New Travel Services
Partner for MOAA Members
MOAA announced a new travel partner in Brennco Travel Services
Inc., of Overland Park, KS, effective Jan. 1.
Members can benefit from Brennco's concierge-level customer
service, access to world-class destinations via cruises, resort vacations,
guided tours, and military-themed trips, and best travel value for MOAA
“Our members have expressed the importance of travel services as a
MOAA benefit.” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, president and CEO
of MOAA. “We are truly privileged to partner with Brennco who offers a gold
standard for the travel business and customer responsiveness.” Atkins
continued, “This is a valuable benefit enabling MOAA to provide a broad array
of travel opportunities coupled with first-class customer service for our
Brennco is no stranger to MOAA. Brennco served the nation's
largest officers' association from 1998 to 2009. MOAA has again partnered with
a company familiar with MOAA members' travel preferences and expectation for
superior customer service.
“On behalf of myself and everyone at Brennco, I want to thank MOAA
for this outstanding opportunity” said Jon Brenneman, president, Brennco Travel
Services Inc. “We consider it an honor to serve MOAA members and are fully
committed to doing an exemplary job. It is our intention to earn your business
and offer you travel and customer services you expect from a MOAA partner,”
All MOAA members are invited to visit http://www.moaavacations.com
or call (800) 211-5107, or email Brennco at mail@MOAAVacations.com to book
their upcoming adventure. As a special
introductory offer, MOAA members are asked to sign up from now to Feb. 15,
2017, at www.moaavacations.com for an opportunity to win a complimentary
eight-day European river cruise for two by Viking River Cruises.
selects new VA secretary, reaffirms promise to improve veterans’ health care
(This article was written on Jan. 11, 2017,
prior to the inauguration.)
President-elect Donald Trump has selected Dr.
David Shulkin to head up the Department of Veterans Affairs - and if confirmed,
he will become the first non-veteran to lead the agency.
Shulkin, currently the VA's under secretary for
health, was selected to lead the massive department after a lengthy search
process. So far, he is the only government official from the current
administration to be tapped to serve under the president-elect. Trump announced
the nomination during a Wednesday press conference - his first since being
elected in November.
“He's fantastic - he will do a truly great job,”
Trump said of Shulkin. “We're going to straighten out the VA for our veterans.
I've been promising that for a long time, and it's something I feel very, very
Shulkin will oversee the VA's more than 1,700
facilities and 300,000 employees that serve millions of veterans each year.
Before taking on his current position at the VA in 2015, Shulkin held numerous
chief executive, physician leadership, and academic roles. He also has a
background in entrepreneurship, having founded DoctorQuality, an online
information source for quality and safety in health care, according to his
He received his medical degree from the Medical
College of Pennsylvania, interned at Yale University School of Medicine, and
was a resident at the University of Pittsburgh Presbyterian Medical
In a statement, Shulkin called the opportunity
to lead the VA an honor.
“President-elect Trump's commitment to caring
for our veterans is unquestionable, and he is eager to support the best
practices for care and provide our Veterans Affairs' teams with the resources
they need to improve health outcomes,” Shulkin said. “We are both eager to
begin reforming the areas in our Veterans Affairs system that need critical
attention, and do it in a swift, thoughtful and responsible way.”
All of the previous VA secretaries have had
military experience, including the current director, Robert McDonald, who was
an Army officer. During his press conference, Trump said his transition team
had interviewed at least 100 people for the job before choosing to nominate
Shulkin for the duty.
Trump also reiterated his commitment to improve
“Our veterans have been treated horribly,” the
president-elect said. “They're waiting in line for 15, 16, 17 days. [There are]
cases where they go in and have a minor, early-stage form of cancer and they
can't see a doctor. By the time they get to the doctor, they're terminal.”
That's “not going to happen” on his watch, Trump
said. His plans for reform include a 24-hour White House hotline that veterans
can call if they have complaints about their VA care. He also wants to improve
accountability within the department and allow veterans to seek care outside
the VA system.
Trump said Shulkin will work with “top of the
line” hospitals that are going to “align themselves” with the VA.
“We think this selection will be something that
will - with time, with time - straighten it out, and straighten it out for good
because our veterans have been treated very unfairly,” he said.
Rising Interest Rates Mean to Investors?
In December, the Federal Reserve
raised the federal funds target rate, the first increase since December 2015.
(That 2015 increase was the first in nearly a decade, since June 2006.)
You might be wondering, what do
rising interest rates mean to investors? It’s a simple question — with an
involved answer. Interest rates are a key variable in a complex mix of factors
that impact our financial lives, influencing both the interest rate we earn on
fixed-income accounts and the amount we are charged to borrow money or use
Understanding the bigger picture may
help you get a better handle on your money management.
The Board of Governors of the
Federal Reserve, through the Federal Open Market Committee
https://www.federalreserve.gov/pf/pdf/pf_3.pdf, controls the federal funds rate
— the rate banks are charged to borrow money. The management of the interest
rate is a tool used to help manage the nation’s economic situation.
It’s all about supply and demand:
Interest rates help control the availability of money. Open up the supply of
money, and it kick-starts the economy. If the money supply dries up, the
economy slows down.
