07-25-2019 Columns


Don’t chase last year’s mutual fund category winners

The world of mutual funds can be confusing. With more than 9,000 funds on the market, how can you choose the ones that are right for you? One way to start is by considering the various categories of mutual funds – and there are quite a few of them: Small Cap Growth, Large Cap Growth, Large Cap Value, Diversified Emerging Markets, Foreign Large Cap Blend and more – the list is extensive, and for many people, confusing. However, with a little study, you can understand why these funds have their names – for example, a Small Cap Growth fund will contain stocks of smaller companies thought to offer growth potential. Once you know the goals of different categories of mutual funds, you can determine which ones fit into your overall investment strategy. This is important, because you want to ensure your portfolio is appropriately diversified. For example, if you find that almost all of your mutual funds come from the above-mentioned Small Cap Growth category, you may be taking on more investment risk than you’d like, because funds that offer the greatest growth possibilities also usually carry the highest degree of market volatility. Typically, you may be better off owning an array of mutual funds drawn from several different categories, with the percentage each category occupies in your portfolio based on your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon. (Keep in mind, though, that while diversification can help reduce the effects of volatility, it doesn’t guarantee a profit or protect against losses in a declining market.) You might be tempted to choose categories by looking at which most recently outperformed the others, and just stick with those groups. But is this a good idea? It probably isn’t – and the main reason you shouldn’t chase performance this way is things change very quickly in the mutual funds arena. It’s quite possible – and has happened many times – that the top category last year can fall into one of the worst-performing ones this year, and vice versa. Consequently, your efforts to capture a winning trend may be futile. Of course, within the context of investing in various mutual fund categories, you still need to choose individual funds. And, as is the case with categories, you might be tempted to give considerable weight to a fund’s track record. But, similar to the situation with fund categories, “chasing performance” is typically not a good strategy – after all, last year’s “hot” fund may have cooled off considerably this year. Nonetheless, reviewing a fund’s longer-term track record can help you understand how it might perform through the ups and downs of the financial markets. Always keep in mind, though, that past performance can’t guarantee how the fund will perform in the future. Mutual funds are popular investments – and for good reason. Since each fund generally contains dozens of securities, you get a degree of diversification you can’t achieve from owning individual stocks or bonds. And, as discussed above, you can diversify further by owning funds from several categories. Just remember, though, that as you build your mutual fund portfolio, don’t get caught up in last year’s results – because old news just may not be that relevant today. Mutual fund investing involves risk. Your principal and investment return in a mutual fund will fluctuate in value. Your investment, when redeemed, may be worth more or less than the original cost. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.

Michigan must learn from Nassar case

Last year, people across the country watched as dozens of brave young women gave powerful testimony against disgraced Michigan State University sports doctor Larry Nassar. As a parent, former gymnast, and coach, the experiences the survivors shared really hit home. While no one can fix the awful things that happened to these young women, we have a duty to learn from the Nassar case and make reforms to better protect Michigan children from abuse. I’m proud that a solution I introduced to help fix one of the root problems of Nassar’s widespread abuse was recently approved by the Michigan House with overwhelming support. My plan, House Bill 4376, would better protect student athletes by including athletic trainers in a list of professionals required to report evidence of child abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse. Recent events have made it clear that sometimes abuse goes unreported or is overlooked. If we ensure more people are proactive in identifying and reporting abuse it will better protect our children. Athletic trainers work closely with young athletes, putting them in a position where they’re likely to pick up on signs of abuse or neglect. In many cases, these adults are even closer to student athletes than teachers because they spend a significant amount of time with the students. Another piece of the plan ensures all mandatory reporters are properly trained to understand the duties and responsibilities of their role. I served as a mandatory reporter when I was a teacher, and I am confident that expanding the number of people who are proactive in identifying and reporting abuse will benefit our children. I am honored to continue serving as your voice in Lansing, and always encourage residents to contact me with questions, concerns and ideas. Please feel free to reach out to my office at (517) 373-0839 or email BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.

Why don’t we have toll roads in Michigan?

