What We're Reading




You're Tracked Everywhere You Go Online. Use This Guide to Fight Back.
Here are some mildly terrifying things I learned when I recently did an online privacy checkup: Google was sharing my creditworthiness with third parties. If you want Target to stop sharing your information with marketers, you have to call them. And, my favorite: If you would like Hearst, the publishing giant, to stop sharing your physical mailing address with third parties, you have to mail a physical letter with your request to the company’s lawyers. Cool cool cool.

Breaking Bad
We all do things that make us feel good right now, but which aren’t so good for us over the long haul. Yes, even me. Yes, even you. Some of this behavior stems from hardwired instincts passed down to us from our hunter-gatherer ancestors, like our tendency to consume whenever we can and to focus too much on today, while giving short shrift to tomorrow. Other damaging behavior is the result of habits we’ve developed, often learned from our parents, that we’re now trying to unlearn.

The 100-Year Family: Here Are Some Tips for Becoming One
Dennis Jaffe, a sociologist by training, has spent years trying to figure out the answer to a pressing question: what makes a hundred-year family? The question attempts to confront an adage that exists in many cultures and languages and is often attributed to Andrew Carnegie: “Shirt sleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” It refers to the fleeting nature of wealth and the all-too-common tendency for one generation to make it, another to waste it and a third to end up without it.

Is College Worth It? A Georgetown Study Measures Return on Investment — With Some Surprising Results
When Larry Burrill started college, his goal was to walk into a job that paid well after graduation. He was coming from a family of humble means and knew he would be paying his way through school. He chose Maine Maritime Academy, set in a historic town miles down a peninsula, because he knew graduates were earning starting salaries double or triple what he could otherwise expect to make.

How FedEx Cut Its Tax Bill to $0
In the 2017 fiscal year, FedEx owed more than $1.5 billion in taxes. The next year, it owed nothing. What changed was the Trump administration’s tax cut — for which the company had lobbied hard. The public face of its lobbying effort, which included a tax proposal of its own, was FedEx’s founder and chief executive, Frederick Smith, who repeatedly took to the airwaves to champion the power of tax cuts. “If you make the United States a better place to invest, there is no question in my mind that we would see a renaissance of capital investment,” he said on an August 2017 radio show hosted by Larry Kudlow, who is now chairman of the National Economic Council.

Wait a Minute. How Can They Afford That When I Can't?
I’ve done it and you probably have, too: looked at a neighbor or friend who seemed to be in roughly the same financial bracket and wondered, “How do they do it?” How do they afford the elaborate remodel and the luxury vacations they’re bragging about on their Instagram accounts and the private school tuition? The feeling is envy, but it’s mixed with curiosity. And it often comes with a large dollop of self-criticism. They somehow must be better at managing their money than my husband and me. What are we doing wrong?

Here Are Your New Income Tax Brackets for 2020
The IRS released the federal tax rates and income brackets for 2020 on Wednesday. The seven tax rates remain unchanged, while the income limits have been adjusted for inflation.

What Proposed IRA Update Could Mean for Your Retirement and Your Kids
New legislation making its way through Congress has the potential to create significant changes around retirement planning and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). The Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act passed the House in May of 2019, but has been stalled in the Senate ever since (as of the end of October 2019). However, analysts say it could find new momentum as part of one of several spending bills on the docket this fall.

When the Best Deal is What You Give Away
My father grew up with few material possessions. As a result, he appreciates things far more than anyone I know. Throughout my life, I watched him meticulously clean and repair just about everything we owned, be it a radio, a coat or a blender. His attention to detail extended particularly to cars. No matter what vehicle we owned, it was always kept in pristine condition, inside and out.

Majority of Americans Say Parents Are Doing Too Much for Their Young Adult Children
Financial independence is one of the many markers used to designate the crossover from childhood into young adulthood, and it’s a milestone most Americans (64%) think young adults should reach by the time they are 22 years old, according to a new Pew Research Center study. But that’s not the reality for most young adults who’ve reached this age.

