HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES:
U.S. retailers enjoyed their best holiday season since 2011. Sales increased 4.9% over last year. Online retail shopping increased 18.1%! Even specialty apparel and department stores experienced modest gains. Black Friday was the biggest single sales day with December 23 coming in a close second (last minute shoppers).
HOME PRICES MOVING UP:
Of course, this is a story where the average may not help you much. In the U.S., from October of 2016 to October of 2017, home prices moved up by an average of 6.2%. In Seattle, prices jumped more than 12%. Obviously, in some localities, prices did not rise much if at all. In general, inventories have tightened up, causing prices to rise, and now selling is slowing. When prices rise faster than people’s paychecks are rising, demand will fall.
THE NEW TAX BILL AND U.S. MIGRATION:
People are already migrating from high-cost states to lower-cost areas as home prices and rents in large urban centers soar and it becomes easier for people to work remotely. Nevada and Utah saw the largest percentage population growth in the last year. The new tax law is likely to encourage this trend. The low cap on the amount of property and state income tax filers can deduct ($10,000) will hit places like New Jersay, New York and California especially hard. Places like Raleigh, Austin and Charlotte are going to become even more attractive.
WILL CONGRESS FOCUS ON THE DEFICIT?:
When the unemployment rate reached its lowest point during the expansions that ended in 2001 and 2007, the U.S. ran a budget surplus of 2.3% and a deficit of 1.1% of GDP respectively. In the current expansion, deficits hit their lowest at around 2.5% of GDP in 2015 before turning higher again.
HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP COMPARED TO THE MEDIAN AND AVERAGE AMERICAN IN YOUR AGE GROUP?
A NEW YEAR, A NEW BEGINNING:
In many ways, January 1 is a very artificial “beginning”. There is nothing special about the date but for the calendar. We are still in the middle of winter (for all you snow birds, that means we are muddling through cold, snow and ice in case you forgot). Most of our lives continue without so much as a hiccup. However, because of the calendar, it does create a time for reflection on the year past, and thoughts about the year ahead. I have some very specific business and personal goals where I will definitely begin measuring on January 1, and see how I did on December 31. From a financial standpoint, it always makes sense to take stock and at least make some modest goals. If you have $100,000 in retirement dollars, aim for $120,000 by December 31. If you have $5,000 in savings, aim for $10,000. If you have $50,000 in outstanding student loans, and according to schedule they will be down to $45,000 on Decemer 31, aim for $42,000. Any goal that requires some monitoring and some modest amount of discipline will help you make the year a better one.
HOME PRICES MOVING UP: https://www.wsj.com/articles/home-prices-jump-in-october-1514299494
WILL CONGRESS FOCUS ON THE DEFICIT?: https://www.wsj.com/articles/new-stimulus-leads-economists-to-revise-up-growth-deficit-projections-1514128601
HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES: http://wilmingtonnewsjournal.de.newsmemory.com/publink.php?shareid=1cc660cbb
THE NEW TAX BILL AND U.S. MIGRATION: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-tax-law-will-help-some-housing-markets-1514116801
HOW DO YOU MEASURE UP COMPARED TO THE MEDIAN AND AVERAGE AMERICAN IN YOUR AGE GROUP? https://www.statisticbrain.com/average-american-net-worth-statistics/