Posts Tagged ‘Recession’

Wealth Levels, Wealth Inequality and the Great Recession

By Fabian T. Pfeffer, Sheldon Danziger and Robert F. Schoeni

Pfeffer Danziger Schoeni Wealth Levels

 


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Wednesday Worries – Will GDP Be Revised Down Again?

Does this look healthy to you?

We did manage to pull out of a tailspin back in 2011 – the last time our GDP went negative but, funny story – in July of 2011, the S&P fell from 1,350 to 1,100 by August 9th and it gyrated between 1,100 and 1,200 until October when the Fed's "Operation Twist" (because "Operation Screw the Poor" got bad test scores) gave us a boost.

Notice how this post picks up right where yesterday's post left off – I'm clever that way!  Yesterday we had the chart that showed us that 10% of our GDP ($1.5Tn) is the result of Fed fiddling and, without it, the GDP would be right back at those 2009 lows.  Whether or not you THINK QE will ever end, you sure as hell better have a plan for what you will do in case it does!  

Russell Investments put out their Economic Indicators Dashboard yesterday and it's a nice snapshot of the where the economy is.   

The lines over the boxes are the 3-month trends and, thanks to the Fed, 10-year yeilds are just 2.48% and that's keeping home prices high (because you don't buy a home, you buy a mortgage).

Inflation is creeping up and expansion (today's topic) is negative and getting lower.  Meanwhile, consumers remain oblivious as the Corporate Media fills them with happy talk.  Meanwhile, this BLS chart (via Barry Ritholtz) says it all as manufacturing (good) jobs continue to leave our country at alarming rates:

Almost all of the growth spots are from fracking with a little auto production picking up as well.  Overall, 1.6M net manufacturing jobs have been lost since 2007 and, much more alarming, the median household income for those lucky enough to still have jobs is down almost 10% over the same period of time.  

In other words, if it wasn't for Fed Money, we'd have no money at all!  In yesterday's Webinar (replay available here) we talked about how the Fed is like a guy spraying a hose on kids in the…
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Case Shiller’s Double Dip Has Come and Gone

Courtesy of Lee Adler at Wall Street Examiner

The S&P/Case Shiller Home Price Indices reported Tuesday are, as usual, so far behind the curve that not only did they miss the “double dip” that has come and gone, it will be at least July or August before it reports an apparent upturn in prices in March and April. S&P’s view of the data was dour. “There is very little, if any, good news about housing. Prices continue to weaken, trends in sales and construction are disappointing, ” said S&P’s David Blitzer. “The 20-City Composite is within a hair’s breadth of a double dip.”

There’s just one problem with that. Other price indicators that are not constructed with the Case Shiller’s large built in lag, passed the 2009-2010 low months ago. The FHFA (the Federal Agency that runs Fannie and Freddie) price index showed a low in March 2010 that was broken in June 2010 and never looked back. That index is now 5.6% below the March 2010 low. Zillow.com’s proprietary value model never even bounced. It shows a year over year decline of 8.2% as of February. Zillow’s listing price index shows a low of $200,000 in November 2009, followed by a flat period lasting 6 months. As of March 31, that index stood at $187,500, down 6.25% from the 2009-2010 low for data.

The Case Shiller Indices for February held slightly above the January level (not seasonally adjusted). I follow their 10 City Index due to its longer history. It was at 153.70 in February versus 152.70 in January. These levels are still above the low of 150.44 set in April 2009.

The Case Shiller index showed a recovery in prices in 2009-10 only because of the weird methodology it uses. Not only does it exclude the impact of distress sales that have been such a big part of the market, but it takes the average of 3 months of data instead of using just the most recent available month. The current data purports to represent prices as of February. In fact, it represents the average price for December, January, and February, with a time mid point of mid February. These are closed sales which generally represented contracts entered in mid to late November, on average. That means that the current Case Shiller index actually represents market conditions as of 5 months ago. Things can change in 5…
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Could the U.S. Dollar Rise 50%?

Courtesy of Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds 

Conventional wisdom is that the Fed wants the U.S. dollar lower, so it must drop. But the dollar seems to be lacking proper obedience to the Fed’s grand commands.