Biggest US Index Funds Oppose Most Climate Proposals in Shareholder Votes
The far-reaching impacts of climate change on companies have investors pressing corporate leaders for action to minimize environmental damage and to maximize disclosure of risks to their businesses. The threats range from more frequent floods or wildfires that imperil major assets to regulations that could undermine profits. While votes on climate-related shareholder resolutions often take center stage at corporate annual meetings, they seldom draw support from the two top U.S. index fund firms, BlackRock and Vanguard Group. The reticence of the two largest index fund providers to back these proposals draws criticism from some investors and climate activists.

Here's How to Keep Health-care Costs Down in Retirement
Retirees will spend a significant amount of money on health care. Still, many older Americans don’t plan properly for it. A healthy male-female couple retiring at age 65 in 2019 can now expect to shell out $285,000 on health-care expenses in retirement, according to Fidelity Investments’ annual analysis.

The Middle Class Crunch: A Look at Four Family Budgets
Most Americans think of themselves as middle class. For many, the line between a stable life and a fragile one is thinning.

A Long-Despised and Risky Economic Doctrine Is Now a Hot Idea
It’s like a design competition. Hardly anyone thinks central banks can fix a stalling world economy with their current tools. So some of the biggest names in finance are trying to invent new ones. The proposals so far -- including recent entries by billionaire Ray Dalio and monetary policy maven Stanley Fischer -- have one thing in common: They foresee the once all-powerful central bankers taking a more junior role, and collaborating with governments.

Stanford Psychology Expert: This is the No. 1 Skill Parents Need to Teach Their Kids—But Most Don’t
As parents, we all want to raise kids who are smart and focused, especially in a world where digital distraction seems to be inescapable. (Even tech titans like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have strategies for limiting their children’s screen time.) Why? Because in the future, there will be two kinds of people in the world: Those who let their attention and lives be controlled and coerced by others and those who proudly call themselves “indistractable.”

How Paying for College is Changing Middle-Class Life
Everyone knows that higher education is expensive. The average annual price tag for attending a private, four-year American college is now around $50,000. To pay that, most students receive some combination of financial aid and loans, but schools expect parents to reach into their bank accounts, too. Paying for college, however, is taking a toll on American families in ways that are more profound and less appreciated than even the financial cost conveys. It has fundamentally changed the experience of being middle class in this country.

As Costs Mount, States Scramble for New Ways to Pay for Late-In-Life Care
It’s the late-in-life financial hit that can wipe out your savings and your children’s inheritance. Yet few in middle age want to think about, or prepare for, a time when they’ll need “long-term care” — help with walking, dressing, or going to the bathroom.

Investing in a Negative Interest Rate Environment
Predicting interest rate moves is notoriously difficult but I’m increasingly coming around to the idea that it’s only a matter of time until the U.S. joins much of the developed world with negative nominal interest rates in government bonds.

The Hidden Money Grab In The SECURE Act
On May 23, 2019 the House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement). A more appropriate name for the bill would be the Extreme Death-Tax for IRA and Retirement Plan Owners Act, because it gives the IRS carte blanche to confiscate up to one third of your IRA and retirement plans.  In other words, it’s a money grab.

Were You Blindsided by Your 2018 Taxes? The IRS Has a New Tool That Can Help
This year’s tax season was one of angst and anger. Many folks were distraught that they owed the IRS money. Others were disappointed that their refunds were significantly less than in previous years. Many people were not happy with the changes ushered in under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. Although the law nearly doubled the standard deduction, it also removed personal exemptions and limited or discontinued other popular deductions. 

You Are Probably Overconfident. (If You Skip This, Doubly So.)
When we’re betting money on the stock market, it’s important to remind ourselves of something called the self-serving bias, where we take credit when things go well and cast blame elsewhere when they don’t. One of the reasons these biases are so scary is that expertise — the kind professionals are often so certain they have — doesn’t solve the problem. In fact, it might even make it worse.

7 of Your Most Burning Questions on Social Security (With Answers)
People have lots of questions about Social Security: Will it still be around when I retire? How much will I get? How does the spousal benefit work? That’s not surprising. No government program is more important to so many Americans. This year, Social Security is expected to pay $1.1 trillion to 69 million recipients of retirement and disability benefits and Supplemental Security Income. Nearly all Americans pay into the program and can expect to receive a benefit at some point in their lives. And it is the largest retirement income source for a majority of older households.

