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Tuition Costs V. Medical Care Costs V. Home Prices V. the CPI

In Picto-Graphic Form

[By staff reporters]

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Inflation is Higher Than You Think

Consumer Price Index

By Forbes Wealth

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cpi

Inflation is Higher Than You Think

Macro-Economics and What the ‘Chained CPI’ Could Mean for Social Security?

MORE: https://forbeswealthblog.ca/2019/01/11/how-high-can-interest-rates-go-2019/

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Risk Management, Liability Insurance, and Asset Protection Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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Macro-Economic Mid-Year Update

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Last Week’s Headlines

By Michael Green [TGA Capital Management]

www.tgacapitalmanagement.com

Businesses are paying more for goods and services as the Producer Price Index increased 0.5% in June, the largest increase in a year, according to the Labor Department. Higher energy costs pushed the increase. Since businesses usually pass on increases in the cost of goods and services, it’s likely consumer prices will increase as well, driving inflation upward.

Here is a mid year economic summary:

  • In fact, consumer prices did increase in June–just not at quite the same rate as producer prices. The Consumer Price Index rose 0.2%, following the same increase in May and a 0.4% gain in April. Over the last 12 months, the CPI has increased 1.0%. Excluding the volatile food and energy components, consumer prices still increased 0.2% in June and 2.3% from a year earlier.
  • Consumers continue to spend as retail sales increased in June, jumping 0.6% from the previous month and 2.7% ahead of last June. This follows a 0.2% (downwardly revised) increase in May. Excluding autos and gas, household spending climbed 0.7% from May. Output excluding autos remained the same as the prior month. This report, coupled with increases in consumer and producer prices, provides optimism for the economy over the summer months.
  • The manufacturing sector experienced a noticeable uptick in June, as industrial production increased 0.6% after falling 0.3% in May. Manufacturing output rose 0.4%, largely due to an increase in motor vehicle assemblies. June’s gain is the largest monthly increase since November 2014.
  • The number of job openings decreased by 345,000 to 5.5 million on the last business day of May, according to the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. April’s rate was 5.8 million. May’s job openings rate is the lowest of the year. The quits rate was unchanged at 2.0% as workers continue to remain at their present jobs. It’s important to remember that June’s employment situation report showed significant improvement on the labor front.
  • U.S. import prices rose 0.2% in June from May, largely due to a spike in petroleum prices. Exports also increased in June, rising 0.8% following increases of 1.2% in May and 0.4% in April. The 2.4% rise in export prices for the second quarter of 2016 was the largest three-month advance in export prices since the index rose 2.7% between February and May 2011.
  • The Treasury Department reported a $6.3 billion budgetary surplus in June, following May’s $52.5 billion deficit. However, over the first nine months of the fiscal year, the deficit is up almost 27%, at $400.9 billion, over the same period last year ($316.4 billion).
  • Largely influenced by the immediate negative impact of the Brexit vote, the Index of Consumer Sentiment fell from 93.5 in June to 89.5 in July.
  • In the week ended July 9, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial unemployment insurance claims remained level at 254,000, unchanged from the prior week’s level. The advance seasonally adjusted insured unemployment rate remained at 1.6%. The advance number for seasonally adjusted insured unemployment during the week ended July 2 was 2,149,000, an increase of 32,000 from the previous week’s revised level.

Conclusion

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Treating Children “Equally” in Estate Planning

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“Equal” isn’t necessarily “Fair”

By Rick Kahler MS CFP® http://www.KahlerFinancial.com

Rick Kahler CFPIn estate planning, “equal” isn’t necessarily the same as “fair”. I rarely see an estate plan that does not treat children equally. When I do see inequality, it’s usually because a parent is estranged from one child and leaves him or her nothing. So, “equal” isn’t necessarily “fair”.

Some call this the “placebo of estate planning equality”.

Psychologists

Many experts on the psychology of estate planning recommend that parents divide their estates equally among children. The main reason is to help enhance sibling relationships after the parents’ deaths. The goal is to eliminate the potential for hurt feelings and perceived injustice if parents favor one sibling over another financially.

Estate Division

Dividing an estate into equal shares for each child might seem to be the obvious way to treat children fairly. However, that usually only works if you’ve treated them equally during your lifetime. If you have given more to one child during life, it’s usually smart to level the playing field at death.

