Researchers disagree on pink/sockeye ‘food fight’

Alaska salmon producers are not buying the presumption that growing numbers of pinks are eating too much food in the ocean, causing sockeye salmon to grow slower and smaller.
That’s the claim of a new study by Seattle and British Columbia researchers, who say the race for food ultimately affects sockeye abundance and survival.
“Our data sets extend up to 55 years each,” said Greg Ruggerone, a researcher at Natural Resources Consultants in Seattle and study co-author. “In looking at productivity or survival of salmon, they’ve included 36 sockeye populations.”

How can you become a ‘healthy’ investor?

May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. This “month” is designed to encourage people to follow a healthy, active lifestyle. You can take steps toward this goal, of course, but why not carry the concept of improving health to other areas of your life — such as your investments?
Toward that end, consider these suggestions:

Can you free yourself from some investment taxes?

April 24 has been designated Tax Freedom Day for 2015. Tax Freedom Day, calculated by the Tax Foundation, is the day when the nation as a whole has earned enough money to pay off its total tax bill for the year. So it may be a good time to review your own situation to determine if you can “free” yourself from some investment-related taxes in the future.
Of course, Tax Freedom Day is something of a fiction, in practical terms, because most people pay their taxes throughout the year via payroll deductions. Also, you may not mind paying your share of taxes because your tax dollars are used in a variety of ways — such as law enforcement, food safety, road maintenance, public education and so on — that, taken together, have a big impact on the quality of life in this country. Nonetheless, you may well want to look for ways to reduce those taxes associated with your investments, leaving you more money available to meet your important goals, such as a comfortable retirement.

How to be an ‘environmental’ investor

Next week, we observe the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. Since its inception in 1970, Earth Day has inspired millions of people to take action to improve the environment. But the lessons of environmentalism can also be applied to other areas of life — such as investing. Specifically, as an investor, you may well want to follow the “three Rs”: reduce, reuse and recycle.
Let’s see how these environmental themes can be applied to your investment habits:

Control your emotions in volatile markets

For the past few years, the stock market has moved up fairly steadily, with no major “corrections.” But thus far in 2015, we’ve already seen periods of volatility — enough, in fact, to make some investors jittery. Nervous investors may be more prone to make decisions based on short-term market movements — so how can you stay calm?
First of all, when evaluating your investment decisions, stay focused on those factors that have historically driven stock prices. The U.S. economy is growing at a reasonably good pace, and corporate earnings remain fairly strong. Plus, stocks may not be as undervalued as they were a few years ago — as measured by the price-to-earnings ratio — but they still aren’t overly expensive, either.

Protecting seniors from financial abuse

It’s unfortunate but true: the elderly population is targeted for financial abuse or exploitation. In fact, by some estimates, this type of targeted abuse results in billions of dollars in losses each year. If you have elderly parents, what signs should you watch for to determine their vulnerability? And what can you do to help protect your parents from being victimized?

Be prepared for those RMDs

You might not think that 70 1/2 represents any particular milestone. But when you do reach this age, you will have to make some decisions that affect an important aspect of your life — your retirement income.
Here’s the background: Once you turn 70 1/2, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your 401(k) or similar employer-sponsored retirement plan and from your traditional IRA (but not your Roth IRA).
Actually, you will need to begin these withdrawals — known as “required minimum distributions” — by April 1 of the following year and continue taking them by Dec. 31 each year after that.

‘Alaskans-First Fishing Act’ gives priority to personal-use fisheries

Seven times is the charm for building some momentum on a measure that aims to give personal-use fisheries a priority over commercial and sport users. As it stands now, the three fisheries are all on equal footing in the eyes and actions of state managers.
The priority shift has been introduced during each of the last seven legislative sessions by (now) Senator Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak), but has never made it past a first hearing — until now.

Time for some financial ‘spring cleaning’

We’ve just about arrived at spring, the time when many people spruce up their homes, yards and other parts of their surroundings. This year, why not extend that practice a little further and give your financial and investment environment a good “spring cleaning”?
Here are a few suggestions for doing just that:

Outlook for today’s investors: less certainty – but potential opportunities

The world of today is vastly different from the one that existed in, say, 1974. Innovations such as the Internet, smartphones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter and so on have made our lives more enjoyable, efficient and productive in many ways, and have vastly improved our access to the world’s knowledge. Yet when it comes to one important area of our lives — investing for the future — many of us may actually face more challenges today than we might have in the past.

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