Exploring Education: Should K-12 Schools Teach Financial Literacy?
In the first part of our 4-part series on K-12 education, we look at what role schools should play in helping students learn life skills for money management. Several states require financial literacy classes for high school students, and Senator Hassan has co-sponsored federal legislation to support financial literacy classes in schools. We look at the role of schools in helping students learn to manage money: what skills do students need, and what are N.H. schools doing? 

Beware, The IRS is Eyeing Your Inherited Money
One of the perils of being well-off is the constant risk that the federal government and/or your friendly state and local tax collectors will figure out new and different ways to snatch more of your wealth. Especially wealth that you earned the old-fashioned way: by inheriting it. To raise your paranoia to the appropriate level, here are two new things to worry about.

80% of the Stock Market is Now on Autopilot
Passive investments control about 60% of the equity assets, while quantitative funds -- those relying on trend-following models instead of fundamental research -- now account for 20% of the market share, according to estimates from J.P. Morgan.

International Outlook: Think All the Best Stocks Are in the U.S.? Think Again.
Since 2009, the top 50 companies with the best annual returns each year were overwhelmingly based outside the United States. In many of those years, 80% to 90% carried a non-U.S. address. That means if you had decided to ignore European, Asian and other non-U.S. stocks, you would have missed a shot at many of the best opportunities.

U.S. Outlook: The Expansion Gets Extra Innings
What a difference six months makes. In the most consequential change for financial markets since the start of the year, the U.S. Federal Reserve put the brakes on its three-year-old interest rate tightening effort. The major policy shift in January provided an immediate boost to sentiment, as investors concluded that the central bank will keep rates steady for the rest of the year.

Developing Story
I’m a fan of emerging stock markets—for two key reasons. But I also have qualms—for two key reasons.

The World Economy is Falling Back Into its Post-Crisis Funk
There might be no such thing as an oracle, but there is the bond market. And really, what’s the difference? It is, after all, the closest thing there is to a clairvoyant when it comes to the economy. Which is bad news right now, because it’s telling us that the whole world is turning Japanese. What do we mean by that? Well, almost 30 years ago, Japan was the first major country to go through the boom, bust and stagnation cycle that the rest of the world has gotten to know and hate so much recently.

Retirees Might Run Out of Money 10 Years Before They Die
One of the toughest problems retirees face is making sure their money lasts as long as they do. From the U.S. to Europe, Australia and Japan, retirement account balances aren’t increasing fast enough to cover rising life expectancy, the World Economic Forum warns in a report published Thursday. The result could be workers outliving their savings by as much as a decade or more.

No, Renting Isn't Throwing Your Money Away
Home ownership is part of the stereotypical American Dream. Renting the place you live in has traditionally had a less romantic connotation. On this episode of Good Money, we show why renting shouldn't get such a bad rap, and why in many cases it's less of a headache, and more affordable, to rent than buy. 

Senior Scams Proliferate as Fraudsters Deploy New Tactics and Technologies
Last month, a pair of Swampscott police officers were dispatched to a local Stop & Shop to rescue an older man from Lynn. The man was rattled: A stranger had called to warn that his Social Security number was compromised and he needed to pay $2,500 to protect his identity. The man had withdrawn the money from a nearby bank and was trying to convert it to gift cards, as the caller instructed. A watchful supermarket manager alerted police.

A Financial Checklist for Your Newly Minted High School Graduate
The summer after high school graduation inevitably includes monthslong encounters with various to-do lists. Extra-long-sheet purchases and milk crates for future collegians. A résumé for job seekers. Thank-you notes for all. But let me suggest one more itemized offering: a list of financial tasks. If you want to set your child up properly for college, work, military service and the years beyond, there are several things you ought to do, help them do or teach them before too long.

The Economy is Booming. So is Financial Stress. 
Federal Reserve research provides lots of useful data about U.S. financial health, but its broad focus sometimes obscures intriguing specifics. Now a new study by the St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank has dug beneath the national averages to take a close look at family balance sheets. In a paper called "The Unequal Recovery: Measuring Financial Distress by ZIP Code," researchers cleverly analyzed the big numbers to identify financial distress among households.

You're Probably Not Ready to Retire - Psychologically
Retirement is a major transition that unfolds over many years, as we move from the life we know into the life we will get to know. Many pre-retirees do not fully comprehend how dramatically their lives will change. ... Many people are simply not psychologically ready to retire, even if they'refinancially able.

