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  1. Read the quotation from the article: "After choosing the insurers, the union (NEA) designed certain annuities with them, negotiating the terms of the annuities, exclusively endorsing the annuities as favorable retirement savings vehicles, and aggressively marketing the annuities to union members. The union also monitored and managed the annuities for its participants. In exchange for the union's role in marketing the annuities, the insurers paid royalties of about $2 million per year to the union, took on the salaries of the union's member benefit corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the union, and contributed to the union's charitable foundations. The insurers also received fees from investment companies whose mutual funds were made available through the annuities. The union did not fully disclose to its members the nature or amount of the payments it received from the insurers or the fact that the insurers received payments from the investment companies whose mutual funds were included in the annuities. Instead, the union marketed the annuities as the most favorable retirement option for its members, despite the fact that the annuities charged fees that were as much as ten times those charged on comparable annuity contracts." NEA may have won the lawsuit, but it has egg all over its face.
  2. Fidelity Spartan expense ratios: Total Stock Market: .10% Total International Stock Market: .20% Total Bond Index: .22% I have all three of these, as does my wife.
  3. so why does Horace Mann sell these variable annuities to teachers in there 40's? To make money.
  4. Fidelity's Spartan funds are among the lowest around. Fidelity just added its former US Bond Index fund to the Spartan lineup, and reduced the expense ratio to .22.
  5. I just received a Cal STRS publication that included the fund's returns over the last ten years: Cal STRS returns: 2.5% Benchmark returns: 2.5% There's another argument for indexing. All of that money devoted to paying the best and the brightest for their investment acumen and ... the investment geniuses could not beat their benchmarks.
  6. I have no idea what my 403b return was this year. Why? Because it is spread out among several different providers. Why? Because the offerings provided by my district have changed over the years. Consequently, I have 403b accounts with Fidelity, Vanguard, and (ugh!) Great American Life. I would make an educated guess that the overall return was about 8-9%. I have a 40-60 asset allocation, and I am satisfied with this year's returns. I won't be entirely satisfied until the Dow breaks through the 14,000 level it had reached in 2007. Those folks who are happy about the last two years' returns are overlooking the collapse of stock prices from the 2007 highs. I am still upset over that collapse, although I have continued to maximize my 403b contributions through dollar cost averaging. It has been difficult to stay the course in the past decade, but I have done so nonetheless.
  7. OK, Tony, you got me! The author falls prey to the cause and effect fallacy. It's not at all clear that high taxes are what make people in these countries happy. There are all sorts of cultural explanations that help to explain the happiness in these countries, which are very, very different than the US. Happy New Year, Tony. I wish you and everyone else a prosperous 2011.
  8. Steve, As my posts indicate, yes, I am pretty bitter. I have developed a pretty conservative portfolio allocation (40-60), and yet the hammer continues to fall. I think that the bitterness goes beyond investing, though. I feel as if I'm getting the double whammy: declining markets and increasing responsibility for the well-being of others. But that's getting into the political realm, and I don't think I'll go there on this forum.
  9. - My bond allocation has ranged from 40% earlier in the decade to the current level of 60%. Bonds, to be sure, have provided somewhat of a cushion for my portfolio, but the stock market losses have overwhelmed the bond gains. And I'm just waiting for bonds to get hammered when interest rates rise from their record lows. - What am I going to do going forward? Just what I am doing now: no load index funds, broad diversification, dollar cost averaging, maximizing 403b contributions -- all of the "right" things that got me nowhere for the last ten years. I have totally bought into the "stay the course" Kool Aid, much to the regret of my portfolio. I know that markets have ups and downs in the short run, but how does one define "short run?" Ten years is a pretty long "short run."
  10. Are there any other idiots like me out there who continue to maximize their 403b plans, contribute to an IRA, invest in a broad mix of no load index funds that are appropriate for one's level of risk, and dollar-cost average through thick and thin? Or is it just me who went to Jonestown and drank the Kool Aid for the past ten years?
  11. "If there is anything that mutual fund investors have learned during the volatile past decade, it's that the past is not prologue. Between December 1999 and December 2009, U.S. stocks on the S&P 500 had an annualized total return of -0.9%. That's one of the four lowest for any decade in the past century and a far cry from the long-term average of 8.1%." I have great respect for Bogle, but following his advice (no load funds, broad diversification, index funds, dollar cost averaging) has been awful for me for the past ten years. Where has "doing all the right things" gotten me since 2000? Nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. I just laugh when I hear about "stock market recovery ... Dow Jones up to 10,400 ..." Do the morons who report this understand that the D-J is DOWN from a high of >14,000 a few years ago? This is a "recovery?" Give me a break. The cold, hard truth is that we would have all been better by just avoiding stocks and staying in cash the past ten years. People like me just drank in the Kool Aid of doing all the "right things." What a joke. Stocks are ~26% below what they were three years ago. Lord knows how long it will take for stocks just to reach their level of 2007, let alone actually going beyond that level. Does anyone else see a Japanization of the US?
  12. Wellesley is a fine fund; however, if you believe in the concept of establishing a certain mix of stocks, bonds and cash, this fund complicates matters because it has both stocks and bonds, as you have mentioned. A simpler solution would be: Vanguard Total US Stock Vanguard Total Bond Vanguard Total International Stock But heck, I feel like saying "What do I know?" when I look at investment returns of the past ten years. So the above allocation is sort of a standard response for low-cost indexers like me. I'm at the point where I have absolutely no confidence in what I'm doing. I'm doing all of the "right" things such as diversifying across different asset classes, using no load index funds, dollar-cost averaging, maximizing 403b contributions, but where the heck has it gotten me the last ten years?
  13. It's also important to note that the 2009 retirement class is a small fraction of the overall STRS retirement beneficiaries, the latter of which have a smaller pension benefit. In fact, those who retired years ago would have significantly less of a benefit than $4300 per month.
  14. Darn, if it weren't for all of those public workers who have those "lavish" pension, the enconomy would be terrific and there would be no state deficits. People wondered why we would go into a profession that demanded much in education and paid so little. Now those same people are screaming that we are making too much and our pensions are lavish. Steve Once the facts about STRS "lavish" pensions are presented, things look a little different. A while back you showed that the average STRS pension goes to someone who retired at about age 60-61, and was for the munificent amount of about $38,000. You are right on about this, Steve. Teachers are the whipping boys for California's fiscal woes.
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