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WASHINGTON, DC-- After the 2008 financial crisis, Wall Street firms such as Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase were bailed out while ordinary Americans were left to suffer the consequences. Many lost jobs, homes and businesses in the recession that followed, passing on the weight of debt onward to the next generation. Now a movement, primarily mobilized by youth, is seeking compensation for the losses suffered at the hands of Wall Street bankers.
Student organizations visited the nations Capitol in March 21, 2016 to lobby for the Robin Hood Tax - a proposed tax on stock trades that has the potential to generate hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue. The Robin Hood tax is a sales tax on speculative Wall Street trading. A small tax, 50 cents per $100, on individual stock transactions, and even smaller assessments on bonds, derivatives and currencies, could raise hundreds of billions of dollars each year in the US alone. Specifically, $68 billion of the estimated $350 billion raised annually by the tax would fund higher education, making it tuition free.
Supporters of the tax claim that the money could provide funding for jobs to kickstart the economy and get America back on track. The [tax] is a way of restructuring our economy, said Giovanni DAmbrosio, an undergraduate at UC Berkeley (Cal), who also works as a campus organizer for both the California Nurses Association (CNA)--a branch of National Nurses United (NNU)--and the Associated Students of the University of California (ASUC). Students understand that the money exists to make higher ed more accessible, to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, to fund affordable housing, build a green infrastructure and more.
The nurses union has publicly supported the bill and has remained one of most consistent national voices calling for the Robin Hood tax. Members of the CNA/NNU believe that the campaign is one of many necessary steps for students to achieve easier access to higher education. DAmbrosio notes, however, that the role of colleges and universities is do more than just educate students; it is to provide jobs, housing, research to global and local communities. DAmbrosio says that the Robin Hood tax functions to de-incentivize the exchange of risky debts and securities that was responsible for the 2008 crash, It redistributes money from the people profiting off of student and institutional debts to fund our futures.
In addition to student organizations and labor unions, many influential leaders have voiced their support of the campaign as well. Nobel Laureate and former Vice President Al Gore, Microsoft Founder Bill Gates, Minority Leader of the United States House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, and American business investor and philanthropist, Warren Buffet, are some of many activist that have backed the bill in congress. In 2011 the Vatican even came out with a statement saying such taxation would be very useful in promoting global development and sustainability according to the principles of social justice and solidarity.
One aspect of the Robin Hood tax that appeals to the general public is that, according to the campaign, it wont affect a majority of Americans, their personal savings, or everyday consumer activity, such as ATM usage. The 0.5 percent tax would be enforced on Wall Street transactions only. If implemented effectively it could raise enough money to fund higher education, housing, local governments, hospitals, essential research, community support,and sustainable energy. This makes the bill favorable amongst student activist groups around the nation. Alejandro Perez, 22, a member of Associated Students at UCSB said that student organizations are supporting the tax because it helps raise money for programs that serves disenfranchised communities, Itll provide more access to healthcare for all. This [tax] would also allow students to have a greater opportunity to pursue higher education and have health care available for low income families.
The growing popularity of the Robin Hood tax comes at a time when a majority of Americans have voiced distrust in big business. Many have stated that they are dissatisfied with the size and influence of major corporations, as it has become obvious with the current US presidential race. Contenders, such as Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, have risen to popularity because their campaigns have challenged the status quo of wall street contributions. Trump recently released public records showing that he is the primary self-funder in his campaign, while Sanders fundraising efforts continue to break records, with about $75 million raised by small donors.
The legislation is not without its critics. Tim Worstall, a British contributor at Forbes and writer on finance, economics and public policy, wrote a piece in June of 2012 stating that the tax does absolutely none of the things claimed for it, and does many other undesirable things as well. He went on to address the article written for the Guardian by Rose Ann Demoro, leader of National Nurses United, about the benefits of the Robin Hood Tax. Worstall calls the plan unrealistic and claims that taxing people does not inject money into the economy, but rather moves money around from one group of people to another. At one point exclaiming that it just isnt the same as increasing the amount of money or revenue in the economy as a whole.
Nevertheless, critics have not deterred students from pushing for the enactment of the bill. College graduates face up to $1.3 trillion in student loan debt; these sums are often borrowed at rates that are set higher than mortgage and car loan rates. It was estimated that as of May 2015 a whopping 13.8 percent of 18-to 29-year-olds are out of work, a number that is more than double the national jobless rate of 5.4 percent. This crushing debt leaves many young adults struggling to maintain their bills, save long term, or invest money back into the economy. The Robin Hood tax campaigns official website states that enacting the tax would fund an additional 9 million jobs and reduce unemployment by 60%. It remains to be seen whether or not this will be the case. For now, students and college graduates in the workforce see the Robin Hood tax as a potential light at the end of a deep and dark financial tunnel.
