Monthly Archives: May 2014

Will Divorce Put a Hitch in Your Financial Plan?

Weekly Market Commentary

May 19, 2014

 

The Markets

 

Americans have long relied on standards and averages to help them gauge the performance of everything from intelligence to athletics to the economy. So far, in 2014, American stock markets have been grinding along without making much progress in either direction and that has left many people looking for guidance about what they can expect in the future.

 

Last week, a writer at Barron’s enlisted Jeremy Siegel, a finance professor at Wharton, to help explore the question by updating data used in a 2009 article. That piece had looked at the performance of the U.S. stock market over 142 years and found “below-average returns over five- and 10-year periods generally are followed by above-average returns in the next five and 10 years.” In the new article, Siegel and his associates looked at rolling five-, 10-, 20-, and 30-year return periods through the end of 2013 and found:

 

“For the 60 months ended in April, the compounded annual real return was nearly 17 percent, well above the median 7.17 percent for all five-year periods. (Taxes and investment fees aren’t included.) That suggests the next five years could run below the average.

 

While that might temper bullishness, in the 120-month period ended April, the compounded annual real return was just 5.58 percent, a full percentage point below the 6.64 percent median 10-year annual return for all the periods measured – again, since 1871.”

 

Despite the mixed signals provided by long-term averages, Siegel told Barron’s “the odds-on bet” is the Dow Jones Industrial Average will hit 18,000 by the end of the year (although there may be corrections along the way). His expectations are interest rates will remain lower than has been suggested and earnings will experience strong growth.

 

It’s a good idea to take the esteemed professor’s thoughts with a grain of salt. An eight-year study of market pundits found they were right about 47 percent of the time.

 

Data as of 5/16/14

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)

-0.2%

1.6%

13.8%

12.2%

15.6%

5.7%

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.5

NA

1.9

3.2

3.2

4.7

Gold (per ounce)

0.8

7.5

-6.5

-4.9

7.0

12.9

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

-1.1

7.6

3.3

-5.3

2.5

-0.9

DJ Equity All REIT TR Index

1.9

14.9

0.3

11.3

22.6

10.7

S&P 500, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

the market isn’t the only thing that can put a hitch in your financial plan’s giddy-up. The overall rate of divorce in the United States trended lower between 2000 and 2011 (the latest dates the Centers for Disease Control has made available). In 2000, there were about four divorces or annulments per 1,000 Americans (total population). By 2011 that rate had fallen slightly to 3.6 per 1,000. As they often do, Baby Boomers bucked the trend. The divorce rate for Americans over age 50 has trended higher. The New York Times wrote:

 

“A half-century ago, only 2.8 percent of Americans older than 50 were divorced. By 2000, 11.8 percent were. In 2011, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, 15.4 percent were divorced and another 2.1 percent were separated. Some 13.5 percent were widowed.

 

While divorce rates over all have stabilized and even inched downward, the divorce rate among people 50 and older has doubled since 1990, according to an analysis of census data by professors at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. That’s especially significant because half the married population is older than 50.”

 

Anytime you experience a significant life change, such as a divorce late in life, it’s important to let us know. We can offer strategies to help compensate for any cash flow disruption and tactics for managing taxes when splitting large assets, such as qualified retirement plans. In addition, we can help with essential (and often forgotten) steps, including reviewing and revising beneficiary designations (on retirement plans, investment accounts, and insurance policies) as well as modifying powers of attorney, named trustees, and other designations. We also can coordinate our efforts with those of your attorney and/or accountant.

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 

“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.”

Will Rogers, American humorist and commentator

 

Best regards,

 

John Raudat, AIF, CFS, PPC

 

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

 

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

 

* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.

*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.

* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

* Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.

* The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.

* The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.

* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.

* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

*The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

* You cannot invest directly in an index.

* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

* To unsubscribe from the Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line.

 

Sources:

http://online.barrons.com/news/articles/SB50001424053111903301904579566851681930782?mod=BOL_hp_we_columns (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/05-19-14_Barrons-Stocks_End_Flat_After_Setting_New_Highs-Footnote_1.pdf)

http://www.kiplinger.com/article/investing/T038-C000-S002-which-market-gurus-get-it-right-the-most.html

http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/marriage_divorce_tables.htm (scroll down to the 2nd table on the page)

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/22/fashion/weddings/divorce-after-50-grows-more-common.html?_r=0

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/w/willrogers411692.html

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Investor Sentiment: What’s Yours?

