What does fake media and media bias have to do with investing?
Donald Trump: A few days ago, I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are. But I am only against the fake news media or press.
David Scranton: As much as the country's been divided over Donald Trump's presidency, they're equally divided in their opinions about the media. President Trump has called the quote "fake media" end quote "fake news" the enemy of the American people. But the question becomes what is fake and what is real? What are objective facts vs biased opinions, in whom can you trust? What does any of this have to do with your savings and investing for retirement? Well, the easy answer to the second question is a lot, as you'll discover on today's show. In short, the media has a much stronger influence on the financial decisions of the average American than he or she may realize. So it's very important to ask, is it a healthy influence or could it be self-serving and even potentially very dangerous? Luckily, we have a full lineup of guests today uniquely qualified to help answer these questions and many others. It's time to tune out the hype and focus on the facts, facts that matter to you the Income Generation. Let's get started, get ready to separate reality from myth.
David Scranton: How does it affect the markets? How does it affect the economy? Thanks to efficiencies and new technology and a staff of veteran analysts and portfolio manager. Sound income strategies try to set a new standard and bring institutional style investing your portfolio. Welcome to another timely edition of the Income Generation, I'm David Scranton your host. And today we're going to be tackling a very important topic with the help of three experts, we'll sit down with the top advisor and author Michael Eastham. Whose new book Common-Sense Income Strategies addresses the topic of media bias and how to protect yourself from its far-reaching influence. We're also going to sit down with Dan Gainer of the Media Research Center, which monitors media bias and we'll hear insights from economist author and tax reform expert Dan Mitchell. In the old days, most Americans got their news and information from a limited and common group of sources. Growing up most of us had just three networks to choose from, but over the years concerns began to grow about political and commercial bias in the mainstream media. Unfortunately, the explosion of alternative media outlets that emerged with cable T.V. and the Internet didn't solve the problem, instead, it actually spawned even more bias and made things even more confusing for everyday Americans. The reason this is all so incredibly relevant to how you manage your money is simple. You see big corporations want to stay big and they want to get even bigger and you and I as consumers and investors are the keys to helping them achieve those goals. You see they want to influence our decision-making process to serve their financial interests by whatever means possible. But the process can be subtle and more far-reaching than most people realize. Here to help us examine and understand this process more closely is my good friend and colleague, Michael Eastham. Michael has joined us before at our advisor roundtable portion of the show. But I wanted him to talk with us more today because his new book does a great job of examining this topic and of teaching investors how to protect themselves. Michael, welcome to the show.
Michael Eastham: It's great to be here David. It's always a privilege thanks.
David Scranton: You know Michael you're new book, Common-Sense Income Strategies simple step by step ways to maximize your retirement, addresses the subject of media bias very early in the book. In fact, in chapter two Why so soon?
Michael Eastham: Well, Dave in writing Common-Sense Income Strategies it was very important to me to give the readers liberty to trust their gut instincts more often. Especially if they heard something or read something that didn't quite pass the sniff test, so to do that I had to logically break down the media in an understandable way so that I could explain how half-truths can paint a false picture of reality. And that's what we had to deal within the foundation of the book.
David Scranton: Get the eight hundred pound elephant out, right at the beginning right? Why not
Michael Eastham: That's right.
David Scranton: You know I started today talking about how bias spreads in all directions. And you know you talk a lot of times about how the bias spread starting with the Wall Street C.E.O. and then spreads vertically because he's obligated to serve his shareholders first. And you explain this very, very well in your book. Do you mind explaining it to our income generation viewers for a moment?
Michael Eastham: Sure, let me give you an example if you're the C.E.O. of a Wall Street firm and you have two products to sell. Product A, is very profitable for the company not so much for the customer and product B. is not so profitable for the company. Very profitable for the customer, as the C.E.O. you have a fiduciary obligation to push product A, more often and as a result, I tell investors all the time you're more aligned with that company if you own the shares. Less aligned if you have a brokerage account there and you know the reality is this conflict exists across public companies. But it doesn't bother it so much if you're buying groceries or toilet paper but when it comes to your hard earned financial assets it causes a great problem.
David Scranton: Sure, sure. They try to cut corners and your toilet paper is a little bit too thin that's... Well, actually I think that really is a problem now that I think about it. So you talked about how it spreads vertically from the C.E.O. down to the corporation and I'm sure you're talking about the research department, the sales manager, the salespeople, the brokers and so on. But then how does it make that leap horizontally to the media?