Annuities Can Undermine Teachers' Retirement Savings
Imagine walking down the jetway to board an airplane and making a right to head for your seat, only to have the flight attendant turn you around and direct you toward the cockpit. “You’ll be flying the plane today,” she says.

Here’s When Giving Financial Support to an Adult Child Crosses Into Coddling
As parents, my husband and I have struggled with finding the right balance between protecting our children and letting them learn things the hard way. To raise children to become responsible adults, you have to be supportive and encouraging. You also have to set limits — and you have to let them fail. It’s through those stumbles that they experience the natural consequences of bad decision-making. There also comes a time when you have to back away financially so that your children can learn to become self-sufficient. But knowing when to withdraw your support can be hard.

Man Credited With Calling the 2008 Crisis Says the Next 20 Years in the Stock Market Will ‘Break a Lot of Hearts’
Jeremy Grantham, an investor credited with predicting the 2000 and 2008 downturns, told CNBC on Thursday that investors should get inured to lackluster returns in the stock market for the next two decades, after a century of handsome gains.

Here's How the Super Rich Teach Their Kids About Money
When it comes to teaching kids about money, the super rich are different from average Americans. But it’s not only about the amount of wealth they have.

Most Financial Advisors Lack a Succession Plan, a Crucial Aspect of Running a Firm
By 2016, certified financial planner Kirk Francis had helped numerous small business owners implement strategies for exiting work. Yet he didn’t have a succession plan for his own firm. “I sat there going, ‘Hmmm … the cobbler’s son has no shoes,’” said Francis, CEO and chief compliance officer at Financial Life Advisors in San Antonio. Soon after, by buying another practice and taking on a partner, Francis made a plan that ensures his business will continue and his clients will be taken care of when he is no longer there to do so, whether it’s due to some unfortunate event or he’s simply retired as planned.

Bridgewater Warns of Peak US Profit Margins, Lower Stock Prices
The major drivers of high U.S. corporate profit margins are unsustainable and “now under threat”, which will eventually result in much lower equity prices, Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund, said on Wednesday in a report.

The Independence of Central Banks is Under Threat From Politics
In a single generation billions of people around the world have grown used to low and stable inflation and to the idea that the interest rates on their bank deposits and mortgages are under control.Today this success is threatened by a confluence of populism, nationalism and economic forces that are making monetary policy political again. 

Tax Troubles, Tax Triumphs
Ah, April 15. The day most Americans come together as a nation and file their taxes. Maybe this year you used TurboTax? Or hired a tax preparer or some other service? Or you did them entirely by yourself the old-fashioned way?

The Life Cycle of Wealth
Sequence of return risk exists not only in the financial markets but also everyone’s own personal finances. When you were born can have an outsized impact on where certain generations stand financially.

Shocked by Your Tax Refund? Next Year Could Be Worse Unless You Act Now
Conor Barnes, an accountant in New York, decided to stop telling her clients to “have a nice day” at the end of their meetings. Often she delivered news that had, in fact, ruined their day: They owed the government money, sometimes a painfully large amount. The overhaul of the tax code — the first in three decades — caused much confusion this tax season, which was only worsened by the monthlong government shutdown. Many taxpayers were upset when they found out that they owed money to the federal government, even if their tax burden was lower.

'I've Earned it.' Or Have They? Are Senior Discounts Deserved?
For a frugal tribe of bargain-hunting seniors, scarfing up the potpourri of newly available discounts can take some of the sting out of a milestone birthday. Turning 50 means activating an AARP member card to save 15 percent at Denny’s. The big six- oh shaves 30 percent off tickets at AMC movie theaters. And octogenarians ski for free at Bretton Woods, a New Hampshire resort dubbed “Medicare Mountain” by its grizzled regulars.

The Power of Raw, Honest Stories About Money
Personal finance professionals live too often in the realm of tools and tactics, optimization and automation. All too frequently, their advice — our advice — is utterly bloodless. Gaby Dunn, Chanel Reynolds and Vicki Robin are not everyday personal finance practitioners. Ms. Dunn and Ms. Reynolds use vulgarities in the subtitles of their new money books, and Ms. Robin speaks openly of dropping acid, mental illness and the cancer scars on her stomach.

