Daily Digest 12/31 – The Decade of Debt, How To Survive The Oncoming Retirement Crisis



Hedge funds to record more closures than launches for fifth straight year (Adam)

Billionaires Louis Bacon and Jeffrey Vinik were among veterans who rocked the more than US$3 trillion industry this year by handing back capital to clients. Many found themselves out of step with the longest running bull market in history, while others faced investor revolt or couldn’t raise enough to stay in the game. Some had just been doing it for too long, and wanted out.

How Big Companies Won New Tax Breaks From the Trump Administration (tmn)

Corporate executives, major investors and the wealthiest Americans hailed the tax cuts as a once-in-a-generation boon not only to their own fortunes but also to the United States economy.

But big companies wanted more — and, not long after the bill became law in December 2017, the Trump administration began transforming the tax package into a greater windfall for the world’s largest corporations and their shareholders. The tax bills of many big companies have ended up even smaller than what was anticipated when the president signed the bill.

The Decade of Debt: big deals, bigger risk (Adam)

In the first year of the decade, companies spent roughly $60 billion more on dividends and buying back their own shares than on new facilities, equipment and technology. By last year that gap had mushroomed to more than $600 billion, and the gap in 2019 could be just as large, especially given the constraint on capital spending from the trade war.

The buy-back boom is credited with helping to fuel a decade-long bull market in U.S. equities.

The Story of 2019: Protests in Every Corner of the Globe (RS)

Civil resistance in 2019 brought down leaders—some democratically elected, others dictators long in power—in Algeria, Bolivia, Iraq, Lebanon, and Sudan. Movements still threaten regimes in Ecuador, Egypt, Georgia, Haiti, Peru, Poland, Russia, and Zimbabwe. They forced governments—through peaceful means—to reverse course on controversial policies in China, Chile, and France, countries with starkly different political systems, economies, and cultures.

How to survive the coming retirement crisis (tmn)

Chile has a defined contribution (DC) system where individuals contribute to an account and bear the investment risk of financing their retirement. The French government offers a generous defined benefit (DB) plan, where the state pays its citizens a set income each year. Both systems are falling short, because no matter how you finance retirement you can’t escape one fundamental truth; retirement is expensive and there is not enough money for it. Or, at least, there is not enough money to finance the length of retirement at the standard of living people have come to expect. As Baby Boomers retire, they are putting every type of system to the test, and we are all going to have to revise our expectations.

How Cutting Food Stamps Can Add Costs Elsewhere (jdargis)

“SNAP recipients often work, but their employment can be unsteady,” said Dr. Seth A. Berkowitz, an internist and assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Seasonal variation in some labor markets — like agriculture or even retail consumer jobs when sales may spike around the winter holidays — can put people temporarily out of work, making it hard for them to keep food on the table. “The way these work requirements are imposed could pull support out from under people even when they are working.”

Thousands Flee to Shore as Australia Fires Turn Skies Blood Red (tmn)

On the last day of the warmest decade on record in Australia, the country’s east coast was dotted on Tuesday with apocalyptic scenes like the ones in Mallacoota, a vacation destination between Sydney and Melbourne.

Thousands of Australian residents had to take refuge on a beach as wildfires raged (Sparky1)

In the town of Mallacoota, which lies on the easternmost edge of the state of Victoria and is a well-known family camping spot, around 4,000 people fled to beaches, authorities said.

“There’s no way in or out,” Mallacoota resident Jason Selmes told CNN after evacuating his home.

Low Carbon Life: Fall Garden Success (Kara S.)

After several years in a row of completely failing to keep anything alive, this year I had some pretty good success! I planted collards, turnips, cabbage, kale, broccoli Raab, beets, carrots, arugula, mustard spinach, lettuce and chard. Of those, the ones that succeeded partially were turnips, carrots, chard and beets, while the arugula and mustard spinach did awesome. Notice I’m declaring great success, even though actually most of that stuff failed. With gardening, failure is a constant companion. It takes years to figure it out, and even then not everything succeeds, and that has to be okay. That’s why those prepper seed banks you can buy are so laughable. Nobody who has even attempted a garden would imagine that having the seeds is the same as harvesting the food.

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