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Shows & Panels
Gold Bugs & The TSP
Thursday - 5/20/2010, 4:00am EDT
Wouldn't it be great in these troubled economic times to have some gold, silver or platinum in your Thrift Savings Plan portfolio?
Right now you do have some. But not much. If you are in the stock-indexed C fund, about 1.1 percent is invested in the metals and mining category. In the S fund that share is about 1.6 percent.
But for true gold bugs, it is impossible to invest in an exclusively precious metals fund via the TSP. Nor is there a geographical or country-specific fund (like Greece, Iceland or Chad) available to the 3-plus million TSP account holders.
For years, some investors (and some very influential groups) have been pushing the TSP to open up or give investors more choices. Currently the federal 401(k) program is indexed to the U.S. stock market (via the C and S funds), to international stocks (the I fund), and to the bond market (F fund) and special Treasury securities via the G-fund. There are also lifecycle funds made up of the C, S, I, F and G funds.
But if you want to bet on Thailand or Croatia as the next economic super-power, you can't do it via the TSP.
Ever since the TSP was set up some investors have sought more choices. So have organizations that would like to siphon off some of the $2 billion (with a B) federal and postal workers invest each month in the federal 401(k) plan.
For several years before the dot.com market imploded, several members of Congress demanded that the TSP set up a dot.com fund. At one point Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and others proposed a gold fund. Former Rep. Tom Davis (R-Va.) wanted the TSP to add a real estate investment trust fund when REITS were hot. They are now not.
Over the years members of Congress have proposed that the TSP set up a small-business fund; a minority-owned business fund; a terror-fund (which didn't invest in any industry which does business with the military) and a fund composed exclusively of companies that are demanding that the U.S. put an end of the situation in Darfur.
Congress has given the Thrift Investment Retirement Board, which runs the TSP, the authority to open up a window when investors could put some of their money in an outside mutual fund offering a variety of options.
Both the 5-member board that runs the TSP and the 15-member advisory council made up of federal unions and groups, have split on whether to open that window.
But it could happen someday.
When/if that decision is made, TSP fund managers would decide which company offered the best fund (and options) at the lowest cost. People who put some of their TSP money into that fund would pay the higher administrative fees that it would almost certainly charge.
Bottom line: There's gold in them thar hills, but not so much in your TSP account.
Gold Fever: For another take on the record high price of gold, click here.
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Nearly Useless Factoid
by Suzanne Kubota
According to The Numbers Guy in the Wall Street Journal, a pair of new studies is casting doubt on a phenomenon known as "implicit egotism." The studies debunk the theory that the reason people show a tendency to live in towns with names similar to their surnames, or marry those with names similar to their own, is ego based.
ALSO ON FEDERAL NEWS RADIO
Thursday Morning Federal Newscast
Among the headlines this morning in the Federal Newscast: Hiring reform update; Defense hires 3,000 acquisitions workers; USPS announces realignment of services; Salazar: Abolish MMS, divide in 3 parts; CDC lead findings in DC water rebutted. For more, click here.
Why the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs tweets
If you didn't already know, Adm. Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has a Twitter account (@thejointstaff) and a Facebook page. He's also got a Flickr account, an RSS feed and a YouTube channel, if you're interested. The Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has jumped into the Gov 2.0 pool, and U.S. Navy Capt. John Kirby, the Chairman's Special Assistant for Public Affairs, explains why. Read more here.