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News

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics

LA Council race adds 3 new faces to city politics


The Town Crier chronicled the first election of Los Altos City Council incumbent Jarrett Fishpaw in 2010 and documented the Los Altos candidacy of Jean Mordo, who volunteered as a longtime public servant in Los Altos Hills before moving to the flat...

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Schools

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system

St. Simon launches web-based learning management system


Courtesy of St. Simon Parish School
St. Simon fifth-grader Matthew Cummins uses a laptop in class last week. The school’s cloud-based Schoology system boosts organization and collaboration.

Families at St. Simon Parish School in Los Altos laun...

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Community

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'

Los Altos to celebrate 100 years of library use with 'Centennial Faire'


Town Crier File Photo
The Los Altos main library is among the more popular branches in the county library district system, set to celebrate 100 years.

In 1914, Babe Ruth made his debut with the Boston Red Sox, wages hit $5 per day, the first ste...

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Sports

Eagles eye another stellar season

Eagles eye another stellar season


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Los Altos High outside hitter Carmen Annevelink, right, goes for the kill Thursday against Palo Alto, as teammates Sarah Tritschler, left, and Lulu Kishton prepare to play defense. The Eagles won the match in straight ga...

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Comment

Torok, Walter, Dave for MVLA board: Editorial

There’s really nothing major you can criticize about the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District. It offers a diverse array of effective programs for all types of students. Its instructors, with few exceptions, are outstanding.

Howe...

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Special Sections

'Funabout' Fiat

'Funabout' Fiat


Photos courtesy of Fiat
The 2014 Fiat 500e uses 29 kilowatt-hours per 100 miles, which the engineers claim is the equivalent of 116 mpg of gas use. It has a sticker price of $33,095.

If you believe in climate change, would love to see alternat...

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Business

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground

App developer eyes First Friday as testing ground


Ted Fagenson

An East Bay app developer is testing his newest creation in downtown Los Altos.

Ted Fagenson, co-founder of Skrownge (pronounced “scrounge”), told the Town Crier that he’s beta testing his mobile gaming app this week ...

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Books

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween

From story to bookstore: Local journey highlights Halloween


Courtesy of Dee Ellmann
Jenny Hurwick self-published her picture book last month after decades of storytelling.

During her years working as a teacher and a Los Altos mom, Jenny Hurwick loved to tell stories. One tale she crafted for her son just se...

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People

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

VINCENT (TIM) MURPHY JR.

July 27, 1953 – August 12, 2014

Native Los Altan died Medford, OR. Graduated Bellarmine Prep. Married Josephine Domino, 1950. Licensed Auto Mechanic, Private Pilot, skilled Computer Scientist. Tim “could fix anything”. Afflicted with cancer 2001. ...

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Travel

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup

Taking a Turkey trek: Winging it during the World Cup


Rich Robertson/Special to the Town Crier
The sun sets over the Aegean Sea in Bodrum, Turkey, left.

Tours that whisk you from Istanbul to Bodrum in 11 days are as plentiful as souvenir hawkers in Turkey, but traveling from the Blue Mosque to Topkapi ...

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Stepping Out

'Gypsy' on its way out

'Gypsy' on its way out


Chris Berger/Special to the Town Crier
Alison Koch of Los Altos plays Dainty June in “Gypsy.”

This is the final weekend to catch the Sunnyvale Community Players production of “Gypsy” at the Sunnyvale Theatre. The musical is slated to close Sund...

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Spiritual Life

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry

Ugandan pastor visits U.S. to raise support for children's ministry


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Herman Lukwago educates children in Uganda.

Imagine life if your father had 25 children and you were raised in poverty in rural Uganda.

Now imagine that you and your siblings were orphaned at an early age and you ass...

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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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