Photo: Housing Works
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First, kudos for taking that risk tolerance test. Too many people wing it when it comes to deciding how to divvy up their savings between stocks and bonds. Thats never a good idea, but it can be especially dangerous when investors have more money in stocks than they should when the market tanks. So I recommend other investors follow your lead, which they can do by creating a portfolio that jibes with your appetite for risk.
But once youve decided what stocks-bonds mix is appropriate for you, dollar-cost averaging isnt a very good method for getting from where you are to where you want be.
I know that may strange, since virtually everyone praises dollar-cost averaging and touts its benefits. But if you really examine the practice, youll see that its not a very effective way to deal with market volatility and manage investing risk.
Typically, the subject of dollar-cost averaging comes up when someone with a sizable sum of cash is considering whether to invest it in stocks all at once or do so gradually, say, over the course of a year. Advocates of dollar-cost averaging claim its a good risk-reduction tool because tiptoeing in a bit at a time reduces the chance that youll put all your money into stocks just before the market slumps.
But many analyses, including this one, counter that you stand a better chance of ending up with more money by investing in stocks all once, which makes sense since historically stocks have had more up years than down and they have usually outperformed cash during those up years.
Of course, there are times when stocks go down and dollar-cost averaging comes out ahead. But on balance youre more likely to be giving up investment gains by dollar-cost averaging than protecting your downsize.
But I dont think that this way of looking at dollar-cost averaging gets to the real issue--namely, whether its an effective technique for managing risk. If youve put some thought into your investing strategy and created a well-balanced portfolio that includes both stocks and bonds, the question isnt how to get new money into stocks, or how to go from all cash to all stocks, but how best to put new money to work in the diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds you already have. (Or, in your case, this slight variation: how to move from the portfolio you have to the portfolio you want.) Either way, the issue isnt how to earn the highest return; its how best to manage risk and reward.
So lets take your situation. You dont say how much you have invested, but for the sake of this example, lets assume you have $100,000 in savings, of which 70%, or $70,000, is invested stocks and 30%, or $30,000, is in bonds. You want to end up with a portfolio that is 40%, or $40,000, in stocks and 60%, or $60,000, in bonds. So essentially you need to move $30,000 from stocks into bonds.
You could dollar-cost average your way to your target portfolio mix, say, over 12 months. To do that you would take $2,500 out of your stock holdings each month and move it into bonds. (To keep things simple, Im leaving investment returns out of the example.)
So after moving $2,500 out of stocks in the first month, you would be left with a portfolio with 67.5%, or $67,500, in stocks and 32.5%, or $32,500, in bonds. Your portfolio would be 62.5% ($62,500) stocks and 37.5% ($37,500) bonds by the third month; 55% ($55,000) stocks and 45% ($45,000) bonds by the sixth month and 47.5% ($47,500) stocks and 52.5% ($52,500) bonds by the ninth month. In the 12th month you would hit your 40% ($40,000) stocks-60% ($60,000) bonds target.
So youve arrive at your intended portfolio, but its taken you a year to get there, a year during which youve gone through a series of stocks-bonds allocations that arent in sync with your tolerance for risk.
If you really believe that a 40% stocks-60% bonds portfolio offers the right balance of risk vs. reward for you (as your risk tolerance test suggests), why should you spend a year at more aggressive allocations?
The answer is you shouldnt. Youre better off going immediately to your 40% stocks-60% bonds portfolio, which is how youve decided your portfolio should be allocated. Granted, if it turns out that the stock market starts soaring as youre reducing your stock position, youll end up with a lower return by moving quickly than you would have if you made the transition gradually. At the same time, though, youll end up with a higher return going to bonds immediately rather than gradually if the market sinks.
But such what ifs are immaterial. The whole point of creating a stocks-bonds mix that matches your risk tolerance in the first place is because you dont know what the market is going to do. So rather than engage in a guessing game, you arrive at a blend of stocks and bonds that (aside from occasional rebalancing) you can stick with through good markets and bad, and that can deliver solid returns given the level of risk youre willing to take. Dollar-cost averaging undermines that strategy.
By the way, the same principle would apply if you were going from a more conservative to a more aggressive portfolio, say, 40% stocks-60% bonds to 70% stocks-30% bonds. In that case, dollar-cost averaging would also take you through a series of allocations that dont reflect your tolerance for risk, except that they would be more conservative than your target mix.
But what about a 401(k)?, you may ask. People invest money gradually there. Doesnt that show how dollar-cost-averaging can work to your benefit? The answer is no. Investing money over time in a 401(k) isnt an example of dollar-cost averaging; its an example of investing money as you get it, which does make sense.
