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Is it 1970? Steelworkers Strike

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Interest rates have shot up a lot meaning the bond market is down. Interest rates on the 10-year Treasury note have traded at 2% and above since last week after trading near 1.6% earlier in the month. Interest rates, we all remember, have an inverse relationship to the bond market. When interest rates are up the bond market is down.


In all it shows the risk of investing in bonds in such a low interest rate environment. Imagine being an investor who put money into the 10-year Treasury several weeks ago. You bought a bond that was going to have trouble keeping up with inflation-- which of course there is very little right now. And now just a few weeks later you have to wait 10 years to get your principal back.

Not a great deal for them.

The net effect is that investors are paying the government to hold their money for them. These are the times we live in.

I must've woken up in the 1970s, because steel workers are going on strike for the first time in many decades.

The steelworkers have given notice that they intend on going on strike against oil refineries over health benefits and replacement workers. The union complains that the refineries use inexpensive contract workers for some jobs rather then union members. But I'm not sure the union quite understands the concept.

Analysts say that gasoline production won't be affected. That's because the refineries will use...more contract workers to replace the striking steelworkers.

Yet gasoline prices have gone up already in preparation for the strike- a strike that won't affect production and will allow refineries to actually cut costs.


So thanks for nothing refineries and steel workers.

I'll hate you both at the gasoline pump.

Description: the January numbers are in and according to Investment News Alternative Investments earned their keep... at least for January.

The publication reports that of the seven mutual fund categories that Morningstar tracks as alternative investments only one was in negative territory for January, dropping by 1.4%.

The S&P 500 finished January down by 3%.

Some analysts however caution that a one-month comparison with the S&P 500 does not "test the mettle" of alternative investments' ability to withstand a market correction, with one contending that a strategy that is less than 100% long the S&P 500 will indeed outperform the S&P 500 in a downturn.

First it was the state returns and now federal investigators have opened up a case of possible tax filing fraud.

The fraud investigation stems from a data breach with TurboTax software. Someone stole personally identifiable information and used it to file fraudulent state tax returns prompting TurboTax to suspend state filing of returns. They have subsequently unsuspended state filings recently.


This is the first hint however that the fraud it might've involved possible identity theft for the filing of federal returns.

Welcome to the newest financial planning tool.


Or bachelorettehood.

According to new study by the Pew Research Center double the amount of people still remain unmarried as compared to 1960.

More and more people are choosing cohabitation versus marriage-- even long-term. And this present certain financial planning challenges.

Whether it's inheriting assets, taxation coming out of retirement accounts, asset protection issues the boom in being single-- but living with somebody--can be tricky. And then of course there are income taxes. Married, married filing separately, married filing jointly?

Time to stop taxing marriage.

Job openings rose to the highest level since January 2001 according to the Commerce Department statistics. And more people are quitting their job in confidence that the economy is picking up steam.

There's still quite a bit of slack in the labor force.

And business inventory growth edged down a bit this month.

In all it makes for uncertainty for market watchers, who don't know if interest rates will go up or down based on the economy, based on the mood of Janet Yellen, based on the need for Western societies to borrow more and more money.


And it is ironic to note that at a time one confidence in the economy is picking up, the market is going through one of those periodic times of volatility, when it just can't make up its mind which way it wants to go.

Again it's a sign that what is great for Wall Street isn't necessarily great for Main Street. That seems to be the central problem facing our economy.

Wouldn’t it be great to live in a world where the economy was picking up steam, there were more jobs, and the stock market was going up?

I know, I know I'm asking too much.


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