May 12, 2014

 

The Markets

 

“Gonna take a sentimental journey…Gonna set my heart at ease…Gonna make a sentimental journey…To renew old memories.” If you’re a fan of Ella Fitzgerald or Frank Sinatra, then you probably recognize these lyrics. Although we rarely think of them as such, the ups and downs of stock and bond markets are sentimental journeys. They reflect the thoughts and attitudes of investors toward particular companies, investments, and markets. Investopedia explains it like this:

 

“Market sentiment is the feeling or tone of a market, or its crowd psychology, as revealed through the activity and price movement of the securities traded in that market. For example, rising prices would indicate a bullish market sentiment, while falling prices would indicate a bearish market sentiment. Market sentiment is also called “investor sentiment” and is not always based on fundamentals.”

 

The American Association of Individual Investors (AAII) measures investor sentiment by polling their membership each week. The long-term average is 39 percent bullish, 30.5 percent neutral, and 30.5 percent bearish. Last week, 28.3 percent of its members were bullish, 28.7 percent were bearish, and 43 percent were neutral.

 

According to Yahoo! Finance, that’s the highest level of investor neutrality in more than a decade and may indicate a sharp move up or down is coming soon. “Going back to 2005, AAII neutral sentiment has pushed to 38 on four distinct prior occasions… Looking at the S&P 500 a month later showed greater than 4 percent moves each time over the subsequent 30 days.”

 

The article, which was published last week, failed to mention the AAII neutral sentiment measure has surpassed 38 on eight occasions since the start of 2014. A quick inspection of S&P 500 pricing indicates markets have moved by 1 to 6 percent during the subsequent month (although we are not yet 30 days from some of those dates). Regardless of the number of times investor neutrality has pushed to 38 or above, or the sharpness of the subsequent market moves, not all of those moves have been in the same direction so it’s hard to predict what this bout of neutral sentiment may indicate.

 

Data as of 5/9/14

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)

-0.1%

1.6%

15.5%

11.7%

15.6%

5.6%

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.6

NA

1.8

3.1

3.2

4.8

Gold (per ounce)

0.8

7.5

-11.9

-4.9

7.2

13.2

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

-0.7

8.0

0.3

-5.8

2.4

-0.9

DJ Equity All REIT TR Index

1.4

14.4

1.5

11.0

22.5

10.9

S&P 500, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

double, double, toil, and trouble… During the twentieth century, the world’s population doubled not once, but twice. While it is not expected to double again in this century, according to The Economist, the number of older people is expected to double. By 2035, 13 percent of the world’s population – about 1.1 billion people – will be age 65 or older. Assuming no major diseases, disasters, or world wars, demographers at the United Nations predict the global population will reach nine billion by 2045. That’s a lot of people!

 

Demographic changes are likely to have a powerful effect on global economies. In the United States, the leading edge of the Baby Boom generation is entering retirement. According to National Geographic:

 

“The end of a baby boom can have two big economic effects on a country. The first is the “demographic dividend” – a blissful few decades when the boomers swell the labor force and the number of young and old dependents is relatively small and there is thus a lot of money for other things. Then the second effect kicks in: The boomers start to retire. What had been considered the enduring demographic order is revealed to be a party that has to end. The sharpening American debate over Social Security and last year’s strikes in France over increasing the retirement age are responses to a problem that exists throughout the developed world: how to support an aging population.”

 

The old-age dependency ratio, which compares the number of older people (above age 64) in a country to the working population (people aged 15 to 64), was 20:100 in the United States during 2012. By 2035, the United Nations predicts the ratio will be 44:100. How will our aging population affect economic growth? Some economists believe economic growth will slow in countries with high ratios; others say that older, well-educated people will work longer and retire later so aging will have little effect. A third group anticipates persistent economic stagnation. So, what can we expect? It all depends on “changes in the size of the workforce; changes in the rate of productivity growth; and changes in the pattern of savings.” Stay tuned!

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 

“It seems essential, in relationships and all tasks, that we concentrate only on what is most significant and important.”

–Soren Aabye Kierkegaard, Danish philosopher and theologian

 

Best regards,

 

John Raudat, AIF, CFS, PPC

 

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

 

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

 

* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.

*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.

* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

* Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.

* The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.

* The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.

* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.

* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

*The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

* You cannot invest directly in an index.

* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

* To unsubscribe from the Market Commentary please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line.

