell Soup; Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke speaks at the Economic Club of New York. November’s final University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey arrives Wednesday, and so do the latest initial jobless claims. Thanksgiving is Thursday; U.S. financial markets will be closed. Black Friday follows, with the NYSE closing for business at 1:00pm EST.

% CHANGE Y-T-D 1-YR CHG 5-YR AVG 10-YR AVG
DJIA +3.03 +5.73 -0.89 +4.67
NASDAQ +9.52 +8.09 +1.64 +10.22
S&P 500 +8.13 +9.94 -1.36 +4.95
REAL YIELD 11/16 RATE 1 YR AGO 5 YRS AGO 10 YRS AGO
10 YR TIPS -0.81% 0.05% 1.80% 3.10%

 
Sources: cnbc.com, bigcharts.com, treasury.gov, treasurydirect.gov – 11/16/125,8,9,10

Indices are unmanaged, do not incur fees or expenses, and cannot be invested into directly.

These returns do not include dividends.

 

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«RepresentativeDisclosure»

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. Marketing Library.Net Inc. is not affiliated with any broker or brokerage firm that may be providing this information to you. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted index of 30 actively traded blue-chip stocks. The 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 Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. NYSE Group, Inc. (NYSE:NYX) operates two securities exchanges: the New York Stock Exchange (the “NYSE”) and NYSE Arca (formerly known as the Archipelago Exchange, or ArcaEx®, and the Pacific Exchange). NYSE Group is a leading provider of securities listing, trading and market data products and services. The New York Mercantile Exchange, Inc. (NYMEX) is the world’s largest physical commodity futures exchange and the preeminent trading forum for energy and precious metals, with trading conducted through two divisions – the NYMEX Division, home to the energy, platinum, and palladium markets, and the COMEX Division, on which all other metals trade. Additional risks are associated with international investing, such as currency fluctuations, political and economic instability and differences in accounting standards. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. All economic and performance data is historical and not indicative of future results. Market indices discussed are unmanaged. Investors cannot invest in unmanaged indices. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional.

Citations.

1 – whitehouse.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/16/congressional-leaders-strike-postive-tone-after-constructive-white-house-meeting/ [11/16/12]

2 – www.cnbc.com/id/49852886/ [11/16/12]

3 – blogs.wsj.com/economics/2012/11/14/worries-that-retail-weakness-extends-beyond-sandy/ [11/14/12]

4 – www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-11-15/consumer-prices-in-u-s-increased-at-a-slower-pace-in-october.html [11/15/12]

5 – www.cnbc.com/id/49853571 [11/16/12]

6 – markets.on.nytimes.com/research/markets/commodities/commodities.asp [11/16/12]

7 – montoyaregistry.com/Financial-Market.aspx?financial-market=retirement-investment-funds&category=3 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=11%2F16%2F11&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=11%2F16%2F11&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=11%2F16%2F11&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=11%2F16%2F07&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=11%2F16%2F07&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=11%2F16%2F07&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=DJIA&closeDate=11%2F15%2F02&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=COMP&closeDate=11%2F15%2F02&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

8 – bigcharts.marketwatch.com/historical/default.asp?symb=SPX&closeDate=11%2F15%2F02&x=0&y=0 [11/16/12]

9 – treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=realyield [11/16/12]

9 – treasury.gov/resource-center/data-chart-center/interest-rates/Pages/TextView.aspx?data=realyieldAll [11/16/12]

10 – treasurydirect.gov/instit/annceresult/press/preanre/2002/ofm71002.pdf [7/10/02]

 

IRS: Retirement Plans Can Make Loans, Hardship Distributions to Sandy Victims

Posted on November 19, 2012 at 8:21 am- Huntington Patch

As part of the administration’s efforts to bring all available resources to bear to support state and local partners impacted by Hurricane Sandy, the Internal Revenue Service announced that 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to victims of Hurricane Sandy and members of their families.

401(k) plan participants, employees of public schools and tax-exempt organizations with 403(b) tax-sheltered annuities, and state and local government employees with 457(b) deferred-compensation plans may be eligible to take advantage of these streamlined loan procedures and liberalized hardship distribution rules. Though IRA participants are barred from taking out loans, they may be eligible to receive distributions under liberalized procedures.

