My estate is worth millions of dollars. How do I stop my daughters’ husbands from getting their hands on it?

My wife and I live in California, as do three of our four grown daughters. We are revisiting our family trust for the first time in many years, as we’re getting older and have gradually built an estate worth a couple of million dollars. We want to make sure that, in case our daughters get divorced, our hard-earned savings go to them and not their ex-husbands. 

We consulted with two estate attorneys and got different answers. The first said there’s nothing we can do to legally enforce that the inheritance stays separate; the most we could do is put in some wording along the lines of “It is our wish that the money stays separate.” The second attorney said that we can make our children sign a prenup as a condition of their inheritance. 

Furthermore, we have one daughter who has already been married for five years and has three children; another daughter who just got engaged; and two other children, who are single. Our married daughter does not have a prenuptial agreement. How do we protect our gift to her? A retroactive prenup? How should we proceed?

Father of Four Girls

Related: They’re threatening to go to a lawyer’: My in-laws gave us $300,000 and are on the deed to our home. Now they insist we give our niece $125,000.

“Don’t allow this money to become a cudgel with which to control your daughters’ lives.”


MarketWatch illustration

Dear Father,

Money should bring freedom and opportunity, not control and coercion. 

Your intentions tread a fine line between expectations and legality. There is only so much you can do to prevent your daughters from sharing their inheritance with their spouses, assuming they all marry and some of those marriages end in divorce. It is a credit to you that you have amassed a couple of million dollars, but don’t allow this money to become a cudgel with which to pull the purse strings in your daughters’ lives. 

One solution to your problem: You could set up a bloodline trust, a revocable trust that sets out how you should leave your assets to your direct beneficiaries — in this case, your daughters — and which becomes irrevocable upon your death. It can only be used for your daughters and their children, and because it becomes irrevocable upon your death, it cannot be accessed by creditors, should you have any. There are downsides. For example, such a trust could, unless otherwise specified, exclude stepchildren and adopted children.

First, the good news: Inheritance in California is considered separate property. Whether you leave your children real estate or brokerage or savings accounts, that money will remain nonmarital property unless your daughters use it to upgrade their family home or in some other way commingle those assets with their community property. So that pre-empts the need for your married daughter to ask her spouse to sign a postnuptial agreement.

On that subject, however, it’s not wise to use this inheritance to tell your daughters what they should do within their marriages. There should be a clear boundary between your relationship with your adult children and their relationships with their respective partners and spouses. It’s not a good idea to interfere in the latter. Doing so may cause discord in their relationships and also cause unnecessary hurt and tension in your own relationships with your daughters.

“California is one of a few states that strictly adheres to community-property laws, which declare that assets acquired during a marriage [are] community, also known as marital, property,” according to Myers Family Law in Roseville, Calif. “However, even California draws a line when it comes to personal inheritances, including inheritances that were received while married. Inheritances are treated as separate property, belonging to the individual who received the inheritance.”

Legal gymnastics

Requesting in your last will and testament that your daughters receive their share of your estate on the condition that they don’t share any of it with their husbands presents a lot of impractical and legal gymnastics. What they do with their inheritance is their business, unless you put those assets in a trust with strict instructions on how those assets should be used — for your grandchildren’s education, for example — or use the trust to provide an annual income.

There are so many variables beyond your control. What if you die before your wife, and she has different ideas about how your joint estate should be settled? What if your daughter’s husband is asked to sign a prenup, and replies, “No way — who does your father think he is?” The best course of action is to make your daughters aware of how to manage separate assets that are inherited, and how they could be accidentally commingled.

Think about the quality time you have left with your family. You don’t want Thanksgiving dinners to turn into a battle royale or, worse, a situation where your daughters and their partners gradually pull away and reevaluate their relationships with you. You have worked hard for your money, and you are attempting to protect your family fortune. But there are times in life when you can do too much, and hold your family too tight, even if that is not your intention. 

Ask yourself some soul-searching questions before you proceed. Do you really want to force your children to sign a prenup in order to receive their inheritance? Prenups can be challenged and changed at a later date. What is more important: the couple of million dollars you will leave behind, or the relationships you have with your daughters while you are still here? Don’t put a price on your daughters’ love for you — or on their love for their spouses.

Sorry for being preachy, but even Shakespeare wrote a play about estate planning. It was called “King Lear.”

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

Previous columns by Quentin Fottrell:

‘I grew up pretty poor’: I got an annual bonus. After I pay off my credit cards, I’ll have $10,000. What should I do with it?

‘I received an insurance-claim check for $22,000’: Why on earth does it take five days for my check to clear?

‘I want to protect my family’: My wealthy father, 49, is marrying his third wife. How do I broach the subject of my inheritance?

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#estate #worth #millions #dollars #stop #daughters #husbands #hands

Former hedge fund star says this is what will trigger the next bear market.

Much of Wall Street expects easing inflation, but an overshoot could dash hopes of a May rate cut, curtailing the S&P 500’s
SPX
waltz with 5,000, warn some.

Read: Arm’s frenzied stock rally continues as AI chase trumps valuation.

What might take this market down eventually? Our call of the day from former hedge-fund manager Russell Clark points to Japan, an island nation whose central bank is one of the last holdouts of loose monetary policy.

Note, Clark bailed on his perma bear RC Global Fund back in 2021 after wrongly betting against stocks for much of a decade. But he’s got a whole theory on why Japan matters so much.

In his substack post, Clark argues that the real bear-market trigger will come when the Bank of Japan ends quantitative easing. For starters, he argues we’re in a “pro-labor world” where a few things should be playing out: higher wages and lower jobless levels and interest rates higher than expected. Lining up with his expectations, real assets started to surge in late 2023 when the Fed started to go dovish, and the yield curve began to steepen.

From that point, not everything has been matching up so easily. He thought higher short-term rates would siphon off money from speculative assets, but then money flowed into cryptos like Tether and the Nasdaq recovered completely from a 2022 rout.

“I have been toying with the idea that semiconductors are a the new oil – and hence have become a strategic asset. This explains the surge in the Nasdaq and the Nikkei to a degree, but does not really explain tether or bitcoin very well,” he said.

So back to Japan and his not so popular explanation for why financial/speculative assets continue to trade so well.

“The Fed had high interest rates all through the 1990s, and dot-com bubble developed anyway. But during that time, the Bank of Japan only finally raised interest rates in 1999 and then the bubble burst,” he said.

He notes that when Japan began to tighten rates in late 2006, “everything started to unwind,” adding that the BOJ’s brief attempts [to] raise rates in 1996 could be blamed for the Asian Financial Crisis.

In Clark’s view, markets seem to have moved more with the Japan’s bank balance sheet than the Fed’s. The BOJ “invented” quantitative easing in the early 2000s, and the subprime crisis started not long after it removed that liquidity from the market in 2006, he notes.

“For really old investors, loose Japanese monetary policy also explained the bubble economy of the 1980s. BOJ Balance Sheet and S&P 500 have decent correlation in my book,” he said, offering the below chart:


Capital Flows and Asset Markets, Russell Clark.

Clark says that also helps explains why higher bond yields haven’t really hurt assets. “As JGB 10 yields have risen, the BOJ has committed to unlimited purchases to keep it below 1%,” he notes.

The two big takeaways here? “BOJ is the only central bank that matters…and that we need to get bearish the U.S. when the BOJ raises interest rates. Given the moves in bond markets and food inflation, this is a matter of time,” said Clark who says in light of his plans for a new fund, “a bear market would be extremely useful for me.” He’s watching the BOJ closely.

The markets

Pre-data, stock futures
ES00,
-0.41%

NQ00,
-0.80%

are down, while Treasury yields
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y

BX:TMUBMUSD02Y
hold steady. Oil
CL.1,
+0.79%

and gold
GC00,
+0.46%

are both higher. The Nikkei 225 index
JP:NIK
tapped 38,000 for the first time since 1990.