Before you shout that all fiat currencies go to zero, let’s stipulate that the U.S. dollar has already proceeded 95% of the way to zero. According to the handy BLS inflation calculator, the 2010 dollar is roughly worth 4.5 cents of the 1913 dollar. Put another way, it now takes $22.10 to buy what $1 purchased in 1913.

(Interesting that the BLS inflation calculator only goes back to the birth of the Federal Reserve….)

So a 50% rise in the dollar would register as a mere blip on a 100-year chart. I mention this to put a 50% rise in perspective. It will seem like a large move in the present, but on a longer timeline it wouldn’t be that big a deal.

How could the dollar rise when the Treasury and Fed are moving Heaven and Earth to drive it down? Let’s turn to the Fed Flow of Funds for some perspective: what happened from 2007 (pre-recession) to the present?

Household Real Estate Assets: $22.7 trillion to $16.5 trillion: -$6.2 trillion

Corporate Equities: $9.6 trillion to $7.8 trillion: -$1.8 trillion

Mortgage debt: $10.53 trillion to $10.12 trillion: -$ .41 trillion

Household/non-profit Net Worth: $64.2 trillion to $54.9 trillion: -$9.3 trillion

And this is after a tremendous run-up in both bonds and stocks since early 2009. Add in whatever estimates of commercial real estate losses you reckon are semi-accurate and other impaired enterprise assets currently valued at "historical cost," i.e. marked to fantasy, and you get a number well north of $12 trillion even at conservative estimates.

The Fed has fought off this mass devaluation of assets by expanding its balance sheet by $2 trillion. First it sought to stem the collapse of the housing market by buying $1.2 trillion in impaired mortgage backed securities (taking garbage off the banks’ balance sheets) and now it is trying to suppress interest rates by buying $1 trillion in Treasury bonds (recall that QE1 already loaded the boat with T-Bills, so QE2 is simply adding another $600 billion to an already heavy cargo.)

In both cases the Fed’s campaigns are mere rear-guard actions: housing continues to slip, and the tides of higher yields and rates have started rising despite the Fed’s…
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WE ARE NOT REPEATING THE MISTAKES OF JAPAN….YET

Pragcap explains why "WE ARE NOT REPEATING THE MISTAKES OF JAPAN….YET".

Cherry blossom festival

Courtesy of The Pragmatic Capitalist 

When confronted with a balance sheet recession the math regarding economic growth gets relatively simple – either the government spends in times of below trend private sector spending or the economy contracts. For several years now I have maintained that we are in a balance sheet recession – an unusual recession caused by excessive private sector debt.  Although this balance sheet recession created the risk of prolonged weakness I have been quick to dismiss the persistent discussions that compare this to anything close to a second great depression - as I showed in 2009 the comparisons were always ridiculous.  The much closer precedent was Japan, where the economy actually expanded throughout their balance sheet recession, but a persistent malaise left a dark cloud over the private sector as they paid down debts.

Over the last year I have consistently expressed concerns that the USA was going to suffer the same fate as Japan, which consistently scared itself into recession due to austerity measures. At the time, most pundits were comparing us to Greece and attempting to scare us into thinking that the USA was bankrupt, on the verge of hyperinflation and general doom. I wrote several negative articles in 2009 & 2010 berating public officials who said the USA was going bankrupt and that the deficit was at risk of quickly turning us into Greece, Weimar or Zimbabwe.  Nothing could have been farther from the truth.  The inflationists, defaultistas and other fear mongerers have been wrong in nearly every aspect of their arguments about the US economy.

US government default was never on the table, the bond vigilantes were not just taking a nap and now, with the passage of the most recent stimulus bill it’s likely that we’ve (at least temporarily) sidestepped the economic decline that was likely to accompany a decline in government spending.  Richard Koo, however, believes we are repeating the mistakes of our past.  In a recent strategy note he said:

“The situation in Europe is no different from that in the US. I therefore have to conclude that the western nations have learned nothing from Japan’s lessons and are likely to repeat its mistakes.”