Retirement plans can provide this relief to employees and certain members of their families who live or work in the disaster area. To qualify for this relief, hardship withdrawals must be made by Feb. 1, 2013.

The IRS is also relaxing procedural and administrative rules that normally apply to retirement plan loans and hardship distributions. As a result, eligible retirement plan participants will be able to access their money more quickly with a minimum of red tape. In addition, the six-month ban on 401(k) and 403(b) contributions that normally affects employees who take hardship distributions will not apply.

This broad-based relief means that a retirement plan can allow a Sandy victim to take a hardship distribution or borrow up to the specified statutory limits from the victim’s retirement plan. It also means that a person who lives outside the disaster area can take out a retirement plan loan or hardship distribution and use it to assist a son, daughter, parent, grandparent or other dependent who lived or worked in the disaster area.

Plans will be allowed to make loans or hardship distributions before the plan is formally amended to provide for such features. In addition, the plan can ignore the limits that normally apply to hardship distributions, thus allowing them, for example, to be used for food and shelter. If a plan requires certain documentation before a distribution is made, the plan can relax this requirement as described in the Announcement.

Ordinarily, retirement plan loan proceeds are tax-free if they are repaid over a period of five years or less. Under current law, hardship distributions are generally taxable. Also, a 10 percent early-withdrawal tax usually applies.

Medicare Extends Enrollment Period For Those Affected By Sandy

By Susan Jaffe

November 8th, 2012, 1:18 PM

Medicare beneficiaries battered by Superstorm Sandy have one less problem to worry about: Federal officials have extended the Dec. 7 deadline to enroll in a private medical or drug plan for next year for those still coping with storm damage.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services “understands that many Medicare beneficiaries have been affected by this disaster and wants to ensure that all beneficiaries are able to compare their options and make enrollment choices for 2013,” Arrah Tabe-Bedward, acting director for the Medicare Enrollment and Appeals Group, wrote in a Nov. 7 letter to health insurance companies and State Health Insurance Assistance Programs.

Beneficiaries hit by the storm can still enroll after the midnight Dec. 7 deadline if they call Medicare’s 24-hour information line,1- 800-Medicare (1-800-633-4227).  Representatives will be able to review available plans and complete the enrollment process over the phone.

“We are committed to giving people with Medicare the information and the time they need to make important decisions about their coverage,” Medicare spokeswoman Isabella Leung said in an e-mail.  Medicare officials have not set a new deadline but have encouraged beneficiaries to make their decisions soon if possible.

Seniors currently in a plan will be automatically re-enrolled for next year in the same plan.

The extra time also applies to any beneficiaries who normally get help from family members or others to sort through dozens of plans but who have been unable to do so this year because they live in storm-ravaged areas.  Neither beneficiaries nor those who provide them assistance will be required to prove that they experienced storm damage.

“This is a really important recognition by CMS to accommodate Medicare enrollees affected by Hurricane Sandy,” said Leslie Fried, director for policy and programs at the National Council on Aging, a Washington, D.C., advocacy group.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the Obama administration declared Connecticut, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island as “major disaster areas,” according to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency.  In addition, FEMA issued emergency declarations for parts of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia.

More than 4 million seniors in those states are enrolled in drugs-only plans and more than 2.8 million have Medicare Advantage policies, which includes medical and drug coverage.

Susan Jaffe can be reached at Jaffe.KHN@gmail.com

This post has been corrected.  Earlier versions mistakenly said coverage for those who do not enroll in a 2013 plan would expire at the end of the year. CMS says instead that seniors already in a plan will be automatically re-enrolled for next year in the same plan.

SOME FISCAL CLIFF SCENARIOS

What could play out in the near future?

Presented by Reeve Conover

Will 2013 be as severe as some economists think?

The fiscal cliff is getting closer and closer. How will Congress respond?

