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Over the past few weeks, I’ve discussed all the utilities I love except for two. One of them is NextEra Energy (NEE), the other is American Electric Power (NASDAQ: AEP), the star of this article. The Columbus, Ohio-based electric utility giant is posting a 3.3% return after adding about 8% in capital gains year-to-date. Like its peers, the stock is in the midst of a transition to clean energy sources, which will require tens of billions in the coming years. However, the company should accelerate earnings growth and provide investors with a satisfying return and decent dividend growth. It’s one of those stocks that lets you sleep well at night, and the only reason I don’t own it anymore is because I bought competitors a few years ago. I want to come back, and in this article I will tell you why.

Quality yield

Whenever I recommend high yield investments, I stress the need to buy something that also comes with expected capital gains. It’s not just because I don’t expect to retire for at least a few decades, but because I don’t want readers to buy stocks that pay high returns but come with high risks of loss. in capital. For example, some mortgage REITs, small and volatile energy stocks, or risky consumer stocks and REITs, in general.

The same goes for utilities. I just want people to buy high quality utilities that also offer good performance.

The utilities I’ve covered so far are:

Stocks I haven’t covered recently are:

The graph below shows the equal weight performance of the five utilities I just mentioned. They are rebalanced annually and dividends are reinvested. The combination of utilities above shows strong long-term outperformance versus the Utilities ETF (XLU), which is very important to me. The market correlation is lower, the Sharpe ratio is higher and the maximum drawdown is “only” 33%. These 5 investments have generated annual returns of 10.4%, which is truly remarkable. I did not expect this before testing it.

Backtested utility stocks


That’s what I call “quality” performance.

AEP has significantly outperformed the XLU ETF over the past 10 years, including dividends. Moreover, it has come close to the performance of the S&P 500 as it only lags 600 basis points.

AEP vs peers in total return
Data by Y-Charts

Additionally, the yield is above the XLU yield and about 190 basis points above the S&P 500 yield. The yield delta is slightly above the 10-year average.

AEP vs peers in dividend yield
Data by Y-Charts

Now the question is: will it last?

To answer that, we have to take a look under the hood.

AEP’s growth is impressive

American Electric Power has a market capitalization of $48.5 billion. The company employs 16,700 people, serves 5.5 million customers in 11 states and has nearly $90 billion in assets.

The company aims to deliver a 9-10% return to shareholders, which rules out a higher share price valuation as it is based on 3% dividends and 6-7% annual dividend growth . In the past, the company has achieved these returns. Going forward, management expects more opportunities in renewable energy.

Investor presentation AEP 2022

American Electric Power

In 1999, AEP produced 66% of its energy from coal. Back then, the world was different. The railroads made a lot of money on coal shipments, and environmental standards were much looser. Now we’re in a situation where the “world” has agreed on net zero by 2050, which means companies need to aggressively reduce pollution – whether we like it or not. In the case of AEP, management made the decision to focus on hydro, wind and solar. By 2030, this is expected to represent 53% of the total energy supply. On top of that, coal and natural gas will remain essential, which I think is a good strategy because an energy transition that is going too fast is hurting consumers – Germany is currently an infamous example of how to not getting rid of “pollution”.

Investor presentation AEP 2022

American Electric Power

Either way, this means that the company will increase its capital expenditure. Between 2022 and 2026, it will spend nearly $38 billion. Renewable energy will use 21%. 65% will be allocated to wires, that is, to the maintenance and extension of the company’s network.

The graph below shows some financial indicators: AEP’s capital expenditure (“CapEx”), operating cash flow (“OCF”) and net debt. 99% of the dividend stocks I cover have an OCF well above CapEx, allowing them to distribute dividends, which utilities cannot.

AEP has increased its CapEx from $4.8 billion in 2016 to over $7.6 billion in 2022 (expected). In 2024, this figure could be 8.2 billion dollars. It makes sense, and it follows on from the capital budget that I just mentioned briefly. The problem is that the OCF does not cover these investments, which leads to a large increase in net debt. In 2016, net debt was $21.4 billion. In 2024, we are looking at net debt of $43.8 billion. That’s over 100% in 9 years (or 8.2% CAGR).

The finances of the AEP


However, do not worry because the business generates value. These capital investments are by no means wasted. They add assets to the asset side of the balance sheet, generating outperformance over liabilities (including net debt).

While net debt has grown from $18.8 billion in 2012 to $36.5 billion in 2021, total equity (total assets minus liabilities) has grown from $15.2 billion to $22.7 billion. billions of dollars. I’ve also added the net debt to EBITDA ratio to the chart below, unfortunately it’s barely visible and just a number on the x-axis. What we see is that the net leverage ratio peaked in 2019. Since then, EBITDA growth has also exceeded net debt growth.

AEP Investor Relations


As a result, the company has a Baa2 rating from Moody’s, a BBB+ rating from S&P and a BBB rating from Fitch, which is just one notch below A- and lower-medium grade debt.

In 2023, AEP’s net income is expected to grow 7.7%, followed by 8.7% growth in 2024. In this case, analysts agree the company can and will drive earnings growth.

Note that EPS also outperforms stock dilution. In 2017, the company had 491.8 million shares outstanding. At the end of 2021, this number was 500.5 million. That’s a CAGR of just 0.4%. It’s the lowest number I’ve seen this year – among utilities – which is good news because low stock dilution means earnings growth has a bigger impact on existing shareholders.

Dividend growth

AEP’s dividend scorecard is excellent. Dividend consistency is A, dividend safety is B+, dividend growth is also a B. Dividend growth is a C+, which I disagree with.

AEP Dividend Dashboard

Looking for Alpha

According to the company, it has paid 111 consecutive years of quarterly dividends. Between 2010 and 2015, dividend growth was 5% per year. Now it is close to 6% with an increase to 7%.

