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How To Look After Your Money

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How To Look After Your Money

You don’t need to be a millionaire to look after your finances.

Everyone should take steps to protect their money.

Why it’s important to look after your finances

It’s understandable why the wealthy want to look after their money in order to keep their bank balances healthy and growing.

However, this should be a priority for everyone.

In a world where it was reported that in America two-thirds of the population would struggle to deal with an emergency which cost them $1,000, it’s more important than ever to ensure you are financially secure.

Common issues faced by people are:

  • Income not covering bills
  • Struggle saving for the future
  • Falling into debt
  • Poor spending or investment choices
  • Feeling unable to spend money

Live sensibly within your means

If you are earning a certain amount each month, then obviously the amount you are spending shouldn’t exceed the amount you’re earning.

However, just because you are earning a certain amount each month, it that doesn’t mean that you should spend it all.

Live within your means but be wise about, only spend what you can afford on what you need.

Invest smartly

Investments come with the risk that as well as gain you could also lose.

You should only commit to an investment if you can afford the long-term commitment necessary and you fully understand what you are investing in. It also doesn’t pay to be too loyal, investments are not static and sometimes it pays to invest your money elsewhere.

Do your research and don’t blindly follow the crowd, use your judgement.

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Save your money

The best way to look after your family’s future is to save your money today.

You need to ensure that your family can cope with job losses or relationship breakdowns.

Investments and income will only get you so far, sometimes you need a lump sum of money stashed away to deal with unexpected situations.

Have financial goals

It is important to discuss your household finances and agree on some long-term financial goals.

These could be a simple as the age you want to retire or as complicated as owning your own business.

Create and maintain a budget

The best way to ensure you keep spending within your means is to create a budget and maintain it.

A budget needs to contain detailed information about your income and expenditures.

Your budget may need to be changed as your goals, income, and expenses change.

How you create a budget is up to you, you can either use professional software, or you can create your own using a spreadsheet.

Deal with debt

If you have debt, clearing it needs to become your top priority.

Debt can be damaging and the sooner you can eradicate it the better it will be for not only yourself but your family.

It’s important that you pay off your debts in order of priority.

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Protect yourself with insurance

If you can afford to, it’s important that you protect yourself and your family by looking into health, life, or disability insurance.

If the unexpected happened, insurance would act as a safety net to ensure that you and your family can manage during times of struggle.

Don’t let finances ruin relationships

Everyone in your household should work as part of a team.

Responsibilities should be assigned appropriately. 

If you have a spouse, you definitely need to discuss your financial concerns and goals, especially if you are struggling.

If you are not transparent about your financial situation or about your feelings, these may lead to greater issues in the future.

Why are Americans struggling?

Financially struggles are common amongst many families.

An estimated four in five Americans are expected to face near poverty at some point in their lifetime.

Why is this? There isn’t just one reason for the financial struggles facing many families across the nation, there are many. Such as:

  • Job insecurity
  • Loss of the manufacturing industry
  • The global market
  • Widening gap between the rich and the poor

The current state of the economy is affecting us all but what, if anything can be done?

There are certain areas which we could look at in order to improve the economy:

  • The national debt
  • Cost of taxes
  • Social security
  • Pension funds
  • Cost of Medicare
  • Cost of the military and defense

Unfortunately the longer these issues go unsolved, the bigger they will become.

The economy as it stands is unsustainable and tough decisions will need to be made in order to improve the finances of not just the country but also of ordinary Americans.

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Dollar Will Plunge 35%, Lose Status As World Reserve Currency

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The US dollar is on the verge of a 35% collapse. It could also lose its status as the world’s reserve currency. This is according to Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University and the former chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia.

The reason, according to Roach, is the slow decoupling of the US from its trade partners. Along with this, another reason is the rise of China. He says China’s structural reform goes away from a manufacturing economy. Instead, it comes into a more service-oriented economy with a stronger consumer base. This could mean the days of the US dollar being the world’s reserve currency are numbered.

Merely suggesting that the US losing its reserve currency status is enough to bring out the critics. In an opinion piece he wrote for Bloomberg, Roach addresses those critics.