In the ongoing debate over whether and how to develop a long-term plan for Michigan’s roads, a common proposal from some is to establish a toll system on I-94 as part of an overall strategy. Living in Southwest Michigan, residents are perhaps more familiar with a toll system given our proximity to Indiana and Illinois. Given that our three closest neighbor states have some sort of interstate toll system and their roads arguably are in better condition than ours, it is fair to consider such a plan for Michigan. But, as with anything, there are pros and cons for such a setup. Toll roads are considered beneficial in that they rely on a usage-based funding mechanism. Vehicles are charged per use, and the more one drives on such a road, the more a driver pays. The result is a seemingly one-to-one association of road wear to funds generated. Additionally, a toll system can help alleviate traffic congestion, though perhaps to a lesser extent. However, toll roads are not a panacea. In communities that are closer to a toll road, there can be a disproportionately higher cost for local residents who would likely be required to use a toll road more often. And for drivers who seek alternate routes, those non-tolled roads would likely see increased use and traffic congestion, adding stress that may not otherwise occur. Beyond those points, there are other obstacles, including and primarily from the federal government. Current federal policy prohibits existing interstates from being converted into toll roads except for when they are a part of a federal pilot project. Michigan is not currently involved in any federal tolling pilot projects, though it could be. Notably, there are five bridge crossings in the state that charge tolls. Lastly, a common argument against toll roads in Michigan is because our state is not a part of the nation’s so-called east-west corridor. Not having a toll system is seen as beneficial to commerce, tourism and overall economic development. The state Department of Transportation produced an informative document that provides a more in-depth explanation for why Michigan doesn’t have toll roads. It can be viewed online at https://www.michigan.gov/documents/mdot/MDOT_Toll_Roads_Brochure_548788_7.pdf. I will continue to be engaged as discussions proceed on developing a long-term solution to road funding in our state. As always, residents can contact my office by calling (517) 373-6960.


This past weekend, I joined the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus on a trip to McAllen, TX to learn more about the humanitarian crisis at our southern border. What I saw and learned was sobering. A few things stood out to me during the trip. For one, the system is completely overwhelmed. Many of our border patrol agents work over twelve hours a day, coming from other states – including Michigan – to help handle and process the thousands of people crossing at our southern border every day.

We must also find a way to stop the processes that some people are taking advantage of to try and get into our country. I met an eight-month-old baby who was brought here by a man who claimed to be the child’s father but failed the DNA test. This story is just heartbreaking. The truth is the border crisis will only get worse by doing nothing. The folks I traveled with have some good suggestions about how to fix this crisis and secure our borders, and we are all committed to working together on finding a long-term solution that makes up for the failures of the past.

To learn more about other important legislative issues, follow me on Twitter at @RepFredUpton or visit my website: upton.house.gov. You can also call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).

Breastfeeding on the Bluff event

The Berrien County Health Department in partnership with the Berrien County Breastfeeding Coalition will host the fourth annual “Breastfeeding on the Bluff” event occurring on Saturday, August 3 starting at 9:30 a.m. in Lake Bluff Park across from the St. Joseph Public Library in St. Joseph, Michigan. The “Breastfeeding on the Bluff” event takes place as part of the “2019 Global Big Latch On”, a global breastfeeding awareness celebration, where moms across the globe are linked in simultaneous breastfeeding, which occurs annually during World Breastfeeding Week (August 1-7). Mothers, fathers, families and breastfeeding supporters are encouraged to arrive at 9:30 a.m. for registration, before the “Big Latch On” at 10:30 a.m. Breastfeeding support resources, gifts for moms, face painting for kids, a photo booth, and refreshments for the whole family are provided. Transportation to the event is also provided and can be reserved by calling the Berrien County Health Department. The Berrien County Breastfeeding Coalition has a mission to provide support for the community by identifying and growing opportunities for on-going breastfeeding support and promotion, normalizing breastfeeding in the community, and ensure that families have the resources needed to have a successful breastfeeding relationship. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/berriencountybreastfeedingcoalition or by calling 269-926-7121.

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