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09.8.2023 by David M. Smith

Oil Prices Head Higher And Important Worker Reports Are Released

Saudi Arabia and Russia agreed this week to extend voluntary oil production cuts through the end of this year. The announcement pushed the price of oil above $90 a barrel for the first time since late last year. If the price holds or heads higher, it will eventually lead to higher prices for consumers at the gas pump. AP News Higher prices will also threaten what had been an improving outlook on decreasing inflation over the last year with much of the decrease coming from energy.

Why the Oil Cuts? While many have interpreted the oil cuts as a political act of U.S. adversaries, many experts disagree. They state that OPEC nations have been hurt when oil prices rose too high or fast, throwing economies into recession and greatly reducing oil demand and prices. Therefore, the argument goes, that oil-producing countries are trying to balance oil production and global growth. The economic challenges in China and other countries may have been a factor. One other hypothesis is that Russia couldn’t meet a higher production limit anyway, as they are now lacking technical parts and know-how due to sanctions. Forbes

Good News/Bad News: The number of workers seeking jobless benefits last week was the lowest in six months. The jobless claims have been trending lower the last month pointing to a still strong labor market. This is a good news, bad news scenario. The good news is that companies are not laying off workers which should lead to continued strong consumer spending and a solid economy. The bad news is that it could make higher inflation stickier as consumers will have the capacity to continue to spend, fueling higher prices. Conundrums like this are why the Fed has a difficult job setting rates. Bloomberg

Good News/Good News: The Labor Department released a report stating worker productivity in Q2 was revised lower but still the strongest productivity increase in almost three years. The output per worker increased at an annual rate of 3.5%. If worker productivity increases, it is good for keeping goods prices (and inflation) lower. The report also showed labor costs increased at a 2.2% annual rate which is the slowest since Q4 of last year. The Fed is very focused on labor costs to determine future monetary policy. So we will put these reports in the Good News/Good News column! Reuters

Financial Planning/Investment Strategy Corner:              

How To Retire Well: Knowing how much to save, how much you can spend, and knowing when you can retire are all very important in preparing for life after work. But just as important is knowing how to make the most of and enjoy retirement. We have always strived to help clients live their best retirement and are thrilled that our webinar next month is on how to prepare for and retire well. Alan Spector, a retirement expert, will cover the challenges, opportunities, and biggest myths about retiring and what you can do to prepare for a fulfilling life after work. All are welcome but the presentation will be most helpful for those within 5-10 years of retiring and for those who have retired within the last couple of years. The webinar will be on Thursday, October 12th and we will be sending an invitation out with all the details soon. When you receive the invitation, feel free to pass it along to anyone who may be interested.

Quick Hits:

  • What to know about COVID heading into the fall: WSJ
  • Someone bought a painting for $4 at a NH thrift store – it turned out to be an authentic rare painting by NC Wyeth and is worth up to $250,000: CBS News Boston
  • Some Silicon Valley titans are trying to build a city from scratch in northern California: NYT MSN  
  • Lithium batteries are expensive and could be a bottleneck for renewable energy, could inexpensive low-tech sand batteries be a solution? Wash Post
  • Wealthy people are starting to get full body scans to find and possibly prevent health issues; do they help or not? WSJ WebMD
  • Apparently, the age when you make the best financial decisions is about 53 or 54. WSJ

The Eight Habits That Can Lengthen Your Life by Decades: A recent study on over 700,000 U.S. veterans reported that adopting certain habits by middle age can lead to living much longer than those involved in fewer or none of the habits. The habits are being physically active, having no opioid addiction, not smoking, managing stress, having a good diet, not binge drinking regularly, having good sleep, and having positive social relationships. The results showed that men who had all eight habits by age 40 lived an average of 24 years longer vs. men with none of the habits and for women it was an additional 21 years. There were additional years lived for even adopting one of the habits and more years for every habit added. The results showed that low physical activity, opioid use, and smoking had the biggest impact on lifespan. There is good news for those older than 40 - those who made changes later in life, still reaped benefits. American Society for Nutrition -

So Long Pirate: What sad news hearing about the passing of Jimmy Buffett. Not known for having many big hits, he still had possibly the most loyal of all fans, the Parrot Heads. He had quite the career as highlighted by this documentary of him in his late 50’s: 60 Minutes His songs will live on and continue to make us forget about life’s challenges and troubles for a while. I’ll end it with a video of his first hit. Jimmy Buffett - Come Monday (1974) - YouTube

Quote: “It takes no more time to see the good side of life than it takes to see the bad.” Jimmy Buffett

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