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Friday Financial Five – November 8th, 2013

Friday, November 08, 2013

 

GDP exceeds tepid expectations

More than ever, the financial environment has forced people to become junior economists. Unemployment numbers give a general, if not perfectly accurate, indication of the synergy between corporations and workers. On the other hand, the Gross Domestic Product calculation can be slightly harder to grasp, other than looking for a positive, increasing number. The most recent GDP exceeded expectations, coming in at 2.8 percent for the third quarter when 2 percent was expected. Inventories increased in the face of slowed business and consumer spending, as consumer confidence has now dropped for six weeks in a row.

Social Security payments get a small bump

Social security recipients are getting good news all over the place. The debt ceiling was raised, meaning those on Social Security would actually get paid in November. And now the Social Security Adminstration has announced that payments will get a 1.5% cost-of-living-adjustment in 2014. It’s a safe bet that people feel expenses are increasing at a faster rate than that, but it’s also better than recent years that saw no increase at all.

IRS leaves IRAs and 401(k)s unchanged for 2014

The government shutdown delayed all those early birds from excitedly getting a jump on their 2014 financial planning. Delay no more, as the IRS has released 2014 numbers and there isn’t much of a change. The CPI numbers may have lead to a Social Security increase, but it wasn’t enough for the IRS to increase the amount of money that participants can contribute to IRAs and 401(k)s. It’s the traditional rock and hard place: study after study shows retirement balances are woefully underfunded but the government happens to be in dire need of tax revenue.

All aflutter about the Twitter IPO

The excitement over initial public offerings, such as Twitter, is understandable, as new and mysterious tends to trump old, boring, and mundane. But as with every investment, companies new to the market need to have solid fundamentals or a proven pathway to achievable and sustainable growth. Buying a share of a company means buying into the company’s earnings and growth potential, not ephemeral publicity that comes with being the new kid on the block.

Wine presents an economic lesson

Wine aficionados may be cruelly subjected to the laws of supply and demand. A recent Morgan Stanley report anticipates a global wine shortage due to increasing demand, especially among the Chinese. Meanwhile, production has been decreasing on a yearly basis, including recent storm activity in France. There have been refutations of this report, but as always the proof is in the pudding. Keep an eye on the price of your favorite wine.

Dan Forbes is a regular contributor on financial issues. He is a CFP Board Ambassador. He leads the firm Forbes Financial Planning, Inc in Providence, RI and can be reached at dforbes@forbesplanning.com.

 

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