The Retirement Channel

Five Decades of Middle-Class Wages: August 2017 Update

We've updated this series to include Thursday's release of the Consumer Price Index as the deflator and the August monthly update. The latest hypothetical real (inflation-adjusted) annual earnings are at $37,272, down 12.6% from 44 years ago.

U.S. Debt Tops $20 Trillion - Stocks Soar To Record Highs

We touch on several bases in today’s letter that are not entirely related. We begin with the 800-pound gorilla in the room – the fact that the US national debt topped $20 trillion last week.

Retirement & CEFs

Adding closed-end funds to your investment portfolio may be a way to help boost your retirement income, industry pros say.

Weighing the Week Ahead: Will a More Aggressive Fed Spark the Long-Awaited Correction?

We have a light calendar for economic data. The week’s focus will be the FOMC policy announcement on Wednesday. Given the resilience of the market rally in the face of various natural and human threats, the punditry will turn to a favored topic. Expect people to be asking: Will the Fed be the catalyst for a market correction?

The “Big Lie” Of Market Indexes

The “Big Lie” is that you can “beat an index” over an extended period of time. You can’t, ever. Let me explain.

Eyes Wide Shut

At the October 2002 market low, the S&P 500 stood -49.2% below its March 2000 peak (-48.0% including dividend income), with the Nasdaq 100 having lost more than -82.8% from its high, on the basis of both price and total return. The loss wiped out the entire total return of the S&P 500, in excess of Treasury bills, all the way back to May 1996.

Pension Storm Warning

Elected officials at all levels have promised workers they will receive pension benefits without taking the hard steps necessary to deliver on those promises. This situation will end badly and hurt many people. Unfortunately, massive snafus like this rarely hurt the politicians who made those overly optimistic promises, often years ago.

The Big Four Economic Indicators: August Real Retail Sales

Note: With today's release of August's Retail Sales and yesterday's release of August Consumer Price Index, we've updated this commentary to include the latest Real Retail Sales. Month-over-month nominal sales in August fell by 0.2% (0.21% to two decimals). Real Retail Sales, calculated with the seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index, decreased by 0.6 (0.61% to two decimals). The chart gives us a close look at the monthly data points in this series since the end of the last recession in mid-2009. The linear regression helps us identify variance from the trend.

The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production Down 0.9% in August

Today's report on Industrial Production for August shows a 0.9% decrease month-over-month, which was below the Investing.com consensus of 0.1%. Industrial Production peaked in November 2014, only one point higher than its pre-recession peak in November 2007. The year-over-year change is 1.54 percent, down from last month's YoY increase.

Robo Advice Data Now Available for Advisors

Robo advice is the newest disruptor in the financial industry and many advisors are not sure how to interpret this new investment advice solution. Some are writing it off as a solution for lower asset customers, some are concerned about the competitive threat, while others are embracing the technology for use in their own business.

Natural Disasters Have Not Caused a Single Muni Default: Moody’s

For the first time since we’ve been keeping track, two separate Category 4 hurricanes struck the mainland U.S. in the same year. It should come as no surprise, then, that the combined recovery cost of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma is expected to set a new all-time high for natural disasters.

What Inflation Means to You: Inside the Consumer Price Index

Let's do some analysis of the Consumer Price Index, the best known measure of inflation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) divides all expenditures into eight categories and assigns a relative size to each. The pie chart illustrates the components of the Consumer Price Index for Urban Consumers, the CPI-U.

Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 14K, Affected by Hurricanes

Today's seasonally adjusted 284K new claims, down 14K from last week's 298K, was better than the Investing.com forecast of 300K. Hurricane Harvey and Irma impacted this week's claims.

To Boost Growth, Solve the Productivity Puzzle

In a troubling sign for global economic growth, productivity has been in decline for decades. In the first of a special series on productivity, Neil Dwane, Global Strategist at Allianz Global Investors, explores why businesses, governments and investors need to find ways to solve the productivity puzzle.

NFIB Small Business Survey: Index Maintains Momentum in August

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for August came in at 105.3, up 0.1 from the previous month. The index is at the 97th percentile in this series. Today's number came in above the Investing.com forecast of 105.0.