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Failure to Launch … a Materialistic Generation

Young adults have had a relatively tough time over the past four or five years. Entry-level jobs have been scant for the onslaught of recent college graduates, many of whom have taken menial jobs to make ends meet until a “real job” comes their way.

According to Pew Research, in 2012 only one-third of engineering majors got work as engineers, and only 26 percent of physical sciences majors worked in any science, technology, engineering or math occupation.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Chart of the week: Where engineering and English majors end up working," from Pew Research, July 11, 2014.]

The scarcity of jobs has forced many young people to live at home, either while in college or after graduation. Approximately 56 percent of young adults ages 18 to 24 lived in their parents’ home in 2012, while 16 percent of those ages 25 to 31 did so as well.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "A Rising Share of Young Adults Live in Their Parents' Home," from Pew Research, Aug. 1, 2013.]

However, a little bit of adversity doesn’t usually hurt. In addition to building character, it can also create a heightened sense of accomplishment and appreciation when your proverbial ship does come in. According to Scott Hammond, a clinical professor of management at the Huntsman School of Business at Utah State University and author of “Lessons of the Lost: Finding Hope and Resilience in Work, Life, and the Wilderness,” when bad things happen, one of the most important things you can do is cultivate hope for something better to come.

While working at something other than their dream jobs, the millennial generation appears to be doing just that. A new study from Transamerica Insurance reveals that millennials are actually beginning to save for retirement earlier than their baby boomer parents. While most baby boomers started saving for retirement at around age 35, 70 percent of people in their 20s and 30s have already started saving. Unfortunately, the rest of them appear to be at the opposite end of the financial spectrum, living paycheck to paycheck (if they’re lucky) and otherwise drowning in student loans and consumer debt.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How Resilient People Stand Back up When Life Knocks Them Down," from Fast Company, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Study: Millennials Saving Better than Baby Boomers," from NBC San Diego, July 8, 2014.]

In this post-recession world of tentative jobs, tight credit and oppressive student loan debt, young adults may be more risk averse and rightfully skeptical of the value of status and wealth. Perhaps this new generation now better appreciates the things handed to them by their parents just a decade ago — like cars, laptops and cellphones. As each new generation becomes parents, it passes on values both learned and experienced. So in the future, their children and grandchildren may return to the values of saving for what they want instead of relying on credit. Perhaps.

In the meantime, we’re here to help you and the young adults among your family and friends work toward developing sound financial habits for the future. If we can offer guidance, please give us a call.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "He's the Top U.S. Mortgage Salesman. His Daughter Isn't Buying It," from Bloomberg, July 1, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Dispersing Millennials," from New Geography, July 9, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Commentary: Millennials Think Government Is Inefficient, Abuses Its Power, and Supports Cronyism," from Public CEO, July 11, 2014.]

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the 
basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about their personal situations.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in 
this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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More or Less

Sometimes it feels like there’s just more to do these days. Our houses are bigger and our toys more sophisticated, so there’s more to maintain. On the other hand, we can buy prepackaged salads and don’t have to shell peas anymore. Our cars don’t need oil changes nearly as often, and our ovens self-clean. But between checking emails, returning calls, running errands, carpooling children and being on-call for work and family issues 24/7, it’s important to take time out to simply do less.

In fact, according to a recent research paper, making time to do absolutely nothing can help foster our imagination and improve mental health.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Importance of Doing Nothing," at Forbes, July 1, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the white paper, "Doing Nothing and Nothing to Do: The Hidden Value of Empty Time and Boredom," at INSEAD, 2014.]

While this summer might be the perfect season for us as individuals to do nothing, corporations, U.S. government agencies and other nations at large have been busy doing some very positive things.

For example, businesses and governments went on a hiring spree in June, which yielded a drop in the unemployment rate to 6.1 percent. The good news is that the rate hike is due to people finding jobs, not simply giving up hope of finding one and dropping out of the job market as they have in the past.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Solid U.S. Job Gains Pointing to a Stronger Recovery," at The Associated Press, July 3, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Five Takeaways from the June Employment Report," at The Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the press release, "Employment Situation Summary," at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 3, 2014.]