Michael Eastham: Well first of all as we mentioned you know there's only six companies that own ninety percent of the media outlets. So you've got to question the objectivity there if you're not real careful. But think about how they do their research, are they really going to go out and do their own research soup to nuts or does it make more sense? Is it easier to just call up one of your advertisers and interview them to gather your information?
David Scranton: Yeah, it's easier. You know to me it's... If they try to write an article and they're going out and they're writing a show or article or whatever and they're going out and they're Googling. I mean you know as a viewer, our viewers know how hard it is sometimes, they Google and they just get more confused about a topic, they get less clarity instead of more clarity. So you can't blame them and what a lot of people don't realize a lot of time these authors you know they're not necessarily financial people. You know they may have started writing for Sports Illustrated and then maybe going to something else Time magazine, the next thing you know they're writing for a financial magazine. I think people really underestimate the importance of that so...and I know you talked about that in your book so you know it... I know it's pretty clear that you know do it yourselfers are vulnerable to making these decisions. Because they're kind of getting pushed in the direction of what's in the best interest of corporate America versus the best interest of the actual end user, the client. But you point out also that some financial advisors end up putting Wall Street and these big companies ahead of their clients. Why is that?
Michael Eastham: Well it's real simple Dave and it actually speaks to the point where you made just a few minutes ago. First of all, I believe most financial advisors have your best interests at heart. They want to do what's right in the eyes of the customer but the problem is their business model means that they have to support the goals just like that C.E.O. He's got a fiduciary obligation that trickles down all the way to the advisor, that means that in order for them to keep their job they've got to make sure that they're looking out for the company's best interest first.
David Scranton: And you know is this just for the big Wall Street firms? I mean the firms that are publicly traded or doesn't this also extend itself to a certain degree to some of the smaller independent brokerage firms?
Michael Eastham: It sure does because many of them are tied to big wirehouses or big brokerage firms so it absolutely spreads there.
David Scranton: Yeah, a lot of financial advisors don't have the financial resources to go out and do their own research. They buy it from the same big publicly traded firms that everyone knows, so it's a big circle.
Michael Eastham: That's right.
David Scranton: In thirty seconds or so you know tell us is there a way to determine how your own advisor might have a biased business model?
Michael Eastham: Absolutely, Dave. I dedicate an entire chapter to vetting financial advisors and what I tell people is ask questions, don't be afraid to ask questions. A good advisor is going to welcome those questions, things like are you a fiduciary? Are you required to look out for your client best interest first? What's your business model? Are you equip to develop and implement a strategy that supports goals rather than conflicts with them? And another one is how are they paid? Are you paid to sell products or are you paid for the advice you give or for manage (unclear 08:36).
David Scranton: So your book actually is a user's guide to tell people how to interview an advisor. So with that in mind, if you... take a minute if you will and tell our income generation members how they can get a copy of Common-Sense Income Strategies.
Michael Eastham: Thanks so much, Dave. Yeah, you can get it at Common-Sense Income Strategies dot com. Common Sense income Strategies dot com, we made it simple.
David Scranton: Our next guest is Daniel J. Mitchell. Dan is an economist and an expert on fiscal policy issues such as tax reform as well as the economic impact of government spending. He's a senior fellow at the Cato Institute and his articles can be found in numerous publication such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post and the National Review. His books include Flat Tax, Freedom, Fairness, Jobs and Growth and the Tax Revolution. The rise of tax competition and the battle to defend it. Welcome to the show, Dan.
Daniel Mitchell: Glad to be with you.
David Scranton: You know we had Steve Forbes as a guest on our show a number of times and most recently to talk about Trump's proposed tax reforms and I guess the question I have first of all is you know what's your reaction to his plan and what have you seen of it so far?
Daniel Mitchell: The plan as far as we can tell is pretty good, especially the big reduction of the corporate tax rate which would really improve American competitiveness. Lead to more investment and job creation here in the United States, the problem is we don't have all the details and we also have reasons to wonder whether or not there is going to be the necessary follow up by the Trump administration. Are they going to come up with some savings on the spending side of the budget to make this tax cut more politically realistic? So a good announcement, a good first day but there's still a long way to go.
David Scranton: You think he'll get his fifteen percent tax rate on corporations or do you think that's going to get negotiated upward and if so where do you think it might end up is just the best guess?
Daniel Mitchell: I think at the end of the day we're probably looking at a corporate tax rate of twenty percent if I'm optimistic. Twenty-five percent if I'm pessimistic but that clearly is it's the dominant most important necessary part of Trump's plan. We are so out of whack with the rest of the world, this is really the equivalent of shooting ourselves in the foot. So I hope that there's a very, very serious effort to at least make sure that part of Trump's plan gets enacted.