Investor presentation AEP 2022

American Electric Power

Given the expected earnings growth, this is entirely possible. It is also a rather juicy return for a title that is already yielding 3.3%. 3.3% with a growth of 6% per year translates into a return on cost of 5.9% within 10 years. Until then, investors are likely sitting on plenty of gains, as AEP is not a stock that will return 5.9% anytime soon – unless the broader market implodes for some reason. And even then, it’s unlikely.


As for valuation, we are dealing with a market capitalization of $48.5 billion. Net debt is expected to be $40.3 billion in 2023. Pension liabilities and related liabilities are only $330 million. All of this gives us an enterprise value of $89 billion.

Next year, AEP is expected to achieve $7.3 billion in EBITDA, which gives us a multiple of 12.2x. It’s not overvalued, and it’s not a deep value either.

This is a decent price for anyone looking to buy a decent dividend yield. However, I have also added the ratio of utilities to basic materials stocks (XLB) in the lower half of the chart below. The ratio between these two sectors is very handy as it shows the sentiment of the investors. In times of rising inflation, XLU underperforms. When economic growth peaks, XLU outperforms. Note that the valuation of AEP increases during uptrends. Currently, XLU is somewhat “weak” compared to XLB due to high inflation. At times like these, it makes more sense to buy boring yield games like AEP.

Data by Y-Charts

That said, here is my…


American Electric Power is one of my top five electric utilities in the United States. The stock strikes a near-perfect balance between yield and industry growth. It has a decent dividend yield >3% and annual dividend growth of 6-7%. Additionally, investors are not subject to significant equity dilution as the bulk of AEP’s funding comes from debt. The company is accelerating its investments in renewable energy and generating a tone of value along the way. Total equity is steadily increasing while earnings growth is improving.

The valuation is correct and its balance sheet is healthy.

I think AEP is a good choice for dividend growth investors looking to add quality yield as well as income-oriented investors who don’t want to miss out on potential capital gains. After all, if history is any indication, AEP will outperform its peers in XLU and stay close to the performance of the S&P 500.

(Disagree? Let me know in the comments!

Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII) Releases Fiscal 2022 Revenue Forecast https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/rent-a-center-nasdaqrcii-releases-fiscal-2022-revenue-forecast/ Wed, 16 Mar 2022 14:01:31 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/rent-a-center-nasdaqrcii-releases-fiscal-2022-revenue-forecast/

Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII – Get Rating) updated its earnings guidance for fiscal 2022 on Wednesday. The company provided earnings per share guidance of $4,500 to $5,000 for the period, versus Thomson Reuters consensus earnings per share estimate of $7,040. The company released a revenue forecast of $4.45 billion to $4.60 billion, compared to the consensus revenue estimate of $5.27 billion. Rent-A-Center also updated its guidance for the first quarter of 2022 to $0.650-0.800 per EPS.

Shares of Rent-A-Center opened at $26.67 on Wednesday. The company has a 50-day simple moving average of $38.19 and a two-hundred-day simple moving average of $47.73. The company has a market capitalization of $1.57 billion, a P/E ratio of 13.34, a price-to-earnings growth ratio of 0.20 and a beta of 1.66. Rent-A-Center has a fifty-two week minimum of $22.70 and a fifty-two week maximum of $67.76. The company has a debt ratio of 3.06, a quick ratio of 0.75 and a current ratio of 3.36.

Rent-A-Center (NASDAQ:RCII – Get Rating) last released its results on Wednesday, February 23. The company reported earnings per share (EPS) of $1.08 for the quarter, missing the Zacks consensus estimate of $1.58 per ($0.50). Rent-A-Center had a return on equity of 50.75% and a net margin of 2.94%. The company posted revenue of $1.17 billion for the quarter, versus analyst estimates of $1.20 billion. In the same quarter last year, the company earned earnings per share of $1.03. Rent-A-Center’s quarterly revenue increased 63.5% over the same quarter last year. Equity research analysts expect Rent-A-Center to post EPS of 4.71 for the current year.

(A d)

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Several research companies have recently published reports on RCII. KeyCorp cut its price target on Rent-A-Center stock from $68.00 to $44.00 and set an overweight rating on the stock in a Friday, Feb. 25 report. Zacks Investment Research downgraded shares of Rent-A-Center from a hold rating to a strong sell rating and set a target price of $24.00 for the company. in a research report on Monday, March 7. Finally, Raymond James downgraded shares of Rent-A-Center from a strong buy rating to an outperform rating and cut his price target for the company from $65.00 to $40.00 in a research note from Friday, February 25. One research analyst rated the stock with a sell rating and five gave the company a buy rating. Based on data from MarketBeat.com, the stock currently has a consensus buy rating and an average price target of $53.00.

Separately, CEO Mitchell E. Fadel acquired 40,000 shares in a transaction dated Tuesday, March 1. The stock was purchased at an average price of $27.08 per share, for a total transaction of $1,083,200.00. The transaction was disclosed in a document filed with the Securities & Exchange Commission, which is available via this hyperlink. Company insiders own 1.50% of the company’s shares.

Several hedge funds and other institutional investors have recently changed their positions in RCII. Morgan Stanley increased its position in Rent-A-Center by 22.3% during the second quarter. Morgan Stanley now owns 436,602 shares of the company worth $23,170,000 after buying an additional 79,661 shares last quarter. Millennium Management LLC increased its holdings of Rent-A-Center stock by 80.4% during the 4th quarter. Millennium Management LLC now owns 388,933 shares of the company worth $18,684,000 after acquiring an additional 173,391 shares during the period. Legal & General Group Plc increased its equity stake in Rent-A-Center by 3.1% in the 4th quarter. Legal & General Group Plc now owns 177,029 shares in the company worth $8,505,000 after buying an additional 5,365 shares in the last quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN increased its stake in Rent-A-Center by 4.2% in the 4th quarter. Wells Fargo & Company MN now owns 119,376 shares of the company valued at $5,735,000 after purchasing an additional 4,852 shares in the last quarter. Finally, California State Teachers Retirement System increased its equity stake in Rent-A-Center by 2.3% during the 4th quarter. California State Teachers Retirement System now owns 86,441 shares of the company valued at $4,153,000 after purchasing 1,977 additional shares during the period. Institutional investors hold 76.20% of the company’s shares.

