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News

Obama's coming to town

Obama's coming to town

The president is scheduled to make a stop about noon today at a private residence in Los Altos Hills. He and his entourage are expected to travel south from San Francisco to the event, then head back north for San Francisco International Airport and ...

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Schools

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall

MVLA rolls out laptop integration this fall


Town Crier File Photo
Starting in the fall, daily use of laptops in the classroom will be standard operating procedure for students at Los Altos and Mountain View high schools as the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District launches a pil...

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Community

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'

Generations blend behind the scenes at 'Wizard of Oz'


Altos Youth Theatre and Los Altos Stage Company rehearse a scene from “The Wizard of Oz.” ELIZA RIDGEWAY/ TOWN CRIER

A massive troupe of young people and grownups gathered in Los Altos this summer to stage the latest iteration of a childhood sta...

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Sports

Football in July

Football in July


Town Crier file photo
Mountain View High’s Anthony Avery is among the nine local players slated to play in tonight’s Silicon Valley Youth Classic.

Tonight’s 40th annual Silicon Valley Youth Classic – also known as the Charlie...

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Comment

Pools should be included: Editorial

Los Altos residents should be receiving calls this week from city representatives conducting a survey to determine priorities for a revamped Hillview Community Center.

Notice that we did not say “civic center” – chastened by a lack of public support...

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Special Sections

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas

Looking for life without lows, local diabetic tests artificial pancreas


Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Dr. Trang Ly, left, reviews blood sugar readings on a smartphone with Los Altos resident Tia Geri, right, and fellow participant Noa Simon during a closed-loop artificial pancreas study for Type 1 diabetics.
...

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Business

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main

Palo Alto law firm coming to 400 Main


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Longtime Palo Alto law firm Thoits, Love, Hershberger & McClean plans to open an office at 400 Main St. in Los Altos after construction is complete in November.

A longtime Palo Alto law firm plans to expand into L...

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Books

"Frozen in Time" chronicles harrowing WWII rescue attempts


Many readers can’t resist a true-life adventure story, especially those that shine a spotlight on people who exhibit supreme courage in the face of adversity and end up surviving – or not – against the odds.

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People

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

RICHARD PATRICK BRENNAN

Resident of Palo Alto

Richard Patrick Brennan, journalist, editor, author, adventurer, died at his Palo Alto home on July 4, 2014 at age 92. He led a full life, professionally and personally. He was born and raised in San Francisco, joined the Arm...

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Travel

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway

Travel Tidbit: Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe offers spa getaway


Courtesy of Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton in Lake Tahoe offers fall getaway packages that include spa treatments and yoga classes.

Fall in North Lake Tahoe boasts crisp mornings and opportunities to spend quality time in the mountains. Specially ...

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Stepping Out

PYT stages 'Shrek'

PYT stages 'Shrek'


Lyn Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Dana Cullinane plays Fiona in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Shrek The Musical.”

Peninsula Youth Theatre presents “Shrek The Musical” Saturday through Aug. 3 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts...

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Spiritual Life

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting

Foothills Congregational: 100 years and counting


Courtesy of Carolyn Barnes
The newly built Los Altos church in 1914 featured a bell tower and an arched front window. Both continue as elements of the building as it stands today.

Foothills Congregational Church – the oldest church building ...

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Magazine

Festival features fun for everyone

Festival features fun for everyone


TOWN CRIER FILE PHOTO
The Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival boasts more than 375 craft and arts booths.

This weekend’s 35th annual Los Altos Arts & Wine Festival promises to be jam-packed with fun activities for just about everyone. The eve...

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Congressional Budget Office paper says don’t buy annuities

A working paper recently published by Felix Reichling of the Congressional Budget Office and Kent Smetters of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School concludes that most people should not buy annuities. This is a controversial finding bound to spark significant debate within the financial services community.

The annuity model is simple: You give up a portion of your savings to an insurance company in exchange for a guaranteed stream of payments for the remainder of your life. Gil Weinreich, editor-in-chief of ThinkAdvisor, an online and print publication family for financial advisers, interviewed Smetters to find out why he believes that’s not a good idea. He quoted Smetters as stating, “The average American should probably not annuitize any of their wealth.”

Smetters explained that it is in fact uninsured health-care shocks – the most common being disability while working or the need for long-term care while retired – that impact the usefulness of annuities more than anything else.

Here’s the logic: Suppose that you are retired and develop a medical condition requiring long-term care, for which you are not insured. If you had previously purchased an annuity, it would not be much help, because you now have the need for a lot more income than the annuity had been designed to produce. You could sell your annuity – there is a secondary market for this – but because of your medical condition, your expected longevity is reduced. As a result, the amount of cash you can get for the annuity will be lower, because its value is based on the expectation of its future cash flows. That’s just the opposite of what you need during such a situation.

Smetters went so far as to recommend that younger people actually “short” annuities.

“You can get a negative annuity by buying life insurance,” he said. “It is well known … that whereas an annuity pays me for living, life insurance pays me for dying. What happens when I get sick is that my life insurance increases in value. You can cash that out and get protection against uninsured expenses.”

Is there anyone who would benefit from an annuity? According to Smetters, “those who should buy annuities have already incurred health costs or are quite elderly.” Insurance companies can afford to offer such people annuities with larger monthly or yearly payments because there’s a higher likelihood they’ll die sooner.

Most advisers think of annuities as low-risk investments. But as Smetters pointed out, they are actually higher risk because they fail at exactly the times you need them the most: during health-care crises. The better alternative, he said, is long-term care insurance for older people and disability insurance for younger people.

I believe that annuities – particularly single-premium immediate annuities – can be a valuable part of a well-diversified investment portfolio. But Smetters and Reichling suggest that they should be used sparingly until you reach an age where the payments become significant.

To read the CBO working paper, visit cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/44374_MortalityProbabilities-Reichling_2_0.pdf.

Artie Green, a Los Altos resident, is a Certified Financial Planner and professional investment adviser. For more information, call (408) 747-1222.

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