Más o Menos: Ticos Cheerfully Eke By

With 4.8 million people, Costa Rica’s problems are comparable to those of a big U.S. city, like Los Angeles or Chicago. Yet the tensions of a large U.S. city seem absent here, as the famously warm and friendly 'Ticos' go about their business. (Photo: Traffic in San Jose)

Research Roundup

We summarize four recent papers: 'Portfolios for Long-Term Investors,' 'What is the Value of Annuities?,' 'Public Economics and Inequality: Uncovering Our Social Nature,' and 'Financial and Total Wealth Inequality with Low Interest Rates.'

An Annuity’s ‘Moneyness’? There’s an App for That

How will variable annuity contract owners use their income benefits? That question is vital to annuity issuers and to fiduciary advisers with clients who own VAs. This Texas Dep't of Insurance actuary knows a product that can help them find out.

A Chip Off the Old Rock?

Bloomberg reported this week that Prudential is considering selling its retirement plan recordkeeping business. Prudential didn't confirm the report, but several industry insiders did. Low interest rates, high costs of IT makeovers, and sticky stable value fund guarantees are driving the move, RIJ was told.

Fed No Longer Controls Rates

'We believe the probability of the Fed raising rates three times in 2017 is less than what the market has begun to price in post the Donald Trump election,' writes the William Blair Funds portfolio manager.

President Trump and the DOL Fiduciary Rule

If the DOL rule is removed or neutered, then financial services firms may have more autonomy in choosing how to use the savings that digital automation brings: To raise shareholder profits or lower customer fees. It will depend on their particular business models.

President Trump to require ‘two-for-one’ regulations

'To the extent allowed by law, any new incremental costs associated with new regulations must be offset by the elimination of existing costs associated with at least two prior regulations,' says one of President Trump's new executive orders.

Honorable Mention

Brief or late-breaking items from Edward Jones, Hanlon Investment Management, Pantheon and Transamerica/Aegon.