Monday, April 17, 2006

The Dividend Quagmire

The Dividend Quagmire (Microsoft)

Despite the utter depravity of our congress when it comes to "Fiscal Awareness" they have done some good things, and one of them is set to expire in just a few years. The tax on dividend income was lowered to 15% (I prefer zero) and thus increased the amount of your dividends that you keep as well as the number of companies paying dividends.

Previous to this lowering of the dividend rate companies would avoid paying dividends because investors preferred to recieve their gains from their stocks in the form of capital gains which were taxed more favorably (this is accomplished through share buybacks for the most part, but could also be in the form of reinvestment). Once dividends and capital gains taxes became the same there was no reason for a company to not pay dividends. The linked article gives a bit of a history of dividends and then details why keeping the rate low is important to you and to the economy.

My preferred capital gains rate and dividend rate is zero percent as I don't believe in double taxation, but that is unlikely to happen, so lets at least attempt to persuade our congressmen and women to do the right thing and not raise the tax on dividends.

Scott Dauenhauer, CFP, MSFP

Friday, April 14, 2006

10 year Treasury Breaks 5% Top Worldwide

The ten year treasury finally moved above 5% yesterday for the first time since 2002. Many have wondered how long the long term Treasuries could keep from rising along with short term rates. At the beginning of 2005 the 10 year stood at 4.23% and began 2006 at only 4.37%, yesterday it ended at 5.05%. The ten year treasury is commonly used to set mortgage rates and Real Estate is typically inversely correlated with interest rates - in other words - higher rates lead to lower real estate prices (all things being equal). The 10 year has risen by 68 basis points (.68%) in just three and a half months, that is a 15.5% increase, quite a jump. The yield curve is no longer inverted, though it is quite flat from 6 months to ten years. Interest rates are impossible to predict, though some believe that this rise in long term rates was inevitable. It will be interesting to see how this affects real estate.

The link I provided is to an article from Bloomberg which also has links to several video files that talk about this latest move.