Key asset performance

Last

5d

1m

YTD

1y

S&P 500

5,021.84

1.60%

4.98%

5.28%

21.38%

Nasdaq Composite

15,942.55

2.21%

6.48%

6.20%

34.06%

10 year Treasury

4.181

7.83

11.45

30.03

42.81

Gold

2,038.10

-0.17%

-0.75%

-1.63%

9.33%

Oil

77.14

5.96%

6.02%

8.15%

-2.55%

Data: MarketWatch. Treasury yields change expressed in basis points

The buzz

Due at 8:30 a.m., January headline consumer prices are expected to dip to 2.9% for January, down from 3.4% in December and the lowest since March 2021. Monthly inflation is seen at 0.3%.

Biogen
BIIB,
+1.56%

stock is down on disappointing results and a slow launch for its Alzheimer’s treatment. A miss is also hitting Krispy Kreme
DNUT,
+1.99%
,
Coca-Cola
KO,
+0.24%

is up on a revenue rise, with Hasbro
HAS,
+1.38%
,
Molson Coors
TAP,
+3.12%

and Marriott
MAR,
+0.74%

still to come, followed by Airbnb
ABNB,
+4.20%
,
Akamai
AKAM,
-0.13%

and MGM Resorts
MGM,
+0.60%

after the close. Hasbro stock is plunging on an earnings miss.

JetBlue
JBLU,
+2.19%

is surging after billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn disclosed a near 10% stake and said his firm is discussing possible board representation.

Tripadvisor stock
TRIP,
+3.04%

is up 10% after the travel-services platform said it was considering a possible sale.

In a first, Russia put Estonia’s prime minister on a “wanted” list. Meanwhile, the U.S. Senate approved aid for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan.

Best of the web

Why chocolate lovers will pay more this Valentine’s Day than they have in years

A startup wants to harvest lithium from America’s biggest saltwater lake.

Online gambling transactions hit nearly 15,000 per second during the Super Bowl.

The chart

Deutsche Bank has taken a deep dive into the might of the Magnificent Seven, and why they will continue to matter for investors. One reason? Nearly 40% of the world still doesn’t have internet access as the bank’s chart shows:

Top tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.

Ticker

Security name

TSLA,
-2.81%
Tesla

NVDA,
+0.16%
Nvidia

ARM,
+29.30%
Arm Holdings

PLTR,
+2.75%
Palantir Technologies

NIO,
+2.53%
Nio

AMC,
+4.11%
AMC Entertainment

AAPL,
-0.90%
Apple

AMZN,
-1.21%
Amazon.com

MARA,
+14.19%
Marathon Digital

TSM,
-1.99%
NIO

Random reads

Everyone wants this freak “It bag.”

Dumped over a text? Get your free dumplings.

Messi the dog steals Oscars’ limelight.

Love and millions of flowers stop in Miami.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

Check out On Watch by MarketWatch, a weekly podcast about the financial news we’re all watching – and how that’s affecting the economy and your wallet.

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#hedge #fund #star #trigger #bear #market

My brothers are co-owners on $1.9 million of our mother’s bank and brokerage accounts. She now has Alzheimer’s. How can I rectify this?

I have three adult siblings living in different states, and we are disputing the circumstances surrounding the joint accounts shared with our 85-year-old mother, who has early stage Alzheimer’s. Our mom has a net worth of around $2 million, which is spread across several different bank and brokerage accounts. Late in life, she added a different sibling as a co-owner on each of her accounts to help manage her money.  

My brother “Joe” is listed as the sole co-owner on the bulk of our mother’s brokerage accounts, totaling $1.3 million, while my brother “Andy” is the sole co-owner of a $600,000 bank account and I am the sole co-owner of a $100,000 brokerage account. I think our mom simply forgot to add my sister, “Sue,” as a co-owner on any account. Her intention has always been for the four of us to equally inherit her assets.

I suggested to my three siblings that we should change all the accounts to sole ownership under our mother’s name with four equal beneficiaries. I thought this could avoid many possible complications with gift taxes and distribution at the time of our mother’s death, since as it stands, each co-owner would have to divide the money from their co-ownership account and send it to the other siblings.

Sue is named as power of attorney and could manage our mother’s individual accounts as needed. However, Joe is adamant that the current setup of co-ownership of accounts is the best way to help our mother, especially to protect her against financial fraud in case she needs to move to a nursing home. He insists there will be no gift taxes with the eventual distribution and that this setup is straightforward and easy to co-manage.

This situation is causing a lot of stress and distrust among my siblings, which I hate. I suggested we change things in order to make our mother’s financial situation as simple as possible, especially at the time of death, and not because I don’t trust Joe. Right now, no one is touching our mother’s accounts, and I am paying most of her expenses, as she lives with me.

Please advise.

Frustrated Sibling

Also read: My wife and I sold our home to her son at a $100,000 discount. He’s now selling at a $250,000 profit. Do I ask for a cut?

“Sue, as power of attorney, should be able to withdraw money from your mother’s other accounts and/or set up a bank account with those funds in your mom’s name,” the Moneyist writes.


MarketWatch illustration

Dear Frustrated,

Your brothers have every reason to act like white truffle butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.

Between them, they have sewn up your mother’s largest bank accounts, and you are very likely dependent on the kindness of these brothers to either add you to the accounts as co-owners or distribute the funds between all four siblings after your mother passes away. 

I would not hold my breath for Joe or Andy to do either of these things. They can just as easily resist with politeness and smiles as with anger and resentment. I’m sorry to say that the most damaging actions — for you and your sister— have already been taken. 

We may never know the conversations that took place when your brothers were added as co-owners. But there is a very important difference between a “co-owner” and a “co-signer” on an account. The latter can withdraw money but does not own the money in the account.

If your mother was not of sound mind or her mental capacity was diminished when your brothers were added to these accounts, or if she had intended to add them as co-signers, there may be a case where you can contest your brothers’ ownership of these accounts.

The legal framework around such cases vary depending on the state, but it’s usually up to the estate of the original owner of the account to prove that there was elder abuse and/or undue influence taking place. As always, you should consult an attorney who specializes in elder law.

Limitations to power-of-attorney duties 

Sue, as power of attorney, should be able to withdraw money from your mother’s other accounts and/or set up a bank account with those funds in your mom’s name. She should preserve these funds for additional medical bills and long-term care as her condition progresses.

But the bottom line is that without the cooperation of your two brothers after your mother dies, failing any legal case to reverse matters, you will remain with the sole ownership of the $100,000 brokerage account, and the four of you will inherit whatever else is left in the estate. 

It’s virtually impossible to say without more information, but Sue, as power of attorney, is unlikely to have the ability to change the ownership of these accounts unless that is specified in the terms of her POA contract. That would also depend on the laws of your state.

“The power of attorney permits the agent to access their parent’s bank accounts, make deposits and write checks,” Jupiter, Fla.-based Welch Law says in this POA overview. “However, it doesn’t create any ownership interest in the bank accounts. It allows access and signing authority.”

The law firm continues: “If the person’s parent wants to add them to the account, they become a joint owner of the account. When this happens, the person has the same authority as the parent, accessing the account and making deposits and withdrawals.”

But those with power of attorney cannot self-deal when it comes to their parent’s finances. “As a POA, they are a fiduciary, which means they have a legally enforceable responsibility to put their parent’s benefits above their own,” Welch Law adds.

You should not have to pay for your mother’s care out of your own bank account. Your sister, as power of attorney, should be managing that. Talk to your siblings about your mother’s Alzheimer’s and how the four of you plan to manage her care in the months and years ahead.

