09-29-2016 Columns


Financial focus: vote for smart  investment moves

 The presidential election is little more than a month away. Like all elections, this one has generated considerable interest, and, as a citizen, you may well be following it closely. But as an investor, how much should you be concerned about the outcome?  Probably not as much as you might think; historically, the financial markets have done well – and done poorly – under both Democratic and Republican administrations. Also, many factors affecting investment performance have little or nothing to do with the occupant of the White House. Consequently, no one can claim, with any certainty, that one candidate is going to be “better for the markets” than another one.  Still, this is not to say that any given presidential administration will have no effect at all on investors. For example, a president could propose changes to the laws governing investments, and if Congress passes those laws, investors could be affected.  But in looking at the broader picture, there is not much evidence that a particular president is going to affect the overall return of your investment portfolio. As mentioned above, many factors – corporate earnings, interest rates, foreign affairs, even natural disasters – can and will influence the financial markets. But in evaluating a president’s potential effect on your investments, you also need to consider something else: Our political system does not readily accommodate radical restructuring of any kind. So it is difficult for any president to implement huge policy shifts – and that is actually good for the financial markets, which, by their nature, dislike uncertainty, chaos and big changes.  The bottom line? From your viewpoint as an investor, do not worry too much about what happens in November. Instead, follow these investment strategies:  Stay invested: If you stop investing when the market is down in an effort to cut your losses, you may miss the opportunity to participate in the next rally – and the early stages of a rally are typically when the biggest gains occur.  Diversify: By spreading your dollars among an array of investments, such as stocks, bonds and other investments, you can help reduce the possibility of your portfolio taking a big hit if a market downturn primarily affected just one type of financial asset. Keep in mind though, that diversification cannot guarantee profits or protect against all losses. Stay within your risk tolerance: Investing always involves risk, but you will probably be more successful (and less stressed out) if you do not stray beyond your individual risk tolerance. At the same time, if you invest too conservatively, you might not achieve the growth potential you need to reach your goals. So you will need to strike an appropriate balance.  Forget about chasing “hot” stocks: Many so-called “experts” encourage people to invest in today’s “hot” stocks. But by the time you hear about them, these stocks – if they were ever “hot” to begin with – have probably already cooled off. More importantly, they might not have been suitable for your needs, anyway. In any case, there is really no “short cut” to investment success.  Elections – and even presidents – come and go. But when you “vote” for solid investment moves, you can help yourself make progress toward your financial goals.  This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor.


Promoting broadband investment

 As we move further into the 21st century, Internet access is becoming an increasingly important piece of our children’s education, our state’s economic competitiveness and how we communicate with each other.  However, there are a number of places in Southwest Michigan and across our great state where investment in the infrastructure necessary to expand high-speed Internet access has lagged behind. That is why I recently introduced House Bill (HB) 5946, which incentivizes investment in new equipment necessary to improve and expand high-speed Internet access in currently underserved areas.  Complying with government regulation and taxes is one of the key cost factors that broadband providers consider when deciding which, and how many, projects to invest in. These initial costs can be prohibitively high, particularly with the way new high-speed Internet equipment is assessed. This can lead to projects never being undertaken, or to companies using less expensive equipment resulting in slower speeds for consumers and business. By providing an incentive to invest in this new high-speed Internet equipment, state government can get out of the way of private investment and create an environment that is more conducive to the projects we need in order to expand and improve high-speed Internet access across Michigan.  I know that Michigan can compete and win in the 21st century economy by embracing technological advances and expanding high-speed Internet access to more residents and job creators. Ensuring that we have widespread and high-quality Internet access will play a vital role in creating an environment where our talented youth choose to stay and raise a family and job providers choose to invest and create jobs in Michigan.  As always, please feel free to contact me by calling my toll-free number at (800) 577- 6212, or email me at AricNesbitt@house.mi.gov.

Keeping teens off drugs


 Thousands of children and young adults have returned to school or college this fall which sometimes leaves parents to wonder if their child will be pressured into using alcohol or other drugs. Unfortunately, research shows that it is likely that your child will be exposed to illicit drugs and alcohol between the ages of 12 -17, but that does not mean they will use them.   Parents play a crucial role in their child’s decision not to use drugs and they are the most important influence in their kids’ lives.  Two-thirds of youth ages 12-17 say losing their parents’ respect and pride is one of the main reasons they do not smoke, drink or use drugs.  There is no single warning sign for teen drug use, but some possible signs include:  changes in friends, declining grades, increased secrecy, increased use of incense, room deodorant, or perfume, changes in conversations with friends (using coded language), change in clothing choices, increase in borrowing money, evidence of drug paraphernalia such as pipes, rolling papers, etc., evidence of use of inhalant products, such as hairspray, nail polish, correction fluid, common household products, and missing prescription drugs – especially narcotics and mood stabilizers.  Keeping the lines of communication open, being informed and setting guidelines are some of the best forms of prevention available.  Engaging your child in discussions about friends, activities, classes, etc. is very important as is being able to listen to what they are saying without being critical or judgmental.   For more information, call the Health Department at (269) 926-7121 or visit www.bchdmi.org.


 Our farmers are the heart and soul of a food and agriculture industry that contributes $101.2 billion annually to Michigan’s economy and employs about 22 percent of the state’s workforce.  This summer, I launched a “Thank a Farmer” initiative, enabling residents to contribute letters of appreciation to area famers.  Residents visited my website at www.SenatorJohnProos.com/thank-a-farmer to submit letters of thanks and describe their favorite things about Southwest Michigan produce.  The response has been tremendous. My office is still in the process of sending hundreds of thank-you notes to farmers throughout the region.  Residents can still send in their thoughts about how the pie they picked up was the best they ever had or that they appreciate the healthy fruits and vegetables their kids crave. We will make sure to pass them along.  Another excellent place to thank farmers for the abundant and diverse fresh foods they produce is at a local farmers market.  While autumn is here, farmers markets are going strong — selling Michigan-grown produce, fruits and other items directly to area families.  I was proud to sponsor this initiative to highlight the extraordinary produce grown in Southwest Michigan and to give residents an easy way to thank our farmers for all they do to help feed our families and the nation.  I look forward to passing along the words of encouragement and gratitude expressed by so many area residents.  As always, I look forward to hearing your comments and feedback on the important issues facing Michigan. You can contact me at 517-373-6960.

September is Suicide Prevention Month


 As the calendar turns to October, it is important to remember that September is Suicide Prevention Month.  Suicidal thoughts and actions know no bounds. They affect people of all ages, race, sexes, and religions. The statistics are startling: Suicide has become the third leading cause of death among young people and is the 10th leading cause of death here in the United States. Each year more than 40,000 Americans die by suicide – more than 100 per day, on average.  Just a few weeks ago, I was in Kalamazoo’s Bronson Park for the annual Gryphon Place Suicide Prevention Walk. A beautiful young woman named Kait stood before the crowd of more than 100 and delivered a stirring poem she had written about being bullied and, as a result, how she harbored thoughts of suicide. Hearing her deeply personal story broke everyone’s hearts. And as a father of two young adults, my thoughts quickly turned to them. When she finished, I followed up and told her she is not alone. Anyone considering suicide or having suicidal thoughts should know the same: You are not alone and there is always help and options available.  Hearing her story also spurred me to take action. Last Thursday, I took to the House Floor to deliver a statement about bullying, mental health, and how we must confront suicide and the underlying issues behind it – together.  To learn more about this and other important legislative issues, and to read Kait’s stirring poem, please visit my website upton.house.gov.