There is a little known program/benefit for people who've served in the military prior to January 2002. The quick summary: You are credited for years of active duty through 2001 (the program was eliminated in January 2002). Up to $1200 per year of earnings credit (see below website and note for more detail) Credited at time of application. Bring in a DD Form-214 to the Social Security Office. You must ask for this benefit to receive it. Place this information in your files for when you apply for Social Security. It is not only for retirees--it applies to anyone who has served on active duty prior to January 2002.
Note Regarding Change in Special Military Service Credits. In January 2002, Public Law 107-117, the Defense Appropriations Act, stopped the special extra earnings that have been credited to military service personnel. Military service in calendar year 2002 and future years no longer qualifies for these special extra earnings.
Under certain circumstances, special extra earnings for your military service from 1940 through 2001 can be credited to your record for Social Security purposes. These extra earnings may help you qualify for Social Security or increase the amount of your Social Security benefit. Special extra earnings are granted for periods of active duty or active duty for training. Special extra earnings are not granted for inactive duty training. Social Security cannot add these extra earnings to your record until you file for Social Security benefits.
How You Get Credit For Special Extra Earnings: The information that follows applies only to active duty military service earnings from 1940 through 2001. Here's how the special extra earnings are credited:
Service In 1978 through 2001: For every $300 in active duty basic pay, you are credited with an additional $100 in earnings up to a maximum of $1,200 a year. If you enlisted after September 7, 1980, and didn't complete at least 24 months of active duty or your full tour, you may not be able to receive the additional earnings. Check with Social Security for details.
Service In 1957 Through 1977: You are credited with $300 in additional earnings for each calendar quarter in which you received active duty basic pay.
Service In 1940 Through 1956: If you were in the military during this period, including attendance at a service academy, you did not pay Social Security taxes. However, your Social Security record may be credited with $160 a month in earnings for military service from September 16, 1940, through December 31, 1956, under the following circumstances: You were honorably discharged after 90 or more days of service, or you were released because of a disability or injury received in the line of duty; or You are still on active duty; or You are applying for survivors benefits and the veteran died while on active duty. You cannot receive credit for these special extra earnings if you are already receiving a federal benefit based on the same years of service. There is one exception: If you were on active duty after 1956, you can still get the special earnings for 1951 through 1956, even if you're receiving a military retirement based on service during that period.
Feel free to forward this to all you know who have served on active duty and who you believe may be entitled to this benefit. Again, former service members must ask for the benefit in order to receive it. Please consult the Social Security Administration webpage for additional information on this benefit at: http://www.socialsecurity.gov/retire2/military.htm
"We are looking for companies with inflationary pricing ability, a company that can increase its prices at least in line with inflation....Inflation is the enemy of investors...We clearly see the US facing inflationary pressures"
Sotheby’s D-Grade Flawless Diamond (White Diamond) Price: $16 million Carats: 108
This flawless white diamond--arguably the finest of its kind for sale anywhere in the world--is graded ‘D’ for color (highest possible rating). What makes it extraordinary isn’t so much its heft--a generous 108 carats-- as its nearly total absence of flaws. For more information, visit: www.sothebys.com.
Mouawad Diamond Necklace Price: $12 million Carats: 70 (for the largest stone)
This necklace of white and colored diamonds was once displayed at London’s Natural History Museum and is currently owned by the Robert Mouawad as part of his collection housed in Geneva, Switzerland, which contains his higher-end pieces. The largest jewel in the necklace is a 70-carat white sparkler. For more information, visit: www.mouawad.com.
Leviev Fancy Vivid Yellow Diamond Price: $10 Million Carats: 77.12
“Fancy vivid” is the highest rating you can give a colored stone, and London jeweler and Israeli diamond tycoon Lev Leviev is offering for sale one of the world’s most spectacular. Leviev, who controls the third largest group of diamond mines in the world, got this stone from one of his own diggings. It hangs from a white diamond necklace. For more information, visit: www.leviev.com.
Graff Fancy Vivid Pink Pear Shaped Diamond Price: $10 Million Carats: 13
Graff doesn’t loan diamonds to celebrities, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have your own piece of red carpet bling. Collectors will be clamoring for this beauty, mounted in a platinum ring with white pear-shaped diamonds on both sides. For more information, visit: www.graffdiamonds.com.
Harry Winston Fancy Intense Pink Diamond with two Trapezoid Diamonds Price: $8.3 Million Carats: 10.11
Pinks are among the rarest of colored diamonds, and this particular stone is one of the largest offered on the market today. The diamond displays a 100% pure pink color that is evenly distributed and saturated to a degree found only in the best vivid-grade diamonds. Clarity rating: VVS1. For more information, visit: www.harrywinston.com.
de Grisogono Green Diamond Price: $7.3 Million Carats: 25.06
Colored diamonds, specifically green ones, rarely come to market, which helps account for the relatively high price of this one from de Grisogono. The 25-carat GIA-certified VS1stone is set in white gold with 382 black diamonds (7 carats’ worth) surrounding it. For more information, visit: www.degrisogono.com
If you think diamonds are a girl's best friend, think again. The majority of expensive stones are bought by men, who purchase them for their personal collections. READ THE ENTIRE ARTICLE
Many thanks to Dianne Ervin for her correction on the Sotheby's D-Grade Flawless Diamond description!
