Warmest thoughts and best wishes for a wonderful holiday
and a very happy new year!
From all of us at Blattel & Associates
Bob         Scott         Kate         Scott         Gary         Erin         Adam

Happy Holidays
In This Issue
Dear Clients, as we now find ourselves only two weeks away from Christmas, it is easy to feel busy, and get wrapped up in headlines and to-do lists. However, this is also the season for family, love and hope. 

So, also although we are updating you on market conditions and year-end reminders, we encourage you to focus on those invisible things that put a smile on your face. To that end, we have also included pictures of the amazing generosity shown through our annual Holiday Magic Toy Drive and recipes that we all have at our own family gatherings. 

We wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season.

Volatility Continues

Markets went for another wild ride last week, as major domestic indexes swung back and forth. By Friday, December 7, markets had posted their worst weekly performance since March - and the S&P 500 and Dow both moved into negative territory for 2018. [1]

Let's take a look at what is driving this challenging market performance.

Examining Recent Volatility

1. How volatile are stocks right now?
If recent market fluctuations have felt intense to you, there's a reason: They are. The past three weeks have had the most volatility since 2008's financial crisis. During this time, domestic indexes have ricocheted between gains and losses. The large swings have occurred both week-to-week and within daily trading. [4]  

2. What is causing the volatility?
Many of the same themes we've discussed throughout 2018 are continuing to affect market behavior. Ultimately, many investors are worried that corporate profits and global growth will suffer if trade tension persists and the Federal Reserve continues raising interest rates. [5]  

Concerns about Treasury yields were also on investors' minds. For part of last week, 3-year Treasury notes had higher yields than 5-year notes. Called an inversion, a higher yield on shorter-term Treasuries can be a sign of a coming recession. The yield spread between 2-year and 10-year Treasury notes, which people focus on more, has not inverted. [6] 

3. Should you feel concerned?
With many headlines to digest, from conspiracy charges against a Chinese tech leader to comments from the Fed, investors had a lot to consider last week. [7] The difference is how they reacted to this information. For some time, markets were basically ignoring headlines. Now, they've moved in the opposite direction into what one investment manager called "a period of hypersensitivity." [8] 

Consequently, recent market performance may seem unnerving. As is often the case, however, the reality may be less extreme than what appears at first glance, especially when you look at the fundamentals.

4. What do the fundamentals tell us?
While last week's market performance saw large fluctuations, the fundamentals we received were far less dramatic. We learned that two sectors beat expectations in November: manufacturing and service. [9] Further, the November labor report revealed fewer new jobs than anticipated, but unemployment is still at historically low levels, as job and wage growth continue. [10] 

Remember, risks exist in the markets and economy, and we're analyzing these details closely. If you have any questions about your financial standing or anything you hear in the news, we are here to talk.

Monday: JOLTS
Tuesday: PPI-FD
Wednesday: CPI
Thursday: Jobless Claims
Friday: Retail Sales, Industrial Production

Blattel News
Toy Drive
We sincerely appreciate every single one of you who donated a toy to our annual Holiday Magic Toy Drive. We collected over 120 bags filled with toys (a new record!) and delivered them to Sts. Teresa and Bridget's Church.

This weekend, families from the North Grand Neighborhood will line up to purchase gifts for their children and grandchildren at a price they can afford. Toys are priced at $0.25, $0.50 or a $1.00. (The big items are raffled off.) This sale gives families the dignity of providing a nice Christmas for their children and grandchildren. Because of your generosity, these families are able to celebrate a magical Christmas morning.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Top & bottom rows: Family, staff, clients, neighbors and friends all pitched in to deliver this year's toys. Middle row: Toys fill Sts. Teresa & Bridget's Church ready for families to shop.  Photos Credit: Chris Blattel
Correspondence from Cutter & Company
Many of you have received a letter in the mail from our broker-dealer, Cutter & Company. As our broker-dealer, Cutter is required by the SEC to confirm the information that they already have on file. If you have any questions regarding the forms included in that mailing, please call our office.