Will your brothers fulfill their promise and make you and your sister whole? Only time will tell.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

Previous columns by Quentin Fottrell:

‘I don’t like the idea of dying alone’: I’m 54, twice divorced and have $2.3 million. My girlfriend wants to get married. How do I protect myself?

‘If I say the sky is blue, she’ll tell me it’s green’: My daughter, 19, will inherit $800,000. How can she invest in her future?

‘They have no running water’: Our neighbors constantly hit us up for money. My husband gave them $400. Is it selfish to say no?



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#brothers #coowners #million #mothers #bank #brokerage #accounts #Alzheimers #rectify

‘I can’t afford to keep paying for two households’: My adult sons live rent-free in my house, while I pay for 50% of utilities in my second husband’s condo

In 2007, my now ex-husband and I bought a home, where we lived as a family with our two boys for just a few years before we divorced in 2009. I refinanced the house in my name, and have paid the mortgage and utilities as a single parent ever since. 

In 2016, I met and started dating a man. We lived apart, only about 10 to 15 minutes from each other. In 2021, after I battled cancer, he proposed and I accepted. Since we only lived a few minutes apart, I stayed at my husband’s two-bedroom condo Thursday through Sunday, and spent Sunday through Thursday at my house, where I worked from home. I did this for years. 

My oldest son moved back in with me in 2021. He graduated high school in 2017 and I gave him a gap year living at my house to decide on his next move, after which he moved out and started his career. He lived on his own for a year, then lived with my parents for a year. He met a girl; they signed a lease and then the pandemic hit. After their lease was up, they broke up, and he decided to go back to college full time. I agreed that he could live in my home while he attended college. His tuition is covered by grants and a 529 fund his grandmother set up.

In 2022, my then boyfriend and I married. However, we still didn’t move in together full time, as I still had my house, and my youngest son had not yet graduated high school. I wanted to be home with him. 

Helping to support two households

My youngest son, 19, graduated high school in 2023. Later that summer, I moved out of my house to stay with my husband full time. I pay 50% of the expenses living with my husband and 100% of the expenses for my house, where the boys live. 

I kept both households going so my youngest could have a gap year of his own, and to cushion my oldest, whom I really didn’t think would go to college, while he attended to his studies. They are young and finding their way, and I wanted to give them the support I felt like they needed. But here we are in 2024, and I can’t afford to keep both households running without impacting my ability to save for retirement.

Here’s my dilemma: I don’t know how to get my boys out of my house so I can clean it up, stage it and list it for sale. We live in an area where the average two-bedroom apartment rents for $1,800 a month. My youngest works full time following his passion for BMWs and makes about $2,400 a month. My oldest, 25, works part time in retail and makes about $1,000 a month while he attends college. They both work within 3 miles of my home. They simply can’t afford to move out, and I can’t afford to keep paying for two households.

To complicate matters, I have about $100,000 in equity in the house, and I’d like to use it to pay off some small debts and buy a car, as well as put the rest in retirement.  But my mother, who has had a long and successful career in real estate, thinks I should wait it out and let my equity continue to build, giving the boys some cushion while they are still finding their way. 

Do I shop around and find them an apartment, help them set up utilities and help them with movers? Do we build a project plan with a deadline, or just keep looking for places in the hope that we eventually find one we like? Do I subsidize their monthly expenses and give them each $400 a month for utilities, if they cover their rent? 

I know this is probably easy for other people, but I am at a loss as to how and when to do this. We all feel stuck, scared and anxious. Any advice is appreciated.

Wife & Mother

Related: My cousin left his estate to 6 relatives, but only one cousin, worth $30 million, received the inheritance — due to an ‘unexpected surprise’

“On the subject of mothers, listen to your own. If you can rent out your home, pay the mortgage and wait for the value to increase, do that.”


MarketWatch illustration

Dear Wife & Mother,

The longer you support your two adult sons, the longer they will lean on you and need you as their personal ATM. You’ve brought them over the finish line, and then some. You raised them, educated them, and fed and clothed and housed them. Now you are paying for their electricity and other bills. It’s time for your sons to stand on their own two feet and, as my Irish mother would say, cut their cloth according to its measure.

On the subject of mothers, listen to your own. If you can rent out your home, pay the mortgage and wait for the value to increase, do that. Your mother works in real estate and knows what she’s talking about. Real estate, in an ideal world, is a long-term game. It’s time for your sons to downsize to a small apartment, and experience the joys of paying their own way and standing on their own two feet. You need to cut the cord.

Act with integrity and intention. The best way to make a big move — and this is probably as big a move emotionally as it is financially — is to prepare. Sit down with your sons and an independent financial adviser, and do a forensic accounting of their income and expenditure and where they spend their money. I can almost guarantee you that their subsidized lifestyle lends itself to spending money in areas where they could easily cut back.

There is an underlying feeling of guilt in your letter. Have you done enough? Yes. Should you do more? No, you have done plenty, and you’re now putting your sons before your own financial peace of mind and retirement. Does it make you a bad person, or an unfeeling one, if you decide to cut them off? Of course not. Quite the contrary: You can lead by example by showing them what it means to make tough decisions and stick to them.

When you have accounted for your sons’ income and expenditure, look at rentals in your neighborhood or adjoining neighborhoods, if need be. The aim is for them to start taking responsibility for themselves. They don’t need a two-bedroom apartment. They can live in a one-bedroom condo and take turns sleeping on the sofa bed. This is a rite of passage, and it teaches young people the value of money and what it means to take accountability for oneself.

The share of adult children in the U.S. living with their parents has steadily risen since the 1960s. In 2020, during the pandemic, one-third of children ages 18 to 34 lived with their parents as non-caregivers. Men and 18- to 24-year-olds, respectively, were more likely to live at home than women and 25- to 34-year-olds, according to a study distributed by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Parents get support at home; kids get to experience a low-cost lifestyle.

But while the NBER found social benefits to living with adult children and that it does not necessarily delay, retirement, the benefits of providing your children with a head start by giving them somewhere to live start to decline when your ability to save for retirement is impeded, and you’re burning money supporting two households. This is also money you can put towards vacations and new cars, and building a future with your husband. You deserve to enjoy life and put yourself first for a change. Tell your sons, “You’re ready. I’m ready. I love you. Let’s do this.””

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Post your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

Previous columns by Quentin Fottrell:

‘She’s obsessed’: My mom moved into my house and refuses to move out. She has paid for repairs and appliances. What should I do?

My parents want to pay off my $200,000 mortgage, and move into my rental. They say I’ll owe my sister $100,000. Is this fair?

‘I hate the 9-to-5 grind’: I want more time with my newborn son. Should I give up my job and dip into my six-figure trust fund?



Source link

#afford #paying #households #adult #sons #live #rentfree #house #pay #utilities #husbands #condo

We can tackle climate change, jobs, growth and global trade. Here’s what’s stopping us

We must leave behind established modes of thinking and seek creative workable solutions.

Another tumultuous year has confirmed that the global economy is at a turning point. We face four big challenges: the climate transition; the good-jobs problem; an economic-development crisis, and the search for a newer, healthier form of globalization.

To address each, we must leave behind established modes of thinking and seek creative workable solutions, while recognizing that these efforts will be necessarily uncoordinated and experimental.

Climate change is the most daunting challenge, and the one that has been overlooked the longest — at great cost. If we are to avoid condemning humanity to a dystopian future, we must act fast to decarbonize the global economy. We have long known that we must wean ourselves from fossil fuels, develop green alternatives and shore up our defenses against the lasting environmental damage that past inaction has already caused. However, it has become clear that little of this is likely to be achieved through global cooperation or economists’ favored policies.