Rent-A-Center Company Profile (Get an evaluation)

Rent-A-Center, Inc engages in the supply of furniture, electronics, appliances, computers and smartphones through flexible lease-purchase agreements. It operates through the following segments: Rent-A-Center Business, Preferred Lease, Mexico and Franchising. The Rent-A-Center Business segment includes company-owned rent-to-own stores in the United States and Puerto Rico.

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]]> Delaware Superior Court Applies “Significant Connection” Test to D&D Act Analysis | Carlton Fields https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/delaware-superior-court-applies-significant-connection-test-to-dd-act-analysis-carlton-fields/ Mon, 14 Mar 2022 16:54:54 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/delaware-superior-court-applies-significant-connection-test-to-dd-act-analysis-carlton-fields/

In Options Clearing Corp. vs. US Specialty Insurance Co., the Delaware Superior Court addressed the scope of policy language on related or interrelated wrongdoing in SEC investigations and enforcement actions involving the insured, Options Clearing Corp. (OCC). According to the notice, the OCC is a US-registered clearing agency and derivatives clearing organization, which provides clearing and settlement services to 18 exchanges. The OCC is the only registered clearing agency for publicly traded options contracts in the United States and therefore falls under the oversight responsibility of the Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations (OCIE) of the SEC.

From 2012 to 2014, the OCIE sent letters to the OCC identifying the deficiencies and informing the OCC that the SEC was investigating those deficiencies. Gaps identified included system control deficiencies in OCC’s escrow program, reduced effectiveness of the internal audit function, weaknesses in the risk management framework, insufficient written/formal policies and procedures, concerns about OCC’s overall commitment to establishing a culture of regulatory compliance and responsiveness. , systemic weaknesses in OCC’s risk management and OCC’s inability to identify and sufficiently mitigate operational risk.

U.S. Specialty Insurance Co. provided principal insurance to directors and officers at the OCC beginning in 2015 and for consecutive insurance periods through 2020. As relevant to this case, these policies included policies D&O for policy periods from March 15, 2017 to March 15. , 2018 and from March 15, 2018 to March 15, 2019. Indian Harbor Insurance Co. issued follow-up form excess policies to the OCC, which adopted the relevant terms, conditions, definitions and exclusions of the 2017-2019 primary policies issued by American Specialty.

In relevant part, the 2017-2018 Master Policy contained an “Event Exclusion”, which excludes coverage for losses relating to any claim arising out of, based on or attributable to any wrongful act or underlying fact or circumstance. underlying in any way related to the couriers 2012-2014 or related wrongdoing. Similarly, the “Notice Exclusion” excluded coverage for “claim losses…arising out of, based on, or attributable to any facts or circumstances alleged, or the same or related wrongdoing alleged or contained, in any claim which has been reported, or in respect of which notice has been given, under any policy of which this policy is a renewal or replacement or which it may succeed from time to time. »

In 2017, the SEC notified the OCC of an ongoing investigation into its compliance with specific SEC statutes and regulations, which subsequently led to an order commencing proceedings against the OCC. The alleged violations included OCC’s failure to (1) implement policies and procedures reasonably designed to provide a transparent legal framework, maintain risk management, and establish a methodology to address the risks/attributes of cleared products by OCC; (2) create policies and procedures to ensure the security of its computer network and electronic systems; and (3) failure to file with the SEC policies and practices that meet the definition of a proposed rule change under Section 19(b)(1) of the Exchange Act. The Division of Enforcement of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) also notified the OCC that it was investigating and issued its own orders to prosecute based on the same violations alleged in the SEC enforcement action.

The OCC notified insurers of SEC and CFTC enforcement actions under the 2017-2019 policies. U.S. Specialty denied SEC enforcement action coverage based on the event and notice exclusions, saying the violations alleged in the SEC enforcement action arose out of the events set forth in the 2012-2014 letters. US Specialty reserved its rights as to the applicability of these exclusions to CFTC enforcement action.

Subsequently, the OCC filed suit against the insurers alleging that the insurers breached the 2017-2019 policies. In doing so, the OCC argued that the enforcement actions were unrelated to the 2012-2014 letters. The OCC argued that the enforcement actions would have to be “substantially identical” to the 2012-2014 letters to be considered related and/or interrelated wrongdoing in the context of the event and notice exclusions.

The court rejected the OCC’s invitation to apply a “substantially identical” standard to the link investigation, noting that the clear terms of the policy did not support such a standard. Instead, the court noted that the policy exclusions applied if the insurers established a “significant connection” between the enforcement actions and the 2012-2014 letters or the wrongdoing alleged in those letters.

The court found that the insurers failed to meet this burden for several reasons.

First, the court held that the type of investigation involved in the enforcement action differed from the investigation into the 2012-2014 letters; while the 2012-2014 letters involved routine annual compliance reviews, the enforcement actions were not. Second, the court noted that the time periods for the respective investigations differed. Third, the regulations allegedly violated differed. In this regard, the court noted that most of the regulations allegedly violated in the Enforcement Measures were in effect in 2015 and 2016 and therefore post-date the publication of the 2012-2014 letters. Fourth, the court found that the 2012-2014 enforcement actions and letters set out different types of wrongful conduct and sought different types of relief. On the one hand, the enforcement actions alleged that the OCC failed to maintain credit and liquidity stress-testing policies, failed to file proposed rules with the SEC, and engaged in to wrongful conduct during a volatility event in 2018. As a result of these alleged acts, enforcement sought punitive damages and an injunction. The 2012-2014 letters, on the other hand, were intended to comply with and address the OCC’s failure to meet general routine compliance obligations.

