Modern Europe’s (and Canada and Australia and…) vaunted social welfare programs have helped many people, but they haven’t eliminated poverty, nor let everyone retire in comfort. Could they simply have shifted spending forward, leaving future generations with the bill? Today, we’ll explore that question as part of my continuing Train Wreck series.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The economic calendar is loaded and there is plenty of non-economic news as well. The punditry will focus on the Trump-Kim summit at the start of the week and then turn to inflation data and the Fed. Who knows what the first might bring, but the market is unlikely to be surprised by the Fed.
Here's an interesting set of charts that will especially resonate with those of us who follow economic and market cycles. Imagine that five years ago you invested $10,000 in the S&P 500. How much would it be worth today, with dividends reinvested but adjusted for inflation? The purchasing power of your investment has increased to $17,729 for an annualized real return of 10.99%.
Note: This commentary has been updated with the latest numbers from last week's Employment Report. This is not the scenario that would have been envisioned a generation ago for the "Golden Years" of retirement. Consider: Today nearly one in three of the 65-69 cohort and about one in five of the 70-74 cohort are in the labor force.
The Labor Force Participation Rate (LFPR) is a simple computation: You take the Civilian Labor Force (people age 16 and over employed or seeking employment) and divide it by the Civilian Noninstitutional Population (those 16 and over not in the military and or committed to an institution). The result is the participation rate expressed as a percent.
The hallmark of an economic Ponzi scheme is that the operation of the economy relies on the constant creation of low-grade debt in order to finance consumption and income shortfalls among some members of the economy, using the massive surpluses earned by other members of the economy. The factors most responsible for today’s lopsided prosperity are exactly the seeds from which the next crisis will spring.