Year-End Reminders
  • Capital Gains. Please note that, if you look at your account during this week, you may notice your balance going up and down. Every year, without exception, investors viewing accounts on any cap gains Ex-Date will see a temporary drop in account value roughly by the amount of gains that were distributed (plus or minus market activity for that day). Please note that this investment value will again 'become whole' the following day when gains are reinvested and additional shares are purchased automatically (as many investors have the reinvestment of dividends and cap gains set up on their account). For SEI account holders, the Ex-Date could be December 13, 14 or 15 depending on the fund, with the "Pay Date" being the following day.
  • Allow for extra time. Please remember that the holiday season will affect timing on withdrawals and other transactions. Please allow for extra time to process your requests from now until the end of the year. Also, be aware that there are typically deadlines ahead of December 31 for certain activities to be reported for the 2018 tax year.
  • Contributions to IRAS & Roth IRAs. In 2018, you can contribute a maximum of $5,500 or $6,500 if you are age 50 or over. Remember, you have to have taxable income to contribute to an IRA, but if you are married and filing jointly, you can each make contributions even if only one of you is working. Speak to a tax advisor to learn about how your deductions will be affected by an employer-sponsored retirement plan.
  • Take your RMD. If you are at least age 70½, you are required to take minimum distributions from your traditional IRA - but not your Roth. You are generally required to take RMDs by December 31, though you have until April 15, 2019 if you turned 70½ in 2018. Please make sure to verify that you have taken your RMD from any IRA accounts that are not managed by us.
  • Report your QCD. This is an early reminder that, if you took a qualified charitable distribution in 2018, you are responsible for reporting that amount to your accountant.
December 14: Office Closes Early
Our office will close at 11:45 am so that we can treat our staff to a holiday celebration.
December 24 & 25: Office Closed
Our office will be closed for the Christmas holiday.
Please note that we will have limited staff the week between Christmas and New Year's Day.
January 1: Office Closed
Our office will be closed for New Year's Day.
January 21: Office Closed
Our office will be closed for MLK Day.
February 9, 2019: Client Breakfast Seminar: Special Tax Edition
Save the date! We have booked Dan Mioli, SEI Director of Investment Planning, to talk to our clients about the new tax laws. Paper invitations will be mailed in January. We have already started taking early reservations, please click below to RSVP.

Saturday, February 9, 2019 from 9:00 AM to 10:30 AM CST
Please join us for our special winter client breakfast seminar. There will be an informative presentation on the new tax laws and how they affect you.

"If you wish to get rich, save what you get. A fool can earn money; but it takes a wise man to save and dispose of it to his own advantage."
Brigham Young

Favorite  Holiday  Recipes
Christmas in a Glass
Contributed by Gary
  • 1 bottle Prosecco, or other sparkling dry white wine, well chilled
  • 1 bottle gingerbread flavored syrup
  1. Pour the Prosecco into glasses.
  2. Add a capful of the syrup to each glass of the Prosecco, to taste.
Cream Cheese Dip
Contributed by Adam
  • 1 lb Italian sausage, browned and drained
  • 16 oz. cream cheese
  • 10 oz can of Rotel

In a crock pot combine the following ingredients, heat & mix. Serve with Tostitos scoops chips.

Holiday Glazed Ham
Contributed by Bob 

  • 1 spiral-sliced ham
  • 1 20-oz can of pineapple slices
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
Direction s:
  1. Preheat the oven as directed on the ham package and follow the instructions for baking the ham. Remove the ham from the oven about 30 minutes before the end of the warming time.
  2. Decoratively arrange the pineapple slices on top of the ham, securing them with toothpicks.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, mustard and just enough of the reserved pineapple juice to make a thick glaze. Spoon the glaze over the ham and bake for the remaining 30 minutes. Remove the ham from the oven, transfer to a cutting board and carve.

