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.
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.
More than 500 companies filed for bankruptcy under the small-business bankruptcy rules since February, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute. June was the top month for filings with 131 cases; many were filed in states hit hard by the pandemic like Florida, Texas, California, New York and Illinois.
Unfortunately this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.
A lot of people are going to need a lot of help over the upcoming years. Do what you can, in whatever capacity you have to help. We have increased our donations to a local charity called The Hope Center and have started sending small sums to the Food Bank of Oklahoma. Every little bit helps.
The collapse of economic activity in 2020 from COVID-19 has been immense. An important question is how much of that resulted from government restrictions on activity versus people voluntarily choosing to stay home to avoid infection. This paper examines the drivers of the collapse using cellular phone records data on customer visits to more than 2.25 million individual businesses across 110 different industries. Comparing consumer behavior within the same commuting zones but across boundaries with different policy regimes suggests that legal shutdown orders account for only a modest share of the decline of economic activity (and that having county-level policy data is significantly more accurate than state-level data). While overall consumer traffic fell by 60 percentage points, legal restrictions explain only 7 of that. Individual choices were far more important and seem tied to fears of infection. Traffic started dropping before the legal orders were in place; was highly tied to the number of COVID deaths in the county; and showed a clear shift by consumers away from larger/busier stores toward smaller/less busy ones in the same industry. States repealing their shutdown orders saw identically modest recoveries–symmetric going down and coming back. The shutdown orders did, however, have significantly reallocate consumer activity away from “nonessential” to “essential” businesses and from restaurants and bars toward groceries and other food sellers.
I admit to having a short attention span. My mind tends to wander a bit, sometimes a lot. The reason for my cognitive wandering is usually a question which sends me down yet another path of discovery. So here’s another post in my intermittent series on Post Pandemic Changes in Consumer Behavior
My July 4th weekend will be a quiet weekend. I’ve downloaded the pdf of this working paper to read. I’m hoping for some insights that I might have missed.
For older people, the coronavirus crisis has been an appalling shock. Many can’t travel or see grandchildren. Even buying groceries is a risk. Their life savings are melting as the global economy shuts down and financial markets plummet. The pain may be particularly acute in the U.S., where Americans rely on a retirement system that was broken well before a pandemic dashed it to pieces.
The ING International Survey Savings 2019, the eighth in an annual series, surveyed 14,695 people in Europe, the US, and Australia, and discovered the majority worry about not having enough money in retirement. The findings show that many people are “sleepwalking” into a financial crisis with little or no savings toward their golden years.
The ING International Survey Savings 2019 highlights the difficulties people are facing across Europe, the USA and Australia when it comes to meeting long-term savings goals, such as funding retirement. The survey, the eighth in a savings series repeated annually, canvasses the views of nearly 15,000 people in 15 countries, reveals that six in ten (61%) of non-retirees across Europe worry they won’t have enough money to live on when they retire. This is no surprise when you realise that high shares (27%) have no savings at all. Among this group, two-thirds (66%) tell us they simply don’t earn enough to put anything aside. And many who do have savings aren’t massively better off: 42% in Europe say they have no more than three months’ take-home pay put aside. Results from the USA and Australia are similar.
The present standard of retiring somewhere between ages 60 and 70 is not going to be sustainable when half the population lives to 80 or 90 – which is already realistic today – let alone 100 or more. It’s just not possible. If you’re like me, you don’t intend to retire at 70 or maybe not at all, but it’s nice to know we have the option. Future generations won’t.
I refuse to extrapolate the stories of two families profiled in the linked Washington Post article but will readily admit the author may be on to something. The cartoon was not part of the article but ran in my local newspaper’s Sunday Comics. So I put the two together and the picture is anything but funny.