 

Sources:

http://artists.letssingit.com/ella-fitzgerald-lyrics-sentimental-journey-5vw7tkx#ixzz31KOqEbns

http://www.investopedia.com/terms/m/marketsentiment.asp

http://www.aaii.com/sentimentsurvey (Spreadsheet available at http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/05-12-14_AAII_Sentiment_Data-Footnote_3.xls)

https://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/breakout/investor-sentiment-suggests-a-big-move-is-coming-203238379.html

http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/05-12-14_AAII_2014_Neutral-Footnote_5.xls

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21601248-generation-old-people-about-change-global-economy-they-will-not-all-do-so (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/05-12-14_The_Economist-Age_Invaders-Footnote_6.pdf)

http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2011/01/seven-billion/kunzig-text

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.POP.DPND.OL

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/sorenkierk133502.html

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Corporate Debt is Rising, Are You Worried?

Weekly Market Commentary

May 5, 2014

 

The Markets

 

Sometime this year, you may have the opportunity to experience an event that’s even more rare than a lunar or solar eclipse – an economic eclipse. The United States has had the world’s largest economy since we surpassed Britain back in 1872, but our economy is about to be overshadowed by China’s.

 

A lot of folks were anticipating an economic eclipse sometime around the end of this decade. As it turns out, the event horizon may be much, much shorter. Last week, The World Bank released its International Comparison Program (ICP) report. Every six years, in an effort to measure the real size of the world economy, the ICP surveys countries and measures their relative economic might. The ICP report was the final analysis of data collected during 2011. It found, at that time, the U.S. had the world’s biggest economy. It also established that China’s economy had grown much faster than ours between 2005 and 2011. China’s economic growth has continued to exceed that of the United States. As a result, China’s economy is expected to eclipse that of the United States during 2014. The U.S. economy will be the second largest and behind us will be India. The ICP also noted that:

 

  • The six largest middle-income economies (China, India, Russia, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico) account for 32.3 percent of world Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
  • The six largest high-income economies (United States, Japan, Germany, France, United Kingdom, and Italy) account for 32.9 percent of world GDP
  • Asia and the Pacific, including China and India, account for 30 percent of world GDP
  • The European Union and countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) account for 54 percent of world GDP
  • Latin America comprises 5.5 percent of world GDP (excluding Mexico, which is an OECD country, and Argentina which did not participate in the ICP survey)Some people are unsettled by the news. Among them, apparently, are members of China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). According to The Washington Post, the NBS expressed reservations about the study’s methodology and did not endorse the results as official statistics. As with solar and lunar eclipses, the event may be notable, but its effects are unclear.
  •  
  •  

Data as of 5/2/14

1-Week

Y-T-D

1-Year

3-Year

5-Year

10-Year

Standard & Poor’s 500 (Domestic Stocks)

1.0%

1.8%

17.8%

11.4%

16.5%

5.4%

10-year Treasury Note (Yield Only)

2.6

NA

1.6

3.3

3.2

4.5

Gold (per ounce)

-1.5

6.6

-12.8

-6.0

7.1

12.6

DJ-UBS Commodity Index

-1.0

8.7

3.9

-7.8

3.4

-1.0

DJ Equity All REIT TR Index

1.9

12.8

0.9

9.8

21.2

10.2

S&P 500, Gold, DJ-UBS Commodity Index returns exclude reinvested dividends (gold does not pay a dividend) and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; the DJ Equity All REIT TR Index does include reinvested dividends and the three-, five-, and 10-year returns are annualized; and the 10-year Treasury Note is simply the yield at the close of the day on each of the historical time periods.

Sources: Yahoo! Finance, Barron’s, djindexes.com, London Bullion Market Association.

Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Indices are unmanaged and cannot be invested into directly. N/A means not applicable.

 

So, you’ve heard U.S. companies are fabulously profitable and sitting on record piles of cash. It’s true. According to Moody’s Investors Service, non-financial U.S. companies had hoards of cash at the end of 2013 – about $1.64 trillion. That’s about 12 percent more than the previous year’s record-setting $1.46 trillion. Technology, healthcare/ pharmaceutical, consumer product, and energy companies held the most cash.

 

Why are profits at U.S. companies so high? The Economist offered several possible explanations:

1) Corporate executives favored capital and not labor in recent years. An expert cited by The Economist suggested, “…Had pay kept pace with productivity in recent years, profit margins would be around their historic average, not close to a 50-year high;” 2) When the U.S. dollar loses value, which it has, the foreign earnings of American companies get a lift; and 3) Firms have limited their capital expenditures on equipment, software, and other items. As a result, depreciation charges have fallen making companies look more profitable.