Cheesy Potato Casserole with Corn Flakes
Contributed by Erin
  • 1 (32-ounce) package frozen cowboy or cubed potatoes
  • 2 cups shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • 16 ounces sour cream
  • 1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cups crushed corn flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Pour hash browns into a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking dish.  In a large bowl, combine the cheese, sour cream and soup.
  3. In a large skillet over medium heat, combine the onion with one stick butter and saute for five minutes.  Add to the soup mixture and spread over the potatoes in the dish. 
  4. Arrange the crushed corn flakes over the potatoes and soup mixture.  Melt the remaining stick of butter and pour evenly over the corn flakes.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees F for one hour.

Candy Apple Salad
Contributed by Kate
  • 4 Apples, medium
  • 1/2 cup Caramel ice cream topping
  • 1 (16 oz.) tub Cool whip
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 6 Milky Way candy bars, regular size
  • 1 (5.1 oz.) package Vanilla instant pudding
  1. Whisk vanilla pudding packet, ½ cup of milk and cool whip together until well combined.
  2. Stir chopped apples and Milky Ways into pudding mixture.
  3. Place in large bowl or cake pan, smooth out, and drizzle with caramel.
  4. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
Contributed by Scott
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose or unbleached flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Mix 1 1/2 cups sugar, the butter, shortening and eggs in large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
  3. Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll balls in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
Favorite Fudge
Contributed by Scott Kincaid
  • 32 ounce bag powdered sugar about 8 cups
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 cup unsalted butter 2 sticks
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons vanilla
  1. Line a baking sheet or casserole dish with foil.
  2. In a large bowl, combine powdered sugar and cocoa powder and stir until they seem reasonably well mixed. If the mixture seems like there are small clumps, you may sift it after its been measured.
  3. Pour milk over sugar mixture but do not mix. Place cubes of butter on top. Microwave on high power 3-4 minutes until the butter has almost completely melted.
  4. Immediately remove mixture from microwave and stir well until very well combined. You need to work fast because you want to spread the mixture while it's still hot, but you want every spec of sugar to be well incorporated.
  5. Once chocolate mixture is thoroughly mixed, stir in walnuts and vanilla.
  6. Immediately pour warm fudge into prepared dish and spread to desired thickness. I only used about 60% of the surface of my baking sheet and made a 10x10 inch square with my fudge. It will only spread as far as you want, so make it as thick as you'd like the individual pieces to be.
  7. Allow to fully set at room temperature. Our house is always freezing, so it didn't take much time. If you live in a warm house, it may take several hours or even a bit of refrigeration.
  8. Lift foil out of dish and transfer fudge to a cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut squares.
  9. Store in airtight container.
Share the Wealth of Knowledge!
Please share this market update with family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to our list, simply click on the "Forward email" link below. We love being introduced!



Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values.

Diversification does not guarantee profit nor is it guaranteed to protect assets.

International investing involves special risks such as currency fluctuation and political instability and may not be suitable for all investors.

The Standard & Poor's 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average is a price-weighted average of 30 significant stocks traded on the New York Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ. The DJIA was invented by Charles Dow back in 1896.

The Nasdaq Composite is an index of the common stocks and similar securities listed on the NASDAQ stock market and is considered a broad indicator of the performance of stocks of technology companies and growth companies. 

The MSCI EAFE Index was created by Morgan Stanley Capital International (MSCI) that serves as a benchmark of the performance in major international equity markets as represented by 21 major MSCI indices from Europe, Australia, and Southeast Asia.

The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

Past performance does not guarantee future results.

You cannot invest directly in an index.

Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

Fixed income investments are subject to various risks including changes in interest rates, credit quality, inflation risk, market valuations, prepayments, corporate events, tax ramifications and other factors.

These are the views of Platinum Advisor Strategies, LLC, and not necessarily those of the named representative,  Broker dealer or Investment Advisor, and should not be construed as investment advice. Neither the named representative nor the named Broker dealer or Investment Advisor gives tax or legal advice. All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however, we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please consult your financial advisor for further information.

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