“Scorn has long been heaped on those daring to question the supremacy of the U.S. dollar,” he starts. “As the world’s dominant reserve currency…the counter-arguments were strong and highly political, basically boiling down to the so-called TINA defense – that when it comes to the dollar, ‘there is no alternative.'”

The Role of The Dollar

Roach says that even those that believe there is no alternative to the US dollar when it comes to international trade. The same goes for when the financial markets are being shortsighted.

“Alas, the TINA argument doesn’t stop there. The counter to my case for dollar weakness also rests on the reserve status of the U.S. currency as the linchpin of world financial markets. All trading nations, goes the argument, have to hold the dollar as the price for doing business in an increasingly integrated dollar-based world economy.

“Even so, the dollar’s share of official foreign-exchange reserves has declined from a little over 70% in 2000 to a little less than 60% today, according to the Bank for International Settlements. That downtrend could gather momentum in the years ahead, especially with the U.S. currently leading the charge in de-globalization and decoupling. With America’s share of reserves well in excess of its share in world GDP and trade, such a correction might well be inevitable in an increasingly fragmented, multi-polar world.”

The natural instinct for a weak dollar is to buy hard assets like gold. However, Roach says those markets are simply too small. They will not be able to absorb the tsunami of dollars looking for a new home.

“And although cryptocurrencies and gold should benefit from dollar weakness, these markets are too small to absorb major adjustments in world foreign-exchange markets where daily turnover runs around $6.6 trillion.”

Gold and cryptocurrencies are too small to benefit. Although, Roach says he does expect two currencies to strengthen as the dollar weakens: the Chinese renminbi and the euro.

Can It Be Replaced?

“On this basis, a forecast of a weaker dollar requires some combination of a strengthening in China’s renminbi and the euro…

“The China call is very contentious. From the trade war to the coronavirus war to the distinct possibility of a new Cold War, the negative case for China has never been stronger in the U.S. than it is today.”

“The call on the euro is also counterintuitive, especially for a broad consensus of congenital euro-skeptics like me… I now have to concede that reports of the euro’s imminent death have been greatly exaggerated. Time and again, especially over the past 10 years, Europe has risen to the occasion and avoided a catastrophic collapse of its seemingly dysfunctional currency union. From Mario Draghi’s 2012 promise to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro from a sovereign debt crisis to the recent Angela Merkel-Emmanuel Macron commitment to a Next Generation European Union Fund of 750 billion euros ($855 billion) to address the coronavirus crisis, the great European experiment has endured extraordinary adversity… there is unmistakable upside for the most unloved currency in the world.”

Roach ends his article by pointing out that no country has ever devalued its currency and enjoyed prolonged prosperity.

“If TINA is the dollar’s only hope, look out below… Yes, a weaker dollar would boost U.S. competitiveness, but only for a while. Notwithstanding the hubris of American exceptionalism, no leading nation has ever devalued its way to sustained prosperity.”

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Fed Keeps 0% Rates Until At Least 2022

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Fed Keeps 0% Rates Until At Least 2022

Confirming what many expected, the Federal Reserve announced yesterday that it will keep rates at zero percent for the foreseeable future, perhaps well into 2022.

During a press conference, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said, “We’re not thinking about raising rates. We’re not even thinking about thinking about raising rates.”

The Fed did acknowledge that economic conditions “have improved” in the last few months. However, none of the members indicated an urgency to raising interest rates. In “dot plots,” each member plots their forecast for interest rates. However, in this case, only two of the 17 members saw a case for hiking rates in 2022.

The decision to keep rates at near-zero percent indefinitely is an attempt to get the economy back to where it was before the coronavirus pandemic. During the said pandemic shut down our country and plunged our economic output by an estimated 50% this quarter.

Optimistic Outlook

The outlook from Fed members is for real GDP to contract by 6.5% in 2020. This comes with an unemployment rate of 9.3% by the end of the year. The members are much more optimistic about 2021. Members projecting an unemployment rate down to 6.5% and real GDP reaching 5%.

There are already positive signs, with last week’s controversial jobs report showing 2.5 million jobs were added in May.

Powell cautioned, however, that the millions of jobs lost will unlikely return quickly, if ever.

