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The contribution limits should be much higher. Give Americans an incentive to save for their retirement I say.-Lou

IRA and 401(k) Changes Coming in 2015

Investment portfolio eggs
Geri Lavrov/Getty ImagesThe new year will bring new account options for workers saving for retirement.

Daily Finance 

By Emily Brandon

Retirement savers will have a new retirement account option in 2015. Investors will also be eligible to contribute $500 more to a 401(k) next year. Here’s a look at how retirement accounts will change in 2015.

Introducing the myRA. The Treasury will offer a new type of retirement account, the myRA, beginning in late 2014 that is guaranteed by the government to never lose value. Deposits will be made via payroll deduction, and accounts can be opened with an initial deposit of as little as $25 and then direct deposits of $5 or more each payday. But these accounts are not tied to your job and are portable if you change jobs. Savers with an annual income of less than $129,000 for individuals and $191,000 for couples will be eligible to participate. These new accounts “target low- and middle-income Americans who don’t currently have access to an employer-sponsored plan,” says Mikio Thomas, a senior tax analyst for the Internal Revenue Service.

The myRA is a Roth account, which means contributions can be withdrawn tax-free at any time, and earnings can be distributed without triggering an additional tax once the account is five years old and the account owner is at least age 59½. However, myRAs differ from Roth IRAs in that myRAs will hold a new retirement savings bond backed by the U.S. Treasury that is guaranteed not to lose value, and there are no fees. Savers can use the accounts for up to 30 years or until their balance grows to $15,000, at which point the balance will transfer to a private-sector retirement account.

Higher 401(k) contribution limits. Taxpayers will be able to contribute up to $18,000 to their 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan in 2015, which is $500 more than in 2014. “You can increase your contribution percentage at the start of the year,” says Andrew Jamison, a certified financial planner for Main Avenue Financial Services in Beaverton, Oregon. The catch-up contribution limit for employees age 50 and older will also grow by $500 to $6,000 in 2015.

IRA contribution limits unchanged. The IRA contribution limit will remain $5,500 in 2015. Investors age 50 and older can contribute an additional $1,000 to an IRA, an amount that is not eligible for an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

Bigger IRA income limits. The tax deduction for making a traditional IRA contribution is phased out for investors who have a workplace retirement plan and a modified adjusted gross income between $61,000 and $71,000 for individuals and $98,000 to $118,000 for couples in 2015, up $1,000 and $2,000, respectively, from 2014. For individuals who don’t have a workplace retirement plan but are married to someone who does, the tax deduction for an IRA contribution is phased out if the couple’s income is between $183,000 and $193,000 in 2015.

Increased Roth IRA income cutoffs. The income limits for contributing to a Roth IRA will increase by $2,000 in 2015 to between $116,000 and $131,000 for individuals and $183,000 to $193,000 for married couples. “If you are eligible for a Roth, I would put the full amount in a Roth IRA,” says Ann Coulson, a certified financial planner and personal financial planning professor at Kansas State University. “Then you can pull out tax-free income so you have money to live on in retirement.” Individuals who earn more than these income cutoffs may still be able to convert traditional IRA assets to a Roth IRA.


Obamacare sends health premiums skyrocketing by as much as 78 percent

I thought our dear leader promised that premiums would go down with Obamacare.-Lou

Obamacare sends health premiums skyrocketing by as much as 78 percent

President Barack Obama speaks during a campaign rally for Wisconsin Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke at North Division High School on Tuesday, Oct. 28, 2014, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The Affordable Care Act was supposed to make health care more affordable, but a newly released study of insurance policies before and after Obamacare shows that average premiums have skyrocketed, for some groups by as much as 78 percent.

Average insurance premiums in the sought-after 23-year-old demographic rose most dramatically, with men in that age group seeing an average 78.2 percent price increase before factoring in government subsidies, and women having their premiums rise 44.9 percent, according to a report by HealthPocket scheduled for release Wednesday.

The study, which was shared Tuesday with The Washington Times, examined average health insurance premiums before the implementation of Obamacare in 2013 and then afterward in 2014. The research focused on people of three ages — 23, 30 and 63 — using data for nonsmoking men and women with no spouses or children.

