Welcome to Viewpoints, a monthly bulletin from PDS Planning to our valued clients and friends.  Our goal with each issue of Viewpoints is to provide you with a wide variety of perspectives on life and wealth.  Feel free to share with others. 

Economic and Investment News Bits 
  • Slingshot:  The S&P 500 recently experienced its sixth market correction (a decline of greater than 10%) during the current bull market, beginning March 2009.  The average time it has taken the market to recover to its previous peak (in this case, January 26, 2018) is around 200 days.  Currently, we’re around 80 days from the peak, but have made back much of the recent correction, being only ~3.2% away from returning to the previous high.  (Source: Bloomberg)
  • The Demise of Traditional Retailers:  Major US retailers closed 7,066 stores nationwide during calendar year 2017 (led by RadioShack with 1,470 stores), an all-time high.  So far in 2018, 3,335 store closures have been announced (led by Toys “R” Us’ 740 stores), meaning in just over the first quarter of 2018, the store closure total is almost half of what occurred in the worst year for traditional brick and mortar retailers…so far. (Source: Fung Global Retail & Technology)
  • Simpler Tax Return:  Only 19.3 million U.S. taxpayers are expected to claim itemized deductions in tax year 2018, down from an estimated 46.5 million itemizers for tax year 2017. This is a result of the 2018 limitation on “state and local taxes” and a doubling of the standard deduction.  (Source: Tax Policy Center)
  • Lower inflation = higher returns?:  From 1928-2017, the S&P 500 Index posted a median return of around 16% in the years in which inflation was below 3.0%.  When inflation was above 3.0%, the median return was much lower at 5%.  Currently, inflation is only 2.4% (aka. below 3.0%, which has historically been positive for stocks). (Source: Bloomberg)
  • College Costs:  The cost of tuition, fees, room and board at an average in-state public college has increased +5.5% per year over the last 30 years, reaching $20,770 for the 2017-2018 school year. If college costs had instead risen only by the rate of inflation, a year of college would cost $9,012.  (Source: College Board, Department of Labor)
Thought for the Month


“At the end of your life, you will never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal.  You will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent.”

Barbara Bush, former First Lady (1925-2018)

Commentary – Signing for credit card purchases no longer required 

By the end of April 2018, the four major credit card networks (Visa, Mastercard, American Express, and Discover) will stop requiring retailers to collect signatures from customers when completing any credit card purchase (not just below a certain dollar amount).  Retailers will have the option of continuing to make customers sign, but many stores (including Walmart and Target) will no longer require you to sign for your purchases.  75% of retailers are expected to do away with signatures by the end of 2018.  With the widespread adoption of “chip” credit cards in the U.S. in 2015, physical (or digital) signatures now do little to protect consumers from fraud and merely slow down the check-out process.  Still, be sure to check your credit card statements (or transactions online) to ensure all purchases are legitimate.

Chart for the Month 

This month’s “chart” is “A Beginner’s Guide to Cryptocurrencies” as presented by Visual Capitalist.  We highly recommend viewing this informative overview in its entirety as it provides a broad report covering the basics of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology including what it is, how it is being used, cybersecurity issues, and the incredible price volatility for “investors”.  With this extremely complex and evolving world of digital currencies and the blockchain technology underpinning it, we thought our readers would appreciate this introductory guide.

Particularly interesting is the survey within this guide showing the misinformation and lack of understanding by most people.  While 79% of Americans over the age of 18 have heard of Bitcoin, only 14% have ever owned any.  10% of respondents think owning Bitcoin is illegal and 48% are unsure (it’s not illegal to own Bitcoin).  Comedian John Oliver best described Bitcoin as “everything you don’t understand about money combined with everything you don’t understand about computers”.


Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that any specific investment, strategy, or product or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this newsletter, will be suitable for your individual situation, or prove successful. This material is distributed by PDS Planning, Inc. and is for information purposes only.  Although information has been obtained from and is based upon sources PDS Planning believes to be reliable, we do not guarantee its accuracy.  It is provided with the understanding that no fiduciary relationship exists because of this report.  Opinions expressed in this report are not necessarily the opinions of PDS Planning and are subject to change without notice.  PDS Planning assumes no liability for the interpretation or use of this report. Consultation with a qualified investment advisor is recommended prior to executing any investment strategy. No portion of this publication should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  If you are a client of PDS Planning, please remember to contact PDS Planning, Inc., in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives.  All rights reserved.