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News

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates

Meet the Mountain View City Council candidates


Nine candidates have filed to run for three open seats on the Mountain View City Council in the Nov. 4 election – none of them incumbents. The Town Crier asked them to introduce themselves to readers in the following Q&A format. We knew the...

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Schools

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects

LASD committee looks to rank campus improvement projects


Traci Newell/Town Crier
The Los Altos School District’s newly expanded Facilities Advisory Committee met for the first time last week. The 28-member committee’s first task is to prioritize campus improvement projects.

The Los Altos Scho...

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Community

Sports

New-look Lancers find their footing

New-look Lancers find their footing


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Jenna Adams, left, and Carly Deale attempt to bump the ball Friday night. The juniors combined for 28 kills.

This year’s St. Francis High girls volleyball team faintly resembles last season’s squad ...

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Special Sections

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay

MV Whisman teachers cite low pay


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
An estimated 75 supporters of higher teacher pay turned out for the Sept. 4 Mountain View Whisman School District board meeting.

Teachers, trustees and administrators are recovering from a dramatic Mountain View Whism...

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Business

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho

Skin rejuvenation studio joins Rancho


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Esthetician Marjan Kashi showcases one of the treatment rooms at her new studio, Pure Serenity Skincare at Rancho Shopping Center. Kashi provides services including microdermabrasion and various light and heat energy the...

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Books

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation

A woman's perspective on the Greatest Generation


During World War II, Virgilia Short Witzel, a young mother and U.S. Navy officer’s wife, grappled on the home front in Menlo Park with wartime rationing, shortages and loneliness. During the ensuing Cold War, she experienced adventure and misadventur...

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People

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

JERALD (JERRY) NELSON CHRISTIANSEN

Resident of San Jose and Los Altos, California

July 21, 1931 to August 4, 2014

Born in Arimo, Idaho, to Jerald Emmett and Rebecca Henderson Nelson Christiansen. Raised in Davis and Riverside, California, with summers in Downey, Idaho, and in Loga...

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Travel

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska

LA photographer spends a night with cranes – and moose – in Alaska


Sandy Powell/Special to the Town Crier
Los Altos resident and bird photographer Sandy Powell recently visited Homer, Alaska, to photograph Sandhill cranes, below. While there, Powell also encountered moose, left.

Los Altos resident Sandy Powell, a...

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Stepping Out

Pear puts on a pair of plays

Pear puts on a pair of plays


J. Smith/Special to the Town Crier
Dan Kapler (as Teddy) and Betsy Kruse Craig (Trish) star in Pear Avenue Theatre’s “House.”

The Pear Avenue Theatre production of two interlocking comedies by Alan Ayckbourn – “House&...

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Spiritual Life

Back to Church Sunday offers opportunity to recommit

The children in Los Altos are back to school, and I can still hear parents cheering. Summer is officially over, even if the calendar doesn’t quite think so.

Parents have attended Back to School nights to meet their children’s teachers. B...

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Magazine

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living

Los Altos Hills home showcases resort-inspired living


Courtesy of Spectrum Interior Design
In place of a more traditional fireplace, this modern living room features a linear-flame firebox that emits heat while offering a sculpturelike design element.

After traveling the world and visiting a host...

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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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