Based on this reasoning, the court concluded that the event and notice exclusions did not apply to bar coverage. The court noted that a finding to the contrary interpreting the exclusions too broadly would render coverage under the policy illusory because, given the nature of OCC’s business, “there will necessarily be a superficial overlap between the previous enforcement actions and those for which the OCC [sought] blanket.”

The court’s “significant connection” reflects how courts often undertake a factual examination of the underlying allegations to determine whether the claims involve related wrongdoing.

AM Best downgrades credit ratings of issuers of Florida Family Insurance Company and its subsidiary https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/am-best-downgrades-credit-ratings-of-issuers-of-florida-family-insurance-company-and-its-subsidiary/ Wed, 09 Mar 2022 16:23:00 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/am-best-downgrades-credit-ratings-of-issuers-of-florida-family-insurance-company-and-its-subsidiary/

OLDWICK, NJ–(BUSINESS WIRE)–AM Best lowered the long-term issuer credit ratings (long-term ICR) from “bbb” (good) to “bbb+” (good) and affirmed Florida Family Insurance’s financial strength rating (FSR) of B++ (good) Company and its subsidiary, Florida Family Home Insurance Company, which together constitute the two pool members of Florida Family Group (Florida Family). The FSR outlook has been revised from stable to negative, while the long-term ICR outlook is negative. Both companies are domiciled in Bonita Springs, Florida.

The credit ratings (ratings) reflect Florida Family’s balance sheet strength, which AM Best assesses as adequate, as well as its adequate operating performance, limited business profile and appropriate enterprise risk management (ERM).

The deterioration in long-term ICRs reflects AM Best’s concerns about Florida Family’s balance sheet strength following the continued erosion of surpluses due to underwriting losses, significantly elevated underwriting leverage metrics, inconsistent development of reserves and a downward trend in risk-adjusted capitalization, as measured by Best’s capital adequacy ratio (BCAR). The deterioration in BCAR and the risk-adjusted capitalization view reflect higher gross probable maximum losses (PML) which are the product of the group’s expansion of its new product for owners, combined with reinsurance coverage against lesser catastrophes, which collectively translate into higher net PMLs across the Value-at-Risk intervals. Heavy reliance on reinsurance and above-average net debt put additional pressure on balance sheet strength, relative to the personal property composite.

The negative rating outlook reflects Florida Family’s underwriting performance, which was negatively impacted by weather-related events, a challenging insurance market in Florida, which includes increases in claims frequency and severity. related to water, and more recently, the development of reserves for adverse losses. Management has implemented a number of actions to improve performance, including rate increases, non-renewal of undesirable risks, closure of new business in specific areas of Florida, and effective management of security issues. allocation of benefits. The group recently launched a new home insurance product, which has produced modest growth in historical footprint and additional underwriting in territories previously closed to wind business. The business profile rating reflects Florida Family’s limited operating territory in a hurricane-prone state. Severe weather continues to be Florida Family’s top risk, which is a focus of the group’s ERM program.

This press release relates to credit ratings that have been published on AM Best’s website. For all rating information relating to the release and relevant disclosures, including details of the office responsible for issuing each of the individual ratings referenced in this release, please see AM Best’s Recent Rating Activity web page. For more information on the use and limitations of credit rating opinions, please see Best’s Guide to Credit Ratings. For more information on the proper use of Best’s Credit Scores, Best’s Performance Ratings, Best’s Preliminary Credit Ratings, and AM Best’s press releases, please see the Guide to Proper Use of Best’s Best ratings and reviews.

AM Best is a global credit rating agency, news publisher and data analytics provider specializing in the insurance industry. Headquartered in the United States, the company does business in more than 100 countries with regional offices in London, Amsterdam, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and Mexico City. For more information, visit www.ambest.com.

Copyright © 2022 by AM Best Rating Services, Inc. and/or its affiliates. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

Markets reel as Russian sanctions escalate https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/markets-reel-as-russian-sanctions-escalate/ Tue, 08 Mar 2022 23:16:00 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/markets-reel-as-russian-sanctions-escalate/

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in Manhattan, New York, U.S., March 7, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly

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March 8 (Reuters) – Falling stocks, soaring commodity prices and tighter global financial conditions in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cloud the outlook for markets already troubled by the prospect of a hawkish Federal Reserve.

Dramatic moves are everywhere you look, from a bear market in the Nasdaq Composite Index and wild rallies in oil and other commodities to surges in popular safe-haven assets such as gold and the US dollar.

Above all that, the Fed is expected to raise rates at its monetary policy meeting next week for the first time in more than three years. Some investors now fear that the US central bank will have to keep raising rates to contain rising inflation despite an expected hit to growth from geopolitical instability, risking a recession.

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“Traders aren’t used to this kind of volatility in the markets,” said Michael O’Rourke of Jones Trading. “Everyone is trying to figure out what the next threat is and where the next distortion is.”


Commodity prices hit a nearly 16-year high

Sanctions on the Russian commodity export giant by the United States and its allies have fueled a rise in prices for oil, metals, wheat and other commodities, a move investors fear exacerbate already high inflation while weighing on global growth – a condition known as stagflation.

Brent crude is up more than 25% since early March while nickel prices more than doubled on Tuesday, forcing the London Metal Exchange to suspend trading in the metal. Read more

“For the US economy, we are now witnessing stagflation, with consistently higher inflation and lower economic growth than was expected before the (Ukraine) war. A recession can no longer be ruled out,” wrote strategist Ed Yardeni of Yardeni Research in a recent note to clients.


Stocks around the world have come under selling pressure this year

The Nasdaq (.IXIC) slipped 3.6% on Monday, taking it more than 20% below its recent high, confirming that the index is in a bear market, by a common definition. The German DAX (.GDAX) is also in bearish territory, while the benchmark S&P 500, down nearly 12% this year, recently confirmed a correction.


US funding stress gauge hits two-year highs

Financial indicators show growing signs of market stress. One of them is the so-called FRA-OIS spread, which measures the difference between the US three-month forward rate agreement and the overnight indexed swap rate. It was recently at its highest level since May 2020. read more

A higher spread reflects rising interbank lending risk or banks hoarding US dollars, meaning it is widely seen as an indicator of banking sector risk.