Michael Eastham: Well Dan, I've got a question for you here just with respect to the growth side, I mean obviously a big cut in taxes is intended to stimulate the economy. So what are some of the projections that are anticipated on that side of the equation?
Daniel Mitchell: If we have a big reduction in corporate tax rates and we also get rid of the death tax and make some of the other reforms that Trump was talking about. There's no question the economy will grow faster you know maybe we'll get back up to our historical average of three percent instead of being stuck at two percent, where we've been all during the Bush and Obama year. So that would be very good news, now will that mean the tax cut can pay for itself with the additional revenue probably not. I mean that's... we're still going to be talking about less revenue coming into government which is why I think it's important that the Trump administration also get very serious about controlling spending ideally including entitlement reform.
Michael Eastham: Well that leads to a kind of a follow up question just as it relates to the debt, I mean if we're still not revenue neutral so to speak then we've got a twenty trillion dollar debt that needs to be addressed and I feel like that's kind of getting brushed to the side right now.
Daniel Mitchell: That I think is going to be the problem with Trump's plan, we currently have five hundred billion dollar deficits and if we leave government on autopilot. That's rising to more than a trillion dollars by the middle part of next decade and then you add a multi-trillion dollar tax cut on to that... Now I'm someone who thinks we don't have a debt problem we have a spending problem, the debt is simply a symptom of the excessive spending. But the reality is if Trump wants his tax cut to go through especially his signature reduction of the corporate tax rate, he needs to be more aggressive on trying to say no to the special interests in Washington. He needs to be able to have the courage to tackle the entitlement programs and maybe he will I mean we are going to see some time in May, Trump unveil his full budget proposal. And hopefully, we'll see a good commitment to getting control of [cross talk] 12:53.
David Scranton: And hopefully he can get some... get his way with some of that and have success. So Dan can you please stick around a bit? We need to take a commercial break but we're going to be right back. If you're near or in retirement head over to the IncomeGeneration.com and download your special report written specifically for the needs of the Income Generation. Again those born before nineteen sixty-six. I'm David Scranton and you've been watching the Income Generation we'll see you all next Sunday. Welcome back to the Income Generation, I'm David Scranton your host. I'm here today with Michael Eastham, our co-host and Dan Mitchell economist extraordinary, Dan thanks for sticking around.
Daniel Mitchell: Good to be here.
David Scranton: You know let's change topics for a little bit and talk about the financial markets, the stock market. You know the stock market loved Donald Trump and still does to a certain degree although things leveled out a little bit after the failed attempt at getting Obamacare repealed. What do you think about that? Do you think that that's likely to continue or do you think that President Trump success is already priced into the market and if anything there could be more downside than upside?
Daniel Mitchell: I've always been cautious about over-interpreting what happens in financial markets, maybe the market was going up because just continuing artificially low-interest rates from the Federal Reserve. Now you would think the financial markets and the corporate sector would like the idea of lower corporate tax rates. So I don't disagree with the notion that maybe there is some optimism in financial markets about lower taxes. But there's lots of things that always happen in financial markets and I actually think the Trump people are making a mistake because what happens if there's a big correction. It might have nothing to do with Trump and his policies but if he's saying that the stock market's a reflection of his good policies and there's a correction. Guess what? That implies that that's the fault of his policies so I'm always cautious about making any sweeping pronouncements.
David Scranton: But looking at the G.D.P. growth rate of one point six or one point eight percent you know you think the market... if that's all we were to get over the next few years and nothing more. You think the market should be at today's levels? You think that makes sense or do you think at least a little bit of that's priced in? A little bit of President Trump's success?
Daniel Mitchell: Well I think two things are properly priced into the market one is the hope that there will be lower tax rates and other economic reforms to get the economy growing again. But also I worry that what's priced into the markets as a bit of a bubble because of all the easy money policies from not only our Fed but from other Central Banks around the world. Now if I knew you know which was responsible for what? I'd probably be rich and I'd be on the beach in the Cayman Islands instead of sitting here talking to you guys right now. So you know don't take my advice on investing.
David Scranton: Got you. So you're looking at more from an economist standpoint which is your background, which makes a lot of sense. Economically, are things looking better now preliminarily for first quarter of the year from what we saw maybe third and fourth quarters of last year? You see things flat or do you see things really improving.
