Retirement Planner: The intricacies of the bond market

We average investors just doesn't understand bonds as well as we should. But it's simple. Stocks are like roller coasters while bonds perform like Ferris wheels.  
The fact that mutual funds investing in small companies have been lagging the rest of the stock market for the past year prompted me to recall the situation back in 1999.  
 
In spite of my skepticism regarding the ability of new regulations to avert another financial meltdown, I have to admit that we seem to be making progress.  
 
When it comes to making investment decisions, a normal person considers past history as a starting point offering a glimpse into the future.  
 
In short, the past five years have been a blessing. The stock market recovery itself took only 22 months before patient investors were whole again, and since that time things have only gotten better -- and stayed better without a letup. Moreover, most of us have even seen our homes recover to something approaching what they might have been worth about 10 years ago.  
 
To review the basics, banks borrow money from depositors -- those of us with savings accounts, CDs, the float from our checking accounts, etc., and they make loans with that money. Currently, 95 percent of what banks loan comes from what people like us have loaned them.  
 
Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen, according to a recent report, is inclined to favor Main Street over Wall Street, which means that she is inclined to do what is necessary to keep the economy growing.  
 
LTC policyholders should take the time to write to Dave Jones, the California insurance commissioner, and suggest that he require insurance companies to honor the marketing materials they used to sell policies years ago that clearly implied that "buying policies at a young age LOCKED IN low premiums."  
 
A 50/50 mix of stocks and bonds or heavily weighted (perhaps 90 percent) stocks buttressed by a cash side fund to weather periodic crashes. Either approach offers a vast improvement over the mindless annuities and target date retirement funds routinely foisted on retirees by the financial services industry.  
 
I love what I hear about the new commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. He sounds like the kind of person that will go after what a New York Times editorial cited as the $385 billion annual shortfall between what taxpayers owe and what they pay.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
( RAY CHAVEZ )
Review: Oakland's vegetarian Encuentro expands and delights

Oakland's Encuentro takes an inspired approach to vegetarian and vegan cuisine, coming up with creative, seasonal fare that's hearty enough to satisfy any omnivore.  
(Photo by Greg Allen/Invision/AP, File)
Tracy Morgan may not perform or walk without assistance again

“Saturday Night Live” alum seen outside New York hospital Wednesday in a wheelchair.