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Wealth Blog

What comes after 'The Twist'?


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It is truly remarkable how much economic news is out there. You can get reports on just about anything these days.

The problem is that most people don't know what to do with this information. It seems the news is coming in so fast and in such large amounts, we are having trouble sorting through it and putting it in perspective.

Take last week's announcement that inflation fell to 1.7 percent (2.3 percent if you include food and fuel). The average American might look at that and think, "Whew, my paycheck should go a lot further this week than last."

I, unfortunately, have a different view. When I combine that news with the fact that 1) the government's most recent bailout, "The Twist," is ending in June, 2) The Fed is meeting this week and 3) jobless claims have moved back to 386,000, I begin to brace myself for another round of potential bailouts.

I believe this would be round four or five, but who's counting?

Maybe I should be happy that we are going to be rescued again. Maybe this means the stock market could go back up, and all would be better.

Unfortunately, I don't feel that way. When I look at what has happened to our citizens' wealth during the last five years, I get a feeling that maybe this is not working.

According to the Federal Reserve, our median net worth (the difference between our assets and liabilities), dropped 39 percent from 2007 to 2010. Our income did not fare much better. According to the Fed's survey of consumer finance during that same period, our median value of real (inflation adjusted) family income before taxes fell 7.7 percent.

All of this occurred during an unprecedented campaign of spending by our government designed to fix our economy and help us get back on our feet.

So I am not excited about falling inflation; in fact, it scares me. I don't think our debt load can be pushed much further. I think that if we were better informed, our government might not be so trigger-happy with the checkbook next time. And maybe we could start reducing this debt instead of adding to it.

Joe Wirbick is president of Lancaster financial services firm Sequinox and specializes in retirement planning and distribution. This allows him to concentrate on developing strategies that help address the unique issues that confront retirees and those approaching retirement.

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