In the decade since the financial crisis and recession, college graduates were often faced with a grim reality: they had unlucky timing. With few exceptions, they encountered a tough job market, sometimes with piles of debt owed for a diploma that was supposed to help make the transition to adulthood easier.
If you feel like things are more expensive, you are right. Despite a slightly weaker than expected inflation report in April, this year, prices have accelerated faster than Fed officials anticipated just a few months ago. Last week we learned that headline inflation increased to a 14-month high of 2.5 percent from a year ago in April, due in large part to rising gas prices. Excluding food and energy the core rate increased by 2.1 percent.
A couple of months ago, I noted that the housing market had a problem: there were too few homes for sale. Persistently low inventory means that there are a lot of frustrated would-be buyers out there, spending weekends at open houses. It also has led to home prices continuing to rise at a more than six percent clip from a year ago.
The 2018 Retirement Confidence Survey (“RCS” – a joint venture between the nonpartisan Employee Benefit Research Institute and research firm Greenwald & Associates) is out and about two-thirds of Americans feel confident or at least somewhat confident in their ability to retire comfortably. Yet nearly the same share say that preparing for retirement makes them feel stressed.
The unemployment rate edged down to 3.9 percent in April, the lowest level since December 2000. To put that into perspective, the top song in the U.S. that month was “Independent Woman, Pt 1” by Destiny’s Child, long before Beyoncé Knowles was known as “Queen Bey” or had a “Beyhive” with millions of followers! But I digress. According to the New York Times, “In the last 60 years, there has been only one sustained period where unemployment stayed below 4 percent: the late 1960s.”
What happened to the tax cut bump to economic growth? After expanding by a brisk 2.9 percent in the fourth quarter of last year and the 3.3 percent rate in the third quarter, the economy decelerated a bit in the first quarter to an annualized pace of 2.3 percent, consistent with good, not great growth.
April is Financial Literacy Month, a perfect time to answer your questions about the murky world of “Alternative Investments.” These vehicles fall outside of the more commonly utilized individual stocks, bonds, mutual and exchange-traded funds. In general, they are used by large institutions, like pension funds, endowments, foundations and wealthy (“accredited”) individuals.
Syria! Tariffs! Mueller Investigation! Facebook under Fire! Corporate Earnings! All of these headlines have moved markets over the few weeks, leaving investors whipsawed and exhausted. If you’re keeping score, the Dow and S&P 500 are down slightly on the year (-1.5 percent and -0.7 percent, respectively), while the Russell 2000 and NASDAQ Composite are up (+0.9 percent and +3 percent, respectively).
Your 2017 taxes are done. Congratulations! But you’re not done yet. (Sorry) While you have all your tax forms and documents handy, this is the perfect time to analyze last year’s finances and use those insights to prepare for the big changes that will occur in 2018 and beyond. The sooner you get started, the sooner you can start planning that summer vacation!