The Retirement Channel

Social Security: It’s Healthier Than You Might Think!

Each year, Social Security’s Trustees report to Congress on the financial status of the program. This typically generates a number of anxiety-provoking media headlines about if/when it will run out of money. Gail Buckner, CFP, our personal retirement and financial planning strategist, takes a look at the facts. She says Social Security is actually in pretty good shape overall.

How to Avoid Taxes with Highly Appreciated Securities

Of the two certainties we face – death and taxes – only taxes can be purposefully delayed or avoided altogether. Here are some ways to do that with highly appreciated securities.

The evolution of Vanguard Advisor’s Alpha®: From portfolios to people

Steps financial advisors can take to build deeper trust with clients as change occurs within the financial advice industry.

Take the Long-Term View in a Late-Cycle Market

The U.S. inflation story made further inroads this month, with year-over-year price growth for consumers and producers alike hitting multiyear highs. U.S. consumer prices expanded at their strongest pace in more than six years, climbing to an annual change of 2.8 percent in May. Prices for final demand goods, meanwhile, grew 3.1 percent, their strongest annual surge since December 2011.

The Pension Train Has No Seat Belts

The pension crisis alone has catastrophic potential damage, let alone all the other debt problems we’re discussing in this series. You are sadly mistaken if you think it will end in anything other than a train wreck. The only questions are how serious the damage will be, and who will pick up the bill.

The Big Four Economic Indicators: Industrial Production Down 0.1% in May

Today's report on Industrial Production for May shows a 0.1% decrease month-over-month, which was worse than the consensus of 0.2%. The year-over-year change is 3.46%, down slightly from last month's YoY increase. Revisions were made to the previous five months.

The Big Four Economic Indicators: May Real Retail Sales

Note: With the release of May Retail Sales and Consumer Price Index, we've updated this commentary to include the latest Real Retail Sales. Month-over-month nominal sales in May increased by 0.8% (0.83% to two decimals). Real Retail Sales, calculated with the seasonally adjusted Consumer Price Index, increased by 0.62%.

Weekly Unemployment Claims: Down 4K from Last Week

This morning's seasonally adjusted 218K new claims, down 4K from the previous week's revised figure, was better the forecast of 223K.

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.

Five Decades of Middle-Class Wages: May 2018 Update

We've updated this series to include this week's release of the Consumer Price Index as the deflator and the May monthly update. The latest hypothetical real (inflation-adjusted) annual earnings are at $38,177, down 12.4% from 45-plus years ago.

Social Security & Medicare Annual Reports: What You Need to Know

Once each year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds are required to provide a detailed status report to Congress, including financial projections well into the future. The latest reports were provided to Congress last week. There was good news and bad news, as usual.

Italy’s Politics Drives a Wedge Between Its Stocks and Sovereign Bonds

Risk to the euro resurfaces in an unlikely governing coalition and challenging economic agenda, but Italy’s top stocks don’t face the same perils as its government bonds.

How to Get Through to Big Shots on LinkedIn

Can you connect to big shot prospects through social media? Most advisors don’t even try. That’s a shame, because I’ve found an extremely effective way to reach just about anyone.

Time To Not Freak Out About Debt Again

Debt is a perennial worry, but much what you hear about debt in the US is hyperbole. Here are the facts. Household debt has fallen in the aftermath of the Great Recession and debt relative to net worth is as low now as in 1985. Corporate leverage today is not materially different than it was in 1993 or 2003, i.e., early in two expansion cycles.

NFIB Small Business Survey: "Small Business Optimism Index Soars, Continuing Historic Run"

The latest issue of the NFIB Small Business Economic Trends came out this morning. The headline number for May came in at 107.8, up 3.0 from the previous month. The index is at the 100th percentile in this series. Today's number came in above the forecast of 105.2.