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The Best of What They Said and I Read week ending 9/10/2017

Short excerpts from articles I found interesting.

I may not agree with the author and the following material is not intended as investment advice.

Barron’s – September 9, 2017 – Even Hurricanes Can’t Kill Off This Rally – by Ben Levison

  • “…We have hurricanes and earthquakes, a nuclear-armed dictator in North Korea threatening to unleash fire and brimstone, and yes, even a Republican president working with Democrats in Congress. Or as Bill Murray put it in Ghostbusters, “Mass hysteria!”
  • Not quite. Despite the suffering brought by a trifecta of natural disasters, and the shock of seeing President Donald Trump teaming up with Nancy Pelosi to extend the debt-ceiling deadline, only nuclear tests by North Korea really shook the markets. And even then, it wasn’t much of a shock. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index declined just 0.6%, to 2461.43, last week, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 189.77 points, or 0.9%, to 21,797.79. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 1.2%, to 6360.19. Despite the declines, the S&P 500 sits just 0.8% below its all-time high…”

The Wall Street Journal - 5 Ways to Protect Your Finances After Equifax Data Breach  – September 8, 2017 by Daisey Maxey

  • “…Credit-reporting company Equifax said it was the target of a security breach, which has potentially compromised the personal information of about 143 million U.S. consumers…For those who think their information may have been breached, here are steps they can take to protect their data.”
  • “Check Credit Reports - Consumers should check their credit reports with Equifax but also with the other major companies, Experian and TransUnion. The reports are available free annually via annualcreditreport.com… Consider a Credit Freeze - A credit freeze will prevent new lines of credit from being issued, but it is a complicated step. Consumers must contact each credit agency and follow their procedures…Check Bank Statements and Credit Card Statements - Consumers should check their bank statements and credit-card statements for any unauthorized activity.  Take the Credit Monitoring Offered - Equifax has established a website www.equifaxsecurity2017.com - to help consumers determine if their information has been affected and to sign up for credit-file monitoring and identity-theft protection. The offering, called TrustedID Premier, includes credit monitoring of Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit reports; copies of Equifax credit reports; the ability to lock and unlock Equifax credit reports; identity-theft insurance; and internet scanning for Social Security numbers…”

Barron’s – September 8, 2017 – Social Security Strategy:  6 Things You Need to Know – by Jack Hough

  • “…Myth 1: Healthy Payment Hikes Are Back…The estimate for the next increase, which will be announced in October, is 2.2%...Myth 2: Social Security Is Going Broke…The Social Security Trust Fund has enough money to pay full benefits through 2033.  Assuming no change before then, partial benefits would have to be paid using Social Security taxes as they come in. Recipients would receive an estimated 77% of promised amounts starting in 2034… Myth 3: Longevity Is the Biggest Culprit…A larger cause of the funding shortfall is the well-understood trend of baby boomers retiring, combined with a falling fertility rate. From 1974 through 2008, there were more than three workers for each Social Security recipient.  By 2035, there will barely be two…Myth 4: Social Security Is Politics’ Third Rail—Too Dangerous to Touch…In 1983, Congress followed the recommendations of the bipartisan Greenspan Commission and made substantive changes to Social Security, including taxing some benefits and gradually raising the full retirement age…Myth 5: Retirees Should Start Benefits as Soon as Possible…Retirees who need the money to pay their bills have little choice, but most of those who can do without the cash should wait. Full retirement age is currently 66 for those born between 1943 and 1954. (It will gradually rise to 67 for those born in 1960 or later.) Workers can file for benefits as early as 62 and get 75% of the amount they would receive at full retirement age. Or, they can wait as late as 70 to receive 132%. Myth 6: Loopholes Have Been Closed…There’s still the restricted application. At full retirement age, the lower-earning spouse begins collecting regular benefits. The other files only for a spousal benefit, not their own retirement benefit, which continues to build. Later, the higher-earning spouse switches over to his or her now-larger retirement benefit. There’s a catch: The tactic is only available to those born on Jan. 1, 1954, or earlier…”

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