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The Independent Investor: The Cost of Rebuilding God's House
By Bill Schmick,
05:04PM / Thursday, April 18, 2019
Sometimes a tragedy can bring people together. In the case of the devastating fire that swept Paris' Notre Dame Cathedral, the world wept. But even before the fire was completely extinguished, the business community was already making plans to rebuild the 850-year-old edifice.   The price tag will likely be in the multibillion-dollar range. A preliminary assessment of the damage thus far includes two-thirds (about 100 meters) of the roof and the destruction of a spire, which the world witnessed on television. At least a 62-foot expanse of stained-glass windows was also severely damaged.   What we don't know as of yet, is how the 800-pipe organ, one of

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The Independent Investor: Retirement Savers Could See Positive News This Year (Maybe)
By Bill Schmick,
03:55PM / Thursday, April 11, 2019
In this acrimonious political environment, little in the way of new legislation is expected to pass both chambers of Congress. One exception may be the Secure Act. Last Tuesday, a key House committee unanimously approved the bill, which would greatly enhance some private retirement plans.   The bill would not only increase the flexibility of 401 (k) plans but would also provide much greater access for small-business owners and their employees. The changes would hopefully encourage many more small businesses to offer private retirement benefits to their workers. It is the most sweeping legislation to come out of Congress in over a decade.   The sponsors,

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The Independent Investor: Coffee Prices at 13-Year Lows
By Bill Schmick,
04:45PM / Thursday, April 04, 2019
A few days ago, arabica coffee futures prices fell to a price they haven't seen since December 2005. But don't expect your morning cup of coffee to reflect those cheaper prices. The coffee business doesn't work like that.   Normally, when the price of a commodity falls (like oil), consumers can expect to see a drop in price at the gas pumps within a week or three. The same thing might happen if the price of beef, wheat, corn or any number of commodities experienced a decline in price, so why not coffee?   You might guess (as I did) that the demand for coffee by consumers must be falling, but that's not the case. In fact, more Americans are

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The Independent Investor: The Business of Baseball
By Bill Schmick,
04:04PM / Thursday, March 28, 2019
Attendance is down, as is viewership, as we head into the 2019 season. Major League Baseball is hoping some rule changes will turn around the decline. Will it be enough, and does it matter anyway?   Defenders of the game argue that last season's declines were to be expected. Television ratings for all sporting events have been declining for years.  But TV ratings in the new world of digital streaming are not what they used to be. There just isn't a good way to capture this new viewership data.   However, there is no way of denying that no World Series (the most popular of baseball's games) has been able to beat the average of 20 million viewers

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The Independent Investor: Will Pot Stocks Go Up in Smoke?
By Bill Schmick,
05:29PM / Thursday, March 21, 2019
Today, medical marijuana is legal in 33 states, while recreational marijuana is legal in 10 states, plus the District of Columbia. Although there has been progress, little of the recent enthusiasm and hype over pot stocks will come to naught unless the federal government does a major about face and legalizes the substance. What are the chances of that?   Billions of dollars' worth of investment, stock market gains, and federal, state, and local taxes are at stake. Predicting the outcome of such a change in federal legislation is, for now, like betting all your chips on red or black in a roulette game. Nonetheless, a growing number of retail investors want to "get

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