The Financial Samurai

I was reminded of this principle late last year in a post by a blogger who goes by the name Financial Samurai, who tells this story:

He perceived that his parents couldn’t afford to send him to a private college. To help them financially, he chose to go to a public university. His younger sister chose a private university costing eight times as much. After graduating, he worked hard to save enough to repay his parents. When he offered them the money, ten years after graduation, he was shocked when they declined it. Only then did he learn they had saved equal amounts for his and his sister’s educations. When he chose the less expensive school, they transferred what they saved on his tuition to help pay for his sister’s more expensive private education.

While he tries his best in the balance of the article to take the high road, assuring readers this injustice really doesn’t bother him, it’s clear that it does, a lot.

“No-Talk” Rules

The amazing thing about this story is that this family never discussed the financial aspects of college. The parents never told their son they were saving for his college education or communicated their intent to pay for it. He never asked, assuming that paying for college was his responsibility. The unspoken “no-talk” rule around money that so many families follow was rigidly in place.

College funding is far from the only way parents treat children differently. Another common one is bailing out one child who has financial struggles, either self-inflicted or caused by outside circumstances. Parents may also lend or give one child some money to start a business. Or they may feel they owe more to a child who has been the one to take care of them in old age.

Many of these inequalities can be compensated for in estate planning. One strategy is to subtract any excess paid to one child from his or her portion of the inheritance. It’s important here to provide for inflation, such as adjusting the amount paid to the child upward by the cumulative increase in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) from the date of the payment to the date of death.

placebo-pill

[The “Placebo” of Equality]

Assessment

If parents feel it’s fair to leave more to a child who has cared for them, it’s best to establish that amount carefully, based both on tangible factors like the market value of the care and on intangibles like the relationships among the siblings.

So, no matter what adjustments you make in your estate plan to equalize what children may have received during your lifetime, it’s crucial to talk about those adjustments. Clear communication about what is “fair” goes a long way to maintain strong sibling relationships long beyond the parents’ lives.

Conclusion

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Understanding the New “Inflation Tax”

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More on the CPI

By Rick Kahler MS CFP® ChFC CCIM www.KahlerFinancial.com

Rick Kahler CFPWith all the talk recently, about tax rates and the fiscal cliff, hardly anyone has mentioned what is probably the most effective and least understood tax in the federal arsenal: inflation.

Wait a minute. Isn’t it confusing to call inflation a tax? It is. That confusion is exactly why inflation is the ultimate stealth tax.

The CPI Formula

One of the few deficit-reducing measures that had the support of both parties and President Obama is a change in the way the government measures inflation. Our lawmakers have agreed on another in a series of adjustments to the way they calculate the consumer price index (CPI). The proposed changes will understate the future CPI even more than the current formula already does.

This maneuver is a brilliant way for deficit-reducing lawmakers to both cut spending and increase taxes, without calling their action either a spending cut or a tax increase.

The “Chained” CPI

How is this possible? First, here’s a brief explanation of the proposed change, which is called the chained Consumer Price Index. According to an AP article published in the Rapid City Journal on December 5th, 2012, “the chained CPI assumes that as prices rise, consumers turn to lower-cost alternatives, reducing the amount of inflation they experience.”

The assumption is that, if the price of pork rises while chicken doesn’t, people will buy more chicken. Yet they’re still buying protein. Therefore, presto—no inflation has happened. This argument is like saying if the price of gasoline goes up and the cost of walking doesn’t, people will just walk more, so there’s no problem.

A Spending Cut

The chained CPI is a spending cut because many entitlement programs are indexed to the CPI. These include Social Security, government pensions, veterans benefits, and the interest on some of the national debt. The lower the increase in the CPI; the less benefits will rise.

The AP estimates that once the new CPI is fully phased in, a 65-year old on Social Security will receive $136 a year less. At age 75 the reduction will be $560 annually, and at 85 it will be $984 less.

In addition, as wages increase at the real inflation rate, entitlement programs won’t keep pace. Gradually, fewer people will be eligible for programs like food stamps, Medicaid, heating allowances, and Head Start.