The premium increases for 30-year-olds were almost as high as for 23-year-olds — 73.4 percent for men and 35.1 percent for women — said the study, titled “Without Subsidies Women & Men, Old & Young Average Higher Monthly Premiums with Obamacare.”

“It’s very eye-opening in terms of the transformation occurring within the individual health insurance market,” said Kev Coleman, head of research and data at HealthPocket, a nonpartisan, independently managed subsidiary of Health Insurance Innovations in Sunnyvale, California.

“I was surprised in general to see the differences in terms of the average premiums in the pre-reform and post-reform markets,” Mr. Coleman said. “It was a higher amount than I had anticipated.”

The eye-popping increases among younger insurance buyers could be a problem for Obamacare’s long-term solvency given that young people are needed to offset the higher costs associated with older policyholders.

“Obviously they’re very important, and as much as they’re healthier, they tend to use health care less, so you want to try and have as many of those people enrolled as possible. And the cost for them went up very [steeply],” Mr. Coleman said.

The price increases for 63-year-olds were less dramatic: a 37.5 percent increase on average for women and 22.7 percent for men.


The study doesn’t include the federal premium subsidies offered to those earning between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty limit, but Mr. Coleman points out that not everyone in that bracket qualifies because their premiums must exceed a certain percentage of their income.

One-third of working Americans support two-thirds of the population

One-third of working Americans support two-thirds of the population: The hidden figures of those not in the labor force and transfer payments

There still seems to be little acknowledgement of the massive army of people now falling into the category labeled as not in the labor force. Some of this growth is predictable like many older Americans hitting retirement age. But this only explains a small portion of the change since many older Americans are needing to work much longer since they have paltry retirement savings. The unemployment rate dropping dramatically has largely been driven by this category expanding and labor force participation is at generational lows. You also have spending growing in the form of military, Medicare, and Social Security that are now eating up a larger portion of the budget. Deficit spending continues to occur in the face of a booming economy. Why? The math shows that one-third of private sector workers are supporting two-thirds of the population. We have over 92 million Americans that are now part of the not in the labor force category. Let us dig into the numbers even further since some tend to think this is only happening because of older baby boomers.

Not in the labor force demographics – not just old people

People tend to think that those in the not in the labor force category are largely older people. That is true but we’ve seen a large growth of those in their prime working years landing in this category. That is not a good thing. We’re also seeing more students go to college which is positive as long as you are not going into massive debt and are pursuing a quality education. Sadly, many are going into deep debt for a mediocre education.

Let us look at the not in the labor force category carefully:


Source: BLS, Jobenomics Blog

This is a very high number of people not in the labor force. Nearly one-third of the country falls in this category. And what we find is more older people are making up a larger portion of the labor force.

Labor force participation rates – the boost in unemployment figures

There has been some dramatic shifts to the labor force. Take a look at the following chart:


Source: BLS, Jobenomics Blog


‘Plunge protection’ behind market’s sudden recovery

I suspected the PPTs involvement in the dramatic market turn last week. Free markets don’t change direction and sentiment at the drop of a dime. John Crudele of The New York Post is one of only a few financial commentators that actually will expose market manipulation and Wall Street’s devious and fraudulent practices.-Lou ‘Plunge protection’ behind market’s sudden recovery ‘Plunge protection’ behind market’s sudden recovery John Crudele NY Post Mysterious forces were trying their best, but they couldn’t keep the stock market from swooning Wednesday. They failed in the morning, despite massive purchases of stock index futures contracts. Within minutes of the market’s opening, the Dow Jones industrial average was down 350 points. Later in the day — after a lot of shocking ebb and flow — the Dow bottomed out with a decline of 460 points. It was only in the last hour of trading that the market saviors managed to trim the Dow loss to just 173 points. And they succeeded only after Janet Yellen’s private, upbeat remarks about the economy were leaked. Welcome to a new kind of stock market — one that the average investor should refuse to be invested in. Anyone whose investments tightly track the major indices is now losing money since the beginning of 2014. The Dow is down 1.1 percent on the year, with the S&P and Nasdaq up 3 percent for 2014. Just for the record, I’ve been telling you for years that the stock market was in a bubble and that you should enjoy it while it lasts because bubbles always pop. Of course, if you could time the end of the bubble you’d be doing quite well. Miss the end and you are back to where you started. Or worse off in terms of confidence and finances. I obviously don’t know whether we are now seeing the end of the current stock-market bubble, during which the S&P index has risen 102 percent since October 2008. But there are people like my friend Peter Grandich of Trinity Financial, who has been excellent at predicting market corrections in the past and who thinks this is the end. I already brought up the sensitive issue of a market crash in a column on Oct. 9 that began: “Is this the month the stock market will crash?” October is historically a spooky month for stocks and in that column I rattled off the crashes and major price corrections of 1929, ’78, ’79, ’87, ’89 and 2008 to prove it. Will 2014 soon be added to that list? That’ll be the cliffhanger in today’s column. More…