Also recently, the U.S. Department of Treasury issued final rules allowing longevity annuities to become more available to 401(k) and IRA markets. This salary deferral option allows participants to shelter a portion of their retirement plan savings to be distributed at a later age (typically 80 or 85), skirting the required minimum distribution at age 70½.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Treasury green lights annuities in 401(k)s" at Producers Web, July 2, 2014.]

But if you are exclusively focused on the positive news in the U.S., you could miss out on opportunities elsewhere. A recent report cites Argentina, Denmark and India as the top three best performing markets in the world, with the U.S. coming in at number 32.

[CLICK HERE to see the interactive chart, "Best performing global markets" at CNNMoney, June 27, 2014.]

We work very hard to earn our money, but many times we set up financial strategies and never look back. It’s important to remember, however, that there are times when it’s good to do nothing, and there are times when it may be beneficial to react to the constant changes in our world. If you would like a mid-year review to discuss your current retirement strategy, please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Lessons We Can Learn from Youthful Transgressions

These days it seems that few people from age ten to twenty can be seen without a cell phone in hand. Now that school is out, parents complain of adolescent boys spending the summer playing video games, while girls are having full-on tête-à-têtes in 160-character text messages. One positive way to look at it is that adolescents can have virtual playdates without tracking dirt throughout the house and pilfering the fridge, not to mention learning the art of give and take in conversation.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How to Use Tech Like a Teenager," at The Wall Street Journal, June 11, 2014.]

If the last generation of youth was labeled the “entitled ones,” this new crop of kids is one of instant gratification — they need constant stimulation 24/7 or they complain of being bored. But before we all stand on our high horse and judge, please take a moment to consider what you did all summer when you were 12 or 13 years old. Chances are good you slept a lot, watched too much TV, your parents called you lazy and they threatened to have you tested for mono.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Why Playing Minecraft Might Be More Healthful for Kids than TV," at NPR, March 28, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "5 Reasons to Get More Girls Playing Minecraft," at Sugarpop, June 6, 2014.]

Some things never change, whether our options are climbing trees and riding bikes, or taking selfies and watching YouTube videos. The vast majority of teens and preteens simply do not do what their parents want.

But what is to become of a nation of technology-enabled — nay, obsessed — youth? Will every one of them grow up to become a Steve Jobs or Bill Gates? Not likely. Are there welders, nurses, schoolteachers and firemen in that bunch? Undoubtedly.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Minecraft is Shaping a Generation, and that's a Good Thing," at Forbes, April 26, 2014.]

The takeaway is that this information-enhanced generation could be able to perform their jobs better with less training. What they don’t know, they can Google. What skills they lack, they can learn by watching videos online. Is it so bad to have immediate access to information previously acquired through years of hard work and on-the-job training? Is it a crisis that a young recruit can visit an online forum and ask other participants what they’re being paid before negotiating salary and benefits with a potential employer?

It’s the age of transparency. That transparency may have been brought on by the transgressions of adults working on Wall Street and in other industries, but it will be perpetuated by this whole new generation of knowledgeable and tech-savvy youth. They will insist on fair play because they know what companies are up to: They can research everything from how employees are treated to the number and types of customer complaints levied before they even accept a job. The “good ol’ boy network” has expanded to 1,500 Facebook friends all over the world. They’ll have choices; even the slackers — the ones online all day instead of hitting the books.

We worry. We worry as parents and citizens who imagine that technology is contributing to the denigration of society. We shake our heads when we see a teenager staring at his phone while out to dinner with his parents. But honestly, didn’t your parents embarrass you at that age? Wouldn’t you have loved the ability to chat and play online with a group of 10 friends (maybe even one or two in another country) while holed up in the house on a rainy — or excessively hot — afternoon? Maybe not, but there are plenty of positives and no end of parallels between the way this era of youth behaves compared to previous generations.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Silicon Valley's Youth Problem," at The New York Times, March 12, 2014.]

Are today’s youth obsessed with technology? Perhaps. But let’s not focus on the trees. Look up and gaze into the forest and on the horizon, to the great leaps that today’s empowered children will make in tomorrow’s world.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Taking the Learning Tablets," at The Economist, June 7, 2014.]

The same notion could apply to your financial situation. The due diligence we conduct today can help provide a more confident financial future. So don’t fret about the day-to-day blips in the economy; look beyond surface concerns and consider the long-term potential of your action plan for retirement. Designing a sound financial strategy that incorporates insurance products, like annuities, can help you on the path toward the financial independence and retirement lifestyle you desire. We are here to help.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation. 