In the worst-case scenario, Congress argues and deadlocks. Tax hikes and roughly $109 billion in federal spending cuts take a
bite out of GDP and another recession becomes a possibility.1

There are other possibilities, however. The fiscal cliff may yet be averted, or at least we might back away from its edge. One of
several scenarios might come to pass.

Scenario A: Congress buys time.
Many analysts think this is exactly what will happen. Congress is in a
lame-duck session. The option for legislators to “pass the buck” may prove
tantalizing. So we could see a short-term, stopgap deal with the idea that the
next session of Congress will tackle the problem later in 2013. The debt
ceiling could be raised, and a “down payment” might be made on longer-term liabilities.1
Scenario B: Congress can’t make a deal.
This may not be so improbable; if you remember the “super committee” assigned
to craft a deficit reduction plan in 2011, you will also remember that it
didn’t accomplish the set task. In fact, we are facing the fiscal cliff because
of that committee’s failure.2
The “fiscal cliff” already amounts to Plan B. When
Congress and the White House reached an accord to raise the debt ceiling back
in August 2011, $1 trillion in federal spending cuts were greenlighted and
Congress was told to find $1.2 trillion more to slash. As that didn’t happen,
$1.2 trillion in automatic cuts are set to begin next year. So Congress would
actually be following federal law if it did nothing to respond to the issue.2

 

Doing nothing seems unsuitable, but there is the
risk that history could repeat itself. Election outcomes may alter political
assumptions and interfere with consensus. If it looks like we will go over the
cliff in the waning days of 2012, there is a strong possibility that the
incoming 113th Congress could vote quickly to reinstate select spending levels
and tax breaks. That might mute some of the clamor from global financial
markets.3
Scenario C: Middle ground is reached.
Some degree of compromise occurs that leaves no one particularly satisfied. Certain
short-term provisions are phased out, such as the payroll tax holiday, the
recent increases for small business expensing, and assorted tax credits and tax
breaks for education. The Bush-era tax cuts are preserved (at least
temporarily) for the middle class, but rates rise for those making $1 million
or more per year. The clock turns back to 2009 with regard to estate taxes. The
rich face higher taxes on capital gains and dividends. Perhaps some defense
cuts are postponed.

Scenario D: The “Grand Bargain.”
Congress and the White House boldly arrive at a something more than an
incrementally enacted deficit reduction plan. They reach a “grand bargain,” a
deal designed to cut the deficit by $4 trillion by the mid-2020s, after
historic, long-range compromises are made to reach stability on assorted tax
and spending issues. With a lame-duck Congress, this may be a longshot.1
Scenario E: The “Down Payment.”
Legislators could always tear a page from another playbook in trying to solve
this problem. The Bipartisan Policy Center, for example, thinks a “grand
bargain,” or anything approximating a real deal on the fiscal cliff, is
unlikely given the short interval between the election and 2013. It recommends
a “down payment” of deficit cuts that could be approved by a fast-tracked
simple majority vote. If Congress didn’t take further steps to cut the
deficit next year, then certain tax breaks would disappear and cuts would hit
social welfare programs (excepting Social Security).2
Whatever happens in Washington, this is a prime
time to consider financial moves with the potential to lower your taxes and
insulate your wealth. Explore the possibilities before 2013 arrives.
Reeve Conover can be reached at reeve@reevewillknow.com or 877-423-9990

This material was prepared by MarketingLibrary.Net Inc., and does not necessarily
represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. All
information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no
representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing
involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The
publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional
services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services
of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as
investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of
avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor
recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or
service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and
are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

Citations.

1 – articles.marketwatch.com/2012-10-25/economy/34719282_1_fiscal-cliff-tax-cuts-defense-cuts
[10/25/12]

2 – thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/262893-bipartisan-policy-center-floats-fiscal-cliff-solution
[10/12/12]

3 – www.salon.com/2012/11/01/a_look_at_3_scenarios_as_the_fiscal_cliff_looms/singleton/
[11/1/12]

 

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Reeve Conover is a Registered Representative. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/dealer member FINRA/SPIC. Cambridge and Conover Consulting are not affiliated. Licensed in SC, NC, NY, CT, NJ, and CA.
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