Instead, individual countries will forge ahead with their own green agendas, implementing policies that best account for their specific political constraints, as the United States, China and the European Union have been doing. The result will be a hodge-podge of emission caps, tax incentives, research and development support, and green industrial policies with little global coherence and occasional costs for other countries. Messy though it may be, an uncoordinated push for climate action may be the best we can realistically hope for.

Inequality, the erosion of the middle class, and labor-market polarization have caused significant damage to our social environment.

But our physical environment is not the only threat we face. Inequality, the erosion of the middle class, and labor-market polarization have caused equally significant damage to our social environment. The consequences are now widely evident. Economic, regional, and cultural gaps within countries are widening, and liberal democracy (and the values that support it) appears to be in decline, reflecting rising support for xenophobic, authoritarian populists and the growing backlash against scientific and technical expertise.

Social transfers and the welfare state can help, but what is most needed is an increase in the supply of good jobs for the less-educated workers who have lost access to them. We need more productive, well-remunerated employment opportunities that can provide dignity and social recognition for those without a college degree. Expanding the supply of such jobs will require not only more investment in education and more robust defense of workers’ rights, but also a new brand of industrial policies for services, where the bulk of future employment will be created.

The disappearance of manufacturing jobs over time reflects both greater automation and stronger global competition. Developing countries have not been immune to either factor. Many have experienced “premature de-industrialization”: their absorption of workers into formal, productive manufacturing firms is now very limited, which means they are precluded from pursuing the kind of export-oriented development strategy that has been so effective in East Asia and a few other countries. Together with the climate challenge, this crisis of growth strategies in low-income countries calls for an entirely new development model.

Governments will have to experiment, combining investment in the green transition with productivity enhancements in labor-absorbing services.

As in the advanced economies, services will be low- and middle-income countries’ main source of employment creation. But most services in these economies are dominated by very small, informal enterprises — often sole proprietorships — and there are essentially no ready-made models of service-led development to emulate. Governments will have to experiment, combining investment in the green transition with productivity enhancements in labor-absorbing services.

Finally, globalization itself must be reinvented. The post-1990 hyper-globalization model has been overtaken by the rise of U.S.-China geopolitical competition, and by the higher priority placed on domestic social, economic, public-health, and environmental concerns. No longer fit for purpose, globalization as we know it will have to be replaced by a new understanding that rebalances national needs and the requirements of a healthy global economy that facilitates international trade and long-term foreign investment.

Most likely, the new globalization model will be less intrusive, acknowledging the needs of all countries (not just major powers) that want greater policy flexibility to address domestic challenges and national-security imperatives. One possibility is that the U.S. or China will take an overly expansive view of its security needs, seeking global primacy (in the U.S. case) or regional domination (China). The result would be a “weaponization” of economic interdependence and significant economic decoupling, with trade and investment treated as a zero-sum game.

The biggest gift major powers can give to the world economy is to manage their own domestic economies well.

But there could also be a more favorable scenario in which both powers keep their geopolitical ambitions in check, recognizing that their competing economic goals are better served through accommodation and cooperation. This scenario might serve the global economy well, even if — or perhaps because — it falls short of hyper-globalization. As the Bretton Woods era showed, a significant expansion of global trade and investment is compatible with a thin model of globalization, wherein countries retain considerable policy autonomy with which to foster social cohesion and economic growth at home. The biggest gift major powers can give to the world economy is to manage their own domestic economies well.

All these challenges call for new ideas and frameworks. We do not need to throw conventional economics out the window. But to remain relevant, economists must learn to apply the tools of their trade to the objectives and constraints of the day. They will have to be open to experimentation, and sympathetic if governments engage in actions that do not conform to the playbooks of the past.

Dani Rodrik, professor of international political economy at Harvard Kennedy School, is president of the International Economic Association and the author of Straight Talk on Trade: Ideas for a Sane World Economy (Princeton University Press, 2017).

This commentary was published with the permission of Project Syndicate — Confronting Our Four Biggest Economic Challenges

More: Biden administration’s antitrust victories are much-needed wins for consumers

Also read: ‘Dr. Doom’ Nouriel Roubini: ‘Worst-case scenarios appear to be the least likely.’ For now.

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Why investors should be wary of New Year ‘head fakes’ for this hot asset class

The first trading day of the New Year looks set to challenge the Santa Rally theory, with Dow futures down over 200 points as bond yields surge. An Apple downgrade may not have helped investor confidence.

This week will bring the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s last meeting and important December jobs data.

“Data that comes in too hot will kill the idea of rate cuts starting as soon as March, and data that comes in too cold will kill the idea of a soft landing. It means Goldilocks must return from her Christmas trip to Aruba and appear this week,” says Michael Kramer, founder of Mott Capital Management.

Read: A stock investor’s guide to the first trading days of 2024

Onto our call of the day from MacroTourist blogger Kevin Muir, who sees a rally in small-cap stocks as one big theme for the coming year, though investors should beware of getting in too soon.

In a post, Muir draws on a 2021 observation from Raoul Paul, co-founder and CEO of Real Vision financial media platform, who posted on Twitter now X, at the time about the perils of piling into “head fakes” or new ideas in January.

Paul noted how hedge funds and asset managers start the new year with a clean investment slate, but then two weeks later start moving into so-called consensus Wall Street year-ahead trades. And once the rest of the investment world gets in, the trend reverses or corrects, and those managers get back to flat or have to start over.

Muir says given the Fed’s pivot away from monetary tightening at the end of 2023, small-caps will end up as stock leaders this year. A bull on that asset class, he flagged his readers to buy in early November and December.

After a tough year, the Russell 2000
RUT
rallied late in 2023 as it became clearer that Fed interest rate increases, particularly hard on smaller companies, were drawing to a close.

As per this Russell 2000 chart, Muir says he did get the timing right on that bullish call:

However, Muir says he’s concerned that the rally was mainly from “hedge fund covering,” and not a solid signal that the bear market for those stocks has ended.

One reason, he notes was that the stocks blasting higher at the end of 2023 were the most heavily shorted — he offers the Goldman Sach’s most-shorted index chart here:

MacroTourist

The chart is evidence of how hedge funds that got caught out when the Fed surprisingly guided toward interest rate cuts at the December meeting. Within a few hours of the Fed announcement, the Most-Short index had rallied 15%. But along with that, the ARKK Innovation ETF
ARKK
also shot higher, a red flag for Muir.

That short index is tightly correlated to ARKK and the Russell 2000 small-cap index, he said.

So says it’s possible the small-cap push was “just a hedge fund short-covering rally that will sag back down now that the buying has flamed out.” And based on Raoul Paul’s theory, it makes sense that hedge funds and other investors may be piling into the asset class.

Muir says he stands by his view that small-caps are cheap and deserving of gains. “However, if this small-cap rally is for real, then it can’t be led by crap. We can’t have the GS Rolling Most-Short leading the charge. We need quality small-cap stocks to rally,” he said.

So the correlation between broader small-cap indexes and the most-shorted index (also tightly correlated with ARKK) will have to break down.

“As a proxy for this index, and a hedge against my small-cap long position, I am shorting ARKK. So far, the short covering drove all these smaller capitalized stocks higher, but my bet is that an actual small-cap bull market will see much better differentiation, and that new small-cap leadership will emerge (and it won’t be ARKK),” he says.

The markets

U.S. stock index futures
ES00,
-0.67%

YM00,
-0.26%

NQ00,
-1.19%

are falling sharply as Treasury yields
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y

BX:TMUBMUSD02Y
climb. Gold
GC00,
+0.32%

is up, and oil
CL.1,
+0.14%

is up 2% after Iran sent warships to the Red Sea after the U.S. Navy sank some Houthi militia-backed boats. The Hang Seng
HK:HSI
fell 1.5% after weak China factory activity.