If you wanted to apply dollar-cost averaging to your 401(k), you would have your plan administrator invest each contribution in a money-market account and you would then gradually move a piece of it each month from cash to your investment options. But clearly that would make no sense (and be unwieldy and time consuming to boot). Which is why if you contribute, say, $100 a month to a 401(k) thats split, say, 50-50 between stocks and bonds, you have your plan administrator immediately invest your monthly contribution match your investment mix. (Similarly, if you had the ability to make a full-years contribution to your 401(k) at the beginning of the year, it would make more sense to invest it all at once in a way that reflects the asset mix youve set for your plan rather than put it all in cash and then invest in your various options a little bit at a time.)
Bottom line: Whether youre adding new money to your portfolio or, as youre doing, switching to a new stocks-bonds mix because the old one doesnt suit you, youre better off investing the money or moving to your target portfolio mix as quickly as possible rather than dollar-cost averaging.
If you find it psychologically or emotionally difficult to do that, then make the move gradually but over a short period, say, a few months instead of a year. Because the longer you string it out, the longer youll be taking more (or less) risk than youve decided you should take.
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STATEN ISLAND, NY -- South Shore Bar amp; Grill lives on Ellis Street, a dead-end peninsula of sorts that runs between the Rapid Transit and towering tugboats propped up in dry dock.
In its seemingly desolate surroundings on this sleepy Tottenville stretch, the restaurant is actually part of a small compound. Sharing the gravel parking lot with the bar and grill are a boatyard plus bar/nightclub Tiki Island. And while business can be soft on chilly spring afternoons, owners Mark Shear and Joe Guli have stuck with their lunch, dinner and nightlife format year round.
But for the most part, Guli and Shear were surprised at how busy theyve been right through winter and following a spate of renovations.
Guli says a major uptick happened right after they put up a roadside sign promoting the Grills $25 buffet party packages.
And that blew my parties out of the water, Guli said.
Just after the New Year, Shear and Guli decided to invest money into the place. It still had the same layout and decor as it was in its former incarnation as Frescas on the Bay.
The biggest problem I had was the look, said Guli. Now, as soon as people walk in and see the new restaurant everyones admitting they didnt like the old look.
The carpeted floor is gone; the bar smack in the middle of the room is no more. The bar now flows along one side of the restaurant in an L-shape, leaving a more cohesive indoor dining room and section for dancing just below a stage.
The Grill additionally has an outdoor dining section a long-time Staten Islander might appreciate. Al fresco perches sport views of the angular Outerbridge Crossing and a fixture of pilings plopped in the water just off the shoreline, a heap thats been in place for decades.
Whats really driving the numbers these days, Guli offers, are his deals at the waterside spot. For instance, the partners give out specially printed gift cards in a school fundraising program.
On a recent afternoon, a parent from a nearby school came in to pick up a box of those cards.
Aww, thank you. Im sure youll get a lot of parents coming in, said the mom.
But patrons indeed are coming for the discounts: South Shore has two-for-one entrees on Tuesday nights. On Wednesdays, a bottle of Vista Point-brand wines are a dollar with the purchase of every two entrees.
Yes, you heard right -- its a dollar, said Guli, speaking to an incredulous man who called the restaurant.
Other deals that have proved attractive: Kids eat free with the purchase of at least two adult entrees on Sundays. Young patrons might like the Enchanted Princess and other life-sized costumed characters coming soon to the restaurant. And, for large groups on Friday and Saturday nights, Guli and Shear can arrange for the purchase of a wrist band that entitles guests to unlimited drinks.
Guil points to Comedy Night on Friday, April 29 starting at 8 pm for $20 per guest. (Reservations are required.)
And, the restaurant delivers on the South Shore.
That something for everyone mindset isnt a new one for Guli and Shear. The pair established Mark Joseph Grilled Pizza and then Serv in Manalapin, NJ The Serve lounge concept came to Ellis Street about two years ago but the entrepreneurs switched over to a grill format with South Shore Bar amp; Grill.
Now, eaters can devour unctuous things like piled-high burgers and Italian Nachos with sweet and hot sausage crumbles, Italian red hots laid on top of a pair of deep-fried cannoli shells dripping with cannellini beans and mozzarella alongside bruschetta (instead of salsa) on the side.
They ran that dish for the Super Bowl and it sold well.
So, we added that to the menu, said Guli.
Theres the popular Ship Wreck --heavily garlick-ed shrimp ladled into a bread boat with a marinara-touched white wine sauce.
South Shore is primed for their busiest day of the year, Cinco de Mayo, which happens to be opening night for the Tiki Island summer season. Guli and Shear provide the food services for that venue.
Its going to be great, said Guli who fixed his version of a Tequila Sunrise which glowed pinkish and yellow in the late afternoon sun.
South Shore Bar and Grill is located 225 Ellis St., Tottenville; 718-227-2258, SouthShoreBarngrill.com.