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Inflation is Higher Than You Think

Consumer Price Index

By Forbes Wealth

***

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™

Comprehensive Financial Planning 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.

###

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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Modern Retirement Planning and “Banding” for Physicians

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The “AgeBander” Approach Presents a More Accurate Portrayal

[By Somnath Basu, PhD, MBA]

A convergence of mega-trends will forever change the face of retirement planning and raise its importance in the pantheon of physician retirement planning and most all employee benefits. Chief among them: longer life expectancy, advances in medicine, healthier lifestyles and mounting concern about years of abysmally low savings rates.

What it all Means in Practical Terms

What this means in practical terms for future retired physicians and most all retirees is the need for employers, service providers and financial advisers [FAs] to plot a more accurate and thoughtful course to planning for retirement that acknowledges the necessity of pursuing an “age-banded” approach. The idea behind this new approach is that individuals undergo various changes in lifestyles during retirement that last for finite or “age-banded”, periods.

Example:

For example, doctors like most people spend more time and money on leisurely activities early on in retirement, while health care needs dominate the latter years. Further, the costs associated with these lifestyles also change at differential inflation rates than from the basic inflation rate. While the basic inflation rate is about 3%, the U.S. Census Bureau noted that annual recreation costs increased at 7.14% though most of the 1990s. Health care costs also increased by much higher rates than the basic rate. Since the traditional model bundles all costs (including leisure, health care, basic living, etc) and extrapolates at the basic rate, it tends to underestimate retirement expenses. The traditional model’s “static” approach to retirement can have dangerous implications since it may lead to under-funded retirement plans, especially those earmarked for the critical years.

A Flawed Model?

In a research paper published by the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, I detailed the reasons why an age-banded approach is superior to the traditional view of retirement planning. This new model provides for a more accurate portrayal of retirement expenses and an algorithm to calculate the income-replacement ratio, as well as smaller resource requirements and greater flexibility in managing risk. It also allows easier incorporation of long-term care insurance (LTCI) and significantly reduces funding needs. Indeed, the funding needs of a husband and wife who are both age 60 and presumably five years away from retirement are reduced by more than 16% and contributions for a 35-year-old single woman are reduced by 42% compared with previous approaches.

Traditional Retirement Planning Weaknesses

There are five inherent weaknesses to the traditional approach to retirement planning. They include the assumption that all living expenses will increase at the overall rate of inflation as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), bundling all expenses together and not allowing them to change based on the life-cycle, estimating those expenses as a fixed percentage (replacement ratio) of pre-retirement costs, investing in low-return assets and failing to consider contingencies such as LTCI benefits, which can have a significant impact on the amount of funding required for retirement.

Financial Advisory Estimates

When financial planners estimate how much income a client needs in retirement, the calculation hinges on their income just prior to retirement. The pre-retirement income is adjusted downward by 10% to 35%. This adjustment reflects the income necessary to maintain one’s standard of living and incorporates reductions in taxes and other work-related expenses that cease upon retirement. Unfortunately, there’s no objective way to estimate the replacement ratio. Aggressive financial planners typically use large ratios and conservative planners use smaller ones.

30-year Retirement Window

Under the age-banded model, an individual typically lives about 30 years in retirement (e.g., age 65 to 95) and experiences a lifestyle change every 10 years at 65, 75 and 85. Of course, both the retirement period and the width of the age bands are arbitrary but can be subjectively changed to fit each retiree as closely as possible. In addition, a number of steps are taken to produce a clearer picture of retirement costs by categorizing them based on taxes, living expenses, health care and leisure, as well as calculating anticipated expenses using the appropriate rate of inflation for each category, which is adjusted to reflect post-retirement lifestyle changes.

Those expenses are extrapolated through 30 years of retirement and the present value of post-retirement expenses are calculated at an amount deemed sufficient to finance the three following decade (each age band). Instead of discounting these values to the year of retirement (the traditional model), the age banding considers them to be three retirement portfolios that require funding.

Since the portfolio required to fund the expenses during the years 86 to 95 is 20 years behind the first band (66 to 75), investors can seek marginally higher rates of return to reflect the longer terms. Contributions toward these amounts can now be calculated.

Example:

For example, the couple mentioned earlier is able to seek higher rates of return for longer-term investment portfolios which more than mitigate the effects of escalating health care costs. In the case  of the 35-year-old single woman, since the funds required for these three portfolios are 30, 40 and 50 years away she should be willing to take on more risk since she has ample time to manage the portfolio risk.

The expenses for the age-banded method become considerably higher at the latter stages of retirement as compared to the traditional model. This is desirable since the over-funding is associated with an age at which one cannot afford to be out of funds. The higher estimate of the age band comes from higher inflation rates for health care and the incorporation of lifestyle changes that imply accelerated costs such as increased leisure spending upon retirement and higher health care costs in the latter years.

Thus, these higher costs are not only more realistic but they incorporate the dynamics of a retired life, unlike the traditional model. Incredible as it might seem, the ability to assume a marginally higher risk leads to an actual decrease in the funding requirements versus the traditional plan.

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Assessment

One caveat that doctors need to know, and that financial planners will need to keep in mind, is that their clients may be reticent to buy equities when markets are underperforming. Clear explanations are required regarding why it may still be beneficial for the long run and that the risk will be managed on an ongoing basis. But, the results will be well worth the effort for the multiple stakeholders involved in assuring that tomorrow’s retirees are able to live more comfortable after their working years. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind associated with knowing retirement expenses will be portrayed more accurately and plan participants will be afforded greater flexibility in managing their risk.

Table [Comparison of growth in retirement expenses]

Link: Age-Banded Retirement Planning FINAL[1]

Editor’s Note: Somnath Basu PhD is program director of the California Institute of Finance in the School of Business at California Lutheran University where he’s also a professor of finance. He can be reached at (805) 493 3980 or basu@callutheran.edu. See the agebander at work at www.agebander.com

Conclusion

And so, your thoughts and comments on this ME-P are appreciated. Financial advisors please chime in on the debate? Is Basu correct; why or why not? Review our top-left column, and top-right sidebar materials, links, URLs and related websites, too. Then, be sure to subscribe to the ME-P. It is fast, free and secure.

Speaker: If you need a moderator or speaker for an upcoming event, Dr. David E. Marcinko; MBA – Publisher-in-Chief of the Medical Executive-Post – is available for seminar or speaking engagements. Contact: MarcinkoAdvisors@msn.com

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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™8Comprehensive Financial Planning Strategies for Doctors and Advisors: Best Practices from Leading Consultants and Certified Medical Planners™

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