He says that many businesses may simply not reopen. Alternatively, he also says that jobs eliminated during the pandemic may not exist in the “new world order.”

The Federal Reserve keeping rates low while printing trillions of dollars to help the country recover from the coronavirus pandemic. With this, there are some very real fears that inflation is going to spiral out of control. Many fear that this will soaring well above the Fed’s target of 2%.

Thus far, the Fed members seem unconcerned about the possibility of runaway inflation.

Plans and Expectations

The average Fed member expects inflation (as measured in core personal consumption expenditures) of just 1.0% in 2021, increasing slightly to 1.5% in 2021.

The Fed will also continue to do its part to keep liquidity in the markets by buying up assets including mortgage-backed securities and Treasurys. The FOMC told the New York Fed to keep purchases “at least at the current pace,” which indicates about $80 billion per month for Treasuries and about $40 billion per month for mortgage-backed securities.

These actions along with other quantitative easing measures have inflated the Fed balance sheet to a record $7 trillion, a number that Powell has indicated he is comfortable with.

During a webinar hosted by Princeton University a few weeks ago, Powell said that the Federal Reserve has “crossed a lot of red lines that had not been crossed before and I’m very comfortable that this is that situation in which you do that and then you figure it out afterward.”

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Stocks Rally as Oil, Jobless Claims Rocket Higher

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Stocks Rally as Oil, Jobless Claims Rocket Higher

The stock market rally continued yesterday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average jumping 2.24%, the S&P 500 gaining 2.28% and the Nasdaq up 1.72%.

Investors felt optimistic after President Trump tweeted that he had spoken with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Many were hoping that both Saudi Arabia and Russia were willing to end the price war and mutually agree to cut production by at least 10 million barrels per day.

“Just spoke to my friend MBS (Crown Prince) of Saudi Arabia, who spoke with President Putin of Russia, & I expect & hope that they will be cutting back approximately 10 Million Barrels, and maybe substantially more which, if it happens, will be GREAT for the oil & gas industry!” Trump tweeted.

However, some experts are doubting the reality of cutting production by such a significant amount.

Edward Marshall, a commodities trader at Global Risk, told The Wall Street Journal, “It’s physically impossible for Saudi Arabia and Russia to get 10 million barrels a day off the market—they’d burst their onshore storage and fill every ship in sight.”

News also broke that Saudi Arabia called for an emergency meeting of OPEC and other oil-producing countries. The country called for a meeting to talk about how they can stabilize the oil market. Prices have been in freefall since the last meeting ended without a production agreement beyond April 1.

This was enough to send oil prices rocketing higher. West Texas Intermediate crude gained as much as 34% intraday before settling at $25.32 per barrel, a 24.7% jump. This is its largest single-day percentage gain in history.

Even with prices moving higher, it may not be enough to prevent bankruptcies in the oil and gas sector. This wave of bankruptcies was kicked off by shale driller Whiting Petroleum Corp. on Wednesday.

Jobless Claims Set Record

The market’s rally yesterday came in spite of some very bad news early in the day. Initial jobless claims for the week ending March 28 came in at 6.6 million. This figure is nearly double the previous week’s then-record of 3.2 million.

To put this number in a historical perspective, prior to the last two weeks, the previous record number of claims in a single week sat at 665,000 in March 2009 during the Great Recession.

To put it simply, this week’s initial jobless claims number was equal to the total claims filed during the entire Great Recession.

Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist for MUFG Banks, wrote in an email, “We knew that massive job losses were coming because of reports that many workers were unable to file a claim for benefits even after waiting on line for hours. Everywhere you look Washington and state governments were not prepared for the rapid spread of the virus and the devastating damage that would be done to the economy if businesses were shut down and workers sent home.”

He added “In a normal recession, job layoffs build over the many months of recession until they peak. In this pandemic-based recession, the job losses are immediate where the economy’s weakest hour is right now.”

Why was the market able to rally despite historically bad jobless claims?

JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade, says it’s possible that the market knows it’s going to get worse. He also mentioned that this number won’t seem as bad in the coming weeks.

“Overall this is a little bit of a victory in and of the fact that it was such a bad number and the market did kind of shake it off. It is also the market preparing for a lot more bad numbers.”

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