Key asset performance

Last

5d

1m

YTD

1y

S&P 500

4,769.83

0.32%

3.81%

24.23%

24.23%

Nasdaq Composite

15,011.35

0.12%

4.94%

43.42%

43.42%

10 year Treasury

3.933

3.28

-24.22

5.23

18.77

Gold

2,082.50

0.87%

1.67%

0.52%

13.79%

Oil

72.78

-0.97%

-0.70%

2.03%

-9.60%

Data: MarketWatch. Treasury yields change expressed in basis points.

The buzz

U.S. nonfarm payroll data for December is due Friday, with the Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing report and minutes of the Dec. 12-13 Fed meeting both on Wednesday. Construction spending is due at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.

Read: Health of U.S. labor market looms large on markets’ radar this coming week

Apple
AAPL,
-2.97%

is down 2% in premarket after Barclays’ analysts cut the iPhone maker to underweight from equal weight, on signs of weak iPhone 15 and other hardware sales.

Voyager Therapeutics stock
VYGR,
+29.74%

is up 32% after the biotech announced a licensing deal with Novartis unit Novartis Pharma
NOVN,
+0.99%
.

Joyy
YY,
-14.65%

is off 11% after Baidu
BIDU,
-3.40%

cancelled a $3.6 billion offer for the Singapore-based live-streaming platform.

Bitcoin
BTCUSD,
+4.23%

is at $45,447, a high not seen since April 2022, on ETF approval hopes.

Tesla
TSLA,
-0.55%

said it delivered 484,507 EVs in the fourth quarter, producing 494,989. Deliveries grew 83% to 1.81 million for 2023 as a whole. Tesla shares are slipping. Meanwhile, China’s BYD
002594,
-2.73%

sold 3.02 million electric vehicles in 2023, eclipsing Tesla a second-straight year.

Japan’s western coast was hit by several heavy earthquakes on New Year’s Day, leaving at least 30 people dead and more quakes could come. A collision between a Japan coast guard plane and a Japan Airlines flight that caught fire on the runway on Tuesday resulted in the deaths of five people.

Best of the web

This year, resolve to pack a ‘go bag’ to be ready for the next disaster: Here’s what to put in it

Why Suze Orman never goes out to dinner

Topless massages, cage fights and private flights: CEO mishaps of 2023

The chart

More on small-cap caution from Chris Kimble at See It Market. He points out that investors may be getting greedy as some big resistance levels approach for the Russell 2000:


See It Market

Top tickers

These were the top-searched tickers on MarketWatch as of 6 a.m.:

Ticker

Security name

TSLA,
-0.55%
Tesla

MARA,
+7.47%
Marathon Digital Holdings

NIO,
-5.79%
Nio

NVDA,
-3.27%
Nvidia

GME,
-1.14%
GameStop

AAPL,
-2.97%
Apple

AMC,
AMC Entertainment

COIN,
-2.62%
Coinbase GLobal

MULN,
-4.69%
Mullen Automotive

RIOT,
+5.69%
Riot Platforms

Random reads

New Year’s Eve in a Japanese cat bar.

Woman sues Hershey for $5 million over a faceless Reeses pumpkin.

Viral Burger King worker buys first home after crowdsourcing.

Need to Know starts early and is updated until the opening bell, but sign up here to get it delivered once to your email box. The emailed version will be sent out at about 7:30 a.m. Eastern.

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These ETF strategies won big in 2023. How one analyst sees them doing next year.

Hello! This is MarketWatch reporter Isabel Wang bringing you this week’s ETF Wrap. In this week’s edition, we look at ETF strategies that have exploded in popularity in 2023, and whether they will continue to gain momentum in the year ahead.

Please send tips or feedback to [email protected] or to [email protected]. You can also follow me on X at @Isabelxwang and find Christine at @CIdzelis.

Sign up here for our weekly ETF Wrap.

U.S. exchange-traded funds have had a strong 2023, attracting around $580 billion in net inflows with assets climbing to a record $8.1 trillion as of December 27, according to FactSet data.

ETFs tracking the large-cap benchmark S&P 500 index
SPX,
which has risen 24.6% this year, have seen the strongest net inflows in 2023 among the nearly 700 funds MarketWatch tracks, according to FactSet data.

The SPDR S&P 500 ETF Trust
SPY,
the world’s largest and oldest ETF with $493 billion assets under management, has recorded the largest net inflows of over $47 billion this year to date, followed by the Vanguard S&P 500 ETF’s
VOO
$41 billion and the iShares Core S&P 500 ETF’s
IVV
$36 billion over the same period, according to FactSet data. 

In terms of year-to-date performance, technology-related stock funds have shown a remarkable turnaround in 2023 after facing a tumultuous bear market the year before. Some of the ETFs tracking the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 index
NDX
as well as semiconductor stocks are on pace to finish 2023 with gains of more than 50%, thanks to the rise of the “Magnificent Seven” stocks.

The Fidelity Blue-Chip Growth ETF
FBCG
has jumped 58.7% in 2023 to become the best-performing U.S. fund, excluding ETNs and leveraged products, according to FactSet data. The WisdomTree U.S. Quality Growth Fund
QGRW
is up 56.2% this year, while the Invesco QQQ Trust Series I
QQQ
has risen 55.6% in 2023. Gains in all of these funds were fueled by a massive rally in mega-cap technology stocks such as Apple Inc.
AAPL,
+0.22%

and Nvidia Corp.
NVDA,
+0.21%
,
which have surged 49% and 239% this year, respectively, according to FactSet data. 

Will these ETF strategies continue to thrive in 2024? Will others emerge to deliver greater returns next year? Here’s how one CFRA ETF analyst sees things shaping up in the new year. 

Tech-driven growth ETFs will continue to stand out in 2024

The recent strong performance of technology and growth-driven ETFs is likely to continue in 2024, although with higher volatility, according to Aniket Ullal, senior vice president and head of ETF data and analytics at CFRA. 

The table below summarizes the best performing ETF sub-categories in 2023, excluding leveraged and inverse ETFs. The best ETF sectors have featured tech- and growth-related themes like fintech, cryptocurrency, semiconductors, software and the metaverse. “These themes are very likely to continue to have a strong year in 2024,” said Ullal.

SOURCE: CFRA ETF DATABASE, DATA AS OF DECEMBER 18, 2023

One concern for investors is whether ETFs linked to technology sectors can continue to appreciate in 2024. But CFRA’s analysts think that some of the largest tech firms have strong balance sheets and cash flows, so they should be “safe havens” with “a growth tilt” next year.

“Despite the AI-driven recent run-up, the tech sector is still growing into its multiple, and ETFs like the Technology Select Sector SPDR Fund
XLK
do not yet have frothy multiples,” Ullal said in a Friday client note. 

See: ‘Magnificent Seven’ up for another bull run? What to expect from technology stocks in 2024.

Meanwhile, the massive amounts of cash parked at U.S. money-market funds could also keep the bull-market rally chugging along next year.

As of December 20, there was still $5.9 trillion sitting in U.S. money-market funds, according to data compiled by the Investment Company Institute. But given the stock-market rally in 2023 and the “likely pivot” to interest-rate cuts next year by the Federal Reserve, Ullal and his team see investors moving money out of cash-like instruments and migrating back to 60/40 portfolios by increasing their equity exposure next year, he wrote. 

Continued growth in options-based ETFs

ETFs using options-based strategies, such as covered-call ETFs or defined-outcome ETFs, have exploded in popularity in 2023. They have “long-term staying power” in sustaining investor interest in the year ahead, said Ullal. 

Specifically, the largest U.S. covered-call ETF, the $31 billion JPMorgan Equity Premium Income ETF
JEPI,
has seen $13 billion in net inflows so far this year and is among the top-five funds attracting the most capital in 2023, according to FactSet data.

