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Why It's So Hard to Forecast the Economy
The U.S. economy has experienced its slowest recovery from a recession in the post-World War II era, and the longer it lasts the more evidence there is that normal cyclical patterns are missing. And their absence means market participants shouldn’t rely on them to divine the economy’s future.


An Unkind Act
As if on cue, Ebenezer Scrooge recently showed up in Washington, DC. The result wasn’t pretty. A bill known as the SECURE Act, a favorite of the insurance industry, had been stuck in Congress all year. But suddenly, on Dec. 20, it got tacked onto another bill and signed into law. As far as I can tell, the primary beneficiaries of this new law, which heavily impacts retirement plans, will be the IRS and the insurance industry—but probably not you.
 

We're Getting Old, But We're Not Doing Anything About It
One of the paradoxes of this presidential campaign is that while many of the candidates are in their eighth decade of life, fundamental issues associated with the aging of American society are still receiving relatively little attention from the public, the press and politicians themselves. In 2031, the oldest baby boomers will turn 85, entering the land of the “old old” and facing exponentially higher risk for dementia, serious physical disabilities and long-term dependency.
 

The Decade in Retirement: Wealthy Americans Moved Further Ahead
Retirement in America has become a tale of two very different realities in the decade now drawing to a close. In 2010, the economy was just beginning to recover from the worst recession and financial crisis in recent memory. The unemployment rate was high, the stock market was coming back and millions of workers were worried that their retirement plans were ruined. Since then, a robust economic rebound has put some Americans back on solid footing for retirement, but progress has been uneven.
 

It’s Possible the US Economy is Not ‘Late Cycle’ But Rather Just Recharging
The idea that we are late in the economic and financial market cycle is one that even most Wall Street bulls won’t dispute. After all, when the economic expansion surpasses a decade to become the longest ever and the S&P 500 has delivered a compounded return of nearly 18% a year since March 2009, how can the cycle not be considered pretty mature? Yet it’s not quite that simple. 
 

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.
 





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