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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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The choice between mutual funds and ETFs


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

In part one of my series, I explained the difference between mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). The question remains: Which makes a better investment?

Craig Israelsen, associate professor at Utah Valley University, recently attempted to quantify the performance difference between mutual funds and ETFs by creating two portfolios: one using only ETFs, the other containing only mutual funds.

Each portfolio comprised 12 asset classes: large-cap U.S. stocks, mid-cap U.S. stocks, small-cap value U.S. stocks, non-U.S. developed market stocks, non-U.S. emerging market stocks, real estate, natural resources, commodities, U.S. bonds, U.S. inflation-protected bonds, non-U.S. bonds and cash.

Each asset class was weighted equally at 8.33 percent of the total portfolio, and each portfolio was rebalanced at the end of each year over a three-year period.

To make the comparison as objective as possible, Israelsen selected the largest ETF and the largest fund (in terms of total assets) to represent each of the above asset classes in the two portfolios. He did not attempt to identify the best-performing ETF or mutual fund. The returns as measured were net of expense ratios, and there was no attempt to take into account taxes, trading costs or inflation. All data came from Lipper Mutual Fund information.

The results appear on the accompanying chart. Although the ETF portfolio reported slightly higher tax efficiency and a considerably lower aggregate expense ratio (0.22 percent versus 0.63 percent), the two portfolios produced nearly identical returns in the three years from 2010 through 2012 (8.13 percent average annual return for the ETF portfolio and 8.23 percent for the mutual fund portfolio).

Of course, this analysis only covered a three-year period, a very small sample from which to infer longer-term investment performance. And there was a pretty big disparity in some of the individual asset classes, in particular international fixed income, where the mutual funds trounced the ETFs, and in natural resources, where the reverse occurred.

Nonetheless, my conclusion from this analysis is that it’s more important to focus on building a well-diversified portfolio than trying to find the “best” mutual fund or ETF. Other studies have borne this out as well.

Israelsen also discovered that the performance spread among ETFs within each asset class tended to be smaller than that of the mutual funds. This, of course, can be attributed to the fact that most ETFs are index trackers, whereas many mutual funds are actively managed and have much more flexibility.

As to which is better, mutual funds or ETFs, the answer would appear to be neither, as long as you use a sufficient number of asset classes and an appropriate asset allocation model for your investment portfolio.

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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