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07.14.2023 by Gerrit Petersons

June CPI – Lowest Since 2021

June’s consumer price index (CPI) report was released this week and Core and overall CPI both rose at 0.2% in June. Year-over-year changes in CPI (+3.0%) and Core CPI (+4.8%) rose the slowest since 2021. Part of the difference in the two numbers is CPI includes food and energy prices and the June 2022 CPI figure contains the rise in energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, where energy prices have fallen since. CPI - Bloomberg

Friday’s June jobs report showed an increase of 209,000 jobs. The number was slightly below expectations of 240,000, however, was still a strong number. The government sector, led by state and local hiring, added 60,000 jobs. A key consideration in a world of real-time data and information is that it is preliminary and can be wrong in the moment, so it is important to review the revisions of prior months: the May jobs report was reduced by 33,000 and April by 77,000. June Jobs Report | (

Overall, with the economy humming along with +200k jobs monthly, strong labor participation rates, and core inflation still above the Federal Reserve’s target, it sets up for an expected rate increase of 0.25% at the Federal Reserve’s July 26th meeting.

Summer of Extreme: Weather With news that the Earth is at its hottest in thousands of years (Hot Earth | The Washington Post), it feels like every week brings a new extreme weather event to the United States. From historic rain and flooding in Vermont and New York to the heat in the Southwest, it is another week of dangerous weather. The heat in the Southwest is extremely dangerous - Phoenix’s low temperatures are above 90 degrees at night. As someone who lived in El Paso for a few years, the summers would have periods of dry, hot days but it wasn’t completely intolerable or dangerous and the nights would cool off. Weeks at a time of temperatures above 100 and 110 degrees are very unusual events for the region. Vermont, NY Flooding |The Washington Post Southwest Heat Wave | PBS NewsHour

End to Maine Property Tax Freeze: The program to freeze property taxes for Maine residents over the age of 65 will end in 2023, just one year after it was put in place. The program’s administrative strain on local municipalities and projected exponential costs for the state contributed to the end of the short-lived policy. Maine Budget |

Financial Planning/Investment Strategy Corner:              

Credit Report Importance

With interest rates rising and potentially remaining elevated for a period of time, a strong credit report and score are vital to obtaining the best interest rate and access to credit at any age. For younger investors, credit is key when obtaining mortgages or auto loans and it is important to establish credit early. This can be done by setting up a credit card where the card is used minimally, and the balance is scheduled to be paid off monthly. This will establish a long and strong credit history and maintain a low credit utilization (a low balance vs. available credit), core portions of a credit score. Paying student loans is also a way to establish credit.

An accurate credit report is important for access to credit. Beyond fraudulent accounts or errors in reporting, a review of your credit report should also contain a review of account ownership for each family member as credit reports are based on an individual’s credit history. This is particularly important in retirement where mortgages and auto loans may have been paid off long ago. We have seen instances where a credit history is only in one spouse’s name and even obtaining a new credit card is not possible. There are free services like Credit Karma which offer access to TransUnion and Equifax credit reports at any time and email you with any changes to your credit report, like new accounts. Your credit card may also offer free credit monitoring services.

An Approach to Working in the Digital Age

I enjoy Derek Thompson’s writing in ‘The Atlantic’ but his podcast Plain English, is a good listen as well. A recent episode with his guest Calvin Newport discussed working in the digital economy and ‘Deep Work’. The discussion was framed around how we have potentially become less creative when we work as the day is filled with constant digital distractions and we are unable to focus on a specific task. When work is measured by responsiveness or our immediate availability, it may detract from deep thinking. For this newsletter, I am sequestered in my office but have peaked at the emails piling up in my inbox. One humorous anecdote was about the creation of email and what happened in the initial implementation, as email was primarily created to replace physical memos and communications. Before becoming a complete Luddite and ignoring modern office norms, consider striking a balance of structured meetings and setting aside time for specific deep-thought projects. This could help improve productivity, increase creativity, and make us feel less tired or overwhelmed at work.

Quick Hits:

Quote: “If camping is so great, why are the bugs always trying to get in your house?” – Jim Gaffigan (I’ll remember this while we are camping at Cobscook State Park this weekend)

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