This analysis from CATO's Daniel J. Mitchell shows Goldman Sachs taking the long view on the possibility of a recession in 2011. They back up their prediction with some reasonably solid logic using CBO data:
The Congressional Budget Office predicts a budget surplus in 2012, but only because it assumes the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011 (a reasonable assumption) and that this will lead to a flood of new tax revenue (a very unreasonable assumption). A TCS Daily column by James Pethokoukis notes that this leads the Wall Street firm of Goldman Sachs to predict a recession in 2011:
Deficits are often used as reason for higher taxes, such as in 1993 and 1982. But to believe in higher taxes as sound economic policy in coming years, you also have to believe in the CBO’s cheery forecast that hundreds of billion of dollars in new taxes will have little or no effect on economic growth. Now you don’t have to be an acolyte of supply-side guru Arthur Laffer to find that sort of “static analysis” a little weird. Most Americans probably would. So, apparently, did the economic team at Goldman Sachs, the old employer of Robert Rubin, President Bill Clinton’s second treasury secretary. Thus the firm’s econ wonks decided to try and simulate the real-world effect of letting the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of 2010. Using the respected Washington University Macro Model, Goldman reset the tax code to its pre-Bush status, assumed all tax cuts expired, and watched how the economy reacted as 2011 began. What did the firm see? Well, in the first quarter of 2011 the economy dropped 3 percentage points below what it would have been otherwise. “Absent a tailwind to growth from some other source,” the analysis concludes, “this would almost surely mark the onset of a recession.”
This article provides an intriguing view of generational investing trends, and how each generation goes about making their millions...
By Katie Benner, Fortune reporter
There's no question that hedge funds and private equity investments have dominated the business headlines for the last year. But does that mean that individuals are actually flocking to these high-risk, high-return funds?
Not as much as you might think. A recent study shows that 40 percent of millionaire investors surveyed had no allocation whatsoever in alternative investments, including private equity, hedge funds and commodities. Those who shy away from the investments say the products are too complex or that the risks associated with these investments are too high, says the report from Northern Trust, which provides financial services to high net-worth clients, including 22 percent of the Forbes 400 Richest Americans.
Instead, domestic equities dominate the portfolios overall, representing 43 percent of their assets, up from 41 percent in 2005. Millionaires reduced their exposure to real estate to 8 percent from 13 percent; and international investments increased to 10 percent from 8 percent.
About half of the high-net worth investors who do put money into alternative assets allocate 10% or more, and they told Northern Trust that they are attracted to the higher returns and diversification that these riskier investments hope to deliver. "Private equity funds are really investing on behalf of institutional investors -- and that means the pension funds for teachers, firemen and police officers," says one private equity insider.
And he's not just spinning a Mr. Nice Guy image for his own industry. Wealthy families accounted for 11 percent of the $154.3 billion raised by U.S. private equity firms in 2005, according to Dow Jones Private Equity Analyst. More than 70% of private equity capital came from public and corporate pension funds, insurance companies, endowments, foundations, and funds of funds, specialized vehicles that combine the assets of many small investors.
Additionally, Dow Jones said that U.S. investors accounted for 77 percent of the capital raised by private equity firms in 2005. With the bulk of private equity's money coming from pensioners, universities and our insurers, the actions of these cash-happy funds are of genuine importance to the comparatively cash-strapped masses. And the deep participation of such institutions may also explain why some politicians and regulators have been fighting for more industry scrutiny.
Among wealthy investors who did give money to alternative assets, Northern Trust found some striking generational differences. For example, 27 percent of GenX millionaires (i.e. ages 27 to 41) have exposure to the higher risk vehicles, compared with 17 percent of baby boomers, and only 11 percent of millionaires ages 61 and older. "Alternative asset class investments, particularly hedge funds and private equity, often have lock-up provisions and other limitations on liquidity," says Northern Trust chief investment officer John Skjervem. "Younger investors, presumably still working, can afford to invest a larger proportion of their portfolio in an illiquid, non-income producing asset class."
Lest we believe that the wealthy are throwing all their cash at high-risk, high-return investments, respondents overwhelmingly described their risk tolerance as "moderate." But among the "deca-millionaires," meaning households with more than $10 million in investable assets, 22 percent say they are aggressive investors; and younger, male investors claimed higher risk tolerance levels than older, female investors.
Moreover, millionaires are optimistic about the future, with 62 percent expecting annual market gains of 6 percent or higher. Only a tiny minority said they were bearish on the market, despite spirit- dampening trends like the worsening international crisis, growing budget deficits and the declining dollar. "Despite a discernable slowdown in U.S. economic growth in the second half of 2006 and a continuing steady stream of often disconcerting geopolitical headlines, investors continue to embrace risk across equity, fixed income and alternative asset classes with remarkable calm and tenacity," says Skjervem.
"Isaac Newton spent a lot of time trying to turn lead into gold; He should have been a stockbroker. In fact he did lose a lot of money in the south sea bubble. Genes or intellect do not make a good investment head."