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News

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers

Campaign finance reports show lots of loans, few outliers


Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Campaign yard signs are just one expenditure for candidates during election season.

Election finance filings are in, and Los Altos appears to be hosting a few financially lopsided races.

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Schools

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation

Three Los Altos schools earn National Blue Ribbon designation


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Bullis Charter School students wear their school spirit clothing to greet their mascot Oct. 3 in celebration of being named a National Blue Ribbon School.

Blach Intermediate, Egan Junior High and Bullis Charter schools ea...

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Community

Sports

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles

Spartans run wild(cat) on Eagles


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mountain View High running back Austin Johnson goes for a big gain after evading Los Altos High defensive tackle Phil Alameda in Friday’s game. Johnson scored two touchdowns for the Spartans.

After unveiling its wildc...

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Comment

Logan, McClatchie, Peruri for LASD board: Editorial

This is a crucial time for the Los Altos School District. Its leadership faces the challenge of balancing enrollment growth versus maintaining the small, neighborhood schools that make it a very popular district to attend. The district must also adap...

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Special Sections

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern

City's minimum-wage hike earns mixed reviews: Raise to $10.30 an hour meets with approval – and concern


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Tandava Waldon, left, manager of East West Bookstore on Castro Street in Mountain View, works with a customer. Waldon said the recently approved minimum-wage hike will have little impact on his business. “It’s not such a...

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Business

Delay Social Security? An easy way to decide

One of the most heatedly debated questions regarding Social Security is when to start.

You have the option of initiating benefits as early as age 62 or as late as age 70. The longer you wait, the larger the monthly payment you will receive over your...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

SUZANNE MONICA DIMM SPECHT

Suzanne Monica Dimm Specht passed Tuesday, Sept. 9th at the age of 84. Sue was born on April 21, 1930 in Portland, Oregon. After graduating from the University of Oregon in with a degree in Music, Sue taught in a little town called Clatskanie, Oreg...

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Travel

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening

Los Altos resident's visit to North Korea proves enlightening


Courtesy of Sally Brew
North Korea is home to many monuments honoring its “Dear Leaders,” left.

In August, I traveled for 11 days with MIR Corp. to North Korea, a fascinating country that is almost completely cut off from the rest of the world. ...

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Stepping Out

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto

'Trovatore' takes the stage in Palo Alto


Courtesy of José Luis Moscovich
West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” is slated to open Friday night in Palo Alto and run through Oct. 26.

West Bay Opera’s production of “Il Trovatore” (“The Troubadour”) is scheduled to open this weekend...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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Examining the choice between mutual funds and ETFs

Following is the first in a two-part series on mutual and exchange-traded funds.

You’re probably familiar with mutual funds. They are arguably the most common type of investment choice for 401(k) and other retirement accounts.

Exchange-traded funds (ETFs), by contrast, have only been around since the early 1990s and have yet to find their way onto many retirement plan menus. But they are widely available for brokerage accounts and since 2008 have experienced explosive growth. You may be wondering what the difference is between the two types of funds and which makes a better investment.

ETFs, like traditional mutual funds, represent a basket of assets such as stocks or bonds. Unlike mutual funds, investors cannot buy ETF shares directly from the investment companies that offer them. Instead, investors must buy ETFs from other investors, just like stocks. That has two implications: (1) You can buy ETFs anytime during the trading day, unlike mutual funds, which can only be purchased at the end of the day after their net asset values have been calculated, and (2) during periods of high demand, the prices of ETFs can exceed the net asset value of their underlying assets.

Because buyers generally do not want to pay more than an ETF is worth, something is needed to keep the price close to the ETF’s net asset value. The solution is to allow certain financial institutions, known as authorized participants, the ability to purchase and redeem blocks of ETF shares, called creation units, directly from the ETF company. This approach gives ETFs an arbitrage mechanism that tends to minimize the potential deviation between the market price and the net asset value of the ETF’s shares.

If there is strong investor demand for an ETF, its share price will (temporarily) rise above its net asset value per share, giving authorized participants an incentive to purchase additional creation units from the ETF and sell the component ETF shares in the open market. The additional supply of ETF shares reduces the market price per share, generally eliminating the premium over net asset value. A similar process applies when there is weak demand for an ETF, and its shares trade at a discount from net asset value.

Creation-unit purchases and redemptions are in kind – meaning that the underlying assets are traded back and forth rather than bought and sold – allowing the authorized participants to swap out low-basis shares for high-basis shares without having to pay tax. As a result, ETF proponents argue that ETFs are more tax efficient than mutual funds, which cannot be traded like that.

Another professed benefit of ETFs is the lower expense ratio – the annual costs fund holders have to pay to the fund companies – compared with mutual funds. While true in the aggregate, this is really due to the fact that the majority of ETFs are passively managed and based on indices created and updated by various other financial institutions. There are numerous examples of mutual funds in certain asset classes that are less expensive than their ETF counterparts.

Craig Israelsen, associate professor at Utah Valley University, recently attempted to quantify the performance difference between mutual funds and ETFs. In part 2 of the series, I’ll share his findings.

Los Altos resident Artie Green is a Certified Financial Planner and principal at Cognizant Wealth Advisors. For more information, call 209-4062 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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