 

Why aren’t companies spending? It has a lot to do with overseas profits and tax rates, according to The Wall Street Journal’s MoneyBeat. It reported, “Growth in the cash stockpiles, however, came largely from operations overseas. Instead of bringing that money back to the U.S. and paying taxes as high as 35% upon repatriation, companies borrowed money in the U.S. bond market, where interest rates were historically low. The report calls that strategy ‘a form of synthetic cash repatriation.’”

 

The stark reality is companies are profitable, but they’re also sporting a lot of debt. During the past three years, corporate debt has risen by $3.67 for every $1 of cash growth, according to a report from Standard & Poor’s Rating Services which was cited by The Wall Street Journal. That’s okay when interest rates are low, but may not prove to be so great when interest rates in the United States move higher.

 

Weekly Focus – Think About It

 

“I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.

–Thomas Jefferson, American President

 

Best regards,

 

John Raudat, AIF, CFS, PPC

 

P.S.  Please feel free to forward this commentary to family, friends, or colleagues. If you would like us to add them to the list, please reply to this e-mail with their e-mail address and we will ask for their permission to be added.

 

Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC.

 

* This newsletter was prepared by Peak Advisor Alliance. Peak Advisor Alliance is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer.

* Government bonds and Treasury Bills are guaranteed by the U.S. government as to the timely payment of principal and interest and, if held to maturity, offer a fixed rate of return and fixed principal value.  However, the value of fund shares is not guaranteed and will fluctuate.

*Corporate bonds are considered higher risk than government bonds but normally offer a higher yield and are subject to market, interest rate and credit risk as well as additional risks based on the quality of issuer coupon rate, price, yield, maturity, and redemption features.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged group of securities considered to be representative of the stock market in general. You cannot invest directly in this index.

* The Standard & Poor’s 500 (S&P 500) is an unmanaged index. Unmanaged index returns do not reflect fees, expenses, or sales charges. Index performance is not indicative of the performance of any investment.

* The 10-year Treasury Note represents debt owed by the United States Treasury to the public. Since the U.S. Government is seen as a risk-free borrower, investors use the 10-year Treasury Note as a benchmark for the long-term bond market.

* Gold represents the London afternoon gold price fix as reported by the London Bullion Market Association.

* The DJ Commodity Index is designed to be a highly liquid and diversified benchmark for the commodity futures market. The Index is composed of futures contracts on 19 physical commodities and was launched on July 14, 1998.

* The DJ Equity All REIT TR Index measures the total return performance of the equity subcategory of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) industry as calculated by Dow Jones.

* Yahoo! Finance is the source for any reference to the performance of an index between two specific periods.

* Opinions expressed are subject to change without notice and are not intended as investment advice or to predict future performance.

*The economic forecasts set forth in the presentation may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk, including loss of principal.

* You cannot invest directly in an index.

* Consult your financial professional before making any investment decision.

* Economic forecasts set forth may not develop as predicted and there can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

* Stock investing involves risk including loss of principal.

* To unsubscribe from the Market Commentary, please reply to this e-mail with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line.

 

Sources:

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/d79ffff8-cfb7-11e3-9b2b-00144feabdc0.html#axzz30hMLV0y9 (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/05-05-14_Financial_Times-China_Poised_to_Pass_US-Footnote_1.pdf)

http://go.worldbank.org/MP1FBPYUJ0

http://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2014/04/29/2011-international-comparison-program-results-compare-real-size-world-economies

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/china-rejects-sign-it-may-soon-be-no-1-economy/2014/04/30/90fca9e2-d058-11e3-a714-be7e7f142085_story.html

https://www.moodys.com/research/Moodys-US-non-financial-corporates-cash-pile-grows-led-by–PR_296106?WT.mc_id=NLTITLE_YYYYMMDD_PR_296106

http://www.economist.com/news/finance-and-economics/21588901-american-corporate-profits-seem-have-defied-gravity-margin-error (or go to http://peakclassic.peakadvisoralliance.com/app/webroot/custom/editor/05-05-14_The_Economist-Margin_for_Error-Footnote_6.pdf)

http://blogs.wsj.com/moneybeat/2014/04/14/companies-piled-on-the-cash-in-2013/

http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/t/thomasjeff389008.html

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