Scary Charts (the scariest chart of 2021)

https://wolfstreet.com/2021/12/23/oops-americans-big-pay-increases-got-run-over-by-even-bigger-price-increases/

This week I made a donation to the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma https://www.regionalfoodbank.org/. If you live in Oklahoma please consider a year end gift. There is a $500,000 dollar for dollar match until year end. If you live elsewhere there will be a similar charity you can give to.

End of post.

Cryptocurrencies 101

Cryptocurrencies are a social movement based on the belief that markings in a ledger on the internet have intrinsic value. The organizers of these ledgers call these markings Bitcoin, or Dogecoin, or offer other names based on the specific ledger. That’s really all a cryptocurrency is. There’s no magic. It’s not money, though it has money-like properties. It’s not anything except a set of markings. Sure, the technology behind the ledgers and how to create more of these markings is kind of neat. But crypto is a movement based on energetic storytellers who spin fables about the utopian future to come. In a lot of ways, cryptocurrencies are like Florida land that no one ever intends to use. It has value in the moment it is traded, but only because there’s a collective belief that it has some intrinsic worth.

Matt Stoller BIG newsletter 12.07.21 — https://mattstoller.substack.com/

TBH I never really understood crypto until I read Stoller’s descriptive paragraph.

Now I understand this is something I will never “invest” my money in. Not that I ever intended to do that before today.

New House Construction Supply Chain Mess

The inventory of new single-family houses that home builders put on the market for sale rose to 389,000 in October, the highest since September 2008, according to data from the Census Bureau.

Houses for Sale, Highest since 2008, as Construction Costs Spike Most in 42 Years, Projects Stall — https://wolfstreet.com/2021/11/27/whats-behind-the-huge-pile-up-of-new-houses-for-sale-highest-since-2008-as-construction-costs-spike-most-in-42-years-and-projects-stall
Does anyone else see a problem here?

The Myth of Retirement – 11.21.21

Rising prices inevitably impact the economy as consumers adjust their buying habits. https://www.visualcapitalist.com/u-s-inflation-which-categories-have-been-hit-the-hardest/

I think a lot of Americans who are preparing to retire now are going to have to rethink their plans. Because there’s no way the money that they’ve saved and the income streams that they anticipate receiving are going to be sufficient given the much higher cost of living that we’re going to be experiencing. And this is not just going to be a few percent a year. We’re talking double-digit increases in the cost of living for many, many years in a row.

Peter Schiff, chief global strategist of Euro Pacific Capital

A hedge against inflation in retirement is to keep working. My patented solution is twofold: Build a nest egg while working, and work for as long as possible, either doing what you’ve been doing, or doing something new and interesting and fun. Full-time is great, but even a part-time gig is great, and for all kinds of reasons, not just money, and even if you have plenty of money and don’t need to work.

Wolf Richter

Retirement math now is simple. If you can, work longer and save more.

The SupremeCmdr – The Myth of Retirement

Remember The Lobsterwoman!

Need Retirement Income? – (Life Underwriters Need Not Worry)

The total number of life insurance policies sold rose 8% in the first six months of the year and marked the highest such growth since 1983, LIMRA said. And there were other indicators in that same data that pointed to positive signs: Total U.S. life insurance premium increased 21% in the second quarter 2021, the largest year-over-year increase since third quarter 1987; in addition, it was up 18% for the first half of 2021 compared to the prior year.

Life Insurance Sales Are Up, But for How Long? — https://news.ambest.com/articlecontent.aspx?refnum=313837&altsrc=2

I know who you are and I know what you want. If you are looking for ransom, I can tell you I don’t have very much money. But what I do have are a very particular set of skills; skills I have acquired over a very long career. Skills that are currently in short supply. Skills that I can and will take to the highest bidder.

The Supreme Commander

I last posted about my upcoming retirement in More Retirement Income Ahead!

I need to start referring to my upcoming retirement as What Retirement?

The Myth of Retirement

Prices in the three production stages that are the furthest up the pipeline (Stages 1-3, red, green, gray) have all jumped by over 20% year-over-year. Prices at production stage 4 (black), up 12.1% year-over-year, are inputs for final demand prices, which are inputs for consumer prices.

