The Millionaire Next Door Redux

My colleague, Walter Kirchberger, does a lot of world travel and recently brought back with him not a tee shirt or other souvenir, but an article he had read on the ship titled, “The millionaires next door.”  It was an Associated Press piece by Liz Weston. Many years ago, a book was written of the … Continued

The Battle Over Fuel Economy

The technical details behind corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards are complicated and controversial.  At an automotive conference held in Traverse City, MI, public sparring between regulators and industry representatives suggest that the path to the current goal of 54.5 miles per gallon (mpg) by 2025, is going to be bumpy. Predictably, the auto industry … Continued

Is Your Inheritance Taxable?

Many clients ask about the taxability of inherited assets.  Generally, funds or assets you inherit are not taxable; if estate taxes (sometimes referred to as death taxes) are due they are paid by the estate prior to distribution to beneficiaries.  A few states (not Michigan) have an inheritance tax. The rules regarding how to treat … Continued

Hidden Taxes

Taxes are always a controversial topic with widely divergent opinions as to who should pay, how much, and on what basis.  An old saying “Don’t tax you, don’t tax me, tax the fellow behind the tree,” may be more appropriate than ever, as politicians increasingly seek to obscure the full amount they are collecting and … Continued

Reflections of an Intern

As investment professionals, we tend to take a lot of “investment content” for granted and, like many professions, assume that the general public has the same awareness on wealth planning concepts that we do.  Our recent college intern, Daria Lenderman (Northwestern University), shared her observations following her very successful session at Sigma Investment Counselors this … Continued

Be Wary of Consensus

Investors should be cautious in reacting to “consensus” opinions and investment strategies.  For example, running up to, and immediately after, Apple’s new iPhone announcement, analysts, both financial and technical, were somewhat less than enthusiastic about the phone’s prospects.  Comments included, not enough new stuff, taking out the headphone jack is a mistake, etc.  As a … Continued


Most individuals recognize the need for some regulations.  However, the key question is, at what point do regulations stop providing a path to an orderly arrangement for community cooperation and become the sand that brings the machinery to a halt? In order to be truly useful, regulations are likely to be the most beneficial when … Continued

Home Ownership?

The Census Bureau recently reported that 62.9% of households owned a home in the second quarter.  That is the lowest level in 51 years, equaling the home ownership rate in 1965, when the census began tracking the data. Home ownership peaked in 2004 at 69.2%, amid the late and unlamented housing bubble. Is the reduction in … Continued

The Fed’s Dilemma

It is not exactly a secret that the Fed would like to increase interest rates but isn’t actually doing it.  The problem may be that there does not appear to be any compelling reason to raise rates at this time and at least two good reasons not to. The Fed’s mandate is to maximize employment, … Continued