13 December 2018 FT — Articles to Read

13 December 2018


Question: According to MSN: Money, what are eleven (11) steps to retire at age 50?


Former Trump lawyer Cohen sentenced to 3 years in prison – Pg. 1

–          Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday after a federal judge determined he should face “considerable punishment” for crimes he committed at the direction of Donald Trump, his one-time client and patron

–          …Mr Cohen pleaded guilty, connected to paying hush money to two women who claim to have had affairs….

–          “While Mr Cohen was taking steps to mitigate his criminal conduct by pleading guilty and volunteering useful information to prosecutors, that does not wipe the slate clean,” the judge said.

–          Standing to address the court, his family seated behind him, Mr Cohen again pointed the finger at the president, saying he had been living “in personal and mental incarceration” ever since going to work for Mr Trump in 2007 (Prof Note: There is much to be said for a simple life.  Ask yourself if your morals are “pushed”, “Is it worth it?”, “How much is your freedom worth to you?”)

–          Mr Cohen noted the “heavy price” he had paid to turn against “the most powerful man in the world”

–          Mr Cohen also admitted to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow


Slowing inflation data bolster Fed’s caution on rate rises – Pg. 4

–          US inflation rose at its slowest pace in nine months in November as fuel and energy costs fell, in the  latest sign that price pressures are easing after a surge earlier this year

–          Headline consumer price growth slowed to 2.2% from a year earlier, …that is down from the 2.5% recorded in October and in line with economists’ forecasts

–          Lower energy costs – thanks to a 22% fall in global crude prices – helped keep a lid on price gains last month.

–          Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy prices and is of greater interest to the Federal Reserve, edged up to 2.2% year-on-year in November, from 2.1% the previous month

–          Fed funds futures are pricing in a 34% chance that the central bank does not touch interest rates next year


US homebuilder stocks under pressure as interest rates bite – Pg. 19

–          Having returned more than 70% last year, the sector is down by 30% in 2018 and facing its worst year since the global financial crisis as a combination of higher mortgage rates and lofty home prices raise concerns for the housing market

–          …knocked over $20bn off the sector’s market value this year

–          Such has been the intensity of the sell-off that all 15 members of the S&P super-composite homebuilder index have at one point found themselves in a bear market this year.  By contrast, the wider S&P 500 is about flat in 2018

–          …housing has been a weak link in an otherwise strong US economy underscores the impact successive rate rises from the Fed have had on the market’s outlook

–          Housing starts and building permits in October were a seasonally adjusted 2.9% and 6% lower, respectively, from a year ago

–          Signs of weakening demand came as housebuilders were also squeezed by rising material and labour costs

–          The biggest test for the US housing market will come early next year when the key house-selling season kicks off around the time of the Super Bowl, which is set for February 3

–          The biggest homebuilders, as a group, are trading at a price to book multiple of 1.3 times, which is round fair to cheap by historical standards, …


Answer: (1) Start with how much you’ll spend in retirement (Prof Note: Remember that once you stop earning passive income you are most likely tied to this level of spending ONLY); (2) Plan for the cost of health care; (3) Calculate how much you need to retire at 50 (Prof Note: While this article clearly means capital amount, what it should and must mean is passive income flow); (4) Save like your retirement depends on it; (5) Keep your expenses low (Prof Note: Do you really need that Starbucks?); (6) Be smart about taxes; (7) Increase your income (Prof Note: Also, diversify income streams); (8) Invest for growth; (9) Plan how you’ll spend your time in retirement (Prof Note: This is important.  Will expenses go down/up?  Will you have expenses travel?); (10) Write your early-retirement plan down; (11) Choose your retirement year wisely (Prof Note: Most importantly, remember retirement is not a concept, it is not a year, it is NOT an age, it is an equation.  When Passive Income >= Active Expense one is retired!)