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Fed Dovetail

In consideration of the current labor force participation rate and the fact that many discouraged workers may re-enter the job market, Scott Minerd — Global CIO at Guggenheim Partners — recently predicted the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) won’t increase interest rates until as late as early 2016.

[CLICK HERE to view the video, "U.S. Monetary Policy and Fixed-Income Outlook," by Guggenheim Partners, April 28, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "A New Secular Bull Market?" from Fidelity, June 20, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Bullard: Markets Think Fed is More Dovish than it is," from MarketWatch, June 26, 2014.]

Now that the Federal Reserve’s quantitative easing (QE3) program is winding down, insiders are questioning what the central bank intends to do with the bonds it has purchased, which contributed to the bank’s inflated balance sheet, estimated at $4.3 trillion in assets. When you consider that bond values drop when interest rates rise — as it is believed they inevitably will — without an effective exit strategy the Fed’s substantial bond portfolio could suffer. It’s important to recognize that bonds held to maturity will pay at par assuming there is no default. However, since the Fed created this market, the question remains as to what it plans to do with its excess holdings. Chairwoman Janet Yellen has indicated that this fall the Fed will announce a revised plan to shrink its balance sheet.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Fed's Balance Sheet Punctuated by a Big Question Mark," from The New York Times, June 27, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to view the chart, "Walking a Tightrope: How Deutsche Thinks the Fed Will Exit Ultra-Loose Policies," from Fox Business, accessed June 27, 2014.]

One analyst at BlackRock suggests that the Fed’s decision to keep interest rates low actually may be inhibiting economic growth and job creation. For example, low rates create a tenuous environment for older workers to retire and live on a fixed income. With delayed retirements, fewer jobs open up, which serves to keep the jobless rate high. Furthermore, because it’s cheaper to borrow money now, many corporations have put plans on hold to reinvest in organic company growth.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "5 Reasons Why Excessively Low Rates May be Harmful to the Economy," from BlackRock Research, June 26, 2014.]

Today’s FOMC is generally described as “dovish,” meaning it takes a more minimalist, inflation-tolerant approach to money policy, while the opposite is called “hawkish.” Hawkish policies generally favor higher interest rates and tighter monetary controls to keep inflation in check. At the moment, the current low interest-rate environment is expected to last at least throughout this year. Much depends on the unemployment rate, which has proved skittish to follow a strong trend one way or another.

With the woes of the past economic recession still fresh on American minds, it stands to reason that commodity prices and jobs continue to be the standard by which economic growth is measured. If you have concerns about either in your life, or would simply like a mid-year review to discuss your current retirement strategy, please give us a call.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about their personal situations.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Health Care at the Forefront

In recent news, we’ve witnessed the fallout of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, where officials falsified records to hide the amount of time former service members have had to wait for medical appointments. As if health care doesn’t get enough bad press, this is just one more scandal indicating the dire need to overhaul the industry, its delivery mechanisms and costs. Both the House and the Senate have passed versions of a VA bill to help rectify the situation, and members of Congress say they are confident of sending a unified version to the president by the end of June.

However, where there is health care, there is a cost debate, and three senators were criticized for voting against a recent bill — saying that fellow lawmakers “put dollars and cents above the interests of the nation’s veterans.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Everything You Need to Know about the VA -- and the Scandals Engulfing It," from The Washington Post, May 30, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Lawmakers Hope to Send Unified VA Bill to Obama by Late June," from NPR June 12, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "VFW Attacks the Three Republicans Who Voted Against the Senate VA Bill," from The Washington Post, June 13, 2014.]

With adults ranging from ages 18 to 34 under-represented in this year’s open enrollment at health care exchanges, lawmakers are pushing ways to entice this demographic to purchase insurance. A new proposal gaining momentum would offer government subsidies for catastrophic plans. Catastrophic plans offer low monthly premiums but require consumers to foot a hefty share of their annual medical costs. They are designed to help protect healthier people from any negative financial effects due to an accident or an unexpected diagnosis of serious illness, although they also cover basic preventive care at no cost to the consumer.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Insurers will Propose Changes to Obama Health Law," from St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 6 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Insurers Press Obama Admin to Let Them Expand Obamacare Insurance Offerings," from The Daily Caller, June 11 2014.]