Daniel Mitchell: I try not to over-interpret monthly and quarterly data because you really have to get a trend line going and what I focus on is the long run and as we talked about in the last segment. You know we used to have strong three percent plus economic growth in this country and under both Bush and Obama we've been at two percent growth. And that's really the number that should concern us, I don't you know in any one quarter maybe you'll get four percent growth, maybe you only get one percent growth, maybe you'll get a recession. It's the long run average from an economist perspective that really matters and if we want faster growth the only recipe that gives you faster growth, in the long run, is increasing the productivity, the efficiency of your economy. Getting more output from your capital and labor, I don't want to use boring economic jargon...
David Scranton: Sure.
Daniel Mitchell: But that's ultimately what gives you more prosperity for American families and that's why I think it's critical that yes, let's lower the corporate tax rate, let's reduce some red tape and regulation in the economy. And Trump has been pretty good about those things but for heaven's sake if he doesn't get serious about government spending. I worry that any tax cuts we get won't be very sustainable.
David Scranton: In the minute or so we have left, I want to get to our topic today media bias. Is someone very involved in the media what advice do you have for people trying to get real information these days to help them make good financial decisions and to tune out all the hype.
Daniel Mitchell: Well, the first thing to realize is that a lot of the establishment media does lean left and you see that and the types of issues I work on. They always talk about the cost of a tax cut as if the money you earn belongs to the government. And if you get to keep more of it somehow that's a cost to the economy no, it's a savings to the economy. It's a savings to you, so when I watched news stories sometimes and read you know what's in the Washington Post and New York Times I want to pull my hair out because they have such a government-centric view of the economy. Not to mention since I just said government-centric you know look at their analysis of Keynesian economics, they really think that free lunch theory works. So they think, let's take money out of the economies right pocket, put it in the economies left pocket and pretend we have more money. It didn't work for Bush, it didn't work for Obama, it didn't work for Hoover, it didn't work for Roosevelt, hasn't worked for Japan. And yet the media, the establishment press so often treats Keynesian economics as if it was gold.
David Scranton: You know it's crazy Dan, we're out of time for today but sometime we'll have to have you come back to talk about how we went from having the liberal media to now having the overly conservative media. I'm not sure what happened with all that but Dan Mitchell, thank you very much for joining us today.
Daniel Mitchell: Thank you.
David Scranton: Now it's time to hear from a good friend of the Income Generation and a man who's been studying media bias for many, many years Dan Gainor. Dan Gainor is vice president of business and culture for the Media Research Center, the MRC. The MRC has been using scientific methodology to track and monitor bias in the media for thirty years, Dan is also a veteran writer and editor with more than two decades of experience in print and online media. He appears frequently on Fox Business Network and he writes for the Fox Forum. He's also been with us before right here on the Income Generation, Dan welcome back.
Dan Gainor: It's a pleasure to be back thank you.
David Scranton: Now you've been studying media bias for a long, long time and but it's a subject that seems to be on everyone's radar more and more these days. Has all this recent debate about the media and the First Amendment impacted you or your job?
Dan Gainor: Yeah, it's made it a heck of a lot harder. Donald Trump ripped the bandage off, there's no allusion now for anybody who's got half a brain that the media are biased on pretty much every major issue of the day. And since he started his campaign and now that he's president, they've been working aggressively and undoing absolutely everything he wants to do.
Michael Eastham: Well Dan, thanks so much for joining us and one of the questions that I have is as we talk about the kind of half-truths that people here in the media. The problem that I find a lot is that people make decisions based on half-truths without having the full spectrum of information, so how do we go about actually finding and getting that full base of information?
Dan Gainor: Well you have to have a broad-based media diet and it's got to be very broad these days. To give you an example, we were tracking media coverage of Trump on the evening news shows since he took office and it's eighty-nine percent negative. And what that means for investors is the two topics that he's running on economic topics of nineteen (unclear 20:48) hundred minutes of coverage of Trump. Only eighteen minutes devoted to jobs, only ten minutes devoted to trade so you can't just rely on if you watch evening news for these things. You've got to look at both liberal outlets like covering the pose conservative outlets, News Busters, Fox business. You've got to have a diverse diet.
David Scranton: But Dan, you know the MRC began with the intent of primarily exposing the liberal bias in the media. But we now know that there really isn't liberal bias, it's the excessively conservative media. So is there a place for the MRC anymore now that we know the media is really excessively conservative?
Dan Gainor: Alright, what's scary is that really is an argument that a lot of the people on the left put out that the media because they don't put on the extreme wacknut crazies out there that the media are somehow conservative. Oh, well you didn't have any communist on to discuss the budget. Well, it's because the economist part of America... you could fit like in a small drawing room and they could play cards. There is a place for both liberal and conservative media, but there needs to be a place for neutral media and we increasingly don't see that, that's unfortunate.