The dollar rush has been a major contributor to the greenback’s advance against the euro over the past two weeks, according to Huw Roberts, head of analysis at Quant Insight in New York.

More generally, global financial conditions – the umbrella term for how parameters such as exchange rates, equity moves and borrowing costs affect the availability of finance in the economy – are at their highest. for about two years. Read more


Volatility in stocks, currencies and rates reaches multi-year highs

Volatility in stocks, currencies and rates is at multi-year highs as investors calibrate their portfolios to rising commodity prices and a potentially protracted conflict in Eastern Europe.

The Cboe, known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, was at 33 recently and has jumped about 16 points this year.

Sharp rises and falls in Treasury yields – fueled by bets on the Fed’s aggressiveness in raising rates in 2022 as well as a flight to safety in US government bonds, carried the ICE index BoFAML MOVE (.MOVE) at its highest level since March 2020.

Meanwhile, currency swings and a rally in the US dollar took Deutsche Bank’s Currency Volatility Index (.DBCVIX) to a nearly two-year high.


Reuters Charts

Unsurprisingly, investors took shelter in gold, the dollar, the Swiss franc and other so-called safe havens, driving their prices to multi-month highs. Gold prices have risen more than 10% this year.

(This story has been reclassified to correct the March 8 date.)

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Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Ira Iosebashvili Editing by Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Retirees in these 13 states risk losing some of their Social Security checks https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/retirees-in-these-13-states-risk-losing-some-of-their-social-security-checks/ Mon, 07 Mar 2022 11:41:00 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/retirees-in-these-13-states-risk-losing-some-of-their-social-security-checks/

OWhen planning for your retirement, chances are you’ll take your Social Security benefits into account when setting your budget. That’s why it’s crucial to have realistic expectations about the income you’ll get from your retirement checks.

However, you cannot assume that you will get the full amount of your promised benefit. This is because it is very possible that you will end up owing taxes on the money you receive, especially if you live in one of the 13 states.

Image source: Getty Images.

Why retirees in these 13 states risk losing more benefits

Although it may come as a surprise, both the federal government and your state could end up taking part of your Social Security retirement checks and leaving you with less to live on.

While seniors across the United States should be aware that the IRS takes a cut once provisional income exceeds $25,000 for single filers or $32,000 for married joint filers, people living in the Most places in the country don’t have to worry about their state wanting a portion of their monthly payments as well. But this is not the case for the residents of these 13 localities:

  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Montana
  • Nebraska
  • New Mexico
  • North Dakota
  • Rhode Island
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

If you live in one of these states, your local government taxes Social Security benefits for at least some seniors. Generally, only high earners need worry about losing some of their money because of this. But every senior living in one of these places needs to know the rules so they are prepared for taxes to eat into their benefits.

Why is it so important to know if your Social Security benefits will be taxed?

Understanding the tax rules that apply to your Social Security checks is crucial because many retirees are on fixed incomes and every dollar counts.

Retirement benefit checks are intended to replace only a small portion of pre-retirement income. Specifically, they’re supposed to cover 40% of what you were earning, with savings and/or retirement income providing the rest of the 40% to 50% of income you’ll need to replace. Unfortunately, far too many people rely too much on Social Security or assume they can manage on their own on benefits when they really can’t. And that problem is exacerbated if you have to pay taxes on benefit checks that are already too small.

Before you retire, carefully consider how much Social Security will go, compare that amount to your monthly expenses, and make sure your savings will provide enough additional funds at a safe withdrawal rate. If you find that you won’t make it, you’re not really ready to retire or you’ll have to make big changes, like downsizing your lifestyle.

If you don’t have an accurate estimate of Social Security payments, you can assume you’ll end up with more money than is actually available. When benefit taxes reduce the amount you have left to spend, you could find yourself in a detrimental financial deficit that forces you to deplete your savings too quickly or prevent you from affording other essentials.

By learning your state’s tax rules, you can avoid this fate, either by increasing your savings rate or by moving to a place where you can keep more of your Social Security money.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

Utah among states hardest hit by inflation https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/utah-among-states-hardest-hit-by-inflation/ Fri, 04 Mar 2022 00:33:45 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/utah-among-states-hardest-hit-by-inflation/

SALT LAKE CITY — A new congressional study report released this week found that Utah and the Mountain West are hardest hit by recent inflation.

Inflation rates jumped 7% in the past year, the biggest increase since 1982.

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee study shows that, on average, Utah families are spending $511 more per month than they did compared to the same time last year.

“That’s one of the difficult and frustrating things about inflation is that it tends to hit those who have the least the hardest,” said Phil Dean, senior public finance researcher at Kem C Gardner Policy Institute.

The study found that Mountain West is experiencing the highest inflation in the nation with an annual rate of 9.0%, mainly due to rising house prices and rents.

Dean says the inflation here in Utah can really be seen in the housing market.

In Depth: Inflation Differs Significantly Depending on Your Lifestyle

He says house prices are up 30%, while rents are around 10-15% higher year over year.

“We have a supply-demand mismatch, we haven’t built enough homes for the number of families we have,” Dean said.

Dean points to other areas, such as the price of meat, which he says has gone up 20%.

He says that right now people will need to be aware of what they are spending their money on.

“Sometimes they’re going to have, you know, maybe get something they don’t like as much, but it costs less,” Dean said.

US Congressional Joint Economic Committee

A map from a new study commissioned by Congress shows the regions of the United States hardest hit by recent record inflation.

Salt Lake City resident Jordan Crawforth has noticed a price hike for what she pays for in food for her dog, Rufio.

“I just ordered a new bag for him last night and I feel like the price of the food he’s eating has probably gone up $15 since the last time I bought it,” Crawforth said.

Crawforth says this extends to the rest of his family. She says she has seen the cost of her normal trip to the grocery store go up.