A covered-call ETF, or an option-income ETF, is a fund that uses an options strategy called covered-call writing to generate income through collecting premiums. In a covered-call trade, investors sell a call option on an asset they hold, which gives the buyer of the option the right, not the obligation, to purchase the asset from them at a specified “strike” price on or before a certain date.

When the price of the asset goes down and doesn’t reach the “strike” price before the expiration date, the call option will expire as buyers walk away, but investors could still keep the premium as their payout.

That’s why the covered-call strategy usually performs well in a sideways or choppy market environment, because investors will be compensated for giving up the upside in stocks with a higher options premium. 

More on covered-call ETF: This type of ETF is designed to hedge against volatility and help investors navigate a stormy stock market

Ullal attributed the growing popularity of options-based ETFs to the success of JEPI as well as ETF firms relentlessly expanding their covered-call and buffer-ETF suites in 2023, even though these strategies tend to underperform in a rapidly rising stock market. 

“The flows are probably moderate [in 2024] relative to what we’ve seen so far, but I don’t think the flows will be negative or this category will go away,” Ullal said in a follow-up interview with MarketWatch on Thursday. “What’s happening is there are investors who are willing to trade off or sacrifice some [stock] performance for income or downside protection.” 

With that backdrop, Ullal sees options-based ETF strategies continuing to grow in 2024, though they will be put to the test if the current bull-market trend continues. 

Also see: An ETF that can’t go down? This new ‘buffer’ fund is designed to provide 100% protection against stock-market losses

Emerging-markets ETFs without China-related drag

ETF investors may want to “unbundle” their emerging-market exposure by reconsidering China-related assets in their ETF portfolios, according to Ullal.

Having a high exposure to China in emerging-market holdings was challenging for ETF investors in 2023, as China significantly underperformed other emerging markets this year due to a slower-than-anticipated post-Covid economic recovery, weakness in the country’s property sector and geopolitical tensions with the U.S., Ullal said.

China exposure in two of the most popular emerging-market ETFs, the Vanguard FTSE Emerging Markets ETF
VWO
and the iShares Core MSCI Emerging Markets ETF
IEMG,
stands at 31% and 24.4%, respectively, according to FactSet data. In turn, VWO has risen 8.3% this year, while IEMG has climbed 10.7% in 2023.

Meanwhile, the SPDR S&P China ETF
GXC
has slumped 12.8% year to date, per FactSet data. But the iShares MSCI Emerging Markets ex China ETF
EMXC,
which has no China exposure, has advanced 18.9% over the same period.

One option for investors would be to calibrate their exposure by combining emerging-market ex-China ETFs like EMXC with China-focused ETFs, Ullal said.

Alternatively, investors could construct the EM sleeve of their portfolios with country-specific ETFs, or use active ETFs like the KraneShares Dynamic Emerging Markets Strategy ETF
KEM,
as that fund’s China exposure is dynamically adjusted based on fundamental, valuation, and technical signals, he added.

Rising demand and competition in active bond ETF category 

The U.S. fixed-income ETF sector is dominated by funds passively tracking Treasury bonds like the 10-year Treasury note
BX:TMUBMUSD10Y,
which has seen declining yields lately as discussions around the Fed’s interest-rate path, and a possible pivot to rate cuts, continue to take center stage heading into 2024.

But MarketWatch reported last week that demand for active bond ETFs has picked up, with Vanguard launching two new active bond funds earlier this month. The desire for active bond ETFs among the firm’s clients has grown significantly over the past two years, John Croke, Vanguard’s head of active fixed-income product management, told MarketWatch.

Meanwhile, the firms that dominate the indexed and active bond ETF categories are different, Ullal noted. In the indexed bond ETF category, Vanguard competes with traditional rivals BlackRock and State Street, while in the active bond ETF category where it is now expanding its footprint, Vanguard is competing with managers like JPMorgan, First Trust and PIMCO. 

“This competition will put pressure on the incumbent players, but will be good for investors, and will be an important trend to watch in the next year,” said Ullal.

As usual, here’s your look at the top- and bottom-performing ETFs over the past week through Wednesday, according to FactSet data.

The good…

Top Performers

%Performance

AdvisorShares Pure U.S. Cannabis ETF
MSOS
12.7

Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF
BLOK
10.5

SPDR S&P Biotech ETF
XBI
9.9

ARK Genomic Revolution ETF
ARKG
8.3

ARK Innovation ETF
ARKK
6.4

Source: FactSet data through Wednesday, Dec 27. Start date Dec 21. Excludes ETNs and leveraged products. Includes NYSE-, Nasdaq- and Cboe-traded ETFs of $500 million or greater.

…and the bad

Bottom Performers

%Performance

iMGP DBi Managed Futures Strategy ETF
DBMF
-2.9

Vanguard Total International Bond ETF
BNDX
-2.2

iShares 20+ Year Treasury Bond BuyWrite Strategy ETF
TLTW
-2.1

VanEck BDC Income ETF
BIZD
-1.2

Vanguard Short-Term Inflation-Protected Securities ETF
VTIP
-1.2

Source: FactSet data

New ETFs

  • TCW Group filed to convert its TCW Artificial Intelligence Equity Fund TGFTX into the TCW Artificial Intelligence ETF, and is seeking to convert its TCW New America Premier Equities Fund TGUSX into the TCW Compounders ETF, according to the fund’s prospectus filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday.

Weekly ETF Reads



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The Magnificent 7 dominated 2023. Will the rest of the stock market soar in 2024?

2023 will go down in history for the start of a new bull market, albeit a strange one.

Despite some year-end catch-up by the rest of the S&P 500 index, megacap technology stocks, characterized by the so-called Magnificent Seven, have dominated gains for the large-cap benchmark
SPX,
which is up 23.8% for the year through Friday’s close.

That’s the result of “extreme speculation,” according to Richard Bernstein, CEO and chief investment officer of eponymously named Richard Bernstein Advisors. And it sets the stage for investors to take advantage of “once-in-a-generation” investment opportunities, he argued, in a phone interview with MarketWatch.

MarketWatch’s Philip van Doorn last week noted that, weighting the Magnificent Seven — Apple Inc.
AAPL,
-0.55%

 , Microsoft Corp.
MSFT,
+0.28%
,
 Amazon.com Inc.
AMZN,
-0.27%
,
 Nvidia Corp.
NVDA,
-0.33%
,
 Alphabet Inc.
GOOG,
+0.65%

GOOGL,
+0.76%
,
 Tesla Inc.
TSLA,
-0.77%
,
 and Meta Platforms Inc. 
META,
-0.20%

— by their market capitalizations at the end of last year, the group had contributed 58% of this year’s roughly 26% total return for the S&P 500, and that’s down from a breathtaking 67% at the end of November.

The chart below shows that the percentage of stocks in the S&P 500 that have outperformed the index in the year to date remains well below the median of 49% stretching back to 1990:


Richard Bernstein Advisors

Meanwhile, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite
COMP
has soared more than 40% this year, while the more cyclically weighted Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
which hit a string of records this month, is up 12.8%.

The narrowness of the rally gave some technical analysts pause over the course of the year. They warned that that it was uncharacteristic of early bull markets, which typically see broader leadership amid growing confidence in the economic outlook.

Bernstein, previously chief investment strategist at Merrill Lynch, sees parallels with the late-1990s tech bubble, which holds lessons for investors now.

The market performance indicates investors have convinced themselves there are only “seven growth stories,” he said. It’s the sort of myopia that’s characteristic of bubbles.

