Markets:  Pullback or Higher??

Last week, the markets were down, leading many to speculate whether a Stock Market pullback/correction is in the cards. There are several opinions on both sides.

First, for the short week due to the Labor Day holiday, the Dow dropped (2.11%), the S&P 500 (1.685), the Nasdaq Composite (1.61%) and the Russell 2000 (2.80%).

Those that believe a pullback is close, have the following reasons:

  • The S&P 500 has hit 54 record highs so far in 2021
  • We are overdue (from a time aspect) for a 5-10% pullback
  • The free checks are over, which helped propel spending that drove our growth recovery
  • US companies can’t get supplies because of the various bottlenecks overseas
  • September, often times, is a challenging month
  • Possibility of significant tax increases being debated daily
  • Investors buying stock on margin is at record highs
  • I’m sure you can add to the list……..

The fact of the matter, pullbacks and corrections happen, and are necessary.  It’s normal when a correction takes place for investors to feel, “this is the big one!”  We’ve had plenty “big ones” over the years.  Provided you had a diversified, well-allocated portfolio that is positioned to your goals and needs, you ended up in a better place each time.

 Certainly, now is a great time to examine your life’s desires and make sure your portfolio is positioned appropriately!

Social Security/Medicare Trust Funds Information

This year’s Social Security and Medicare Trust Fund reports were released on August 31st.

Social Security has two trust funds:  The Old, Age and Survivor (OAS) and the Disability Income (DI) trust funds.

The OAS is for retirement income and survivor benefits.  The DI is for Disability Income.  The trust funds are separate, however, very often funds are switched from the OAS to the DI and back again, to help with solvency issues.

Here are the facts from the report:

Starting this year, and projected every year going forward, costs of the program will annually exceed tax revenues, forcing the current trust fund to fund the difference & deplete.

Under current projections, the Retirement and Survivor Benefit (OAS) trust fund will deplete in 2033 and the DI in 2057.  The reason the DI trust fund is in much better shape is that funds were recently diverted from the retirement trust fund to the DI.

When the trust funds are thought as one, the new estimate (including the impact of Covid) has the trust funds exhausting in 2034…. one year sooner than last year, prior to Covid.

The last time Social Security was facing a dire shortfall was back in the early 80’s.  Our government (at the last minute), made changes that took care of the solvency, up until now.

I certainly wish that our government would focus on Social Security and Medicare, as it will require additional tax revenue, before we engage in multi-trillion dollars of increased spending in other areas.  This should be viewed as an obligation. This is an area that most taxpayers would NOT mind paying more, to assure these heavily relied on programs are around – longer than each of us!

Medicare Part A (hospital insurance), has a trust fund called the HI Trust Fund.  Part A does not cost taxpayers a premium, as its financed 100% by payroll tax. The payroll tax projection is projected to be insufficient to pay the costs beginning in 2026, the same as last year’s report. This needs to be dealt with.  The projections I’ve read, beginning 2026, there will be enough tax revenue to pay approximately 80% of Part A costs.

Medicare Part B, SMI Trust Fund, (medical costs, doctor visits, diagnostic tests, and procedures), is projected to be adequately financed for the next 10 years.  Those enrolled in Medicare Part B pay 25% of the actual premium, with tax dollars paying the balance.  Those with incomes over certain thresholds pay more.

The challenging news for Medicare, is Part B and Part D (Drug program) costs have averaged annual growth of 8.5% and 3.2% respectively over the last 5 years.  The trustees project cost growth over the next 5 years will average 7.2% for Part B and 6.1% for Part D.

Is it too much to ask for our government to focus on a huge part of our population, who have already paid their dues for Social Security and Medicare??

Democrats and Republicans lawmakers share equally in sitting on their hands!!

 

 

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