Showing posts with label retirement. Show all posts
Showing posts with label retirement. Show all posts

Thursday, January 9, 2020

Making Money Investing Should Not Be This Easy (or maybe it should be)

Since the Great Financial Crisis (GFC) of 2007-09, the performance of the major indices have been nothing short of miraculous.

At the nadir of the crisis, the bottom, on March 9, 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average stood at 6,547.05. It closed Wednesday at 28,745.09, an tidy increase of 439%. Nearly 11 years later, that's an average annual return of 39.9%, or, for the rounders amongst us, 40 percent per year, on average.

Imagine, a $100,000 investment right at the bottom of the market would be worth $439,000, and that's just on 30 stocks that comprise the Industrials, without adding in dividends, which could have been reinvested and made even more money. It's absolutely ludicrous that such an easy investment strategy - buying and holding an index fund, for instance - could generate such awe-inspiring returns. That gain of $339,000, or, $30,818, non-compounded, is more than most Americans make in a year. Incredible.

What this shows is that anyone who had a retirement fund and didn't touch it during the crash of 2008, is probably pretty smug and comfortable right about now. Such people would be mostly Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1965, who were, in 2008, as old as 62 or as young as 43 and are now between the ages of 54 and 73.

Many from this age group have already retired. Some are headed that way, and, if the market holds up, many will take early retirement at age 62, if not sooner (59 1/2 for those with IRAs or 401k plans). This is an enormous portion of the population, about 23% of all the people (legally) living in America.

Now, not every Baby Boomer had 100,000 in their investment account in 2008. Some had more, some had less, some had none, but, without a doubt, there are some very fat and sassy old folks out there, hoarding their gains, figuring out how long their money will last if they start withdrawing a little here, a little there, mostly more or less on a plan to live until they are 85 or 90, because that's the general life expectancy these days.

All of these people will also collect Social Security, adding anywhere from $400 (slackers) to $2,788 a month to their income. There's a lot of money out there, much of it still being invested.

While this all sounds like economic Nirvana, there is one no-so-small caveat. In a word, it's inflation. In more words, it's the cost of living. Everything is more expensive today than when the Baby Boomers began investing, so it's eroding their profits, though they're still pretty well off, because, as young people will learn and older folks already know, costs of living (outside of severe medical expenses) are lower when you're older. You eat less, go out less, need less of everyday items because you already own them. You drive less, and, probably, you save more.

Even discounting the effects of inflation (a new car in 1970 could be purchased for less than $2000; today's it's generally more then $20,000, often much more), these Baby Boomer retirees are going to be pretty well off, even if Social Security runs out of money and is forced to reduce benefits.

As much as people today bemoan the great inequality of incomes and wealth, this one group, Baby Boomers, were born into and continue to live in a pretty sweet spot, when the economy was good, if not great, and life in the United States of America was one of general peace and tranquility. America is still a very solid country in the grand scheme of things, and maybe the complainers and nay-sayers could do themselves and everybody else a favor by working just a little bit harder, saving just a little bit more, complaining just a little bit less.

Nobody can predict the future, but who knew, 11 years ago, that American stocks would provide so well?

Millennial food for thought.

At the Close, Wednesday, January 8, 2020:
Dow Jones Industrial Average: 28,745.09, +161.41 (+0.56%)
NASDAQ: 9,129.24, +60.66 (+0.67%)
S&P 500: 3,253.05, +15.87 (+0.49%)
NYSE Composite: 13,934.44, +36.00 (+0.26%)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Chinks In The Global Ponzi Armor

What the central banks have constructed today as a "global economy" would make Bernie Madoff blush for all its arrogance and chutzpah.

The Fed buys Treasury bills, notes and bonds from the US government, the French government, Japan, Germany, UK, Australia, China, and the central banks of those countries do likewise. In essence, they are all borrowing from each other, and all of them, in the aggregate - and often enough singularly - are insolvent. It's the world's largest kiting scheme, being played on a global scale with money created out of thin air, backed by debt, most of which will never be repaid.

This kind of scam is typically known as a pyramid scheme, an airplane game, or, a Ponzi scheme, in which the creators and early adopters receive the bulk of the benefit, and those last in are left whining about promises made and unkept, with a loss of their investment and great remorse.

When one views the global economic structure from outside, it's clear that the creators of the Ponzi are the central banks, the early adopters are governments, and the vast majority of losers are savers, investors, retirees and, eventually, the young and future generations, who will inherit literally, a world of hurt, where the assets have been stripped away, wealth belongs to an upper, upper echelon of self-annoited masters, and social mobility is largely a myth.

Already, in the United States - the wealthiest nation in the world - there is evidence that the next generation to retire beyond he baby boomers, will be less well off than the previous one. Baby boomers have been retiring steadily, but their wealth has been neutered by the Zero Interest Rate Policy (ZIRP) of the Fed (soon to become NIRP), the COLAs (Cost of Living Adjustment) has been likewise zeroed out due to recalibration of how inflation is measured by the government, and taxes will take care of the rest. And that's just the Social Security end of it.