You Know the FAANGs, Now Meet the DANGs
Nowhere were the market gyrations of 2018 felt more acutely than among shares of leading technology companies ― including the “FAANG” stocks (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google owner Alphabet). Technology shares led the market both up and down. Thus far in 2019 market-leading tech and consumer companies ― and the broader market ― have recovered meaningfully.

Your Grandchildren Are Already in Debt
Medicare for All. The Green New Deal. Free college tuition. With each new entrant into the Democratic presidential sweepstakes comes a fresh cascade of ambitious social programs to entice and excite would-be supporters. The list of “payfors,” to use a bit of Washington jargon, grows more slowly. They’ll pay for this how, again? Tax the rich, tax the rich — or take cover behind a convenient bit of progressive dogma: Don’t worry about the fiscal impact because America’s rising budget deficits and debt levels don’t much matter.

Millions of Americans Could Be Stunned as Their Tax Refunds Shrink
Millions of Americans filling out their 2018 taxes will probably be surprised to learn that their refunds will be less than expected or that they owe money to the Internal Revenue Service after years of receiving refunds.People have already taken to social media, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam, to vent their anger. Many blame President Trump and the Republicans for shrinking refunds. Some on Twitter even said they wouldn’t vote for Trump again after seeing their refunds slashed.

A Better Trade?
For more than 20 years, I’ve been the biology department manager at a small, liberal arts college located in the Pacific Northwest. My job is unique because I interact, on a daily basis, not only with students, staff and faculty at the college, but also with various building maintenance personnel, sales reps and instrument-repair folks who are critical to the successful operation of the department. For me, it’s an interesting study in contrast.

If You Do Medicare Sign-Up Wrong, It Will Cost You
Tony Farrell turned 65 four years ago — the age when most people shift their health coverage to Medicare. But he was still employed and covered by his company’s group insurance. When his birthday came around, he began researching whether he needed to move to Medicare, and determined he could stick with his employer’s plan, said Mr. Farrell, a marketing and merchandising executive for specialty retailers. At the time, he was working for a company that makes infomercials in San Francisco.

House Rules
Folks used to say, “You can’t go wrong with real estate.” They sure don’t say that anymore. It’s been a rollercoaster dozen years for home prices—and some experts think another rough patch is in the offing.

Chilling Davos: A Bleak Warning on Global Division and Debt
As business and political leaders arrive in the Swiss Alps for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, a surprisingly alarming letter from an influential investor who studiously eschews attention has already emerged as a talking point. The letter, written by Seth A. Klarman, a billionaire investor known for his sober and meticulous analysis of the investing world, is a huge red flag about global social tensions, rising debt levels and receding American leadership.

The Shutdown Isn't the Only Threat to the Economy
The bond market reveals a growing crack in the financial system, but regulators are not doing enough to make sure that banks are prepared.

The Year in Charts
By any measure, 2018 was another Year of Trump. From his efforts to remake the American economy to his go-it-alone trade war to his curious pro-Putin foreign policy to the at least 17 investigations underway into his various activities, President Trump dominated the news as few of his predecessors have done. But by the end of his second year, the prospects that he would achieve his economic goals were in grave doubt as growth slowed and the stock market swooned.

Sorry About the Whole 401(k) Mess
In the nondescript world of public policy, oopsies don’t get any bigger than this. In a remarkable story in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal, several early champions of 401(k)s, the now-ubiquitous tax-deferred plans that help workers sock away retirement funds, expressed regrets for what their efforts later yielded: Private pensions have withered. Individual workers now shoulder risks that large corporations once bore. Investment fees chip away at account owners’ returns. The typical American worker is badly underprepared for old age.

How to Break Your Bad Financial Habits in 2019
I meet a lot of people who have spent years making a financial mess of their lives. They come to me deep in debt. They often have little money saved. Their retirement portfolios — if they have one — are so low that they better hope they stay healthy enough to work into their 70s. What strikes me most about these folks is their deep regret for not knowing better. But one of my favorite quotes that I use to inspire them to change is from Maya Angelou, who said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

With Retirement, Many Are Making it Up as They Go
Roslindale social worker Edy Rees said she and her husband, software engineer Mark Katz, “had this great plan” for retirement: She would garden and volunteer. He’d build furniture at his woodworking bench. They’d travel to visit friends in the British Isles.But outside forces intervened. Katz, now 70, took early retirement when his company was sold, becoming an on-and-off consultant. Budget cuts forced Rees, 76, to leave her job at a charity, though she continued for a time as an unpaid volunteer. After her daughter had a baby girl, Rees was pressed into grandmother duties. Katz jumped into helping on political campaigns. There’s been little time for travel.