I have to disagree here.  The most important factor impacting economic growth in the prior year…
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Post Mortem for the World’s Reserve Currency

This is a thoughtful analysis by Mike Whitney showing what a financial mess we’re in – the proverbial rock and a hard place scenario. – Ilene 

Post Mortem for the World’s Reserve Currency

Courtesy of MIKE WHITNEY, originally published at CounterPunch and Global Research

money printingPaul Volcker is worried about the future of the dollar and for good reason. The Fed has initiated a program (Quantitative Easing) that presages an end to Bretton Woods 2 and replaces it with different system altogether. Naturally, that’s made trading partners pretty nervous. Despite the unfairness of the present system--where export-dependent countries recycle capital to US markets to sustain demand—most nations would rather stick with the "devil they know", then venture into the unknown.  But US allies weren’t consulted on the matter.  The Fed unilaterally decided that the only way to fight deflation and high unemployment in the US, was by weakening the dollar and making US exports more competitive. Hence QE2.

But that means that the US will be battling for the same export market as everyone else, which will inevitably shrink global demand for goods and services.  This is a major change in the Fed’s policy and there’s a good chance it will backfire. Here’s the deal: If US markets no longer provide sufficient demand for foreign exports, then there will be less incentive to trade in dollars. Thus, QE poses a real threat to the dollar’s position as the world’s reserve currency.   

Here’s what Volcker said:  “The growing sense around much of the world is that we have lost both relative economic strength and more important, we have lost a coherent successful governing model to be emulated by the rest of the world. Instead, we’re faced with broken financial markets, underperformance of our economy and a fractious political climate…..The  question is whether the exceptional role of the dollar can be maintained." 

This is a good summary of the problems facing the dollar. Notice that Volcker did not invoke the doomsday scenario that one hears so often on the Internet, that China, which has more than $1 trillion in US Treasuries and dollar-backed assets, will one day pull the plug on the USA and send the dollar plunging.  While that’s technically possible, it’s not going to happen. China has no intention of crashing the dollar and thrusting its own economy into a long-term slump.  In fact, China has…
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Unemployment Weaker Than Expected

Courtesy of Bondsquawk

Newly Unemployed Man

The November employment report came in weaker than expected with a 39k gain in payrolls after an upward-revised 172k increase in October. Private hiring increased 50k after a 160k gain, the weakest reading since the spring although it would appear there are some seasonal adjustment issues as retail hiring rose 13k in October and dropped 28k in November. The October reading appears to have been firmer than the underlying trend while the November reading is likely below trend, smoothing through this the 3-month average of private hiring slowed to 107k from 138k but has been tracking just above 100k since August. The report also highlights some of the seasonal adjustment problems that have led to a downtrend in initial jobless claims. These difficulties have meant that claims have been providing unreliable signals throughout this year. The household survey has been considerably weaker than the payroll survey showing a loss of 173k jobs in November after a 330k loss in October. With labor force participation steady at 64.5% the job loss in the household survey led the unemployment rate to jump to 9.8% from 9.6%, the highest since April highlighting the underlying slack in the economy that motivated the Fed to initiate QE2. The U6 unemployment rate held steady at 17.0%. Average hourly earnings were flat leading the annual pace to slow to 1.6% from 1.7% and aggregate hours worked ticked up 0.1% after a 0.4% gain suggesting slower gains in wage and salary income. The report highlights the headwinds facing the US economy as the boost from inventories fades and other sectors are slow to pick up the slack.

Courtesy: BNP Paribas 


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Terms of Enslavement; Irish Citizens Say “Default”; Agreement Violates EU and Irish Laws; 50 Ways to Leave the Euro

Mish writes about selling Ireland down the river in Terms of Enslavement; Irish Citizens Say "Default"; Agreement Violates EU and Irish Laws; 50 Ways to Leave the Euro. - Ilene 

ireland defaultCourtesy of Mish 

ANY Ireland bailout terms are onerous given that it is not Ireland that is bailed out but rather banks in the UK, Germany, US, and France (in that order).

