Strong Tower

Megadrought in the Southwest

Bathtub Ring

Heading image: The tall bleached “bathtub ring” is visible on the rocky banks of Lake Powell on June 24, 2021 in Page, Arizona. Photo: Justin Sullivan (Getty Images)   You may have seen images of dried-up lakes and reservoirs in the American Southwest but might not realize that this particular drought recently ‘celebrated’ its 22nd […]

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. […]

The Eternal Olympic Boondoggle

What’s more eternal than the famous Olympic Eternal Flame? Eternal cost overruns by Olympic sponsoring nations. By all accounts, the Tokyo Olympics are extremely unpopular among Japanese citizens, and the reasons have nothing to do with the resurgence of COVID in that country. The events are taking place with no live spectators allowed in the […]

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. […]

Empty Olympic Stands?

After being postponed for a year, the Olympic Games are scheduled to begin on their revised schedule on July 23 in and around Tokyo, Japan. But it looks like the games will be held without the usual crowds of spectators. The Japanese government has banned international travelers from entering Japan to attend the games. After […]

Census Gains & Losses

The U.S. Census Bureau has released its official 2020 state population counts—a labor-intensive exercise it goes through every 10 years. This data will be used in Congressional redistricting efforts this fall, but for now we can see which states are net gainers of seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, and which states have lost […]

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 […]