David Scranton: But it sounds like you're saying that as most things in life. The truth lies somewhere in the middle, both extremes are kind of out of whack, very much out of whack. So what do you think the solution is?
Dan Mitchell: Well the solution should be, the most obvious would be for them to put me out of my job. For regular journalists to do their own darn good work so that we don't have to follow him around and say hey, you didn't do this, hey, you didn't do that. Hey, remember there are conservatives in America, thirty-five percent of the country is conservative only twenty-five percent is liberal. But something like eighty or ninety percent of the press comes from twenty-five percent that's liberal.
David Scranton: Well it's... I hate to see you out of a job Dan but it would probably be better for the country as a whole if they didn't need somebody like you but I hope that doesn't happen because you're a buddy. But listen, Dan, can you stick around for a few minutes? We've got a lot more to talk about when we come back with more words of wisdom from my good friend Dan Gainor.
Miranda Khan: Welcome back to the Income Generation, I'm Miranda Khan. Now it's time for your news max finance update, a recap of the stories that move the markets this week. President Trump's administration presented its tax reform proposals.
Steven Mnuchin: Under the Trump plan we will have a massive tax cut for businesses and massive tax reform in simplification.
Miranda Khan: The proposal would reduce the individual tax brackets from seven to three, it would cut the business tax rate to fifteen percent and it doubles the standard deduction for individuals. Today marks the beginning of National Small Business Week a time to recognize entrepreneurs and small business owners and in honor of it, the head of the Small Business Administration will award outstanding business owners from around the country and DC. The Trump administration slapped a twenty percent tariff on Canadian lumber entering the U.S. The president also attacked our northern neighbor on Twitter for making business for Wisconsin and dairy farmers very difficult. Canadian lumber imports were valued at more than five billion dollars in two thousand and sixteen. ESPN shredded some staff again, this time it will cut about one hundred positions most of whom are on-air talent. The sports network blames rising T.V. programming costs and a reduced subscription base for the layoffs. The company has about eight thousand employees worldwide. And the NASDAQ hit the six thousand mark for the first time ever on Tuesday, thanks to strong corporate earnings and the president's promise of a major tax reform. For much more on these stories please visit Newsmax.com/finance, I'm Miranda Khan Iran now let's get back to the Income Generation with David Scranton.
David Scranton: Thanks Miranda, now that you are all up to date let's welcome back Dan Gainer of the Media Research Center. Dan, you know we talk about the financial stuff all the time and how the media bias can hurt people financially. But let's pivot away from that for a second and let's talk about other areas where you believe you know non-financial areas. Where you believe that the biased media can actually hurt the consumer.
Dan Gainor: Well one of the things that you have to understand when we talk about media, we don't just mean news. I guess the first thing that people need to understand is...that means entertainment is a big player these days, a movie comes out that attacks an industry. A movie comes out that critiques either a business or can make it look good, so you look at the big oil spill in the Gulf a few years back and that was devastating to BP. But then you get the movie coming out, if the movie had been more adversarial about B.P. then you got to worry about that as a sort of P.R and investor standpoint. And you've also got to worry about these crazy documentaries that come out all the time, you saw one from the... There's a new one coming out from Josh Fox who did a couple about fracking and now he's got want to about the North Dakota oil pipeline. Dapple and that's of course very anti-industry and so these are the kind of things that are going to hurt or hurt a company. SeaWorld can be harmed by that, it was other companies like that.
Michael Eastham: Well Dan, I totally get that but I want to... I do want to focus a little bit on the financial side so from your perspective what are some of the financial risks or the problems that you see as a result of the media bias.
David Scranton: You mean to consumers and investors.
Michael Eastham: Absolutely.
Daniel Mitchell: Yeah well I take a... the big issues of the day that really can move not just one stock but the stock market are you know the change in Obama Care and now we just saw it just come out is Trump's new tax plan. A lot of what Trump wants to do with taxes is frankly in my opinion already baked into the market, it's part of the reason why the market's been doing so well. But if it doesn't happen if a Democrats on the hill, if the media who oppose tax cuts, if they're able to stop it. Well if it's already baked in the market there's only one direction the market would go from that. That's where media bias could truly have a sweeping impact and you got to demand that they cover both sides of this. When you look at just Morning Joe today, they had a segment on where they had somebody talking about the tax cuts and he was assuming that this massive tax cut is going to have zero baseline modification on growth. So growth, he's projecting taxes based on two percent growth that we had for the eight years of Obama but if you bring back a trillion dollars and then you do a big tax cut. Pretty much most conservative economist would say that's going to boost revenue.
