Strong Tower

Market Mysteries

Financial planning professionals often hear people confess, sometimes in embarrassment, that they don’t really understand investing or the markets. The investing part is pretty simple: you put together a thrifty portfolio (meaning low annual internal expenses) with a mix of U.S. and international stocks and bonds, leavened perhaps with real estate or gold. The precise […]

The Real Job Picture

Anecdotally, we hear that anybody who wants to find a job today will find him/herself in a competitive bidding situation. There are articles that advise job seekers on how to manage competing salary offers, while articles for employers offer advice on how to avert bidding wars for valuable members of their staff. Other articles simply […]

Will Social Security Go Bust?

You may have read that the Social Security Trust Fund is due to be depleted in 2033, a year earlier than previous projections. This sounds alarming, except for several caveats. First, the projected date of depletion has been in the 2035 range for the past decade, so this shift is really nothing new—or particularly alarming. […]

Oldest State Populations

The U.S. state with the oldest population has to be Florida, right? That’s where elderly people from the Northeast go to retire. Actually, no. Surprisingly, when you measure each state (and territory) by the median age of its citizens, you find that Maine is America’s oldest state, with a median age of 45.0 years old. […]

State GDP Equivalents

Sometimes it’s not easy to realize just how big the U.S. economy is compared with the rest of the world. But a recent graphic published by the GZero organization gives a pretty good hint. Look at the map, and notice that North Dakota—one of the smallest states in the U.S. in terms of economic activity […]

Inflation Fears in Perspective

The U.S. inflation rate hit 5.4% before scaling back a bit to 5%—rates which have raised alarms among investors, economists and most importantly the financial press. But how bad are these recent jumps in consumer prices compared with the rest of the world? If you look at inflation rates for other countries, our current CPI […]

Inflation and Social Security

Every year since 1975, the Social Security Administration has automatically adjusted its benefit payments upward to account for inflation; the goal is for the payments to keep pace with the cost of living that recipients are experiencing. For the past decade, these inflation adjustments have been pretty modest, as you can see in the chart. […]

Bitcoin “Investments”

There’s a lot of buzz in the investment world about Bitcoin—and cryptocurrencies generally.  Is it an investment? A real medium of exchange? Some of this interest undoubtedly comes from the fact that, in 2009, Bitcoins were selling for eight cents a coin. At the peak earlier this year, one of those coins was trading at […]

Market Jitters & Inflation Worries


In the last few trading days, investors and traders were reminded once again that markets go down—sometimes with a lurch. The most recent lurch was this week’s 2.1% one-day decline in the popular S&P 500 index of U.S. stocks—which was described as “the biggest one-day drop since February.” In the first three days of the […]

Good News on the (soon-to-be) Post-COVID Economy

You already know that the U.S. stock markets are constantly testing all-time highs, and part of the euphoria is the idea that we may soon get our lives back. But is there any solid economic data to back it up? Recent Commerce Department data offers better news than anybody was expecting about the U.S. economy. […]