Moreover and unfortunately, the exact deal foolishly agreed to by Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen is not only amazingly bad for Ireland, but one of the provisions violates EU and Irish law.

Terms of Enslavement

Please consider these terms as outlined in EU agrees on $89 billion bailout loan for Ireland

  • Ireland gets Euro 67.5 billion ($89.4 billion) in bailout loans
  • The 16-nation eurozone, the full 27-nation EU, and the global donors of the International Monetary Fund each commit euro 22.5 billion ($29.8 billion).
  • Interest rates on the loans would be 6.05 percent from the eurozone fund, 5.7 percent from the EU fund and 5.7 percent from the IMF.
  • Ireland will have 10 years to pay off its IMF loans.
  • The first repayment won’t be required until 4 1/2 years after a drawdown.
  • Prime Minister Brian Cowen said Ireland will take euro 10 billion immediately to boost the capital reserves of its state-backed banks

Comparison to Greece

For comparison purposes Greece has three years to repay its loans at an interest rate of 5.2 percent.

Debt Slave Entrapment

The key to understanding how quickly Ireland is made a debt slave can be found in this not so innocuous paragraph.

Ireland first must run down its own cash stockpile and deploy its previously off-limits pension reserves in the bailout. Until now Irish and EU law had made it illegal for Ireland to use its pension fund to cover current expenditures. This move means Ireland will contribute euro 17.5 billion to its own salvation.

The last sentence in the above paragraph should read "Ireland will contribute euro 17.5 billion to its own destruction"

Moreover, once all of its own funds have been deployed, Ireland would be dependent on the IMF for life.

Salt Onto Open Wounds

Like pouring salt onto an open wound, the EU finance ministers agreed on a permanent mechanism, starting in 2013, that would allow a country to restructure its debts once it has been deemed insolvent.

One aspect of that


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The Key to Understanding “Recession” and “Recovery”: The Wealth Pyramid

Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds discusses "The Key to Understanding "Recession" and "Recovery": The Wealth Pyramid."

 

pic credit: Thomas Hawk via Flickr (H/t Jr. Deputy Accountant)

 

The top 20% are prospering and spending money; the bottom 80% are not, but thanks to vast wealth disparity, the top slice of households can keep consumer spending aloft. This provides an illusion of "recovery" that masks the insecurity and decline of the bottom 80%.

There is statistical and anecdotal evidence supporting both a "we never left recession" and "the economy is recovering" interpretation. The key to making sense of the conflicting data is to understand that there are Two Americas.

Roughly speaking, we can divide the U.S. economy into "Wall Street"--the financialized part of the economy which encompasses the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) economy and its bloated partner in predation, the Federal government--and "Main Street," the looted, overtaxed remainder of the "real economy" which isn’t a Federally supported corporate cartel (i.e. the military-industrial sector, the "healthcare"/sickcare sector, Big Agribusiness, etc.)

Main Street is small business, entrepreneurs, shopkeepers, small property owners (independent motels, vineyards, truck farms, etc.) and local service providers (dentists, accountants, etc.). This class of small business and their employees is in decline: Few Businesses Sprout, With Even Fewer Jobs (WSJ.com)

Needless to say, the Federal/financialized/corporate cartel tranch of the economy is doing very, very well, thank you. The number of Federal employees pulling down $150,000 annually is skyrocketing, hundreds of billions in revenues slosh into National Security and sickcare cartels, and Wall Street bonuses are in the tens of billions.

A thin, overhyped tranch of the tech economy is also doing well--Google employees just got a 10% raise, for example--but this overhyped tranch includes a razor-thin share of the 130 million person U.S. workforce. Google’s global workforce is about 23,000, Twitter has a staff of roughly 300 and Facebook employs about 1,500 people.

There are two Americas in terms of wealth and income: In terms of income, the top 10% earn about half the total income, and in wealth, the top 5% own roughly 70% of all financial wealth.

