El Niño has arrived, and experts say there’s a 90 percent chance the conditions will continue through this summer, and an 80 percent chance it will continue through 2015. And that could be good for commodities, says Jodie Gunzberg, global head of commodity indices at S&P Dow Jones Indices. In the 12 months following an El Niño since 1982, every commodity sector performs positively, and the returns are accelerating through time in every sector except livestock. The average annual return in periods following an El Niño is 2.6 percent for agriculture, 2 percent for energy, 1.8 percent for industrial metals and 2.4 percent for precious metals, Gunzberg says.
Over half of advisors were recommending variable annuities circa 2006, but only 38 percent are today, according to a recent survey by the Financial Planning Association. Annuities have come under fire for being expensive, complex and often lacking lacking transparency. Senator Elizabeth Warren even jumped into the fray recently, sending letters to some of the biggest product companies. She questioned the conflicts of interest that could arise around the perks being offered to advisors to sell these products. And yet AIG and Lincoln Financial saw double-digit growth in sales of variable and indexed annuities during the first quarter, although sales of fixed annuities did not fare as well.
Geography is a major factor when it comes to retirement readiness, according to new research from Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. The study polled 16,000 workers and retirees in 15 different countries, ranking their readiness on a 10-point scale. The results? India and its employees came out on top with a score of 7.0 out of 10, closely followed by Brazil (6.7), China (6.5) and the United States (6.5). Some other striking numbers from the study: a total of 39 percent of employees globally are habitual savers, 21 percent are saving for retirement occasionally, 22 percent are not saving for retirement but intend to do so, and six percent have never saved for retirement and don't intend to. Of the 15 countries polled, Japan clocked in with the worst score of 4.8.