“So expensive, just the cost of anything, I feel like we’re trying to eat most of our budget is already allocated to our food and that’s just, I feel like it’s is almost triple that,” Crawforth said.

In comparison, people living in the southeastern region of the United States experience the slowest inflation. With an additional $331 spent on average per month.

SEE ALSO: Salt Lake City mother grapples with unexpected rent hike

Crawforth says she is irritated as a consumer to have to worry about the impact of inflation.

“Ideally prices should go down, but it seems like everyone is pricing everything up to try and keep up,” Crawforth said.

Dean explained that prices tend not to go down once they go up. He expects to see a moderation in the rate of price increases, rather than the spike we’ve seen recently in some regions.

During his State of the Union address this week, President Joe Biden pledged to tackle inflation and rising costs by taking more action to address supply chain issues.

Earlier this month, Utah Senator Mike Lee blamed inflation on government spending, but also agreed that supply chain issues had had a big impact on rising costs.

“Here’s the tricky thing about inflation,” Lee said. “Not always, but generally speaking when prices go up, they tend not to come down right away.”

With help from Zillow, this nonprofit wants to be a game changer for high-risk tenants https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/with-help-from-zillow-this-nonprofit-wants-to-be-a-game-changer-for-high-risk-tenants/ Mon, 28 Feb 2022 16:19:30 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/with-help-from-zillow-this-nonprofit-wants-to-be-a-game-changer-for-high-risk-tenants/
Shkëlqim Kelmendi, Executive Director at Housing Connector. (Photo of housing connector)

It’s no secret that there is a housing crisis in the Seattle area. Bidding wars abound. Rents have increased by almost 30% compared to last year. And only New York and Los Angeles have higher homelessness rates.

Seattle’s nonprofit Housing Connector is trying to level the playing field for the area’s most vulnerable tenants, even in the face of growing housing shortages and soaring costs of living.

“It is undeniable that we have a housing shortage,” said Shkëlqim Kelmendi, executive director of Housing Connector. “Basically, it’s a matter of supply and demand. But even with this scarcity, there are opportunities.

Kelmendi said existing inventory is one such opportunity. Housing Connector acts as a matchmaker of sorts, connecting landlords looking to fill vacant homes with potential tenants who may not have perfect rental records due to eviction, low credit scores or other factors that can contribute to homelessness.

But unlike most matchmakers, this arrangement doesn’t end after introductions. Housing Connector acts as an insurer for the next two years, supporting tenants who might otherwise be considered too risky.

“We can’t control the circumstances that lead us to homelessness,” said Kelmendi, who first observed how the housing market is stacked against the vulnerable as a child when he immigrated from Kosovo to the United States as a refugee.. “For people to be defined by this one metric, whether it’s credit score or eviction, it’s incredibly demoralizing.”

Housing Connector focuses on four primary business concerns for landlords and property managers: keeping homes full, ensuring reliable rent payments, mitigating the risk of property damage, and maintaining healthy and safe communities.

As part of its program, Housing Connector guarantees payment of rent and promises $5,000 in damage insurance. The organization also works with community partners to provide conflict mitigation, behavioral support, and other social services to tenants. The ultimate goal is to keep tenants housed for the long term.

Housing Connector has an ally in a Seattle-based tech powerhouse. The organization has partnered with real estate giant Zillow to build and maintain the Zillow affordable housing search tool project.

“Social issues like homelessness are nuanced and require subject matter experts like our colleagues at Housing Connector,” Zillow engineer Steven Kwan wrote after the tool’s launch. “They had the expertise to do the job that we as a tech company can’t. This included building relationships and collaborating with public offices, community partners and property managers. We simply couldn’t replicate their experience.

Zillow’s affordable housing finder.

It’s one of the many ways tech companies are stepping up to help ease the local housing crisis. Among many other efforts, a group of Seattle-area businesses and philanthropic organizations, including Microsoft, Amazon, Starbucks, and the Gates Foundation, recently announced they would commit more than $10 million to reducing the homelessness in Seattle.

But even with friends in high places, Housing Connector has encountered hurdles getting started – primarily COVID-19. The organization was launched just at the start of the pandemic, and tenants and landlords faced the monumental hurdles of lost wages and payments.

“We had two choices,” Kelmendi said. “It was either pivot and adapt or die.”

“This is the break they didn’t think they were getting.”

The organization has called for doubling its services like mediation and social assistance, and property managers have responded enthusiastically. Housing Connector saw strong interest from real estate partners during the early days of the pandemic.

Since then, Housing Connector has helped house over 2,600 people, many of them in the Seattle area. The organization recently expanded to Pierce County as well as Denver — and Kelmendi said it’s still just the beginning of an ambitious plan to make housing more accessible across the county.

“From the ground up, we designed this product to scale,” he said. “Our goal and vision is that we will be in every major US city within the next five to seven years.”

After two years, 70% of the people the organization has helped to house are still living in these houses. Kelmendi said the metric is important because finding someone a home is one thing. But keeping them housed requires a different set of solutions.

What are tenants saying? Kelmendi said the thing he hears most often is complete surprise.

“It’s the break they didn’t think they were getting,” he said.

Conservatives Push ‘Culture War’ Issues https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/conservatives-push-culture-war-issues/ Sat, 26 Feb 2022 23:37:56 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/conservatives-push-culture-war-issues/

ORLANDO — As Republicans rallied in “the Free State of Florida” after Joe Biden’s first year as president, speakers at the Conservative Action Policy Conference hammered home the message of an all-out struggle for culture American, saying conservatives need to “take our country back” from the “radical left,” who want nothing less than to shut down their free speech and destroy their way of life.

Everything from pandemic restrictions to school lessons on race are part of a ‘Marxist’ agenda designed to lock people in their homes and ‘cancel’ their ideas, Republican leaders including Gov. Ron DeSantis and senators from Florida Marco Rubio and Rick Scott, to cheers. crowd in the hotel ballroom for the past three days.

