Celebrating the dividend
“It’s been an ugly start to 2008 for investors,” says Brett Arends in The Wall Street Journal, but at least corporate dividends are up. The “rising corporate payouts” have pushed the S&P 500’s dividend yield “above 2 percent for the first time in years.” Add to that stock buybacks, and the “cash-back yield” tops 6 percent, “the highest level in modern times.” The last time yields approached these levels—the crashes of October 2002 and March 2003—it “proved terrific times to invest.” Dividends and buybacks might take a hit in a downturn, of course, but for now “at least there are signs that investors, once again, are getting paid for the risks they take.”
Calculating your future, bluntly
Online retirement calculators “are handy and dandy,” says Linda Stern in Reuters, but their projections for your future have holes “you could drive a Winnebago through.” Most of the “online freebies” are “extremely blunt instruments,” but even the better ones will give you a “ridiculously wrong” retirement projection over “even a small error.” They are worth trying to get a “rough cut on your retirement planning,” but keep in mind: they think you’ll spend more than you will; they expect you to die before 90; most of them are “selling something”; and they assume you can’t budget. Most retirees will “cut back on spending or earn more” if they aren’t making ends meet.