Understanding QE3—The Federal Reserve’s Latest Policy

Bad weather outside, rainy, dark, dismal—I’m thinking about economics. A retired friend asked about QE3, the acronym for Quantitive Easing 3—the Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) newest effort to boost the economy. There have been two related efforts in the past few years, hence this new one is number 3. “I don’t understand it—is there anything in it for me?” he asked.

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Who Wins—Active or Passive Investors?

The Investment Race

Many retirees invest passively by buying shares in low-cost index funds that are designed to track selected markets. I have illustrated that approach in previous posts.

Many other retirees, and many younger investors, actively manage their investments. Some retirees do their own research and analyses while others hire brokers, financial planners or other advisers to manage their investments. They hope to achieve superior performance—to beat the market—by relying on extra effort, knowledge and skill.  Continue reading

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

The future looks a little less than bright for members of the younger generations. Research shows that the majority of Americans believe it is unlikely members of Generations X and Y will have a better life than their parents. At the same time, some members of these generations seem disillusioned with the current state of affairs and express pessimism that they will have a traditional retirement. Adding insult to injury are several popular myths that tend to blame these falling standard on the members of Generations X and Y.

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Coming Home: Multigenerational Households are Growing—Part 1

Coming Home-- Photo by Jamie Harris

Multigenerational households are growing in the United States, according to a 2010 study by the Pew Foundation. Such households were common in the early twentieth century, then they declined, reaching a relative low point around 1980. They have been rising since then, showing a distinct uptick with the recent recession. In a culture that emphasizes independence, multigenerational households generally expand out of necessity, providing further evidence that times are tough. These trends will affect the retirements of millions of Americans.

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The Oldest Generation—Income, Location, Disabilities, and Health Insurance

Last time we introduced a Census Bureau report that describes some characteristics of the oldest segment of our population—those 90 years old or older (90+). The group is small, mostly women, and mostly widowed. Still, about three-quarters of them live in households. Less than one quarter are institutionalized.

The median income in the group was $14,760 (2008 dollars)—that’s annual, per person, personal income. For men, it was $20,133, and for women, it was $13,580. Social Security has become nearly universal among this group: 92.3% of them receive it, and it is about 48%, or almost half, of the median personal income. The rest comes from investments, public assistance, other retirement income, or other sources.

During the same time, the median annual per person income in the US was about $27,500. The 90+ group has a per person income of about half the overall population.

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The Oldest Generation

All of us living in the last half can benefit from a portrait of the oldest among us. We can’t foresee an individual life, but we can guide ourselves more clearly if we know some averages or trends that describe our oldest brothers and sisters.

In November, 2011, the Census Bureau published a new report entitled: “90+ in the United States: 2006-2008,” in which it characterizes this oldest segment of the U.S. population. (PDF here)

The generation 90 and over is small. There were about 1.8 million (mm) people 90 and over during 2006-2008, which was about 0.6% of the total US population. About 1.55mm (88%) are white. Women far outnumber men: there are about 1.3mm women, and about 0.46mm men—almost a 3 to 1 ratio.

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