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The Markets

After a disappointing January, equities rebounded in fine style in February.  The S&P 500 and Russell 2000 hit new all-time highs, and the S&P had its strongest month since October 2011.  The Nasdaq continued to be the strongest year-to-date performer, while a temporary bailout extension for Greece helped benefit the Global Dow.

Oil prices stabilized around $50 a barrell, which helped boost consumers' spending power.  The U.S. dollar gained strength, though not as much as it did in January, while gold fell below $1,200 per ounce before rebounding to roughly $1,212.  And as investors regained confidence in equities, the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield rose as prices fell.

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Market Month: February 2015

The Markets

(Un) Happy New Year:  Fresh uncertainties in Europe, slowing economic growth, anticipation of a looming Federal Reserve rate hike, and a stronger dollar all contributed to a volatile month for equities.  The losses weren't good news for believers in the January Effect (the idea that equities' behavior in January suggests what might happen during the rest of the year).  However, it might also be useful to remember that the S&P 500 lost 3.6% last January but ended 2014 up 11.4%.

Oil prices fell below $50 a barrell, but that seemed to be a mixed blessing.  Lower gas prices boosted consumers' spending power, but the sharp declines also raised questions about whether prices would fall so far that energy companies would cut back on jobs and/or ongoing operations.  And as investors sought out the safety of U.S. Treasuries, the benchmark 10-year yield lost roughly half a percent in January as prices rose.

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Market Month: January 2015


The Markets

The United States emerged from 2014 as the best house on a troubled block.  Civil war in Ukraine, a slowing Chinese economy, a stagnant Europe worried about potential deflation, a new recession in Japan, the threat of a new Russian economic meltdown triggered by plummeting oil prices--it all made an improving situation at home look even brighter by comparison.

Even apart from the trouble overseas, the United States by almost any measure was stronger than it's been in years.  The labor and housing markets improved, corporate profits were solid, Congress managed to avert another government shutdown, and the Ebola threat had little impact domestically.  All in all, it was a Goldilocks economy:  not too hot, which could have brought on higher interest rates from the Federal Reserve, and not too cold, which let the Fed end the QE3 bond purchases begun in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

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Annual Market Review 2014

judfisher2014smallJud Fisher, a member of the board of trustees of Indiana Trust & Investment Management Company, and president and chief operating officer of the Ball Brothers Foundation, was named The Star Press Person of the Year 2014 Tuesday evening during festivities at the Pittenger Student Center at Ball State University.

Fisher was cited for his commitment to the community — in particular his support for Muncie Community Schools' efforts to merge its two high schools into one — in being named Person of the Year. The Ball Brothers Foundation awarded $6.7 million in grants to worthy organizations in 2014 alone, and Fisher emphasized that his work was a reflection of the community. He cited the lessons he learned in what he said was a college football career with more time spent on the sidelines than on the field.

At the end of his final season, Fisher said, another player told him that he had become the player he was because of Fisher's participation in practices. "That taught me, always be an asset, no matter what," Fisher said.

The evening also honored finalists for Person of the Year, including a cross-section of business and civic leaders who had in common their efforts to improve the community and help others.


A private family foundation is a legal entity created, funded, and operated by a single family for the primary purpose of making grants to charities.  Because of its charitable mission, a private family foundation is given tax-exempt status, like a public charity, and contributions to the foundation by family members are tax deductible, but to a lesser extent than contributions to a public charity.

Private family foundations are typically founded by high net worth individuals and families who want to maintain a high degree of control over their charitable legacies, and are willing to assume significant costs and responsibilities, and adhere to strict rules and requirements.

Typically, private family foundations are named to honor the founders (e.g., the Ford Foundation), and their charitable grant programs continue for many years after their founders' deaths.

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Private Family Foundations