The Federal government has already put in place methods and scenarios in which they can confiscate the holdings of retirees, in 401k confiscations, wealth extraction taxes and "national emergency" legislation. In fact, senior debt holders (derivatives) would already have priority over depositors in an orderly liquidation of a major bank.

There's only one way to win at this game, and that's to not play. If possible, one would work outside the system, avoiding all taxation and contributions to unemployment insurance, social (in)security, worker's compensation theft, and the latest money extraction scheme, the ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare. Savings would likewise have to be outside the system, acquiring and holding everything from undeveloped land to precious metals, gems, to canned food, tools and machinery of trades.

It's a tough game to play, though, as the global Ponzi scheme continues to unravel in front of our very eyes, one which must be given consideration, even as a partial remedy to outright wealth confiscation through inflation, taxation or fiat.

Today's notch in the Ponzi wood:
S&P 500: 1,917.83, -8.99 (0.47%)
Dow: 16,413.43, -40.40 (0.25%)
NASDAQ: 4,487.54, -46.53 (1.03%)

Crude Oil 32.73 -0.76% Gold 1,231.30 +1.64% EUR/USD 1.1112 -0.12% 10-Yr Bond 1.76 -3.30% Corn 366.25 -0.27% Copper 2.07 -0.22% Silver 15.42 +0.28% Natural Gas 1.85 -4.63% Russell 2000 1,004.71 -0.64% VIX 21.64 -3.00% BATS 1000 20,682.61 -0.29% GBP/USD 1.4338 +0.34% USD/JPY 113.2550 -0.74%

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April's Fools: Stocks Continue Slide

As noted yesterday, something is not quite right about the US equity markets, and, whatever it is, it's starting to get the attention of the investor class, or, at least the computer algos that make the trades for the investor class.

Stocks continued the slide begun on Tuesday, which already sent the Dow Industrials to negative on the year and is threateneing to do the same for the NASDAQ and S&P 500.

Main among culprits leading to displeasure with stocks is the disconnect between the real economy and the Wall Street economy. In the real economy, people have to make choices, every day, hour by hour, minute by minute, and those choices, magnified by the 300+ million Americans become what are known as statistics. These statistics are not, and have not, jibed with the "recovery" mantra so popular with the government and Wall Street crowd, the one which claims everybody is working and nobody is hurting, when in fact, major segments of the population are suffering from the strains of a controlled and contrived economy that favors only a small slice of very wealthy individuals.

By age group, it goes something like this: teens and college-age individuals can't find decent jobs in many places, and, while college students, generally, as a group, are not working, teens and those in their early 20s are finding the pickings pretty slim and opportunity for advancement a challenge. Wages are low, the work is monotonous or dreary, the bosses are boot-licking jack-asses and the fringe benefits are - in general terms - nil, as in, NONE.

College students, once they graduate, if they are fortunate enough to find gainful employment, are often up to their ears in student loan debt, the average being $27,000 for a four-year degree. Many are not finding work that pays well enough to pay off the loans, rent an apartment and live like a normal human, so many of these twenty-somethings are habitating in parents' basements, smoking herb and playing video games in between their postings on insta-chat or twitter-face or whatever the app du jour happens to be.

Then there are those who used to be known as middle class, the folks in their 30s, 40s and early 50s, with or without kids at home or away or actually grown, drowned in debt from auto loans, living in underwater homes they cannot sell, and denied any upward mobility because they are linked to the national ball-and-chain known as a credit score. Some are doing OK, but the hours are long, the taxes never stop and keep going higher, and maintaining an outward appearance of peace and civility is becoming harder and harder.

Following after them are the soon-to-be-retired baby boomers, who hope that the stock market doesn't crash, who long to be soon done with working seemingly forever for less then they're worth, who are told to spend rather than save, and who don't see the point of saving since interest rates are so low, it's simply not worth the effort. Every day, something else annoys them a little bit. A higher price for a staple item, or, what's even more common, less of the same item for the same price. Or a new tax, a new law, some absurd thing like "freedom of religion" or "anti-this-or-that" legislation.

Seniors, those above and beyond the age of 65, are trying to hang on, if at all, with social security and a medical plan they neither appreciate nor understand. Co-pays keep rising, the quality of care declines. Their savings are stuck in neutral, thanks to the Fed's wisdom of keeping interest rates at zero for the past seven years. They're slowly bleeding to death from places they didn't know they had.

Amidst all of the age groups are sub-groups, like small business owners, buried under government paperwork and besiged by regulations and onerous taxes, and, what's become known as the FSA (Free S--t Army), the legions of welfare and disability sufferers who live beneath the general strata of society, seeking nothing more than a monthly rent check, food stamps, an Obamaphone and free health care. Those, and a flat-screen TV covers the extent of their pretty-much worthless lives.

