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Part 1: It's that time of year again when investors look back and forward at the same time

By Dian Vujovich

There are nothing like beginnings and endings. They are life’s most natural acts, after all. And since living requires oodles of money, it’s that time of year when everyone is assessing what’s been accumulated, lost, given away and gained.

This is Part 1 of what will be a handful of year-end summaries on how the markets have performed this year along with thoughts from the pros about what might be headed our way in 2012.

But before going to the markets, news about the alternative minimum tax (AMT) is not to be overlooked

According to the California Society of CPAs (CALCPA), 67 tax benefits are set to expire at the end of this year. One of particular interest is the alternative minimum tax (AMT).

Consider these two AMT changes pointed out by CALCPA in a news release I received today: “First, 2011 will be the last year when personal tax credits will be allowed to offset both the regular tax and the AMT. For 2012 and future years, tax credits will offset the regular income tax, but not any alternative minimum tax. Secondly, the temporarily patched exemptions for the alternative minimum tax will end in 2011. For 2012 and future years, the AMT exemption amounts will revert to a lower statutory amounts ranging from $22,500 to $45,000. This will result in more taxpayers being subject to the AMT, and will increase the adjustments for taxpayers already subject to the AMT.”

Now to the markets and precious metals.

All that has glittered looks only like gold.

According to Bloomberg’s figures, as of December 16 London markets sources showed gold had moved ahead 14 percent for the year; silver was flat; platinum down 16 percent; and palladium off even more, down 18 percent.

Depending upon how you think, contrarians might see this news as a buying opportunity in the silver, platinum and palladium markets and a sell for gold. Then again, maybe sticking with a winner is the best anyone can do. In that case, even though gold is off its 52-week just shy of $1800 high– today it was trading under $1500 an ounce at 2:25—which put its price about mid-way through its 2011 high and low range.

No matter what your precious metals investment choice may be, be careful not to overdo it. Too much of a good thing—even money—can be a dangerous thing.

More to come in the daze ahead….

To read more articles, please visit the column archive.

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