Who is Paying the Tariffs?

October 14, 2019

“The tariffs are a tax on American consumers!”  “The tariffs will drive up the prices of everything!”  Those were the cries of the critics of President Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods.  But it seems that prices at the consumer level are flat and prices at the wholesale level actually declined in the most recent reports.  Perhaps there is some truth to the assertion by the Administration that Chinese producers are absorbing the tariffs themselves in order to maintain their competitiveness.  The chart below, by Marketwatch.com using Federal Reserve data, shows the decline in year-over-year producer price change to go along with decline in prices in the most recent month.

The number of myths about Social Security abound. Some of the myths seem logical and some do not. Here’s an article that puts seven of those myths to bed.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/these-7-social-security-myths-just-arent-true-no-matter-how-often-you-hear-them-2019-08-27

Are You On Track?

September 10, 2019

Keeping up with the Jones’s is not something anyone should strive for – but in the case of saving for retirement, knowing how you compare could help you develop an awareness of the need for saving for retirement. Every situation is different due to guaranteed sources of retirement income; current and future bills; lifestyle; helping others; location of residence; expected longevity, etc. A qualified financial planner can help you determine how much you need to retire.

Here’s the latest from Investopedia on the subject.

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/010616/whats-average-401k-balance-age.asp?utm_campaign=quote-yahoo&utm_source=yahoo&utm_medium=referral&yptr=yahoo

Recessions & Decades

July 11, 2019

An interesting piece of research from Crestmont Research reveals that if a recession does not occur before the end of the year, it will be the first decade without a US recession in 170 years. As you will see in the graphic below, it is common to have 3 or 4 recessions per decade. What has caused this? A probable main reason is the Federal Reserve’s Quantitive Easing program where trillions of dollars were pumped into the economy which kept both the economy and the market on positive footing.

When you contribute to a 401(k) or IRA account, you are able to deduct that contribution amount from your current year’s income. Everyone likes that because it means you’ll pay less in taxes that year. But don’t forget that one day, you or your beneficiary will have to pay taxes on the money withdrawn from the retirement account. The link below shows just how much of a retirement account actually belongs to you.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/the-money-in-your-401k-and-ira-accounts-doesnt-belong-entirely-to-you-2019-01-24?mod=mw_theo_homepage

Take a look at the numbers below to get an idea of how badly China needs the US market and how significant is the trade imbalance. There is no other market to which China can turn to sell the amount of goods they sell to the US.

Once a year the Social Security Trustees report to Congress on the status of the Social Security system. They reported that the Trust funds gained $3 Billion in 2018. The net effect of that gain is that the combined asset reserves of the Social Security system is now projected to become depleted one year later than was projected at the end of 2017. Additionally, the Trustees project that the system will be able to pay 80% of benefits once depletion occurs – which is a 5% improvement over the 2017 report.

https://www.ssa.gov/news/press/releases/2019/?utm_campaign=trus

10 Retirement Lessons

January 29, 2019

I like to learn from others. Why not? Why repeat mistakes that can be avoided? The author of this article does a good job of pointing out things he has experienced and noticed since he retired.

I think his points #1, 5, and 6 in the link below are most important to consider and deal with before retirement.

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/10-lessons-from-retirement-2019-01-25

Medicare Basics

January 8, 2019

Like Social Security, Medicare is complicated. When it is time to choose, there are many plans to choose from – all of which will affect your costs. Here’s a link to an article that will help to understand the basics.

Beyond that, we’re here to help our clients to navigate this necessity!

Nowhere to Hide

January 7, 2019

Back in 1965, Martha and the Vandellas sang “Nowhere to run, baby, nowhere to hide”. 

That was true as well in 2018, at least in the world of investing.  The graphic below, from visualcapitalist.com, shows just how tough the investing environment of 2018 was. 

Bonds were flat, the US dollar was modestly higher…and that was it.  Non-US stocks fared much worse than US stocks, and the near-universal prediction that Emerging Markets would be the best bet for 2018 was a complete bust as Emerging Markets were the worst of worldwide equity indexes.