Final demand prices are what consumer prices will encounter pretty soon in their consumer prices. Stage 4 intermediate demand prices will follow. And prices in productions stages 1-3 are further behind, but they’re true whoppers, and they will provide massive pressures on consumer prices for months to come:

Up the Price Pipeline, Inflation Rages at 20% — https://wolfstreet.com/2021/09/10/up-the-price-pipeline-inflation-rages-at-20/#comments

Prior to the 1950’s, there was no such thing as retirement, as the term is used today. A 1950 poll showed that most workers aspired to work for as long as possible. Quitting was for the disabled. Also, remember that in 1935 when the government was determining the appropriate retirement age for social security (65) the average adult male died at age 63.

The Baby Boom generation is also living longer than the generation before it. Chances are a married couple age 65 will have one spouse live into his or her early nineties. That is nearly 30 years of living off of one’s savings and Social Security if one retires at age 65. The math does not work for this many people. For so many to have golden years, there needs to be gold (money) to support them.

Trust Company Oklahoma May 2016 The Retirement Myth — https://www.trustok.com/our-latest-quarterly-newsletter/

Thinking about retirement? I’ve been thinking about retirement for quite some time and the thought of not working doesn’t appeal to me. There will come a time when the 40+ hour workweek will be no longer doable. But for now that time is far off in the future. The math in retirement will not work for the majority. I see inflation all around and my planned retirement income streams and savings will not last as long as hoped if everything costs more. Retirement math now is simple. If you can, work longer and save more.

Where Are The Starter Homes?

Pergens and his wife, Amanda, have a 6-year-old daughter and another child due this month. She stopped working as a pastry chef during the pandemic. They rent a small two-bedroom apartment. “We build all these fancy homes,” Pergens says. “Fancy, fancy houses … and low-income apartments. And there’s absolutely nothing in between.”

The Housing Shortage Is Significant. It’s Acute For Small, Entry-Level Homes — https://www.npr.org/2021/09/04/1033585422/the-housing-shortage-is-significant-its-acute-for-small-entry-level-homes?

Good article but the analysis is only partially correct. Affordable housing has been an issue for decades. It’s not merely an issue of current economic conditions. It’s a lack of political will and the continuing demise of the middle class. WAY BACK last century our starter home cost less than $100,000 and we had over 1600 square feet 3BR 2B.

It’s no wonder the newest hit show on HGTV is Cheap Old Houses. https://www.hgtv.com/shows/discovery-plus-home/articles/cheap-old-houses-hgtv-show

Wait Till 70 for Social Security? Nope

Schroders surveyed pre- and post-retirees 45 and older and found that only 10% planned to wait until 70 to claim benefits.

Wait Till 70 for Social Security? No Way, Say Most Americans: Survey — https://www.thinkadvisor.com/2021/06/24/wait-till-70-for-social-security-no-way-say-most-americans-survey/

It is painfully obvious to me that the majority of Americans are claiming benefits at both early and full retirement ages because they need the money and can’t afford to wait until age 70. Only healthy elders on financially sound footings will be deferring social security payments until their later years.

Yikes!

Flaming Lips Play the World’s First Space Bubble Concerts in OKC

“It does prevent that thing where people start to get drunk and the music is loud and they start screaming into each other’s face, which is the way that the COVID-19 is most spread. … Not screaming bad, but that’s just how conversations are when you’re at big gatherings,” Wayne Coyne said. “You can be in a Space Bubble with your friends that came to the show with you who you’ve been with your whole time and you know aren’t sick.”

In response to COVID, Flaming Lips on the verge of playing ‘the World’s First Space Bubble Concerts’ in OKC — https://oklahoman.com/article/5680749/in-response-to-covid-flaming-lips-on-the-verge-of-playing-the-worlds-first-space-bubble-concerts-in-okc

Two sold out shows this weekend. The video is from the “test” concert October 2020.

Watch the video and your opinion about Oklahoma will forever be changed.

American Democracy is in No Imminent Danger — Benjamin Studebaker

In 2014, I finished an MA thesis at the University of Chicago. In that thesis, I argued that as economic inequality increased, American politics would return to the sharp political divisions of the 1930s, with both left-wing and right-wing radical movements popping up all over the place. Recently, I finished a PhD thesis at the […]

American Democracy is in No Imminent Danger — Benjamin Studebaker

A very interesting and thought provoking article. Enjoy.