David Scranton: Now, what do you think about what it does to Congress and how they vote? You know think about it if their constituents are getting flooded with this media and it's changing their minds at certain things do you think it affects their respective congressmen? How they actually vote on certain issues.
Dan Gainor: Absolutely. That's a great point because a lot of people don't realize that the people who work for you on Capitol Hill, their staff and the Congressmen themselves. They watch all these left-wing programs, they'll watch Morning Joe and so they'll... somebody is going to vote on this in Congress and believe that this is... you have no impact on growth. And so what... this is why media bias is so important to investors because it could really hurt the bottom line not just for one company but genuinely drag down the whole market. Because the media are in a national tantrum about Trump way.
David Scranton: You know I joked about it before, but how do we go from being having excessively liberal media to some actually looking you straight in the face and saying we have an excessively conservative media. You know what leg do they stand on when saying that the media's excessively conservative do you know because I don't see it.
Dan Gainor: Their key argument is that a lot of these companies are big mega Corp's. Comcast and ABC Disney and such like that so they look and say well all those companies are arrogantly conservative and it's one hundred percent wrong. Those companies are inherently liberal you look at what has happened to the Disney legacy and has been dragged through the muck. To the point where even liberals complain about what happens when they go down to the Disney World. And then you look at the movies and T.V. shows that they produce and across the board have been bought into an agenda that it's not proof free market. It's a left-wing agenda, look at ESPN, look at... they just had mega layoffs, one hundred top people, we're talking about mostly on air talent. And that's because ESPN in part at least has gone and become very political and viewers don't like it.
David Scranton: Dan in the forty-five seconds or so we have left can you tell our Income Generation members how they can get the truth these days. But, of course, watching our show the Income Generation.
Dan Gainor: That would have been my first choice. I would say they really do need to modify their diet a little bit if you're... if they're liberal they need to read. Watch and read some outlets they would not monitor. Monitor CMBC, watch Fox Business, read News Max, read News Busters. And if you only read conservative outlets take a look at the Huffington Post, understand what the other side is saying. Because if you don't then you don't understand what the next attack is going to be on your money.
David Scranton: You sound like the FDA, eat all the food groups and you'll be fine so I guess you're right too much of one thing is never good. So Dan, thanks so much Dan Gainor for joining us on the show today, we really appreciate it.
Dan Gainor: Thank you it's always a pleasure.
David Scranton: In the few seconds I have left, I'd like to introduce today's advisor roundtable, first I'd like to welcome back my good friend Mike Eastham. Who in addition to being an author has over twenty-five years of professional experience under his belt in the financial industry? He's a highly sought after retirement planning expert and the founder and president of Fellowship Financial Group in Altamont Springs, Florida. My other guest Eddie Gabor is co-owner of Key Advisors group in Luis Delaware. Eddie began his career in financial planning in nineteen nighty-eight focusing on retirement and estate planning strategies and specializing in money management. And last but certainly not least we have Scott McLean joining us today, Scott is owner of McLean tax advisory group in Waretown, New Jersey. Scott has been helping retirees and people approaching retirement build sound financial strategies for nearly thirty-five years. He also runs a nonprofit agency that educates veterans on the benefits that they could have. Welcome, Scott, Eddie, and Michael
Eddie Ghabour: Good to be here.
David Scranton: Now we have to take a quick break but stay with us. But when we come back we'll have more from our advisor's roundtable, we'll right back. If you're near or in retirement head over to the IncomeGeneration.com and download your special report written specifically for the needs of the Income Generation. Again those born before nineteen sixty-six. I'm David Scranton and you've been watching the Income Generation, we'll see you all next Sunday. Welcome back to the Income Generation and Scott, Michael and Eddie thanks for sticking around.
Michael Eastham: Great to be here.
Eddie Ghabour: Thank you.
David Scranton: You know what's interesting, we're talking about how our clients and everyday investors actually get caught up in the media hype and how they could be misled. But you know the same is true with us, you know we watch the same media we probably watch more financial media than even our clients because we have to. So I guess my first question that I'd like to hear you talk about individually is you know how do you gather your own research and information on behalf of clients? And how do you make sure that you as advisors aren't biased by the media, whether it be overly liberal media or overly conservative media?
Eddie Ghabour: So I always tell my clients you know you have to take what you hear or read with a grain of salt because the media is looking for maximum ratings and so it's never as good as they say it is. And it's never as bad as they say it is in the media so our job as their wealth advisor is to try to sift through the noise and always go back to the underlying fundamentals. That really drive the markets, drive interest rates versus some special news report because the market went down or up really big in one day. Because one day or one week does not indicative of where the markets are actually going, so we have to be able to ignore the noise and focus strictly on the fundamentals.