Capital Group Outlook for 2019
If you are feeling particularly uncertain about investing heading into 2019, you’re not alone. With major economies entering late-cycle territory, volatility rising, monetary policy tightening and a trade war brewing, you may be wondering how to position your portfolio. This outlook can help you navigate through near-term challenges toward long-term investment success.

Investors Have Nowhere to Hide as Stocks, Bonds and Commodities All Tumble
Stocks? Messy. Bonds? Meh. Commodities? Not pretty. Most years, financial markets are a mixed bag. A bad year for risky investments, like stocks, might be a great one for safe bets like government bonds. Or, if worries about inflation are hurting bond investments, commodities like gold tend to do well. Not this year.

The Stock Market Has Wiped Out Its 2018 Gains. But if You Step Back, It's Still Riding High
The S&P 500-stock index has entered what the financial world calls a correction, technically defined by a decline of at least 10 percent from the market’s peak. It’s a relatively arbitrary threshold, but it’s often seen as a symbol of souring investor sentiment. Lately, the markets have been rattled by the prospect that a protracted trade war with China could begin to take an economic toll at a time when global growth is slowing. Viewed over a longer period, however, corrections often begin to look less severe.

The Housing Boom is Already Gigantic. How Long Can it Last?
We are, once again, experiencing one of the greatest housing booms in United States history. How long this will last and where it is heading next are impossible to know now. But it is time to take notice: My data shows that this is the United States’ third biggest housing boom in the modern era.

Enrolling in Medicare Can Be Confusing. Here's How To Do It. 
Dr. Marsha Lavoie, a family medicine specialist at Harrington Memorial Hospital in Southbridge, knows more about Medicare than most people because she routinely bills the federal health insurance program on behalf of her older and disabled patients. But when it came time to sign up for the program herself this year, Lavoie, 65, faced the same concerns and uncertainties as anyone else navigating the maze of Medicare options, regulations, supplemental plans, and potential land mines.

Milennials Are the Misfits of Modern Capitalism. Here's Why It's Not Their Fault.
Policymakers haven’t yet come to see millennials as an entire generation under siege. Yet today’s young adults have become misfits of modern capitalism, increasingly poorer and more vulnerable to the ups and downs of the economy. “It’s a scary issue,” says Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, a co-author of the 2016 report. In this age of massive income inequality, it’s easy to take shots at the legitimacy of the American Dream, the credo that as long as you work hard and stay out of trouble you’ll do just fine. Even still, Hendren and his fellow researchers revealed something few had spotted: That a significant rich/poor gap is emerging across generational lines, too.

'Stress Brain' Can Lead to Bad Financial Decisions
If investors really want to safeguard or drive gains with those financial portfolios, it's key to pay attention to how stress caused by everyday life affects our financial decision-making. Few of us are immune to chronic stress. In fact, according to the Global Organization of Stress, 75 percent of the U.S. adult population is living with it. This condition of chronic stress, or what I call "stress brain," is the culprit for not only mental and physical illness, but also for poor judgment when it comes to financial decision-making.

The Market's Been Falling. I'm Putting My Money In Stocks Anyways.
The stock market has been plummeting and my own retirement portfolio has been shrinking. Am I worried? Sure. But I’m still buying stocks.

Why You Shouldn't Wait to Sign Up for Medicare Part B
Twenty years ago, George Zeppenfeldt-Cestero left his job as a hospital administrator in New York to open a one-person health care consulting firm. Since he was losing his employee medical coverage, he shopped around and bought a private health insurance plan through Aetna. But several years ago, Aetna informed him that it was discontinuing that plan, sending him scrambling for another insurer. That’s when, applying for coverage through the state marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, Mr. Zeppenfeldt-Cestero learned that he (and, he argues, Aetna) had made a serious error.

