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@theMarket: Investors Face a Rollercoaster Ride
By Bill Schmick,
03:56PM / Friday, September 18, 2020
Volatility returned to the stock market this week as the level of uncertainty increased on several fronts. Unfortunately, there won't be any definitive answers to what concerns investors for at least two months.   It is September, after all, and this month is notorious for inflicting pain on investors. Historically, October is not much better, and in a presidential election year it can be worse. While the financial media will provide their thoughts on just why stocks drop or rise on any given day, it is not much use to you.   The real reason for "why" will only be known after the fact. This week, the excuse for Thursday's and Friday's

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The Retired Investor: Bicycles Sales Are Booming
By Bill Schmick,
05:44PM / Thursday, September 17, 2020
In the age of the pandemic, some industries have thrived. Take the bicycle industry, for example; sales have more than doubled this year, and the only impediment to further growth seems to be the availability of product. Thanks to COVID-19, biking has become a global phenomenon.   The real growth is centered in the metropolitan areas where much of public transportation has been curtailed due to the infectious nature of the virus. In April alone, bicycle industry sales grew by 75 percent to $1 billion year-over-year, according to bike manufacturer, Huffy. Leisure bikes, those that sell for under $200, jumped 203 percent, while mountain bike sales increased 150

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The Retired Investor: CSAs & Local Farms Make a Comeback
By Bill Schmick,
04:41PM / Thursday, September 10, 2020
While much of the nation's farming industry has been decimated by the global pandemic, here in the U.S. one tiny segment of the agricultural market is booming — the CSA.   The line at my local Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) pickup station was short this week. As usual, everyone wore masks and waited in line, 6 feet apart. One by one, customers stuffed their carry bags full of lettuce, radishes, kale, cucumbers, tomatoes and whatever else nature's bounty and Kate, our farmer, had planted this season. CSAs charge a seasonal, or sometimes yearly membership fee in exchange, you receive weekly boxes, or bags of fresh veggies, fruits, and more. My membership

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The Retired Investor: Mask Mania Helps Small Business
By Bill Schmick,
02:39PM / Thursday, September 03, 2020
There was a time, when obtaining a protective mask to combat the spread of the coronavirus was almost impossible. That time has passed. Today, as more than half the country requires citizens to wear them, masks have become essential and almost a fashion statement.   Back in March of this year, as COVID-19 raged across the country, first-responders were desperate for all kinds of protective gear. In the Berkshires, where I sit, a cottage industry developed. Volunteers on home sewing machines were producing masks and delivering them to the local hospitals. Various small businesses around the nation were also producing masks. Originally, their motives were purely

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@theMarket: Markets Reach for the Sky
By Bill Schmick,
03:40PM / Friday, August 28, 2020
Credit the Fed for this week's bump up in the averages. Technology shares led the charge as usual, shrugging off a sinking economy, higher unemployment and no progress on another bail out. What else is new?   At the annual Jackson Hole Symposium of world central bank leaders, conducted virtually this year, Jerome Powell, the chairman of our central bank, took center stage. In his prepared remarks, Powell announced a shift in the U.S. inflation policy. Rather than using the oft-stated, long-held inflation target of 2 percent, the Fed will now "seek to achieve inflation that averages 2 percent over time."   What's the big deal, you might ask? In

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