David Scranton: So that's what you do? You...in your practice you feel like you just kind of... you watch it, you see it, you listen to it but then you kind of crowd out all the news and focus on the basics.
Eddie Ghabour: Absolutely, because it's very easy to get caught up in the emotions of what the media is reporting. But at the end of the day again they're trying to sell ads and increase their ratings.
David Scranton: Scott, how would you answer that? How do you keep yourself from absorbing all the media hype one way or another so that you can make good unbiased recommendations for your loyal clientele of thirty-five years
Scott Mclean: Dave that's a great question. I think people don't really understand you've got to listen to both sides, you really have to have two ears and one mouth. It's easier to over talking and go to one slant, I think of my only... my close friend of mine who actually went through a terrible divorce and when he went through a terrible divorce. He got his children for two days a week and his ex-wife got them for five days a week, the reason I tell you that is because his ex-wife was blasting him for years on end. Which actually designed and destroy the relationship with a wonderful father, this is media bias. It's kind of hard, how do you take it and he just said well you got to listen to both sides and really, really understood the facts of the matter, not just one side or the other.
David Scranton: Absolutely. Absolutely, good advice. Michael, how do you do that in your own practice?
Michael Eastham: Yeah Dave, you know part of the question that I always help people to sort through is asking you know when it comes to your strategy are you investing for the right reason? And I want to make sure that the strategy supports the goals that people have because we focus on retirees, listen the majority of what we're doing is not so much growth oriented. So we're not trying to buy low, sell high we're trying to invest for income, so it's a little bit easier from our perspective. Once we can help people understand that the real question they need to answer is how much income do I need? It allows us to sift through the noise a little bit easier.
David Scranton: So it's important to think you know what are my needs? What are my goals? I don't want to invest in a way that conflicts with my goals, I want to invest in a way that's in line with my goals.
Michael Eastham: That's correct.
David Scranton: Which is common sense advice, but now Michael when you look at someone's portfolio a member of the Income Generation especially somebody age fifty and over. You know how can you tell the extent to which that person has already been biased by the media? Or maybe how their current financial advisor has been biased by the media when you look at their portfolio?
Michael Eastham: Well, it's actually pretty easy to decipher Dave, when you look at a strategy for a retiree or a pre-retiree then it's easy to see if they're invested for growth. If they're invested in mutual funds and individual common stocks generally those things are designed for growth. But they... if they should be invested for income well that's one of the simple ways to help identify whether or not they're being influenced by the mainstream media because that's what they propagate.
David Scranton: So you're saying if a member of the Income Generation, right? Our loyal viewer's then if they're investing for growth, not income then that alone is a sign in your mind that...
Michael Eastham: Absolutely.
David Scranton: There's been some bias whether it's bias on their part or bias on their advisors part. Sure, Eddie how would you answer that question? How can you tell when looking at someone's portfolio whether they've suffered from the media bias, been victim to it or whether their advisor has?
Eddie Ghabour: You know many times we'll see... I refer to them as cookie cutter type portfolios where you know they may have a basket of funds and you know a higher bias towards equities or bonds. Whatever it may be but it seems pretty cookie cutter, a question that I asked many individuals before we take them on as a client is what is your risk management strategy? Because until you know that answer you don't know how to properly design your portfolio and I will tell you nine times out of ten when I ask someone that question. I get this blank stare back at me because risk management has not been a focal point of the discussion they had in their meetings and that's really the biggest thing that we try to discuss with our clients. Because they’re at a stage in their life where the upside of the market does not help them as much as the downside will hurt them.
David Scranton: Hurts them, sure. And everybody wants to hear what they want to hear. Is they want to hear all the great stories about the double-digit returns historically, but you're right you've got to have that downside protection strategy. So we have to a quick break now stay with us Eddie, Scott and Michael will be right back. Welcome back to the Income Generation now let's jump right back into it. We've got Michael Eastham and Eddie Ghabour, unfortunately, you know we lost Scott technology's great when it works. And it really stinks when it doesn't work but we hope to have him back again soon, you know but what I'd really like to talk about now Michael is you know how do you tell clients that they could avoid media bias and stay informed? I mean it's so pervasive, it's all around us what do you tell them to do?
Michael Eastham: Well you know we talked about it off the air and many times in the past Dave helping people to understand that trusting their gut instincts a lot of time is actually a good thing. Unfortunately, we're so inundated by information in the mainstream media, you have to dissect it, you have to be able to break it down and sort the wheat from the chaff if you will. And so that's one of the things that we end up talking with folks about and helping them to make good determinations about what's the appropriate strategy for them.
