income, interest rates, retirement, risk management

Echoes of Jackson Hole… Sept jobs day, CPI, and the Fed

On August 26th Fed Chair Jerome Powell addressed economists and decision-makers at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole conference. His remarks had been anticipated for months. The inflation raging through the economy and repeated Fed rate hikes have deflated some of the bubbles we saw at the start of 2022.

The question is, will the Fed slow its rate hikes and allow the economy to have a “soft landing” or will the Fed keep raising rates potentially crashing the economy…

Powell left no doubt about the path forward.

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interest rates, retirement, risk management

August Jobs Day

In the 1970s the Fed led by Chair Arthur Burns shifted policy from hiking rates to fight inflation to cutting rates to fight recession. The result of this policy change was inflation growth slowed for a few months but then reaccelerated to higher levels causing more pain, more rate hikes and more recessions.

“This is the prospect of a flip-flopping Fed…” injected Jon Ferro of Bloomberg. (1)

“People are looking for the fed to cut as soon as they stop raising rates in order to counter a slowing economy” adds Lisa Abramowicz

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income, protection, retirement, risk management, Taxes

Strategies to Help Avoid Running Out of Money in Retirement

A recent study by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that “many younger baby boomers and members of subsequent generations who don’t have access to a traditional pension could outlive the funds in their 401(k) accounts.” (1)

In the 1980s 401k plans began to replace pension plans in the workplace. Workers became responsible for accumulating their own retirement savings. Of workers born in 1947, 52% had pensions. By comparison workers born only 10 years later, only 21% had pensions.

The study compared retiree spending for people who had pensions and those who only had a 401k. They found that “retirees with pensions often didn’t spend their savings at all. In fact, many saw their nest eggs continue to grow after they stopped working.”

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interest rates, retirement, risk management

July Jobs Day–“Immense amount of uncertainty going forward.”

Markets are struggling to grasp the realities of the new economic dynamics. Inflation is expected to be announced next week at 8.8% while unemployment is only 3.6%, near post-pandemic lows. In addition, second quarter GDP is projected to be negative 2.1% according to the Atlanta Fed. The first quarter was negative 1%. Two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth signify a recession.

Barry Ritholtz of Bloomberg pronounced “we have never been in a recession without rising unemployment”

While top line inflation is 8.8%, core inflation (without food and fuel) is only 6%, still far above the Fed’s 2% target.

However, says Tom Keene of Bloomberg, “We are not living core inflation… we are living almost double-digit headline inflation and it hurts.” (1)

The estimate is for 268k new jobs to have been created in June. The unemployment rate is expected to stay at 3.6%. Jobs creation in May was 390k.

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interest rates, retirement, risk management

“The Menace of Inflation”: Inflation in Perspective

In May 1974 Fed Chairman Arthur Burns gave a commencement speech to Illinois College. The speech was titled “The Menace of Inflation”.

At this point in the 1970s the nation had been struggling with high inflation for four long years… For perspective, we have been only dealing with high and rising inflation for one year so far. His voice offers a view of what to expect in the years to come.

“The gravity of our current inflationary problem can hardly be overestimated. Except for a brief period at the end of WW2, prices in the United States have of late been rising faster than in any other peacetime period of our history. If past experience is any guide, the future of our country is in jeopardy. No country that I know of has been able to maintain widespread economic prosperity once inflation got out of hand. And the unhappy consequences are by no means solely of an economic character. If long continued, inflation at anything like the present rate would threaten the very foundations of our society.” (1)

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life insurance, protection

Job Change, Group Life Insurance and Russian Roulette

In the United States, there is a huge number of households which are unprotected or under protected by Life Insurance. In a recent LIMRA study 7 in 10 households believe would be in serious financial distress if an adult in the household passed away. (1)

37 million households have no life insurance.
Another 33 million households do not have sufficient life insurance to count themselves as protected.

One vehicle that many people rely upon for protection is Group Life Insurance. When offered as a company benefit, it can inexpensively provide protection for many people… but it only does so while the insured works for the company.

Currently, 1 in 5 people are only covered by Group Life Insurance.

The challenge is that recent employment trends show that people are changing jobs more often than in past years. (2)

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AI, diversity, entrepreneurship, new economy, risk management

Diversity Matters… Especially In Business

Even before the economic crisis wrought by the Coronavirus, the economy is changing at a rapid pace. Companies in many sectors that have been pillars of the economy have fallen on hard times. Companies that were leaders in industrial America have seen their market cap fall by 2/3rds in the past year. Leaders in retail have closed hundreds of stores and laid off thousands of people. Even technology companies that started off strong in the past 10 years have suffered setbacks in the past year due to corporate governance issues.

As technology advances, the challenge for businesses to stay competitive becomes amplified. In the last 5 years, advances in robotics and AI (Artificial Intelligence) have significantly added to the bottom line of companies. That pace of change seems to be accelerating. But even as technology expands its importance, what will human workforce need to look like.

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Climate change, environment, ESG, risk management, Socially Responsible Investing, SRI

Energy, Economic Trends, and Effecting Change: A Review of the Economic Superorganism

In his book “The Economic Superorganism”, Carey King outlines a novel system to organize economic decision making and to evaluate outcomes in a Climate Changed world. People are becoming increasingly aware of the consequences of climate change. In October of 2018 the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) stated we have 12 years to halt the growth of CO2 if we hope to avoid the worst possible consequences of global warming. (1) The fossil fuel industry is the primary driver of CO2 growth.

In the February 2022 update of the IPCC report stated, “This report is a dire warning about the consequences of inaction,” said Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC. “It shows that climate change is a grave and mounting threat to our wellbeing and a healthy planet. Our actions today will shape how people adapt and nature responds to increasing climate risks.” (4)

“The world faces unavoidable multiple climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F). Even temporarily exceeding this warming level will result in additional severe impacts, some of which will be irreversible. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit, said scientists.”

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health, life insurance, protection, risk management

Diet, health, and the financial impact on life insurance

The purpose of life insurance is to manage risk. Individuals and families need protection in the event a primary bread winner passes away.

Several factors drive what life insurance costs for an individual. Women tend to live longer, so their cost for life insurance is lower than it is for men. The healthier a person is, the less expensive it is for them to obtain life insurance. People who smoke pay significantly more for life insurance.

Each person’s health situation is unique. Part of the process of obtaining life insurance is to collect medical samples for testing. The underwriter reviews records from your doctors over the past 5 years. They also examine driving records.

Once all of the information is collected the underwriter evaluates the data at hand and assigns the insured person a health rating. The better the rating, the lower the premium you pay. 

So how much of an impact do health issues have on a person’s ability to afford life insurance? 

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income, interest rates, retirement, risk management

Recession Risks Rise: a survey

Over the past few months several institutional investors have offered insights on how the markets were evolving given a laundry list of changing conditions, including rising inflation, a change in Fed policy to raise rates, energy prices, and slowing world growth…

In January 2022 Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital was interviewed on Bloomberg by Erik Schatzker. Marks gave his view of how market condition were changing at the start of 2022 and how investors could adjust. Schatzker asked Marks, “are you worried about inflation?” (1)

“I am worried. This is excessive. Everyone wants a little inflation. For years central banks have been trying to generate inflation and haven’t been able to do so. Excessive inflation is not desirable.

Higher inflation means higher interest rates and higher rates mean lower asset prices, and that’s what’s going on right now.”

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