I have prepared a Wealth and Income Pyramid of the U.S. to illustrate this reality.
Notice that the "middle class" is mostly a…
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Ireland’s “String and Sealing-Wax Fix”; Irish PM Loses Confidence of Own Party; European Sovereign Default Risk Hits All Time High

Mish reports on Ireland’s "String and Sealing-Wax Fix"; Irish PM Loses Confidence of Own Party; European Sovereign Default Risk Hits All Time High.

irelandCourtesy of Mish

News in Europe regarding Ireland, Spain, and Portugal is ominous. Credit Default Swaps (CDS) are soaring in Spain and Portugal. European sovereign risk jumped to an all-time high.

Lloyds TSB says "Ireland’s debt woes may spread because investors have lost confidence in policy makers".

Members of his own party are calling on Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen to resign.

The quote of the day goes to Bill Blain, a strategist at Matrix Corporate Capital LLP in London who said "“Bailouts are nothing but a short-term string-and-sealing-wax fix”.

With that let’s take a look at some specific news.

Zero Confidence in Irish Solution

Lloyds says Ireland’s Woes May Spread on ‘Zero Confidence’

“The markets currently have virtually zero confidence that the bailout in Ireland will solve the European crisis even though fiscal austerity measures in both Portugal and Spain have been severe and prima facie, sufficient to ease market concerns,” Charles Diebel and David Page, fixed-income strategists in London, wrote in an investor note today.

“With markets effectively in a position to dictate policy, the risk is that the credibility crisis shifts to more sizeable European Union countries and thereby poses a greater risk to the system as a whole,” they wrote. That may also raise “valid questions about the prescriptive policy measures being sufficient to deal with issues of such magnitude.”

Credit Default Swaps Soar in Spain, Portugal

In spite of the Irish bailout, Spain, Portugal Bank Debt Risk Soars as Traders Look South

The cost of insuring Spanish and Portuguese subordinated bank bonds soared as traders of credit-default swaps turned their focus to southern Europe following Ireland’s bailout.

Swaps on Portugal’s Banco Espirito Santo SA rose to a record while contracts on Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria SA, Spain’s second-biggest lender, climbed to the highest in more than five months. The benchmark gauge of European sovereign risk also jumped to an all-time high, while two indexes tied to bank debt surged the most since June.

Ireland’s rescue “achieves completely the opposite of what it allegedly tries to achieve, namely to calm markets,” Tim Brunne, at UniCredit SpA said in a report.

“Instead, the credit profile of both the sovereign and the impaired financial institutions has been weakened,” the Munich-based strategist wrote.


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Zero Hedge

China Responds To Trump's "Barbaric" Tariffs: Vows To Fight "Until The End" And Have "The Last Laugh"

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

After Friday's blitz of reciprocal trade war escalations, which saw a furious Trump slam the two "enemies of the state", Fed Chair Powell and China president Xi, following China's widely expected tariff hike retaliation and Powell's uneventful Jackson Hole speech, and further raise tariffs on virtually all Chinese imports after stocks suffered another major selloff, we said that the next steps were clear.

And now China has to retaliate and so on

— zerohedge (@zerohedge) ...

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Phil's Favorites

S&P 500 Index Must Bounce Here Or Hold On Tight!

Courtesy of Technical Traders

The fragility of the markets can not be underestimated for investors at this time.  Our research has continued to pick apart these price swings in the US stock markets and our July predictions regarding a market top and an August 19...



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The Technical Traders

S&P 500 Index Must Bounce Here Or Hold On Tight!

Courtesy of Technical Traders

The fragility of the markets can not be underestimated for investors at this time.  Our research has continued to pick apart these price swings in the US stock markets and our July predictions regarding a market top and an August 19...



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Biotech

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Reminder: We are available to chat with Members, comments are found below each post.

 

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

Courtesy of  , Visual Capitalist

The Big Pharma Takeover of Medical Cannabis

As evidence of cannabis’ many benefits mounts, so does the interest from the global pharmaceutical industry, known as Big Pharma. The entrance of such behemoths will radically transform the cannabis industry—once heavily stigmatized, it is now a potentially game-changing source of growth for countless co...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Bearish Divergences Similar To 2000 & 2007 In Play Again!

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Does history at important junctures ever repeat itself exactly? Nope

Do look-alike patterns take place at important price points? Yup

This chart looks at the S&P 500 over the past 20-years.