The consequences can be dire. In the 1990s, investors focused on the economy-changing potential of the Internet. And while those technological advances were indeed economy-changing, an investor who bought the tech-heavy Nasdaq at the peak of the bubble had to wait 14 years to get back to break-even, Bernstein noted.

Today, investors are focused on the economy-changing potential of artificial intelligence, while looking past other important developments, including reshoring of supply chains.

“I don’t think anyone is arguing AI won’t be an economy-changing technology,” he said, “ the question is, what’s the investing opportunity.”

For his part, Bernstein argues that small-cap stocks; cyclicals, or equities more sensitive to the economic cycle; industrials; and non-U.S. stocks are all among assets poised to play catch-up.

“I don’t think one has to be overly sexy on this one…it may not make a huge difference as to how you decide to execute and invest” in those areas, he said. “There’s a bazillion different ways to play this.”

Those areas are showing signs of life in December. The Russell 2000
RUT,
the small-cap benchmark, has surged more than 12% in December versus a 4.1% advance for the S&P 500. The Russell still lags behind by a wide margin year to date, up 15.5%, or more than 8 percentage points behind the S&P 500.

Meanwhile, an equal-weighted version of the S&P 500
XX:SP500EW,
which incorporates the performance of each member stock equally instead of granting a heavier weight to more valuable companies, has also played catchup, rising 6.2% in December. It’s now up 11% in 2023, still lagging behind the cap-weighted S&P 500 by more than 8 percentage points.

Bernstein sees early signs of broadening out, but expects it to be an “iterative process.” What investors should be aiming for, he said, is “maximum diversification,” in direct contrast to 2023’s historically narrow market, which reflects investors rejecting the benefits of diversification and taking more concentrated positions in fewer stocks.

To be sure, while the Magnificent Seven-dominated stock-market rally has attracted plenty of attention, it doesn’t mean those individual stocks have been the sole winners in 2023.

“I will say, ‘magnificent’ is in the eye of the beholder,” said Kevin Gordon, senior investment strategist at Charles Schwab, in a phone interview.

The seven stocks that account for such a large share of the S&P 500’s gains do so mostly due to their extremely “mega” market caps rather than outsize price gains. And that’s just, by definition, how market-cap-weighted indexes work, analysts note.

That doesn’t mean the megacap stocks are necessarily the best performers over 2023. While Nvidia, up 243%, and Meta, up 194%, top the list of year-to-date price gainers in the S&P 500, Apple Inc.
AAPL,
-0.55%

is only the 59th best performing stock, with a 49% gain. Combine that with a $3 trillion market cap, however, and Apple proves one of the biggest movers of the overall index.

What was bizarre about the 2023 rally wasn’t so much the megacap tech performance, Gordon said, but the fact that the rest of the market languished to such a degree until recently.

Clarity around the economic outlook and interest rates help clear the way for the rest of the market to play catch-up, he said. Fears of a hard economic landing have faded, while the Federal Reserve has signaled its likely finished raising rates and is on track to deliver rate cuts in 2024.

For stock pickers that didn’t latch on to the few winners, 2023 was brutal. Passive investors who just bought S&P 500-tracking ETFs should feel good.

So why not just chase the index? Bernstein argues that could spell trouble if the megacap names are due to falter. That could make for a mirror image of this year where gains for a wider array of individual stocks is offset by sluggish megacap performance.

Gordon, however, played down the prospect of “binary outcomes” in which investors sell megacaps and buy the rest of the market.

If troubled segments of the economy, such as the housing sector, recover in 2024, investors “could definitely see a scenario where the rest of the market catches up but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of highfliers,” he said.

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I don’t want to leave my financially irresponsible daughter my house. Is that unreasonable?

I am at my wit’s end and hope someone can recommend ways to help my daughter’s unwillingness to manage her money. When I am gone her chances are slim to none. I am a senior citizen and I’ve had cancer four times in the last three years, so I don’t know how much longer I have. 

I already told her I’d leave her a few thousand dollars from my retirement funds, but I know she’ll blow through whatever I give her. I don’t want to leave her my house in my will. Am I being unreasonable? The loan balance is only $28,000 and mortgage payments are very low. One reason: She’ll be even less motivated to manage her finances wisely if she knows she will get it.  

I’ve talked to my therapist and he has no solutions. All my daughter’s friends are similarly ill-equipped, and there is no adult that she would heed. My therapist said: “Why should I care?” But I do. Plus, she won’t be able to pay the ongoing taxes, insurance and maintenance because of her free-wheeling spending.  

I told her not to spend her modest retirement balance from a previous job. She did and her reason was that she said it was small. I let her use my car, and pay maintenance and insurance.  I pay for her phone. She pays no rent and nor does she do many chores. Oftentimes, she is short of money, and I have to give her a loan. She keeps getting credit cards, pays them off, then repeats the cycle.

When I try to talk to her calmly, she argues. I tried to get her to set up a budget. She won’t do it.  Earlier she agreed to pay the entire phone bill as her contribution. She simply auto-paid using her credit card. The card went into arrears so I had to make good on that, and resume responsibility.

I try to set up small goals for her, but she’s not receptive. Yet she buys plenty of snacks, cosmetics and goes on vacations. I’ve offered to have us meet an adviser of her choice to tackle these issues, but again she’s not interested. I’ve even suggested I’m going to take a home-equity loan to spend on myself and she’d have to pay it back but again, no response.

I love her very much, but don’t know what to do. My wife sabotaged my efforts in her misguided kindness when our daughter was younger. She no longer does that, but it’s too late.

In short, she’s not willing to manage her money properly. She is in school now, but worked several years full time, and is now working part time. I promised her I’d put money toward her degree, but I’m going to pay it directly to the school.

I have calmly told her of the dire consequences of her actions, but it doesn’t get through to her.

The Father 

“You may not realize it, but your daughter, your wife and your good self are all playing a game.”


MarketWatch illustration

Dear Father,

Think twice before disinheriting your daughter. If she is your only child, don’t allow your frustrations to posthumously punish her.

First things first: Take care of yourself. You have had recurring battles with cancer, and that may have taken a toll on your health. Your fears and concerns about your own mortality may be contributing to this laser focus on your daughter’s wellbeing. It could be that you believe you have a shorter period of time to ensure your daughter balances her books, and gets back on the right track, but the truth is that she is operating on her own timetable.

That said, the situation you describe sounds extremely dysfunctional. You are both the enabler and the avenger — paying her phone bill and rent, and threatening to cut her out of your will. What’s more, you and your wife — intentionally or not — are playing good cop/bad cop. This is a “Kramer vs. Kramer” situation where your daughter is able to play her parents off against each other. One rewards, the other chastises. 

It seems like your daughter’s cycle of taking out credit cards is mirrored by the cycle of cat-and-mouse you play with her, even if you do it without realizing it. You are all caught inside a long-running saga that is, perhaps, inherited from your own parents. Your daughter will never be who you want her to be. She can only be who she is, make mistakes, learn from them (or not) and hopefully grow and mature over time. 

You may not realize it, but your daughter, your wife and your good self are all playing a game. Your daughter rebels, you threaten to disinherit her, and your wife plays peacemaker. You are tough with your daughter, your wife shows her kindness, and your daughter plays you both off against each other. Not all games are fun, but they do form a pattern that is so embedded in the family dynamic that it’s hard to see it from the inside.

The ‘games’ people play

Eric Berne wrote a landmark book in 1964 entitled “Games People Play.” He defined these games as follows: “A game is an ongoing series of complementary ulterior transactions progressing to a well-defined, predictable outcome.” It could be “If It Weren’t For You” (perhaps a common one between unhappy spouses) or “Yes, but” (where one person cajoles another to take action, but the other person always has an excuse for inaction). 