Another demographic facing inordinate healthcare expenses is retirees. A couple retiring in 2014 is expected to need $220,000 (in today’s dollars) to cover health care costs in retirement — and that’s if they’re covered by Medicare. If you retire before qualifying for benefits at age 65, you may also have to pay for health care insurance premiums and out-of-pocket expenses to the tune of approximately $17,000 a year.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How to Tame Retiree Health Care Costs," from Fidelity, June 11, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Decision That Could Cost You $51,000," from Time, June 12, 2014.]

Health care quality and delivery — and how to pay for it — will likely continue to be hot topics for years to come. In relation to your overall financial strategy, it’s important to consider whether or not you have the coverage necessary to help preserve your retirement assets in the event of significant or unanticipated health care expenses. Please give us a call if we can help you better understand the options you may have to further protect your family.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about their personal situation. We are not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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The Printed Word

We blog, tweet, post. Read, skim, search. We can now receive so much of our information online, on demand, and choose exactly what sources from which to receive it. We’re no longer limited to three nightly newscasts and our daily local paper.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The Future of the News Business: A Monumental Twitter Stream All in One Place," from Andreessen Horowitz, accessed June 6, 2014.]

But with such a cache of information comes a few disadvantages, like the lack of attention span to sit down in a comfortable recliner or hammock and read a long-form article in a magazine. They still exist, of course, but part of the challenge is conceding that we want to invest the time it takes to read a printed Time article versus reading a quick summary of the same topic’s salient points via an online source.

Just recently, Time Inc. — publisher of such popular magazines as Time, People, Sports Illustrated and more than 50 other titles – spun off from its parent company, Time Warner. The publishing magnate’s revenues have plummeted by 34 percent and its operating profit by 59 percent over the last 10 years. As readership and paid subscriptions drop, so do advertising revenues. Let’s face it, why buy a weekly People magazine when you’ve already seen photos of a Kardashian wedding online — including collaborative selfies posted on Instagram by celebrities in attendance?

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Time Inc. Spinoff Reflects a Troubled Magazine Business," from Pew Research Center, June 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "State of the News Media 2014," from Pew Research Journalism Project, March 26, 2014.]

There used to be more value attached to what we refer to as “the printed word.” Hemingway and many other iconic American writers started out as journalists and honed their craft with shorter pieces. They wrote and rewrote, and then their editors shaped and corrected and edited to perfection. There was time to fact-check and proofread — and it mattered. It mattered that readers got correct information with correct grammar because they couldn’t make corrections in real time. Published retractions were disgraceful admissions of error, not acceptable de rigueur as they are today.

In the past, the news was neutral and facts were reported without opinion — Walter Cronkite style. His nightly sign-off, “And that’s the way it is,” was never doubted because viewers trusted the impartiality of his news reports. Today, even well-respected, well-established media outlets trend toward far more news bias than in the past.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Poll: Media Bias Tops Money as the Biggest Problem in Politics," from Washington Examiner, May 28, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "And From the Left ... Fox News," at Columbia Journalism Review, March 3, 2014.]

Now, anyone can have an online voice as a reporter, writer or photographer. A global medium now exists where everyone can express opinions and ideas. The Internet blurs the line between expert opinion and opining by “Everyman.” While it makes for interesting reading, we’ve learned we must frequently take what is published on the Internet with a grain of salt. In fact, the value of information generally comes from the source that provides it, and that’s where we come in.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "On TV, Few Amateur Journalists Get Credit for Their Contributions to the News," from Pew Research Center, June 5, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Here's What Happens When the Readers Choose the Front Page Story," from NewsWhip, March 6, 2014.]

When it comes to your finances, what matters most is what matters to you. News stories can update you on local and global happenings, but can they inform you of the potential effect an economic indicator may have on your retirement strategy? We are happy to help translate how current events in the news and in our industry may impact your financial life. Please give us a call to discuss what matters to you.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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All Things Inflation

At the end of May, the Commerce Department reported that the price index for personal consumption expenditures increased by 1.6 percent in April from a year earlier — the fastest pace since November 2012. This is the latest sign that U.S. inflation is starting an upward trend.

