Believe it or not, the following is taken from October 2022 (with a couple of updates). Inflation almost always takes longer to tame than we think.
A question that may be on a number of people’s minds is: How long will it take to tame inflation? Unfortunately, there is very little telling how long it will take the US Federal Reserve, or any other entity or force, to tame inflation, especially in the short-term. Part of the reason is because inflation is always part of a complicated economy – with diverse people, businesses and governmental/fiscal forces in action. Timing (and hard-landing/soft-landing) predictions about inflation are nearly impossible.
Currently the limit on the amount the US government can borrow is a mind-boggling $31.4 trillion. This limit was reached this past January and since then the US Treasury has been using “extraordinary measures” to continue to pay government bills. Funds from these measures, such as using available tax revenue or borrowing from the retirement accounts of federal workers (not allowed by private employers), are said to become exhausted by about June 1st or so.
The government borrows (or issues debt) because it spends more than it takes in via tax revenue. These borrowed funds are used to pay government workers, but for numerous other critical reasons including:
For a bond that must be held for a minimum of five (5) years for full interest to be received and can only be bought in amounts of $10,000 per year, I get a lot of questions.
To put the situation in perspective, for clients and friends with high levels of income, in the hundreds of thousands and much more, and high tax rates – marginal rates of over 32% – the interest at stake with an I-Bond is currently $600 to $800 per year and that is before taxes! That level of net interest may pay a portion of one car lease payment per year or weekend gas for a boat (in 5 years). BUT nevertheless, I get questions.
It turns out that summarizing the current status of cryptocurrency following the past several months is much more complicated than it looks. If one event were highlighted, it would be the November 2022 fall of FTX and arrest of its founder who was “popularly” referred to by his three initials, SBF.
As early as February 2022 during the “Crypto Bowl”, or Superbowl LVI, there were clues of cryptocurrency irrational exuberance. Since then, major cracks have revealed themselves in the crypto industry and beyond.
Warren Buffett, the world’s 4th or 5th richest person, famously writes a Letter to Shareholders each year published around the end of February and featured in May at his annual meeting for shareholders on a farm in Omaha, Nebraska. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, has an amazing long-term record of rewarding long-term shareholders. Buffett is now 92½ years old and nearing his 60th annual go-around with the meeting and shareholder letter.
The letter has a mild cult following and is read by seasoned, experienced investors; younger, newer investors; company CEOs; and anyone who has a few extra minutes for down-to-earth reflections from a billionaire. This year’s letter was far shorter than past years – and thus to the point. Here are a few of the highlights:
More and more lately, perhaps as a result of the post-pandemic world, I am being asked for basic financial advice – from both young people AND those in the over-55 crowd. By the way, the over-55 crowd who ask this question are typically wealthy with comfortable lifestyles. The basic financial advice they seek includes the question, “Are we OK financially?”
A handful of smart people ask for further definition of “OK” and then ask the same question, “Well then, are we OK financially?” The answer comes down to super-basic elements, and thus today’s short edition of TGIF 2 Minutes.
From the Archives of TGIF 2 Minutes – with an update on cash.
One of the most critical factors of long-term personal financial success is…. guess:
A) The markets
C) Interest rates
D) Stock selection
E) Income level
And the answer is… SPENDING. This fact is why a truly competent financial planner will spend the most time on discussing spending, both today and future projected. Spending can also be expressed as “lifestyle” or “the basics of food, shelter, and transportation plus lifestyle”.
However, the inevitable will happen. And YOLO (“You Only Live Once”) will creep in.
This topic has become far more complicated post-coronavirus.
Back in 2017, 2018 & 2020 TGIF 2 Minutes explored “Caring For Aging Parents”… which then became “Caring For an Aging Friend”. Whether caring for a family member or friend, finding and putting into action Care (with a capital “C”) may be more stressful than ever – both for Care-receiver and Care-giver.
Recent news features the danger of the United States defaulting on its Treasury debt. Longer story short, the US Treasury is very, very, very, very unlikely to default, and “cooler minds” would be educating the American public about why this is the case. The explanation is beyond the scope of TGIF 2 Minutes. (Please note that none of the following is a political statement or meant to be.)
Of course, there are plenty of reasons why the US finds itself, once again, in this position. The last time it was this serious was in 2011 when Barack Obama was President. Then came the coronavirus in 2019 and responses by Presidents Trump and Biden. Entitlements and social program spending, along with eventually replenishing US defense spending, became and are still beyond expensive. As The Wall Street Journal notes, “…U.S. debt held by the public is now about 100% of GDP, up from 39.2% as recently as 2008 and 77.6% in 2018” and “…The cost of financing that debt is rising fast along with interest rates, and interest on the debt will take up an increasingly large share of federal revenue. Priorities… will be squeezed.”*
The country is witnessing a high stakes political fight that will likely play out over the next five months and feature the Republicans and Democrats in the US House of Representatives negotiating and attempting to call “chicken” on who gives in first, with trillions of dollars in the offing. The primary matters at hand are the government’s overdue and needed discipline on its spending cap – and determining how much debt is manageable for the country over the short- and long-term. The next generation of Americans, among others,is who should be watching most closely.