A PC, gluten-free investment option --yummy!

Thursday - 1/23/2014, 2:00am EST

Do you like puppies and kittens? Do you oppose injustice? Do you hate haters? Are you worried about America's fiscal future: hyper inflation or a worthless dollar?

Do you feel your Thrift Savings Plan options are too conservative, too limited while at the same time too broadly based? Do you want to invest in social or environmental causes? Want to put your retirement nest egg where your principles are? If so...

Why not invest in targeted funds that support the things you support and oppose the things you oppose. Great idea, especially if the government would set up a low-fee option for you and give you a matching contribution, of up to 5 percent, if you contributed 5 percent or more. An all-around winner, right?

Among the big winners would be the people who operate (or would happily set up) a fund — gold, real-estate trusts — that the government would include in its 401(k) program: The Thrift Savings Plan.

Thanks to employee contributions, government matches and earnings (many of the TSP funds were double-digit winners last year), the TSP had a year end- balance of $397 billion! That's billion with a B. A lot of money. The kind that makes people who make money off investment funds drool.

And since the TSP was set up, outside groups have been trying very, very hard to get in too, so they can make a bundle while offering an investment option attractive to some federal, military and postal investors.

The finders' fee for getting into the TSP (both political and financial) would be huge as would the monthly cash inflow from feds who picked their options.

Over the years, various members of Congress have been persuaded to push the TSP to include REIT (real estate investment trust) funds. Also gold and precious metal funds. The REITs were touted as recession proof, until the recession came along. Gold was said to be on a one-way trip up. Until last year when it dropped 38 percent.

In the late 1990s, one member of the House pushed for the TSP to open up a dot.com fund. The TSP declined, which is just as well since the dot.com bubble burst shortly thereafter eliminating a lot of companies.

Over the years, the TSP has been pressured to allow socially-conscious funds into the program. Politicians and outside groups have also sought out-of- Sudan, out-of-South Africa and out-of-Northern Ireland funds. Last November, Rep. James Langevin introduced a bill that would require the TSP to offer an SRI (socially responsible investment) fund.

Whether it's gold, REITS, dot.coms or socially responsible options, the TSP has so far rejected them on grounds that investors already have those options in stocks in the C and S Funds, and also because the legislation which created the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board made clear that it was to provide safe, varied investment options, not to further social goals.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

Compiled by Jack Moore

You can still see the east-west divide in Berlin from space because of the use of different lightbulbs. Many of the streetlamps in the eastern half of the capital are gas-powered, which creates a softer illumination.

(Source: UK Telegraph)


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