Controlling interest rates helps
manage the supply of money, which helps manage the nation’s business cycle. The
business cycle is the roller-coaster movement of our economy: businesses grow,
peak, fall, hit bottom, and start back up.
Good and bad things happen as we go
up and down with the cycle. Realize the down periods are natural and expected
Let’s start at the bottom.
The media paint a picture of the
country augering in, but in reality, it’s all part of the business cycle. Every
down period of a cycle hits a bottom and rebounds.
At the bottom, interest rates
usually are low. Inflation is low. Unemployment might be high, but businesses
are starting to hire as they see a light at the end of a tunnel.
Low Federal Reserve rates allow
banks to fill their cash reserves with cheap money, to encourage borrowing.
Consumers and businesses borrow to spend, and spending creates growth in the
Investors are poised for nice gains
in the stock market as businesses begin to flourish. Bond holders and savers are
not as happy because interest rates are low. Fixed-income savers look for other
forms of investment returns, because interest rates can’t support them.
The growth phase.
The early part of the up-cycle is a
positive time. Unemployment drops. Wages increase. More consumers consume more.
Businesses profit. Inflation creeps in, with rising prices, as markets expand
and business booms. Interest rates rise. Businesses and people continue to
borrow before interest rates get too high.
Rising interest rates cause
fixed-income investments to lose value: No one wants a bond that pays less
interest than the new ones on the market. Plus, people don’t want an interest
rate that falls too far behind the rate of inflation. It might help to consider
money-market, short-term, or floating-rate fixed–income vehicles to stay up
with rising interest rates.
Stocks tend to appreciate, with
positive revenues. Commodities rise; housing, resources.
Eventually, inflation and higher
interest rates cause businesses to struggle with increased operating costs,
fewer consumers, and decreased revenues. Although businesses can increase
prices for a while to stay profitable, before long, interest rates and
inflation squeeze their profits. As a result, higher interest rates can contribute
to decreasing stock values.
Some inflation can be a good thing,
if it is a factor of a strong economy. However, inflation in excess of healthy
growth is not a good thing. Higher interest rates can help control
Over the top and sliding down the hill.
At the top of the cycle, inflation
and interest rates are high. Spending is in decline, businesses cut costs, and
borrowing dries up. Eventually, interest rates drop to slow the economic
decline and inflation starts to comes down.
Interest rates fall and fixed-income
values rise. Fixed-income investors find rates decreasing, and the older
higher-interest rate bonds provide better income but cost more. Fixed-income
investors switch to long-term vehicles to lock in higher rates.
Stocks decline in value as business
revenues continue to fall. Commodities start to decline. Then we start all over
So where are we now?
Just as no battle plan survives
first contact with the enemy, academic models don’t always accurately predict
the real-world economy.
We’ve been on a stock-market hot
streak since March 2009, with only a hiccup in 2015. We are in the
second-longest bull stock market in history. Good, right? Business must be
great. So we are on the upswing?
However, the country’s growth rate
is anemic. Business is OK but not robust. The gross domestic product (GDP), a
measurement of the nation’s economic growth, is only at 2.9 percent, below the
average of 3.2 percent. So we are heading down or at the bottom?
Interest rates are extremely low,
indicating an unhealthy economy near the bottom. Inflation is also very low,
indicating a slow business environment.
Unemployment is low, but with a
caveat: Some unemployed, who want work, are not counted because they haven’t
looked for a job in a while or because they work part-time because they can’t
find full-time employment. These people make up 9.3 million unemployed.
So what does this mean to me?
The academic exercise above is nice,
but it provides only a general sketch of possibilities. Have separate accounts
based on your life objectives. Your objective will determine the style of
management and the type of savings or investments. Manage those accounts by
first considering the risk you are willing to assume and then balancing that
against your expected returns. If we try to manage by returns only (do any of
us really know where returns are going?), we could be surprised by the
unexpected risk that bites us later. Visit www.moaa.org/financeblog to learn
MOAA Welcomes Former Members of
NAUS into Membership Ranks
MOAA is pleased to welcome more than
2,000 former members of the National Association for Uniformed Services (NAUS)
into its membership.
The leadership of both organizations
worked closely to ensure the needs and interests of NAUS' officer members would
continue to be well-served following NAUS' cessation of operations on Dec. 31,
The membership agreement with MOAA
was first approved by MOAA's leadership last fall. NAUS membership then approved the measure by
an overwhelming vote on Dec 27, 2016.
In welcoming the former NAUS
members, MOAA's President and CEO Lt. Gen. Dana T. Atkins, USAF (Ret), said,
“MOAA has had the privilege of working closely with NAUS as longtime members of
The Military Coalition. During this time, we have gained a great understanding
of NAUS' mission and position on key issues, which have been closely aligned
with MOAA's.” Atkins continued, “Our Chairman of the Board Gen. John “Jack”
Sheehan and I are confident MOAA will not only meet, but exceed, the needs of
This membership arrangement enables
former NAUS members to continue to serve the military community and as new MOAA
members, take full advantage of all benefits such as first-in-class advocacy
for the military community and access to all MOAA publications, member
programs, and products and services.