Let me repeat that: Oil Keeping Inflation Down? Yup, that’s what I am going to suggest. I think before I get to the oil impact, it’s important to discuss the word inflation. I recall in grad school courses defining inflation as “too much money chasing too few goods.” By that measure, do you observe that the multitudes’ pockets are swelling with cash? I don’t. No bubble forming in the stock market, no solid bottom in the housing market. And wages are barely keeping up with inflation, if at all. This leads me to ask, do the higher gas prices represent inflation or something else? Now, we know the fed was busy pumping
billions trillions into the system, but those dollars seem to be sitting in bank vaults somewhere, I sure don’t see them in my pocket.
Which gets me to the punchline. I was watching CNBC this past weekend and saw that Walmart was concerned about their sales forecast, specifically citing that high gas prices would keep their customers from driving over. This is something to ponder a moment. I can’t imagine The Bernanke telling the commodities market to bid oil higher if he needed to head off inflation, but Walmart’s sales forecast really got my attention. Is inflation dead? Not at all, not by a longshot. It’s just not here yet, and higher prices for gold and oil are doing more to damper inflation than exacerbate it.
Another great week of reading. Let’s start with Financial Samurai’s The Importance Of A Permanent Tax Policy. Sam got it right. I made this observation as it related to the estate tax, but Sam takes it one step further, the changes, whether real or feared, bring the behavior that comes with such uncertainty. Both individuals and businesses may be afraid to spend/hire not knowing what their tax burden will be next year or the year after. Let’s put a stake in the ground now, keep the rates as is, and announce that for the next 10 years (’cause we know nothing is really permanent) the tax rate schedule will adjust for inflation, as will the standard deductions, and exemptions. No more nail-biting as each set of regs is about to expire.
At Retire Happy Blog, Jim Yih asks Is a million dollars enough to retire happy? Good question, Jim. Unfortunately, the saving rate is so low that not enough of us will get anywhere near this number. As a fee-only advisor I hope you are adding more people to the list at the million dollar club.
At Personal Dividends, the prolific Miranda asks Are You Paying Too Much Attention to Financial Media? She does an excellent job describing how long term volatility is far less than short term. When you look at the market year-on-year or even a month at a time, the daily noise is left behind. An important observation, and good reason to pay less attention to the media.
Roshawn Watson talks debt and the phenomenon of Labeling Debt To Make It More Palatable. In the end, “good debt” is hard to find, perhaps a student loan financing a degree for a high paying career, maybe even the mortgage for the right house, the payments lower than any rent in that area, but let’s not kid ourselves, debt is debt.
Dr Dean posted Gas Prices Rise: What Say You? As the political cartoon I posted yesterday suggested, Dr Dean feels the higher oil/gas prices put the economy at risk.
This was a good segue to Barbara Friedberg’s Good News, Bad News; The Economy Is Improving And Prices Are Rising, which discussed her observations on the creeping upturn of inflation.
At Fiscal Fizzle, Wojo posted TurboTax Online Rocks My World Every Year. A nice review, and Wojo mentions he’s used TurboTax for 5 or 6 years. I guess I’m getting old, I bought my 27th copy this year, having fallen in love with MacIntax (The Mac version used to be branded as a separate product) back when I did my 1984 return. Speaking of me, if you’ve not done your taxes yet, I have three copies to give away of the Premier Online Edition. Planning to announce the winners on Wednesday March 9th.
And to finish the roundup, Ninja from Punch Debt in The Face writes Being Wealthy Scares Me. Hmmm, it’s always been being poor that scared me, but Ninja makes some good points in his article.
Have a great week, Joe