Related: DeSantis warns CPAC crowd in Florida who left want to make Republicans ‘second class citizens’

CPAC’s posts largely echoed many of the red meat issues championed by former President Donald Trump, who is scheduled to speak Saturday night.

“What the militant left is proposing isn’t just wrong, it’s wrong,” Scott said during his speech on Saturday. “The fight to save America from socialism is our fight. … We will not be controlled by the Democrats, by the government, by the elites or anyone else.”

Related: Rick Scott touts and defends his ‘Rescue America’ plan at CPAC

Many speakers also questioned the existence of transgender people, saying that ‘gender confusion’ is part of the larger ‘woke’ culture to end the basic ideas that there are only two sexes. and that pronouns cannot be chosen.

Hotspots for this culture war exist online, in classrooms, and even where rockets are exploding on Ukraine’s real battlefields. Several speakers said the United States allowed the Russian invasion because Biden had been co-opted by a radical environmental agenda that made America dependent on Russian oil.

The four-day conference, the nation’s largest annual gathering of conservatives, was held in Florida for the second year in a row after moving from outside Washington, DC, in 2021 to avoid pandemic restrictions for gatherings in person. The location alone was another boost to DeSantis’ soaring national profile, as he was hailed for his early tough stance against the coronavirus mandates of prominent Republicans, even from abroad.

“Isn’t it fitting that CPAC is being held in Florida, the only state in the United States that, with Ron DeSantis as governor, has maintained sound and sensible politics while the rest of the world has gone mad,” said Nigel Farage, British politician and former leader of the Brexit Party.

And the stakes are high; some speakers suggested that allowing Democrats to control the government and mainstream culture would end in the systematic targeting of conservatives. (Rubio, for example, compared Democratic politics to the Cuban Revolution.) The solution to this threat, Republican leaders said, is for conservatives to unite and defend traditional values ​​against powerful corporations, universities and corporations. mainstream media that stand against them.

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Related: Marco Rubio invokes Cuba and Ukraine in CPAC Florida speech on cancel culture

“The problem we face as conservatives is that a lot of these great institutions in our country have been infected with this woke virus,” DeSantis said.

Big Tech, he said, “works with legacy media, they work with the Biden regime to try to marginalize conservative voices. Anyone who disagrees with their orthodoxy is a target.

A call to action… by disabling

To address this issue, Republican leaders have encouraged participants to opt out — read information from sources other than mainstream media, download alternative social media platforms, buy from different companies, and visit doctors different from those from their less politically engaged neighbours, suggesting a further split of Americans as the political bases are drifting apart even in some aspects of everyday life.

Alongside dazzling gun-shaped handbags, Trump hammocks and “Trumpinator” shirts at CPAC kiosks this year were companies like Patriot Mobile, which promoted a $25 “Freedom of Speech” special. per month for unlimited cellular minutes and text messages. The company’s booth featured a cardboard cutout of a muscular Trump carrying a machine gun with the slogan: “Making Wireless Great Again”.

Audra Rogers, who does marketing for The Farm LLC, a platform that organizes luxury properties for rent, said a large majority of clients are curators.

“We try to work with like-minded people,” Rogers said, “to give them the opportunity to do their planning, their events, their vacations in a company where they know they’re supporting people who support their own program.”

The new options appeal to some attendees who said corporations, Hollywood, Broadway, and public schools are “bowing to the woke left.”

“I don’t want to give a single penny to a company that I don’t respect. I don’t want to support them,” said Jay Etzel, a Fort Lauderdale-based life coach.

Coke criticized for being “woke”?

Even Coca-Cola was not too sacred an American symbol to avoid vitriol. During the conference, a video on the hotel’s ballroom LED mega-screen mocked the company with a long chant, calling it “Woke-a-Cola”, stemming from reports that the company was urging employees to be “less white” as part of diversity training.

“I think it’s really important that we start building our own institutions and our own little networks that are respectful of the American way of life,” said Terry Schilling, president of the American Principles Project, during a panel discussion titled ” Silly Doctor!Sex changes are not for kids.

In recent years, Schilling’s group has been involved in the conservative push to ban transgender women from participating in women’s and girls’ school sports. Florida enacted such a ban on transgender athletes last year.

Schilling told attendees to keep the pressure on the issue and said the “real bad guys” in the transgender rights culture wars are the drug companies and medical professionals involved in child sex reassignment surgeries. .

“When you find an organization, clinician, or counselor you trust, share it,” said Kimberly Fletcher, founder of Moms for America. “We have to create our own catalog.”

The conference was still heavy on more tried-and-true Republican policy plans like law and order, cutting taxes and inflation, and securing the border. The “Build the Wall” chants remained crowd favorites. Attendees especially burst into applause after U.S. Senate candidate Josh Mandel of Ohio broached the subject that many other speakers had avoided, saying, “I believe this election was stolen from Donald J. Trump.

But the key issue in reclaiming the national majority midterm, CPAC Republicans have repeatedly said, is parental control over their children’s school curriculum and the fight against “critical race theory,” comparing the momentum of the movement to the energy of the Tea Party.

“It’s time to be on the move, do you feel it? Over the past few months, you’ve seen parents rise up against school boards…you see truckers in Canada rise up against these tyrannical mandates,” said Adam Laxalt, a former Nevada attorney general and Senate candidate who was once the DeSantis’ roommate in the Navy. “Let’s go save America.”

The Russian-Ukrainian crisis shakes the markets, stay focused on the long term https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/the-russian-ukrainian-crisis-shakes-the-markets-stay-focused-on-the-long-term/ Sat, 26 Feb 2022 12:03:00 +0000 https://europeanforum-familymediation.com/the-russian-ukrainian-crisis-shakes-the-markets-stay-focused-on-the-long-term/

natasaadzic/iStock via Getty Images

By Gargi Pal Chaudhuri

The Ukrainian crisis has gripped the markets over the past month and has now worsened with Russia’s invasion of the country. Volatility metrics hit their highest level since the Delta variant shocked markets last fall1. That nervousness has translated into U.S. stocks in the red, Treasury yields across the curve as investors flock to safety and Brent crude oil topping $95 a barrel for the first time since 2014 – the same year Russia annexed Crimea2.