Banking on expectations for a targeted 2 percent inflation rate, the Federal Reserve Bank is scheduled to phase out its bond purchase program this fall. New Federal Reserve Bank Chairwoman Janet Yellen has indicated that the Federal Open Market Committee plans to keep short-term interest rates at near-zero level for a “considerable” time after the quantitative easing program ends. The plan is to increase rates very gradually thereafter.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Inflation Creeps Higher but Undershoots Fed Target for Two Years," at The Wall Street Journal, May 30, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Fed's George wants rate hikes soon, and not too gradual," at CNBC, May 30, 2014.]

When it comes to inflation, however, the consumer price index is not the only indicator to monitor closely. Wages — including the current debate over whether (and by how much) to increase the minimum wage — also tend to be a powerful influence. That’s because once increased, wages tend to stay at a certain level — they do not fluctuate up and down like inflation rates and stock prices. Consequently, wage hikes can have an enormous impact on consumer confidence and spending. Greater spending, in turn, can influence prices — which affects inflation.

However, high unemployment tends to put a downward pressure on inflation, as spending rates remain conservative. With fewer jobs available, employers can offer lower wages. Add in competitive labor markets across the globe, and there is further downward pressure on both wage and employment rates. So you can see how both unemployment and wage levels impact inflation — which then impacts the direction of interest rates.

[CLICK HERE to read the report, "Janet Yellen on Inflation," at Western Asset Management, April 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Why Inflation Is So Low," at NPR, May 15, 2014.]

Despite the leading economic indicators that are tenaciously tracked and analyzed by nearly every economist, money manager and think tank out there, inflation continues be relatively unpredictable — and in some cases uncontrollable.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Weird Money Facts: 5 True Cases of Unbelievable Inflation," at WiseBread.com, retrieved May 15, 2014.]

But like most things in life, how well we weather the unknown comes down to how well we prepare for it. Inflation can impact each of us differently because we all have different priorities — such as the value of education, health and nutrition, lifestyle luxuries and ideas for retirement.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How to Protect Clients' Portfolios against Inflation," at Financial Planning, May 28, 2014.]

It’s our job to help protect our clients’ retirement income from the effects of inflation. Please contact us if you would like to inflation-check your current financial situation.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Chris Hobart on Fox Business News!

Just yesterday, Chris was featured on the Fox Business News segment, After the Bell ! Check it out here:

Chris Hobart- Fox Business News 7.7.2014

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Bully for Us: Consumerism Soars

Summer is here. The housing market has gained strength, jobs and incomes have risen, and overall consumers are feeling bullish. Seeing most of us have had to adjust to the “new normal” since the turn of the millennium, recent conditions are the relative equivalent to “happy days are here again.”

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Economic check-in: Good backdrop for stocks," at Fidelity, May 16, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Sales of New U.S. Homes Increase by Most in Six Months," at Bloomberg, May 23, 2014.]

As it turns out, we’re also pretty good at turning a negative event into a positive force. For years we’ve been reading about how the “graying of America” will leave shortfalls in the workforce and medical field while spending will increase exponentially in health and long-term care. Fortunately, the market tends to follow demand.

According to Chief Investment Officer Chris Hyzy at U.S. Trust, baby boomers are the largest demographic force we have in terms of volume, wealth, consumer spending and jobs. He observes that older Americans are emerging as a tremendous economic asset – working longer, buying more goods, and generally propelling economic growth.

Here are a couple of examples of how markets have adapted to our aging workforce. In the U.S., one drugstore chain noticed that senior customers felt more comfortable asking older employees for assistance. As a result, the chain offered retiring workers who planned to spend their winters in warmer climates the opportunity to split their time between store locations and work more flexible hours. In Germany, one factory made physical changes to accommodate older workers so they would stay on the job longer, including softer wooden floors, adjustable worktables and orthopedic shoes. The changes yielded significantly lower absenteeism and productivity soared.

One forecasting firm has estimated that the products and services Americans over 50 consume, and the industries that serve them, generate about $7.1 trillion annually. This number is expected to increase to $13.5 trillion within 18 years, at which point they will represent more than 50 percent of our gross domestic product.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The End of Old," at Merrill Lynch, retrieved May 23, 2014.]

