The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is Law

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is Law: The Detailed Provisions to Know The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, a measure that has been characterized as the first major reform of the Internal Revenue Code in 31 years, received final approval from the House and the Senate on December 20, and was signed into law by President Trump two days later on December 22. The legislation slashes the top corporate tax rate to 21%, lowers the top marginal rate for individual taxpayers to 37%, eliminates or scales back several popular deductions, reduces taxes on business income earned by pass-through businesses, doubles the estate tax exemption, and substantially enhances immediate expensing of capital investments. The legislation is expected to add around $1.5 trillion to the Federal deficit over 10 years, before accounting for any economic growth. Under the Senate’s budget reconciliation rules, the final bill could be approved by …

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Millions, Billions, Trillions: How to Make Sense of Numbers in the News

National discussions of crucial importance to ordinary citizens – such as funding for scientific and medical research, bailouts of financial institutions and the current Republican tax proposals – inevitably involve dollar figures in the millions, billions and trillions. Unfortunately, math anxiety is widespread even among intelligent, highly educated people. Complicating the issue further, citizens emotionally undeterred by billions and trillions are nonetheless likely to be ill-equipped for meaningful analysis because most people don’t correctly intuit large numbers. Happily, anyone who can understand tens, hundreds and thousands can develop habits and skills to accurately navigate millions, billions and trillions. Stay with me, especially if you’re math-averse: I’ll show you how to use school arithmetic, common knowledge and a little imagination to train your emotional sense for the large numbers shaping our daily lives. Estimates and Analogies Unlike Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, scientists and mathematicians are not exacting mental calculators, but habitual …

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What is the VIX and What Does it Mean?

Often referred to as the “investor fear index,” the VIX is technically the ticker symbol for the Chicago Board Options Exchange Volatility Index, which shows the market’s expected volatility. First introduced in 1993, the VIX has evolved over the years and today it is a widely referenced measure of market risk – on a forward basis. That “forward basis” qualifier is important as it calculates future volatility and does not look backwards. A Calculated Index The VIX is calculated daily, similar to the S&P 500 Index. But whereas the S&P 500 Index is calculated based on the stock prices of 500 companies (technically there are 505 companies, but that’s another story altogether), the VIX uses the price of options on the S&P 500 and estimates how volatile those options will be between the current date and the option’s expiration date. Much like the individual stock prices of the 500 companies …

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Human Capital is More Valuable to Economies Than Physical Assets

Human capital is more than twice as valuable to the global economy as physical capital, but business leaders often overestimate the value of tangible forms of capital and underestimate the importance of employees to their company’s performance, a study commissioned by executive search firm Korn Ferry has concluded. The report, “The trillion-dollar difference,” outlines the findings of a survey of more than 800 global business leaders that was conducted in August and September 2016, as well as of a global economic analysis that was conducted by the Centre for Economics and Business Research. The report was released on December 15, 2016. To quantify the relative value of human and physical capital, researchers developed a lifetime income calculation for measuring human capital that encompasses the ability of people to perform labor and add productive value over time. Physical capital was measured by the value of tangible means of production (such as …

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Inflation, Your Retirement & Purchasing Power

You hear it all the time: you should make sure your retirement savings at least keep pace with inflation. But what is inflation and how does it really affect your retirement savings? Let’s explore. In simple terms, inflation is defined as an increase in the general level of prices for goods and services. Deflation, on the other hand, is defined as a decrease in the general level of prices for goods and services. If inflation is high, at say 10% – as it was in the 1970s – then a loaf of bread that costs $1 this year will cost $1.10 the next year. Inflation in the United States has averaged around 3.29% from 1914 until 2016, but it reached an all-time high of 23.70% in June 1920 and a record low of -15.80% in June 1921. Most will remember the high inflation rates of the 70s and early 80s …

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