December 2015 - Forecasts & Trends

Forecasts & Trends is much more than just investment blog posts. You need to know the "big picture;" you need to have a "world view," especially in the post-911 world; and you need more information than ever before to be successful in meeting your financial goals. Gary intends to help you do just that.

Forecasts & Trends

Blog Subscription Form

  • Email Notifications
    Go

Archives

  • Fed Set To Pull Trigger Tomorrow - A Good Thing Or Bad?

    The Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC) which sets US monetary policy convened in Washington this morning for its last meeting of 2015. It is widely expected that the Committee will vote to hike the key Fed Funds rate for the first time in almost a decade before the meeting concludes tomorrow.

    The FOMC slashed the Fed Funds rate from 5.25% in late 2007 to near zero by late 2008 during the financial crisis and recession. It has kept the key lending rate at 0.00% to 0.25% ever since in an effort to stimulate the economy, in addition to buying an unprecedented $3.7 trillion in Treasuries and mortgage-backed securities in a process known as “quantitative easing" or QE.

    It is not entirely certain that the FOMC will hike the Fed Funds rate tomorrow, but that is the prevailing consensus. Based on the minutes from the last FOMC meeting in late October, which were released on November 18, it is clear that Fed Chair Janet Yellen has a majority of FOMC voting members ready to support a rate hike if she chooses to do so.

    It is also not entirely clear how much the Committee might raise the Fed Funds rate should it decide to enact “lift-off” tomorrow. The prevailing consensus is that the first rate hike would be only 25 basis points (0.25%), but the Fed has provided very limited guidance as to the size of the expected increase. Assuming the rate hike is only 25 bips, the other question is from where – the Fed Funds rate is currently just under 0.15%.

    There are strong arguments on both sides of the lift-off issue. Many believe the Fed has already waited way too long to start normalizing interest rates and are adamant that lift-off should begin tomorrow. Many others, however, believe that the economic recovery is still too weak and the Fed should delay lift-off until sometime next year at the earliest.

    It is these two arguments that we will discuss today, ahead of tomorrow’s key decision. But before we get to that discussion, let’s do a quick review of the makeup of the Fed Open Market Committee, the most powerful monetary policy body in the world.

    ...
    Filed under: , ,
  • Retirement Savings Crisis Getting Worse, Not Better

    As long-time readers know, one of my continuing themes over the years has been saving, and in particular saving for retirement. Record numbers of Americans are retiring every year and, unfortunately, most have not saved nearly enough for the retirement lifestyle they envisioned.

    Even worse, more and more Americans are retiring with debt – mortgages, car payments, credit cards, etc. It used to be that you planned not to retire until you were out of debt and with a comfortable nest egg. Not so anymore.

    Today we will look at some recent retirement findings from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies  which are very concerning. We will also look at a recent survey by the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equity Fund, which researches retirement trends. The results are alarming.

    And finally, we’ll look at the question of how much you need to save to have a comfortable retirement. Unfortunately, this is a complicated subject that depends on several variables such as how much you have saved already, at what age you plan to retire, the lifestyle you wish to have, etc., etc. It’s a very important topic, so let’s get started.

    ...