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cpi

A Tax Increase

The chained CPI is a tax increase for much the same reason. Many income tax brackets and deductions are indexed to inflation. Smaller annual adjustments to the brackets because of the lower CPI will push more people into higher tax brackets.

Tweaking the CPI is nothing new. Politicians from both parties have done so for years to give the illusion of a lower CPI than that calculated by previous methods.

ShadowStats.com, run by John Williams, calculates the current unemployment and inflation rates using the formulas from the 1980s. According to that methodology, the unemployment rate (U-6) is 15% and the CPI is 9%. Yet the government has tweaked the CPI so much that today the official CPI is 2.5%. Under this newest proposal, inflation would be 2.2%.

The Results

You may think understating the current CPI by 0.3% isn’t any big deal, but it is. The decrease represents a 12% drop in the inflation rate, which understates the increase in our cost of living. If your employer reduced your wages by 12%, you’d probably see it as a big deal.

Assessment

Proponents figure the newest CPI adjustment will save $200 billion in spending increases and raise $65 billion in new taxes over ten years. It doesn’t matter whether you call it inflation, chained CPI, or plain old gimmickry. A tax increase by any other name is still a tax increase.

Macro-Economics and What the ‘Chained CPI’ Could Mean for Social Security?

Conclusion

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Macro-Economics and What the ‘Chained CPI’ Could Mean for Social Security?

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Definition of Chain-Weighted CPI

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA

Dr David E Marcinko MBAAn alternative BLS measurement for the Consumer Price Index (CPI), removing the biases associated with new products, changes in quality and discounted prices.

The chain weighted CPI incorporates the average changes in the quantity of goods purchased, along with standard pricing effects. This allows the chain weighted CPI to reflect situations where customers shift the weight of their purchases from one area of spending to another.

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/chain-linked-cpi.asp#ixzz2FdiMs25f

information

Investopedia Example:

The chain weighted CPI incorporates changes in both the quantities and prices of products. For example, let’s examine clothing purchases between two years. Last year you bought a sweater for $40 and two t-shirts at $35 each. This year, two sweaters were purchased at $35 each and one t-shirt for $45.

Standard CPI calculations would produce an inflation level of 13.64% 

((1 x 35 + 2 x 45)/ (1 x 40 + 2 x 35)) =1.1364

The chain weighted approach estimates inflation to be 4.55%

((2 x 35 + 1 x 45)/ (1 x 40 + 2 x 35)) =1.0455.

Using the chain weighted approach reveals the impact of a customer purchasing more sweaters than t-shirts.

Read more: http://www.investopedia.com/terms/c/chain-linked-cpi.asp#ixzz2FdiceVyv

BLS Application

  • What is the C-CPI-U and when did the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) begin publishing it?

BLS began publishing the Chained Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers effective with the release of July 2002 CPI data. Designated the C-CPI-U, the index supplements the existing indexes already produced by the BLS: the CPI for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U) and the CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W).

The C-CPI-U employs a formula that reflects the effect of substitution that consumers make across item categories in response to changes in relative prices.

Read more: C-CPI-U data can be found on the BLS web site at http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost?su

Substitution Bias

  • What is substitution and substitution bias? And does the C-CPI-U eliminate it?

Traditionally, the CPI was considered an upper bound on a cost-of-living index in that the CPI did not reflect the changes in consumption patterns that consumers make in response to changes in relative prices.

Since January 1999, a geometric mean formula has been used to calculate most basic indexes within the CPI; this formula allows for a modest amount of substitution within item categories as relative price changes.

The geometric mean formula, though, does not account for consumer substitution taking place between CPI item categories. For example, pork and beef are two separate CPI item categories. If the price of pork increases while the price of beef does not, consumers might shift away from pork to beef. The C-CPI-U is designed to account for this type of consumer substitution between CPI item categories. In this example, the C-CPI-U would rise, but not by as much as an index that was based on fixed purchase patterns.

With the geometric mean formula in place to account for consumer substitution within item categories, and the C-CPI-U designed to account for consumer substitution between item categories, any remaining substitution bias would be quite small.

Assessment 

Link: What ‘chained CPI’ could mean for Social Security

White Paper: http://www.bls.gov/cpi/super_paris.pdf

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