David Scranton: You know we get people you know it's funny who... we've all heard of people who died or almost died because they blindly trusted a doctor's opinion even though their gut instinct said something different. And I always like to tell people you know what are your gut instinct? Your gut instincts are really your cumulative life knowledge and life experience for the fifty-five, sixty, seventy years that you've been on Earth. So sometimes you have to trust that, Eddie, what do you do when people ask you that question? What do you tell them when they say you know how can I block out the media bias? And how can I tell you know when it's reality versus when it's just hype?
Eddie Ghabour: You know our job as their advisors are really continuously educate them and teach them the value of being disciplined. That's the hardest thing as an investor do is to be disciplined, many times the client knows the answer themselves they're just looking for someone to reinforce that. So it ultimately comes down to what they're trying to accomplish. So if their goal is to protect assets then they should not chase equities when equities are hitting all-time highs and that's what the media is talking about. But it is a challenge because as a human being it's hard to get the emotions out of making investment decisions and that's our job is to keep the emotions out. And again stick to the fundamentals and more importantly really what the clients trying to accomplish and what's most important to them.
David Scranton: So how do you tell people to keep that sense of detachment from their money so they don't get pulled into the hype?
Michael Eastham: Well, I think one of the points Eddie, made was right on cue I mean educating people is probably the best way. I find that there are several points in our strategies that we need to reiterate, we need to continue to go over with clients so that they can take that emotional aspect out of it and think it logically. And continue to move forward in their retirement goals.
David Scranton: That's great, that's great. Michael, Eddie stay with us we'll be right back we have one more segment and we'd love to have more words of wisdom from the two of you for our Income Generation members. You stay with us also, we'll be right back with more from Eddie and Michael. Guys thanks for sticking around for the last bit of our show. Eddie, you know what do you think is the biggest fear today in the media when you see your clients coming back with clipped out news articles or regurgitating something they heard on television? What's the biggest fear?
Eddie Ghabour: My biggest fear is the media's going to get them to chase stocks and take more risk than they've ever been comfortable taking. Because it's easy to get caught up in the hype when you hear the stock markets hitting all-time highs. So that's the biggest fear I have for my clients and for your viewers truthfully, if you're retired taking too much risk could be very detrimental to your abilities stay successful in retirement.
David Scranton: Okay, Michael. What are some other things you think that people need to watch out for today? Where are some of the landmines in today's economic world?
Michael Eastham: Well, I think the optimism that's driving the market is something to be of great concern, I mean things like taxes, health care, geopolitical unrest all in the end and twenty trillion dollars in debt. All of those things could actually end up being a tipping point for the downside on the stock market, so now's not a great time to be taking a lot of risk in the stock market.
David Scranton: Twenty trillion dollars, you know you think about it if you had a hundred dollar bills for twenty trillion dollars Michael could they fit in the studio? The hundred dollar bills or not do we even know what that is? It's a huge number you can't even conceive it, so Michael thanks so much for sticking around being here today.
Michael Eastham: Great to be here.
David Scranton: Eddie you too. Thank you very much for sticking around with us.
Eddie Ghabour: Thank you. Thanks, David
David Scranton: Before we go, I'd like to thank all my guests as well as you our new and returning viewers. As you probably know Time magazine ran a cover story recently and they asked a question is truth dead? Personally, I'm confident that the answer to that question is resounding, no, but I will admit that in today's world the truth is a lot harder to find and sometimes even harder to recognize. Everything and everyone communicating with us nowadays seems to have a personal agenda or an ulterior motive. That includes much of the media and sometimes even the professionals that we depend on for services and advice doctors, mechanics and yes even some financial advisors. So it's up to you to be on guard, it's up to you to put that advisor to the test and then make sure that he or she is a true fiduciary whose number one priority is to do what's best for you. Not some corporate CEO, not Wall Street, not their own bottom line but to do what's best for you. Thanks for watching. If you're not using someone who is well trained in fixed income and you're born before nineteen sixty-six, it may just be time for you to break up with that advisor and move on. I would suggest someone who will care for you through these important years of your life. If you need help finding someone call or write us. I'd also like to remind you of the special report entitled The Income Generation this available free to you our loyal viewers online. If you haven't downloaded your report pick it up after the show. If you're near or in retirement head over to the IncomeGeneration.com and download your special report written specifically for the needs of the Income Generation. Again, those born before nineteen sixty-six, I'm David Scranton and you've been watching the Income Generation. We'll see you all next Sunday.