In 2000 and 2007 bearish momentum divergences took place months ahead of the actual peak in stocks.

Currently, momentum has created a bearish divergence to the S&P 500 for the past 20-months, as the seems to have stopped on a dime at its 261% Fibonacci extension level of the 2007 highs/2009 lows.

Joe Friday Just The Fact Ma’am; A negative sign for the S&P 500 with the divergence in play, would take place if support b...



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Insider Scoop

Earnings Scheduled For August 22, 2019

Courtesy of Benzinga

Companies Reporting Before The Bell
  • Hormel Foods Corporation (NYSE: HRL) is estimated to report quarterly earnings at $0.36 per share on revenue of $2.29 billion.
  • BJ's Wholesale Club Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: BJ) is projected to report quarterly earnings at $0.37 per share on revenue of $3.38 billion.
  • DICK'S Sporting Good...


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Chart School

Gold Gann Angle Update

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Everything awesome? Gold over $1500. Central banks are printing money to generate fake demand. Germany issues first ever 30 year bond with negative interest rate. Crazy times!

Even Australia and New Zealand and considering negative interest rates and printing money, you know a bunch of lowly populated islands in the South Pacific with no aircraft carriers or nuclear weapons. They will need to do this to suppress their currency as they are export nations, as they need foreign currency to pay for foreign loans. But what is next, maybe Fiji will start printing their dollar. 

Now for a laugh, this Jason Pollock sold for more than $32M in 2012. 
 


 

Ok, now call ...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Watch Out Bears! Fed POMO Is Back!

Courtesy of Lee Adler

That’s right. The Fed is doing POMO again.  POMO means Permanent Open Market Operations. It’s a fancy way of saying that the Fed is buying Treasuries, pumping money into the financial markets.

Over the past 6 days, the Fed has bought $8.6 billion in T-bills and coupons. These are the first regular Fed POMO Treasury operations since the Fed ended outright QE in 2014.

Who is the Fed buying those Treasuries from?

The Primary Dealers. Who are the Primary Dealers?  I’ll let the New York Fed tell you:

Primary dealers are trading counterparties of the New York Fed in its implementation of monetary policy. They are also expected to make markets for the New York Fed on behalf of its official accountholders as needed, and to bid on a ...



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Digital Currencies

New Zealand Becomes 1st Country To Legalize Payment Of Salaries In Crypto

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have been on a persistent upswing this year, but they're still pretty volatile. But during a time when even some of the most developed economies in the word are watching their currencies bounce around like the Argentine peso (just take a look at a six-month chart for GBPUSD), New Zealand has decided to take the plunge and become the first country to legalize payment in bitcoin, the FT reports.

The ruling by New Zealand’s tax authority allows salaries and wages to b...



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Mapping The Market

How IPOs Are Priced

Via Jean Luc 

Funny but probably true:

...

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Members' Corner

Despacito - How to Make Money the Old-Fashioned Way - SLOWLY!

Are you ready to retire?  

For most people, the purpose of investing is to build up enough wealth to allow you to retire.  In general, that's usually enough money to reliably generate a year's worth of your average income, each year into your retirement so that that, plus you Social Security, should be enough to pay your bills without having to draw down on your principle.

Unfortunately, as the last decade has shown us, we can't count on bonds to pay us more than 3% and the average return from the stock market over the past 20 years has been erratic - to say the least - with 4 negative years (2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008) and 14 positives, though mostly in the 10% range on the positives.  A string of losses like we had from 2000-02 could easily wipe out a decades worth of gains.

Still, the stock market has been better over the last 10 (7%) an...



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Promotions

Free eBook - "My Top Strategies for 2017"

 

 

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Phil has a chapter in a newly-released eBook that we think you’ll enjoy.

In My Top Strategies for 2017, Phil's chapter is Secret Santa’s Inflation Hedges for 2017.

This chapter isn’t about risk or leverage. Phil present a few smart, practical ideas you can use as a hedge against inflation as well as hedging strategies designed to assist you in staying ahead of the markets.

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