The Stock Market Is In A Danger Zone

The S & P 500 has broken the 200 day moving average. The risk in stocks is very high. -Lou

What breaking the 200-day moving average for stocks really means


click on chart to enlarge chart

Whats Going On In Financial Markets

Census Bureau Worker Blows The Whistle On The Employment Report

What have I been telling you for years? I don’t trust the accuracy of any government economic report.-Lou


Census Bureau Worker Blows The Whistle On The Employment Report

NY Post

John Crudele

A field supervisor in the Census Bureau’s Denver region has informed her organization’s higher-ups, the head of the Commerce Department and congressional investigators that she believes economic data collected by her office is being falsified.

And this whistleblower — who asked that I not identify her — said her bosses in Denver ignored her warnings even after she provided details of wrongdoing by three different survey takers.

The three continued to collect data even after she reported them.

When I spoke with this whistleblower earlier this year as part of my investigation of Census, she told me that hundreds of interviews that go into the Labor Department’s unemployment rate and inflation surveys would miraculously be completed just hours before deadline.

The implication was that someone with the ability to fill in the blanks on incomplete surveys was doing just that.

The Denver whistleblower also provided to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform the names of other Census workers who can spill the beans about data fraud in other regions.

Census is broken up into six regions. Cheating has already been proven in the Philadelphia region. And with this whistleblower’s letter, Census authorities now have allegations that the same kind of nonsense was going on in Denver — that office covers Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Wyoming

The Oversight Committee recently completed a report along with the Joint Economic Committee of Congress that verified one case of falsification in the Philly office. But the committee said it couldn’t prove or disprove that there was a nationwide pattern of data fraud because Commerce — which oversees Census — had “obstructed” its investigation.

“There are serious issues within the Census Bureau Denver regional office management and I feel it’s time that you are made aware of them,” the whistleblower wrote on Sept. 30 to Penny Pritzker, the head of Commerce, and Wayne Hatcher, associate director of Census Field operations.



Important Gold Points From

The view on gold from my friends at Canadian Mine Analysis.-Lou



Important Gold Points, our view October 9, 2014


1-Gold representation as a percentage of total assets held by large institutions and by various investment funds is still quite low and has been dropping, yet on the other side are the world’s central banks that have been consistent buyers of the bullion. As you are aware, it is not easy to purchase gold bullion in large volume without moving the price up, having it delivered and stored safely. You may want to ask the Germans about the storage! The bottom line is that we expect to see more non-central bank institutions investing in gold mining stocks in order to participate in a potential bull market in gold. That method will be their proxy for gold investments. As you know, buying gold bullion in size without moving the price up can be very difficult.

2- Understand well that the central bankers such as the Chinese are presently trying to accumulate as much gold bullion as possible at prices as low as possible. Price weakness in the price of gold affords them the opportunity to accumulate gold at what they consider to be undervalued price levels. Unlike mining analysts and mining companies who lament low gold prices, the central bankers consider price weakness as opportunities to buy when bullion is “on sale.”

3-Still required? Yes required! For a strong bull market in gold and gold mining stocks, our historical analysis (and the analysis of others as well) suggests that at the same time, we would need to see a bear market in the large industrial stock market such as the Dow Jones Industrials and the S&P 500. With near zero interest rates it is very difficult to see a bear market in the industrial stocks for now.