Big Tech's Sell-Off
Business booms and busts follow a pattern. They start with an exciting change in the economy. Managers and investors collectively create a story about it, which begins as an explanation, then morphs into an extrapolation, and then into an exaggeration. Eventually the data contradict the narrative, boom turns to bust, and a bout of austerity follows. A rout in internet firms’ share prices since August has led plenty of people to ask if the tech industry is experiencing this sequence of hope, hubris and hurt for the second time in two decades. The answer is: to a degree, yes. The level of hype is particularly high, and some of the numbers are decidedly soft. That matters because tech firms are now so big and so spendthrift that a slowdown could damage the economy.

Yellen Says Rising US Deficit Unsustainable: 'If I Had a Magic Wand, I Would Raise Taxes'
The United States is taking on too much debt right now, a problem that is will only worsen moving forward, former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said Tuesday.

Hello! May I Assist You in Taking on a Lifetime of Debt?
But I wasn’t working at the Gap and our callers weren’t asking about the return policy on a frayed sweater. I was an employee of the University Helpline at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and my callers were students and parents, who were often trying to reach the financial aid office and the bursar.

The New American Dream Home is One You Never Have to Leave
In the southwest corner of Elk Grove, Calif., about 15 miles outside of Sacramento, there’s a shell of a shopping center that was partially built during the peak of the real estate bubble, then abandoned when the market crashed. Locals have taken to calling it the Ghost Mall. Look in one direction from the Ghost Mall and you’ll see farmland. Turn the other way and you’ll see what looks like a brand-new town being built from scratch.

Forget Tantrums, Emerging Markets Are the Haven Now
Just as the Federal Reserve steadily picks up the pace of rate increases, Wall Street’s quantitative strategists are telling clients to sell U.S. stocks and buy into emerging markets.

Seniors Are Losing Billions Of Dollars A Year To Fraud. What Can We Do About It?
American seniors are being duped out of billions of dollars a year, and con artists are getting more sophisticated all the time.  We're looking at what types of scams are on the rise, why prosecution of these cases can be difficult, and how best to prevent them. 

Buying Emerging Markets During a Disaster
Earlier this week I wrote a short history (because there really is no long history) of corrections and bear markets in emerging market stocks. 

How to Retire in Your 30s With $1 Million in the Bank
Millennials especially have embraced this so-called FIRE movement — the acronym stands for financial independence, retire early — seeing it as a way out of soul-sucking, time-stealing work and an economy fueled by consumerism.

What to Do When You're Bad at Money
It was only a few years ago I started learning how money works. Like a lot of Americans I was very late to the game, in large part because there’s no formal system in place to teach us how to manage our money. There are tons of invisible forces working against us, and the end result is that being good or bad at money is sometimes viewed in moralistic terms or as a measure of someone’s character.

How We Sent Our Children to College Debt-Free
My husband and I have been sneaking high-fives because, come this fall, all three of our children will be in college. And here’s the sweetest part: They’re all going to school with no debt. We don't come from money. We didn't inherit cash because a relative died. There were no lottery winnings or strike-it-rich stock picks. My husband and I were raised in low-income households. We're first-generation college graduates. But as important as college was in pushing us up economically, we felt strongly about avoiding student loans for our children. Debt is a cuss word in our house.

Capital Group Midyear Outlook
Midway through 2018, virtually all countries find themselves in the midst of an economic upswing. But the specter of tighter monetary policy, trade skirmishes, rising volatility and rich valuations may leave investors wondering, "What's next?"

Tax Cuts Are Why U.S. Bond Yields Aren't Higher
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield has risen 49 basis points since the beginning of the year to 2.90 percent, and the 30-year bond yield has jumped 33 basis points to 3.07 percent. Given all the talk about the strong economy, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates, $1 trillion federal budget deficits and increased government borrowing, why aren’t yields even higher? Blame the tax cuts. 

Trying to Keep Up With the Kardashians? Here's How to Stop Money Envy.
There are folks so rich that they have never had to repack two suitcases while checking into a flight to avoid paying $50 for an overweight bag. They have their own plane, and they can buy a new wardrobe whenever they vacation. Some people are so wealthy they can change houses like others change shoes.