A couple of the challenges we can expect moving forward are relatively new to us; the impact of adult children — or boomerang children — returning to the proverbial “empty nest” for financial reasons, and the dominance of large corporations. On the surface, you would think more breadwinners under one roof would provide a stronger fiscal picture. In reality, perhaps not.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "Your kids will never let you retire," at Marketwatch.com, May 23, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "The biggest economic threat? Big companies," at Marketwatch.com, May 22, 2014.]

The U.S. economy and many households have come a long way. Not just since the recession, but since the beginning of the millennium when progress was thwarted by the technology industry bust and the events surrounding 9/11. While financial markets seem to teeter on 24/7 exposure to news stories, most of us have worked hard toward improving our fiscal house and creating a more cautious plan to help foster a future unfazed by fleeting headlines.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "America's Lost Decade Turns 12: Even the Rich Are Worse Off Than Before," at The Atlantic, Sep. 17, 2013]

As is usually the case, past events breed insight and wisdom, and Americans have plenty of that going forward. If we can assist you in harnessing that wisdom for an income plan to help facilitate your future, please contact us.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

If you are unable to access any of the news articles and sources through the links provided in this text, please contact us to request a copy of the desired reference.

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Positive News on Jobs, Food and Fitness Fronts

April unemployment numbers brought good news. About 288,000 new jobs were created, representing the highest one-month total in two years. Unemployment is now at 6.3 percent, its lowest level since September 2008. Employers added an average of 238,000 jobs each month over the last three months, which is a substantial improvement over the average of 167,000 per month in the previous three.

Consumer spending is up, but only modestly. Due to the chilly weather, in the first quarter we spent more money on utilities and health care. Spending on consumer goods was relatively flat, but in March Americans bought more cars and boosted retail numbers at shopping malls.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "American Economy Bounces Back From Brutal Winter" at UT San Diego website, May 2, 2014.]

Home sales are also up. March marked the first gain in pending sales over the last nine months. Like a stack of dominoes, as more jobs become available, more people will move to accept them, and that brings about more inventory in the real estate market. Low inventory is viewed as the main snag for lagging growth in this market. However, houses valued at one million dollars or more represent the greatest number of sales, and the vacation home market is robust as retirees seek to replace their primary homes. Housing prices continue to increase, but as more inventory enters the market that is expected to level off price growth.

[CLICK HERE to read the article and view the video, "Pending Home Sales Increase in March," at National Association of Realtors, Apr. 28, 2014.]

It may take a couple of years, but food manufacturers will soon be required to change the way they label nutrition information on packages. The format for providing information on these labels hasn’t changed in 20 years, so many in the healthcare and food industry are applauding the initiative. New labels will display the calorie count in a larger and more prominent manner to be easily read by consumers, and will also reflect a change in the base serving size to mirror today’s consumer’s eating portions and habits. Another positive change will be an accurate representation of sugar that is added to food. As of now, that line item includes both naturally occurring and added sugars.

Much of the influence for requiring new standards for labeling nutrition facts on food containers is attributed to First Lady Michelle Obama. Her high-profile “Let’s Move” campaign to educate children and parents on the importance of exercise and nutrition also appears to have made an impact on recent lower childhood obesity rates.

[CLICK HERE to watch, "Michelle Obama Puts Nutrition Center Stage," at ABC News, Feb. 27, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to watch, "Obesity Rates in Children Decline 43 Percent in Ten Years," at ABC News, Feb. 25, 2014.]

This increased focus on fitness and healthy eating provides interesting avenues for economic growth. Companies associated with or benefiting from this trend appear to be outpacing other industries. Costco is one company that is capitalizing on the newfound interest in natural and organic food. In the first year the warehouse chain began offering fresh organic ground beef, it generated $25 billion in sales – 80 percent of those sales were to members previously not in the habit of purchasing beef there.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, "How to invest in healthy living" at Fidelity, May 1, 2014.]

It’s always great to get some positive news, and we’re excited about the continued economic prospects for 2014. If we can help assess your financial picture and position you to take advantage of your future financial strategy, please contact us to schedule an appointment.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies that include the use of insurance products.

These articles are being provided for informational purposes only and should not be used as the basis for any financial decisions. While we believe this information to be correct, we do not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information included. All clients are encouraged to consult qualified tax and legal professionals before making any decisions about your personal situation.

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