Each game has a gimmick and a payoff. I’m not sure what game you’re playing, but it’s repetitive and everybody is getting some kind of reward, even if it is an unhappy one. That is something you will have to figure out. You get to be the leader who knows how the world works, your wife gets to be Switzerland (while surreptitiously fanning the flames) while your daughter gets to defy you and assert her independence, knowing it will provoke you to repeat the cycle.

My point is: You all need family therapy! Not just your daughter. Or you. Or your wife. You need to process this together. Whether or not you leave your daughter your house is, at this point, irrelevant. The threat that you will withhold a large part of your inheritance is the key part. Why would you do that? Would it really solve anything to make your daughter even more financially insecure? Is punishing her more practical and effective than rewarding her?

Elephant in the room

The other elephant in the room is what happens if you predecease your wife. You may wish for your daughter to be disinherited except for a few thousand dollars, but this game of good cop/bad cop and rebellious daughter may continue after you’re gone with your daughter convincing your wife to not act in accordance with your wishes. That may be the final denouement to this “game,” or perhaps a relative or lawyer would take your place.

Your daughter is, I suspect, being infantilized by the constant criticisms and interference in her finances. You don’t trust her enough to make her own decisions, so you interfere and get frustrated by all her bad habits and, as you see them, mistakes. But it also helps prevent her from standing on her own two feet and facing the music when things go wrong. Why? She knows you will step in to show (a) you care and (b) you told her so.

There are financial therapists who can help you analyze your emotional relationship to money and why you make the decisions we do. But it may be that you all have to make decisions that go against your instincts. Stop trying to change your daughter, and stop bailing her out. She may do her utmost to provoke you to lose your cool with her. No more loans. Let her go on vacation. Just don’t be around to pick up the bill.

You could set up a trust with stipulations: when your daughter receives certain amounts of money and how she is allowed to spend it. There is a balance between being too controlling and prescriptive enough to encourage her to make good choices. But ultimately that is out of your hands. As I said at the beginning of my response, I worry that your responses to her are exacerbated by your fears over your own health.

It would be a shame to waste these years sparring with your child when you could put all that aside, and enjoy each other for you are, instead.

More from Quentin Fottrell:

Is it OK for my new boyfriend to ask me to split the bill? ‘I don’t want him to get used to me paying for my own meals.’

My stepdaughter is executor to her late father’s will, and believes she’s now on the deed to my home. Is that possible?

I inherited $246,000 from my late mother and used $142,000 to pay off our mortgage. If we divorce, can I claim this money?

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical questions at [email protected], and follow Quentin Fottrell on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. The Moneyist regrets he cannot reply to questions individually.

Check out the Moneyist private Facebook group, where we look for answers to life’s thorniest money issues. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Post your questions, or weigh in on the latest Moneyist columns.

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AWS digital sovereignty pledge: A new, independent sovereign cloud in Europe

From day one, Amazon Web Services (AWS) has believed it is essential that customers have control over their data, and choices for how they secure and manage that data in the cloud. Last year, we introduced the AWS Digital Sovereignty Pledge, our commitment to offering AWS customers the most advanced set of sovereignty controls and features available in the cloud.

AWS offers the largest and most comprehensive cloud infrastructure globally. Our approach from the beginning has been to make AWS sovereign-by-design. We built data protection features and controls in the AWS cloud with input from financial services, health care and government customers — who are among the most security- and data privacy-conscious organizations in the world. This has led to innovations like the AWS Nitro System, which powers all our modern Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and provides a strong physical and logical security boundary to enforce access restrictions so that nobody, including AWS employees, can access customer data running in Amazon EC2. The security design of the Nitro System has also been independently validated by the NCC Group in a public report.

With AWS, customers have always had control over the location of their data. In Europe, customers who need to comply with European data residency requirements have the choice to deploy their data to any of our eight existing AWS Regions (Ireland, Frankfurt, London, Paris, Stockholm, Milan, Zurich and Spain) to keep their data securely in Europe. To run their sensitive workloads, European customers can leverage the broadest and deepest portfolio of services, including AI, analytics, compute, database, internet of things, machine learning, mobile services and storage. To further support customers, we’ve innovated to offer more control and choice over their data. For example, we announced further transparency and assurances, and new dedicated infrastructure options with AWS ‘Dedicated Local Zones’.

To deliver enhanced operational resilience within the EU, only EU residents who are located in the EU will have control of the operations and support.

Announcing the AWS European Sovereign Cloud

When we speak to public-sector and regulated-industry customers in Europe, they share how they are facing incredible complexity with an evolving sovereignty landscape. Customers tell us they want to adopt the cloud, but are facing increasing regulatory scrutiny over data location, European operational autonomy and resilience. We’ve learned that these customers are concerned that they will have to choose between the full power of AWS or feature-limited sovereign cloud solutions. We’ve had deep engagements with European regulators, national cybersecurity authorities, and customers to understand how the sovereignty needs of customers can vary based on multiple factors, like location, sensitivity of workloads, and industry. We recently announced our plans to launch the AWS European Sovereign Cloud, a new, independent cloud for Europe, designed to help public sector organizations and customers in highly-regulated industries meet their evolving sovereignty needs. We’re designing the AWS European Sovereign Cloud to be separate and independent from our existing ‘regions’, with infrastructure located wholly within the European Union, with the same security, availability and performance our customers get from existing regions today. To deliver enhanced operational resilience within the EU, only EU residents who are located in the EU will have control of the operations and support for the AWS European Sovereign Cloud. The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will launch its first AWS Region in Germany available to all European customers.

Built on more than a decade of experience operating multiple independent clouds for the most critical and restricted workloads.

The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will be sovereign-by-design, and will be built on more than a decade of experience operating multiple independent clouds for the most critical and restricted workloads. Like existing regions, the AWS European Sovereign Cloud will be built for high availability and resiliency, and powered by the AWS Nitro System, to help ensure the confidentiality and integrity of customer data. Customers will have the control and assurance that AWS will not access or use customer data for any purpose without their agreement. AWS gives customers the strongest sovereignty controls among leading cloud providers. For customers with enhanced data residency needs, the AWS European Sovereign cloud is designed to go further and will allow customers to keep all metadata they create (such as the roles, permissions, resource labels and configurations they use to run AWS) in the EU. The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will also be built with separate, in-region billing and usage metering systems.

Delivering operational autonomy

The AWS European Sovereign Cloud will provide customers with the capability to meet stringent operational autonomy and data residency requirements. To deliver enhanced data residency and operational resilience within the EU, the AWS European Sovereign Cloud infrastructure will be operated independently from existing AWS Regions. To assure independent operation of the AWS European Sovereign Cloud, only personnel who are EU residents, located in the EU, will have control of day-to-day operations, including access to data centers, technical support and customer service.

Control without compromise

Though separate, the AWS European Sovereign Cloud will offer the same industry-leading architecture built for security and availability as other AWS Regions. This will include multiple ‘Availability Zones’, infrastructure that is placed in separate and distinct geographic locations, with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting customers’ business continuity.

Continued AWS investment in Europe

The AWS European Sovereign Cloud represents continued AWS investment in Europe. AWS is committed to innovating to support European values and Europe’s digital future. We drive economic development through investing in infrastructure, jobs and skills in communities and countries across Europe. We are creating thousands of high-quality jobs and investing billions of euros in European economies. Amazon has created more than 100,000 permanent jobs across the EU. Some of our largest AWS development teams are located in Europe, with key centers in Dublin, Dresden and Berlin. As part of our continued commitment to contribute to the development of digital skills, we will hire and develop additional local personnel to operate and support the AWS European Sovereign Cloud.

Our commitments to our customers

We remain committed to giving our customers control and choices to help meet their evolving digital sovereignty needs. We continue to innovate sovereignty features, controls and assurances globally with AWS, without compromising on the full power of AWS.



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