Q1 2019 Retirement Trends

Fidelity recently published their Q1 2019 retirement trends and there are some encouraging things going on.

Here are some of their findings:

The participation rate in defined contribution plans keeps getting better and better. 

The average savings rate  is at an all-time high.

The average 401(k) balance is up 466% (from $52,600 in Q1 2009 to $297,700 today).

The average balance for people who have been continuously invested for 15 years is almost $400,000.

Usually when we talk about retirement, it’s not in a positive light. While it’s true that too many people are going to struggle to make ends meet in the later years of their life, it’s nice to see so many people making a concerted effort to plan for their future.

IKEA Facts

  • Approximately 1 in 10 Europeans were conceived on an IKEA bed.
  • IKEA uses 530 million cubic feet of wood each year, about 1 percent of the entire world’s usage.
  • A Billy bookshelf is sold every 7 seconds.
  • The largest IKEA store is in South Korea. At 640,000 square feet, it’s almost 12 times larger than the White House.
  • There are more IKEA catalogs printed annually than copies of the Christian Bible. About 3 times as many copies.
  • IKEA’s first mainstream TV commercial in the US from 1994 featured a gay couple before it was commonplace. It was pulled shortly after due to bomb threats.
  • 75% of the IKEA catalog is not actually photos of the merchandise, but in fact just CGI renderings.
  • IKEA once let loose 100 cats in a store to see what would happen and turned it into a cool ad.
  • In certain regions, IKEA sells flat-pack houses you build yourself for under $100k.
  • Before opening the first store in Bangkok, IKEA hired translators to ensure none of the product names would translate into sexual acts in the local language.
  • 54% of IKEA employees are women.
  • 1 billion meatballs are sold in IKEA stores worldwide every year.
  • IKEA sells $1.5 billion in food every year, making them the 10th largest food retailer in the world.
  • In 2009, IKEA changed the typeface in their catalog from Futura to Verdana, causing minor uproar among font and furniture fans.

Top Federal Tax Rates

From the always great Electoral-Vote.com:

When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had the temerity to suggest that to the top marginal tax rate on very high incomes should be 70%, the right-wing media immediately began making false claims that she wanted to impose a flat 70% tax on everyone’s income. That is certainly not what she said. She suggested that rate would only apply to income above, for example, $10 million. Interestingly enough, most Americans agree with her. A poll from The Hill/HarrisX, showed that 59% of registered votes are fine with 70% as the top marginal rate. Among women, 62% support the idea; among men it is 55%. Even among Republicans there is some support for it, with 45% approving.

A 70% marginal rate wouldn’t be the highest in American history by any means. When the federal income tax was instituted by the Sixteenth Amendment in 1913, the top marginal rate was 68%. During World War II, it was 94% for a couple of years. More recently, during the administration of the conservative Republican Dwight Eisenhower, the top marginal rate varied from 90% to 92% for couple with a joint income of $3.4 million in 2019 dollars. Despite that, the country flourished during Eisenhower’s administration, demonstrating that a high marginal rate doesn’t wreck the economy. In fact, it took Democrat John Kennedy to lower it to 70%—the same rate Ocasio-Cortez wants. The economy did fine during the Kennedy/Johnson administration, again showing that tax rates and the economy aren’t correlated at all. Here is a graph showing the top rate over time:

Last Visit To Kmart

Last night, I left the house to pick-up some Indian for my wife and me, and I decided to stop by our town’s Kmart. I told myself it was to pick-up some drinks, but I really wanted to see it one last time before it closes for good next month.

I vividly remember this Kmart opening when I was 11 and thinking it was fantastic. We were there often because it was the only place on the south side of town to get everyday goods, and I liked it because it had a solid electronics department with a wide selection of CDs (I bought my copy of The Breeders Last Splash there). But over the years the store fell out of favor as other retailers like Walmart & Best Buy moved in, and the Kmart powers-that-be refused to modernize the store that just felt dirty and stuck in the 90’s.

As I walked in, I was greeted with this sign:

Even if the store had accepted coupons and other promotions, shoppers would still have been out of luck. Much of the store was already empty.

There were some shelves with products still available, but patriotic coolers at a deep discount are not much in demand late December.

I found the old electronics department I once loved. It was dead.

The old Seasonal department was selling store fixtures no longer in use.

I found the coolers that would usually sell chilled bottles of Coke, but like everything else in the store, it was a disappointment.

I stopped by the jewelry counter to see if an associate could point me towards another cooler. No one was there.

When I finally found someone who could help me, she told me they didn’t have any other coolers or sodas for sale.

I left knowing I’ll never go back to a Kmart again.