Our Global Geopolitical Risk Indicator BlackRock3, updated in mid-February, hit its highest level in more than a year amid heightened market attention to geopolitical competition. This is due to the market’s heightened awareness of conflict risks in all areas, including the Russia-NATO conflict.

With increased market volatility, what is the potential impact for investors? Some clues can be obtained by examining past geopolitical events. A key finding from our historical analysis4 asset price reactions to 68 risk events since 1962 is that the impact of geopolitical shocks has always tended to be more acute when the economic backdrop is weak, and therefore when economic growth has slowed from its 2021 peak in the world. In the mid-cycle environment of 2022, geopolitical risk could further amplify volatility, especially as high inflation and uncertain interest rate developments have deteriorated liquidity in most markets.

Our analysis of the six past geopolitical shocks, as shown in the chart, reveals that US Treasuries have tended to perform positively over a three-month horizon, even outperforming US equities in some cases, confirming their traditional ballast properties in a multi-asset portfolio. US equities and a diversified basket of commodities also tended to perform positively when measured over a three-month horizon, demonstrating the power of staying invested in strategic equity allocations during bouts of volatility. and the tactical utility of commodities as hedging and asset class diversification. .

In other words, the bottom line is that many investors are smart about staying put and not trying to time geopolitical events. However, for those who want to “reduce risk” or move into traditional safe havens like Treasuries or commodities to potentially build resilience in their portfolio, the ETF provides a flexible vehicle to make these sorts of moves. tactics. ETF trading volumes tend to increase with market risk, providing liquidity during periods of heightened volatility.

Performance of stocks, commodities and long-term treasury bills 3 months after geopolitical shocks

Chart showing index performance 3 months after geopolitical shocks

BlackRock, Bloomberg, chart by iShares Investment Strategy. As of February 18, 2022. Index performance is for illustrative purposes only. Index performance does not reflect management fees, transaction costs or expenses. Indices are unmanaged and you cannot invest directly in an index. Past performance does not guarantee future results. The performance of the index is measured by the following indices: S&P 500 Index (SPX Index), Bloomberg Commodity Index (BCOM Index), Bloomberg US Treasury: 20+ Year Index (LT11TRUU index).

1 Source: Bloomberg, Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index (VIX), November 1, 2021 – February 24, 2022.

2 Source: Bloomberg. Asset class performance measured by the following indices: US equities is the S&P 500 Index (SPX Index), from January 1, 2022 to February 24, 2022. Treasury is the Bloomberg US Treasury Index: 20+ Year Index (LT11TRUU index), January 1, 2022 to February 24, 2022. Brent crude oil is ICE Brent Futures from April 22, 2022, contract (CO1 Cmdty) from January 1, 2014 to February 24, 2022.

3 Source: BlackRock Geopolitical Risk Dashboard

4 Source: Gauging Geopolitics – A Framework for Assessing and Assessing Geopolitical Risk

Consider the Funds’ investment objectives, risk factors and charges and expenses carefully before investing. This and other information can be found in the prospectuses of the Funds or, if available, in the simplified prospectuses, which can be obtained by visiting the prospectus pages of the iShares Funds and BlackRock Fund. Read the prospectus carefully before investing.

Investing involves risk, including possible loss of principal.

ETF shares are bought and sold at market price (not net asset value) and are not individually redeemed by the fund. Any applicable brokerage commission will reduce returns. Effective August 10, 2020, market price returns for BlackRock and iShares ETFs are calculated using the closing price and reflect fund distributions. Prior to August 10, 2020, market price returns for BlackRock and iShares ETFs were calculated using the midpoint and took into account fund distributions. The midpoint is the average bid/ask price at 4 p.m. ET (when net asset value is normally determined for most ETFs). The returns shown do not represent the returns you would get if you traded stocks at other times.

International investing involves risks, including foreign currency risk, limited liquidity, less government regulation and the possibility of significant volatility due to adverse political, economic or other developments. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging/developing markets or single country concentrations.

Commodity prices can be very volatile. Prices can be affected by various economic, financial, social and political factors, which can be unpredictable and have a significant impact on commodity prices.

Risks associated with fixed income securities include interest rate risk and credit risk. Generally, when interest rates rise, there is a corresponding fall in the value of bonds. Credit risk refers to the possibility that the bond issuer may not be able to make principal and interest payments.

An investment in the Fund is not insured or guaranteed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or any other government agency and its return and returns will fluctuate with market conditions.

Funds that focus their investments in specific industries, sectors, markets or asset classes may underperform or be more volatile than other industries, sectors, markets or asset classes and the general securities market.

This document represents an assessment of the market environment as of the date indicated; is subject to change; and is not intended to be a prediction of future events or a guarantee of future results. This information should not be considered by the reader as research or investment advice regarding the funds or any particular issuer or security.

The strategies discussed are strictly for illustrative and educational purposes and do not constitute a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell securities or to adopt any investment strategy. There is no guarantee that the strategies discussed will be effective.

This information should not be construed as research, investment advice or recommendations regarding particular products, strategies or securities. This material is strictly for illustrative, educational or informational purposes and is subject to change.

This material is not intended to be used as a forecast, research or investment advice, and does not constitute a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any strategy. of investment. Opinions expressed are as of the date indicated and may change based on subsequent conditions. The information and opinions contained herein are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources believed to be reliable by BlackRock, are not necessarily complete, and are not guaranteed as to their accuracy. As such, no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given and no liability otherwise arising for errors and omissions (including liability to any person due to negligence) is accepted by BlackRock, its officers, employees or agents. This document may contain “forward-looking” information that is not purely historical in nature. This information may include, among other things, projections and forecasts. There is no guarantee that any of these views will come true. The reliability of the information contained herein is at the sole discretion of the viewer.

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