Of course, we have the useful idiots who work for government and its myriad levels: teachers, police, paper-shufflers or all kinds, getting fat on the public expense account, oblivious to the plight of their fellow citizens in the real world economy. These types retire after 20 or 30 years of wasteful spending of taxpayer money, just to waste even more with their lavish pensions.

Striding atop all of these folks are the politicians and financiers of Washington and Wall Street, and state capitols and in municipal government positions.

And they're no longer laughing. At least some of them aren't. They know, that but for the grace of these hordes of individuals suffering under tax slavery and monetary repression, they and their ilk would be hung, burned or somehow disenfranchised. They can only hope to keep the game going another day, another week, another year, another election, because when it ends, they have no skills by which they could fend for themselves. They would be set adrift into a seas of unhappiness and misery, like the rest of the population.

If they're not worried, they should be, because this system is ripping and tearing at the seams, because it is unsustainable. There's only so much fraud and so much money out of thin air that can cover up the obvious defects.

But, give the oligarchs, politicians and financial whiz-kids their due. They've kept the system alive longer than anyone could have expected them to, all the time since March of 2009. Six years is not a long time, but 10 is, and 15 is longer, and there's little doubt there will be changes - for which we all are mutually unprepared - to come.

Dow 17,698.18, -77.94 (-0.44%)
S&P 500 2,059.69, -8.20 (-0.40%)
NASDAQ 4,880.23, -20.66 (-0.42%)

Monday, March 29, 2010

The Economy Sucks but Stocks Keep Going Up

Stocks were up again today, and, truth be told, it's beginning to become a little bit sick and perverted, to think that US corporations are healthy and making money because they've been able to cut costs to the bone, costing US employees their jobs, or cutting the pay of those employees in order to please their investors. Soon enough, it will become truly sick and perverted, when these multi-national corporations begin to raise prices because they can't cut any more payroll or, like AT&T and Catterpillar, take huge write-offs and blame it on the increased costs of "ObamaCare," as they call it.

AT&T quietly announced late Friday that they would take a $1 billion charge because of all the evil new costs included in the heath care reform bill. One has to ask why they didn't mention this while the bill was in committee or on the senate and house floors. No, they just sat back and watched a billion dollars evaporate without raising their corporate voice?

Tell you what: any company that is that reckless with investor money should not be in your portfolio. If you own any AT&T stock, or the stock of any company that takes a write-off due to increased costs associated with the recently-passed health care reform bill, SELL IT, SELL ALL OF IT, SELL ALL OF IT NOW. They don't deserve your business, and furthermore, they're a sick, twisted bunch of creeps. Remember, AT&T was one of the companies which allowed the government unfettered access to YOUR phone calls, violated your privacy and probably broke numerous laws, but got away scott free. Screw them. They only care about themselves, not you, your cell phone or your land line. Just your money, that's all.

Not that I am particularly enamored with the health care legislation - I'm not - but AT&T is just using it as a scapegoat to cut employee benefits and/or hide other losses. Face it folks, these people are about as honest as Bernie Madoff's accountant.

Dow 10,895.86, +45.50 (0.42%)
NASDAQ 2,404.36, +9.23 (0.39%)
S&P 500 1,173.32, +6.73 (0.58%)
NYSE Composite 7,464.90, +61.32 (0.83%)

As usual, advancing issues outdid decliners, 4212-2245. There were 369 new highs and 42 new lows. So, nothing else has changed, except that volume returned to mostly insider trading. Participation levels are dropping like stones off a high bridge. It is possible that average people are awakening to the scheming ways of Wall Street after all. Most of the trading is being done by big banks, brokerages, hedge funds and mutual funds. Eventually, after they've fleeced the American - and foreign - public enough, they'll begin to eat each other's lunches and the market will be exposed for the grossly overvalued, manipulated joke it has become over the past two decades.

NYSE Volume 4,827,693,500
NASDAQ Volume 1,897,280,250

Oil was up $2.17, to $82.17, based on nothing but naked speculation and greed. Gold was up $6.10, to $1,110.30; silver higher by 48 cents, to $17.37, same reasons. Once again, in the face of a dawdling global economy and slack demand, prices continue to rise in stark contradiction to the "laws" of supply and demand.

Wake up, people. You toil all day, and sometimes part of your night, to do what? Pay utility bills, car payments, fuel, insurance and taxes. When that's all done you can look at what's left and Wall Street brokerages expect you to invest for your "retirement" or your kid's college education.

Get real. If retirement was such a grand idea, we'd do it when we're in our 20s or 30s not in our 70s and 80s. It's only because we're worth less as employees at that age: slower, less controllable, wiser, that companies want us to move along. You keep writing those checks. I'll keep telling you why it's a no-win situation.