MFA Insights

March 2019: Charitable Contributions – Are They Still Tax Deductible?

Posted by on Mar 27, 2019 in MFA Insights

The recent tax law has changed the nature of charitable giving a bit and we’re writing with a brief summary of how you can enjoy the greatest tax-deductibility of your charitable contributions.

Generally speaking, when you make a contribution to a qualified charity or non-profit, that amount is allowed to be potentially deducted on your income tax return (and thus lower your taxes). Whether you actually end up getting a deduction depends mainly on whether or not you do what is called itemizing your deductions.

For 2019, each individual is allowed to take $12,200 off of income while couples can take $24,400 off. This “Standard Deduction” is a flat deduction the IRS offers to everyone.

But, if you have actual deductible expenses which total more than that standard deduction, you can “itemize” your deductions and claim a greater reduction in income.

Read More

June 2018: Guessing Jelly Beans

Posted by on Jun 5, 2018 in MFA Insights

Have you ever seen that game where the goal is to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar? When you look at the range of guesses, you’ll find a huge disparity – some people’s guesses are surprisingly low while others’ are much too high. Yet, something amazing happens when you take the average of everyone’s guesses: The average guess ends up being right on.

This effect is referred to as “The Wisdom of the Crowds.” The term, coined in the book by James Surowiecki, proposes that the collective intelligence of a crowd can exceed that of any of its individuals.

The wisdom of the crowds is very relevant to investing.

Read More

Feb 2018: Welcome Back Volatility

Posted by on Feb 16, 2018 in MFA Insights

After an unusually long run of particularly calm and rewarding markets, volatility is back. Looking back, 2017 offered an especially mellow ride for investors. The largest daily drop in the S&P 500 in 2017 was -1.82%. The largest daily gain was 1.37%. And the index ended the year up 18.7%. 2018 began in the same vein as January produced 10 record highs in 13 days. All this calm and all of these positive returns may have lulled investors into feeling that this was normal (“Hey, we could get used to this!”) Then, with more drama than an Olympic downhill run, volatility returned in the last...

Read More

May 2017: Two Truths About Stock Market Returns

Posted by on May 21, 2017 in MFA Insights

There are two investment dictates you’ve certainly heard from us: Make sure that you are broadly diversified and stay fully invested. You understand that being broadly diversified across many stocks reduces your risk of being over-concentrated in one or a few stocks that risk suffering a poor fate. You also understand that, as much as we wish we could time the market by being in while it’s rising and out when it’s not, there is no crystal ball or proven reliable method for determining this correctly and consistently. Today we want to share with you a couple of extraordinary statistics about...

Read More

Feb 2017 – Determining market direction related to average returns

Posted by on Feb 9, 2017 in MFA Insights

Bestselling author Michael Lewis has another hit on the shelves, “The Undoing Project” in which he profiles the fascinating collaboration of two Israeli born psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky whose research, writing and teaching challenges the way we think. It points out the flaws of our mental wiring that were largely soldered into place thousands of years ago and haven’t caught up with modern realities.

Mr. Lewis’s compelling read had us going back to one of our favorites, Daniel Kahneman’s 2011 book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow”. Dr. Kahneman, a psychologist, was awarded a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2002 for the work he did in the field now widely known as Behavioral Economics. We used his thinking to take a look at the surprising gains of the stock market since the recent election.

Read More

Nov 2016 – Election Results: Hold the Course

Posted by on Nov 9, 2016 in MFA Insights

It’s done and decided. Trump wins.
Markets are actually rallying today and reacting relatively calmly.
Will your investment portfolio be OK? Yes.
As always, what happens in the short-term is unpredictable. And that’s OK since we are investors, not speculators.

Read More