4-The large buyers of gold bullion who are the central banks are not emotional but extremely well informed and attempt to time their bullion purchases using fundamental supply and demand analysis. They also use technical and cyclical analysis. Too often, the investing public, traders and some hedge funds can be far too emotional and engage in chasing and pushing the gold stocks up. Patient accumulation is a key ingredient to successful investing in mining stocks.

5-Technical Analysis! At, we like to see the gold price move up in a slow solid pattern, not “spike” type moves which usually indicates emotional buying. Slow prudent buying is the key. The angle of price ascent depicted on the chart is so important. Last March 18, 2014 on, I did not like the move from $1200 to the $1375 level. This is exactly what I wrote: “Examine a gold chart, you will find that when gold bullion has a move up of about $200 or more within a short span of three months or less, it will usually come back minimally in the amount of 30% to 50% of its upmove.” It certainly came back and more so didn’t it?

6-Is the price of gold manipulated? We sure think so. It is difficult for the world’s bond markets to maintain interest rates at near 1% to 3% if the gold market is in a bull phase. And keep in mind that large brokerage houses DO NOT want a bull market in gold as it brings with it a bear market or at best a very lethargic market in industrial stocks. A bear market in large industrial stocks has a severely negative impact on brokerage house profitability. There is a low level of profitability for the brokerage houses in the mining sector stocks.

7-Last summer of 2013, I suggested that gold bullion was making a bottom since it was selling under the cost of production for many gold mining companies; that has an enormous impact on the supply of gold. Remember that we are in a supply and demand business! That “cost of production” is a very important ingredient in a bottom. I saw that an analyst recently forecast gold is heading to $660. Maybe, but I have always looked at the cost of production. I doubt that gold would sell at about half the cost of production. Rest assured that the Chinese and Indians would take advantage of the low prices.

8-In keeping with their tradition of often offering pitifully poor investment advice, the major American brokerage houses will continue to impart the worst advice possible for the gold and gold mining stocks. They have a superb track record for doing just that. That will never change.

9- Are Gold stocks cheap? In our opinion, many of them are right now. True to form, many of the brokerage house recommendations will come after most of their “picks” have already had moves up on average of over 40%.

10- Canadian Mine will soon release a short booklet on gold mining which will explain the basics of gold mining exploration and production for investors. It will try to convey informative facts on the fundamentals involved in mining. It will give investors a solid overview of gold mining

JP Morgan Chase hack: 4 steps you must do now

If you have an account with JP Morgan Chase you must take the following action. I don’t have an account at that firm in the first place, hey but that’s me, I don’t like to do business with a company fined over $23 billion last year for fraudulent business practices.-Lou



JP Morgan Chase hack: 4 steps you must do now

Fox News – JP Morgan Chase Bank has revealed that 76 million household accounts, along with 7 million business accounts, were compromised in a recent cyber-attack. This attack ranks among the largest ever disclosed. Details indicate the hack occurred during June and July this past summer.

What we know

The breach affects everyone who visited the company’s websites, including, or used its mobile app during June and July of 2014.

Customer names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses were taken. This doesn’t sound like much but it’s enough for scammers to have a field day.

JP Morgan Chase says that there is no evidence that account information for such affected customers – account numbers, passwords, user IDs, dates of birth or Social Security numbers – was compromised during this attack.

4 steps you must do now

If you bank with JP Morgan Chase – and this hack could actually affect 83 million people – I recommend the following:

1. Change your online and mobile app passwords and PINs for your debit and credit cards. Click here for tricks on creating strong passwords you won’t forget. Be sure to update your personal security questions and answers too. This is important. Change your passwords on any other online account that used the same user names or passwords as your JP Morgan account.

2. Watch all your accounts like a hawk! In fact, set up text alerts to let you know about unusual activity – learn how to do that here. In some previous hack attacks, the victims were hit with small charges of just a few dollars to not attract too much attention.

3. If you notice any unusual activity on your accounts, contact your bank immediately and request new debit or credit card.

4. You’re likely to get email supposedly coming from Chase. If you get any email that asks you to click a link or download a file, it’s a scam and delete it right away. Click here to learn how to spot these email scams.

Whoever is behind this attack went through a tremendous effort to hack about 90 different servers deep inside JP Morgan Chase. Even with a new debit card, you might not be safe. Hackers have other ways to steal your information. Click here for the five riskiest places to swipe your debit card.