Retirees Face Uncertain Future

Retirees Face Uncertain Future

It is exceedingly hard to look even months out with a modicum of confidence as to coming trends and events.  We are in the most uncertain of times.

This is especially true for those in retirement.  Over the last decade, really beginning in 2008, retirees have had to break with conventional wisdom and invest a much larger proportion of their assets in the market than in the past and than wisdom would suggest; bonds and cash simply offered too little yield to meet their needs. 

Now, with a new and unsteady president, the market seems even more risky for all Americans, and especially for those depending solely on unearned income.  The country has certainly enjoyed a significant upswing following the election, but that seems more fueled by irrational exuberance than by a thoughtful weighing of the major risks ahead resulting from irrational and off-the-wall government leadership.

Logic suggests that the market, however strong in recent days, is due for a major fall as the impact of a seriously unstable president with a seriously flawed agenda clashes with reality.   Those in retirement are caught in the middle.  Stay in the market and enjoy a temporary surge or get out now before an almost certain and lasting drop takes place. 

Market timing has never worked.  While all looks good for the moment (interest rates are beginning to creep up and the market is doing well), logic and clear thinking dictate that retirees need to act now in their best interests, reduce significantly their market holdings, and move to the safety of government-insured bonds and bank or credit union savings accounts and CDs.  To do anything else will leave a significantly large proportion of the population today in great jeopardy of falling short of the resources required to cover basic needs.  

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A Moment of Crisis

A Moment of Crisis

After only a few days of the Trump administration, led by an unstable president and his frightening trio (Bannon, Flynn, and Conway), the country is spiraling out of control.  Strikes and protests abound throughout the country and abroad, and NATO countries, equally in shock, are already voices in the wind.  The US has never faced anything like this before, and its systems of checks and balances have already proved to be impotent. 

Congress continues to be the domain of fools and self interests.  The Supreme Court is unaccustomed to independent action.  The people are divided.  Our political systems were not built for what has effectively happened – a coup d’etat supported by a foreign foe, disguised as a presidential election.

We are in uncharted territory.  The first thing we must do is recognize fully that this is an unprecedented moment.  And, more important, a very dangerous moment.

The second is to look for some, as yet unidentified entity or group, that can lead the way out and protect the nation from disaster.  One that has yet to surface but could so do would the formation of The Council of Presidents, composed of the three last legitimate presidents of the United States – George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama.  These leaders, standing as a single voice and an informed group, need (1) to join together in a single voice and (2) to stand as a new and strong body taking control and leading the way out of this crisis.  As a group, they could lead the country, Congress and the Courts to take quick and effective action to put this coup down.

And, as a third step, while we support and assist necessary and an unprecedented action such as The Presidents' Council, we must look inward and move to protect our individual best interests.  The stock market has been surprisingly slow to realize what is happening, succumbing to unrealistic promises, and is just beginning to turn down.  This is the moment to reduce, if not sell entirely all positions in the market and to seek cover in cash, metals and federally insured bank products.  In days, it will be too late.

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Irrational Exuberance

Irrational Exuberance

In 1996, when the then Federal Reserve Chair, Alan Greenspan coined the phrase “Irrational Exuberance”, it troubled folks but also incorrectly forecast a precipitous drop in the markets.  It took another three years. 

It doesn’t take a Federal Reserve Chair to see it again, and it will not take three more years for the markets to drop like a lead balloon.  In fact, it’s hard to believe that any serious investor watching Donald Trump’s early moves, especially those decimating key international trade pacts, would not immediately bail out and take refuge in insured cash accounts, and perhaps some gold and diamonds too.

We surely are fooling ourselves, believing that lower corporate taxes and fewer restrictions will boost the economy and lead us all down the road to riches.  Cooler heads can look beyond the hype and realize that constraints on manufacturing lower cost goods abroad and on selling worldwide thanks to multinational trade agreements represent the bulwarks of our 21 Century economy.  Withdrawing inside our borders will kill our economy.

We are decidedly blinded by irrational exuberance.

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