Decade After Crisis, a $600 Trillion Market Remains Murky to Regulators
In the maze of subsidiaries that make up Goldman Sachs Group, two in London have nearly identical names: Goldman Sachs International and Goldman Sachs International Bank. Both trade financial instruments known as derivatives with hedge funds, insurers, governments and other clients. United States regulators, however, get detailed information only about the derivatives traded by Goldman Sachs International. Thanks to a loophole in laws enacted in response to the financial crisis, trades by Goldman Sachs International Bank don’t have to be reported.

Third of Sovereign Funds Plan to Cut Equity Holdings, Cite Trade War Fear
Over a third of sovereign investors plan to cut their equity exposure over the next three years after a strong run in 2017, citing trade wars, geopolitics and high valuations as headwinds to performance, a study by asset manager Invesco showed.

Americans Are Having Fewer Babies. They Told Us Why.
Americans are having fewer babies. At first, researchers thought the declining fertility rate was because of the recession, but it kept falling even as the economy recovered. Now it has reached a record low for the second consecutive year. Because the fertility rate subtly shapes many major issues of the day — including immigration, education, housing, the labor supply, the social safety net and support for working families — there’s a lot of concern about why today’s young adults aren’t having as many children. So we asked them. 

Countdown to Retirement: A Five-Year Plan
For most of your working life, it wasn’t exactly a pressing concern. You might have pondered it for a few minutes as you skimmed your company’s benefits handout, checking to see if your new glasses were covered or if you’ll be reimbursed for your gym membership. Retirement was more like a vague, distant concept rather than something that would actually happen one day. Then, suddenly, you hit your late 50s or early 60s and you realize, almost without being aware of it, that you’ve begun paying closer attention to those commercials about annuities, reverse mortgages and Medicare Part B, and you’re no longer reflexively tossing those AARP mailings straight into the trash.

What's the Yield Curve? 'A Powerful Signal of Recession' Has Wall Street's Attention
You can try to play down a trade war with China. You can brush off the impact of rising oil prices on corporate earnings. But if you’re in the business of making economic predictions, it has become very difficult to disregard an important signal from the bond market. The so-called yield curve is perilously close to predicting a recession — something it has done before with surprising accuracy — and it’s become a big topic on Wall Street. Terms like “yield curve” can be mind-numbing if you’re not a bond trader, but the mechanics, practical impact and psychology of it are fairly straightforward. Here’s what the fuss is all about.

Demystifying the Blockchain
This is bonkers. A new so-called blockchain company is selling virtual real estate online with prices as high as $120,000 for a 10-meter by 10-meter piece of virtual land. You can buy a plot of virtual land in a virtual city, with certain neighborhoods costing more than others, like in a real city. Except that it isn’t a real city. It is all virtual. Follow? Me neither.

How to Talk About Moving to a Retirement Home: 'It's a Journey'
Dawn and John Strumsky agree about most things, a tendency that has served them well in 45 years of marriage. But there was one subject where they did not see eye to eye for the longest time: their retirement future.

Do Millennials Have a Savings Problem?
“By 35, you should have twice your salary saved, according to retirement experts”. It’s an anodyne statement, as these things go; basically it’s what you’ll hear from any financial planner. So when MarketWatch tweeted out those words, it probably weren’t expecting social media to unite into one loud scream of existential anguish.

Stock Market Volatility is Back, and it is Leaving Older Investors Anxious About Their Retirement Plans
For investors who value peace of mind, financial markets have been quite accommodating over the past decade: stocks rising steadily, interest rates at historic lows, few gut-wrenching sell-offs. Until now.

Why You Should Hire a Financial Planner, Even if You're Not Rich
If the very idea of financial planning makes you break out in hives, you’re not alone. A new study found that perceived financial well-being — feeling secure about not only the state of your current situation but how well you’ve planned for the future — holds the key to your overall well-being. Your financial security can affect you as strongly as job satisfaction, relationship stability, and physical health combined.

A $76,000.00 Monthly Pension: Why States and Cities Are Short on Cash
A public university president in Oregon gives new meaning to the idea of a pensioner. Joseph Robertson, an eye surgeon who retired as head of the Oregon Health & Science University last fall, receives the state’s largest government pension. It is $76,111. Per month. That is considerably more than the average Oregon family earns in a year.


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